The Red Sox made two deals on Wednesday, and while neither one can match the earth shaking move from last season when they dealt the head case that is Manny Ramirez for Jason Bay, each move was meant to tweak a Red Sox roster that is need of a pick me up. In what follows I’ll give my thoughts on both moves, as well as spending a few moments detailing the demise of professional baseball in Pittsburgh.
Adam LaRoche was traded from the Pirates to the Red Sox in exchange for two minor leaguers you have never heard of – SS Argenis Diaz and SP Hunter Strickland. The reason you have never heard of them is that they are both young and haven’t yet appeared above Double-A. If you want to read more about all three guys and the move in general, please give LaRoche Headed to Beantown a read as I spend a good bit of time breaking things down. The early consensus is that the Pirates got a guy who can field with the best of them but hits like his eyes are closed, as well as a nice control artist who one day might be a solid 4th starter. Should the club have gotten more for the power-hitting LaRoche? Working against them was the fact that LaRoche is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season, and teams are shying away from adding talent that they can’t control as the downturn in the economy has finally begun to make teams cautious of those “rent-a-players” who only spend a couple of months with the club before signing with someone else the following year.
Regardless of that, I just don’t get it. Three weeks ago I wrote Will It Ever End? in which I questioned the commitment to winning in Pittsburgh. The deal currently being discussed has done nothing but buttress the feelings that I illuminated in that previous piece. I was ready to continue to lambaste the Pirates organization for their further ineptitude but my colleague, the always astute Ted Carlson, beat me to it with his piece Updated Pirates Scorecard. I could add my two cents, but I think the two links do justice to what has become a laughable situation in Pittsburgh. If I was a Pirates fan, I think I would go on permanent strike.
The other deal that the Red Sox made was to send disgruntled SS Julio Lugo to the Cardinals in exchange for struggling outfielder Chris Duncan. As I write this the deal isn’t “official,” but what we believe is that the Red Sox will likely pay the majority of the $13 million that Lugo is due this season and next. As for his work on the field, Lugo has hit .284 in his 109 ABs this season. Injuries to his legs have limited him to just three steals on the year, and without that asset his game isn’t very valuable, but it should be pointed out that has exceeded his career batting average (.271) and OBP (.335) this season (his current OBP is .352). With the Cardinals no longer trusting Khalil Greene at shortstop, and with ample reason, the only man in Lugo’s way to substantial playing time is the .276 hitting Brendan Ryan who has all of one home run and a .313 OBP in 214 at-bats. Do you really think Lugo won’t be able to garner the majority of playing time in St. Louis given that competition? Don’t forget that a move to St. Louis late in the year did wonders to awaken the bat of Felipe Lopez.
As for what the Red Sox got in the deal, Duncan has been a mess this year hitting .227 with five home runs in 260 ABs. Whether or not his back will ever be sufficiently healed to allow him to return to the 20-HR plateau he has reached previously is open for debate, but it’s not debatable that dude simply cannot hit left handed pitching with a .206/.269/.346 career line in 228 ABs. As a result of his struggles this season it is believe that the Sox will send him down for some work in the minors (with the addition of LaRoche there would be no room for him at first, so he will only be called up when the team feels they have a need in the outfield). To me, this is a negligible move and one that lessons his already meager fantasy value.
Overall you gotta like what the Red Sox did on this day. They added two left-handed bats that could potentially provide some nice pop as well as given them two solid veteran type hitters for depth plays if their frontline performers struggle or go down with injury.
By Ray Flowers