|Just hours after trading their longest-tenured player (shortstop Jack Wilson) to the Mariners, the Pirates shipped second baseman Freddy Sanchez to the Giants. In return, Pittsburgh acquired Double-A righthander Tim Alderson, a Giants' first-round pick in 2007.
Pittsburgh has been one of the most active teams at each of the past two trade deadlines. From the Pirates' 2008 Opening Day roster, one player—Ryan Doumit—remains with the club. Nate McLouth, Jason Bay, Adam LaRoche, Xavier Nady and Jose Bautista all have been traded, along with Sanchez and Wilson.
In the midst of trade rumors on July 30, Sanchez reportedly offered the Pirates a three-year, $20 million deal to stay in Pittsburgh, but the front office quickly turned him down. Sanchez's offer countered the Pirates' previous offer to keep their double-play duo intact. Sanchez and Wilson have formed a friendship over the course of their six seasons together.
Sanchez, 31, provides exactly what the Giants were looking for at second base. The club had received anemic offensive production at the keystone: .229/.285/.318 in 358 at-bats by the likes of Emmanuel Burriss, Juan Uribe and Eugenio Velez. Sanchez batted .296/.334/.442 for Pittsburgh this season, with six home runs and 34 RBIs, and he should fit as the Giants' new No. 2 hitter. The 2006 NL batting champion, Sanchez has returned to his usual form after a down 2008 season in which he hit just .271. He contributes above-average defense, with good range and a strong arm, perfectly complementing an already solid San Francisco defense that has been one of the best in baseball.
|The Young Player|
|Alderson had been pitching every sixth day for Double-A Connecticut, and had not pitched since July 23. The 20-year-old stands 6-foot-7 and weights 217 pounds, though he's generally lauded more for his control, location and intelligence than for overwhelming stuff. The 22nd overall pick in 2007 out of Scottsdale (Ariz.) High, Alderson last year won the California League ERA title by going 13-4, 2.79 with 124 strikeouts in 145 innings. Though he dominated high Class A competition last year, he hasn't been as flashy this year. Through 13 starts, he was 6-1, 3.47 with 46 strikeouts in 73 innings.
Alderson features an 88-92 mph fastball, though he's been sitting in the mid-to upper-80s for much of this season. His best pitch, however, may be his curveball, which ranked as the best in the organization before the season. It hasn't been as tight this year, but still grades out as a plus pitch. It's a mid-70s bender, and is his only pitch that routinely misses bats. He's also working on a two-seam fastball that has late life as well as a changeup.
For a guy his size, Alderson is fairly athletic. In high school, he pitched exclusively out of the stretch, but he's been able to repeat his delivery out of the windup without any difficulty thus far. Still, he has a weird hitch in his motion, stabbing his arm in the back and double-pumping his stride foot in the front. It's surprising that the Giants didn't try to work that kink out of his delivery, but it does add deception.
Alderson works to keep the ball low in the zone but has been a one-to-one groundout-to-airout pitcher for the Defenders. He projects as a mid-rotation starter at some point in the future, but he may settle in to more of a fourth or fifth starter role on a good team. At the very least, he could contribute to a big league bullpen right now.
|San Francisco traded from an organizational strength, considering that it has one of the best rotations in the big leagues and still has the top pitching prospect in the game, lefthander Madison Bumgarner. The Giants get a solid defensive-minded player and top-of-the-order hitter who makes them better now and who has an $8 million option for next season. But after trading away lefty Scott Barnes earlier this month, the Giants have twice dipped into their surplus.
In its wave of recent trades, Pittsburgh has made a habit of acquiring former blue-chip prospects who haven't necessarily lived up to the hype. (Gorkys Hernandez, Lastings Milledge and Jeff Clement, for example.) For his part, Alderson knows how to pitch, and has been successful at Double-A at 20 years old. Either way, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington has made one things clear. He's intent on blowing up the roster he inherited, and then repopulating it with high-ceilinged young players.