By putting up a .300/.352/.409 line in 55 post-July 31 games with the Pirates, equalling a very pedestrian .761 OPS, Xavier Nady became the first Dave Littlefield non-waiver trading deadline acquisition ever to do something positive immediately after arriving in Pittsburgh.
Every year, our wonderful general manager finds himself with some of the most attractive bargaining chips on the market, usually because the "drive for 75" is in full swing and management realizes it doesn't actually need all those mediocre veteran hitters it threw millions of dollars at in the offseason and run-of-the-mill relievers it has stocked up the wazoo in AAA. And every year, he lacks the creativity to turn some of these spare parts that might be useful to a contending team into something to actually build on for the future.
It is a true testament to the sheer outstanding incompetence of the Dave Littlefield regime that it has taken him five years to acquire someone before the July 31 non-waiver deadline who's capable of producing at average levels, even a full a year into their tenure with the Bucs. This feat is especially remarkable considering Littlefield's acknowledged desire to land "Major League ready" players in any and all trades he makes.
While it is true that he's made one successful deal before the August 31 deadline that requires players involved in trades to be passed through waivers, this of course being the Brian Giles for Jason Bay and two other guys who aren't really important swap. All that did, however, was prove the "blind squirrel" adage to be true. Littlefield was under no pressure then, as neither team was in contention and since Giles was under contract for one more year, the deal could just as easily have been consummated a couple of months later during the offseason. In fact, if anyone was pressured to make a deal then, it was Padres GM Kevin Towers, who wanted to lure the Padres fan base into believing the team was making a serious effort to contend heading into their first season in PetCo Park. This necessity facing Towers is probably the only reason the Pirates came out as well as they did in that trade. That and the fact that Littlefield was forced to take Bay as a second choice to, speak of the devil, Xavier Nady.
However, when the non-waiver deadline approaches, when the pressure is on Dave Littlefield to get deals done and get good baseball players in return, he has shown nothing but the ability to curl up in a fetal position and let other GMs skullfuck him. Let's take a look at the Pirates deadline deals during his tenure.
- Damaso Marte: sucked, then was flipped to the White Sox in the offseason for yet another player the Pirates never gave a fair chance (Matt Guerrier).
- Tony McKnight: Ryan Vogelsong
- Mike Fetters: blew a bunch of saves, did that absurd head-snap thing before each pitch that gave people whiplash just from watching him pitch, was traded to L.A. the following year for yet another player the Pirates never gave a fair chance (scroll down).
- Armando Rios: blew out his knee in his second game as a Pirate, was later implicated for steroid use in connection with BALCO.
- Ryan Vogelsong: blew out his elbow in his second game as a Pirates, later earned the affectionate nickname "White Flag."
- Duaner Sanchez: received from the Dodgers in exchange for Mike Fetters, touted as a "future closer," then got fired after sleeping through alarm and almost missing a day game in Montreal. I can certainly think of worse things to sleep through, but the Bucco brass saw things differently.
- Darren Lewis: our reward for completely ruining Chad Hermansen's baseball career. Lewis retired rather than take the field for the Pirates. The Cubs eventually gave us a couple of Minor League relief pitchers as compensation, but I don't think either one even made it to the bigs. This was the first time Littlefield received a mulligan for doing something incredibly stupid.
- Frank Brooks: your standard AAAA LOOGY. Got Rule V'd and has bounced from club to club on a pretty regular basis since then.
- Brandon Lyon/Anastacio Martinez: lol sike, Lyon blew out his elbow in his negative second game with the Pirates and Littlefield got another mulligan because Theo Epstein was an impressionable teenager at the time.
- Jose Hernandez: yikes.
- Bobby Hill: "I can't say who the PTBNL will be, but it's someone you'll be excited about." - Lloyd McClendon
- Freddy Sanchez/Mike Gonzalez: this would completely disprove my theory, but as this shouldn't have even happened because Littlefield would have been content with Lyon and Martinez had Lyon not been injured, it doesn't count. And even if you consider Freddy a legitimate Littlefield deadline acquisition, it took him two full years to overcome chronic ankle problems/anti-Freddy bias.
- Ty Wigginton: was so bad he actually got demoted to AAA in the same season Legendary Lloyd predicted he'd hit 25 homers. And he had that absurdly stupid beard.
Making Scott Spiezio look stylish.
- Jose Bautista: like Freddy, shouldn't even be a deadline acquisition because the Pirates actually had this guy and then he became part of the Great Rule V Debacle of '04. To be fair, Littlefield was correct in thinking no one in their right mind would select a 23-year-old with no experience above A-ball. Even if he counts, he hasn't proven to be totally useful yet. He could end up becoming a right-handed version of Rob Mackowiak.
- J.J. Furmaniak: looked for a little while like he might have a career as a fringe utility infielder, then completely shit the bed in Indianapolis in 2006.
- Jody Gerut: oh we still have this guy I think, but you'd never know because his kneecaps keep falling off or something. Here's Dave's much-ballyhooed lefty power bat.
- Shawn Chacon: I'm still in denial that this actually happened.
- Brian Rogers: Matt Capps, except skinnier, three years older, and not nearly as good.
- And, of course, Weapon X himself.
As you've now seen for yourself, Dave Littlefield's trading deadline track record is utterly abysmal. The two players who could maybe be considered good that he brought in (Freddy and Bauti) were the direct result of Littlefield fucking up in some other capacity first, and by no means an indication that he actually has some inkling of what he's doing when he's on the phone with other GMs.
You could even say the Pirates only have Nady because Littlefield has had an infatuation with him ever since Kevin Towers labelled Nady untouchable and made us take some Canadian guy who wasn't important because he was a 22nd-round draft pick and was already in his third organization instead. Nady, on the other hand, was so good he was given a Major League contract directly out of college.
Littlefield finally landed his guy, and now we'll never know what kinds of other offers were out there for Oliver Perez. It's really impossible to tell why, of all the league-average right-handed corner players, Nady was Littlefield's chosen one. Maybe he just wants to own the only person ever with a first OR last name beginning with X to hit a home run in the Major Leagues. This impressive feat becomes watered down some when you take into account that there are only three such players in history, and the other two are pitchers and also both named Xavier.
In fact, Nady isn't even the first Xavier to play for the Pirates. Xavier Rescigno was a rubber-armed swingman for the World War II era Pirates, so he was basically playing in the same league as one-armed outfielders. A Manhattan College graduate, he made his Major League debut in 1943 at the age of 30, meaning he was probably a high school teacher or something before that and got his big break when war broke out. From 1943 through 1945 he compiled a 19-22 record in 129 games (21 starts, 7 of which were complete games), and racked up 16 saves, most of which were probably of the three-inning variety. Then the real baseball players came back from Europe and Africa and whatnot and Xavier disappeared back into obscurity. At least, until I discovered this gem on EBay:
Xavier Rescigno pitching for the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League at the age of 36.
Xavier Rescigno passed away on Christmas Eve of last year, but his legacy remains; of Rescigno's nine Major League hits, one happened to be a triple, thus preventing Xavier Nady from being the only player with a first or last name beginning with X to have hit a triple in the Major Leagues.