Xavier Nady & Damaso Marte to the Yankees


Based upon the staggering number of responses I’ve received to my most recent post about the Pirates, I’m thinking of re-naming jeffpearlman.com piratereport.com. Unfortunately, that’d decrease my readership (hanging strong at about 2,000 per day) to, oh, 150 clicks. Maybe 155 if the Pirates win two straight.

Ah, I kid. I’ve enjoyed receiving so many Pirate-related comments, and very much dig the passion. I don’t even take offense to people like “B” (“You’re far too generous and immodest calling that a ‘mediocre column’ Free Tank had you pegged”) and “W.K. Kortas” (“Did you mail in the SI column? Absolutely.”). If you write sports in the 21st century, you accept that you’ll get hammered. And hammered. And hammered. When you’re right. When you’re wrong. When you’re off. When you’re on. Whenever.

All that being said, I want to make a point that I consider, without question, indisputable: Pittsburgh’s July 26, 2008 trade of Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees for Daniel McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf was absolutely, positively terrible. A horrible swap for the Pirates, sans debate.

The Pittsburgh loyalist—an odd breed who gets punched in the head repeatedly (by his loved one, no less) while screaming, “More! More! More!”—looks at this deal 1 1/2 years later and says, “Not bad.” Nady, after all, has been injury prone and, when healthy, only moderately productive. And, before his dazzling World Series showing of two months ago, Marte was pretty much a Yankee bust—a 5.40 ERA in 25 games last season, a 9.45 ERA in 21 games this season.

To look merely through the lenses of hindsight, however, is an ignorant way to view a deal. In the summer of 2008, Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte were hot properties. A. Neither man made an outlandish amount of money; B. Marte was a proven lefthanded reliever who was about to appear in at least 60 games for a seventh-straight season; C. Nady, while hardly Albert Pujols, is a 20-homer, 80 RBI type of hitter who can play multiple positions and is known as one of the game’s better clubhouse influences. If you were a contending team in 2008, you could use both guys. That’s why both the Mets and Yankees were interested; why the eyes of those covering the Major Leagues were, at last, focused upon Pittsburgh. They had players other teams craved, and they were willing to deal.

So what did the Pirates receive for two craved medallions? Daniel McCutchen, who at best will be a fourth starter for a bad team. Jeff Karstens, a non-roster invitee for 2010 who will likely wind up in Triple A for somebody. Ross Ohlendorf, a No. 5 starter or long reliever for 90 percent of Major League teams (but, in Pittsburgh, a key component of the rotation). And, last but not least, the mighty Jose Tabata, a 21-year-old outfielder and the key to the deal for the Pirates. Tabata’s skills have beeCookie+Stealer+AA0911_0053n compared to those of Manny Ramirez, and he was Baseball America’s 12th best prospect in the Eastern League. But, of late, Tabata has been, well, mediocre. In 93 games split between Double A and Triple A last year, he hit a whopping five home runs, to go with 35 RBI and a .293 average. To suggest Tabata has fallen off the Top Prospect list is going too far. But in Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates have a can’t-miss slugger just waiting for a chance. Tabata can miss. An increasing number of people seem to think he will.

That’s why this trade irks me. The Pirates could have done better. The Pirates should have done better. And the under-performances of Nady and Marte change nothing. It actually reminds me of the 1989 NFL Draft, when my New York Jets (I used to be a huge fan) used the No. 14 pick of the first round to select Jeff Lageman out of Virginia. The green-and-white clad fans rightly booed, and continued to boo throughout Lageman’s productive six years with the team. Why were they never satisfied? Because the Jets could have selected Lageman in the second round, and maybe even the third. Meanwhile, they passed on players like Steve Atwater, Andre Rison and Carnell Lake.

Like the Jets, the Pirates blew a precious opportunity to get significantly better. They left chips on the table, settling for lesser value. And if Tabata becomes the next Cameron Drew, fans will look back at July 26, 2008 at one of the greatest lost opportunities in franchise history.

PS: And to compare Nate McLouth and Lastings Milledge is ludicrous. McLouth is a proven Major Leaguer who, while far from perfect, will have a solid 10-year career. Milledge has now been discarded by two different organizations.

71 thoughts on “Xavier Nady & Damaso Marte to the Yankees”

  1. Also, I’d like to know, based on the research that I’m sure the author performed before making such a statement, what other prospects were being offered for the two? If the choice was keep them for 1 more year and lose 90 games, or trade them and lose 99, but get the rights to a bunch of OK prospects, plus one being compared to Manny for the next 6 years, that’s a no-brainer, you make the trade. The only debate is whether there was a better offer to be had. Jeff, I’m anxious to hear the details.

