June 20, 2018

Can someone just pull the plug on the Pirates already?

June 3, 2009 by · 5 Comments 

Just a few hours ago the Pirates traded OF Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves in their latest “salary dump” deal, with “dump” being the key word here. Just awful.

Look, I’m not the biggest McLouth fan in the world but this trade just flat out sucks for the Pirates. They traded their #3 hitter, a guy who played in the All-Star Game just 11 months ago, and all they got in return was a future 4th outfielder, a 4/5 starter and a Single-A lefty with a 5.52 ERA. More on those guys in a bit…

Again, just to repeat, I don’t think McLouth is a stud. He’s a decent player, though, and at $5 million a year or so he’s not making too much money for any market. Hell, if the Pirates wanted to dump money they should have just given Jack Wilson or Adam LaRoche away for some Big League Chew and a bucket of baseballs.

Trading McLouth is okay by me, but you’ve gotta get a higher caliber of player than they did. Even if it means taking just one or two guys in the deal instead of three. Quality should be more important than quantity.

I’m all for clearing the way for Andrew McCutchen, no doubt about that, but how ’bout sitting Brandon Moss down and making room that way?

As for the players the Buccos received, well, let’s take a look…

OF Gorkys Hernandez – Hitting a decent .316 at Double-A as a 21 year-old but 54 K’s (in 212 AB) to 15 BB doesn’t strike me as much of a leadoff man, which is what he’s supposed to be, and neither does the fact that he’s been caught stealing 8 times in 18 attempts. Best case scenario, he’s a right-handed hitting Nyjer Morgan.

SP Charlie Morton – Has put up some nice numbers at Triple-A but doesn’t have great stuff and has had back problems. Also, check the pitchers the Braves have traded away over the years. Other than Adam Wainwright, who has really turned out all that well? They know which guys to keep and which to deal. Morton will probably be okay, but he’s a 4th/5th starter.

SP Jeff Locke – Lefty with a live arm who is still just 21 years-old but that 5.52 ERA in 10 starts at High-A this year isn’t exactly exciting, nor is the fact that he averages 4 1/2 innings per start and walks too many guys. He’s talented, as you would expect of a 2nd round pick, but he wasn’t exactly stellar at Low-A last year either (5-12, 4.06 ERA). Might be projectable but that’s not saying too much.

So, the Pirates trade their 3-hole hitter for three guys who may or may not become serviceable Major Leaguers?

Yep, that’s about the size of it.

All that to clear a $5 million-a-year contract when you’ve got Jack Wilson and Adam LaRoche scheduled to come off the books at the end of the year?

Not good.

Kevin Wheeler is the host of Sports Open Line (M-F 7-9 PM ET) on News Radio 1120, KMOX in St. Louis (www.kmox.com) and he is a baseball instructor with All-Star Performance (www.all-starperformance.net) and the St. Louis Gamers (www.stlgamers.net). You can reach him via e-mail at thebaseballgods@gmail.com


5 Responses to “Can someone just pull the plug on the Pirates already?”
  1. Ted Leavengood says:

    The Pirates organization is pretty damn thin in pitching talent and I think evaluating this trade is a closer call than you are admitting.

    It would have been great to get Jason Heyward, but the Braves are not going to trade him for McClouth and the Pirates organization is longer in power bats, shorter on speed and pitching which is what they got for McLouth.

    Gorkys Hernandez is not the stiff you paint him to be. He may not turn out to be the next Kenny Lofton–as some have opined–but he has a pretty significant upside. He has huge speed, and hits and gets on base well enough to stick as more than a fourth outfielder.

    Locke was rated ahead of Hanson a year ago and he is a lefty so who knows? As the third part of this deal he is a reasonable throw in. Maybe something clicks for him, maybe the Pirates have scouted him and think they can do something with him.

    It seems to me that Morton is the key. His numbers in Triple-A are better than respectable and in an organization as thin in pitching as the Pirates, taking a chance on Morton and Locke makes sense. The Pirates got three pieces that fit within their organizational needs. It does not make them into contenders, but I don’t believe Nate McLouth can command that kind of talent.

    The return was a little underwhelming, but better than Big League Chew and a bucket of baseballs.

  2. Justin Murphy says:

    I agree with Ted- I like this trade for Pittsburgh. McLouth is serviceable for the present, but McCutchen should be in the bigs right now. Why give up on Brandon Moss already? Stocking the pitching is important. Locke is likely only throwing limited innings in the minors because of conservative pitch limits, not because he can’t.

  3. Kevin Wheeler says:

    Hey guys, thanks for the thoughts…

    Here’s my problem with the Pirates – they’ve now traded three impact OF bats without getting a single impact player in return.

    McLouth is not a superstar, but he was part of the most productive OF in MLB for much of last year, he was the team’s All-Star rep last year, he won a Gold Glove and he was currently the 3-hole hitter.

    And all you get for that is three “maybe” players? Contact/speed guys are a dime-a-dozen, especially ones who strike out too much, and neither pitcher projects better than a 4th starter.

    Plus, McLouth was signed for a very reasonable $5 million a year contract – why dump his salary when you’ll have Jack Wilson, Adam LaRoche and possibly Freddy Sanchez off the books next year? That’s nearly $20 million, off the top of my head.

    If there wasn’t a better deal than this one out there right now, what harm would there be in waiting until July?

    Worst case – you “have to” keep your 3-hole hitter who has a pretty manageable contract…

    I just don’t get it. Depth is nice but quality needs to be a priority over quantity…

  4. Kevin Wheeler says:

    Here’s some stuff today that makes my point to an even greater degree – not only do front offices send messages to fans, they also send messages to their other players:

    “Wow,” second baseman Freddy Sanchez said Thursday of the trade, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think the biggest thing was the shock factor. It’s obviously a tough pill to swallow. Our No. 3 hitter just got taken away, the guy who leads our team in home runs and RBIs, and we were 6½ games out. We could still have been right there. I think we still can. But we’re all just kind of wondering right now … wondering what it is.”

    “There ain’t a guy in here who ain’t [ticked] off about it,” said first baseman Adam LaRoche, according to the report. “It’s kind of like being with your platoon in a battle, and guys keep dropping around you. You keep hanging on, hanging on, and you’ve got to figure: How much longer till you sink?

    “It’s fine. Heck with it. We’re not the GM. We don’t run the team. If they feel like it’s the best move for three or four years from now, great,” LaRoche said, according to the report. “Unfortunately, that does me no good. I’ve still got to be in here telling guys it’s going to be fine with Nate gone. Well, you can only do that for so long until guys just kind of … well, they know.”

    From an AP story….

  5. I read these stories and you are correct, it is counter-productive in terms of team morale. But there were maybe three or four articles quoted on MLB Rumors and one thing that was pointed out was the Pirates having money for the upcoming International Draft. They now have the money to sign Sano for example and maybe to go above slot in tomorrow’s draft. The economics of sports suck. I would be glad for city’s to own their teams like Green Bay, but Rush may demand an apology just for thinking that one.

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