Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Have The Pittsburgh Pirates Been Swindled?

During the month of June the Pittsburgh Pirates made several trades.

On June 3rd, the Bucs traded All-Star and Gold Glove outfielder Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves for three minor leaguers.

This morning, the Pirates traded veteran outfielder-first baseman-third baseman Eric Hinske to the New York Yankees for two minor leaguers.

This afternoon, the Pirates traded outfielder Nyjer Morgan and pitcher Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for outfielder Lastings Milledge and pitcher Joel Hanrahan.

This third move might be the straw that make Pirates fans walk the plank.

The Nationals are even worse than the Pirates this season. But I think the Nationals pulled a fast one on the Bucs.

First, let's look at the pitchers. In June, Burnett pitched ten and one third innings giving up only three runs. Hanrahan, on the other hand, has given up fourteen runs in his last nine and one thirds innings pitched. Now, it's possible their fortunes could reverse. Yet the way I see it the Pirates traded an effective relief pitcher for an ineffective one.

Second, let's look at the outfielders. Morgan is fifth in the NL in stolen bases with 18. Milledge has spent most of his season with the Nationals Triple A affiliate in Syracuse. Now it's possible that Milledge could benefit from a change in scenery and Morgan could find himself not able to get on base. Yet the way I see it the Pirates traded a viable base stealing threat for someone who has not proven he can play in the major leagues. One could make the case that Milledge is nearly five years younger than Morgan. But many would argue that Milledge is probably ten years less mature than Morgan.

Of course, if even one of the trades works out it could bring dividends for the Pirates for years to come. But Pirates fans have been waiting 17 years for a winning team. Sports is a results oriented business and the Pirates last got results before Miley Cyrus was born.

I would love to watch a game at PNC Park. I would love to sit in the plush seats behind home plate with the Allegheny as a backdrop. But as long as the Pirates keep trading away their best players and the Pirates keep losing those seats and that ballpark will remain nearly vacant. As a Red Sox fan standing next to a Pirates fan I feel very, very spoiled indeed.

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