If Braves uberprospect Tommy Hanson had been in this trade, I would've been ambivalent about it. Meaning, ya hate to see Nate leave town, but Hanson becomes your staff ace, so I can see why they did it. Without Hanson---or a similarly lights out prospect---I am absolutely sick about it.
Nate McLouth has just been disrespected in Pittsburgh for the last time. When push came to shove, in the end, whether it was McClatchey and Littlefield or Nutting and Huntingdon, the front office never really believed in him---despite McLouth's undeniable production every single time he's gotten on the field for any length of time. The ONLY way you make this trade is if 1) you have VERY good reason to believe that McLouth WAYYY overachieved last season and will never again approach those numbers so sell high while you can, and 2) you're getting an offer you simply can't refuse.
In my considered opinion, this trade meets NEITHER of those two criteria. While McLouth has definitely been struggling of late---no question there---he is still on pace for another 20-20 season. Even with a .250-ish batting average, his OPS is still over .800, which is still All-Star range for a center fielder, at least in this era where there aren't many CF types that can really hit.
And even in a worst case scenario with McLouth, at minimum he is STILL a better than average, all around, complete ballplayer in the prime of his career at age 27 who was under team control for VERY reasonable dollars. WHY ON EARTH would you sign him to such a team-friendly contract, call him a building block for the near term, and then panic-deal him at the first signs of a slump? Don't forget, either, that Nate had the ribcage injury earlier in the season. I predict he will soon put that behind him and return to his previous form or something very close to it.
Now, we all know that Andrew McCutchen is ready to play in the bigs. No argument there, and I'm sure he will likewise be at least a better than average all around major league CF---just not right away, and it may be two years or longer before he is roughly equivalent to McLouth, if then. I guarantee he will NEVER hit for the kind of power that McLouth has. There are plenty of questions about McCutchen, and I for one think we are a stronger team with both of them here than with McCutchen only. Further, an outfield of Morgan-McCutchen-McLouth would have been far and away the best defensive outfield in all of baseball. Which it would have had to be to make up for mediocre offensive numbers---except from Nate, who of course is now in Atlanta.
A Pirates outfield of Morgan-McCutchen-(Moss/Young/Hinske etc) is not only defensively inferior but also takes a huge hit with the stick and---don't forget---on the basepaths. With Morgan and McLouth, we had just enough team speed to have some options in how we play the game. Without McLouth, we have only Morgan, and he is no McLouth (or even Juan Pierre) with a bat in his hands. Nor, apparently, is this kid we got from the Braves. Where is HE going to play? Oh, that's right: he goes to double-A Altoona, after being traded twice in less than two seasons. Does that generally happen to elite prospects? Anybody remember Andy Marte? Look him up if you don't know who he is, er, was.
And no, McCutchen doesn't count in the basestealing department because despite his great speed, he is NOT a high percentage basestealer. If he couldn't get it done in the minors, what, all of a sudden he's McLouth or better now that he's in the majors? I don't think so. Nor do we have enough leadfooted sluggers that it doesn't matter that we have next to nobody who can steal or even take an extra base to put some pressure on the opposition. Somebody should remind Neil Huntington that this is Pittsburgh, not Cleveland or Boston.
No, too, on the pitchers we got from Atlanta. I'll go out on a limb and say I'm more than a little skeptical that either one of them will ever be anything close to two other hurlers who came from the Braves to the Pirates, guys named Jason Schmidt and Zane Smith.
Nope, no, nyet, negative, forget it, I'm not buying it. Not this time. Bay and Nady, yes. They were going to be much too expensive free agents. McLouth, NO WAY.
TWO HUGE THUMBS DOWN TO THIS TRADE.
(Hey, the Bucs finally roused Will Pellas to step up to the batters box!)