As my first post for the site I would like to quickly tackle the "Oh my god, we lost Nate McLouth" talk. First of all let me say before I start that I am a big Nate McLouth fan, as I am of the Pirates, but lets not start treating Nate McLouth like he is the best hitter the National League has ever seen.
Last year Nate McLouth was an all star. Granted last year McLouth hit .276, which was his highest batting average in his career as a major league baseball player. At 27, yes I said 27, his career high is .276. This year McLouth is tearing it up with a blistering .259 average before the game was played tonight. Dare I say that if it were not an MLB rule to have a player from each team on the All-Star game roster would McLouth even have been on that roster? Possibly not. Trade an all star player you say? And if you take a look at McLouth's stats from the break last year until now, he is hitting in the mid-.250's.
Granted Nate is a better than average defensive player and did hit 26 home runs and drive in 96 RBI but I feel the Pirates got rid of him while he was hot. Nate signed a contract this past off season for the next three years, with an extra club option, which would make him very good in the open market at $15.75 million over the life of that contract. Management was saying they weren't actively shopping McLouth but the Braves came with a deal they couldn't refuse. The Buccos got three prospects, Jeff Locke, Gorkys Hernandez and Charlie Morton. The latter, Morton, will be making his Pirate debut tonight so we will see early some of the return on the trade. Listening to ESPN radio the other morning and they had Keith Law on the Stan and Guy show and the first thing that Mr. Law stated when he got on was that "The Pirates got away with a heist." I don't know about you people but Keith Law knows a little more about baseball than me and you (and all your friends) combined.
The main reason I am so high on this trade, and the reason I feel Pirates management is on the right track this time, is that you have to have a stocked minor league system if you want to compete as a small market ball club. The Pirates can not go out and buy CC Sabathia or Manny Ramirez so they have to trade player like Bay, Nady and McLouth to load up the minor leagues to be successful. You are seeing success right before your eyes in the form of Andrew McCutchen and will only get better when last years number one pick Pedro Alverez, Jose Tabada, Gorkys Hernandez, Robbie Grossman come up to join McCutchen, Morgan, Doumit and the rest of the cast this team can start to go in the right direction.
Now I am not saying that this trade is going to complete the Pirates farm system, but it is a piece to the puzzle. Management is finally trading high instead of waiting till players are worth nothing. What if the Pirates would have traded Craig Wilson after his 29 home run 82 RBI campaign in 2004 rather than wait for him to come back down to earth and get hurt in only 59 games into the 2005 year and getting Shawn Chacon back for him in 2006? Management is finally on their game so far. Stocking the minors is the way the Pirates are going to get back to winning.
Lets not forget that the goal is not to get .500. If you are a fan and that is your goal then you are really kidding yourself. The goal is to win, so you have to stock the minors. Ask Tampa Bay how that works out. Draft well, trade average players at their high value, and develop the talent. We will not reap the benefits of the trades this year, but it will come, hopefully a lot sooner.