Saturday, January 20, 2007

LaRoche/Gonzalez deal finalized

The Atlanta/Pittsburgh trade involving Adam LaRoche and Mike Gonzalez was finalized yesterday: Adam passed his physical with flying colors. So the Pirates have the left-handed power hitter they've so desperately needed since Brian Gile's departure to San Diego, and the Braves, well the Braves have gone from having one of the worst bullpens in the National League to having arguably the best 'pen in the Majors.

I've seen quite a few opinions floating around the World Wide Peanut Gallery that aren't too high on the trade. These folks feel like Atlanta gave up too much for a reliever. Personally, I'm ecstatic about the current state of baseball affairs in Atlanta. Do you think the Braves would have finished below .500 with a decent bullpen last year? Do you think the Braves would have been shut out of the playoffs for the first time in forever with a decent bullpen last year? Do you think I would have felt compelled to beat my head against the wall every third game because the bullpen couldn't hold the lead last year? Nope, nope, and nope.

Pitching is what wins (and loses) ball games. And pitching doesn't come cheap; take a look at the deals mediocre relievers signed this winter if you don't believe me. The Braves had to give up a good, young player to get a quality reliever like Gonzalez, but I seriously doubt the loss of LaRoche spells impending doom for the 2007 season. Granted, he's above average in the field and put up some nice numbers last year, but the play of Scott Thorman and Craig Wilson should at least be comparable to what we've seen at first base the past couple of seasons.

Speaking of Mr. LaRoche: I'm sure he's sorry to be leaving his teammates in Atlanta, but Adam has got to be licking his chops just thinking about that short right-field fence in Pittsburgh.

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