…just one Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article has got you covered.
First, former top prospect Andy LaRoche, who never quite got it going in Los Angeles due partly to injury and partly because of management’s inexplicable refusal to ever give him a shot to play (detailed here, and be prepared to be sick when you remember some of the guys who he got pushed aside for). He hit just .152 with 9 errors in 45 games as a Pirate in 2008; how’s he doing in 2009?
Andy LaRoche refuses to use his creaky back as an excuse for his 0-for-14 start or those three early errors.
But yesterday, when the Pirates’ regular third baseman again was out of the starting lineup for the home opener in favor of Ramon Vazquez, he acknowledged he continues to receive treatment for it.
Well, then. When you think of the accomplishments you hope to see from a highly touted young player – especially one from the Dodgers system – “lost his job to Ramon Vazquez” is not exactly high on the list.
But wait! This is the article that keeps on giving. How about young pitcher Bryan Morris, the other half of the deal?
The Pirates updated the health of minor league pitchers Bryan Morris and Jimmy Barthmaier, and each will miss extensive time: Morris’ right shoulder injury, diagnosed as having significantly restricted range of motion, will keep him out four to six weeks. Barthmaier’s right elbow injury, diagnosed as a strained flexor mass, will keep him out a month.
That’d be Morris’ second serious arm injury, since he’s already a Tommy John survivor.
Clearly, it’s not yet too late for either of these players, but LaRoche’s struggles are really striking, aren’t they? Look at the other top prospects in the system from the last few seasons - Billingsley, Broxton, Loney, Kemp, Martin, Kershaw, and Ethier have all become the core of this team. Even more impressive, all of them came up and were impact players from day one; no one was completely overmatched at the big league level. Meanwhile, the prospects that were moved have either been complete busts (Joel Guzman, Chuck Tiffany) or had huge struggles at the big league level before finally turning it around, thanks to playing time a lousy team could offer that the Dodgers couldn’t (Dioner Navarro, Edwin Jackson).
Now you’ve got LaRoche, who struggled in LA and has been even worse in Pittsburgh. You almost wonder what the Dodgers knew about him that we didn’t, because say what you will about Ned Colletti – and we have – he’s shown a knack for trading away the right prospects. (Let’s ignore, for the moment, his almost-as-uncanny knack for importing awful players from Tampa Bay in exchange those prospects).
So yeah, trading these two for Manny Ramirez? That appears to be working out.
Now let’s just hope that Colletti knew something about Carlos Santana that we didn’t….