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Archive for July 2009

Pirates trade practically whole team, figure to start new in 2010.

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Pittsburgh Pirate’s General Manager Neal Huntington has done a lot since taking over the reigns in late 2007.

And that work has never been as apparent as right now. Huntington’s dealt nearly the whole team in the past week and brought in a capable crop of prospects and major league ready talent.

Here’s the rundown:

Give up:

LHP John Grabow (Chicago N.L.)

LHP Tom Gorzelanny (Chicago N.L.)

2B Freddy Sanchez (San Francisco)

SS Jack Wilson (Seattle)

RHP Ian Snell (Seattle)

1B Adam LaRoche (Boston)

Get:

RHP Kevin Hart (Cubs)

RHP Jose Ascanio (Cubs)

IF Josh Harrison (Cubs)

RHP Tim Alderson (Giants)

C Jeff Clement (Mariners)

IF Ronny Cedeno (Mariners)

RHP Aaron Pribanic (Mariners)

RHP Brett Lorin (Mariners)

RHP Nathan Adcock (Mariners)

IF Argenis Diaz (Red Sox)

RHP Hunter Strickland (Red Sox)

That’s a pretty good haul for the lowly Pittsburgh minor league system.

My only concern is that Huntington dealt two pretty good left-handed arms and bolstered the system with a whole bunch of very raw, barely proven righties. Pittsburgh hasn’t shown the ability to draft able left-handers for a while now and they certainly don’t have any plug-ins in the minors. Grabow and Gorzelanny were relatively cheap and my guess is that their losses will be felt the most in the foreseeable future (if anything can hurt this forlorn franchise).

Argenis Diaz will make Pirate’s fans forget about Jack Wilson as soon as he hits the majors. He’s got an amazing glove, perhaps better than Wilson’s, but will need to progress with the bat to even get a chance to show it.

Cedeno, who was part of the deal with the Mariners, will fill in for the time being and should be a suitable replacement for Wilson. The Pirate’s also got a pretty good player from the Mariners in catcher/first baseman Jeff Clement, who has looked good in the minor leagues this year and may flourish in an environment like Pittsburgh.

The true gem here is former-Giant’s pitcher Tim Alderson. He’s just 20-years-old and already projects as a frontline starter. I’m extremely surprised that the Giant’s were even willing to deal him, but it’s clear that Brian Sabean pictures the 1-2 punch of  Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain for the future, making Alderson relatively expendable. He had the best curveball in the Giant’s system and was notorious for pounding the bottom of the strikezone.

Dismantling an entire roster is a risky thing to do, but Huntington appears to have brought in a good amount of talent for aging, league average talent.

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Seattle deals Washburn to Detroit for two young lefties.

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I’ve been waiting for a trade deadline like this for a while.

It seems like every year there’s a ton of rumors, but nary a trade.

Not this go ’round.

Washburn's on the move again.This afternoon, the Seattle Mariners dealt Jarrod Washburn to the Detroit Tigers for lefties Lucas French and Mauricio Robles. And at first inspection, it looks like this should be a pretty good trade for both teams.

Washburn is simply a rent-an-arm for the rest of the 2009 season. Still, the resurgent lefty has looked absolutely filthy this year and he does a lot to bolster a playoff bound team in Detroit. He provides a lefty arm in a right-hand heavy rotation of Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Rick Porcello, and Armando Galarraga.

Washburn will also provide invaluable playoff experience in that young rotation, having pitched for the Anaheim Angels in the 2002 World Series and the 2004 and 2005 American League Division Series. He’s had mixed results but was lights-out early in his post-season career. That’s probably more representative of how he’ll toss now.

In return, Seattle gets Lucas French, an eighth rounder in the 2004 draft, and Mauricio Robles, a Venezuelan signed in 2006.

The 23-year-old French had spent the past six years toiling in the Detroit minor league system before getting the call up this year. In Triple-A Toledo this year, French posted an earned run average under 3.00 with nearly a strikeout per inning. In five starts with the big club, he was 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA.

He throws a high-80’s fastball paired with a slider/changeup combination that hovers in the high 70’s/low 80’s. French’s true value is his durability, a quality that would seemingly peg him as a back of the rotation innings eater.

Robles is the more intriguing of the two lefties. He was originally signed as an outfielder with Detroit, but was moved to the pitching staff when he reached camp. Only 20-years-old, Roble’s still very raw and has an extremely inconsistent delivery. As a result, his fastball velocity varies; it’s been clocked as high as 94 miles per hour with late tailing life, but also at a weak 88 miles per hour when his mechanics aren’t right. His curveball and changeup need serious development; he throws them with noticeably slower arm speed which will render them hittable.

Still, Robles had an absolutely ridiculous run in the Midwest League in 2008 during which he pitched 51 innings and only gave up one earned run.