    If you want to talk bad trades, how about Jason Bay? That’s a much more obvious example. Geeze, I think the Pirate’s management is terrible, but the Nady/Marte trade is the one good move they’ve made!

  2. Thanks to Dejan for pointing out one worthless blog that I’ll never have to check out again.

    Seriously… “To look merely through the lenses of hindsight, however, is an ignorant way to view a deal.”

    Really? Is there any other way to look at a deal? Actually, to have written such nonsense is as ignorant as anything anyone could ever write. Now if you had some kind of inside information that says the Pirates turned down some great players and took these guys instead, that would be fair – but you don’t.

    Your estimation of Ross Ohlendorf alone shows you know absolutely nothing about baseball or talent evaluation. If this deal were Nady and Marte for Dorf alone, we win the trade. This time last year, the Yanks would accept a Nady/Marte for Dorf deal to reverse things, and the Buccos would have laughed at them, so yes, the Pirates won this deal for a change.

    If you want to talk about missing on the Bay trade, that would be a great and valid article. But you whiffed on this one yet again. Absolutely clueless. If you want to talk about when our previous regime turned down a Kris Benson for Ryan Howard trade because we had Brad Eldred in the minors as a 1B prospect, that would be fair and valid.

    But this one, you missed again. I’m starting to think you’re trying to generate traffic by being controversial. But when the content is so flawed and flat out ignorant, it is missing the boat, sorry. You whiffed yet again.

  3. Several thoughtful posts here, despite what Jeff has written. Jeff’s entitled to his opinion, even if he lacks facts to back it up. I would say the way to evaluate the Nady/Marte trade is to examine not what the potential results were, but what the actual ones are. That tells you who made the better trade, since you trade on future potential as much as past performance. Ohlendorf has been a fantastic pickup, and will be a #1 or #2 starter and innings eater for us, barring any injury. Tabata is coming off a great performance in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .393, I believe. McCutchen will likely be serviceable in relief this year, and Karstens, while maddeningly inconsistent, did give us some good relief work last year. That’s a lot in return, especially given Nady and Marte’s performance last year, and what Nady was expected to command if he maintained his 2008 stats.

  4. I think I’m just going to start quoting #34 every five minutes –

    “…if your assessment of Ross Ohlendorf as a fifth starter or long reliever is accurate, where does that leave A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte? Ohlendorf’s 2009 ERA and WHIP were better than both of those Yankees World Series starting pitchers.”

    And add to that the fact that Ohlendorf, who was in his first season as a full time starter, got even better as the season went on.

    If you are going to pick and choose just one single Pirates trade to bash, (which considering the number of recent trades is completely illogical and poor writing by the way) at least choose the Bay trade. Geez.

  5. Mr. Pearlman,

    Way to miss the fact that Tabata was just MVP of the fall league. He had a broken hamate bone in his hand, which will sap power for a period of a year.

    Look at Mr. Ohlendorf’s splits and note that he got back his velocity at the end of the season. He got stronger although his win loss record did not show that since he was pitching for one of the worst offensive teams in history. He will be an Ace for the bucs, but is a 2 or a 3 for most teams. He was the key prospect obtained by the Yankees for Randy Johnson in a deal in which they paid the big unit to leave NYC so they obtained decent return.

    Jeff Karstens almost threw a perfect game in his second start as a bucco. He is a middle reliever. Middle relievers get paid 3 or 4 million a year. So to get one under your control for less than that figure is wise. He was outrighted to make room on the 40 man roster to protect prospects from the rule 5 draft.

    Dan McCutchen will be a stud this year, or maybe he is terrible. Either way you fail to mention that he won more games than any other pitcher in our organization last year, and more importantly you mention nothing about how the team lacked so much rotational depth that we had to pitch Yoslan Herrara the year before. So even if McCutchen is just a 5

    I love that this piece is so retarded that the only way you could get it on the web is to publish your own website since SI probably wouldn’t let you run it. I wouldn’t be suprised if I never read another one of your articles unless the beat reporter for the Pirates points to it so that us Pirates fans can have a good laugh at how F*cking dumb you are.

