I didn't say a whole lot about what I actually think of the trade because I was so tired and hungry after several hours of frantically checking websites and grading papers that I just wasn't up for it, and I still don't have time for anything too complex--by the time you read this, I'll have traveled down to Mexico to play in an orchestra there for a little while, and as I write this, I've got the final exam for the class I'm teaching in a half an hour and I'm running errands madly to prepare for being out of the country for a while. A couple quick thoughts, though:
1. This trade has nothing to do with money.
2. Keeping star ballplayers for the duration of their careers is rarely an option for any team, and it's almost never a good option. Sure, you wouldn't so regularly see the Pirates trade veterans if the team were in better shape, but you still wouldn't be likely to see a Jason Bay stay with the team for ten years. That's just the way it is. If you think of players who've spent their entire career with one team--Derek Jeter and Todd Helton come to mind--they're usually making far more than they should for their contributions on the baseball field. All this player movement isn't unique to the Pirates, and that's a reality not just of the Pirates' situation but of the economics of the game in general. The Boston Red Sox are won of the richest teams in the game, and I believe only four players from their 2004 World Series champion team have played a game for them this year.
3. Since teams are more careful trading top prospects than they used to be, these multi-player deals look like the way to go, just because you get a lot of chances to make good on the trade. For example, Brandon Moss may look like a tweener-type player, but he's actually more advanced than Nate McLouth at the same age. People thought of McLouth as a tweener too, and look how that's turned out. Obviously, this isn't to say Moss is going to be as good as McLouth, just that by getting more players, the Bucs greatly increase their chances of stumbling into a player like that.
While I've got your attention, I should be on Baseball Digest Daily Radio sometime around noon today to discuss the trades.