This is for my little brother and the three other people who might care.
So I discovered at 4:15 this morning that the Pirates traded Nate McClouth (long story). I was pretty bummed. I like McClouth. I just bought a McClouth jersey tee last summer and now I can shove it in the drawer with the Bay jersey tee. He was pretty easily the Pirates best regular. Kind of a tough pill to swallow.
But I started thinking about it, did a little reading, heard Neal Huntington (Pirates GM) talk about the trade on the Pirates website and I might have come around to being okay with it. McClouth sticks out on the Pirates because well, they're not very good right now. On most teams he would be a nice complementary piece of the puzzle. He definitely has his strengths but he's not a guy you can really build a team around. He's played 1.5 quality seasons and he's already 27. I was actually a little surprised when I checked out his stats today because I thought they were better. Maybe he continues to improve, maybe he continues at the the level he's at right now for a number of years yet. But if he drops just 5 or 6 points from his batting average or 5 or 6 home runs from his home run total, you have a pretty average baseball player and then he's not worth as much on the trade market. If you're going to trade him, now might be the best time to do it. Sell high, baby.
Don't get me wrong, it friggin' blows to watch all the talent get traded off. It's hard to be in a spot where you can't really get that attached to guys. It sucks that there was zero talk about trading McClouth so it was all kind of a nasty surprise. But the best way for a market like Pittsburgh to compete in the Majors - maybe the only way - is with a really strong farm system. When Huntington took over, Pittsburgh's system was in shambles. Easily one of the worst in baseball. He's absolutely right to make fixing that his priority and if you can take a pretty good baseball player and turn him into more than one prospect who you really like and who you think might be better in the long run, well, maybe you make that move. It's light years better than the bench warmer and washed up veteran Dave Littlefield would have gotten in exchange for McClouth. When you have to rebuild to the extent that Pittsburgh does, no one but tip-top prospects and young, established stars should be considered untouchable and I don't think McClouth fits in either group.
I don't know. I do know this: I realized this morning that, even in light of McClouth's trade, for the first time in a really long time, I'm excited about being a Pirates fan. We have a GM who seems to genuinely want the team to be competitive and understands how they're going to do that in today's league. We have a pipeline of talent in the minors, some of it pretty highly rated. We have Andrew McCutchen finally getting his call-up and going 2-4 with 1 stolen base, 1 RBI and 3 runs in his debut. We have reason to believe finally, that better days might finally be just up the road. The only thing I'm disappointed in right now is McCutchen getting the promotion before I got to see him play in Buffalo this weekend and that's a pretty good problem to have. I believe this faint, fluttery feeling in my chest just might be hope. 2011, baby. Look out.