    And for you to go back and base an argument off of what the Pirates did give up vs. what they got back IGNORING ALREADY RELEVANT OCCURANCES, then you are a moron sir. You could have, quite easily I might add written about how the Pirates got fleeced on Matt Capps, or even made the argument albeit early as the jury is still out on Bryan Morris, that the Pirates got screwed on the Bay deal.

    But you didn’t, because you are stupid, and don’t bother to do research. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the first major trade made by Huntington is the one you settled on because your research is done by some sort of google of the news with results being sorted chronologically by default.

    Yep you are a F*cking idiot

    Sincerely Pirates fans.

  6. This writer is an absolute fuckin moron. SI should take away his ability to write. He obviously is just looking for a team to bash and he knows that he couldnt do any better than any GM in MLB. Maybe you should realize that Huntington is committed to restoring the franchise. Plus, I’ve heard experts (not numbnuts like you) call this trade one the Yankees will kick themselves for after they see how good Ohlendorf and Tabata are good. Tim Kurkjian called Ohlendorf one of the best young pitchers in the game. I’ll take his word over yours.

  7. Maxwell C, Your analysis of the Bay trade is beyond laughable. Here is your comment below.
    “For 1.3 seasons of a 3 win player, the Pirates got a former top 25 prospect in all of baseball who showed great power at all levels (LaRoche), a former 1st-round pick with dominating closer-type stuff and a track record in AAA (Hansen), another former first round pick who was actually the key to the deal (from the Pirates perspective) and was pitching pretty well as a 21-year old in A ball coming off of major arm surgery (Morris), and a guy who had OPSs of 834/874 in AAA and also excelled in limited time in the hardest division in baseball (Moss).”
    Look at how silly you sound, “A former top 25 prospect” Yeah and who at the time of the trade
    the Dodgers had demoted and brought up Blake Dewitt to play ahead of him and anyone with an ounce of sense realize how many guys from the PCL post great minor league numbers in Vegas and ALB. etc thin air and then flop in the najors.
    And this beauty “An A pitcher who pitched really well but had major arm surgery” Wow bet the farm on that one. Single A pitcher with major arm surgery.
    And Hansen had gone from first round draft pick to being a guy who could not find home plate with a GPS system and was nothing more than a crap shoot. If you could have found a time machine and went back to 2006 for the guys we acquired it made sense unfortunately it was 2008. And for the record I posted exactly what you see here the day of the trade 17 months ago so this isn’t with the luxury of seeing how it turned out.

  8. Nady was injury prone with 1 good season behind him, and Marte was going to be a type-A free agent reliever who no one in their right mind would sign away from us (assuming we would be crazy enough to offer arbitration) for a first and second round draft pick. I would hardly call them medallions. Tabata on the other hand is 21 years old and playing in leagues well above his age. I take that trade 100 times out of 100. I would love to GM against you.

  9. From one nonsensical Pirate-bashing article last week to this one. I’m getting the impression Mr. Pearlman is doing this purposely to get under the skin of Pirates fans. Is he serious when he writes these articles? What a complete and utter joke. Of all the Pirates deals made under Huntington, this has clearly been the one trade that has tilted overwhelmingly in the Pirates favor.

    Last week’s article looks like Shakespeare compared to this one. What kind of mea culpa shall we expect this time around?

  10. Don’t forget that Brian Cashman has buyers remorse after that trade: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08210/900061-63.stm

    Also – your article argues at least one of the points made – you are looking at what the 3 pitchers and tabata will or won’t be down the road but isn’t that going to be HIND SIGHT?

    You also consider what the buyer in the trade needed, but not what the seller needed: better depth down on the farm, which can provide a more competitive environment that can produce better players. Didn’t the Pirates achieve that and more?

    Lastly (or P.S.) – your commentary about a twice discarded Lastings Milledge does not even have a place in the article. Maybe you can write an editorial about how he was under developed and was thrown into the league by those discarding teams too fast.

    Your column is a waste; congratulations for wasting everyone’s time, or the 150-155 of us.

  11. Even as a Pirates fan and critic of these pieces, I find that many of you are being far too harsh on Mr. Pearlman.

    So he doesn’t know anything about the Pirates. Why should he? They’re a crappy team and he’s a national sportswriter. I disagree with his opinions, but he’s entitled to them and I don’t think he’s a bad person.

  12. What I mean by the above is, the personal attacks are a bit across the line. I agree with the criticism of this piece, and he definitely committed a logical fallacy in switching between deriding hindsight analysis and using it for his own purposes, but is calling him a moron, idiot, etc. really productive?

