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Activated LF-L Garret Anderson from the 15-day DL; optioned LF-L Brandon Jones to Gwinnett (Triple-A). [5/5]
Activated C-L Brian McCann from the 15-day DL; optioned C-R Clint Sammons to Gwinnett. [5/8]
Placed UT-S Omar Infante (fractured hand) and LHP Jo-Jo Reyes (strained hamstring) on the 15-day DL; purchased the contract of RHP Kris Medlen from Gwinnett; recalled SS-R Diory Hernandez from Gwinnett. [5/21]
Optioned RHP James Parr to Gwinnett; recalled RHP Manny Acosta from Gwinnett. [5/22]
Placed RHP Buddy Carlyle on the 15-day DL; activated RHP Jorge Campillo from the 15-day DL. [5/26]
Optioned CF-L Jordan Schafer to Gwinnett; recalled CF-L Gregor Blanco from Gwinnett. [6/2]
Acquired OF-L Nate McLouth from the Pirates for RHP Charlie Morton, LHP Jeff Locke, and CF-R Gorkys Hernandez; returned RHP Jorge Campillo to the 15-day DL (shoulder); recalled OF-R Brian Barton from Gwinnett; released LHP Tom Glavine. [6/3]

The Braves are usually in a position to deal from depth, and they certainly did so with this exchange, adding an outfielder they desperately needed for a collection of talent they could readily swap out. While Hernandez and Locke rated among the organization’s top 10 prospects on Baseball America’s top prospects list, and Locke just missed on Kevin Goldstein‘s here at BP, that’s more impressive-sounding than it really is. The Braves threw stuff at the Pirates, and it turned out to be the right combination to feed the Bucs’ omnivorousness for prospects of any and every stripe. There isn’t one player given up that the Braves will really miss all that much, though I’m sure they’ll be happy to see all three succeed in the Steel City, since it might encourage other dumping teams to deal for depth. It isn’t like they’re going to give up the real crown jewels of the system, Jordan Schafer or Tommy Hanson or Jason Heyward.

So, throwing together a package to get an at-peak outfielder like McLouth, one who can at least play some in center, works for me and then some. I know, he leaves most of us statheads unimpressed, and Clay’s fielding numbers put him down for a below-average 94 in center this season, an improvement on his Gold Glove-winning ’08—but the man does boast a tasty .947 Revised Zone Rating. That said, I think it’s safe to concede the point that he’s not a great center fielder; he wasn’t seen as one coming up, various defensive metrics generally aren’t charitable to him, and he was sort of sucked into the vacuum there in Pittsburgh because top prospect Andrew McCutchen wasn’t ready yet. I think it’s also safe to say he won’t have to be a center fielder for the Braves for very long, not when Schafer’s blue-chip status hasn’t started fading from navy to azure, just because of one rough introduction to the majors.

McLouth’s right-now offensive value also shouldn’t be understated. True, he won’t repeat what he did last season. But take his PECOTA projection for 2009 and change it from the Pirates to the Braves, and you still get triple-crown rate stats of .283/.365/.489 calling Atlanta home, and a .295 EqA instead of his .297 with the Pirates. Add in that he’s currently delivering an EqA in the .290s, and there’s a certain predictability to the value the Braves can anticipate from their new outfielder. That’s obviously somebody you want and can win with right not, and to get it for a center-field prospect you can’t use if you understandably prefer Schafer plus two arms you can’t contend with, and I think it’s clearly a very good trade for the Braves when it came to applying assets to resolve big problems on the major league team. Pulling this deal off now, when you’ve got four more months of regular season yet to go, simply makes it an inspired action from the front office, as a pro-active outfield fix for a team that can’t afford to let their opportunities slip by while the Phillies begin to get vincible in their rotation and the Mets watch their lineup fall apart.

For the Braves, this deal comes with the additional benefit of cost certainty. McLouth is locked in for 2010 and 2011 for $11 million, with a 2012 club option that would cost a steep $10.65 million to pick up for his age-30 season, or a comparatively modest $1.25 million to buy out. Whichever choice you make in terms of the average annual value of the deal—$12.25 million for two seasons, or $21.65 million for three, that’s the balance of his peak seasons bought at a price you may not be able to equal on the free-agency market for an older hitter.

