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The Pirates made somewhat of a splash today, trading pitcher Jesse Chavez to the Tampa Bay Rays for 2B Akinori Iwamura. Iwamura, who hit .290/.355/.390 last season, is signed through 2010 and is due to make $4.85 million next year. He suffered a partially torn ACL on May 22 last season but was back in the lineup by August 29.

The 30-year-old Iwamura doesn't seem to fit the Neal Huntington philosophy of cheap, controllable labor, but he brings good value to the table and will probably be looked at as trade bait when the Pirates eventually fall out of the race. The Buccos had a gaping hole at second after dealing Freddy Sanchez to San Francisco last season, and it appears that Delwyn Young is not the long-term answer after hitting .266 with seven HR, 43 RBI, and 90 strikeouts in 354 at-bats. And the Rays had little need for Iwamura after the emergence of Ben Zobrist in Iwamura's absence last year. So this could be the rare win-win situation, at least from the early returns.

Iwamura, who played nine seasons for the Yakult Swallows from 1998-2006 and participated in both World Baseball Classics for Japan, was the starting second baseman on Tampa's 2008 World Series team. He batted .274/.349/.380 that season, with 6 HR and 48 RBI.

His more colorful moments in Tampa included a confiscated bat in a 2007 game against the Yankees (which was later OK'd and signed by Joe Torre), involvement in two 2008 brawls against the Yankees and Red Sox, and the fact that he may or may not have been the first Ray to get a "Rayhawk" mohawk in 2008.

The Pirates will be getting another player in addition to Iwamura, but their already-weak bullpen will get worse by trading Chavez, who had a 4.01 ERA in 73 appearances in 2009. He's a hard thrower and works cheaply (under team control for the next five seasons), but the need at second clearly outweighed the value of keeping Chavez around, at least in the Pirates' minds.


In other Pirate news, Bob Nutting will be making an appearance at WVU's "The Business of Sports" discussion on Wednesday at the Erickson Alumni Center at 6 PM. He will be joined by former Mountaineer football standouts Oliver Luck and Sam Huff, as well as Ken Kendrick, managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who is also a WVU alum. Any of you West Virginia-based readers planning on attending?

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Unknown said...

Please, please, for the love of god, stop writing or talking about the pirates - you only fuel their idea that they don't need to produce a competitive team as long as we make money strategy!!!!



Unknown said...

Maybe we should start showing up late for games?

Unknown said...

Amen Corey!

Sean said...

Corey - So when the Pirates make a trade, a Pittsburgh sports blog shouldn't mention it? How does Don writing or not writing about the Pirates going to impact or not impact the product on the field?

Adam said...

What's wrong with making money? It's called a BUSINESS. Nutting owes you nothing, he owes me nothing. If you don't think it's worth it to watch major league baseball in your city, then don't go. But don't tell me how to spend my money.

Mondesi, keep the Pirate stuff coming.

Anonymous said...

They were talking about this on the mark madden show today... pretty crazy

Unknown said...

playoffs here we come!!! woooooooooooo

Steve said...

I'll get to work phototshopping Iwamura into a Red Sox or Yankees jersey right away. As fast as the Pirates move players though, he may be wearing an actual one before I'm even done.

And Adam, no one's telling you how to spend your money. For all I care you can use it to purchase Pirates tickets or a box of Just For Men's hair color in Joe Pa's favorite shade. Knock yourself out kid.

The Mad Bubbler said...

I love this site, and you have a right to talk about whatever you want. But man, the article on this trade has been longer than any piece about the Pens, the defending champions and the team with the best record in the league. C'mon chief!

Also it makes sense that Adam likes the Pirate$

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

@Corey - In case you haven't heard, McClatchy & Littlefield are gone. Unfortunately, their 'money-making' moves wrecked the entire pirates system so far beyond recognition that a true rebuild from the ground up is necessary.
Some of us have faith in Coonelly & Huntington's abilities. Baseball will, once again, be worth watching in Pittsburgh someday!
A boycott will only cause the pirates to have less money to spend (or not spend) on talent. The current plan is to "home-grow" some talent(i.e. minor league development). The way the rules are in MLB, we can control players for longer & maybe be successful until the pirates are no longer a laughing stock. Once we're not the joke of the league, then free agents may actually sign with the team at fair market value. Then, and only then, would it be smart for the pirates to drastically increase the payroll. Lest we have more Derek Bells, Raul Mondesis, Jeremy Burnitzs, Jason Kendalls, or Matt Morrisses on our roster.

@Nick - NO ONE is that delusional. When you're as bad as the buccos are right now, you have to accept baby steps in the right direction. I'm excited, even if this guy turns out to be just trade bait for more prospects. All that we gave up was Jesse Chavez.

@Mondesi - I appreciate the pirates updates and i'm sure a large number of others do as well. Thanks and keep them coming. It's unfortunate that the minority is becoming more and more vocal against an easy target.

The Mad Bubbler said...

I think what people don't realize is that Nutting is cut from the same cloth as McClatchy. The Pirates, by DEFAULT, will be a better club, but when it comes time for them to take the step from solid team to contender, maybe that's when fans will realize that Nutting cares way more about money than winning. What's sad is that expectations have become so low that over .500 baseball will pretty much sell out the ballpark, further proving that you don't need to field a great team (which is what EVERY ownership should strive to achieve) to turn a profit.

Also this just in: Bob Nutting has had a large stake in this team for almost SEVEN years now, yet he never had a problem with the moves over the years because he was making money. Let's say my friend buys the Penguins, and I own 30% of the team. He trades Crosby and Malkin for a bag of pucks and pockets their salaries. I either 1) sell my share because I care about the team winning and I disagree with what's happening, or 2) I sit back and do nothing and collect my millions. Nutting chose option 2.

