The winter meetings will end today with the Rule V Draft. And if it all stays how it is right now, the Pirates will come back to Pittsburgh with nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Let's run through this. A couple of holes to fill is left-handed power from first base or right field. Two rumored deals involved the Pirates for a player to fill each of those positions -- 1B Adam LaRoche and OF Brad Hawpe. If I'm Dave Littlefield, I would have made both of these deals happen somehow, but we all know the type of GM that Dave really is, especially after the reports coming out of Atlanta as to why a deal wasn't done with the Braves.
Mike Gonzalez for Adam LaRoche should have been a no-brainer. You have got to give up something to get something. An sub-.500 team shouldn't value a closer this highly. The Braves, a playoff contender, would have used Gonzalez in the setup role -- not even as their closer. LaRoche would have solved first base for the Pirates and is a good enough bat to smack a good 25+ home runs (remember this game?) out of PNC Park.
I have a difference of opinion on Hawpe than some other people. Sure, he plays half of his home games in Coors Field, but, if you look at Hawpe's splits, he's been much better on the road. In his career at home, he's hitting .270 with 12 HRs and 71 RBIs in 440 ABs. Away from Coors Field, however, he's hit .284 with 22 HRs and 69 RBIs in 469 ABs. I see this next year as Hawpe's breakout season. He made his name known last year and is now ready for the next step -- like his teammate Matt Holliday, who took a couple seasons to break out. The major difference, though, between the two...Holliday hits .348 at Coors and hits nothing on the road. If Maholm wasn't enough for the Rockies, I would have sweetened the pot. Throw in another reliever they need, we have tons. Anything to make it happen. Plus, with both guys being lefties, right-handed Xavier Nady could have spelled both in either position on any given day.
If any bit of opportunity was there for the Pirates to come back from Florida with Adam LaRoche and Brad Hawpe in their lineup, then it needed to happen. While some people may say that opportunity wasn't there (and we may never know the truth), I have a feeling that if it was, Littlfield wouldn't have gotten the job done.
Freddy Sanchez, Brad Hawpe, Jason Bay, Adam LaRoche... that's actually a decent middle of the lineup. Oh what could have been.