Rubbing his nicotine-stained fingers together with glee, GM-in-all-but-name Jack McKeon gave a brief press conference outlining his thoughts on a second day with a major trade, as the St. Francis Friars have traded C Benji Molina, minor-league free agent Fausto Carmona and a player to be named to the Pottsylvania Creepers.
Just days after using utility man Ben Zobrist to land Carlos Lee and some prospects, McKeon explained the linkage between recent moves.
"We knew," McKeon drawled, "that our most attractive piece to most teams early in the season was Ben Zobrist. What we didn't know is that he would hit 16 HR for us in the first half, and really become something of legend in these parts. That made trading him unpleasant, but the logic is pretty simple. While the club is improved over the one that broke spring training back in 2009, it simply doesn't have the pitching depth to compete with some other clubs even if we were to somehow reach the post-season....extremely unlikely, in my judgement, once we lost Shin-Soo Choo."
"So....we would need to move Ben in order to build for the future," McKeon said, waving his hands, and pointing to an imaginary cloud formation with his still simmering stogie. "But, if we did that, we would be losing some run production and versatility in the middle of the infield...in fact, quite a bit. So we had to have a deal in place to bring in someone who could offer some pop and play a middle infield spot. This led us to move a good young pitcher (Jason Vargas) to Madtown and pick up a couple of possible prospects at the same time as we got 2B Kelly Johnson."
"We then sat on that mix for a few weeks to see if we could get things going in the Central. Once Casselton's pitching got hot, though, we could see the handwriting on the wall. We would not only have to come back against them, but also beat out the defending champs in Pottsylvania, because the way three clubs in the East are playing, one of them would get the wild card. It's division or bust....and so, we folded. Having Johnson allowed us to move Ben, and collect some futures along with Carlos Lee, and we're going to give 'El Caballo' 4-5 weeks to see how he fits into our lineup."
"Meanwhile," continued McKeon, "acquiring minor-league C Tony Sanchez really boosts our catching depth at a time when both Taylor Teagarden and J.P Arencibia are ready to assume backup roles on the parent roster. That made it possible to dangle a healthy--but not entirely happy----Benji Molina. Benji wants to play full-time, and when he had to share time, he becomes, well, peevish. So it made great sense for us to offer him to Pottsylvania as part of a package that would allow us to get a veteran with the leadership we craved, in Jason Varitek. Chad Tracy was rotting away on the Creepers bench, and he gives us back some of the versatility we lost with Zobrist, as he has a left-handed bat, and can play either the IF or OF corners in a pinch. Finally, we added some more hopefuls in the future with SS Grant Green and LHP Zach Britton."
"I'm done at the moment," McKeon said, but his eyes twinkled. "Never say never, but we'll see where we're at. If players produce, fine....if not....well, there are other avenues for teams that still have cap room, and we can explore them at that time."