Acquisition of Izturis Should Signal Fire Sale

Jayson Stark welcomes you to Dullsville:

“In terms of excitement,” said [a] front-office man, “this may go down as the worst trade deadline ever.”
We can cite all sorts of reasons—the epidemic of contract extensions, that disappearing species once known as “the salary dumper,” the understandable reluctance to trade draft picks who just raked in gigantic signing bonuses, and enough parity to keep all but a couple of teams from thinking it’s time to blow it up and rebuild.

Well, Pirate fans, Dullsville it is. Are we there yet?
Maybe not.
We know our black and gold buccaneers are usually a little behind in the times. Thankfully, then (depending on how you view these sorts of things), they may just be one of those “couple of teams” thinking about an explosion.
The Pirates won’t extend Shawn Chacon (criteria no. 1), they’re surely looking to dump about $17 million worth of Jack Wilson (criteria no. 2), they refuse to pay their draft picks large signing bonuses (criteria no. 3) and our second-half win total (zero) leads you to believe that making the playoffs is out of the question (criteria no. 4).
No matter what Dave Littlefield says, I smell a fire sale burning.
Fans were outraged at the acquisition of Cesar Izturis yesterday, and I’m not quite sure why. Yes, he’s a replacement level player and no, he won’t likely be back next year and no, he’s not the big bat that’s going to magically vault the Pirates into October.
But if sending a middle reliever to the Cubs for Izturis and a few bucks means that the Pirates are finally ready to give up, I’m all for it.
As I said last year at this time, I’m not going to be a happy camper if Wilson, Damaso Marte, Salomon Torres and Shawn Chacon survive past the July 31 deadline. As Stark noted, there’s no one on the market for contenders to buy. Our guys look like palatable options for a contender. We’ve got a slick fielding utility guy, a couple right-handed middle relievers and a LOOGY.
Get what you can.
Going a step further, no one on the major-league roster would be untouchable right now if I were in charge. That means I’d be listening to offers for Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny and Jason Bay. Why?
Because I doubt that the Pirates will be contenders while any of those guys are on our roster. Haul in a king’s ransom now while value is near its peak.

Author: Randy Linville

Randy is currently living and thriving in suburban Dayton, OH with his wife and two kids. He was raised in Cincinnati, OH and attended Anderson High School. He went to Miami University (Ohio) and received a degree in Paper Science Engineering from MU. He is a devout Christian and a pop culture buff. He coaches his son’s baseball and basketball teams and his daughters softball and basketball teams. Randy has been a Pirates fan since the late 1970s and has fond memories of the 1979 World Series team. He began blogging for Most Valuable Network in 5/2004 after stumbling across a help-wanted sign for a Pirates blogger. He wrote for Pittsburgh Lumber Co. until the site merged with Pirates Prospects in 2/2011.

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  • http://mvn.com/mlb-pirates Cory Humes

    Why am I the only one that has any faith in Littlefield’s trading ability?
    He was solid at last year’s deadline. Two players he moved are now out of baseball, one’s on his way out, and one is having a solid year.
    In return he pulled two middle relievers who could contribute someday, our most consistent hitter one of our best trading chips this season.
    Not fantastic, but certainly not terrible.
    Over the off-season, he traded an injury prone closer and a prospect who was too old for his level for the big left-handed bat we needed and another marginal prospect. No matter how low LaRoche’s batting average, he’s healthy and has stayed on the active roster — more you can say for Gonzalez.
    He pulled Freddy Sanchez to the Pirates in a fantastic trade, and Bay, too.
    The Aramis Ramirez and Jason Schmidt deals are hard to swallow, sure, but they happened eons ago.
    He may botch the draft and free agency, but I’ve always considered Littlefield to be a decent trader.

  • Lou

    I, for one, hope they don’t make any deals. I have absolutely no faith in DL in acquiring any talent. So what I am hoping for is a new GM to make deals in the winter. If DL moves wilson and those guys, the new GM has little to move to improve the team. The only one that should be moved is Chacon because he’s a FA.

