Pirates Sign Crosby, Too Bad It's Not Sidney

Andrew MeaseContributor IDecember 16, 2009

So, how long do you think it'll take management to capitalize on this golden opportunity?  Crosby night.  Of course you'd see a couple thousand No. 87 Sidney Crosby jerseys in the stands, but what's the chance you'll see a BOBBY Crosby jersey in the stands?  Not likely. What are the chances Crosby wears the No. 87 with the Pirates?  Again, not likely.

Can you even compare the two Crosbys?  The short answer is no, but they have a little more in common than you would think.  For instance, Bobby Crosby as a member of the Oakland A's in his rookie season won the American League Rookie of the Year award beating out Royals' ace Zack Greinke among others. Ironically the same year former Pirate Jason Bay won the Rookie of the Year award.

Unfortunately for Sidney Crosby he was unable to win the Rookie of the Year award, as he was beat out by rival Alexander Ovechkin for the award during the 2005-06 season. Crosby, however, was able to win the Hart Memorial Trophy which is given annually to the best player in the NHL in 2007 when he led the league in points and the Penguins to the postseason.

Although their careers got started off differently on the awards front, Bobby Crosby never fully recovered after an injury during the 2005 season, and has only played over 100 games twice in his career, 2004 and 2008. Sidney Crosby since then has won numerous awards, set even more records, and won a Stanley Cup.

Enough with the Sidney and Bobby comparisons and onto the real meat and potatoes. What the signing means to Pittsburgh.

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The Pirates recently completed their first free agent signing of the off-season by signing shortstop Bobby Crosby, formerly of the Oakland Athletics to a one-year, $1 million  incentive-laden contract.

As a Pirate fan, you're probably thinking, "Who cares," or even "What was the purpose of trading Jack Wilson then?" Well, it's quite simple.  One reason is the fact that one million dollars is a heck of a lot less than Jack Wilson's recently signed two-year, $10 million deal.

The other reason? It FINALLY signals the end of the constant calling up and sending down of the miserable Brian Bixler. Bixler, during his time with the Pirates thus far has hit only .178, a career OPS of .475 and has a pathetic .954 career fielding percentage.

By signing Crosby and acquiring Cedeno in the Jack Wilson trade, Pirate fans can finally wave goodbye to Brian Bixler, barring major injury of course.

Another reason was the relatively cheap contract. Of course the Pirates weren't going to sign an Orlando Cabrera, or Miguel Tejada to play shortstop. What would be the use of a $5 million-plus contract when the team just got rid of one? Exactly, there is NO reason for a contract like that. Bobby Crosby was willing to come in and have to compete for a starting job at a minimal salary, why not take advantage of the situation?

Crosby had this to say via interview with MLB.com

"To get an opportunity to play, I thought Pittsburgh would be a good fit for me in my career," Crosby said over the phone from Pittsburgh, where he had his physical on Thursday morning. "They're going to give me a chance to compete. At this point in my career, that's all I want."

Although most MLB scouts state that Crosby is no longer an every-day MLB shortstop due to many physical ailments.  He still possesses the potential to knock the ball out of the park, and play solid defense where ever a team puts him.

I don't expect Crosby to be golden in Pittsburgh, but I expect him to be a better back-up option then we've had in awhile. He's no Jack Wilson, but also is no Brian Bixler. Cedeno and Crosby should complement each other well, and Bobby can also assist in giving Andy LaRoche some time off, and possibly even Iwamura.

Crosby's strengths include the ability to play anywhere on the diamond, has a steady bat, solid power and speed, good defensive skills, and a strong arm. However, his weaknesses include durability, back problems, lack of a defensive range, and he is a free swinger which tends to lead to strikeouts.

Point is that this is not a "start planning a championship parade" type move, but it's also not a "Fire Huntington" type move either. It's a minor upgrade that can pay some dividends if Crosby can even be half of what he was in the 2004-2005 seasons which featured career highs in home-runs (22 in 2004), batting average (.276 in 2005), RBI (64 in 2004), OPS (.802 and .744 in 2005 and 2004 respectively). Add to that his career .973 fielding percentage at shortstop and you have a solid bench bat that can be plugged anywhere in the infield.

Like I said, this isn't a purchase season tickets signing, but it's not a sell off any tickets you bought signing either. It's an upgrade over what they had, and for one million dollars at most, I'll take it.

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