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Starkey: Huntington's trade history bodes well

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke prepares to deliver against the Tigers on May 30, 2013, at PNC Park.

Sunday, July 28, 2013
 

A semi-exhaustive review of Neal Huntington's 64 trades as Pirates general manager reveals the following:

• The vast majority, like the majority across baseball, were quickly forgotten because they involved players at least as obscure as Josue Peley. He's the catching prospect Huntington sent to Boston for outfielder Jonathan Van Every on May 31, 2010 — a year after the Red Sox acquired Van Every from … the Pirates?

Yes, most baseball trades are eminently forgettable.

• Huntington has won more than he's lost and tied more than anything. By my reckoning — and I did not include straight player-for-cash transactions — his trading record is 12-7-45 (too bad there are no shootouts). Realizing that many factors go into trades, and that a win could mean simply unloading a contract, I classified a win as getting the better return. Crazy, I know.

• Huntington has produced what I would call five “emphatic” wins against only one emphatic loss. Example of an emphatic win: getting two starting pitchers — Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton — in a trade that sent the lovely and talented Nate McLouth to Atlanta. And even the one emphatic loss is hard to get worked up over.

Who knew Jose Bautista would turn into Hank Aaron?

• Huntington rarely has committed the low-revenue, rebuilding GM's cardinal sin: dealing a young player only to watch him blossom elsewhere. Besides Bautista — who already was 27 when Huntington traded him — can you think of another player who fits that description?

• Huntington has specialized in acquiring the most precious commodity in the game — pitching — for amazingly little return.

Eight quality pitchers on this staff, which leads the National League in ERA, were acquired via trade. Of the players who went the other way, only one — McLouth — is having an impactful major league season, albeit on a different team.

Bottom line: A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, Morton, Locke, Jeanmar Gomez, Mark Melancon, Bryan Morris and Vin Mazzaro were acquired in trades that, at this point, have cost the Pirates one productive major league player.

Huntington hasn't been as proficient in acquiring hitters, though he's found a few. With the trade deadline three days away, this would be an excellent year to find another, preferably one who plays right field. The Pirates' right-field production has been the NL's worst this season.

The way things are developing, the Pirates shouldn't be making deals to get to the playoffs but to win the division. That doesn't mean a blockbuster. Going into the weekend, Huntington wisely had no intention of raiding his best prospects. Acquiring a professional hitter will do.

“Our goal,” Huntington said, “is not to be a playoff team one year and put all our eggs in that basket and then try again in five or six years. Our goal is to play as many meaningful games in September and playoff games in October as possible for many years.”

As the clock winds toward the deadline, here is everything you could ever want to know — maybe never wanted to know — about Huntington's trade history.

Thanks to the wonders of baseballreference.com, this stuff has become incredibly easy to track:

Best trade

Not only did the Pirates get an ace and a surprising leader in Burnett, but they alsogot the Yankees to help pay him and gave up two guys now struggling in Class A.

Worst trade

Bautista for Robinzon Diaz. Measured strictly in home runs, Bautista leads, 163-1.

Most frequent partner

Huntington has made seven trades with the Red Sox, including the beauty that netted him Melancon.

Least frequent partner

Huntington has yet to make a trade with the Angels, Mets, Twins or Cardinals.

Golden Rule

Don't let anybody come back to bite you in the division. Huntington has made only four deals within the NL Central, no more than one with any team.

Worst partner

The Giants. Continuing the grand tradition of Dave Littlefield's Matt Morris pick-up, Huntington has made two trades with the Giants. John Bowker, Joe Martinez and Tim Alderson came this way. Javier Lopez and Freddy Sanchez went that way.

Totally pointless trade involving men named Brian

On May 16, 2013, a day that shall live in obscurity, the Pirates traded 28-year-old minor-league catcher Brian Jeroloman to the Nationals for a player to be named later: journeyman shortstop Brian Bocock.

I'm calling it a tie.

Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM. Reach him at jraystarkey@gmail.com.

 

 

 
 


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