About Those "Bad" Huntington Trades

So, a few days ago, Dejan K expressed displeasure (in hindsight) about some of Neal Huntingdon's trades and the failure to build up the farm system faster.  WTM rightly pointed out that the Pirates' farm system in 2007, after Dave Littlefield had worked his magic for five years, looked like Oklahoma at the height of the Dust Bowl years.

Although I didn't have time to respond, that article and discussion reminded me how thin our minor league system was under Littlefield.  Looking at, you could see that our AAA roster had lots of older, AAAA-players.  As I noted in one article a few years back, "....The help for next year from the Nashville Sounds includes J.J. Davis, Tike Redman, Tony Alvarez, and “old reliables” like Humberto Cota, and Adam Hyzdu.  [T]he only “young” pitching help available is Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Guerrier....a lot of innings went to older players...The average age of players in Altoona was 25."

So how did the Pirates get to this point?  As always, I have a chart - here's the compiled list of Dave Littlefield's most significant moves as GM, with "significant" defined arbitrarily and capriciously by me. 

13 July 2001 – Dave Littlefield hired as GM

Significant Transactions from 13 July – 31 December 2001 (All years are calendar years)




Pirates Traded:

To the:


Signed Salomon Torres as a Free Agent.


Good – Torres had not pitched since 1997; he played six seasons for the Pirates.




Jason Schmidt (28 yo w/career 4.39 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 1.85 k-bb ratio who was 6-6 with a 4.61 ERA when traded) and John Vander Wal, a journeyman outfielder.

Giants for Ryan Vogelsong (23 yo rookie w/5.65 ERA) and Armando Rios, a journeyman outfielder.

Neutral – Now unfairly viewed as disastrous because Schmidt lowered his ERA a full point and became the Giants’ ace while Vogelsong became the 2nd most despised Pirates pitcher with a last name that starts with “V.”




Todd Ritchie (29 yo w/career 4.29 ERA, 1.314 WHIP, and 2.26 k-bb) and Lee Evans, a career minor-leaguer.

White Sox for Josh Fogg (1998 3rd round draft pick), Kip Wells (25 yo w/career 5.14 ERA, 1.636 WHIP, 1.49 k-bb), and Sean Lowe, a 31 yo spot starter & reliever.

Good – The White Sox rented Ritchie for 1 year & he played only 2 more years.  Wells and Fogg at least gave the Pirates several serviceable years.




2002 Significant Transactions

Signed Pokey Reese and Matt Stairs as Free Agents.


Neutral – The Pirates needed someone to play 2B. Matt Stairs earned his keep but blocked Craig Wilson, who had most of the starts in RF the year before.




Drafted: Bryan Bullington (1st overall pick), Brad Eldred (6th), Matt Capps (7th), Nyjer Morgan (33rd).


Disastrous – Bullington has played 26 games in 5 seasons for 4 teams; we passed on B.J. Upton, Prince Fielder, and Cole Hamels, among others.




Adrian Burnside (career minor-leaguer) and Roberto Novoa (a sub-par bullpen arm).

Tigers for Randall Simon, who had hit over .300 the past two seasons.

Good – and without this trade, we would never have had the great Weiner Whacking scandal....




Lost D.J. Carrasco, Ronny Paulino, and two other players in the 2002 Rule 5 Draft.


Poor.  Paulino was returned. Carrasco was a Royal for 4 years; the other 2 players had unremarkable careers w/their new teams.




2003 Significant Transactions

Signed Tike Redman, Jeff Suppan, Reggie Sanders, and Kenny Lofton as Free Agents.


Neutral – Redman stayed 3 years as a light hitter.  Suppan, Lofton, and Sanders were traded or released within the year.




Lost Bronson Arroyo on waivers.

Red Sox.

Poor.  Arroyo improved steadily from 2000-02.  He only had 17 IP w/Red Sox in 2003 (suggesting an injury), then went on for a solid career.  Looks like bad 40-man roster management.




Drafted P. Maholm (1st rd), T. Gorzelanny (2nd rd)


Good. None of the players drafted later stand out.




Jeff Suppan and Scott Saurbeck

Red Sox for Freddy Sanchez.*

Good – Suppan was traded to the Cardinals the next year.

     * Like adding fractions, I cancelled out Mike Gonzalez, Brandon Lyon, Anastacio Martinez, who were traded back and forth in a single week. 




