Saturday, November 22, 2008

Alex Ramirez is MVP in Japan

It's amazing how one headline can bring back a rush of Pirate memories. Over at Bucs Dugout, I saw this post about former Pirate Alex Ramirez winning MVP of the Japanese league with a monster year for the Yomiuri Giants.

Over the winter in 1999, the Pirate signed Wil Cordero to a contract. He came to the Pirates and mostly killed the ball, though his inability to field and off-field issues predicated a trade back to where he came from: Cleveland. He went to Cleveland and Alex Ramirez and Enrique Wilson came to Pittsburgh. Ramirez had a lot of pop, but not a lot of patience and the Pirates seemed to quickly get frustrated with him. After part of just one year and 123 plate appearances, the Bucs shipped him off to Japan. I distinctly recall talking about the move as a "current event" in our 10th grade goverment class, as our teacher was so lazy that we were allowed to give three current events a day, each worth a bonus point, so that she could just give everyone a 100% in the class (hooray, Kennedy Catholic!). My recounting of the transaction was something like this:

The Pirates sold Alex Ramirez to Japan today, probably because Cam Bonifay is so stupid that he forgot that 10 million yen isn't actually a lot of money.

Of course, no one knows what would've happened with Ramirez had he stayed in Pittsburgh. The history of international baseball is filled with guys like Tuffy Rhodes who raked in Japan but were average at best in Pittsburgh. Still, Ramirez has more than 250 homers and over 800 career RBIs with the Giants and Yakult swallows. It somehow seems appropriate that the Pirates' most significant transaction with Japan in the past decade hasn't been to acquire talent, but rather to give talent away.