The Yankees Get Richer, The Pirates Get More Piratey
by Scott Long
While Major League Baseball has proven over the past few seasons that money doesn't buy championships, the trade deadline still points to its almost total lack of equity. As has been discussed continuously on everything ESPN has to offer, the Yankees scored a major coup by obtaining Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle. This deal mainly happened because New York could take on Abreu's salary. Competing against the Yankees is like playing Poker against the trust-fund kid, as despite how much they are down, they always have the ability to reach into their pocket and try to bail themselves out. I'm not about to break down the Yankees' deals, as Alex Belth of Bronx Banter does the best job of that on the web. My focus is on the other side of the fiscal ledger. The Pirates.
For years and years, (hell it getting close to decades and decades) the general managers of the Pirates make stupid move after stupid move. Current Pirates GM Dave Littlefield has done a lousy job. I would argue that no organization is more poorly run than the Pirates. With this dismal track record, it was little surprise that they would make such bad trades at the all-star break.
One of the few decent moves Littlefield has made during his tenure was signing Roberto Hernandez. In the current climate where veteran bullpen pitchers are more overpriced than crude oil, Hernandez has been solid. Considering that the Pirates are in their customary late July fetal position, it was a good idea to flip him for a young player who had the potential of being more than just a replacement player. So typical of teams like the Pirates, they in return obtained a mediocre player in Xavier Nady, who has a career OBP of .754. While Nady has a slugging percentage of .487 this season, if you look at his splits you will see that the guy loves Shea Stadium, as his OPS is .940 in New York and only .681 on the road.
If it was a straight-up trade, I don't write about this deal, but Olvier Perez was thrown into the package, as well. Now I'm aware of the steep plunge that Perez has taken over the past 2 seasons, but I still think he is worth holding onto and trying to solve his poor mechanics. I mean this was the same guy that people in baseball in 2004 were discussing in the same breath as Johan Santana. Perez is 8th on the all-time single season list of strikeout per 9 innings for his 239 K's in 196 inning year of 2004 . Perez is only 24, but the Pirates needed to give him away.
Another trade which seemed to be a case of the Pirates just wanting to get rid of a disappointment was the dumping of Kip Wells. While Wells doesn't look to be much more than a 4th starter at best, this is worth a lot more than what the Pirates got in return. Let me mention that now that Wells is gone, can the idea that Kenny Williams made one of the worst trades in baseball history when he obtained Todd Ritchie for Wells and Josh Fogg be retired? Over the past 3 years, Wells has had an ERA over 5.00, a WHIP around 1.60, and an overall record of 14-30. Williams definitely made a bad deal, but it wasn't the historically bad one that some try to make it out to be. At least Williams can point to numerous good decisions, something Littlefield continues to strikeout trying to achieve.
No player has been a bigger symbol of how the Pirates don't know how to use the talent they possess than Craig Wilson. Putting a capper on Wilson's often wasted ability in Pittsburgh, he was sent to the Yankees for the lousy Shawn Chacon. The past few years I've had a rooting interest in the Pirates, as I've liked the young talent they have, but it seems like the team is incapable of having a coherent plan on how to best exploit this ability. With the deals they have made over the past couple of days, the Pirates front office have taken further steps in sending the franchise permanently down in the depths of the cellar.
Considering the complete opposite directions the NFL and MLB teams have achieved, it would appear that football season will happen earlier and eaarlier in the nindsets of fans in the 'Burgh. Marketing campaign for the Pirates in 2007: "Yeah our team is dismal, but our ballpark is pretty!" Sad plight for a franchise that one of the best during the 70's and 80's.