Trade Deadline, 2010
Saturday 07-31-2010 8:22pm ET
Some notes on the Pirates work at the trade deadline:

--Pirates trade Bobby Crosby, Ryan Church and DJ Carrasco for Chris Snyder, minor league SS Pedro Ciriaco and cash.

First and foremost, this mercifully ends the Ryan Doumit era as the Pirates starting catcher.

I truly believe the Pirates were losing credibility running Doumit out there every night behind the plate. The passed balls, the lack of control via the running game, the inability to receive well...he's a really bad catcher, the worst in MLB to my eye.

How the Pirates work his bat into the lineup, moving forward, is going to be a fascinating experiment. He'll ostensibly get work at 1st base and right field, but he's really bad defensively in those spots, too. In a chaotic sense, this should make for some fun 'highlights'. Who can forget his complete whiff of a knee-high throw about 2 months ago at 1st base? Classic.

Complicating the issue is Ryan's bat, which was good for one full season--2008. Before and since he's not been able to stay in the lineup / hasn't produced all that much.

This is especially true as he's no longer catching full time. If Doumit is now splitting his time between 1B/RF/C, his thresholds for being a league average hitter at his position have skyrocketed.

Avg. NL Catcher: .722 OPS (on-base % + slugging %)
Avg. NL Right Fielder: .790 OPS
Avg. NL First Baseman: .827 OPS

Ryan's 2010 OPS: .741

So he goes from being a terrible fielder possessing a marginally above average bat for his position (catcher) to being a terrible fielder possessing a substantially below average bat for his position(s) (C, 1B, RF).

If trends continue, I think it's safe to say his club options for 2012 ($7.25 mm) and 2013 ($8.25 mm) have about a snowball's chance in Hades of being picked up. His 2011 salary of $5.1 mm also seems awfully bloated at this point and I think it's at least reasonable to consider the possibility that Doumit won't be back next season.

As far as Chris Snyder goes, he's a solid backstop. I've always liked him. Solid defender, good bat (.778 OPS this season).

His best years seem to be behind him in terms of throwing would-be base stealers out, but he'll be just fine back there and he represents a large improvement over Doumit defensively.

Offensively, he's a high-walk guy--his BB% (walks per plate appearance) since 2008 is right around 15% (which is very good)--and he's got some pop in his bat, as evidenced by his .424 SLG% (total bases / at bats) over his past five seasons. He's always hit for a low batting average, but he mitigates that low AVG with all those walks and the power numbers. He'll strike out a lot, too, but again, as long as the OPS remains high, the strikeouts are largely irrelevant.

He's 29 years old and under contract through 2011, with a club option for 2012 at a reasonable $6.75 mm, assuming the production levels continue.

Pedro Ciriaco is basically an Argenis Diaz clone, with a little more power and less patience. Good glove, little in the way of bat. Diaz and Jeff Clement were recalled, btw, to fill the voids left by Church and Crosby.

Hard to let one of my favorites go in DJ Carrasco, but parting with him was a reasonable acquisition cost in my mind. I'm also curious to see how much money Arizona is sending to Pittsburgh in this deal.

All in all, I'm a fan of this trade from the Pirates perspective as Snyder will likely be a solid placeholder at catcher until Tony Sanchez is ready. Being competent at catcher in the here and now is a good step toward overall respectability.

--Pirates trade Javier Lopez to San Francisco for Joe Martinez and John Bowker.

Here's the lowdown on Martinez. Not much to see here. He looks to be major league depth with Jeff Karstens-esque upside.

John Bowker, 27, is a little more interesting. Check out his career minor league numbers, taking into account the offense-friendly environs of the Pacific Coast League.

Even considering the run-happy PCL, Bowker can least in AAA. And he's been hitting recently. He reminds me of Brandon Moss a bit, in terms of his overall profile with perhaps a little more bat.

Having guys like Moss and Bowker lurking for the everyday RF spot is a very good thing, as Lastings Milledge (.701 OPS since July 1st, .715 OPS for the season) still isn't showing much in the way of power or on-base prowess.

The longer this lack of power continues with Lastings, the shorter my patience grows with him playing ~ everyday. His batting average with RISP is fluky and WILL NOT CONTINUE indefinitely. The Pirates need real-life production from right field and whether that's Bowker, Moss, Doumit (Rivas help us) or someone else out there, it needs to happen sooner than later.

If I'm the Pirates, I'm strongly considering giving the starting RF job to Bowker (or Moss) before the end of the 2010 season. That's not to say I'd give up on Milledge, but what he's doing right now simply isn't enough to man a corner OF spot. He needs to somehow wring more power out of that bat before the start of the 2011 season.

Martinez + Bowker is good value for a pseudo-LOOGY like Javy Lopez, in my opinion.

--Pirates trade Octavio Dotel to Dodgers for James McDonald and Andrew Lambo.

From Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus:

Andrew Lambo garnered considerable attention in 2008 when he hit .288/.346/.462 for Low-A Great Lakes as a 19-year-old while showing considerable power potential. Unfortunately, it's been downhill from there, as Lambo has stalled at Double-A with a .267/.320/.427 line in 185 Southern League games, including a 50-game suspension for illegal drug use. He's a bat only prospect with not enough bat for it to really matter.

James McDonald is a tall, skinny righty who seemed to establish himself as a nice little bullpen piece last year, but returned to Triple-A in the hopes that the 25-year-old can be a starter long-term. While he features a tick above-average velocity with a 91-93 mph fastball, his out pitch is a true plus curveball with heavy, late break. He has a decent changeup as well, but inconsistent command has been his occasional undoing throughout his career. He could turn into a back-end starter for the Pirates, but doesn't Pittsburgh already have a ton of those?

I'll add that, yes, the Pirates have a lot of lackluster arms in their ML rotation, but the inventory between the majors and AAA is less than deep, even in legitimate bottom of the rotation arms.

If McDonald is even a slight upgrade over the likes of Brian Burres and Dan McCutchen, he's a worthwhile addition to the organization.

And as Lambo is a 21-year-old power prospect in AA, he's immediately interesting in the Pirates power-barren system. His season-long totals aren't great in 2010, but he's hit a couple homers in his last 10 games and maybe a change of scenery will be beneficial. A risk worth taking, in my opinion, given the near-complete dearth of thump in the system.

Getting these two guys for an aging set-up man is a more than fair return.