Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let's make a deal.

In the NFL, trades are rare. Not so in baseball. Players are to some degree fungible commodities, however outrageously overpaid they may be.

As we enter the last couple weeks of July and approach the MLB trade deadline, part of what makes baseball so much fun is speculating which players may or may not get traded. Naturally, in the blogosphere and on radio talk shows, there's been much lively debate over just what sorts of deals the Pirates should or should not make.

As bankrupt as the Pirates' farm is, the team needs viable prospects at just about every position. The major league team and entire minor league system has a glaring need for pitching. General Manager Neil Huntington probably should take some chances. He probably should make some unpopular moves. What to do?

Obviously, the Pirates are looking to add depth, which means near-ready AAA and AA prospects. Lots and lots of rumors are out there, some scarier than others. One rumor in the New York media today has the Yankees and Pirates about a deal involving AAA pitcher Ross Ohlendorf coming to the Pirates for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady. I'm sorry, but either Marte or Nady merit far moe in return than a reliever who was recently demoted by the parent club and turned into a starting pitcher just last week. Other rumors have the Red Sox also interested in Marte and Nady, as well as Jack Wilson, and the Red Sox actually do have a deep farm system with plenty of viable pitching prospects. That doesn't mean we can or even should do a deal with them, though.

Personally, I'd like to see the Bucs retain Nady, Wilson and Jason Bay, although I could see the sense in trading any or all of them – depending on the return. Preferably, though, if somehow they could find a taker for Adam LaRoche, by all means send him packing and move Nady to first base.

Over at the excellent Squawking Baseball blog, which applies a "Wall Street analysis of Major League Baseball's player market," the writer opines the following:

"Not to pick on the Pirates, given that it’s tough to gauge the trade market from the outside looking in, but they should have been shopping Freddy Sanchez this past winter. He was coming off of back-to-back All-Star seasons, one in which he won the National League batting title. His value had peaked, and yet they held on to him, possibly because he is extremely popular in the area."

That may well be true, but hindsight is, as the cliché says, 20-20. What really would be useful between now and the July 31 trade deadline is some foresight. Keep your fingers crossed.