That’s not the only long-term planning benefit that adding McLouth brings the Braves. They get the immediate benefit of the initial positional value of employing him in center (setting aside the debate about his defense for the moment), and that buys time for Schafer so that the prospect can reacquire his bearings and be ready to take over in 2010 or 2011—or after Garret Anderson is gone, a point at which McLouth might move to either corner. (This also puts Brandon Jones and Jeff Francoeur in the unenviable position of trying to prove they have a place in the Braves’ future at something like 14 months at the outside, what with Jason Heyward raking in the Carolina League.)

Which will bring me to a point of disagreement with Joe’s bit from earlier today, which is that nothing the Braves do with their other outfielders makes this deal worse—this deal’s the deal the Braves made, and still quite sweet. Whether they swung it or not, they still also have the same decision tree to go through that they already had to deal with, in terms of what to do about Anderson and Francoeur after already sending down Schafer. Adding McLouth is a first step in fixing the outfield; the deal itself is a win. Whether the Braves use McLouth in center (now) and/or left (later) is a separate issue, one that can only be resolved by the team’s following up on the same sort of coldly rational decision-making when it came to cutting Glavine to give Tommy Hanson his major league debut this weekend, and applying that to what to do about Frenchy in right and Slapless Slappy in left.

Now, returning to my thought that Heyward’s eventual arrival will force people’s hands by some point either late in 2010 or in time for 2011, I’d argue that fixing the outfield is a conundrum the solutions to which ought to involve expansion to include Brandon Jones and Matt Diaz beyond getting worked up over Blanco. While I could comfortably assert that Blanco in center, McLouth in right, and a Bratt Joniaz platoon in left represents a best-case set-up with a set of Strat cards, I can understand the Braves preferring Anderson and Diaz in left. That was the plan from the start, Anderson’s recently hitting for power after missing most of April, and he might enjoy some additional benefit of the doubt on the basis of his latest slow start just being an echo of his doing likewise in 2007 (.285/.286/.424) and 2008 (.263/.302/.388) before having big second halves in both campaigns (.305/.361/.530 in ’07, then .335/.360/.496 in ’08). It’s easy to shout for change here, but I’d leave that for sports radio-inflicted rabies. I can also understand letting Francoeur’s flailing run on a bit longer, but I doubt they’ll indulge him into July if there’s no improvement. The question really is whether they see nailing down one outfield spot with the McLouth deal after shipping out Schafer as a nice first step, or the only fix they need to make at the moment. Letting it ride in left would be understandable; if there’s an issue, it’s standing by Francoeur for too much longer, but if they wound up with Schafer back and in center, with McLouth moving over to right, while they stick with the old men in left, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised, nor would I blame them for going that route.

With Blanco, Anderson, and Jones (and Schafer) all batting lefty, and Francoeur and Diaz from the right, they have options aplenty, but in saying this, I guess it’s important to not get too worked up over Blanco. He’s a decent OBP source and someone who can run, yes, but not some overlooked everyday center fielder, yearning to be free, not when a quick check of assorted defensive metrics—Clay’s, John Dewan’s Plus/Minus, UZR, and RZR—reveals that only one of them (RZR) suggests that he’s a defensive asset up the middle, and when his arm is probably really only suitable for left. Adequacy afield matched with tepid hitting skills for someone in his age-25 season? Well, OK, that’s an upgrade on Francoeur in Frenchy’s present predicament, sure, but now we’re well into tallest midget competitions; for the reasons discussed, I wouldn’t race to bench the Anderson/Diaz platoon for him. To turn to the other option, while I’ve been willing to give Jones a lot of benefit of the doubt for a while now, he hasn’t hit for power this year or last. That just brings us back to the more basic problem, which is that, absent Schafer’s being ready, none of the alternatives are that worthwhile, not as options to get McLouth into a corner on an everyday basis. Platooning Francoeur with Jones or Blanco might be a temporary solution

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Optioned MI-R Brian Bixler to Indianapolis. [5/11]
Activated SS-R Jack Wilson from the 15-day DL. [5/12]
Acquired RHP Eric Hacker from the Yankees for RHP Romulo Sanchez, and assigned Hacker to Indianapolis; transferred LHP Phil Dumatrait from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/16]
Placed RHP Tyler Yates on the 15-day DL (elbow inflammation), retroactive to 5/16; recalled LHP Tom Gorzelanny from Indianapolis. [5/17]
Claimed RHP Steven Jackson off of waivers from the Yankees, and assigned him to Indianapolis; released RHP Jimmy Barthmaier. [5/18]
Placed LHP Donald Veal on the 15-day DL (strained groin), retroactive to 5/30. [5/31]
Recalled RHP Steven Jackson from Indianapolis. [6/1]
Traded CF-L Nate McLouth to the Braves for RHP Charlie Morton, LHP Jeff Locke, and CF-R Gorkys Hernandez; purchased the contract of CF-R Andrew McCutchen from Indianapolis; transferred RHP Craig Hansen from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/3]


