I read some of the trade comments left by people on the other blogs. First off, people pay way too much attention to the pissy comments made by television broadcasters and rival GMs. You will grow gray and die before these people talk about Pittsburgh in a way that's fair and not infuriating. The Pirates should be run to win games and not to please the media or impress the scouts and GMs who work for other teams.
So throw out all the complaints that reference a rival's or a media personality's snap opinion. Evaluate the trade for yourself.
Here's what I say. I'm not a fan of trading excellent everyday players for long-shot prospects. In theory I think it's not sound. In practice it can work. It depends on the players, and it depends on the prospects.
Xavier Nady is a 120-game-per-year player. He's already played 90 games this year. He might go on to set a career high in games played; maybe he'll play 150 this year and set a new career high in at-bats (468 is his current career high). Guys like this tend to be underrated, but I don't think Pirate fans are reacting to the trade like this is the case. He's not the equivalent of Jason Bay or Jack Wilson in the playing time department. For the sake of argument, let's not regard Bay and Wilson as every-game players any more. Still, the difference between a 125-game player and a 140-game player is large: it's two weeks starting a replacement player.
Nady also has a career OPS under 800. He's 29 and he's having a career year. To put his career in perspective, his most comparable batters are Pedro Munoz, Shane Spencer, Herb Perry, Don Lenhardt, Dick Kokos, Harry Anderson, and Jim Greengrass.
He's been a great player this year and, by all reports, an even better clubhouse personality. I don't see him as someone who has a career that suggests he would also be a great player for us in 2009 and 2010. He's the kind of player you trade high.
Damaso Marte? He's a relief pitcher.
I like the prospects the Pirates got for these guys. I think they got a good haul. I also think the team has an unusual and urgent need for starting pitchers. I don't think the trade makes the 2009 Pirates significantly worse, and I think that even the 2008 Pirates might not be so worse off as people are talking.
Sure, Nady was one of our best hitters, but the shape and nature of his relatively long career suggest that he was likely to cool off or get hit by a pitch and miss a month.
Marte was our best relief pitcher, but where's there is opportunity, some kind of breakout usually follows. There's a good chance that someone will pitch as well in the vacancy created by Marte. And relief pitchers are not the most dependable variety of ballplayers.
... update ... the change of players does not alter my perception of the trade. Three minor-league starters with some promise plus Tabata for Nady and Marte is a good return. I'm not persuaded by overconfident prospect forecasting, so comments like "middle-relief fodder" or "#4 starter" don't carry a lot of weight with me. Such comments might depress my expectations, as they should, but there are no guarantees. Given the chance, some players will grow and outperform expectations. Others will wilt and fail.
And duh, the Pirates could use middle relievers and #4 starters, so the minor-league pitchers fill an obvious need.
So, for sure, the trade is not killing the Pirates this year or next.
And as always, more comments in the comments ...