Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pirates Acquire Iwamura

The Tampa Bay Rays have traded Akinori Iwamura to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for relief pitcher Jesse Chavez.

Iwamura was injured during most of the 2009 season which gave Ben Zobrist the opportunity to play everyday. Zobrist's 27 home runs and 91 RBI this season rendered Iwamura expendable. The Rays need to shore up their bullpen if they are to compete in 2010. What role Chavez will play is unclear but he did make 73 appearances for the Bucs in his rookie season.

What fascinates me about this trade is whether the Bucs intend to hold onto to Iwamura or turn around to trade him for prospects. The Pirates are sorely in need of a veteran player who can lead by example. Iwamura's experience with the 2008 AL champion Rays can be a source of inspiration to younger players like Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones. Iwamura can play either third base or second base and has a decent bat. He doesn't have a lot of power but he's an ideal number two hitter in the batting order.

The $64.37 question here is whether the Pirates are finished with their fire sale. The Bucs traded six of their eight position players that were in their 2009 Opening Day lineup during the season leaving only Ryan Doumit and Andy LaRoche. Who can say how long McCutchen and Jones will remain in a Pittsburgh uniform?

If you are a Pirates fan there is a lot to like about this deal if Iwamura is being brought in to play an on field leadership role. Bu if he is going to be dealt for a dozen Louisville sluggers and catfish by mid-June then it will be another long year at PNC Park in 2010.

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