With the way that the Winter Meetings have gone to this point, it's not really a surprise that we're starting to hear things like this:
“Their demands aren’t as bad as when (Dave) Littlefield was the GM but they are not going to get three good prospects for Wilson or Sanchez or LaRoche,” one National League executive said on the condition of anonymity.
“Those guys just aren’t that good. It’s not like any of them are going to come in and win the pennant for you.
“They’re complementary players on a good team.”
Now this is a fair statement. Most of the guys that Pirate fans think of as stars are complimentary players on a good team. It is, therefore, entirely possible that Neal Huntington is slowly being overcome by Dave Littlefield disease and by July, Nate McLouth will be traded for Aaron Heilman and the few Pirate fans left will be diving off the Clemente Bridge. I don't really think this is the case, though, and so for the sake of the sanity of everyone, let's assume that it's not.
Huntington is facing a difficult problem right now as he attempts to rebuild the Pirates; the players he has to move are significantly more valuable to him than they are to other teams. This is where I think the disconnect originates. Right now, Paul Maholm is a guy that a contender is looking to add to fill out the bottom of their rotation, and looking to pay accordingly. On the Pirates, Maholm is the ace and Huntington wants to be compensated accordingly. Really, you could say the same thing about Nate McLouth, Ryan Doumit, Adam LaRoche, and even Jack Wilson.
Huntington's goal this winter, therefore, is to find someone that values his players the same way he does. In the off-season, that's just not terribly likely. Would you have imagined Jose Tabata coming to Pittsburgh (with THREE other pitchers) for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady under any circumstances last December? No-- that would've seemed ludicrous. And yet, Nady had a career year, Marte pitched well, and Tabata suffered some injuries and saw his stock fall, and suddenly, he's on the Pirates.
Right now, I imagine that other teams (especially bigger markets or contending clubs) look at the Pirates, see the Nady and Bay deals, and just assume that everyone is available for any price so long as an offer is made because the Pirates are rebuilding. In reality, if Huntington is going to move his best players, he wants something in return that's going to further his goal of rebuilding the Pirates. He's not likely to get that as a return right now, so these guys are staying put. It may seem like he's being unreasonable, but that doesn't mean he's doing things the wrong way.