So the Braves solved their outfield conundrum by prying Nate McLouth from the Bucs. We have to admit we didn't see this coming; not because McLouth was an untouchable - he was bandied about some last year - but because there was so little smoke before this fire hit four alarms. So we assume the deal fell together very quickly.
Gorkys Hernandez, 21, was the key. He was batting .316 for AA Mississippi. Hernandez is not a middle-of-the-order guy, but comes out of the Andrew McCutchen mold; in fact, we guess the Pirates envision him and McCutch as the 1-2 men of the future. He'll join Jose Tabata at Altoona for now.
They also picked up pitchers Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton, neither of whom is a lock to ever show up on a PNC mound. The suits see more to them than meets the eye, although Morton is having a breakout year at AAA Gwinnett.
Morton, 25, is a big right-handed power pitcher, with a 7-2 record, 2.51 ERA, and 55 strikeouts in ten starts covering 64-2/3 innings, and a starter. But he has a history of control issues, and was 4-8 in Atlanta last year, with a 6.15 ERA and 41 walks surrendered in 74-2/3 frames, to go with 48 Ks.
Locke, 21, is a lefty starter with potential but not much in the way of production so far in his young career. He was 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA for A Myrtle Beach, with 43 strikeouts and 26 walks.
Well, with this swap, the Pirate braintrust has assured us that the future is not just around the corner, but still a good distance down the road. And let's hope, though its probably fruitless, that the remaining Pirates don't go into the deep dark funk that marked the aftermath of the Jay Bay trade.
If you think this deal hits the team hard, the fans have to be completely adrift. The Pirates are being very Darwinian in their moves, and risk losing whatever fan support they have. We can already hear the cries of "salary dump" around the water coolers. Who's going to be the face of the team to the paying public now - Sauerkraut Saul?
And now the Andrew McCutchen era starts. They'll plug him in with Nyjer Morgan in the OF right away, though whether in center or left is yet to be seen; this afternoon's lineup will tell us that.
All we know is that the broom continues in Pittsburgh, and there's no telling where it will stop.