Sunday, June 21, 2009

Snell on the Hook?

Baseball writer Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports today that Pirates starting pitcher Ian Snell is among those on the trading block. With a thin supply of front-line pitching available this season, and stars like Jake Peavy of the Padres recovering from injuries, a trade for Snell could make sense for the Brewers, or indeed for any number of contending teams with holes in their rotations.

One problem: Snell's current record is 2-7, with a 5.08 ERA. But don't be fooled: Pirates fans have been down this road before, with Jason Bay in particular. The trick for ballplayers wanting to be traded away from a hopeless organization is apparently to show general competence and occasional brilliance -- thereby threatening a higher salary demand in the future -- while underachieving overall. Should Snell, a former Opening Day starter, be traded to a playoff contender, I'll bet he perks up right away. Just sayin'.

This gambit should sound familiar to Brewers fans. Purported Hall of Fame candidate Gary Sheffield, whose steroid-era career has included over 500 home runs, played for the then-woeful Brewers as an infielder through age 22. He disliked the city and the organization, and once said he committed errors intentionally. He was traded and lived happily ever after...oops, maybe not. In 2005, talking about a potential trade, Sheffield said, "You might as well not bother trading for me, cause you're gonna have a very unhappy player. You gonna inconvenience me, I'll inconvenience every situation there is."

Makes your heart sing, doesn't it? That's baseball -- or at least, baseball as we approach the trading deadline.

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