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As you've probably heard, the Pirates just traded for the talented, colorful, and sometimes troubled young man shown above, one Lastings Milledge. The 24-year-old, who was the 12th overall pick by the New York Mets in the 2003 MLB Draft, has a very high ceiling, much higher than that of departed OF Nyjer Morgan, who was the epitome of a "sell high" player if the Pirates ever had one.

But talented 24-year-olds don't just go from team to team to team in a span of three years unless there's a catch, and you can be sure that there's a big one with Milledge. You see, his behavior is, shall we say, erratic at best. For example one, let's go to old friend Wikipedia:

Prior to the 2003 amateur draft, he was expected to be among the top three selections, but as draft day approached, press reports from 2002 resurfaced regarding Milledge's expulsion from Northside Christian High School after his junior year for allegedly having sex with a minor. He subsequently transferred to Lakewood Ranch High School where he finished his education and amateur baseball career.

As a result of the incident, Milledge was passed over in the 2003 amateur draft until the Mets selected him as the twelfth overall pick in the first round. The Mets began contract negotiations with Milledge, but the talks were interrupted in early August 2003, when the Mets learned of allegations of additional sexual misconduct against Milledge during his time at Northside.
That's certainly newsworthy. But wait...there's more. Fast-forward to 2007:
In May, it was reported that Milledge appeared in a rap song, "Bend Ya Knees," by Manny D, a childhood friend. The song contained the words "b***h", "ho", and "n***a". The Mets organization responded by saying, "We disapprove of the content, language and message of this recording, which does not represent the views of the New York Mets."
OK, so he's proven that his judgment is not the best. But I'll be he's got some great intro music each time he comes to bat.

Make no bones about it: dealing Morgan and P Sean Burnett for Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan this afternoon was somewhat of a calculated risk (although USA Today is calling it a potential heist for the Pirates). But really, aren't all trades?

As previously stated, Morgan's value was peaking right now. Yes, he was a nice guy who fans enjoyed, and yes, he played solid defense; but you can't overlook the fact that A) he couldn't get on base nearly enough, and B) he's been thrown out 10 times in 28 stolen base attempts this season. Plus, he's four years older than Milledge. Burnett has had a good season by his standards, but he's very replaceable. The most interesting question I can think of regarding his departure is whether or not someone will return the favor and build a shrine to him as he did for Nate McLouth.

In Hanrahan, the Pirates pickup a flamethrower who reaches the high 90s. True, his ERA is an unsightly 7.71 this season in 32 innings, and he's a ghastly 5-for-10 in save opportunities; but his strikeout to walk ratio this season is an impressive 35:14. That's at least something to work with.

Pirate clubhouse reaction has been the typical, boo-hoo variety. Jack Wilson, obviously long overdue for a plane ticket out of the Burgh, had this to say:

"The bottom line is, even if this trade does work out, it's not going to matter to 80 percent of the people in here," Wilson said. "And over the years, these trades haven't worked. Show me the ones that have worked."

Wilson described himself as "beyond, beyond tired" of such moves.

"We know that they're looking to the future, which doesn't say much about 2009," he continued. "That's probably what's so shocking. We're five games out, and we lost two or three of our everyday players. That's what hits us the most. You can understand if it's the end of July. You see that stuff coming. ... They're businessmen. They're trying to achieve winning baseball in Pittsburgh. The biggest question is: When is that going to be. When do things start turning around? It's just hard for guys who have been here and seen these exact same trades happen and seen it absolutely do nothing. I've been here nine years. I've seen these trades 2 or 3 times a year every year and still haven't had a winning season. You hope, eventually, some of these trades will work out. It's just they haven't yet. They think they're getting deals they can't pass up. I guess. I guess. I guess. Whatever."

In his haste to push his employer down the stairs, Wilson failed to realize that many of his very teammates (the Brothers LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez, Delwyn Young, Brandon Moss, Jason Jaramillo, etc.) were acquired via these trades that "haven't worked". Hopefully, the next Huntington deal can include either Wilson, Ian Snell, or Adam LaRoche, three veterans who have clearly soured on the Pirate experience and are not part of the future.

In Washington, acting GM Mike Rizzo is telling Nats fans they just acquired "two cornerstones of the organization". That's right, now Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett are cornerstones of an organization. Comments like that will probably ensure that Rizzo's title will never go beyond "acting".

