Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded away Tom Gorzelanny, then later signed Brian Burres as compensation. Friday night’s game was the first test of the direct impact of the two moves. So how did the Pirates do?

Not so well. Burres pitched four innings, one less than Gorzelanny. And he gave up six runs, one more than Tom Gorzelanny. Clearly, the Pirates had given up something with this sequence of events.

But the team was not punished for this foolishness with a loss. That’s because the one-two punch of Andy McCutchen and Garrett Jones punched out seven runs, enough to defeat the six-run scoring Cubs by themselves.

And they chased Gorzelanny after his usual five innings. The remaining three runs were gravy.

A good trade of established players for prospects is one where you get some immediate, or at least visible, value, plus something at the back end. An example was that of Nate McLouth for Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, and Jeff Locke.

Morton represented about two thirds of the value of McLouth in 2009, meaning that the difference can be made up by either Hernandez or Locke.

If both of them are contributory, or one in a big way, the Pirates would have come out ahead on the deal. The Pirates lose only if both are “busts,” meaning that their exposure is one-third of player.

If Burres, a serviceable but somewhat inferior pitcher, had been part of the Gorzelanny deal, with Kevin Hart and Josh Harrison performing the function of “Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke,” I’d say it was a pretty good swap.

But that’s not how the trade evolved. It was initially Gorzelanny for Hart and Harrison (netting out the two relievers. And “their” reliever, John Grabow, pitched against us in Friday’s game while “ours,” Jose Ascanio, is on the disabled list.) Burres was signed by the Pirates later, separately.

Meaning that they initially made a bad deal, and then “lucked out” by being able to partly, though not entirely, repair it with the signing of Burres.

The Pirates won’t always be this lucky, meaning that it behooves them not to make such bad deals in the first place.


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