I hate the one-word paragraph almost as much as I hate the one-word sentence. It’s a cheap stunt as far as trying to invest whatever sentiment with an elaborate, overstated bit of drama, and I usually associate it with a kind of prosey laziness I don’t usually have much patience for it in others, and treat as an anathema in my own. And yet there it is, my response to this latest addition of other people’s talents to an organization admittedly short of talent in any form. Meh.

In part, this response is inspired by the timing. The Pirates didn’t need to make this deal in a hurry, and certainly could have afforded themselves the opportunity to shop around; if this really was the best they could do for McLouth, that says something about how McLouth might, of all things, be underrated despite a silly Gold Glove selection, because we in the chattering classes like to pillory that particular process, and McLouth was such a disappointment initially, and he’s not going to be a great player for years and years. But setting ahead those kind of well-worn talking points, the questions are these: what did the Pirates get, and is it something they can use?

The obvious prize in the exchange is Gorkys Hernandez. That he’s 21 and already in Double-A is impressive; that he’s hitting .316/.361/.387 while getting caught stealing eight of 18 times isn’t really. (That translates to a pathetic pair of performance stats, .207 EqA at present with a .239 Peak EqA.) Now, he’s young, and he’s run better than this before, and he won’t only be a singles hitter, and he plays a fine center field. All swell, those qualities, all very admirable things if you’re on a quest to go out and get a little man’s gamer. Assuming his defensive value sticks, and he’s probably going to be a better player than his set of top comparables coming into the season: Carlos Gomez ’07, William Canate ’93, Desmond Jennings just last year, and the ubiquitous Gregor Blanco circa 2005. If that collection of names sounds mildly disappointing as a crew of comps, that’s because it should be. So a young low-powered center-field type who isn’t running well in the Southern League; how keen. Is that really what a team that has Andrew McCutchen for center field for the foreseeable future needs? If this makes for a future in which McCutchen’s in right field, color me disappointed and a little frightened over what that might mean for the Pirates’ offensive future, because while I like his upside as a center fielder quite a bit, the forecast for his peak seasons as a hitter suggests he’d be a bad choice to start in a corner.

Maybe this means that Hernandez is meat on the hoof, an interesting prospect worth having, sort of like Jose Tabata, somebody toolsy who you pick up hoping for the upside potential to come through for you. Maybe you can repurpose him in some future deal. Sure, maybe, but I guess I find that it’s more likely that Hernandez’s perceived value may never be higher than it is right now, and that if you’re instead left with a singles hitter who runs some but not all that well and plays center really well, that sounds like a third-division starter, somebody who, like Willy Taveras, you could get carried away with briefly, but also someone you end up regretting having a fascination for. It also makes for a player you’ll be lucky to find another front-office exec willing to value as highly, because a few months or years down the road, if Hernandez grows up to be the new Gregor Blanco, nobody’s going to give you really good stuff for that, and nobody should.

Then there are the pitchers, and you can never have too many of those, right? Well, I suppose that’s true, after a fashion, and Charlie Morton’s good enough to be in somebody’s rotation. There’s a reasonable argument to be made that he might wind up as the best player the Pirates received in the deal. (Faint praise, meet damnation.) Sort of like Hernandez, he’s got the big frame and solid low-90s heat that make it easy to think he’s got the tools to stick around. Having blossomed as a starter last season, earning a big-league trial, he followed that up with an equally impressive ten-start run in Triple-A this season, managing seven quality starts for Richmond, capped by a nine-inning complete-game shutout on May 29 (nicely timed, that). With 55 strikeouts against just 16 walks in 64 2/3 innings, 2.5 runs allowed per nine, and three working off-speed pitches to mix in with that fastball, he’s ready enough to step right into the Pirates’ rotation right now, though if he got the job, it would be at the expense of one of the depth-deal add-ons from last season, either Ross Ohlendorf or Jeff Karstens. Since they’re locked in on multi-year commitments to Ian Snell and Paul Maholm, and have a pair of arbitration years with Zach Duke yet to contend, that may seem like pointless churn. However, while it may well work out that way, I’m beginning to lean toward the idea that Morton has more upside as a starter than either Ohlendorf or Karstens, and if this deal converts the former into a quality reliever while improving the rotation, that’s improvement, however modest.

