What Are the Pittsburgh Pirates Doing?

Michael MaxwellCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 09:  Nyjer Morgan #3 of the Pittsburgh Pirates bats against the New York Mets on May 9, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Pirates 10-1.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

As you may have seen, the Pirates made another set of trades that have fans scratching their heads.

The Pirates sent Eric Hinske to the Yankees for a couple of minor leaguers, and just yesterday sent one of their most prolific players in first-year starter Nyjer Morgan to the Nationals for the untapped potential of Lastings Milledge. The question that comes up is: What are the Pirates doing?

These trades are on top of sending their outfielder Nate McLouth to the Braves earlier this season to make room for Andrew McCutcheon, which was understandable, but why trade Nyjer Morgan as well?

In response to this trade some Pirates players, including nine-year veteran Jack Wilson were upset. Wilson said that Morgan added more to the team than just his .277 batting average and 18 stolen bases.

If you look back to last year, the Pirates have traded away four starting outfielders for minor leaguers. Xavier Nady was dealt to the Yankees, Jason Bay was moved in the Manny trade and the two that have occurred this year. It seems to bring up the question of whether the Pirates are committed to improving their team, or just bringing in money.

Jack Wilson seems to think it's just about bringing money, as he said that over his career they have consistently made two or three deals a year that got rid of everyday players.

Andrew McCutcheon wasn't happy about the deal, either.

"Yeah, man, you almost want to cry," he said. "This [stinks], man. You know, it's a business. It's a great loss to lose someone like this. Not just on the field, but off the field as well. There's nobody who can replace what he can do off the field."

Whatever the Pirates are doing, it certainly isn't being brought up to the players because they seem to disagree with the trades. Especially the timing, when the Pirates traded away Nate McLouth, they were right in the thick of things as far as the division and wild card race is concerned. In many ways, they still are, as they are six games out of the division race.

One thing the Pirates should consider for their attendance woes—which may be the reason they are making these deals—is because the fans are probably sick of seeing players develop only to be traded away to a team like the Yankees or Red Sox for other players to develop.

Eventually, if the Pirates truly want to win, they are going to have to stick with the players they have, let them develop and shell out the cash to keep them there. Otherwise, expect many more years of futility for Pittsburgh baseball, as well as declining attendance.