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The Pirates sure know how to make news in the midst of a Stanley Cup Final. And all it took was a surprising trade of one of their most popular and productive players.

OF Nate McLouth, a 2008 All Star and Gold Glove winner, was just dealt to Atlanta for Class A pitcher Jeff Locke, AA OF Gorkys Hernandez, and AAA pitcher Charlie Morton. McLouth was batting .256 with 9 HR and 34 RBI for the 24-28 Pirates, who will recall highly-touted OF Andrew McCutchen to take McLouth's place. McCutchen was hitting .303 with 4 HR, 20 RBI, and 10 SB in 49 games in AAA.

Morton is a power pitcher who is close to big-league-ready as a starter. Locke is a bit further away from the bigs, but he was Baseball America's 7th-ranked prospect in the Braves' system this year. The 21-year-old Hernandez was Atlanta's 4th-ranked prospect after coming over in the 2007 Edgar Renteria-Jair Jurrjens trade. He projects as a top-of-the lineup place-setter who seems to be developing nicely, although some power would be nice.

Some faction of Pirate fans will undoubtedly speak out against this trade. In fact, it only took Bob Smizik about an hour to declare the Pirates have given up on the present. But let's be honest here. The Pirates, despite their proximity to .500, are not going anywhere this year. And McLouth was a lifetime .261 hitter who's played one full season in the majors and was battling for a job not too long ago. It's not as if they just traded Roberto Clemente in his prime. In the short term, the Pirates and their remaining fans will probably miss him; in the grander scheme of things, this could turn out to be a very good trade for the Bucs, if they netted two of the Braves' top 10 prospects and another arm to legitimately compete for a spot in the rotation. And don't forget, this also clears the way for McCutchen, who clearly has a much higher ceiling than McLouth.

There is no doubt that it took some serious stones for Neal Huntington to make this deal at this time. McLouth was just signed to a reasonable three-year, $15.75 million contract, so it wasn't like he was a financial albatross around the franchise's neck a la Kevin Young or Jason Kendall. (although I'm sure the Pirates don't mind getting that money off the books). Huntington clearly has a plan in building the depth of the franchise, and once again, he's getting multiple players in return. Most trades aren't properly evaluated at the time they're made, they're evaluated months or years down the road. This is one of those trades. But for now, at least, I think I like it.

McLouth traded to Atlanta for three prospects; McCutchen coming to Pittsburgh [PBC Blog]

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HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Trading players at their peak value is what good small-market organizations have to do. I'm not saying the Pirates are good small-market organization, but I agree with the logic.

AJ said...

I just feel bad for the creative director over at FSN Pittsburgh. Now they are going to have to re-edit every single Pirates promo they air.

If any of these prospects work out, it's a fair trade. Not like people were knocking down the gates at PNC Park to see Nate McLouth every night. Bring on McCutchen.

Plus... one less Red Wings fan we have to deal with this week.

Steve said...

Honestly, who cares? So they have to wait 20 or 22 seasons now for a possible winning season that probably won't happen anyway, or god forbid, a penant.

I say "they" instead of "we" because I am no longer a Pirate fan. I'm going to fold while I still have my memories of what a great organization the Pirates once were, instead of watering it down year after year with more of the same losing, rebuilding, bad trades and salary dumps.

Pirates fans waiting for a winning team is like judging a hot body, weird face contest between Sarah Jessica Parker and Kirsten Dunst, I mean, it just can't be done.

BURGH08 said...

Well, first of all, it's Dunst in a landslide. Wet shirt in Spiderman is all you need as evidence.

Second, I used to be one of the folks that would reason that 'they won't win now with him, so may as well trade him blah blah blah.'

That frankly is just a personal mind screw tactic you are going through, and seeing it in the media, pro Pirate websites, etc.

You can't sign a guy claiming him to be your 'cornerstone' and deal him three months later for guys you admit 'could be above average players'. Even Huntington said last night on the CW that he doesn't expect to 'hit on all of them'.

So in essence, you are lucky if the folks you traded your Gold Glove outfielder will actually be that kind of a player once they develop.

I just wonder how many times we will hear good 'ol Rocco explain the 'money spent in the draft', or the money spent overseas, blah blah blah.

It's the SOS.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

I agree with Don's point but I also agree that is the guy the Pirates were touting as one of the big guys to build around and then boom, they trade him off for not one piece of major league ready/proven talent.

I also wonder what they could have got for him at the deadline?

I think this is a slap in the face of the fans.... yet again. 2001 was 8 years ago and it's been 8 different 5 year plans since then. They promised if the park was built they would win, but no such luck.

Unknown said...

this is the kind of BS that has caused me to boycott the Pirates the last two seasons!

Steve said...

Problem is, the Pirates fans that still go to games won't be frightened off by anything the Pirates ownership/management does, no matter how questionable, so the 'slap in the face" sentiment really doesn't fly.

The Pirates know this and because of it, they have become more bold in their lies and twisting of the promises to build a winning team.

As long as they can sell a few thousand tickets and string the cool aide drinkers along with promise of the future -- one that will never become present -- they with net a very nice profit and every season will be a relative success in their eyes.

