Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pirates trade Nate McLouth to Braves

Nate McLouth is no longer a Pirate. Nate was a 2008 All-Star and won a Rawling's Gold Glove Award last year.

McLouth, who enjoyed a breakout year last season, was traded to the Atlanta Braves for prospects, Jeff Locke (SP), Charlie Morton (SP), and Gorkys Hernandez (OF).

Nate was batting was batting .256 with 9 HR and 34 RBI this year, so his production has fallen a bit from his career year in 2008. He's still hitting homers at a decent rate, but that is about it.

Now for the guys we got:

Jeff Locke - A 21 year old lefty starter who will be assigned to Lynchburg. Locke was the Braves' 2006 2nd round pick and is rated as their 7th best prospect. He's got good strikeout numbers and his control has been superb before this year. Locke is most likely our #3 pitching prospect now behind Brad Lincoln and Bryan Morris. Huntington: "An intriguing young left-handed starter with the frame, athleticism and stuff to become a quality major-league starting pitcher."

Charlie Morton - A 25 year old righty starter who will be assigned to Indianapolis. Morton was the Braves' 3rd round pick in 2002. He made 15 starts last year for Atlanta and got roughed up a bit, but his numbers have been superb in the minors. He was 5-2 with a 2.05 ERA last year in AAA and is currently 7-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 10 starts this year. I would not be surprised to see Morton making some starts in the majors soon. He now instantly becomes our 6th starter.

Gorkys Hernandez - A 21 year old outfielder who will be assigned to Altoona. Hernandez, teamed up with Jose Tabata will give the Curve two very good outfield prospects. He's rated as Atlanta's #4 prospect. Also, he is young for his level and is definitely excelling in AA this year batting .315 with 11 doubles. It also looks like he has good discipline at the plate as he doesn't strike out too much and he draws a decent amount of walks. One thing lacking for Hernandez is power, but hopefully that will come with age. He is still very young. He also stole 54 bases in 2007 and has swiped 10 bags so far this year.

Alright, now that we got the facts straightened out, now here is my take on the trade:

First off let me start by saying this is a complete shocker. I never in my life would have thought that Huntington had the you-know-whats to do this. McLouth is loved and adored by Pirate fans and trading him is sure to rattle them up. That right there is one reason why I have to like this trade. If this were not a good trade for the Pirates, Huntington would have never agreed to this deal. These three guys must be 3 GOOD guys in order for NH to muster up the courage to do this.

Second, let me say that I really liked Nate McLouth. But guys, look at him closely. The guy isn't THAT good. He's good, but the fact McLouth got three prospects of this caliber is an absolute steal. Nate was an All-Star last year and had a decent year. But that is really all it was...a decent year. It was his first decent year of his career and he doesn't really look like he is going to repeat it. Face it, Nate McLouth is simply an above-average Major League outfielder. Looking at this trade, objectively, I think the Bucs got a lot for him.

I like Morton, a lot more than I like Virgil Vazquez or Tom Gorzelanny or whoever else we would call up to make a start (or starts). He is a guy who has just dominated the minors and is still young enough to translate that into Major League success. Morton reminds me of the type of player Ross Ohlendorf was last year when we traded for him. And I like how Ross panned out.

As far as Locke goes, the Bucs are desperate for quality pitching prospects. Locke is a good one and should be one of those pitchers that fans should look and see how he's doing in the box scores (or North Side Notch's 'Minor Matters!') every fifth day.

Hernandez looks like Jose Tabata or Andrew McCutchen, just without the power. Which is fine by me. And who knows, the power may come. He's only 21 and playing (and excelling) in AA, which is awesome.

Obviously, we really won't know if this trade will be a success for a few years. Face it, the Pirates are operating as if what is going on right now is not as important as what is going on 4-5 years from now. Which, by looking at the state of this organization, is what they should be doing. All three of these guys are held in higher regard that when McLouth was in A, AA, and AAA.

Basically, for the skeptics out there on this trade...give it time. We were going to lose 90+ games this year with McLouth. We can lose 90+ games without him...and add 3 quality guys to our organization.
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