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Nate McClouth is struggling

David O'Brien reports on the ugly truth for Braves fans: Nate McClouth is a pretty bad baseball player right now:

.737 — Nate McLouth’s on base-plus-slugging percentage since coming to the Braves in a trade on June 3, 2009. That’s 64 points below his career OPS in four-plus seasons with the Pirates, and 116 points below his .853 OPS in 2008 when he made the All-Star team.

McLouth went 1-for-11 with one walk and three strikeouts in his three-game return to Pittsburgh over the weekend, a reminder of just how mediocre the center fielder has been since the Braves got him.

As a Brave, he has hit .240 in 470 at-bats (126 games) w/ 28 doubles, 14 homers, 49 RBI, 68 walks, 107 strikeouts, 14 stolen bases  (in 22 attempts), and a .343 OBP and .394 slugging percentage.

While it's true that McLouth has been a massive disappointment for the Braves, I don't think anyone could bash GM Frank Wren for pulling the trigger on this deal. When the Braves acquired McLouth roughly one year ago, the general consensus was that the Braves had just pulled off a major coup by picking up a young center fielder on the rise with a very team friendly contract.

The good news for the Braves is that even if McLouth fails to put it together, that the Braves are only committed to McLouth through the 2011 season for $6.5 million. McLouth has a $10.65 million dollar team option for 2012 that at this point is highly unlikely to be picked up by the Braves.

Given how badly McLouth has struggled, it looks like the Pirates made the right decision by selling high on McLouth after his stellar 2008 season. But their return on the trade so far has been relatively mediocre: Charlie Morton has been horrible; Gorkys Hernandez has struggled in AA; and the only saving grace for the Pirates has been Jeff Locke, who is actually performing quite will in high A ball. Even from the Pirates perspective, this deal has been far from a homerun.

No matter how badly McLouth is struggling right now, Braves fans should find some solace, maybe, in the fact that this deal seemed to be a steal at the start and does not look like it will have a significant long term impact on the franchise.