OK, after almost 24 hours, I'm finally in a place where I can talk about this. I'm very sensitive, you know.
As you've probably heard by now, the deal to send Reds' first baseman Sean Casey to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for 26-year old left-handed starter Dave Williams is all but complete. In completing this trade, the Pirates bring a home-town boy in to help out at first and the Reds do a little something to improve their woeful rotation.
Losing Casey stings just about all Reds fans, regardless of whether they admit it. It's not that losing him will be a huge hit to the offense: ironically, our first baseman was one of the light power hitters in this line-up. In fact, he provided so few of the fireworks that it seems like sort of a strange move for the Reds who didn't deal from their strength. Plus, if the Reds don't make any further moves and just replace Casey with Wily Mo Peña, they're definitely downgrading the defense, at least in the short term. Not only that, but Casey is the leadership of this team and the shining face of the organization.
On the other hand, perhaps this team could use a change in leadership. They haven't exactly been on fire these last few years. And the buddy-buddy culture of the Reds' clubhouse, which might explain why so much losing has been acceptable for so long, can almost certainly be traced back to the amiable Mr. Casey. Perhaps an opportunity for him to play the role of “new talent” instead of “voice of experience” will be a good thing for everyone involved.
The more I think about it, the less I mourn the end of an era and the more I look forward to the next one: who will step up for the Reds now? Will Casey bounce back before the friendly faces of his home town? For what it's worth, I think he will. Plus, it'll give us all a reason to go to those games when the Reds host the Pirates, (above and beyond the cynicism that says they're the only games the Reds can win).
I think the one person for whom you can't explain all this away and make it better will be “Ben,” the little brother that Casey talks about having adopted with his wife, Mandi, through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.
From what I've seen in Internet Redsland, people are not super-psyched about Mr. Dave Williams, whom we'll see in return. But I think that's because he's average. And though Casey has also been average lately, he doesn't feel average. He feels special. Ideally, the Reds would have gotten some big name in exchange for Casey, but that just isn't realistic. At least we can be happy to know that they've dumped some payroll and somewhat improved the starting pitching. I mean, he can't be as bad as what we had last year, can he?
Oh crap, now I've jinxed it. Everyone knock on wood in hopes that GABP doesn't suck all the quality out of young Williams like it has out of so many other pitching hopefuls.
One thing that is interesting about Williams is that he contributed 10 of the Pirates 67 wins last season. His ERA away from home is also encouraging. I wonder how Williams lost the games he lost. Was he the victim of a lack of run support? Because the Reds can give him that, should they be so inspired. Or did he hand out one homerun after another? Or even one hit after another? With the defense dropping even further in quality, that could be a pretty big issue.
I could look up the answers to these questions, but instead I think I'll go see if I can convince some Pirates bloggers to come over here and tell me the answers. In the spirit of starting up conversations with strangers. That's what Casey would have wanted.
To wrap up, I hope we see more trades. This one hurts, but it doesn't feel this pain alone will provide all the gain we need. However, a couple more like this, and we may be getting somewhere.
I'll miss Casey, though.