ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 27: Nate McLouth #13 of the Atlanta Braves watches play late in the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Rob Biertempfel tweets that the Pirates have "moved closer" to signing Wilson Betemit and Nate McLouth, while Dejan Kovacevic quotes a source who says that McLouth and the Pirates are "working on" finishing a deal.
We've already talked about Betemit here. I think the Pirates need a reasonable alternative in the (unfortunately, fairly likely) event that Pedro Alvarez craters, and Betemit looks like a he can be a good bench player even if Alvarez plays well.
As for McLouth, the Pirates really don't have a lot of outfield depth behind Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Alex Presley. Unfortunately, there isn't much evidence that McLouth can really play anymore. I would hope any deal with McLouth would be of the minor-league variety, and I'll be downright annoyed if they sign McLouth to a major-league deal and then end up non-tendering Garrett Jones to save a couple million bucks. McLouth was well below replacement level in 2010 and only a bit above it in 2011; he hasn't really hit in years, and it isn't as if he has the defense to make up for it. This almost sounds like a big prank Neal Huntington's playing on everyone, where he's going to wait behind cars near PNC Park for people to start talking about how bad McLouth is now, then jump out of nowhere producing tape recordings of the same people talking about McLouth when he was traded.
Or, as WTM puts it:
"NH is an idiot for trading McLouth away!"
"NH is an idiot for getting McLouth back!"
Of course, if it's a minor-league deal, then there's no problem.