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So long, Nate

June 4, 2009 - John Mehno

When you cover baseball, you always need to have a rainout story ready in case a game isn't played.

The Pirates were rained out on Wednesday, and they provided a pretty good substitute story, trading Nate McLouth.

Unpopular? You bet. McLouth is was one of the team's best players, and  a high energy guy who has fan appeal. Plus this deal also feeds the perception that the Pirates will soon trade any player who is good.

Understand this, though: This is not a salary dump. The Pirates had McLouth at a manageable price, and probably a bargain price based on his production. I don't think they even offered him, but rather were approached by the Atlanta Braves. When they got the package of prospects they wanted, they were willing to pull the trigger.

Knowing it would be unpopular, and knowing they had McLouth locked in on a reasonable contract, I have to assume GM Neal Huntington really liked what Atlanta was offering. Those of you who follow the Curve know how lean the last couple of years have been because the system is lacking in talent. Philosophically, these are the kinds of deals the Pirates need to make.

There are dangers, though. You have to get quality back. There's always attrition with minor league players. Some hot prospects never develop. Kris Benson was considered a sure thing coming out of college, but he's had a disappointing injury-filled career.

The other pitfall is developing a mindset where you're always building for two years from now. Then two years pass, and you're still buiding for two years in the future. Sooner or later, these guys have to get to the major leagues and produce.

I understand the outrage. Good deal or bad? That's impossible to know at this time. Wait and see what happens with the three players coming over from Atlanta. That's the only realistic answer.


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