Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ANOTHER LITTLEFIELD MISTAKE UNDONE AS ADAM LAROCHE IS FINALLY UNLOADED



ABOVE: There were no cream pies for Adam LaRoche today, just a plane ticket to Boston as he was traded to the Red Sox. LaRoche, currently mired in another long batting slump, is batting .247 with 12 homers and 40 rbi.

"I'm not opposed to playing here for the rest of my career, if it can be worked out," LaRoche said. "If they were to approach me, I would take it very seriously. I would take a long look at it to stay here. ... Especially with my brother [Andy] being here. I want to play with him as long as I can. And I love the group of guys. I like the staff that we have. My family likes Pittsburgh, and I don't want to leave that"---- Adam LaRoche

Neal Huntington pulled off another trade today that someday may be considered one of his best ever. Not for what he got, for what he got rid of. Sent packing was first baseman, Adam LaRoche and his $7.05 million salary. He was an enormous disappointment who was obtained from the Atlanta braves for reliever Mike Gonzalez.

In return, the Pirates get talented AA shortstop Argenis Diaz and single A pitcher, Hunter Strickland from the Boston Red Sox organization. Diaz, 22, is being promoted to Indianapolis where he will become their everyday shortstop. Strickland, 20, will report to Double A. The word on the two prospects is that Diaz is a potential gold glove fielder who needs big-time work on his hitting in Indy (batting .256 in AA) while the 6'5" Strickland is described as being "very athletic" with an 89- 91 mph fastball. Huntington referred to him as, "The type of player we would draft." He has a 3.67 era in class A Greenville with 51 strikeouts and 13 walks in 83 1/2 innings.

If this isn't good enough news for the Bucs already, how's this for the "cake-taker"? The Red Sox will also reportedly assume all of LaRoche's remaining $2.95 million in remaining 2009 salary. WOW! Now, if he so desires to spend it, Huntington has roughly the $3 million that he needs to acquire that Dominican wunderkind shortstop prospect Sano that he's been thinking about... without breaking the bank.

Garrett Jones played first base today for the Pirates in their 8-7 win over Milwaukee, but it appears that Steve Pearce is going to get the opportunity to play there on an everyday basis. Pearce was called-up from Indy, but surprisingly, "(B)Lastings" Milledge was not.

As is the case with all prospects, they are nothing but an "educated roll of the dice", but in the case of LaRoche, it was clear that he had no future in Pittsburgh. His prolonged batting slumps have been maddening, to both management and the fans. LaRoche was unquestionably one of the finest first basemen the Pirates have ever had...defensively. But when he was acquired from the Braves, all that was said was how he would exploit the short right field wall at PNC Park. That never happened as more often or not, LaRoche was mired in a horrible batting slump.

How Neal Huntington managed this latest trade is any one's guess although it's been suggested that he may have some compromising photos of Boston GM Theo Epstein. Either that, or maybe Epstein feels guilty about how well the Jason bay trade worked out...for him. One thing is for certain, it has been amazing watching Huntington extricate himself, one by one, from the horrible personnel decisions of David Littlefield, a general manager who could go down in Pirates history as possibly their worst ever, and that's saying something.

Even if Diaz and Strickland never play an inning for the Pirates,today they at least managed to unload an anchor in LaRoche while saving nearly $3 million in the process. I'd say the GM earned his salary today.