It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.
It was the year of Our Lord two thousand and nine, and the city of Pittsburgh seemed favored. The Steelers had a relatively new stadium, and a pair of championships to match; the Penguins had an appearance in the Stanley Cup finals, and were working off of a second appearance in an attempt to improve on their running success.
The Pirates, however, were less favored on the whole as to success. They were in the midst of a streak of failure that had currently run up to ten and six years, and showed little sign of stopping. The citizen-fans had faced years of turmoil and poverty in the area of wins, and had grown fed up with Monseigneur McClatchy’s miserly ways and demanded his replacement, and eventually, it had come two years past, in the form of Monseigneurs Nutting and Huntington.
A scant two years after, however, and the team seemed more or less as successful as it had been the previous decade and a half. The team had begun a wholesale of players, in a move that was sure to work, bringing in a gross of possible successes for every proven star.
As it happened the first time, it seemed reasonable enough, as the first victim had been a Mr. Xavier Nady, who seemed to stumble onto his recent success, and seemed a wise choice to be traded, with many promising youngsters to take his position.
And then left Mr. Jason Bay, a respectable youngster, assigned to his team for just over a season more. He had played with the Pirates from nearly the beginning of his professional career, and had proved a disappointment, unable to buoy the team with his consistently high 130’s OPS+. It was seen as fair enough, with the Pirates receiving stars in Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen and Andy LaRoche. The final player seemed curious, especially in retrospect, as they had granted considerable resources to procure a man of the same position around the same time.
And so it was into the year two thousand and nine, with the latter performing well, and the former two certainly on a road to stardom, however much slower it may have been. Many more of the Pirate’s young batters were beginning to show signs of success, led by Mr. Nate McLouth. He was not able to succeed Mr. Bay in talent, but was respectable in his own regard, and beloved by fans for being one of the last of their homegrown stars. And so it was, on the late afternoon, or perhaps early evening, of the third of June, in the local bar of Ernest Defarge, when a young flustered mender of roads arrived.
“Go on, then,” Defarge urged the breathless man.
“I saw him then, a year ago,” he mumbled, at a loss, “standing in the batter’s box... swinging...”
A patron struck in, asking for clarification.
“The new Monseigneurs have now traded McLouth!” the newcomer exclaimed, breaking his stupor.
“How do we know if he lies?” the patron retorted.
“Listen once again, then. He is in Atlanta!”
“Why would they do such a thing?” Defarge demanded. “Could they not have moved him to replace one of his inferiors, Mr. Moss or Mr. Morgan, in order to clear space for the young Andrew McCutchen?”
“Did we at least get a worthwhile return?” the patron begged to know.
“Aye, we got three of Atlanta’s prospects.”
“How does it shape up?” the patron’s words becoming more depressed with every word.
“Well,” the road mender began, “I have seen several reports. We gave up two and a half manageable years, contract-wise, of McLouth, for a starter who could immediately join our rotation...”
“Which definitely means a lot,” Defarge muttered.
“And an outfielder who I’ve seen can hit for average and who’s major asset is his defense at the moment...”
“As in, he’s less useful than any of the three we’ve given up lately?” the patron cried, outraged. “We could have kept two of them?!”
The road mender ignored him. “...and another pitcher.”
There was a pause. “That’s it?” Defarge finally broke the silence.
“The first pitcher seems reasonably acceptable. Although, I’ve also seen reports that say the outfielder and second pitcher have stalled in development,” the younger man offered.
“It’s hopeless,” the patron grumbled as he turned back to his beer.