Last season, Neal Huntington didn’t drop the ball as much as think a little too conservatively for the Pirates. Acquiring cheap veterans Derek Lee and Ryan Ludwig blew up in the GM’s face, leaving the Pirates in free fall until they landed at 90 losses. This season, the Pirates have continued to struggle post All Star Break, but Neal Huntington acted quickly and made some great moves to ensure that the Pirates upgraded their roster. What is even better, is that Huntington has also apparently upgraded with the future in mind as well.
The first move to come through the deadline was Wandy Rodriguez, a deal that sures up the back end of the rotation. With guaranteed control through next season and a good shot at controlling Wandy the season after, the Pirates ensured that the veteran will be able to contribute to the team for awhile. Secondly, the Pirates received Travis Snider for Brad Lincoln. This deal has left many experts divided as some see the cost of Lincoln too high for a player who hasn’t produced like Snider while others draw comparisons to Colon for Giles. I think the deal will lie somewhere in the middle. Trading a reliever for a position player is ALWAYS a smart move, especially when you are looking at a gaping hole that said player can fill right away. Huntington has had major success building a cheap bullpen from leftover parts, something I don’t see him magically forgetting at the trade deadline. This move led the way for the final Pirates deal, Gaby Sanchez and Kyle Kaminska for Gorkys Hernandez and the 33rd overall pick the Pirates won in the competitive balance lottery. This deal is about swapping around depth. The Marlins desperately need someone to fill the outfield and the Bucs wanted an extra body at first base in case Alvarez and Jones sit out of the lineup. Sanchez will probably stay in AAA for now but could contribute later in the season while Kaminska is a AA reliever with some work needed.
So let’s recap: The Pirates added a back end starter who’s an upgrade over Erik Bedard and Kevin Correia and is comparable to Jeff Karstens, their third starter. They upgraded their corner outfield with a player who has some power potential and now makes their outfield all 25 and under with tons of room for growth. They then traded an extra outfield piece for a project/platoon aid at first base. Oh and all of these players are controlled through at least next season. None of these guys broke the Pirates’ bank.
Some fans will moan that the Pirates didn’t get that one big piece to put them over the top. Well guess what: the Reds right now are the best team in baseball by a mile WITHOUT their MVP candidate in the lineup and just improved the best back end bullpen in baseball. The Cardinals have the best lineup in baseball and are under performing due to injuries that may heal very soon. The Pirates aren’t winning the NL Central. They can compete for the one game Wild Card game and anyone who thinks trading away the future for that is an idiot. Huntington made moves that can help the team this year and next while keeping all of the major parts necessary for long term Bucs’ success.
How is that not an A+ job?
UPDATE: Chad Quails (RHP) was swapped for Casey McGehee. The Yanks needed a third baseman and now Sanchez will platoon with Jones over at first. Quails will be used in the pen to replace Lincoln.