The ships aren't really intended to be anything special, just a nice little bonus to help the game get moving. If you've ever read the background text for VGA Planets, you'd know that these two ships are the last of your Mega Fleet and were supposed to be the only ships space-worthy after your long exodus.
The worst race for starting ships is the Empire (Worthless Gunboat, needs a probe to start) probably followed closely by the Privateers(Outrider class scout, WOOHOO!), but since the Pirates can churn out MBRs quickly, it isn't a big disadvantage. The Rebels and Colonies of Man should tie for 3rd worst starting ships, as Taurus scouts are very silly ships but have some use still. Every other race's starting ship can be used decently via their race abilities.
I do think that the Small Deep Space Freighter is a waste of a ship and really needs at least 100 cargo room to even approach usefulness.
I look at it like this, the two free ships aren't the greatest but it's better than starting out via Wandering Tribes...