Thursday, June 4, 2009

Life Goes On, Bro

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.


WilliamJPellas said...

The bottom line, as I have written elsewhere, is that the McLouth trade was the wrong deal at the wrong time. Again, guys who can fill up the stats columns across the board do NOT grow on trees. Guys who can do that while also being signed to a team-friendly contract DOUBLY do not grow on trees. Trading a guy like that for two iffy minor league pitchers and a singles-hitting "top prospect" who has now himself been traded twice in two years, is just plain stupid.

It was the wrong move at the wrong time, and that's all there is to it.

WilliamJPellas said...

And sure, this move "clears a spot" for Andrew McCutchen, but what about an outfield of Morgan-McCutchen-McLouth left to right? Holy cow, talk about airtight! There's not another team in all of baseball that has that kind of leather across the far reaches. All three can run, all three can field, and while the hitting overall would be so-so, presumably McCutchen will still be a pretty good offensive center fielder, you've got McLouth as the power guy (or close enough, anyway) and Morgan does his hustle thing.

I'd much rather have seen that alignment than what we're looking at now. Oh, and if Gorkys Hernandez ever remotely approaches McLouth's production, I'll run naked around Papa John's Stadium, backwards!

Ron Ieraci said...

Will, I'm kinda meh about the deal; a lot depends on Locke's development, and that's a long way from being determined.

The bottom line is that the suits can bolster the MLB roster or build the system, and for better or worse, they've chosen to build. It's their choice, and it's one that they committed to last year.

WilliamJPellas said...

Okay, I get that. I truly do. But surely you need good-to-elite young talent to build your system, rather than the (to all appearances) average-to-better-than-average talent the Pirates got in this trade. A final time: I maintain that this was NOT the time to be making a "stock your system by dealing your best current big leaguer" kind of trade. That's for somebody like Bay and Nady as they head for their walk years, not for a fine young player like McLouth who is signed to a team friendly contract. Fie on this, I say!!!