27 year old left-hand hitting first basemen who go for .285-32-90 don't get traded around too often, especially not TO the Pirates. They also aren't very cheap, as the Pirates gave up lefty close Mike Gonzalez and infield prospect Brent Lillibridge to get Laroche. A closer look at what the Pirates gave away to get Laroche:
Gonzalez has pretty gaudy number, not going over 2.70 in the last 3 years, having over a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio, and being 24 for 24 in save opportunities last year. The key to me is that he didn't blow a save and still only got 24. The Pirates need to get leads before they worry about someone to protect them in the 9th inning.
Lillibridge, a 24 year old shortstop and former collegiate star at the University of Washington, hit .313-2-28 for high class A Lynchburg after being promoted from class A Hickory after going for .299-11-43. Didn't hit for much power in college when he was swinging aluminum, so I doubt he'll ever be much of a major league power threat, Lillibridge's biggest assest seems to be his speed, as he stole 54 bases last year. Mlbtraderumors.com said that "Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA system indicates that the college product would be baseball's ninth best shortstop in 2007." Huh? Yet he'll probably be in AA. Someone is missing the boat on this guy...I just don't know who. The biggest question I have is, what is the metal in his mouth? If it is braces, good trade. If it is a pimped out grill, bad, bad trade.
I like the Laroche deal for the Pirates, but it could prove costly for the Phillies. The NL East has two lefty closers now, The Rat and Gonzalez. And with Utley and Howard forming the formidable part of the Phillies lineup, the matchups aren't exactly favorable.
The Pirates resigned Shawn Chacon. He's an absolute train-wreck of a pitcher and the Buccos wouldn't have it any other way.
It's bad enough that our first baseman is now an ex-Brave, but one of my favorite Bucco's will now be playing in Atlanta after Craig Wilson signed a 1 year $2 million deal.
Wilson was traded by the Blue Jays, along with Abraham Nunez, to the Pirates in a multi-player deal including notables Dan Plesac and Orlando Merced. Wilson and his mullet were solid in the 7 years he spent with the big club. Although he never hit higher than .267 (except for his rookie year) and was second in the league in K's in '04, he provided some power, some clutch hitting, and versatility. He also was the league leader in HBP twice. Unfortunately, the Bucco management never really liked him, and for the most part got screwed out of playing time, as the Pirates opted for the likes of Jer0-4my Burnitz, Matt Lawton, and Randall Simon...
The Indians signed Trot Nixon for one year and $3 million. Pretty cheap, I think. I would not have minded seeing something like this go down: trade Rowand for bullpen depth, make Victorino the starting CF, sign Nixon and Wilson to platoon in RF, make Wison primary RH pinch-hitter when not in RF and the 3rd string catcher (making the signing of Barajas unnecessary.) This would have saved money and added pitching & power. This is why we should be GM's.....