Pie the Oriole

Free Felix Pie! When the Cubs acquired Juan Pierre prior to the 2006 season, the 21-year old Pie went to work in Triple-A Iowa. Seemingly the plan was to use Pierre as a bridge from Corey Patterson to Pie. Instead, the Cubs handed the 2007 center field job to Alfonso Soriano, and later Jacque Jones. Kosuke Fukudome, Reed Johnson, and Jim Edmonds would be signed or claimed within the last season, leaving the Cubs yet again with a stacked outfield and leaving Pie on the outside looking in.

Only 260 at-bats into his pro Cubs career, the Cubs have traded Pie to the Baltimore Orioles for Garrett Olson and a prospect. Since 2007, Pie has hit well in the minors and has a knack for playing solid defense. It’s easy to forget that Pie will only be 24 this coming season, but the question is how he’ll fit in with the Orioles. Baltimore features a number of talent outfielders in Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and to a lesser extent Luke Scott.

Olson is an unspectacular starter with average stuff and below-average stats. Olson’s minor league strikeouts have yet to carry over neither has his control in the minors. A 5.13 FIP isn’t overly encouraging, and neither is the homerun problem, but CHONE foresees a better season in 2009 for Olson, 153 innings and a 4.96 FIP. The Cubs might use Olson in relief, or in the back of the rotation, and that is the problem here.

Sure, Olson could later be dealt, but as of right now this trade is questionable for Chicago. Pie has lacked opportunity in Chicago and by dealing him for Olson the Cubs are not only selling low on a high potential player, but also potentially hurting their 2009 team. You can argue that the Cubs are in no position to rely on potential rather than known performance, but again, Olson is hardly a pillar of success.

The alternative option, placing Pie on the bench as the fourth outfielder in place of Reed Johnson or Joey Gathright does not give Pie an incredible opportunity. However, with Milton Bradley’s ever wavering health, there is a chance the Cubs would need a fill-in outfielder for some time. At the very least, the Cubs wouldn’t be seen as giving Pie away. Then again, the Cubs seem to lose interest in prospects quickly.

Even if Pie busts, you have to like the move for the Orioles, who have amassed a ton of young talent since Andy MacPhail took over control. In any other division the Orioles would be a future power.

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Great move by the Orioles. It’s kind of sad to see great moves made by teams that seemingly have no chance at a playoff berth in the foreseeable future.