Neal Huntington Trade Grades

The list below is a tally of all of the trades made by Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington. The ultimate goal of any trade is to improve the team at the Major League level. Therefore, I decided to focus on the wins above replacement (WAR) stats for all players exchanged in the deal. To read about WAR, check out this series of articles at FanGraphs.

As for the trades, the rules for each player:

1. WAR totals are taken only in the time after the player joins his new team. WAR values held prior to the trade on the player’s former team aren’t counted.

2. WAR totals are only counted while a player is under original team control. For example, Eric Hinske’s WAR will be counted for the 2009 season, as he is eligible for free agency after the season. The WAR values will only be calculated through that time, even if Hinske re-signs with the Yankees. Same goes for all players.

3. The cut-off in WAR calculation is free agency or retirement. If a player is traded to another team while still under control (like Adam LaRoche from Boston to Atlanta), that player still gets his WAR values tallied, as the point of this is to compare the return the Pirates got with the player(s) they traded.

I’ll add this big fat disclaimer: while the title of this is “Neil Huntington Trade Grades”, I’m not saying this serves as a final grade for any trade (good or bad). There are way too many factors to consider. For example, all of these trades assume that the teams involved had a replacement level player in their system. When we say that Denny Bautista had a -0.3 WAR in 2008, we assume that the Pirates had a replacement level reliever that Bautista was holding back.

Then there’s also situations like the Nate McLouth trade. The Pirates have little need for McLouth after the deal, with Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, and Lastings Milledge in the outfield. Meanwhile, Atlanta has little need for Charlie Morton in their rotation, with Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Tommy Hanson, and Kenshin Kawakami. This would be a case where each team improved in an area, without losing much production from the major league level.

Bottom line, it’s just something to chew on, possibly serving as a portion of the analysis on a given trade, but it definitely shouldn’t be used as THE analysis on a given trade.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 8/20/09

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  • marklandson

    This is a great tool. Thanks very much for putting it together!

    "Trade Grades" might not be the best term for this, since a grade implies a subjective mark of quality. One might still give the Nady/Marte trade an A+ grade at this point, considering all the players in return have a chance to be solid contributors in the future.

    This is more of a running tally, which will be exciting to watch over time as it changes.

    It would be interesting to see these values in a graph form as values change over the years.

    Thanks for doing this!

  • Lino Donoso

    The type of trades the Pirates have made — major league starters (mostly) for "prospects" (mostly) would seem to impose a negative value AT THIS POINT. (No, I don't fully comprehend WAR).

    Nevertheless, I agree with the above poster: Will be interesting to see how (if) things change over the next year or two. Thanks very much for putting it together.

  • Lee Young

    I would like to see him do it for a whole year. If he tires again, perhaps we only have a util if?

    I also wish Jarek could stay healthy.

  • James S

    Well I guess Hansen is no good then. Only 6 walks, he might as well pack it in and go work at McDonalds.

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