As for the on-field product, the Pirates shut out the Cubs, 3-0, behind three hits from Freddy Sanchez and seven innings (and eight Ks) from Ross "Mr. Wonderful" Ohlendorf. Don't look now, but the last-place Buccos are only six games out of first.
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AJ said...

Anybody who looks cool wearing a Pirates cap gets traded. Nyjer should have taken a lesson from Pokey Reese. Don't be surprised if the Bucs try to trade Chuck D by the end of the season.

Badstreet said...

The instant, knee-jerk reaction to this trade was stunning and astounding. It's Nyjer Morgan, for pete's sake. Not Jason Bay or even Nate McLouth.

More than anything, that's the problem with Pirates fans right now. The faint whiff of mediocrity hits and every player is suddenly an unmovable all-star. We needed some kind of power in the outfield, Milledge will provide it. Let's not go crazy and make Morgan a hall of famer in our instant hatred of all moves Pirates.

Honestly, I'd rather trading guys like Morgan, Hinske and even McLouth than signing guys like Pat Meares, Derek Bell and late 90s Kevin Young.

BURGH08 said...

I'm just waiting for Milledge and "Big Play Willie Gay" to record together.

Dan said...

I agree very much with your assessment. Check out my take on the trade at

Unknown said...

Okay everyone, leap of faith time. What if I said the Pirates reacquired Nate McLouth, only during his time with Atlanta he went from being 28 to being 24, and now he's kind of a dick. Oh, and he's black now. Well that's kind of what this trade is.

Chip said...

I was enjoying this post until I got to this part:

many of his very teammates (the Brothers LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez, Delwyn Young, Brandon Moss, Jason Jaramillo, etc.) were acquired via these trades that "haven't worked".

Clearly you either don't watch the Pirates or know nothing about baseball. Holding those up as "trades that worked" is ridiculous.

Adam LaRoche is a mediocre 1st baseman.

Andy LaRoche is below average both offensively and defensively at 3B.

Jaramillo is a backup C.

Moss has 1 HR and 20 RBI. ONE HOME RUN from your RF? He's a backup.

Neal Huntington is a the Matt Millen of MLB. He's an idiot who trades proven ML players for AA "prospects" or fringe major leaguers that other teams have given up on.

Until he's fired, this team will continue finishing under .500 and be the laughing stock of baseball.

pens fan in philly said...

@chip- i dont think you understood his point there. he was NOT saying that those trades "worked", he was saying that jack wilson alienated his teammates...Wilson said. "And over the years, these trades haven't worked. Show me the ones that have worked.".... the trades that jack is referring to brought in his current teammates. and jack is the one who is delusional enough to think that this current team is good enough.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

I agree with Chip,

Jaramillo is viable but we traded
Ronny Paulino to get him so that wasn't exactly mortgaging the future.

Otherwise, The LaRoche brothers and Brandon Moss have disappointed me. May I point out that J-Bay's home run and RBI numbers are better than Moss and Andy Laroche combined! So please tell me how that trade "worked"?

I don't even think I need to point out all of the disappointment in Adam Laroche, who was supposed to launch HR's with regularity with the short RF yet he will never break 30 with the Rats.

Unknown said...

sounds like jack wilson wants to win and is spot on with his comments

the nigerian nightmare said...

garbage in, garbage out

Dallas Mike said...

At last, William Gay has a running buddy. I am predicting that many local clubs can expect a "rainy" forecast for the next few months.

mondesishouse said...

Chip and Burress:

I'm not saying I love guys like Adam LaRoche. In fact, I can't wait until he's dealt. I was merely pointing out the massive hypocrisy in what Wilson said. On one hand, he's saying the Pirates are only 5 games out. On the other hand, he's saying trades never work. But the guys that are 5 games out are mostly guys that they traded for. Unless I'm missing something.

Jack also left out the fact that while they are 5 games out (now 6, by the way), they're also in last place.

okel dokel said...

Well, the Buccos PR machine is at it hard this week. I am guessing they are trying to steal the spotlight from the Pens. They are making the headlines, well the 8th or 9th headline on ESPN and MSNBC, with their "trades" and the boys from India"

I think they are gunning for a reality show. I can hear it now, "17 years and counting, they are the loveable losers from the City of Champions...see what kind of crazy hyjinx goes on behind the scenes of the not-so Jolly Roger."

This stuff writes itself.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

17 and counting is what I named my yahoo fantasy league.

I think I missed your point in initially reading that statement. Wilson is dead on with his assessment IMHO. You bring up a great point in regards to 6 games out of first and in dead last!

Chip said...

