Just after suggesting that the Giants trade some of their older players for up and coming young hitters, the Braves and Pirates announce a trade that, really, the Giants could have, and probably should have been involved in.
The Braves sent a pile of minor league players to the Pirates for Nate McLouth, a former Gold Glove centerfielder. Over at Baseball Prospectus, Joe Sheehan and Christina Kahrl look at the trade, and both suggest that the Pirates did as well as they could given McLouth's real value. Here's Sheehan:
…. Bringing it back to the trade, I see the Pirates as having done all right in it. They traded a player at or near the peak of his value, whose useful career would not extend into their next run of success, for quantity.
…. The most interesting thing to me about this trade is what it says about the industry’s evaluation of defense. The trade works because Nate McLouth was correctly valued, and that value takes into account that he’s not a good defensive center fielder. The Pirates, who would have as good a read on McLouth’s actual value as any team given that not only do they see him every day, but they employ Dan Fox as an analyst, took back a package that clearly did not value McLouth as a “Gold Glove” center fielder. If that deal were out there, if there were a team thinking of McLouth as a defensive stalwart, surely the return on him would have been better.
Aaron Rowand is quite a bit better than McLouth, albeit older, so the return for him certainly would have been better. He's had the one big home run season, just like McClouth. He's won a Gold Glove, just like McClouth. And he certainly won't be around the next time the Giants are contending fo
r a title, just like McLouth won't be around for the Pirate by the time they get their act together. This season, Rowand is better than McLouth in every category but home runs.
So the question remains; why weren't the Giants involved in this trade? The Braves have top quality talent in their minor league system, and are desperate for an outfielder, a center fielder in particular. Gorkys Hernandez or Jair Jurrjens might be out of the question, but how do you know that? How do you know they wouldn't make a move like that for Rowand and a couple of the Giants prospects? Schierholz is turning into dust playing behind Rowand, for what? Rowand absolutely, positively has no business playing everyday on a team that is at least two years away. Schierholz, obviously does.
Oh, and might I mention that he will never again be as valuable as he is right now. He's having a great start to the season, after being pretty fucking mediocre since he got here, and here we see the first move made for a player who is a poor man's version of our guy.
Rowand, Molina, Winn, and yes, even Renteria are all nothing more than trade bait at this point of the season. Watching Molina fall apart –gee what a surprise, our old and slow catcher is suddenly not playing well– reminds me of the end of how Sabean handled Brett Tomko, Jason Schmidt, or any number of on the downside of their career players…. poorly.
When you over value veteran savvy and experience, you will never know when the time has come to move a player, you cannot understand that the last peak of a players career is THE time to strike. Brian Sabean has never known this. He has never been able to understand that simple fact. And don't go bringing up the Williams trade, that was as much luck as anything. If Kent doesn't turn into a Hall of Famer, that trade is as bad as anything he's ever done.