Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Red Sox Acquire Adam LaRoche From Pirates

The Boston Red Sox have acquired first baseman Adam LaRoche from the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor league shortstop Argenis Diaz and minor league pitcher Hunter Strickland.

Well, this means a lot less playing time for third baseman Mike Lowell. Look for Gold Glove first baseman Kevin Youkilis to play the lion's share of third base (which happens to be Youk's original position) while LaRoche becomes the everyday first baseman.

LaRoche was batting a modest .247 but does have 12 home runs and 50 RBI and he is known for playing his best baseball after the All-Star Break. However, the flipside of this is that he hasn't seen a lot of American League pitching outside of interleague play.

This is LaRoche's sixth big league season. He spent his first three seasons with the Atlanta Braves. LaRoche's best season was in 2006 with the Braves when he hit .285 with 32 home runs and 90 RBI. He was traded to the Pirates that off season for relief pitcher Mike Gonzalez.

The Red Sox have lost a season high four consecutive games and last night fell out of first place in the AL East and are now a game behind the New York Yankees. So much for my prediction that the Yankees would finish in last.

Will LaRoche's left-handed bat give the Red Sox offense some spark? Will LaRoche have the same impact on the Sox as his former Pirates teammate Jason Bay? LaRoche is a free agent at the end of the season. Is LaRoche a short term fix or will the Sox try to sign him beyond 2009? Lowell has one more year on his contract but it remains to be seen if his hip can hold up? Will Theo Epstein eat Lowell's contract? Or will Lowell graciously retire? Then again, if LaRoche hits .215 and the Sox somehow miss the postseason then those questions are academic.

The problems Red Sox fans face are miniscule when compared to Pirates fans or what's left of them. In the past seven weeks, the Pirates have traded away Nate McLouth, Eric Hinske, Nyjer Morgan, Sean Burnett and now Adam LaRoche. Can his younger brother Andy be far behind?

It is possible that Diaz could be the Pirates starting shortstop in 2010. But that is of little consolation to Bucs backers. If you are somehow still cheering for the Pirates you are cheering a team that is on its way to its fifth last place finish in six years and hasn't finished better than fourth place in ten years. A team can develop players and trade for prospects. But if that team is not willing to sign those players to long term contracts and are just going to trade them away two or three years down the road why should fans come to PNC Park? A stunning view of the Allegheny is simply not reason enough.

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