MLB Trade Deadline 2009

Buzz leading up to July 31 non-waiver deadline

Heyman_jon
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Pirates president Frank Coonelly, who along with GM Neal Huntington may have the thickest skin in baseball, explained their fire sale in an interview with SI.com.

"We feel very good about it. It's tough for the fans, and we understand why. It's tough to see players who were popular and did good things go. But we were not a winning baseball team with the players we had,'' Coonelly said. "Given the ages and service time of those players, if we attempted to patchwork things, we would have been in a very poor position. We would have had Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, Jack Wilson and potentially Freddy Sanchez (he has a vesting option) ready to leave as free agents and get nothing in return.

"The reaction of some is negative. But I think most of the fans understand what we're doing and why we're doing it ... I think they understand why these moves are necessary for us to (facilitate) winning Pirates baseball.''

Coonelly won't quite say they are done dealing. Though after trading their longtime double-play combination of Wilson and Sanchez Wednesday following deals of Adam LaRoche and Nate McLouth, Coonelly did say, "We are very close to getting done.'' Reliever John Grabow has been coveted by several teams looking for left-handed bullpen help. So Coonelly can't guarantee the sale is complete.

The Pirates received infielder Ronny Cedeno, minor-league hitter Jeff Clement and three Class-A pitching prospects in exchange for Wilson and pitcher Ian Snell, and got well-regarded pitching prospect Tim Alderson back from the Giants for Sanchez.

While Giants fans were upset over the loss of Alderson, Coonelly wasn't gloating.

Asked whether he thinks Giants fans are right that Alderson will be a star, Coonelly said, "Let's hope so. There's a long list of great prospects who never panned out, and just as long a list of prospects who weren't that highly thought of who became stars. We certainly like Tim.''

Clement, a former No. 3 overall pick, was once considered a big-time prospect. But there are questions now whether he can catch. He'll start as a first baseman in the Pirates organization.

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