Wednesday, November 4, 2009


While Bucco fans debate the Aki Iwamura deal, here's what the world outside of Pittsburgh thinks of the trade:

-- Andrew Friedman, Rays VP of baseball operations from the Tampa Bay website:
"'Once it was clear to us that we were not going to pick up his (Iwamura's) option, we went out and tried to find a match. And Pittsburgh has been all over us for about a month now about him and really liked him. They felt like he was a good fit for them and they're getting a really good player.'

'Jesse's a guy who spent all year in the big leagues with the Pirates and has great arm strength. He's got some swing-and-miss stuff. And now it's about trying to harness it and have it play that way at the Major League level.

'He had success this year, but his ability is even greater in terms of his stuff. And sometimes guys take a little bit longer to mature, and we feel like he's got a real upside and has a chance to be a really good reliever.'"
-- Dave Cameron of Fan Graphs:
"Aki Iwamura is not going to lead the Pirates to the playoffs, but he’s also a potentially useful player who will improve the 2009 club without harming the development of any significant pieces. There is value in these kinds of transactions.

While rebuilding teams have to look towards the future, they also have to avoid the death spiral that can occur when a small revenue team fails to put a good product on the field, drives away the fan base, and in the process lowers future revenues. Developing a fan base is in many ways like developing a farm system – it requires a present term investment that theoretically returns greater future value."
--SFiercex4 from Beyond the Boxscore:
"When taken in a vacuum, the Pirates clearly came out a winner. Pittsburgh gets to fill a gaping hole at second base with a player who is more than capable of performing at or above league average level. The Pirates should be quite happy to have Iwamura on their team to replace Delwyn Young at second base.

The Rays appear to have gotten very little in return for Iwamura, but this was to be expected. They had a logjam in the infield and Iwamura's $4.85M option was unlikely to be picked up. In order to salvage some value from him instead of paying his buyout and receiving nothing, the Rays turned the $500K they would have paid to have Iwamura leave and instead received an arbitration-controlled arm that could presumably be plugged into their bullpen at a slight discount.

The Rays had little to no leverage and came out with another player on their roster who will make very little and the difference between the buyout and the rookie salary. It cannot be considered a win, but the Rays simply cannot be blamed. Call it a win-neutral, if you will."
-- Matthew Pouliot of NBC Sports:
"Iwamura is worth the cash. In three years since arriving in the U.S., he's hit .281/.354/.393 in 1349 at-bats. Iwamura has proven to be well above average at second base, and should be an upgrade over what Freddy Sanchez gave them defensively and approximately his equal offensively.

Still, one wonders if this is really the right direction for the Pirates. Second base tends to be a very easy position to fill in the offseason. Had Iwamura become a free agent, it's unlikely that he would have received a higher salary than the option called for. $8 million over two years seemed the most likely scenario.

Last year, the teams that tried to get a jump on the market usually ended up getting burned. The same could happen this winter."
-- Matt Eddy of Baseball America:
"The Pirates and Rays kicked off the 2009 offseason trading period with a minor exchange. Tampa Bay sent veteran Japanese import Akinori Iwamura, the second baseman for the franchise's '08 pennant winner, to Pittsburgh for righthanded reliever Jesse Chavez, who made a club-leading 73 appearances in '09, his first full season in the big leagues.

Pittsburgh may be just a stopover for Iwamura on his way to another organization in need of a veteran who can play second or third base and bat at the top of the order."
-- RJ Anderson of DRaysBay blog:
"Baseball knew the Rays were in a difficult position with Akinori Iwamura. There was no way he was returning for that salary and draft compensation was not an option, so the Rays' hands were tied. Chavez has the chance to turn into a nice piece for the 2010 bullpen. In a vacuum, this deal favors the Pirates."
-- Jim Breen of the Bernie's Crew Brewers' blog:
"Nice pick-up for the Pirates. The only downside to the move was that the Rays were likely to non-tender Iwamura later in the offseason. The Pirates, however, would not have been guaranteed his services for the 2010 season."
And hey, we had to throw one Pittsburgh voice in to sum it all up, Wilbur Miller of Pirate Player Profiles:
"In Japan he (Iwamura) was a power hitter, with as many as 44 HRs in a season. Like other Japanese hitters, though, he became more of an on-base guy in the US, with mainly gap power. It's possible, as a left-handed hitter, he could add power thanks to PNC Park's short RF porch, but his tendency has been to hit the ball to the opposite field when he hits it in the air. He also could benefit by moving from the much stronger AL East to the NL.

For the Pirates, he'll be a huge upgrade at second, which became a gaping hole after Freddy Sanchez' departure. His acquisition also should end any talk about Andy LaRoche moving from third. (It probably will not put an end to the knee-jerk insistence in some quarters that every single move the Pirates make is a cost-cutting measure.) It remains to be seen whether there's any chance of Iwamura staying in Pittsburgh beyond 2010."

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