  • http://mvn.com/mlb-pirates/ Randy

    I agree with you, Lou. If any deals are to be made by DL, I hope they only involving sending away second tier talent b/c I have no faith in DL’s ability to get value in return. If DL trades Snell, Gorzo or Bay or anyone else who could contribute on a contender, he’ll be taken to the cleaners (again).

  • Bill

    The term “Fire Sale” generally implys breaking up something of value to save money. The PBC core is filled with average talent – “Fire Sale” does not apply.
    They have obviously given up on this season (though they will be “surprised” that attendance drops as the season continues), so they are better off selling most of the “talent” for cash (I’d hold onto Gorzzy, Snell, Doumit, and Nady – unless players with greater future All-Star potential are in the offing). Bring up the full AAA Indy team to “season” at the MLB level. Can they really do worse than the current sub-.500 pace? They are already a league joke – let’s get something out of it.
    Teams with the best players tend to win the most games. Littlefield’s W-L record (after 6 years of rebuild) is a solid indication he can be trusted to do little to effect necessary major improvement.

  • http://none Brad Crouse

    I see both Randy and Cory’s points… and I agree with both of you. The returns on the trades will probably be in the middle I guess. But yes, I do hope they blow this whole thing up, Snell, Bay, LaRoche, Nady be damned.

  • http://mvn.com/mlb-pirates/ Randy

    I don’t trust DL trading away quality – guys that are stars or have the potential to be stars, whether that potential be fulfilled or not. He pulled off the Giles swap. That was good.
    Given the injury to Gonzalez, the LaRoche trade looks good.
    I call the Sanchez acquisition dumb luck. DL thought so little of Freddy that he signed Joe Randa last year. I don’t think the organization was that high on him.
    Ramirez, Schmidt and Benson (who falls into the potential unfulfilled category) brought next to nothing when they should’ve brought something. Perez for Nady might work out okay. Oliver returned from injury to pitch pretty well and Nady has been solid. So far, that one is too close to call.
    So, in trading high end talent I give him credit for one trade that brought value to both teams (Bay and Ollie for Giles), one that looks good so far (LaRoche), one that is so-so (Nady for Ollie) and still early, one that worked out okay, but was lucky (Sanchez) and three that were monumental disasters. So I don’t trust him when it comes to evaluating high end players.
    I have to think that any GM could’ve swapped Wells and Casey for middle relievers. Those guys are the types of second tier players that I feel okay about DL moving by 7/31.

  • Paul B.

    DL is an awful trader! For one I don’t think DL knew what he was getting when he traded for Freddie. Remember last year [let's sign and play Joe Randa instead of Freddie] and let’s not forget that He only got Freddie after they had to redo the trade with Boston when he tried to give Gonzo away for an injured Lyons. He also got lucky with Bay [wanted Nady instead] ,so maybe a lot of DL’s success [which isn't much] is more luck than skill. Also last I checked Lillibridge is at AAA. I also think DL should have traded for an outfielder instead of a firstbaseman. He should have handed the job to Brad Eldred to either sink or swim. With Nady able to play OF or 1B, if He sank Nady could have played 1B. Now Brad rots in AAA and we’ll never know for sure what he could have done. I agree wholeheartedly with Lou. You can’t depend on the man who led you into the ditch to lead you out.

  • http://mvn.com/mlb-pirates Cory Humes

    Lillibridge won’t turn out to be more than a utility player, it seems — at least that’s the way the Braves are treating him. He’s fairly far down on their infield depth chart.
    Eldred sank. We know for sure, seeing as how he can’t hit his body weight there. He got more than a fair shot, I think.
    And as for Littlefield’s trading history — perhaps it’s better to be lucky than good. I don’t necessarily love the idea of having him in charge of our fate, but if that’s the route the Pirates are going to take — and I have to assume it is until it isn’t — then I’d be looking to blow the team up ASAP rather than waiting for players’ values to drop, the farm system not to pan out, etc.