Ok, here we go. I can hear you Pirate fans ripping the team again, but stop. This is really not a bad trade at all for the Bucs. In fact, it's another win for Neil Huntington and his staff. The particulars in the deal are Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett in exchange for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan.
First of all, Morgan really grew on me and they will miss his glove in left field. Reality is though he is a 29 year old outfielder with no power. He is also a guy who has never proven he can perform over an extended period of time He lacks fundamentals, especially on the base paths, where he could be the worst base runner in the game.
Had you told me before the season, we could get a five tool talent in Milledge and Hanrahan for Morgan, I would have laughed at you. To me, Burnett is the bigger loss. He had settled down in his role and really became a valuable lefty out of the pen.
Morgan, on the season was hitting .273 with 18steals in 28 attempts. Not a very good percentage, but he was great in the clubhouse. Burnett's ERA was sitting at 3.03 and in 32 innings of work had allowed only 37 base runners while fanning 27 batters.
While we mill miss Nyjer's smile and personality. Personality doesn't win titles, talent does. Is Milledge a head case? Yeah. Does he have an attitude? Yeah. Is he a gifted athlete with every tool in the book? Yeah. Is this trade a risk? Yes it is, but I think it's a risk the Pirates had to take.
Milledge, still considered one of the best young talents in the game, may just benefit from a fresh start. He knows he won't get too many more opportunities. He brings power and speed and a rocket for an arm. He didn't perform for the Nationals and was sent to AAA, but it's been so long since we have acquired this much raw talent in the organization. Too much talent is a great problem to have. Milledge could very well become a Milton Bradley kind of player, both on and off the field, but he realistically could become even better. Milledge is currently recovering from a thumb injury and should be up to the big club in about 10 days. He's just 24, and the Bucs hold his rights til 2013. Another positive is that if Milledge works out, there is no rush to get Tabata or Hernandez to the majors.
Hanrahan, has struggled in Washington, but I really like him. He pitched very well in the WBC. Manager Davey Johnson used him more than any other reliever in tough spots. Many feel the WBC hurt him this season as it has many pitchers. He has an inflated ERA, but his strikeout rate is up and his walk rate is down from last season. He has an explosive fastball and mixes in a slider and change as well. It never hurts to have power arms in the pen. He has closed for the Nats and could be insurance for Matt Capps if he has problems or is dealt. Like Milledge, the Bucs have Hanrahan's rights through 2013.
Many baseball experts agree and say its a win for the Bucs. If Milledge realizes his potential and cuts down the attitude, he has the talent to be a star and basically the Bucs get Hanrahan for free. I don't like the deal for the Nats but like it for the Bucs. It's the kind of trade the Pirates would have been on the other end of during the Littlefield regime. Finally the Bucs are selling high and getting talent in return, instead of just bodies.
It breaks down simply like this. The Pirates add two pieces to their future while giving up two guys that were not part of their plans. You have to like the risk and hope Milledge realizes his full potential.
This deal to me just isn't about the major league roster. By dealing Hinske, Morgan and Burnett, the Bucs were able to free up even more money for the international signing period, which begins Thursday. Now if they sign super prospect Miguel Angel Sano (they better) then everything makes sense. It looks as if the Bucs and Twins are the two main suitors for Sano, with the Orioles possibly sneaking in. This could be a long process though, so don't expect Sano to sign right away. This is a race the Bucs must win. Give the guy the money and make him a Pirate.
Jack Wilson spoke out against the trade and believe me if the Bucs had any alternative at short, he may be on his way out the door sooner than later. I really do feel bad for the current players, but their job is to perform and not try and play GM. As it is, I can see Wilson, Capps and Adam Laroche moving before the deadline. I have a feeling Grabow may stick around now, being the only lefty in the pen. I also don't see Freddy Sanchez being moved with so little middle infield depth in the organization. That's the next area Huntington needs to look at acquiring. I still target Brandon Wood as I wrote in a previous thread.
Back off of Huntington. Again it's a risk, but this trade could very well be a steal for the Bucs. Even if Milledge blows up and becomes a bust, the Pirates really didn't give up much to take a chance on the guy.