Wednesday, July 22, 2009

LaRoche Joins the Goodbye Gang

Well, we all knew someone else was due to get a plane ticket out of town. Today's winner was first baseman Adam LaRoche, sent to the Boston Red Sox for a pair of lower-tier prospects.

LaRoche joins Nate McLouth, Eric Hinske, Nyjer Morgan, and Sean Burnett as ex-Buccos, with more to come. Brought here in a 2007 from Atlanta with Jamie Romak for Mike Gonzalez and Brent Lillibridge, he put together a line of .265/58/213 in 2-1/2 seasons as a Pirate, never becoming the every day clean-up presence the suits had hoped for.

He'll be remembered in Pittsburgh for his streak hitting, tearing it up in the second half of the season after being seemingly incapable of hitting a beach ball until sometime late in June.

LaRoche will be an insurance policy for the BoSox, allowing them to give Mike Lowell a blow or becoming an everyday option if his hip doesn't hold up.

The Bucs got back a pair of middle-of-the-pack youngsters.

The more highly touted is SS Argenis Diaz, 22. He bats right-handed and is hitting .253 for Class AA Portland. Diaz is purely a Punch-and-Judy stick, but he's supposed to have a plus mitt and arm. The Venezuelan was rated the #29 prospect in the Boston system by Sox

He became yesterday's news behind 21 year-old up-and-comer Yamaico Navarro as Boston's shortstop of the future, and 19 year-old Oscar Tejeda was gaining ground.

The Pirates plan to send Diaz to Indy, no doubt to fast-track him if Jack Splat doesn't sign and finds a taker before September. He's on the 40-man roster of Boston and we assume he'll take LaRoche's spot there for Pittsburgh; he signed young and has been Rule 5 eligible since 2008.

The other player coming to Pittsburgh is RHP Hunter Strickland, 20. He's a 6' 5" starter drafted out of high school, with an average heater in the 90 MPH range, and has a slow curve and an in-progress change with good control and a low K rate. His line this year is 5-4/3.35 ERA at Class A Greenville of the Sally League.

Sox had him rated as the #38 prospect in the organization. Strickland will start out as a member of the Class A West Virginia Power rotation.

The Lastings Milledge watch will have to continue a while longer. The Bucs said they'll call up Steve Pearce. Hopefully, he'll get some at-bats this time around.

But JR could easily go with Garrett Jones at first and an outfield of Brandon Moss, Andrew McCutchen, and Delwyn Young for the time being and not get an argument from anyone. We'll see how it plays out for Pearce this time around.

We're not sure when it's safe to bring Milledge up as far as service time is concerned; he's pretty close to being arbitration-eligible, and the Bucs will avoid starting that clock this year.

All in all, no complaints about the deal from GW.

A two-month rent-a-player doesn't bring much back in return, and apparently the Red Sox outbid the Giants for his services. It fills a couple of organizational holes, and gives the Pirates at least a glove at short when and if Jack Wilson gets his walking papers.

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