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Pirates Can't Close: The Missed JJ Hardy Trade


J.J. Hardy will be in the black and orange of the Baltimore Orioles this baseball season.  And that’s a damn shame. 

Pirates fans wanted Hardy.  He is a player that Pirates fans would have enjoyed watching play.  He would have improved the club.  He would have sold a few tickets too.  Of course, a baseball deal should never be made for the fans.  It should be made because he will help the team win.

JJ Hardy is a shortstop that helps teams win.  Especially baseball teams that need to improve their defense.  Especially teams that haven’t been able to dramatically improve an awful pitching staff this offseason.

  Imagine a shortstop that was so solid, that even during a season in which he battled injuries, he flashed an outstanding glove well enough to earn a +12.8UZR/150.  (If you don’t know what that means, it means he was very good in the field.)  He performed well last season even though a month and a half into it, he was hit with a bone bruise, on his left wrist–the arm with the glove on it, and had to battle the injury throughout the season. 

Hardy has a good glove and a good bat.   He is an excellent candidate to both field and hit well in 2011.  Pirates fans can only dream about how well his bat would have played in the NL Central.

The Orioles stole him for one of the many control challenged relievers in the minor leagues.  The O’s also threw in another reliever with some upside.  But really—two relief pitchers?  The Pirates have that depth.  Why not give it up?  There might be more to it.

I read that the Twins also gave the Orioles some cash.  I read in one article that is was $500,000. We have to think that is where the Pirates gulped.  That is where this deal came off the track.  If we had to take a guess, the Bucs wanted more cash. 

We have to think Hardy and Brendan Harris, the utility man included in the deal, will get about $7+ million or so in total salary.   Big whip.  Hardy has never even been offered a multi-year contract in the big leagues.  He never has really felt wanted.  Hell, how could he be?

As I think about this deal, the $7+ million was too much for the Pirates to swallow.  They got scared.  They still have plans for some other deals, but one of the most important deals, an upgrade at shortstop, didn’t get done. 

Hardy would have looked great in black and gold.  He would have had the opportunity to punish the Brewers for trading him.   We think he would have flourished under Clint Hurdle.

The educated Pirates fans, like WHYGAVS who was the first one I saw mention Hardy to the Bucs, were right on the money.   It’s a damn shame the Bucs can’t close a deal because in the world of destructing MLB rosters, it’s imperative that deals get done.  Especially deals that, as Fan Graphs writes, involve a projected $12 to $16 million dollars in 2011 production from JJ Hardy.  The Pirates needed that production.

But closing deals takes brass balls.  Deals that improve a franchise don’t drop out of the sky.  They need closed.    By a closer. 

Like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross,  perhaps someone should assist the Pirates in what the real world is really like. 

If you close, you get the coffee. 

If you finish second you get a set of steak knives–or Josh Rodriguez in the Rule 5. 

But remember Pirates fans, if you finish third, well, third prize is you’re fired.

If you don’t play the man’s game right, you get to go home and tell your problems to your wife.  

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Here is an excellent look at the deal:

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