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Pittsburgh and Boston: A Love Story

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Every baseball club has its ups and downs. Just ask the Chicago Cubs who haven’t won a World Series in over a hundred years. The question is, just how far down are the Pittsburgh Pirates? Are they becoming nothing more than a mining boom for the Boston Red Sox? If the last two seasons are any indication, it sure seems like it.

In November 2005, Pittsburgh signed outfielder Jason Bay to a four-year deal laden with incentives. He was the face of the franchise. He was the great hope to bring the team out of the cellar. Three years later, however, Bay packed his bags for Boston in a three way trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Boston rid itself of Manny Ramirez and acquired an outfielder serious about more than his hair.

Pirate's fan(s) are not happy about the recent rash of big-star trades.The Pirates ended up with four players: 3B Andy LaRoche and SP Bryan Morris from the Dodgers; RP Craig Hansen and OF Brandon Moss from the Red Sox. LaRoche is hitting .258 with 12 HR and 61 RBI while Morris spent the season with Pittsburgh’s Lynchburg Hillcat’s affiliate. Moss’ average stands at .237 in 130 games with 7 HR and 41 RBI and Hansen landed on the disabled list in early April.

But Bay continues to grow in Boston. This season he’s batting .284 with 36 HR and 115 RBI, a vast improvement over his last full season in Pittsburgh (2007) where he hit for a .247 average and only 21 HR and 84 RBI.

Last year’s major trade had a dramatic impact on all three teams. The Dodgers rode the wave of Manny’s hair into the post season, sweeping the Cubs in the first round before falling to the eventual champs in Philadelphia. Boston showed Bay what the post season felt like by making it to the American League Championship Series, only to lose to Tampa Bay.

And Pittsburgh? Maybe they came out of the deal better than expected.

Jason Bay’s hefty salary went away, as did his impending free agency at the end of the 2009 season. More money for younger, cheaper talent. Bay surely wouldn’t have returned to the Steel City, especially not when he could get a bigger pay check with a team post season bound.

The Pirates must love Theo Epstein. This year brought another trade between the two teams with another big salary player heading out of Pittsburgh. This time they bid adieu to Adam LaRoche, who had just signed a one-year deal in January avoiding arbitration. The Pirates got P Hunter Strickland and IF Argenis Diaz. Then Boston, who didn’t even need another 1B, shipped LaRoche to Atlanta before he even had a chance to savior the Red Sox uniform.

Just like Bay, Adam LaRoche is set to hit the market this winter. While his stock isn’t as high as Bay’s, he will still get a decent contract somewhere; at least more than the Pirates could have dished out. LaRoche is also getting a taste of a post season run with the Braves biting at the heels of the Rockies for the National League Wild Card. That’s a taste players crave and don’t want to forget.

Both deals worked in the Pirate’s favor. They dumped two high salaries before the players could inevitably dump the team. They gained prospects to continue to rebuild the franchise. General Manager Neal Huntington and owner Robert Nutting knew this season was a wash.

And 2010?

How will the Pirates react when Theo Epstein comes knocking next season? Will Andrew McCutchen, an excellent candidate for NL Rookie of the Year, find himself facing the Green Monster? Or are the Pirates really going to start rebuilding instead of raising their young to sell off?

Only time will tell.

Written by LS Murphy. Mrs. Murphy is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan and is a consistent contributor to Cardinal’s Mix. She can also be followed on Twitter.


3 Responses

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  1. tracking back Pittsburgh and Boston: A Love Story… tracking back Pittsburgh and Boston: A Love Story…

    October 2, 2009 at 1:00 pm

  2. Good job. Keep adding meat and potatoes to the stew for a full well rounded article.


    October 2, 2009 at 2:16 pm

  3. Great Job. You are a chip off the old block


    October 2, 2009 at 9:48 pm

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