Monday, July 31, 2006

Non-waiver trade deadline evaluation

Overall grade: D+

1) NOT acquiring Ryan Shealy: Why does everyone care so much? Yes, we probably could have gotten him for Grabow...maybe with Cota thrown in or something (how much longer is Doumit on the DL?), but he's not a power hitter, either, and he plays at Coors Field. He may be better defensively because of his youth (over Casey), but yinz make it sound like we missed out on Willie Stargell II. Grade: C

2) Sean Casey for Brian Rogers. I think Littlefield is trying to get in good with Leyland with this one. Seems like a salary dump tactic to me. In Rogers, we don’t even have a budding starting pitcher. He’s a relief pitcher on the AA level. Time will tell HOW one-sided this trade is, but right now, it seems as though we should have gotten another prospect and maybe cash in addition. Grade: D-

3) Kip Wells for Jesse Chavez. Typical Littlefield trade. Kip has shown improvement from game to game since his surgery, but Kip has had a stigma here in Pittsburgh of not getting quite enough run support, hence his 8-18 record last year with despite an ERA just over 5. Not only that, but Kip Wells enters the American League and will have to get used to not facing the pitcher. This may be a painful experience for him. For the Bucs, Chavez is also a reliever, mainly from the AA tier and his stats look even worse than Rogers. Surely, the Rangers had more on the block. Grade: F

4) Craig Wilson for Shawn Chacon. Ok. This is a trade that’s got everyone more upset than it should. It’s impossible to say what Craig’s statistics would have been had Tracy played him over Burnitz most of the season, but he was hitting just a point below his career average and seems to have plateaued. Craig gives the Yankees an outfielder, first baseman, DH, or even a catcher. Meanwhile, Chacon, his career ERA higher than Wells’, isn’t really a step down for two reasons: first, he pitched for years at Coors Field, and two, the important statistic is career WHIP. Despite pitching at Hitter’s Haven for 4.5 seasons, his career WHIP is only .03 higher than Wells. Another thing to note: Chacon had an outstanding rest-of-the-season in the Bronx after being traded from Colorado, but did not do so well after Mel Stottlemyer left the pitching coach’s position there. The onus now falls on Jim Colborn, whose abilities in comparison to Spin Williams are not yet clear. In my estimation, the trade was Craig Wilson for Jesse Chavez. Not that that’s a good thing, but grumpy folks in the clubhouse can make a bad situation worse. Grade: C- (“C” for Craig. “-“ for the hair he will now have to part with. He and Johnny Damon are quite the pair.)

5) Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez for Xavier Nady. I almost have to assign an “incomplete” for this grade (but I won’t, because I don’t cop out). Hernandez could be replaced by Jonah Bayliss or another AAA pitcher on the roster and there probably won’t be much difference. I also don’t believe his “veteran presence,” which has been talked about non-stop since he joined the Pirates, has had all that great of an impact. Oliver Perez is broken. And it’s beyond the staff of the Pittsburgh Pirates to fix him. Maybe Ollie’s down for good, or maybe a fresh start for a perennial contender will revitalize him. Either way, it’s clear that Perez was not going to impact the Pirates in a positive way again (at least not for any significant stretch). Xavier Nady is slightly younger than Craig Wilson and will likely be platooning with Jeromy Burnitz in RF. We all know how Jim Tracy likes his lefty/righty stacking. Nady has been in the shadow of Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. He may see this as his chance to rise to the top now that the surface is a bit shallower. He’ll probably bat out of the 5th spot (he’s been batting 6th a lot with the Mets). In regards to Nady and Chacon, you can give me a huge “I told you so” if they completely implode, but give it until the 2nd or 3rd week of August. Grade B-

On a semi-related note, I wonder what will become of the “Posse De Perez”.

Final comments: Littlefield seems to have forgotten that we do have a couple of “marginal” prospects of our own in the AAA and AA systems. If giving one of them up to get a Hank Blalock, for example, would do the trick, he’s got to try. And it’s no secret that we were going to be “sellers,” so landing Alfonso Soriano to improve the team was out of the question. Of course, I still contend that the Ramirez/Lofton/Simon sweepstakes showed the other GMs (and anyone else who follows baseball closely enough) the character that is the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates front office.


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