June 4, 2009

McLouth Now A Brave

Like I said in my last post, if something major happens during my hiatus I will post on it.  What happened was one of the last things I expected to be posting on.  Nate McLouth has been traded to the Braves for three prospects.

The three prospects the Pirates have received in return are:

LHP Jeffrey Locke 21 A – Locke is a 6’2” lefty who was ranked number 7 by Baseball America in the Braves system.  Locke projects as a middle of the rotation pitcher with top of the rotation potential.  John Sickels had him rated as a B- player prior to 2009.

RHP Charlie Morton 25 AAA – Morton is a 6’4” righty.  The only info I can give, he was projected as the braves number 5 starter for 2012 by Baseball America.  He seems to project as a back of the rotation guy.  He has looked good in AAA this season going 7-2 with a 2.51 ERA.  He does have 16 games of MLB experience last year with the Braves.

OF Gorkys Hernandez 21 AA – Hernandez may be the most intriguing of the 3 players, in my eyes.  He was ranked number 4 in the Braves organization by Baseball America.  He is a right handed batter with speed and was ranked as a B- by Sickels.  He has yet to show the power he is expected to grow in to.  His defense is above average and could provide the Pirates a deadly outfield with McCutchen and Tabata also in the fold.


BTW Take:

My initial thought was, “WHAT?!” when I heard the news.  Then after I started digging, my impression did not change.

After spending some time looking at the deal, Huntington did what we have been waiting 16 years for a Pirates GM to do.  Sell high.  He has done that 3 times since last July with Nady and Bay being the other two deals.  In less than one year, Huntington has remolded the entire Pirates top 20 prospect list.  He is sticking to his plan and making the tough moves. 

Only time will tell if these were the right moves, but they haven’t looked bad so far.

Ironically the player who made this deal possible wasn’t even part of the trade.  Nyjer Morgan is the player who made this deal possible.  Morgan’s defense, as reported by Dejan in Wednesdays Notebook, is rated as a major defensive asset.  His number one rating in Ultimate Zone Rating among all MLB players helped make this deal possible.  The fact that he has been an offensive game changer has only helped his standing with the Pirates.  So far, I have been dead wrong on Morgan.

McCutchen is on his way to Pittsburgh for his MLB debut.  With McCutchen, Morgan and Moss (another highly ranked UZR) the Pirates could have one of the best defensive outfields around.  The Pirates as a team are ranked 3rd in MLB in UZR, McLouth was rated at a –1.00, and McCutchen should provide better performance than that. 

As with any defensive ratings, they are highly flawed.  There is no doubt in my mind McCutchen is a better defensive center fielder than McLouth.  My concern is if his bat is ready to make the jump.  Too often in Pirates history, highly touted prospects have failed to bring their bat to Pittsburgh with them. 

While this trade is not a popular trade, it is likely the right deal.  The Pirates get at least two players who will be in their top 10 prospect list and open a spot for their number one prospect to come up.  McLouth was traded while his value was still at a high point and the return was maybe more than valid for a one year starting outfielder.  This trade should also serve notice to players that they aren’t safe no matter the contract.  Ian Snell needs to take notice, Morton may be his replacement soon.

Just to be clear, I love Nate as a player, and his birthday should be a Holiday (same birthday as yours truly).  This deal, unlike Bay or Nady deals, will not show its true value for a few years to come.


BTW Slide Note:

I’ll likely be making some semi regular posts as I ramp back up to daily posts in the next couple weeks.

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