For a rent-an-arm, two mid-line lefties should be a solid return.

Reports: Philadelphia lands Lee, sends four prospects to Cleveland.

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Well, it looks like the Philadelphia Phillies might officially be crossed off the list of teams allegedly involved in deals for Toronto ace Roy Halladay.

Because they may have just landed a big one.

According to multiple reports, Cleveland Indian’s lefty Cliff Lee was dealt to Philadelphia today, along with outfielder Ben Francisco, for a prospect-laden package that includes #2 prospect RHP Carlos Carrasco, #3 prospect C Lou Marson, #4 prospect SS Jason Donald, and #10 prospect RHP Jason Knapp.

If the deal goes through, Lee would be under Philly control for the rest of the season with a $9 million club option for 2010.

The deal is supposedly resting on the health of Jason Knapp.

Chicago’s Buehrle sets down 45 straight, adds newest feat to resume.

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Pie in his face.No one should be surprised that Chicago’s Mark Buehrle just a set a record for the most batters retired in a row, setting down 45 consecutive en route to breaking teammate Bobby Jenks and old-time Giant Jim Barr’s mark of 41.

It’s what he’s been doing for years, quietly toiling away in that droll, other franchise in Chicago.

For the past nine seasons, Buehrle has started at least 30 games and pitched at least 200 innings. And outside of his rookie campaign and a lackluster 2006, Buehrle’s earned run average has been well-below the league’s mean, only passing 4.00 twice. One member of Baseball Think Factory puts Buehrle’s career into simple terms:

Buehrle quote.

For a decade now, Buehrle’s been an Alpha version of an innings-eater, an uber-effective grinder that will never blow you away with a 100 mile per hour fastball or a slider that moves from the wrists to the ankles, but who, when dealing, is capable of pitching like Cy Young re-incarnate.

In 2007, he pitched a no-hitter against the Rangers. Last week, he threw a perfect game against the Rays. And during his nine full seasons, Buehrle’s finished among the top ten in ERA five times.

But still, that’s not the real story with Buehrle. Durability is his true m.o.

Buehrle’s finished in the top ten in innings pitched seven times, six times in games started, and five times in complete games.

Of those complete games, one-third of them have been shutouts. Over the last ten seasons, Buehrle’s tossed 8 complete games where he surrendered zero earned runs, leaving him in absolutely elite company.

Complete games leaders.

Buehrle’s recent coming out party, if you will, has led to speculation about his chances of making it into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

And while I think the speculation might be premature, it’s hard to deny the strength of Buehrle’s resume. A 38th round draft pick by the White Sox, Buehrle has accomplished a lot in his young career (he’s just 30-years-old).

He has a World Series ring, which he won, while working as a starter and closer, with the Sox in 2005. He’s been selected to the All Star game four times, one of which he started and won. He’s led the American League in innings pitched twice. Now he’s set the record for most consecutive batters retired in a row at 45.

And with his no-hitter in 2005 and his perfect game in 2009, Buerhle becomes only the sixth player to throw a no-hitter and perfect game. The other five? Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Jim Bunning, Addie Joss, and Cy Young.

They’re all Hall of Famers (or soon to be).

Will he be next? What do you think of his chances?

In a game of steroid-abusers, Pete Rose deserves reinstatement.

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While setting Team Cuba’s starting lineup and pitching staff this morning, I glanced over the day’s headlines and saw “Selig reportedly mulling Rose reinstatement.

And I hope it’s not a cruel joke.

I understand why Pete Rose was banned from baseball. Betting on games you have a stake in certainly brings the very integrity that forms an essential part of the game into question. The Black Sox World Series scandal of 1919 set the precedent for Rose’s ban and it was completely justified. Rose’s constant and adamant denials during the late 1980’s and on were also idiotic and cemented Major League Baseball’s right to a hard and fast punishment.

However, I’ve always believed that punishment didn’t fit the crime.

Pete Rose’s character, as a human being, is undeniably murky. But as a player, the same can’t be said.

I hope he's sliding into the Hall.His 4,256 hits is the most all-time; more than the Georgia Peach, Hammerin’ Hank, the Splendid Splinter, the Iron Horse, and the Babe. His 3,562 games played and 14,053 at bats is the most all-time; more than the Iron Man, the Man, Yaz, and Bonds. The list of players ahead of (he ranks seventh) and behind him in career total bases, which is an extremely telling stat, is a laundry list of Hall of Famers. Rose was also a 17-time All Star, a former Rookie of the Year, a World Series and National League Most Valuable Player, a Roberto Clemente Award winner, and a two-time Gold Glover.

For more than two decades, Charlie Hustle was baseball: all dirt, bat, ball, spikes, and consistency.

