Charlie's earlier post about the Bautista trade was good, and I generally agree with everything he wrote. However, I think his post contains an implicit criticism that I'd like to make explicit here.
Charlie asks, in the title of his post, whether the decision to trade Jose Bautista was "defensible." He concludes that it was, but I'd like to point out that "defensible" is not the same as "good." Yeah, trading Bautista was defensible, but as Charlie points out (and as Dejan Kovacevic has been at pains to point out via Twitter) the return for Bautista wasn't very good. Maybe trading Bautista was okay, and maybe they couldn't have gotten much more than they did at the time, but that doesn't make it a good trade.
I think that it's worth noting after three and a half years that too many of Huntington's decisions and deals have been "defensible," while an alarming few of them have been actually "good." The Bautista trade, the Jason Bay trade, the Ryan Church signing, the Ramon Vazquez signing, the Lyle Overbay signing, the failure to sign Tanner Scheppers, the failure to sign Miguel Sano, the pick of Tony Sanchez, the non-tender of Matt Capps, etc., etc. Yeah, you can mount intelligent defenses of all these deals, but none of them were really "good" moves. None of them really improved the talent level or future outlook of the organization in any meaningful way. You can argue that no one could have seen Bautista's breakout coming, or that Sanchez allowed us to take more overslot players later in that draft, but the fact that you have to mount arguments in favor of these moves is already an implicit admission that these aren't great moves. They're defensible, but that's about all you can say for them.
The moves Huntington has made that have been genuinely good are few and far between: the Octavio Dotel trade, the Chris Snyder trade, drafting Stetson Allie, the Xavier Nady deal. Maybe a few others. I guess you could add drafting Pedro Alvarez and Jameson Taillon, though taking the best player available in the draft should be too normal to be praiseworthy. I don't think Huntington has done too many things that were downright bad, either. But when you have a track record of "defensible" moves and 100-loss seasons, I think some criticism is warranted.
All that said, I'm not anti-front office by any means. I think Huntington has the right plan for this organization and I think he's a fairly smart guy. I'm not sure there are many guys who could do a whole lot better with the Pirates than he has, given his financial constraints and the state of the organization when he took over. I don't necessarily think he should be fired; but I don't necessarily think he should be retained. I don't want this to come off as a broad post about Huntington's ability as a GM. Too often these discussions get bogged down by pro- vs. anti-front office rhetoric, with the stupid #alltradesweregood hash tags and crap like that. I don't know whether Huntington is ultimately a good or bad GM. But I do think that at some point, defensiveness has to become evidence to the contrary of the position defended.