Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Ryan Church

Here is what I wrote about Church when he was released by the Atlanta Braves in December:

“When Church was traded to the Mets from the Washington Nationals along with Brian Schneider for Lastings Milledge before the 2008 season, I thought it was a good deal for the Mets. In his first 43 games, Church made it look like a great deal for the Metropolitans.

In those first 43 games, Church hit .315 with nine home runs and for the first time in Omar Minaya’s tenure with the Mets, it looked like he pulled off a steal of a trade.

Then the night of May 20 against ironically the Braves happened.

Church slid in short stop Yunel Escobar’s knee at second base and suffered a concussion. It was Church’s second concussion in less than three months.

The Mets of course in typical Mets fashion made things worse by inexplicably making Church fly to Denver in the high altitude right after the second concussion.

Church hasn’t been the same since.

I am guessing the Braves release Church and Church shouldn’t have a problem finding a job with another team. His lifetime .813 OPS versus right-handed pitching should make him an attractive option as a left-handed hitter off the bench/forth outfielder.”

Not only did Church find a job with another team, but he might have the opportunity to start in 2010.

Church is headed to Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed Church to a one-year, $1.5 million contract today. Church can earn another $1.32 million in incentives if he reaches a certain amount of plate appearances in 2010.

While I have my doubts as to whether or not Church can ever regain his form prior to his concussions, he should be able to nail down a starting job in Pittsburgh. He should start for the Pirates in right field flanking Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge.

If Church can nail down the starting job, this will  allow the Pirates to play Garrett Jones at first base–at least against right-handing pitching. This move essentially ends the Pirates pursuit of Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock.

Who does Ankiel–and for that matter Scott Boras–think he is? He is a fringe starter in baseball and he is asking for a two or three year deal? He will be waiting for a long time if he thinks he is going to get that.

Church is a career .272 hitter with 51 home runs and a .345 OBP in six seasons with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, Mets and Braves.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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