Man, this is an depressing interesting team to follow around the trading deadline. Two (three?) more quality players said sayanora since the Arizona series concluded. Jack Wilson and Ian Snell are now Mariners, and (this just in) Freddy Sanchez will stay behind in San Francisco (if you don’t believe it, there’s a picture of Sanchez in a Giant uniform up top. Just let it sink in). In return for Wilson and Snell we get Ronny Cedeno, AAA first baseman Jeff Clement, and 3 A-ball pitchers. So, the way I see it, we trade Snell for Clement (both are borderline MLB talent), we downgrade from Wilson to Cedeno (a journeyman, but major leaguer) and we make up for it with the young arms. That’s fair. Plus it gives us another shortstop for the short term. My only concern is Clement. He’s the supposed keystone of the trade. The report on him is that he can hit for power, but he’s got a hole in his swing (he can’t hit curve balls. Think Pedro Cerrano, the guy who practices voodoo in the movie ‘Major League’). We traded Sanchez straight up for AA prospect Tim Alderson. So let me get this straight: we traded an established major league second baseman who still has a lot of production left in him for a kid with a heck of a lot of promise, but zero major league experience. How did we not get hosed in this deal? It’s a gamble. I get it. It’s a known commodity (Freddy’s remaining production) for something that could be greater than that or less than that. But usually a GM will add in another prospect to kind of hedge the bet a little bit. Now, this was a quality kid. No doubt about it. He was #4 in their system and he’s only 20 years old. But for him to make this trade a success, he has to be a multi-time all-star. That’s a heck of a lot of expectations for a kid in AA. I sure hope we know what we’re doing. Oh, and one more thing: we’ve been stocking the minor leagues forever. We should be kicking butt down on the farm even if we’re struggling up in the ‘burgh, right? Well, lets look at the standings and get a whiff of good news, shall we?
AAA International League West Division
Louisville (Reds) 59-44
Indianapolis (Pirates) 50-53
Toledo (Tigers) 48-56
Columbus (Indians) 45-57
2nd place. Not bad. Not bad at all. 2nd place by a mile and still not above .500, but it’s decent. Nobody’s perfect. We were in last place last year. So improvement at least. Let’s continue:
AA Eastern League Southern Division
Akron (Indians) 63-41
Erie (Tigers) 57-45
Reading (Phillies) 56-46
Bowie (Orioles) 56-47
Harrisburg (Nationals) 46-55
Altoona (Pirates) 41-63
Ouch. That smarts. Especially since this is supposedly where all the major talent like Pedro Alvarez, Gorkys Hernandez and Jose Tabata are. I’m not going to lie, that’s embarrassing. But one team does not a system make, so onward:
A Carolina League Northern Division
Potomac (Nationals) 58-41
Lynchburg (Pirates) 56-45
Wilmington (Royals) 56-45
Fredrick (Orioles) 48-53
Ok. Another solid middle of the pack showing. Not too bad. This team is actually above .500 unlike the other two. That’s encouraging. One more team:
A South Atlantic League Northern Division
Kannapolis (White Sox) 19-13
Hickory (Rangers) 18-14
West Virginia (Pirates) 17-13
Lakewood (Phillies) 18-15
There are others in the division, but no one cares. The point is that we’re seeing a bunch of middle of the pack minor league teams in our system right now. We’ve traded away every arguable major league player in Pittsburgh. These minor league teams are now the future of the Pirates and they aren’t getting much better without years of drafting. The revitalizing through trades is almost done (there are one or two more trades left, but none that should bring much of a return). If we’re not dominating or at least playing .500 ball down there, what makes you think it will change when they’re playing the same guys in the bigs in a few years? Just a depressing thought for the future. Anyway, that turned into another post by itself. I have a series to recap. So here’s the short run-down.
Game one was a disaster. Tim Lincecum pitched a complete game and struck out 15. The kids good. And he was on his game on Monday. But jeez. That’s embarrassing. 4 hits for the Pirates. 4 hits. That will never win you a game. That will almost never get you 2 runs, but we at least pulled that one off. Waste of a decent game by Maholm
Game two was the same story. We faced a good pitcher (Barry Zito). We had a decent pitcher on the mound (Charlie Morton). We got a good game from our guy, and blew it by getting absolutely no run support. We managed 10 hits this time, but still only turned them into 2 runs. I didn’t realize that was possible. This game will mostly be remembered for Garrett Jones bobbling a ball in the outfield, and the amazing catch (or not) by Delwyn Young that ensued. In case you missed it, here it is:
Cue the circus music. Man. Only the Pirates. The sad part is that blown call cost us a run and consequently a shot at extra innings. Not like we would have won there, anyway.
Game three was the worst offensive showing yet. A shutout. The third time we’ve been shut out in a week. Pitiful. Matt Cain threw a gem for San Francisco. No doubt about it. But this is more on us. We managed 3 hits. In 10 innings! That’s right. Due to an equally impressive 7 innings of shutout ball by Zach Duke, we brought the game to extra innings scoreless and we STILL couldn’t do anything! That’s the worst part. All we needed was one run. One stinking piece of luck or anything, and we couldn’t muster it. Makes you want to smack your head into a wall. But to be fair, lets look at our lineup from this afternoon and where they were last year.
Player Team @ end of ’08 Class
Andrew McCutchen Indianapolis AAA
Andy LaRoche Pittsburgh MLB
Delwyn Young Los Angeles (NL) MLB
Garrett Jones Rochester AAA
Steve Pearce Indianapolis AAA
Brandon Moss Pittsburgh MLB
Ramon Vazquez Texas MLB
Jason Jaramillo Lehigh Valley AAA
So there you have it. Half of our 8 position players were in AAA at the end of last year. Add on to that by qualifying that Andy LaRoche was in AAA last year before coming to Pittsburgh, and none of the other 3 were regular starters, and you’ve got quite the lineup. When people joke about Pittsburgh being a AAA team, they’re only half joking. Remember that. It’s going to be a loooooong rest of the season.