Thanks to the wonder of MLB.TV and my ability to enjoy it at work, I was able to become a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates from afar last season. Watching their afternoon games live and checking out their night games on archives the next morning, I was able to watch a large amount of the Bucs’ season and they sucked me in. I know you probably think I’m losing my mind after saying that the Pittsburgh Pirates sucked me in, but they are a lot of fun to watch and have a lot of young talent on that team and with the right additions, they are very close to contending in the National League. Enter the right addition.
As I mention in an article I wrote last week entitled “Time to Swashbuckle?” I wrote how desperately the Pirates wanted and needed a left handed power bat in their lineup. One of the names that were brought up was Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Chad Tracy. Tracy would have been a nice fit, but the Pirates preferred to have a first baseman. That’s one of the reason their sights were set on the young lefty slugger Adam LaRoche in Atlanta. Try as they might, they just couldn’t get the deal to work out as Atlanta wanted more than what the Pirates were offering. Until last night.
A deal was finally struck that sent the sweet-swinging LaRoche (.285, 32 HR, 90 RBI, and 7th in the NL with a .561 slugging percentage) and outfield prospect Jamie Romak to Pittsburgh in exchange for lefty closer Mike Gonzalez (24 for 24 in save opportunities and a 2.17 ERA) and the promising shortstop prospect Brent Lillibridge. This move is huge not only for obvious reasons, but also because of the excitement that is resonating from the Pirates clubhouse and their fans. Numerous Pirates players have come out over the past few weeks stating their desire to have management step up and bring in a big bat, in particular LaRoche. Now those same players are coming out again and saying how much they appreciate management coming through for them as they believe they have a great shot at contending. Something the Pirates haven’t been able to say in a long, long time.
While this one move isn’t enough to write their name in pen for the World Series by any means, but what it does do is gives the players energy and excitement. It also fills in what I believe was their biggest hole going into the 2007 season. Now the younger players need to step up and make the most of this opportunity. Especially since from what we saw last season, the National League only had one team that separated itself from the pack. That means its anyone’s for the taking.
Looks like since I got on early last season that I got a good front row seat on the Pittsburgh Pirates bandwagon. Hurry before we’re all filled up.