Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pirates Send Wilson & Snell to Seattle

Here is what the opening day lineup for the 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates looked like when they faced the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 6th:

LF Nyjer Morgan
2B Freddy Sanchez
CF Nate McLouth
C Ryan Doumit
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Andy LaRoche
RF Brandon Moss
SS Jack Wilson
P Paul Maholm

Less than four months later, four of those nine players listed are no longer members of the Pirates. McLouth was sent packing to the Atlanta Braves in June. Earlier this month, Morgan was dealt with pitcher Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for Lastings Milledge and John Hanrahan. Last week, Adam LaRoche was traded to the Boston Red Sox.

Today, you can add Jack Wilson to the list. He and starting pitcher Ian Snell were traded to the Seattle Mariners for Ronny Cedeno and four minor leaguers (catcher-first baseman Jeff Clement and right-handed pitchers Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin and Nathan Adcock.)

Put another way, two-thirds of their outfield and half their infield are no longer with the team.

Wilson has been with the Bucs since 2001. He is good fielding shortstop with a decent bat. His best season came in 2004 when he batted .308, led the NL in triples with 12 and was named to the NL All-Star Team.

But Wilson was vocally unhappy when the Bucs traded Morgan stating he was "beyond tired of such moves." However, he later apologized for his remarks. Yet it was probably the best thing he could have done because it gave him a one way ticket out of the Siberia of Major League Baseball. Don't be surprised if former NL batting champion Sanchez is on the way out as well.

The Seattle Mariners are a longshot for the postseason. At 52-48, they are 7½ games back of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the AL West and 6½ games back of the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card standings. But there are two months plus of baseball to be played and it looks like the Mariners are going to give it a shot. In which case, they will likely hold onto starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn whose name has been bandied about in trade rumors. Good for them. If nothing else, the Mariners are a much better team under Don Wakamatsu and their 102 losses in 2008 will likely prove an anamoly. I think Wilson will be quite happy to play in the Pacific Northwest.

The change of scenery will probably do Snell some good as well. Debuting with the Bucs in 2004, he pitched well for them in 2006 and 2007. But he has struggled for the past season and a half. In 2009, Snell was 2-8 with a 5.36 ERA. Last month, Snell requested a demotion to the Pirates Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis where he has pitched effectively.

As for the Pirates, they got a journeyman shortstop and four unknown quantities who will probably be traded if they bear any fruit. Cedeno was once a top prospect with the Chicago Cubs but he doesn't have much of a bat. He'll stand in at short in place of Wilson for 2009 and then make room for Argenis Diaz (who was acquired in the LaRoche trade) in 2010.
Clement could see some time at first now that LaRoche is out of the picture but pitching is always a crapshoot.

The bottom line is that unless the Pirates sign their young players to long term contracts they will not contend. Which is a shame because the Cardinals won the NL Central (and the World Series) in 2006 with an 83-79 record. In 2007, the Cubs won the division with an 85-77 record. I would be very surprised if the NL Central Division winner in 2009 win more than 90 games.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a beautiful ballpark. But no one has a reason to go there.

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