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Pirates to Walk Tightrope

First, a disclaimer: Yes, I know that things the front office says can't always be taken at face value. Got it.

From the Post-Gazette: 

"If our fans see one player getting traded, it doesn't mean the red flag is up," Coonelly said.

"As we've said for months, we are always going to pick up the phone when someone calls. And we are constantly talking internally about how we can improve the club for 2008, as well as going forward."

"If we make that type of trade now, a veteran for prospects, it just means we had an opportunity we couldn't pass up," Huntington said.

Again, this could all be gamesmanship. I get that. But let's assume for a second that Coonelly and Huntington are serious.

This is dumb. This team is in fifth place. It has no starting pitching to speak of. It is dead last in the majors in ERA and third from worst in walks allowed. Its offense is being generated almost entirely by four players, three of whom have long injury histories. They're three games below .500, and it looks unlikely (at least to me) that they'll even be able to continue the run of mediocrity they've had so far. This is not a good team. I'm sorry if that makes me a nattering nabob, but I'm right. 

Coonelly and Huntington are smart guys, no doubt. But if they think they have a good chance of building a real franchise here and fielding a competitive team in 2008, they're really fooling themselves. Executing one plan is difficult enough. And think about the arrogance of a two-pronged plan like that--"Yes, the franchise hasn't had a winning season in 15 years, and GMs are probably smarter now than they have been at any point in the history of baseball, but we're so smart we can build a winning team without a ton of money or much in the farm system. Also, we're not going to try to trade our players for prospects, because we want to compete now." This is a ridiculous strategy; it's like agreeing to go one-on-one against Kevin Garnett, and then tying your own hand behind your back.

The values of Jason Bay and Xavier Nady will almost certainly never be higher for the Pirates than they will be in the next two months. They need to be traded.