LaRoche trade signals second chance for Milledge
Word just broke that first baseman Adam LaRoche is heading to Boston in exchange for Minor League
shortstop Argenis Diaz and right-hander Hunter Strickland.
It’s not quite the Roy
Halladay blockbuster deal everyone is hoping to see, but hey, it’s better
than nothing nine days before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Conventional wisdom says leaving the floundering Pirates for
the always-competitive Red Sox team would be a huge boon for LaRoche, but
that’s not the case. For the next few weeks, sure — LaRoche will see a good
chunk of time at first, with Kevin Youkilis shifting to third in place of Mike
Lowell, who continues to work his way back from hip problems. However, once
Lowell gets back up to speed, LaRoche will become nothing more than insurance,
a bench bat who essentially rides the pine waiting until one of the regulars
needs rest or suffers an injury.
The differences between Boston’s offense and Pittsburgh’s
offense are undeniable, but those same differences explain why playing time
will be tougher to come by in Beantown than it was across the diamond from
younger brother Andy.
So, does anyone benefit from the move?
Yes, although nobody included in the deal itself. In fact,
the big winner isn’t even on the Red Sox or Pirates as we speak.
Remember Lastings Milledge? You know, the Mets former top
prospect who fell out of favor in Washington, prompting a trade to Pittsburgh a
few weeks ago? Well, the mercurial outfielder has been preying on Minor League
pitching at Triple-A Indianapolis, ringing up a .400 average (14-for-35) there
to go along with the 10 swipes he’s collected on the farm.
With LaRoche out of the picture, the smart money says recent
waiver-wire beast Garrett Jones shifts to first base and Milledge takes over in
left field. That plan will work out fine until mega-prospect Pedro Alvarez is
summoned to man first for the next decade or so.
Pittsburgh will clearly be willing to overlook Milledge’s
personal issues if it means five-category production in return, whereas the Red
Sox will only play LaRoche — a traditional bounceback second-half monster with
no history of misbehavior — when they have to.
How’s that for a reversal in fortune?
If you have the roster space, why not follow Pittsburgh’s
lead and give Milledge a second chance?