Mixed Reviews on the Trade

I call it a slight win for Atlanta, but really it's probably more of a win-win for both clubs. In terms of Major League impact Pittsburgh may have actually gotten the better end of the deal, but I think that Atlanta believes that in a first-baseman they traded from a position in which they can readily fill from within Minor League system - read Scott Thorman. And Thorman is one who adjusts each year to the new level he is promoted to. His Minor League Equivalencies from last year say that he could be a 25-homer, almost .800 OPS guy at the Major League level. And I've been meaning to say for weeks, if I haven't already, that for a seventh hitter in the batting order do we need LaRoche (after Chipper, Andruw, McCann, and Frenchy) to be putting up 35/105. I really think we are better off having a shut-down lefty in the pen who can also close, and a free-swinging thumper who can belt out 25+ homeruns and develop into a 35-homer guy for the following season. In the past we've had much worse in the seventh and eighth (left field or second base) spots in the order and we've managed just fine. If we can allow time for guys like Kelly Johnson and/or Scott Thorman to develop while they hit just below the league average in those spots then I'm for it.

Around the Pirates blogosphere there are also some mixed feelings.

Bucs Dugout has a great added-to and added-to post that reads like a play by play of who would fill out the trade. He was initially really excited about the deal adding:

As long as we're not talking about Andrew McCutchen, Brent Lillibridge or Neil Walker - and I don't see the Bucs trading any of those guys - this sounds too good to be true.

Oops! He comes around to the thought of losing Lillibridge, but still seems to have mixed feelings:

Actually, I have a feeling that I'll start to have second thoughts about this deal in a couple hours, but I'll try to keep reminding myself about what we got: a young, left-handed, 30-homer player who finished in the Top 10 in the NL in OPS last year. I like Lillibridge a lot and am more concerned with losing him than with losing Gonzalez, but Lillibridge is still barely out of Class A ball, has never shown much power and has been old for his levels. If the Pirates had some magic plan to compete in 2010, this wouldn't be the best deal, but they don't, so I won't worry too much about this.

Lillibridge is being billed as a prospect who's still a couple of years away from the Majors, but I wonder if the Braves organization thinks differently. With college prospects they can advance rapidly, but Lilli had a huge power drop-off last year when he was promoted to hi-A that might concern some. But looking further into his numbers he improved his batting average and his plate discipline when he was promoted and really didn't sacrifice that much power (considering). I would not be surprised to see him at the top of some people's short list for Braves opening day second basemen/lead-off man next year (remember, Furcal started out playing some second).

In other Pirates blog news, Bucco Blog is just glad it's finally done and seems to like the end result.

Also, no one is talking about how the Pirates kept all of their young starters - Snell, Duke, Gorzelanny, Maholm - we all thought the Braves would be able to snag one, but instead they seemed to have settled for a middle infield prospect (or were they after him all along, hummm).

Where have you gone, Andy Van Slyke thinks it's a bummer that the Bucs had to give up Brent Lillibridge, but in the end thinks is was worth it to get LaRoche. Just as the Braves traded from a position of strength at first base, the Pirates traded from their strength in the pen and the middle infield.

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