Put down your crack-pipe, gather the kids around the blog, because we got Pirates news to talk about!!!!!
Yesterday, the Pirates received shortstop Cesar Izturis and $1.4 million from the Cubs for Player To Be Named Later (who was having a hell of a year in State College for the Spikes, and will be missed.)
Izturis is pretty much a garbage can full of trash with decent range. And don't let anyone pull the old, "He's a former All-Star" crap on you. In his AS year of 2005, he batted .257-2-31, with a .302 OBP, a .322 SLG and 8 steals. Basically, he can't hit for average, can't hit for power, can't get on base, and doesn't steal when he does get on. He won a Gold Glove in 2004 (and with those hitting stats, it might have been for real too...) but has 7 errors already this season. He's no Hanley Ramirez, who apparently plays without a glove at short, but to hit like that and make the money he's making, he should be fielding a touch better than .964.
So, why in the name of Cam Bonifay did the Pirates trade for this guy? Wasn't having one former-starter middle-infield backup in Jose Castillo not enough? Is Izturis Castillo's insurance? The only thing I can think of, and by "think" I mean copy from every other article written about this trade, is that Jack Wilson, our slack-jawed shortstop, is on his way out of town. They can't afford to keep two .250-hitting shortstops and pay them $8 million, especially when neither one of them is Mike Benjamin.
The question then is: Who needs a .250 hitting, $5 million earning shortstop who calls out is teammates in spring training and gets in shouting matches with his coaches in the dugout after missing a pop-up? Phillies? No, but don't tempt them. Yankees, Red Sox, or Blue Jays? Nope. Anyone in MLB? I doubt it. Here are the likely candidates:
Yakult Swallows - 32-44 and 9.5 back of the Chunichi Dragons....wow, they suck. The Swallows need help, Jack Wilson style, because .250 over here is like hitting .385 over in Japan. I figured that out using the Tuffy Rhodes Statistical Translation Device (TRSTD.) I don't know much about Yakult or their players, but I'm sure they have an overhyped, nothing prospect or fading veteran that the Buccos would love to have.
Lancaster Barnstormers - The Barnstormers shortstop is former Phillies 4th round draft pick Danny Gonzalez. He's batting .290-14-42, which is quite good. However, he is hitting off of Independent League pitching. If Wilson would have this opportunity for a whole season, I project his stats at .545-87-210. Again, I used the JD Drew/St. Paul Saints formula of the TRSTD to figure that one out. The only problem with this move is that the bus would have to drive past the homes of the Washington Wild Things and the York Revolution, who may just snatch him up before he makes it to Amish Country.
Mt. Holly Twilight Team - Mt. Holly (just outside of Carlisle, Pa and home to former Pirate and slow-footed runner still fast enough to beat a pre-steroid throw to the plate by Barroid Bonds, Sid Bream) is struggling in the West Shore Twilight Baseball League. They are only 2-25 and are 45 points (hockey scoring?) behind first-place Enola. Sure it's an amatuer league and once the budget is used up for hats, baseballs and some pine tar to put on the already rubber-coated handle of an aluminum bat (yes, people do this...) they might not have much to pay Jack. However, I could see the Pirates paying most of his salary if Mt. Holly gives them a prospect or two in return. And again, using the TRSTD, I think Jack could hit about .825-115-150 for "The Holly." [RBI totals will be low, because I doubt a team that goes 2-25 gets many men on base.]
In any event, good luck to Jack wherever he goes and I look forward to reading "Izturis 4-0-0-0" in the boxscore for at least the rest of the year.