Last year, many had Seattle contending for the AL West crown only to look bad as Jarrod Washburn struggled and Erik Bedard went down to injury. This year, forecasts for Seattle were more conservative – and yet here is Seattle just 7-1/2 behind Los Angeles and an outside shot to take down a wild card spot. So – rather than deal away talent, Seattle tried to fill a couple of holes and just might have done it. Seattle acquired shortstop Jack Wilson, who had complained about his lot in Pittsburgh, and Ian Snell, whose struggles earned him a ticket to AAA, for a quintet of players including Jeff Clement, Ronnie Cedeno and three others.
Seattle Gets: A solid fielder, even at 31, who is looking for a change of scenery. Jack Wilson is 25 runs each season better than the departed Yuniesky Betancourt and the recently struggling Ronnie Cedeno (a good utility infielder, though – and a legitimately great fielder). Wilson won’t put these guys over the top, but he’s a step up for sure and might be even better now that he’s with a team that – so far as he knows – isn’t dealing away anybody with talent for prospects.
Ian Snell is the wild card. He SHOULD be a solid #3 starter, but because he’s been in Pittsburgh where arms go lame and playing for a team that hasn’t had a sense of direction, he hasn’t really developed into the top flight starter he should be. That being said, he can be fixed; he can be saved. Seattle give him that opportunity. And, if Bedard can come back and give the Mariners eight to ten solid starts, you almost have to like their chances to make a run in September. It may not be enough, but if they find one more piece – preferably a hitter – the Mariners are contenders.
Pittsburgh Gets: Well. I’m not sure. Jeff Clement was a first round pick out of USC – and should be what Ryan Doumit is. But he hasn’t been that good. Look, if you play in the PCL, just drop 50 points off the batting average – and Clement has hit about .275. That doesn’t equal a major leaguer. Maybe he can find something in Pittsburgh to add 40 points to his batting average and unlock his power. However, he’ll be 26 in a month and he’s running out of time as a prospect. He can catch – and if Doumit becomes a permanent first baseman, he’ll help out for a year or two. After that, though, I’m not sold on Jeff Clement.
Ronny Cedeno has improved some with more time in the majors – as a hitter. He’s a gold glove candidate if he plays 1000 innings in the field. So, the Pirates got Jack Wilson without the bad attitude and a little less punch. I’ll try not to get too excited, though. If Pittsburgh is to win at all on this deal, the three minor leaguers had better be prospects.
Nathan Adcock is a high school draft pick from 2006 who isn’t making great progress in the minors. He has some stuff, but no command and remains – three years later – with A+ High Desert Mavericks. If he makes a big step up in his control, he’s got a shot at being a mop up reliever. At this point, though, he’s losing ground on being a ranked prospect.
Brett Lorin is a young arm pitching for Clinton (A) right now – and pitching really well. A starter with good command – a great K/W ratio, too – Lorin has a chance to make this work for Pittsburgh. The problem is (a) he’s still three years away, and (b) Pittsburgh has wasted the arms of so many prospects. Otherwise, I like this kid and think that the 2012 rotation may feature Lorin in the #4 or #5 spot. If he gets further than that, the Pirates will have overhauled their development program.
Aaron Pribanic is pitching with Lorin at Clinton. Drafted out of the University of Nebraska, he’s got decent numbers but at a glance his stuff isn’t quite as nasty as Lorin’s. Given a few years to mature, though, he might turn into Matt Herges – and that wouldn’t be a bad career. We’ll get a few baseball cards, anyway. I don’t see him making a huge difference in the Pirates fortunes in 2012, but he could be on the roster.
In summary, I think Seattle wins this one – getting two guys who can help now and might have an immediate impact just by being freed from the Bucs dungeon. Pittsburgh, however, only removed two talents who were no longer friends of management to acquire the next Andy Marte, Rey Ordonez, and three guys to fill out the AA roster. I’ll root for Lorin to wear the black and yellow, though.
In a related trade… Disappointing prospect Wladimir Balentien was shuttled to Cincinnati for reliever Robert Manuel. I’m okay with this – Balentien might help the Reds in a utility outfielder role and he certainly needs a change of scenery, having failed in Seattle and being designated for assignment. However, Manuel isn’t bad – good control in the minors, strikes out a lot of guys. If this translates to big league success, you’re talking about getting a seventh inning guy or long reliever you aren’t embarrassed to shove out there if needed. I like both of these moves for Seattle. I DON’T think they’re going to catch teams and surprise someone in the playoffs, but they definitely improved the roster for very little cost.