What? It's a pirate. It's a story about pirates, and this is a picture of a pirate. Totally justified.
Stuck here in the doldrums of the early baseball offseason, with only a World Series in which I hate both teams to watch, it's nice to have any little bit of news or movement to talk about.
So I'm honestly kind of excited to see Akinori Iwamura get traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Pittsburgh Pirates, if only because it gives me a reason to go digging around the internet for baseball news.
Oh, and besides being excited, I'm also a little perplexed.
Honestly, what the fuck are the Pirates thinking?
Obviously, the Pirates are no strangers to stupid trades. (Aramis Ramirez
to the Cubs, anyone?) But this one just flat-out doesn't make any damned sense. The Pittsburgh Pirates were 62-99 in 2009
. That's one loss short of joining the illustrious 100-loss club. Their Pythagorean record was 67-94, so they may have gotten a slight bit unlucky in the win/loss department, but it isn't as if this is a team quite a bit better than their record. And the 2010 edition? I'm not sure where the upgrades are supposed to be. Andrew McCutcheon
looks like the real deal, but Garrett Jones
is due for some regression. Jack Wilson
is another year older, their pitching staff will be exactly the same. The Pirates are getting better gradually, but I don't believe they're in for some huge leap forward next season.
Akinori Iwamura will turn 31 before the 2010 season begins, and will make at least $4.25 million. (He has an option for '10 which could escalate to $5.25 million based on plate appearances in 2007-09, but I can't find the exact figures, nor if he reached them. It's probably safer to assume the 4.25 figure as the correct one.) For a team which nearly lost 100 games just this season, I can't imagine why they would want to bring in a good-but-not-great middle infielder nearing the age when middle infielders fall off the face of the earth who's also going to be something like the second or third highest-paid player on their team next season. It just doesn't make any fucking sense.
Alright, fine. Now it's a Japanese pirate, just like Iwamura-san. Happy now? Jesus, you people are picky.
Now, please don't think I'm saying Iwamura won't help the Pirates, or that he isn't a good ballplayer. He will, and he is. In fact, I would personally love to see Iwamura patrolling second base for the Cardinals next season. Not for the price difference between he and Skip Schumaker, mind you, as the two are essentially the exact same player offensively and while Iwamura would be a marginal upgrade with the glove, I believe, it wouldn't be worth the money. Still, for a team like the Cardinals, who are right in the thick of contention, a move like bringing in Iwamura could definitely make sense.
Not so for the Pirates, though. They're obviously trying to fill the hole left when they traded away Freddy Sanchez
to the Giants
, but this is just the absolute wrong way of going about it. I realise the Pirates still want to field a representative team, I suppose, but a guy like Iwamura doesn't do what the Pirates need him to do beyond just 2010, and let's face it: the Pirates need to be looking beyond 2010. They should be looking for guys more like the man the Rays will likely replace Iwamura with, Ben Zobrist
. Zobrist himself likely wasn't available, of course, as he just might be the next great second baseman in baseball
, but that's they type
of players the Pirates need to be focusing on. Players just coming into their own, who might be blocked with their current team for whatever reason. Not guys making solid money on the wrong side of 30 who aren't signed beyond what will, in all likelihood, be another losing season.
Then again, making moves like this is why the Pirates are, and look very likely to remain, the Pirates.