Then there’s Locke. Only 21 and a second-round pick in 2006, he’s got the immediate virtue of being left-handed while throwing a low-90s fastball and a good curve. He also has problems with consistency in his delivery and with his mechanics, and he was being lit up by High-A hitters, allowing 78 baserunners and 31 runs in 45 2/3 IP; outside of pitcher-friendly Myrtle Beach, that jumps up to 40 baserunners and 19 runs in 19 1/3 IP. The 43 strikeouts he’s logged suggest the promise that puts him on prospect lists, and before an ugly May, he’d been able to count on an above-average number of ground-ball outs. Perhaps the Pirates have seen something that explains why he’s not generating grounders, and if they get him turned around, we can then tout their scouts and coaches for identifying a fixable problem and making it go away. Barring that, Locke’s a live-armed lefty having problems in A-ball, however talented and worthwhile he is.

Put that all together, and what do we have? A center fielder who isn’t as good as the organization’s already-ready center-field prospect. A starting pitcher who might be a reliable fourth man with potential for more. A lefty with better-than-average velocity for a southpaw. Perhaps paradoxically, if this was December 2007, I’d say this was a great deal for the Pirates, but as a matter of cashing in on McLouth’s value, I’m left thinking this was a deal made too soon for too little. With the draft around the corner and the international signing window about to open, it’s worth wondering out loud if this isn’t also perhaps a matter of getting out from under a financial commitment to McLouth, because nobody has been or ever likely will be interested in taking any of the money owed to Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez off the Pirates’ hands. That’s a bitter thing to ponder, of course, given that the organization’s supposed to be beyond the bad old days of Kid McClatchy, Cam Bonifay, and David Littlefield, but it’s clear that turning this thing around was going to take years. My problem is that I don’t really see this deal adding substantively to that turnaround, and if this was all they could leverage out of McLouth’s peak, it could be a cold, perhaps even downright frosty July where deadline deals are concerned.

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I have to say that your analysis of the Brave's OF situation showed a deeper understanding than Sheehan's.

(What, this isn't baseball idol?)
It's always Baseball Idol. At least since September, anyway.
I hate to make essentially the same post I did on Sheehan's column, but don't we need to really stress the amateur player acquisition angle? There was a lot of noise about the Pirates taking a cheap route in the draft in order to get Sano, then Coonnelly said they wouldn't cut costs in the draft for that reason. Shouldn't we hold out judgment until we see what they do in that regard? Because if McClouth not only nets them Hernandez, Morton, and Locke, but also allows them to be elite players on the international market and sign their favorite available player in the draft, regardless of price tag, then I think the timing of the trade is a huge point in its favor.
Maybe, and maybe not. While there's some certainly some immediate propaganda value to making noise and throwing money around south of the border, an endorsement of this line of thinking depends on how well Sano (for the sake of argument) turns out, and it will be years before we know if that fraction of the Pirates' limited finances made that much of a difference in their future fortunes.
Although this speculation about the Pirates player acquisition budget is fun, and a nice way to make it seem like they're making a smarter move than meets the eye, we shouldn't overlook the fact that ANY trade of McLouth for prospects frees up money for the organization. So I believe it is much more important to focus on what they did and didn't get in return.
Is it me, or are we now seeing a weird trend? In the last year and change, the A's, M's and Pirates have all traded their best players (of varying actual quality) for quantity, not quality. I realize nobody's going to deal six-star studs, but why have these teams just acquired depth for kicks?
In one edition of BP, the writer of the Yankees' chapter noted that when the market is only offering bananas, and you need oranges, you sometimes have to settle for bananas anyway since it's better than nothing.

I mangled that a bit, but recently, it seems like teams are very reluctant to even talk about guys considered top-tier prospects. LaPorta got dealt, but he's an OF and for a Cy Young-caliber rental. No executive wants to deal away the next Jeff Bagwell or Brian Giles, so I think they'd rather deal away three players with a 5% chance of stardom each than the uber-prospect with a 25 to 50% chance.
At least for the A's and Pirates, they know they'll generally have to find ways to contend while maintaining lower payrolls (which of course is usually done by relying on an ever-changing corps of young talent). Since they can't really afford to run too dry in that respect, and since there's always some uncertainty around which prospects will develop to what extents (and therefore an element of "luck" for lack of a better word), I wonder if maybe they're hoping to get "lucky" by covering a larger number of second-tier prospects instead of a smaller number of top-tier ones. Betting on a bunch of underdogs instead of a few favorites, hoping to increase their chances of lightning striking one of their guys...?

