Speculationville: JJ Hardy to the Rats

Granted, it's a moot point, as we've apparently already traded JJ Hardy to the Royals for Zach Grienke. Just the same, while we're waiting for the World Series to end so the trade can be consummated, it might be fun to think about where else JJ might have gone.

I think the Pirates might be a good fit, for a few reasons.

The biggest reason why I could see Hardy as a Buc-o is because, well, the Pirates seem to have no one to play the middle infield. They traded Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson, getting 2B/SS Ronnie Cedeno in return. How do Wilson and Cedeno stack up?

Wilson was a little better defensively, but Cedeno is much younger, less expensive and just as good with the bat.

I love this quote, if only because Jack Wilson was offensively offensive (career OPS .684), and Cedeno is even worse (career OPS .626). So, the Rats have gotten worse offensively and defensively. But much younger!

At second base, the straits are a little more dire, as the Rats are experimenting with rightfielder Delwyn Young (53 career games at 2nd) and third baseman Andy LaRoche (3 career games at second). At least each of them OPSed a smidge more than .700 last season, which is a step in the right direction. Together with Cedeno, this could be a disastrous middle infield.

In the two seasons before last season's mysterious breakdown, Hardy had averaged .800 OPS and 25 home runs, and is a better defender than even Jack Wilson. They could start Hardy at short and have a three-headed chimera of Cedeno, Delwyn, and LaRoche at second. I call it "LaDeleno."

And what would the Brewers get in return? If there's one thing the Rats always seem to have, it's good (though not great) starting pitching. Currently, they have three guys who would easily make our starting rotation: Ross Ohlendorf, Zach Duke, and Paul Maholm. Ohlendorf would likely be the top prize, as he posted an ERA under 4 last season and a WHIP of 1.23. (By comparison, of our starters, only YoGa had a WHIP under 1.47 last season, which is absolutely horrible.) This is his third team since being drafted in 2004, though it's hard to image a WHIP that low being a fluke. Zach Duke is only 26, and had the best season of his career last year, posting a 4.06 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. He's a lefty, so maybe he's started putting things together. Paul Maholm was decidedly mediocre last season, but posted 3.71/1.28 numbers in 200+ innings in 2008.

There are lots of reasons why a trade like this wouldn't work, such as how valuable decent pitching is right now. Still, the Pirates just don't have much offense right now, and that seems to be a more pressing need than pitching. I think Hardy in Pittsburgh makes a lot of sense --- to me, it's only a question of what the return would be.