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Littlefield May Fail To Make Trades

Ken Rosenthal:

Executives from several clubs believe that the high asking prices of GM David Littlefield will result in the Pirates failing to trade several of their veterans -- an outcome that would be inexcusable for a club that likely has no intention of re-signing potential free agents such as outfielder Jeromy Burnitz, third baseman Joe Randa, right-hander Kip Wells and outfielder Craig Wilson. ...

I'm thinking those executives may be right. Remember 2003? The Pirates had a bunch of veterans that year. They were able to trade some - Scott Sauerbeck and Jeff Suppan went to the Red Sox for Freddy Sanchez, Mike Williams was traded to the Phillies for Frank Brooks, and, of course, Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton were sent to the Cubs for the right to be the more pathetic team for the next decade. After the deadline, the Bucs were also able to trade Brian Giles and Randall Simon.

On the day of the deadline, though, Littlefield didn't end up trading Reggie Sanders, and, if memory serves, he didn't even try to trade Matt Stairs. The Pirates got nothing for those players, even though both were having terrific seasons.

This year, Littlefield has just as many veterans he probably ought to trade, and he hasn't completed a deal yet. In his five years with the Pirates, he has rarely made more than one major trade in the week before the deadline. It's seeming more and more likely that of the Pirates' veterans facing free agency, about half will still be with the team in a week or two. That would be unfortunate - he might still be able to make a trade or two in August via the waiver wire, but it would be increasingly unlikely that he'd get anything back in return.

Contrast Littlefield's behavior with that of Dayton Moore, the new GM of the Royals (Romo Phone Home did this a copule days ago). From the same Rosenthal article:

Moore obtained five young pitchers this week in deals for right-handed reliever Mike MacDougal, infielder Tony Graffanino and right-hander Elmer Dessens.

He also acquired veteran left-hander Odalis Perez, but the Dodgers are paying Perez's 2007 salary while the Royals pay Dessens', so even that move was worth a shot.

Moore also recently grabbed outfielder Joey Gathright and second baseman Jeff Keppinger in minor trades for pitcher J.P. Howell and infielder Ruben Gotay. The trading will continue, says Rosenthal:

Left-hander Mark Redman seems almost certain to go to a contender. Outfielder Matt Stairs, second baseman Mark Grudzielanek and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz are among the other candidates to be traded.

Really, who's more likely to be traded, Kip Wells or Redman? Jeromy Burnitz or Stairs? Sean Casey or Mientkiewicz? I'd bet on Moore making things happen for the Royals. And I'll also bet that, in three years, the Royals will have a lot more to show for this trading season than the Pirates will. The Royals and the Pirates are both godawful baseball teams; the difference between them is that the Royals appear to recognize that fact and are trying to change it. And, just as importantly, it looks like they have a goal.

As Rany Jayazerli recently wrote:

None of Dayton's trades -- Gathright for Howell, Gotay for Keppinger, now this -- are lopsided by any means. He has given up a talented player in every trade. But it's the very fact that he's offering quality to get quality that reassures me he has a plan in mind.
This isn't about randomly shuffling players, it's about acting urgently to change a terrible situation. The Pirates are in a terrible situation; what are they doing to change it?