Wednesday, August 04, 2004

New Paul Meyer

There's lots of interesting stuff in Paul Meyer's new Q+A. First up is Meyer trying to defend the Benson trade:

Doesn't sound like much? Well, consider that Benson didn't generate all that much interest from other teams to begin with. Only a handful had serious interest in acquiring him - and there certainly were more than a handful of teams that needed starting pitching.

Well, "a handful" - in this case, at least about half a dozen - is actually quite a lot of teams going after one player. And the Mets traded a top prospect (Justin Huber) to acquire a guy to send to the Pirates for Benson, and they traded a terrific prospect (Scott Kazmir) for Victor Zambrano, a worse pitcher than Benson. And the Pirates were widely rumored to have been offered Casey Kotchman, who's a great hitting prospect, and the Phillies' Ryan Howard, who's at least a very intriguing one.

Anyway, we've been down this road before. The rest of the Q+A is filled with angry letters from fans who didn't like the trade at all. Good for them.

More interesting stuff:

Freddy Sanchez? He's been hurt so much since the Pirates acquired him from Boston a year ago that he's a non-factor for the immediate future at second base. Sanchez, who turns 27 years old in December, almost without doubt will return to Nashville next season.

Ouch. Meyer may be right about this. That's really disappointing, given the promise Sanchez has shown in the past.

[Bryan] Bullington is 7-7 with a 4.43 earned run average and hasn't dominated in a single start. That makes one think Bullington will at least begin next season back with Altoona.

Wow again. It's not that I find this news terribly surprising - what's surprising is to read a Pirates homer like Meyer admitting these things. Bullington is looking more and more like a bust. And B.J. Upton just made his major league debut this week.

* * *

The Pirates lost tonight, but as losses go this one was easier to take than most. The Bucs managed to score a couple runs off Eric Gagne, which is almost like a little win in itself. Although he gave up three runs and didn't really get the job done, Oliver Perez was impressive - he struck out ten in five innings and walked only three, and he didn't allow any homers.

And most of the damage to the Pirates was inflicted by new Dodgers starter Brad Penny. It's wonderful to see Penny's first start go so well. Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta has taken a spectacular beating in the press for sending Paul Lo Duca, Guillermo Mota and Juan Encarnacion to the Marlins for Penny, Hee Seop Choi and Bill Murphy. I posted an entry below about the trade a few minutes after it was announced - I thought it was a fantastic deal for the Dodgers. But the national press declared the Marlins the clear winner, citing LoDuca's intangibles and leadership. Their criticism of DePodesta often took a moral tone, and critics accused him of breaking up the team and of trading the heart and soul of the team (the best response of the week came from Al's Ramblings: "Finally, Lo Duca, or shall I refer to him as Jesus Christ?").

While DePodesta's trade was a gamble in the sense that the Dodgers were already in first place, he pretty clearly got the two best players in the deal in Penny and Choi. Both are young and likely to get better; Lo Duca, as a catcher in his thirties, is likely to get worse. And he has a history of falling apart in the second half. It was a great trade by the Dodgers, and because of Penny's excellent start, the intangibles columnists will probably tone it down - for a day or two, at least.

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