  13. Tommy,if he( Pearlman) is a ” national sportswriter “, to use your term for him,and he doesn’t know ” know anything about the Pirates”,he is certainly entitled to his opinion(s).But,the caveat is,don’t put them out there and make yourself look stupid when you don’t have a clue.VLAD,for one,has him dead to rights.

  14. i totally agree with most of the posters in regards to the nady/marte trade. this clearly was a good deal for the pirates considering both would have been free agents. sorry jeff, but this article is actually worse than the first one. i personally think the pirates ownership is the worst in all of professional sports and being a pirate fan is a very unfortunate thing. all that being said, this was definitely a decent trade for the pirates. a more appropriate column could deal with the pirates fumbling the miguel angel sano situation, not signing tanner scheppers, and the horrible jason bay trade. i believe neil huntington is trying to build a decent team through the draft, but he and the rest of the front office have also made terrible decisions that are greatly attributed to player evaluation and just plain old cheap ownership. sorry fellow bucs fans, pedro can not be the only savior. it will take more than just him and right now i just dont see too much help coming. the farm system has been upgtraded but there are only a couple players that would be considered blue chippers. we have a long way to go.

  15. “So he doesn’t know anything about the Pirates. Why should he? They’re a crappy team and he’s a national sportswriter. I disagree with his opinions, but he’s entitled to them and I don’t think he’s a bad person.”

    If he wasn’t willing to do the research and get the facts straight, he should have written about something else. To do otherwise is to demonstrate contempt for your readers.

    I don’t really like the name-calling, but it’s also worth noting that Jeff was the first to resort to it – describing Pirates fans collectively in the piece above as odd and masochistic. As such, it shouldn’t be particularly surprising that some Pirates fans decided to respond in kind.

  16. I know this may take you on a trip where you’ve never been before, which would be statistics and common sense land. Maybe you should stick to the easy storylines, such as the Yankees, Red Sox or any other major sports team that any one can have a general uneducated opinion of.
    I will try to keep this brief…but I hate playing in to your game of horrible articles…

    Do you know how much 11 wins, a 3.92, 1.23 whip with 175 innings could cost a major league team on the free agent market these days? That’s worth Nady and Marte alone.

    What were you expecting the pirates to get in return?
    Do you know of packages that they were offered and did not accept?
    That is really the only way an article such as your latest could even be written, right?

    To put this in perspective… something you did not do again…

    -The Pirates had a 28 year old player who took 6 years to get to 20 hr and 70 rbi… once… let me repeat that….. once …. (also below average defender with past injuries)
    -The team acquiring Nady knew they would only have him for one more year (and a boras client)
    -What do you consider an adequate return, considering the team acquiring Nady would probably only have his rights for one year ???

    Matt Holiday was traded for Carlos Gonazelz and Huston Street that year… do you know of a return that a lefty specialist and below average outfielder could even rival that. Holiday had 4 years of 30 hr and 110 rbi before his trade. The Pirates were dealing from a position of no respect from the rest of the league and no current minor league system. How long will it take for even the general fan to realize that they were in the position of quantity rather than quality? Do you really think that was the right time to trade those two players and risk it all on one player in return.???

    Unless that player was the caliber of a Hanley Ramirez, then no… by the way, if you think the pirates should/could have acquired a prospect like Hanley, that only took 4 years of 25 hr and 94 rbi from Lowell and 4 years of 3.5 era, and 30 wins from Josh Beckett

    Lefty Specialist: Marte, aka craved medallion
    Below average outfielder: Nady, aka craved medallion

    No one is asking for you to look up every statistic before every article, but if you are going to write something with such ignorance involving the main point of the article, it may help to research a little further. I never heard of your site or you until I read it on Pittsburgh’s newspaper website. After seeing that your articles are no better than any local blog, I will not be visiting your site again. Its funny that you bring up local blogs interfering with “professional:” sites such as yours. I would rather read info that was interesting from a local blog than from someone that is trying to get hits on a website.

    I know you don’t like to look at statistics before making your statements, but that is the basis of most professional/major league decisions….

    You are exactly the same as any run of the mill blogger on the internet…

    Good Day,
    Chris Roth

  17. Why does Pittsburgh still have a team ? They have sucked for 124 years and will for 124 more. No titles, winning seasons or decent players in their entire history. Simply put, they are RUINING Baseball. If MLB was smart they would move or contract this franchise

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