OK, we're not quite so down on the McLouth deal as everyone else, like GW's erstwhile commentator Will Pellas, seem to be.
Now we're not exactly enraptured by the return the Bucs got. CF Gorkys Hernandez, 21, is a speedster with a great glove and popgun bat; he could end up being a lead-off hitter or the sitting in the eight hole. He sounds suspiciously to us like Andrew McCutchen lite.
RHP Charlie Morton, 25, could be a late bloomer; he was wracked in Atlanta last year, but was pitching with an achy back. He could end up as a back-of-the-rotation guy, a set-up man, or John Van Benschoten's second coming.
The management hopes that he performs well enough to at least become a burr under the saddles of Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, and yes, Ian Snell, unlike anyone currently at Indy. And they need a couple of sticks to wave at them about now.
Young LHP Jeff Locke, 21, is the biggest gamble. The report on him is that if he can improve his changeup, he has the ability to become a #2-3 starter; his fastball and curve are already plus pitches.
Like Bryan Morris, he's got a high ceiling, but time will tell. He should probably be up to the AA level at his age, but they're starting him at Lynchburg.
Now we'd like to have seen a top gun or ace in the deal. But the Pirate suits must have liked what they saw. By all accounts, they weren't pushing McLouth or dumping salary.
They thought the Braves offered them a nice baseball deal. Hey, it's like every other move for prospects. Get three, hope one or two sticks as a contributor down the road.
They also did what they had to eventually do, which is clear a spot for McCutchen; you can't tell a kid that's ready to play that he has to tread water endlessly until he bunts better.
And face it - McLouth is 27, and McCutch is 22. McCutch runs as well, fields better, and will probably have a better OBP. But he won't have the pop. And that's the downside of the deal. Take away Pedro Alvarez and maybe Jose Tabata, and there are no big boppers in the organization. They need to find a couple.
One thing we wouldn't be too concerned about is grumbling from the locker room. The older guys can read; they already know they're on the MLB version of Craig's List.
The younger guys are trying to make a name for themselves in the show and at the same time, claim ownership of the team. Both cadres are pros, and the season has a long way to play out yet.
No, what really bugs us about the trade is the way it breaks trust with the faithful. The Pirate Armada thought that inking McLouth, Ryan Doumit, and Paul Maholm was securing the core of the team. But now it looks like more of the same ol', same ol'.
It's not the suits fault that Dave Littlefield and Kevin McClatchy left them a Lazerus to raise. But it is their fault that they aren't honest about their goals. Don't tell the ticket-buyers that the aim is to win now when the truth is that you're rebuilding a system that's dysfunctional. They've yet to receive replacement value in a trade.
Ya know what the fans are talking about now? How down the road, they're gonna dump McCutch to clear a spot for Hernandez. Why not? They've done it with every other good ballplayer that's come through Pittsburgh in the last fifteen years.
That's the attitude the suits have to overcome, and they don't seem to realize it. Fans are many things, but they're not fools. They know BS from plain speakin' by now.
Ah, well. Maybe McCutch will become the Rookie-of-the-Year and the Bucs will win 83 games. That will quiet the crowd.