Kenny Lofton, Aramis Ramirez, and cash

Cubs for Matt Bruback (career minor leaguer), Jose Hernandez (33yo infielder) and Bobby Hill (25 yo infielder)  

Disastrous - Jose Hernandez was released a few months later, so this was basically Lofton, Ramirez, and cash for – Bobby Hill.




Randall Simon

Cubs for Ray Sadler

Poor – and emblematic. We traded a bona fide big league player for a guy who went on to have 8 ML at bats – not games, at bats.




Brian Giles

San Diego for Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, and Corey Stewart (career minor leaguer).

Very good – while it looks suspiciously like a salary dump, at least the Pirates got some value from this trade.




Lost Jose Bautista, Chris Shelton, and 3 others in the Rule 5 draft.


Disastrous – particularly since the Pirates lost 4 players to Rule 5 the year before.




2004 Significant Transactions

Signed Jose Mesa, Randall Simon, and Raul Mondesi as free agents.


Neutral – Although Mesa was a serviceable closer, the other moves were required to plug holes for which the Pirates had no obvious answers within the minor league system.




Drafted Neil Walker (1st rd) and Brian Bixler (2nd rd).


Poor. Once drafted, it took the Bucs six years of mismanagement to get Walker to the big league.




Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger

Mets for Jose Bautista, Ty Wigginton, and Matt Peterson (a career minor leaguer)

Poor.  The Pirates were trading to recover Bautista, which is never a good sign.




Jason Kendall

A’s for Mark Readman, Arthur Rhodes, and $$

Poor – We got one season out of Redman (an SP) and traded Rhodes for Matt Lawton 2 weeks later.

* The inactivity in 2004 seems significant in itself – we clearly had little of value to trade and made no effort to improve by signing free agents.


2005 Significant Transactions

Didn’t sign a single significant free agent or make a single significant trade during the season.

Really.  Would you characterize Matt Lawton to the Cubs for Jody Gerut as significant?   

Ok, acquiring Sean Casey from the Reds in December was a good pick-up, but see below.




Drafted McCutchen (1st rd), B. Lillibridge (4th rd), and Steve Pearce (8th rd).


Good – it’s hard to complain about the draft that brought McClutch to the team




Closed the books on the season – and the Aramis Ramirez trade – by sending Bobby Hill

to the San Diego Padres for a PTBNL. Received Clayton Hamilton, a career minor leaguer.

Significant only for the spasms of pain the memory causes to long-suffering Pirates fans. 




2006 Significant Transactions

Signed Joe Randa, Jeromy Burnitz, and Jose Hernandez (of the A-Ram trade) as free agents.


Poor – although the Pirates had to fill holes, Randa & Burnitz blocked Sanchez, Bautista, and Craig Wilson. Randa retired the first week of the season.  Unfortunately, he kept playing 3B.




Drafted Brad Lincoln (1st rd), Alex Presley (8th rd)


Poor – both are struggling to make it as back-ups.




Sean Casey

Tigers for Brian Rogers

Poor – Rogers had a 9.28 ERA in 13 games for the Bucs.




R. Hernandez and Oliver Perez

Mets for the X-Man





Kip Wells

Rangers for Jesse Chavez

Poor – We traded a starter for a reliever who only gave us 80 IP in 2 seasons with a 4.48 ERA










2007 Significant Transactions (before 7 September 2007, when Dave Littlefield was fired)

Signed Jose Hernandez as a free agent (yet again). Also signed Tony Armas, Yoslan Herrera, and a host of no-names.






Mike Gonzalez and B. Lillibridge

Braves for Lefty McThump, aka Adam LaWhiff, aka Adam LaGIDP and Jamie Romack (a career minor leaguer).





Rajai Davis and Stephen McFarland (career minor leaguer)

Giants for Matt Morris and his $10 million salary.

Poor. Even though the Bucs gave up little, Morris’s ERA had been climbing and his stats degrading since 2003. Any analysis or thought beforehand should have killed this deal. Fittingly, this is the last significant transaction made by Dave Littlefield.




Dave Littlefield fired as GM on 7 September 2007.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bucs Dugout

You must be a member of Bucs Dugout to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucs Dugout. You should read them.

Join Bucs Dugout

You must be a member of Bucs Dugout to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucs Dugout. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.