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Monday, March 29, 2010
Is Pirates' young talent good enough?

You know how you know things aren't going well for you? When you're thrown overboard for Hayden Penn. That's what happened to Brandon Moss today. Jenifer Langosch:

I've generally counseled patience with the current regime, but they've got to start hitting on some of their trades. When the Pirates traded Jason Bay, they also got Bryan Morris, Andy LaRoche, and Craig Hansen. Morris posted a 5.57 ERA in Class A last season. Hansen's now got a 6.34 ERA in 94 major league innings, and is out until May with a shoulder injury. Andy LaRoche started at third base for the Pirates last year and will do the same this year, but they're still waiting for him to hit like they (and I) thought he would.

When the Pirates traded Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady to the Yankees, they got Daniel McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens, and Ross Ohlendorf. Ohlendorf and McCutchen are both slated for the rotation. Ohlendorf pitched well in the majors last season, and McCutchen -- who's 27 -- looked real good in Triple-A. Karstens is probably toast.

When the Pirates traded Nate McLouth to the Braves, they got Gorkys Hernandez, Jeff Locke, and Charlie Morton. Morton's been awesome in Triple-A; in the majors, not so much. Locke's a Grade C prospect with a good left arm. Hernandez is a good center fielder who probably won't ever hit enough to play regularly.

When the Pirates traded Adam LaRoche to the Red Sox, they got Argenis Diaz and Hunter Strickland. Diaz is a good-field/no-hit shortstop; Strickland is a young lefty with good control who hasn't pitched in advanced Class A yet.

When the Pirates traded Freddy Sanchez to the Giants, they got Tim Alderson, a big right-hander who doesn't throw hard and hasn't pitched above AA. When they traded Jack Wilson and Ian Snell to the Mariners, they got three nondescript (so far) minor leaguers, plus Ronny Cedeno, who's playing shortstop, and Jeff Clement, who's taking over at first base. Clement's 26, and there's still a chance that he'll hit enough to play that position. Cedeno's .280 career OBP is an out-sucking black hole in the lineup.

It's too early to pass judgment. But the Pirates have traded a lot of good players for a lot of younger players -- 14, plus the products of trades I haven't checked -- and to this point they really haven't seen enough results on the field. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Bob Smizik says everyone should be fired if the Pirates don't start winning, and soon.

I wouldn't go that far. But if more of the young players don't show great promise this summer, it'll be fair to start asking serious questions.