That in a nutshell is the hard truth, and why losing while making money is much easier for the Nutting's to swallow than spending more money than their share of revenue sharing and the MLB telvision contact will afford them, by building a winning team and possibly losing money just to make a few thousand more Pirates fans happy.

Unknown said...

well said Steve!

pens fan in philly said...

gold glove or not most stats guys say McLouth was not a very good center fielder. there were just too many balls he didnt get to. McCutchen has the potential to be much better. McLouth was now where near the player that Bay was so I am more disappointed with that trade from last year. nate is also 27 and a career .260 hitter. trade while value is high to replenish the system. sucks but this is the current state of pirate baseball. lets hope in a few years these young guys are up in the bigs and playing well

BURGH08 said...

That's exactly the mind game I'm talking about philly. McLouth was not a very good centerfielder (Gold Glove), McCutchen has the potential (no power), and looking at his BA and not his OBP (.819)

Nobody will confuse him for Babe Ruth, but it's hard to believe A.) any of the names mentioned will blossom and B.) if they do, will just be dealt for more prospects.

craig said...

Steve is a dangerous man. The kind of man who scares the Nuttings. Why won't he drink the Kool-aid?

pens fan in philly said...

no burgh08 that is the attitude that you have developed from years of terrible systems. I live in philly and never hear anything from neal huntington. i form my opinions based on what i see on the field and what national guys say. McLouth was very much overrated in Pittsburgh. GMs around the league dont see him as gold glove caliber. he made some very nice plays such as the all-star game throw and had few errors but there are a lot of balls he simply doesnt get to. offensively, he had a good season last year, but his final numbers arent even that impressive.. .276, 26 hrs, 94 RBIs, 23 sb. a guy like corey hart for the brewers put up very similiar numbers .268, 20 hr, 91 rbi, 23 sb and you cannot say he is a superstar in the league. those numbers should be for an average player on a good team. as for Mccutchen, i am not talking of his power or any offensive stat, his defensive will be better than nate and he will steal more bases (which is what nate will do for atlanta and what he would do for any good team) nate is only a "power" guy because the pirates have very little power and left field is hitter friendly. he is built as an on base guy with good stolen base numbers. lets just deal with the fact that the buccos arent going anywhere this season and our minor league system just got some much needed depth/

lifeofx said...

Mr. Nutting has made a mint on this Pirates team. He has proven to have little concern for winning. Its all about the money. I wonder how much the Pirates were paid in cash for this trade?? Develop or aquire players and sell them off!! It's like slave trading.

Us Pirate fans are fools to continue to buy this "building for the future" nonsense!! We now enter or 17th year as biggest losers in MLB history and I think it's a disgrace to us fans, the players and the great city of Pittsburgh. I call for a complete boycott from the Pirates. Mr. Nutting, please bring this city a winner or go back to Wheeling where you belong..

Louis Lipps Sinks Ships said...

1. I wouldn't get so upset about the Buccos calling McClouth the cornerstone of the franchise before trading him. It's a good negotiating tactic -- it says to the Braves, "You're going to have to make a great offer to pry this guy off our team."

2. Is it worth buying a Pirates jersey anymore? Any player worthy of a jersey will be traded within 18 months. Just get a custom one that says "Prospect" on the back.

pens fan in philly said...

haha i love the jersey idea

BURGH08 said...

Philly-the 'attitude I have developed from years of terrible systems"?

Please. I have history on my side, and know a "terrible system" when I see it. This one is not much different in that the direction is questionable.

Again, nobody is saying he is a "superstar", but he is (was) a player you could use to be successful.

People devalued Jason Bay the same way after he was dealt last year. How did that turn out?

You are too far being in philly to understand, which I can empathize with.

pens fan in philly said...

since when has a pirate organization opted to trade talent for quality young players? not littlefield or bonifay. no, they were content with signing terrible free agents based on names and hanging on to players that the "
fans" liked so that they could still sell tickets and then eventually losing guys for nothing because they couldnt pay them. this regime is finally not giving a damn about putting people in the seats and is focused on building a foundation in the minor leagues. sure mcLouth was a fan favorite and rightfully so, but the fact that the pirates are now willing to trade guys like nady, bay and mclouth, for multiple prospects shows that the organization is going in another direction. not that you have said this, but i see so many people claiming that the pirates do these moves to save money its ridiculous. the pirates had a favorable contract with nate and bay and they easily could have hung on to those guys to bring people to PNC, but that is not what this is about, its about winning consistently. these players gave people a reason to go to games, but for once that is not good enough to the guys in charge. for once they want to build something. look we can go in circles all day with this, but the bottom line to me is that this organization is making moves that make sense from a baseball standpoint, not a fill seats at PNC standpoint.

pens fan in philly said...

oh and as for being too far in philly to understand, maybe i just finally have an outside view. i spent most of my life watching the pirates lose while living in pittsburgh, and had many complaints about how the team previously did business.

