Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 11/16/14

The biggest complaint you’ll see regarding the Pirates’ approach to the trade deadline is that they didn’t do what “contenders” usually do. They didn’t trade for any of the big names we heard about, like Justin Upton, Shin Soo Choo, Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, etc, etc.

What did they do instead?  They made trades that I don’t think anyone would argue with in isolation, but didn’t really seem to match the context of the situation. They were trades that were aimed more towards the future than people probably would’ve liked, but I think the misconception is that they weren’t aimed at the present as well.

The Pirates are a better team now than they were before the trades began last week. They improved more than the Reds or Cardinals did, and probably just as much as anyone else in the NL minus the Giants and Dodgers. To recap, the Bucs improved the rotation by grabbing Wandy Rodriguez for prospects. They traded a good bullpen arm in Brad Lincoln to upgrade the right field spot right away with Travis Snider–plus Snider offers big-time potential to become an even bigger improvement. They also added Gaby Sanchez, which is at worst a lateral move (swapping him in for Casey McGehee) and at best a much better platoon at first. That move came without giving up anything of significance. And yeah, they brought in Chad Qualls, who is basically just an extra arm.

Forget the fact that Snider and Sanchez are under control for multiple years and are buy-low candidates that could be useful everyday players down the road. They improve the team NOW, TOO. Snider is a lot better than Alex Presley. Sanchez is probably going to be better than McGehee.  Regardless of how much some of you may want Kevin Correia back in the rotation, Rodriguez is significantly better.

Yes, Sanchez is having a down season, Snider is somewhat unproven, and Rodriguez is a rotation stabilizer and not an ace. I know. But look around this year’s trade market and tell me what you would have done instead to make better, less risky improvements.

Victorino was a popular name. Did you know Snider’s career OPS (in over 900 MLB plate appearances) is higher than Victorino’s this season?  After Victorino, I’m having trouble finding players that changed hands over the past week or so that wouldn’t have cost at least Starling Marte. The Bucs were almost certainly not going to consider trading Marte, and if they did, that would have opened up another hole to fill. Say the Bucs traded Marte and Brad Lincoln to the Phillies for Pence. Stick Pence in one corner…and you still have to deal with Presley/Sutton/McGehee in the lineup every day. That’s not much better (if ANY better) than what the Bucs will send out this weekend, and the difference in cost is significant.

So, yeah, I think the Pirates got better THIS SEASON, RIGHT NOW, and have a better chance to make the playoffs than they did last week. Some may disagree because they didn’t add a big name you heard a lot about, but I firmly believe that’s the case. And THEN you think about the years-of-control advantages here. Rodriguez is around for at least another year. Snider and Sanchez are both around for at least two more. Many said Snider’s issue with the Jays was a lack of consistent at-bats…he’ll get those at-bats here, and there’s absolutely a decent chance he uses that opportunity to become an above-average power bat. Sanchez just had two years of solid production at first base (including an All Star game last year). If his rough start to 2012 is a fluke, the Bucs just got their 1B for the next few years for virtually nothing of significance.

The deals weren’t flashy, and they don’t turn the Pirates into a playoff lock, but I think they were made with both this season and the future in mind. I think a lot of people understand the future part of it, but not enough see that this was about as good a deadline the 2012 Pirates ALONE could have asked for.

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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