Nate said...

Breaking: Competitive teams make more money. It's in Nutting's best interest to field a competitive team.

Furthermore: You living imbeciles do realize that a boycott won't magically lead to competitive baseball, right? What's more likely to happen is that the Pirates move to another city because they aren't making enough in Pittsburgh.

Unknown said...

"It's in Nutting's best interest to field a competitive team." sure... and i'm the imbecile?

maybe you should stop drinking the kool aid and look for better ways to have constructive discussions without using childish name calling...

but now that you have called us imbeciles, my feelings are so hurt, i no longer have my beliefs and will follow you and your wisdom through the gates of hell :(

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

@MadBubbler - Sure, Nutting can make money either way. Either have a competitive team or an annual salary at the bottom of the league. However, the pirates did overhaul the front office coincidentally when he became the principal owner in 2007, so maybe he isn't content with losing? I don't know, but i hope not. He gave McClatchy & Littlefield ample time to prove their incompetence. Then they were fired.

@Corey - Just because Nate utilized name calling doesn't refute the fact that he is winning the boycott arguement. Hence why your 'comeback' post didn't present any counter-arguement, just an attempt by you to engage in the very activity that your own post seemed to think is so appalling. Besides, there's nothing wrong with swillin on some kool-aid from time to time.

The Mad Bubbler said...

HomeRun and Nate...are you two really that clueless? You do realize that the Yankees LOST money last year?! Please take a look at this link, and notice the operating income column (for those who don't know, that's basically the money you make at the end of the day). Please notice where the Phillies (the defending world series champions who are in their 2nd straight fall classic) and the Pirates (17 straight losing seasons) are located in terms of profit: RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER.

Two teams, who couldn't be FURTHER apart in terms of the quality of their product on the field, are seperated by only $400,000 of income per year. Spending money on free agents and resigning our own talent will not be worth the risk for Nutting, who is losing money in his newspaper ventures. The only way you would gamble with your own profit is if you honestly, truly desired to put a winning team on the field. And he does not.

Ben said...

My grandmother, who lost 3 brothers on Iwojima, is stunned by the move.

Direct quote from when the Pirates played the Mariners a few years back and Ichiro came up to bat- "Don't we have enough Americans to field a team? Baseball was better without all these foreign players.

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

@MadBubbler - To only pick the 3 teams off of that list that prove your point is a little clueless... There is far more that effects a team's operating income. It's not just on the field stuff, but every bean that goes in or comes out for any reason. On the list, there are good & bad teams who made less than the bucs & good & bad teams who made more. You wouldn't really be gambling with your profit since there are plenty of good teams with as much or more profit than the pirates. I would be amazed if the yankees lost money every year! (This list is only for the past year)

The Mad Bubbler said...

From "“We’re making a lot, but we’re spending more then we’re making,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said in 2006. It comes down to simple decision making for the Steinbrenner family as to what is more important to them: making money with the Yankees, or fielding a winning team. For the last several years, it has been the latter.

Consider these figures from Forbes. In 2005, the Yankees lost $50 Million while earning a league-best $277 Million in revenue and becoming the first team to be worth more then $1 Billion. In 2006, the team lost $25.2 Million, while earning a league-leading $302 Million (Boston was second with $234 Million). In 2007, the team lost $47.3 Million with revenues totalling $327 Million (Boston was again second with $263 Million, but also lost $19.1 Million in 2007.)

Consider yourself amazed

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

Consider it done.

I guess paying the following salaries per inning in 2009 was, perhaps, not the most astute allocation of currency?
M. Rivera - $226,130.65/Inning
A.J. Burnett - $79,710.14/Inning
C.C. Sabathia - $66,459.63/Inning
A. Ramrod - $33,880.90/Inning
D. Jeter - $17,142.86/Inning
M. Teixeira - $15,828.86/Inning

You know what they say: "Hindsight is 20/20"

The Mad Bubbler said...

Well they won a championship. If I owned a sports team I loved I'd lose millions of dollars to hoist a trophy. Mario Lemieux started spending money 2 seasons ago that they didn't plan on having until the new arena opened: he gambled and it paid off. Nutting will never take that gamble.

Nate said...

1. The Pirates have the 5th lowest attendance in all of MLB for the past decade. You're telling me more people coming in doesn't equal more money? And you're telling me more people wouldn't come in to see a winner?

2. Considering the above point, how does boycotting seem to be working out if the goal is to get Nutting to quit his job?

3. The Pirates' books are completely closed to the public. Forbes has no idea how much they actually make, they can only guess. And the Pirates' aren't the only ones, either. A lot of that list is nothing more than guesswork.

Even if that list is 100% accurate, the Yankees are only one team. How many other competitive teams are losing money?

The Mad Bubbler said...

I can't believe I'm still talking about baseball but...

1. I didn't say that more people coming in doesn't equal more money. Of course it does, so does being able to raise the ticket prices (Pirates also are in the top 5 of cheapest tickets I think). But how are you gonna get more people in (other than childish fireworks and garbage bands)? Getting good players. Which requires spending money. If those players work out, that means the Succos win some more, which means greater attendance. Of course, if the players end up failing to meet potential, then you have their high salaries, but nobody goes to see them. So there's a gamble, and Nutting won't take it.

2. Once again I didn't say that boycotting was the answer, honestly there may be no answer. Take a look at the Marlins - they had the lowest payroll in 2008, but also had the highest income. I'm just saying if you're going to spend your hard earned money, please don't give it to a crook!!

3. Right, FORBES is just "guessing". I guess that's how they made their millions, in crap shoots.

Finally, yes, the Yankees and Tigers are the only competitive teams losing money. But 2/30 is too big of a risk for cheapskate Nutting.