Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Geek Gives Grades

...To Littlefield trades, and in the end gives him a C. Littlefield gets (and deserves) good marks for the Giles and Ritchie deals, and flunks on the Schmidt and Ramirez trades.

The trouble with this analysis (which I'm sure has more to do with Post-Gazette word limits than anything else) is that while it's dead-on for all the trades the Stats Geek actually evaluates, a GM's effect on his team cannot be accurately measured in blockbuster deals alone. Littlefield's dozens of smaller moves have done almost nothing to help the franchise and have often actively harmed it. His drafts have been overly conservative (although he did nab Brad Eldred in 2002); he's traded real prospects (including Chris Young, a Texas Rangers starter who we should think very hard about next time we watch Ryan Vogelsong pitch) for replaceable veterans; he's blocked cheap young talent like Craig Wilson in favor of more veterans; he gave a long-term contract to Brian Boehringer; he waived and Rule 5'd half the farm system last year; and so on. Once we see the small stuff start to accumulate - and GMs of small-market teams must sweat the small stuff - that C grade looks extremely generous.

And even if Littlefield really were worth a C, he'd be part of the problem, not the solution. Poor teams either need to have excellent luck, or they need to outsmart their richer competition. The Pirates haven't had much luck recently, and C students won't outsmart the Beanes - or even the Hendrys or Jockettys - of the class.

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