The Pirates traded a lot of pieces over the last few days, and it is time to see what it means.
First and foremost, it means the Pirates are not selling everything for a one year run like the Brewers did a few years ago. Rather they are improving this year's team, but building a dynasty type team. Control over Wandy and Snider are evidence that they are not just going for a one year thing.
Second, I think we need to see the willingness to do things different. This is a team in contention that got rid of two people on its 25 man roster, changed its rotation, and looks real different despite having a solid year so far. They got rid of Brad Lincoln who was an amazingly effective reliever and versatile piece with spot starting potential. They got rid of Casey McGehee, who was an offseason acquisition, and while disappointing so far, still added a power threat and was the best pinch hitter on the team. This is not what teams usually do when trading. They usually get someone for a bunch of prospects and send down one guy to make room for the star they just got. Not so for the Pirates.
Third and building off of that last point, the Pirates are saying something about their organization. They are saying that they think Pedro Alvarez has arrived. McGehee was always an insurance guy to make sure power still existed on the team if Pedro laid an egg. And while Pedro needs to improve, he is not laying an egg, and is hitting for great power. McGehee is now expendable, and worth a middle reliever. The Pirates are also saying that they have great pitching depth. They traded not only Brad Lincoln, but Rudy Owens and Colton Cain. I think they were willing to do this not so much because they have Cole and Taillon, but because they are believers in Jeff Locke and the emerging Phil Irwin. One would think that Locke and Owens are two of a kind, and the Pirates chose to deal Owens. Locke is their guy. Expect to see Locke in September. Cain was doing okay. Great last year, average this year, but with Phil Irwin continuing to excel at a level above Cain the need for Cain goes down. Add in the great success that players younger than Cain are having, and the Pirates did not have a problem with Cain going.
Fourth, middle infield is good enough. I think this point is over looked often. The Pirates have a weak middle infield starter right now in Clint Barmes. But Barmes has more control years, and the Pirates have a ton of options who will be at least as good in d'Arnaud, Mercer, Harrison, and Navarro. For what is out there the Pirates decided to go other directions and improve the starting rotation, corner outfield, and the corner infield/bench spot.
Fifth, the Pirates are set for outfielders. Clearly they think Marte is a keeper. They now have Snider, and so don't need Hernandez. The trading of Grossman says quite a bit as well. Presley is obviously someone they think could stick around. But they must think that Tabata is not done. Either way they are saying they have enough to compete until Josh Bell and Mel Rojas arrive.
So the Pirates did well at the deadline. Is it going to be enough to win the division? I think that is mostly up to Wandy Rodriguiz. He is the one who will have the biggest impact. Looking forward to the rest of the season.
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