Pirates trade OF Nyjer Morgan and a random arm to Washington for OF Lastings Milledge and RP Joel Hanrahan
What Pittsburgh gets: The best talent in the deal in the form of Milledge, whose rep as a knucklehead seems largely to have been foisted on him by A)the New York media and B)reigning Mets knucklehead Billy Wagner. He's not a center fielder, but with Andrew McCutcheon out there, the Pirates can put him in right where he belongs and give him time to mature into his freaky-good talent. As for Hanrahan, when he's right he throws gas, which is something lacking in the Pirates' pen. If they straighten him out - and I have a random sneaky suspicion his control problems this year are elbow-related, not "can't pitch"-related - then Pittsburgh may have gotten a steal.
What Washington gets: A fungible bullpen arm in Sean Burnett, in a year when the Nats are this close to throwing a strong-armed peanut vendor into the pen and hoping for the best. Also, an actual center fielder. No, Morgan doesn't have the upside of Milledge - he's older and has minimal power. But he's an actual, honest-to-God center fielder who can catch the ball and play the position, unlike the parade of Lurch clones the Nats have been throwing out there all year. There's value in putting a strong defensive team behind a staff of young pitchers you're trying to develop, and doing it sooner rather than later can only help the development of guys like Jordan Zimmerman, Ross Detwiler, and The Once and Future Strasburg.
Who Wins: Pittsburgh. They didn't need Morgan with McCutcheon up, and they got the better player and the better pitcher. It's not a a terrible trade for DC, but the tangible results will most likely favor the Pirates.
Atlanta trades wind machine Jeff Francoeur to New York Mets for OF Ryan Church
What New York gets: Someone the casual fan might of heard of, seeing as he appeared to beat the hell out of the ball for the Braves back when casual Mets fans were paying attention. Decent defense and durability in right field. And that's about it - Francoeur's still young, but so's Lady Gaga, and she's got a better swing than he does.
What Atlanta gets: A solid outfielder with a history of concussions and a bad rap in New York. Church won't set the world on fire, but when he's on the field he can rake a little and catch the ball. Touching third base is a different question, but hopefully he's figured that part of the game out by now. If he avoids getting kneed in the head again, he's a definite upgrade at a position that was a sucking black hole for the Braves offensively. As has been noted elsewhere, going from "awful" to "decent" is often as important an upgrade as "decent" to "star".
Who wins: On the field? Atlanta, which gets a solid platoon outfielder who's likely to improve once he's away from Citi Field. Off the field? New York, which adds a new heartthrob for the team to market the heck out of.
Royals trade two minor league pitchers for Seattle for SS Yuniesky Betancourt
What the Royals get: An expensive shortstop-type who's in career free-fall. His early promise with the bat has evaporated, his defense is increasingly matador-like, and by all accounts his interest level in the game is now largely occasional. Then again, he's also expensive, and the Royals should have a decent shortstop option next year when the much cheaper Mike Aviles returns from surgery. (That is, of course, if the Royals' medical staff doesn't accidentally graft him to a monkey with five asses or some such. Read Rany Jazayerli's piece on the Royals' medical woes, and tell me it couldn't happen.)
What the Mariners get: Two minor league arms with upside. Huge righty Daniel Cortes' two problems are A)control and B)getting his head out of his ass, as indicated by his recent arrest for public piddling in Arkansas. One suspects fixing B might help with A, and if he can get back to the 96 MPH he was throwing last year, he could have a big impact. The second pitcher in the deal, Derrick Saito, looks like he has "situational reliever" written all over him, but getting one of those isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just ask the Nationals what they'd do for a guy they could trust to get tough righties out.
Who wins: If the move to Kansas City, the city of Gates BBQ and endless steak, re-ignites a desire to play hard and condition himself well in Betancourt, then the Royals might come out of this all right. I don't like the chances, either. Even if neither Cortes nor Saito pans out, this is a win for the Mariners just by dint of payroll flexibility. If either of the pitchers turn out to be something, then this just gets ugly.