By now, unless you have been asleep under a rock, you have heard of the trade that has Pirate fans in a frenzy. After so many weeks we finally have Jamie Romak!!!
I really hate seeing Brent Lillibridge and Mike Gonzalez go, but it is worth it. It may seem weird me naming Lillibridge before Gonzo, there is good reason. I had a chance to see Lillibridge play in a college game and was awe struck. This kid is a player. He does not look like the fastest of runners, but I would guarantee he would give Duffy a run for his money 1st to home.
Lillibridge also plays a great defense. His defense is very sound and has the ability to make the tough play look routine. The Braves fans will love this guy when he makes it to Atlanta.
I have been reading on Romak most of the night. He is a large "Canadian Lumberjack" type who plays corner IF and OF. It seems he has a really good eye for the strike zone, considering the number of walks he drew last season. I am assuming he must have a hole in his swing or over swings based on the number of strikeouts. He does make a pitcher pay for mistakes. Likely he has a questionable glove based on all the positions he has played. Some in the Braves organization seemed to be very high on him and his power.
With Romak, he is likely going to follow the Jason Bay trek to the majors. He is 21 in A ball, but like most Canadians, he will likely be a late bloomer. It seems players from Canada reach their potential a little later in their career due to the shortness of the "Warm Month" (yes, I know it is singular) their baseball skills take somewhat longer to hone. It is nice to see a power bat in the minors with upside.
Overall I think both teams did very well with this deal. Atlanta was looking for bullpen help and a second baseman who could bat lead off. If there is any drawback from Atlanta's side, it would have to be the price they paid for Gonzo as a setup man. If he was planned to be the closer, this deal would make more sense for Atlanta.
The Pirates are filling 2 holes, both revolving around power. Lefty McThump has finally arrived in Pittsburgh. second, there is an actual power prospect in the Pirates system. They dealt from 2 areas of strength in bullpen and middle infielders and filled two gaping holes.
Well Done Mr. Littlefield. Now about that right handed pitcher...
Does this make the Pirates a .500 team and contender for a wild card in 2007? Not likely. There are still too many questions in the lineup and rotation. Not due to a lack of skill, more to a lack of experience.
I really like the Pirates lineup going into the season. Nady will have a very nice season now that he is acclimated to the Pittsburgh Franchise. I like him as the right fielder batting 6th. I think one of Paulino, Bautista or Castillo will have a breakout year with the bat power wise. they will be good protection in the 7 and 8 holes. this team could have quite a nice offensive season.
My main concern is with the starting rotation. They are young and still proving themselves. If the rotation can hold together and stay healthy, the losing streak may be coming to an end. I believe 2007 will set the table and expectations for 2008 and 2009. If they are close to .500 in 2007, look for playoff runs in 2008 and 2009. I would guess a 78 win season is in order for 2007.
The big question now should be: Is the genius (cough) Dave Littlefield done being a master trader?
This is a fine send off for Kevin McClatchy. The owners are expected to approve the change of "owner" on the 18th.