As far as we know, Rose never partook in any of the substances that so many current player’s careers have been tarnished by. As far as we know, all of Rose’s accomplishments came completely naturally.

Yes, Rose made a fatal mistake. But does that mistake justify excluding, and there is only so much room for debate here, Major League Baseball’s Greatest Hitter of All-Time?

The fact remains that the Baseball Writers Association of America is still debating whether or not to enshrine the one-dimensional Mark McGwire, a player who, if one discounts his 1998 and 1999 steroids tainted campaigns, should not even mentioned in the same breath as the Hall of Fame. Why should players like McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro (who failed an MLB administered test!) even be considered for the Hall of Fame while baseball’s all-time hits leader has never been given that luxury? Are their offenses so far apart?

Pete Rose deserves his rightful place alongside Cobb, Clemente, Williams, and DiMaggio.

I hope this isn’t a cruel joke.

Rickey, Rice, and some other guy to be enshrined in the Hall today.

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We know all about Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice.

But we don’t know anything about Joe Gordon.

In fact, I’m willing to bet that about only 25 percent of the baseball watching population has any idea that Joe Gordon is even being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame today. The MLB Network is promoting coverage of the ceremonies with absolutely no mention of him other than a blink-and-it’s-gone picture.

Joe Gordon, the most deserving 2009 Hall of Famer.And for Joe Gordon, that’s not fair.

Gordon played from 1938-50, seven seasons with the New York Yankees and four seasons with the Cleveland Indians. Gordon’s career is one of the most illustrious and formidable ever compiled by a second baseman.

In 1938, Gordon broke into the majors with the New York Yankees, clubbing 25 home runs and driving in 97 as 23-year-old.

For the next ten years, that was Gordon’s modus operandi.

From 1939-49, Gordon was named to every American League All-Star team. Outside of his 1946 and 1949 campaigns, he was a factor in the A.L. Most Valuable Player vote, actually winning the award in 1942. That season, Gordon edged out Boston’s Ted Williams when he batted .322, hit 18 home runs, drove in 103, and led the league in games played.

Gordon routinely paced the league in putouts, assists, and double plays. His fleet-feet and quick glove earned him the nickname “Flash,” after the popular comic book character of the same name.

Gordon was a part of five World Championship teams: the incredibly dominant ’38, ’39, ’41, and ’43 Yankees and the ’48 Indians, with which Gordon had, arguably, his best single-season campaign.

Gordon still holds the record for most career home runs by an American League second baseman.

And like so many stars of the time, we may never know exactly how good Gordon could have been; he spent the 1944 and 1945 seasons serving in World War II, his age 29 and 30 seasons.

With those prime seasons under his belt, Gordon would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer, without question.

In what is perhaps the biggest testament to Gordon’s ridiculously underrated career, it took endless lobbying from one of his contemporaries, Boston’s legendary Bobby Doerr, to get him into the Hall.

Doerr, who was elected to the Hall by the Veteran’s Committee 23 years ago, battled Gordon during the fierce Red Sox/Yankees rivalries of the forties. The two share close career statistics and were often a part of the same All-Star teams, which Gordon more often started on.

Doerr was bewildered by Gordon’s up-until-now exclusion from the Hall, stating recently, “I don’t understand why it took so long. I guess I was the only one on the committee who really knew Joe and got to see him play. They didn’t get to see him like I saw him, but he’s finally made it.”

Yes he has.

Trivia: Gordon was part of the only manager-for-manager trade in baseball history when the Indians sent him to the Tigers in exchange for Jimmy Dykes in 1960. That alone should occupy a special corner of the Hall.

Adam LaRoche traded to San Fran/Boston/Mexico/Kentucky…

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As one of the three followers of Pittsburgh Pirate’s baseball, I knew it was just a matter of time before first baseman Adam Laroche changed uniforms. Besides second baseman Freddy Sanchez and shortstop Jack Wilson, LaRoche was one of the team’s last valuable trading chips and we all know what the Pittsburgh front office loves to do with its solid players…

With Garrett Jones showing that he’ll be a capable replacement at first base and Lastings Milledge ready to take Jones’ outfield patrol, LaRoche recently became the team’s definition of “expendable.”

Is LaRoche on his way out?

The team has taken an inordinate amount of time posting its lineup for this evening’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, leading to speculation that LaRoche has already been dealt to the San Francisco Giants.

I’ll keep you updated as the information rolls in.

UPDATE: LaRoche is not in tonight’s lineup. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he has actually been moved to the Red Sox, although the return is not yet known. It seems the two clubs are “going steady” following the Bay/Hansen/Moss deal. Pittsburgh should grab a few prospects in the deal, but knowing Theo Epstein, they’ll get nothing substantial. LaRoche would most likely be in the lineup on days Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell need rest.