If you are a baseball fan, today was cool. Really cool. There were trades all over the place and big surprises. One of the big surprises was that Roy Halladay was not among those traded. But the biggest surprise of the day was bigger than the Cliff Lee to the Phillies. Not bigger in impact because the Phillies got themselves a heck of a pitcher. The bigger surprise was that the Pirates gutted their middle infield.
We'll get to Cliff Lee in a minute. What the Pirates have done is stunning. They have now traded their starting center fielder (McLouth), left fielder (Nyger Morgan), first baseman, second baseman, shortstop and a pitcher with a lot of talent that has been a bit lost lately. If you look at their line up for Wednesday, you still see one of the LaRoche brothers, McCutchen and who? Who? Who? and Who? Predictably, they got three hits against the Giants and went scoreless leaving Zack Duke to go back to his hotel room scratching his head.
The Pirates haven't been a good team for a very long time. Pitching has been a problem for a long time. But when you looked at some of their veteran players, they seemed like nice parts. Jack Wilson has been a Fan favorite for a long time. Sure he has a 79 lifetime OPS+. But the guy is a wizard at shortstop and hearkens back to the Mark Belangers of the world. Freddie Sanchez won a batting title and he and Wilson made some of the prettiest double plays in all of baseball.
McLouth has turned into a heck of a player and has really been a stabilizing force for the Braves. And Morgan has been unreal since joining the Nationals. His OPS+ with the Nats is 139! And it seems he has been on the fielding highlights every night of the week.
But now most of them are gone. McCutchen has a chance to be a really good player. The jury is still out on the younger LaRoche they still have. The pitching has come around a lot this year and the defense was ranked number one in the National League.
But still, the team was more competitive in the early going this year than in previous years and even with the slippage, have a higher winning percentage than last year. So it seemed they were making progress. They stressed defense and starting pitching and for the most part, they succeeded in that plan. But now they have pulled it all down and have gotten a bunch of talented prospects and dumped a lot of salary, though Rob Neyer showed that Wilson and Sanchez were underpaid by quite a bit.
If the Fan was a Pirate fan, there would be a lot of head scratching right about now. Wilson will certainly help the Mariners who haven't had a good shortstop since a guy named A-Rod played there. Sanchez will certainly help the Giants. LaRoche seems to be a pretty good fit in Fenway. Ian Snell showed promise early in his career and a fresh start could help him. McLouth will be helping the Braves for a long time to come. Hinske is already helping the Yankees in a part time role and we've already talked about Morgan.
Time will tell if this will pan out for the Pirates in the long haul, but for the short term, they are decimated.
Just two weeks ago, Mark Shapiro said that Cliff Lee would not be traded. So imagine the surprise when baseball Fans everywhere saw on the Web that Lee was heading to Philadelphia, who tired in their interaction with the Blue Jays over Halladay. Lee had a tough start this year, but he has been brilliant since and his 3.14 ERA belies his sub-.500 won-loss record. Carrasco will be a nice player for the Indians, but this had to be a salary issue for Cleveland who have lost 6,000 fans per game since 2007. It's an ugly epitaph for what has been a lost season for the Indians who still might trade their leader and catcher/first baseman, Victor Martinez.
For the Phillies and the Giants, they have certainly solidified those teams for the final stretch with the additions of Lee and Sanchez respectively.
We have two more days until the end of the trading deadline and, if today was any indication, it could be a fun couple of days.