See, I guess I interpreted Jack's comments differently. He wasn't saying his teammates were worthless. He was saying this notion that we have some players, they lose, so we trade them for new players, they lose, so we trade them for new players, etc etc... NEVER WORKS.

We had Giles and lost so we swapped him for Bay. That didn't work so we swapped him for Wimpy LaRoche and Mr. One HR. So they're still not happy and swap Nate and Nyjer, etc.

At what point do you say "This is the group we're building around" and then try to ADD to the CORE?? They said Nate was a core guy and then turned around and traded him away.

Honestly, having faith in these lying weasels running the team blows my mind. We have the Detroit Lions of baseball in our city and yet bloggers CONTINUE to support their idiotic moves. I guess that's why they continue to get away with it. Nobody holds their feet to the fire like they should. Sad really.

Unknown said...

well said Chip! i think don's assessment of sports in pittsburgh is great except when it comes to the pirates...maybe the pirates marketing team is putting kool aid in his water??

Ryan said...

All I am going to say is locker room cancer... we'll see how long this 'experiment' lasts. How long is this guy signed through?

Oh great, he'll be a FA at the end of the season.

Ryan said...

Oh yeah...

"but you can't overlook the fact that A) he couldn't get on base nearly enough, and B) he's been thrown out 10 times in 28 stolen base attempts this season"

Extracted from a PG:

"So Monday night, Morgan went 3 for 4 in the opener of this series.

That made him second on the team in hits, second in walks, third in runs scored, third best in the league in stolen bases"

Peak value? Yes. Worth trading at this absolute moment for garbage? That would be an emphatic no.

Believe me, I know he wasn't an All-Star and never would be. But you have to give fans something to cheer for rather than scudding the season in two weeks by trading everyone on the diamond.

As sad as it is to say this, .500 baseball means a lot to fans under the age of 30 who have to think really really hard about the late 80's and early 90's when the Bucco's were competitive.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

Well apparently people think that Lastings Milledge is some kind of gold mine. From what I gather, he has a lot of similarities to one Ian Dante Snell Oquendo! BAD ATTITUDE!

That is not what the Pirates need right now, but since their list of needs is infinite who in the hell knows what they are trying to accomplish?

I stick by my idea that the Front Office plants commenters on the PBC Blog to try and talk up the players they got. There was someone on there yesterday trying to use some kind of ridiculous stats to rationalize Hanrahan's 7 ERA. Something comparable to: Leads the team in ninth inning doubles in the month of August.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

However, I would like to take a position to the contrary regarding the comment on Don drinking the Kool-Aid. He doesn't have the luxury of anonimity like a lot of us who post on here. He has his name out there and I would imagine he wouldn't want to have any inflammatory comments pegged to him considering he may at times get chances to interview people in the Pirates' "organization".

Some of us have different ways of dealing with the persistent losing.

Dave said...

I don't get the hate everyone has for Huntington. He's been on the job since 2007, less than 2 years. It's not like he walked into a job like LA or Boston. He had a terrible team with a worse farm system and has to somehow turn the few assets he has into not only a strong product at the Major League level, but also throughout the organization.

I'm no appologist, I'm just calling it like I see it. When you have lost 17+ seasons in a row, rarely have anything more than the single league-mandated All-Star Game representative, and must compete locally with a Super Bowl winner and a Stanley Cup champion, nobody is untouchable.

Milledge has a ton of talent, but a bit of an attitude problem. It's better than NO talent and an attitude problem coughAdamLaRochecough.

As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day. Some of the moves have paid off, e.g. swapping Nady for Ohlendorf, and many have not. You cannot seriously tell me though that this team is not in a better position now than before Huntington took over.

Jeff_King_Fan said...

i agree with dave. huntington is far better than littlefield. and if littlefield didnt set the team back an additional 3 years while he was in office, perhaps some of our key guys would be with us still.

the reason why the team has stunk for so long is ownership and managers. sure the players had a lot to do with it too, but the ultimate blame goes to the higher ups. people forget that ramierez, schmidt, loaiza, and others were average at best while with the pirates. then they go other teams with better coaching staffs and their in mvp discussions, all-star games, & winning cy youngs. people loved mac because he took a base out of the ground, but the guy wasnt a good big league manager. jim tracy had a good year in LA, and is over achieving in colorado (theyll cool down in 2 weeks). russell isnt a familiar name but i have a feeling he's a good fit. same with huntington. the worst word in pirates baseball is "patience" but sad to say thats what we need right now. and this time i think it will actually pay off.