But speaking only for myself and only for now, I’d criticize the Pirates primarily if they again failed to identify someone who could have helped their offense.
Check this article in the Tampa Bay Times right after Sutton’s arrival. Look at manager Joe Maddon’s quote down below about how he and the Rays’ scouts liked Sutton "for a while."
I’d trust the Rays’ evaluators more than the Pirates, to put it kindly.
But again, let’s see how it plays out. Sutton is 28, hasn’t had great numbers in the minors, and it’s been three or four years since anyone saw him as having impact potential. And there is the matter of the player to be named.
The last paragraph sums up the situation much better than the first four, I think. As Dejan notes elsewhere in the article, it's common courtesy to trade minor-league veterans if a major-league spot opens for them in another organization. The Pirates, of course, traded Sutton to the Rays, and he promptly went 4-for-8 for them. That means almost nothing. There isn't a whole lot in Sutton's statistical record that suggests he can really help them much. (And the Joe Maddon quote doesn't tell me a whole lot; what's Maddon supposed to say?)
Who knows what will happen, but in all likelihood, Sutton will eventually go back to being the same AAAA player he's been for years. And if he doesn't, the Pirates won't have been the only team who will have failed to see it -- there's also the Astros, Reds, Indians, Red Sox and Braves, who all let him slip through their fingers in the last four seasons.
The Sutton situation was weird in that the Pirates acquired and then traded him so quickly, but in all other respects, it was a routine minor-league transaction. I know any trade involving a hitter is likely to get a great deal of scrutiny right now, but ... yeah, really that's all there is to it. Losing out on Sutton wasn't a problem. It's just a minor distraction.