Unknown said...

the Pittsburgh Pirates are the WORST SPORTS FRANCHISE IN HISTORY!

how could anyone argue this? better yet, who would support a franchise that is the WORST IN HISTORY?!

and for this support to come from fans in a city like pittsburgh (one with pride) is mind boggling.

sounds like philly is drinking the cool-aid

BURGH08 said...

Philly says "since when has a pirate organization opted to trade talent for quality young players? not littlefield or bonifay"

That alone shows why you are misguided, and why the system continues regardless of who is the GM. What is a 'quality young player'? Was it Kris Benson when he was drafted? Many thought so. Ditto Chad Hermansen.

What is the guarantee that the 'quality young player' (which is debateable at best) develops into better than what you have?

The cycle continues, much as you want to mind fuck yourself to the contrary. You have 'young talent' from Jason Bay, who was supposed to be the 'cornerstone'.

Of course, he was acquired (along with Oliver Perez) for Brian Giles who along with Jason Kendall was to be the 'cornerstone'. Of course, Perez was dealt when he didn't meet expectations, or Jason Schmidt, or Denny Neagle, etc.

It's a revolving door, and will continue to be until actual money is put not only in the minor leagues, but kept into the MAJOR league product as well.

I understand building from the bottom up, but this 'young talent' in return doesn't impress me in the slightest. I don't need to live in Pittsburgh or BFE to know that.

pens fan in philly said...

first off giles and kendall were cancers and also proved not have any value outside of pittsburgh. the pirates held them too long because they were able to put together a "decent" team.

please give me your solution to the issue. just throw some money at free agents? i think we have tried that in the past too. you seem to think that since past GMs have sucked at evaluating talent the current one will too. all you need to look at is last years draft to see the change in philosphy. the giles trade was great and perez and bay are solid players, but we wouldnt be in any better of a situation with them here right now would we?

so we traded our centerfielder while his value was as high as it would get and now we get to see our star prospect play every day and we get 3 solid players in return... sounds good to me

"It's a revolving door, and will continue to be until actual money is put not only in the minor leagues, but kept into the MAJOR league product as well. " name a team that can do what you just said? the yankess? nope, the marlins- we seen thats not the case. you have two options in MLB right now, bring in a bunch of free agents at the expense of prospects or load up on prospects by trading what value you have. regardless of who owns the pirates the money is not going to be there to bring in free agents. id expect this much negativity here in philly... well i guess its to be expected after 16 losing seasons as well. maybe i am too optimistic to be a pirates fan anymore.... by the way we own the mets!! penant here we come!

BTW i am curious what exactly a mind fuck is

Unknown said...

"please give me your solution to the issue"

stop going to games, stop watching games on fox sports, and try to beat sense into those people who still 'believe' the pirates actually try to be competitive

Jeff_King_Fan said...

pretty much what some other people have already said. you don't build up a guy as a franchise player then ship him off. he is the cornerstone of the pirates. they could have gotten the same value of those three guys for a number of current bucs not named nate. an atlanta publication mentioned that adam laroache may be a suitable fit for a return. granted this is all hearsay, but i would much rather package him and grabow then get rid of nate. he is our best player, and we just let him go for practically nothing.

BURGH08 said...

Philly-You are deep in a mind fuck, but just don't know it. The Pirates 'building toward a championship calibur' diatribe is the pitcher, and you are the catcher.

In 1996, Kris Benson was the viewed as the clear number one choice. Getting 'young talent' is not an exact science.

I understand that acquiring the talent and developing it is neccessary. However, when you get talent that develops on SOME level, you have to be able to KEEP it.

It won't matter if Pedro Alvarez develops into a star if the Pirates can't keep him as a major league product. They have yet to prove they can keep talent in Pittsburgh.

To assume that the Pirates can bring five to seven 'young talent' prospects that are projected by their own GM as having a 'chance to be above average' and pretending things are going to get better is one way to go through life I guess.

Hey, more power to you.

jmarinara said...

If the bucs didn't have a guy like Andrew McCutchen to take Nate's place, this would be right up there with the Aramis Rameriez trade.

Since they DO have McCutchen, the bucs have traded from strength, and got three decent to good (not great) prospects in return.

I like the power pitcher. The last thing the bucs need is another Paul Maholm/Zach Duke junk baller. . . you know, like the other guy they got in this deal *rolls eyes*.

I don't see what they wanted with the speedy McCutchen/McClouth like center fielder they got. The fact that they targeted him and not a power hitting, major league ready, first baseman or middle infielder (a position the DESPERATELY need), tells me that McCutchen is gone in about 5 years, maybe sooner.

The thing I don't get is why in the world do you trade him now? You like McCutchen for his bat, his little bit of power and his speed. Wouldn't it be nice to ADD that to McLouth? I mean it's not like Brandon Moss is setting the National League on fire. You had three years left on McLouth's contract and you trade him now?? NOW??? After saying he was the biggest offensive piece of the future?? NOW??? In June. Early June. Not the Deadline, not next years deadline. . . but now.


You took the first offer that came along and got less than you should have.

It's not a horrible trade, but it's not a great trade either.