|Red Sox Acquire Adam LaRoche|
Written by Justin Zeth (Contact & Archive) on July 22, 2009
The Pirates are basically giving LaRoche to the Red Sox for free. If you want to be picky, they're getting two profressional baseball players in return, but neither is going to be a regular in the majors. SS Argenis Diaz is a glove man who can't hit at all, sporting a Pena-esque .610 OPS in the AA Eastern League. The Pirates' AA affiliate in Altoona already has a shortstop, Brian Friday, who's doing well enough to keep his job but not really well enough to move to AAA, so I'm unsure whether the Pirates plan to send Diaz back down to A ball, bump Friday up to AAA, or perhaps move Friday to second base and bump out Jim Negrych, who's a good hitter for a second baseman, but who also isn't really a second baseman.
The pitcher, Hunter Strickland, is yet another command guy who doesn't strike anyone out (51 K in 83 innings in A ball) the Pirates can add to their gigantic collection of command guys who don't strike anyone out; the Altoona staff is already full of them. Daniel Moskos, Kyle Bloom, etc.
So the Pirates are effectively getting nothing, but in this case that's appropriate since the Red Sox aren't really getting anything either. LaRoche is a free agent after this season and not likely to be a Type A. He's hitting .247/.329/.441 in the NL Central; to be honest, I'm not sure he should be expected to even hit well enough to hold down a job playing first base in the AL East. To get there you have to argue LaRoche has been hitting poorly because he's depressed to be stuck in Loserville, an argument bolstered by LaRoche's general bitching and moaning at the Pirates management all season. He has the reputation of being a good clubhouse guy, but whether the Red Sox are getting any more than that is an open question.
One other thing you often hear about LaRoche is that he's an awesome glove at first base. He isn't. His defense is average at best; actually, plus/minus has consistently rated him among the worst defensive first basemen in the game for five years running. He may not be as bad as the stats suggest, but he's not very good. It's another cause of the Ausmus Effect: His bat is weak for the position, but he plays every day anyway, which makes people assume his glove must be awesome.
At the end of the day, though, the Red Sox gave the PIrates two guys that weren't going to make their 40-man roster in exchange for two months of a first baseman that won't be far, if at all, above the AL's replacement level, which at least frees up the Greek God of Walks to play third base full time. The only really interesting thing here is the question of what this means for the roster of the Altoona Curve, proud owners of the worst record in the Eastern League (and even that isn't a problem Argenis Diaz is likely to fix.)