Neal Huntington escaped the blame game this time around. His job is procuring players for the organization, and apparently he satisfied Frank Coonelly and Bob Nutting in that regard - so far.
There are four ways to address personnel: you trade for them, sign them as free agents, dumpster dive the waiver wires and Rule 5, or get them through the draft & international FA scouting. Today we'll look at his trades, which stock both both the major league club and the farm system.
July 31, 2010: Traded RHP DJ Carrasco, OF Ryan Church and IF Bobby Crosby to Arizona for SS Pedro Ciriaco, C Chris Snyder and cash ($3M). Mostly a swap of bad contracts, although of the bunch, Ciriaco appears to be the most upside player.
July 31, 2010: Traded RHP Octavio Dotel and sent $500K to Los Angeles for OF Andrew Lambo and RHP James McDonald. Huntingon looks like he pulled a Jesse James job here, especially if Lambo regains his juju; next year will tell more.
July 31, 2010: Traded Javier Lopez to San Francisco for OF John Bowker and RHP Joe Martinez. Lopez was lights out for the Giants during their stretch run as a LOOGY; Bowker will be the key to the outcome of this deal for the Bucs. Pittsburgh was looking long-term; SF for the here and now, and both may have gotten what they wanted.
June 1, 2010: Traded RHP Ron Uviedo to Toronto for LHP Dana Eveland. What was NH thinking, to trade a borderline prospect for a bust?
April 3, 2010: Traded RHP Virgil Vasquez to Tampa Bay for a PTBNL. Minor deal.
January 18, 2010: Traded SS Brian Bixler to Cleveland for IF Jesus Brito. A wash; Bixler yo-yoed back and forth in the organization for a few weeks later in the season before being sold to Washington in August; Brito is hitting .191 in Class A. Neither is more than organizational depth.
Nov. 3, 2009: Traded RHP Jesse Chavez to Tampa Bay for 2B Aki Iwamura. Both ended up in the minors, but the out-of-shape Iwamura ate up $5M and blocked Neil Walker until his demotion. Tampa wins big, if for financial reasons alone.
July 30, 2009: Traded LHPs John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Chicago Cubs for RHPs Jose Ascanio and Kevin Hart and IF Josh Harrison. The Cubs won this deal hands down. Hart and Ascanio are hurt, and Harrison is playing 3B in the minors with a middle infielder's bat.
July 30, 2009: Traded 2B Freddy Sanchez to San Francisco for pitcher RHP Tim Alderson. A dump of Sanchez's $8M contract for a hot prospect who has worked his way down to Class A in the system. This one goes to the G-Men, with the proviso that Alderson is only 21 and still has time on his side.
July 29, 2009: Traded SS Jack Wilson and RHP Ian Snell for SS Ronny Cedeno, 1B Jeff Clement and RHPs Brett Lorin, Aaron Pribanic and Nathan Adcock. This deal worked; Wilson's been on the DL more than the field and Ian Snell is...well, Ian Snell. It placed some fringe prospects in the system and gave the Pirates an everyday SS who wasn't Wilson's equal but at least was healthy enough to survive the season, and made $7M less.
July 22, 2009: Traded 1B Adam LaRoche to Boston for SS Argenis Diaz and RHP Hunter Strickland. The Pirates received some minor-league depth before an impending free agent departure.
June 30, 2009: Traded UT Eric Hinske to the New York Yankees for C Eric Fryer and RHP Casey Erickson. More minor league depth for a FA, although Fryer showed some promise this season.
June 30, 2009: Traded OF Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean Burnett to Washington for OF Lastings Milledge and RHP Joel Hanrahan. The edge now belongs to the Pirates, depending on how the careers of Nymo and Thrilledge eventually work out.
June 3, 2009: Traded OF Nate McLouth to Atlanta for RHP Charlie Morton, LHP Jeff Locke and OF Gorkys Hernandez. Locke is the only one living up to his expectations so far; the future play of McLouth and the development of the Brave prospects will determine the outcome of this deal.
April 17, 2009: Traded Andy Phillips to the Chicago White Sox for RHP Michael Dubee. Organizational depth for a camp try-out player.
April 15, 2009: Traded RHPs Eric Krebs and Harvey Garcia to the Los Angeles Dodgers for OF Delwyn Young. The Bucs got a switch-hitting bench bat for a pair of minor leaguers. An "atta boy" to NH.
Dec. 10, 2008: Traded C Ronny Paulino to Philadelphia for C Jason Jaramillo. JJ's bat doesn't look like it will play in MLB; Paulino is a better, but still flawed, player, as his PED suspension showed. No clear cut winner.
Aug. 21, 2008: 3B/OF Jose Bautista to Toronto for C Robinzon Diaz. Diaz is floundering in the minors and out of the Pittsburgh system; Bautista is the MLB HR champion. Even though no one saw it coming, it will go down as one of the worst trades in history, especially if Bautista can repeat his success.
July 31, 2008: Traded OF Jason Bay to Boston in a three-team deal (the Dodgers got Manny) for 3B Andy LaRoche, OF Brandon Moss and RHPs Craig Hansen and Bryan Morris. LA and Boston got big bats; the Pirates got nada to show. Currently the trade is one of the big reasons the Pirates are floundering now, although Morris is finally coming along.
July 26, 2008: Traded 1B/OF Xavier Nady and RHP Damaso Marte to the New York Yankees for OF Jose Tabata and RHPs Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens and Daniel McCutchen. It's easily the best deal of the Neal Huntington era.
March 26, 2008: Traded RHP Todd Redmond to Atlanta for RHP Tyler Yates. OK deal; Redmond topped out as a AAA pitcher and Yates ate up some innnings as a fastballing set-up man before going under the knife.
Dec. 7, 2007: Traded RHP Salomon Torres to Milwaukee for RHPs Kevin Roberts and Marino Salas. Torres got under the FO's skin and was dealt for nothing; he ended up the Brew Crew closer. It was a bad start to Huntington's trading career.
Two deals stand out as big wins for Huntington, the Octavio Dotel and Xavier Nady trades. Do they offset the Jose Bautista, Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez and Aki Iwamura deals? How will the Gorzo and Nate McLouth deals eventually break?
His problem, no matter how you look at it, is that he only had one difference maker to trade, Jay Bay, to go along with a handful of proven but not special talents. So the decision to break up the 2008 roster served just two purposes, to redistribute salary from the MLB level to above slot bonuses for draft day flexibility, and to infuse the minor league system with some solid, but not elite, prospects.
The results of the trading were somewhat predictable; Jose Tabata and maybe Ross Ohlendorf, J-Mac and Joel Hanrahan look to be key pieces of the squad, with other potential contributors floating around in various minor league outposts. The names have changed; the results on the diamond haven't.
The talent ledger for the exchanges is running in the red, a combination of trading guys that have shown they can do it for prospects along with not very dependable player evaluations.
But the trades are only one step in changing the face of a franchise. The draft is the other major contributor, and we'll look at that in a later post.