Cast a wide net. A blind squirrel eventually finds a nut. A room full of monkeys can type Macbeth, given enough paper....

But here in Pittsburgh we always have the bobbleheads, fireworks and Primanti's sandwiches! A nice view of Clemente Bridge....

Woo... hoo!
One Primanti's creation is worth 3 late-round picks, or one (heh) sandwich pick. Make mine sweet Italian sausage, fried egg, cole slaw, and french fries on French bread.
In 5 years, Jeff Locke is going to be viewed as the prize of this trade, and I think he ends up pitching closer to the front of a rotation than the back.
Simply a salary dump, as always.....

Baseball life in Pittsburgh never changes.
My wife thinks I am bitter. She's right.

Go Pens! Go Steelers!
A salary dump when the Pirates are only commited to $12m for the next two years? The other day, before the trade, Pirates' announcer Bob Walk opined that the risk is not in giving $5m to a draft pick or to Sano, it's giving $120m to Mike Hampton. They should be able to give Sano $5m, their first pick $5m and still pay McLouth.

Morton has looked good in Triple-A the last two years. He had a 6 ERA in 15 starts in Atlanta last year, but the periphals weren't as bad. Despite what Christina says about Snell's contract, he is clearly #5 right now on the starting pitcher depth chart. Morton can go into the rotation, forcing Snell to the bullpen where I think it's quite possible he could succeed as did Tom Gordon.
Just to throw in my nickel.... I agree with you. Snell needs some reformatting, and removing him from the rotation (if not outright trading him if you can find someone) sounds good.

I get the feeling that the Pirates think this deal will work out a lot like the Yankees deal and that's ok. Maybe they just weren't that high on McLouth. It wouldn't be the first time a team protected it's asset and then dealt it.
We both like Morton more than the current quintet, so I'm not sure there's any disagreement there. It's interesting to suggest Snell instead of Ohlendorf, perhaps inspired by the faith that Snell's stuff might play better in the pen, but that strikes me as the same sort of thing people diddled around with in Edwin Jackson's case for far too long.

Also, in fairness, it isn't like the Pirates are skipping Snell's turn, so talk of "clearly" whatever strikes me as an overreaction to the bad patch he's been in that follows up on a pretty good April. Add in that Snell's someone Huntington gave the money to (and not the previous regime), and I think this talk on his status is speculative at best.

Instead, I look back on how the initial expectations that Ohlendorf's future was in the pen, combined with his tepid (to be polite) results in the rotation, capped a downright crummy strikeout rate, and it's easy to anticipate that this is someone who's living up/down/towards those expectations.
John Perotto said on Facebook Monday that wathing Snell pitch is like getting a root canal without the novocaine...Ohlendrof's pitching respectably, certainly not painfully. Meanwhile last night Morton threw a 7 inning shutout in his Indianaplois debut.
You won't get an argument from me on the pleasantness of the prospect, but I'd definitely disagree with the suggestion that Ohlendorf (or Karstens) are pitching all that respectably. Considering their SNLVA data, for example:

... just says they're all worse than average, while Snell's been a little unlucky. Add in Ohlendorf's shy of 5.0 K/9, and... well, hell, I guess I just feel sorry for people pulling for the Pirates. Here's hoping a dash of Morton isn't salt in what looks like an open wound.
Dear Christina,

I'm a big fan of your work, but I don't think it was quite appropriate to call Garrett Anderson, Slapless Slappy. He's had a fine career for 16 years. Looking at his career numbers his progression and eventual regression just looks "amazingly normal."

He's been a pro, arguably a role model. At 37, he's just trying his best to contribute.
Well, true enough, but please do remember that I do rally to his defense. By referring to him so glibly, my intent was to refer and respond to the criticisms that he's done, when I'd stick to his previous in-season patterns and not overreact on the basis of a bad month coming back from injury. The point isn't that I'm wild about the decision to sign him in the first place--I wasn't--but that in signing Anderson, that meant taking on certain risks. The Braves are getting the same guy the Angels put up with the last few seasons; if they can indulge him the slow start, they may also get the benefit of the solid second half, and feel OK about the decision to give him the one-year deal.
You guys might want to hire a better proofreader.
There's another angle that might be worth considering. The Pirates right now have a +8 run differential and there are 8 MLB teams with worse records than they have right now, which suggests that there's a chance they don't finish in the top third of next year's draft. The Pirates have a prospect wave coming to the majors soon (McClutchen, maybe Alvarez/Tabatha) etc and their pitching is performing solidly this year. In other words, the Pirates might finally be getting better...

So, maybe the Pirates think this might be their highest draft pick for a few years so it makes sense to free up some room in their budget and grab the best prospect available regardless of asking price.
"In other words, the Pirates might finally be getting better..."

The only chance the Pirates had was that their starting pitchers, all of which have shown the ability to pitch in the majors at different times (05' Duke, 07' Snell, '07 Gorz, '08 Maholm) could somehow find the ability to repeat those singular performances


the team would have some semblance of an offense when that moment occured.

Part 1 occured to some degree coming out if the gate this year and many of the pitchers credited the new pitching coach.

Any chance for Part 2 went out the door with the trading of Bay, McLouth, and the injury to Doumit.

I don't understand how the contribution of McLouth to the next great Pirate team, presumably 2-3 years from now, can be dismissed when all the pitchers (Maholm, Snell, Duke, Gorz, Ohlendorf, Karstens, Burnett) are exactly the same age (26-27).

And even less likely than McLouth to project any kind of career 2-3 years down the road. You are so sure McLouth has peaked, but want to hang your hat that some of these pitchers will progress and still be any good when these 'up and coming prospects' (McCutcheon, Tabata) hit the stage.

I'd argue that the window for any Pirate greatness is SOONER RATHER THAN LATER when these pitchers are at their peak year - not when they are 3 years older.

And consequently the best time to have an accomodating offense would have been with Bay, McLouth, Doumit rather than their replacements three years from now.

"Pirates didn't need to make this deal in a hurry, and certainly could have afforded themselves the opportunity to shop around; if this really was the best they could do for McLouth, that says something about how McLouth might, of all things, be underrated despite a silly Gold Glove selection, because we in the chattering classes like to pillory that particular process, and McLouth was such a disappointment initially, and he's not going to be a great player for years and years"

Maybe I'm just in BP Idol mode, but this sentence just seems too long. You lost me after one of the commas following the semicolon.
Yeah forced verbiage in here. That's the issue IMO. I am not looking for Thoreau, just some insight.
I think the biggest question mark about Nate McLouth is which Nate McLouth are the Braves getting. Based on the Nate that took the NL by surprise in the second half of 2007 and first half of 2008, the Braves steal this deal. Or, did the Braves acquire the post 2008 All-Star break - present player, the one who has just 38 EBH in his last 400 AB's, .260 BA, a sub-.800 OPS and 114 K's?
In addition, it's interesting to see this wave of Pirate trades and acquisitions having some of Director of Baseball Systems Development Dan Fox' (BP Alumn) philosophy and fingerprints on them. Is it posible that this trade and it's return is birthed from some significant statistical analysis that has identified indicators in McLouth's decline and/or something significant in the prospects they are receiving?
On the surface, this deal doesn't appear to be the trade you make if you're the Pirates, but something tells me that Fox was providing Huntington statistical analysis that supported what scouts saw, making this deal for Huntington "one that he didn't pursue, but one that he couldn't refuse".
One thing is certain though. You don't make a trade like this unless you are extremely confident in what your scouting and analysis is telling you. Otherwise, Neil Huntington just purchased the rope from which he will be hung.
Believe it or not, if all the Braves get is 2nd half 2008 Nate McLouth, that .781 OPS is about a 150 points higher than what they've gotten from any of their OF positions this year. Or they get the guy that's hit .819 OPS so far this year and that's nearly 200 points of upgrade. Now consider that his speed on the bases has some value and he's a massive upgrade for this OF anyway you look at it.

In return for a prospect that I've always liked (Gorkys), a fringe MLB pitcher (Morton), and a long-term project (Locke)-- that's not a bad deal for the braves even if they get the worst we've seen of McLouth over the past 2 years.
It seems to me that the Pirates are placing a much higher premium on defense than they had in the past. They aren't fooled by McLouth's gold glove and they recognize that he is poor defensively. With their type of pitching staff that doesn't strike a ton of guys out, defense may be more important to them than average. They may in fact now have the best defensive outfield in the league; I'm sure Zack Duke et al appreciate that.
Do the Braves ever consider releasing Garrett Anderson this season?
Maybe, say, if it's between the All-Star break and the July 31 deadline, and they haven't seen any improvement from him, and are geared up to make another deal in the meantime.