I'm pretty impressed with what the Pirates received through trades the past couple of weeks. i wrote about it on my blog and thought some of you might be interested in reading the piece.
Is the world coming to an end? It must be since I find myself writing a piece about the Pittsburgh Pirates making savvy deadline moves and acquiring quite a bit of talent at the trade deadline for Xavier Nady, Jason Bay and Damaso Marte; Three players who were not going to be around when the Pirates become competitive again.
All in all, the Pirates netted seven prospects inluding;
Craig Hansen, RP - Former 2005 1st round pick and supposed Boston Red Sox closer of the future pre-Papelbon. Hansen possesses a mid 90's fastball and a sometimes plus slider. However, he has been ineffective more often than not and a change of scenery should do him a great deal of good.
Jeff Karstens, P - Karstens has the least upside of any of the players received in this deal. At best, he's a back of the rotation/long reliever type who should eat innings at the major league level and projects as no worse that what the Pirates are currently sending to the mound most days.
Daniel McCutchen, P - Another back of the rotation/long reliever possibility, McCutchen entered 2008 and Baseball America's #14 Yankees prospect. In 300 career minor league innings his ERA sits an impressive 2.79 with a WHIP of 1.09. He has been old for his level at just about every stop leaving his numbers a bit deceiving.
Bryan Morris, SP - Another former first round pick, Morris has recovered nicely from Tommy John surgery and has an ERA of 3.20 while averaging almost a strikeout per inning. The pitcher with the most projection of the lot, his mid 90's fastball seems to be back and he could take off as early as next season.
Brandon Moss, OF - Moss impressed the Red Sox faithful by posting a .295/.337/.462 line bouncing between AAA and the big club. He doesn't have much projection, but a few of his 41 doubles in 2007 have turned into home runs at the AAA level as he has averaged about a home run every twenty at bats in 2008 compared to one every thirty at bats during the 2007 campaign. strikeouts are a concern however and could keep him from eclipsing seasons averages of .260-.270 with 15-18 home runs. With improved plate discipline, I can see him as a .270-.280 hitter with a few seasons approaching 25 long balls.
Jose Tabata, OF - With an overall APR of 35.25 and a New York Yankees APR of 3 on prospect lists entering 2008, Tabata had taken a slight hit from the previous years rankings. Since then, his prospect ranking has tanked between injuries, lack of production, and run ins with the Yankees organization. Desperately needing a fresh start, he will still only be 20 at the start of next season. With plenty of time to develop, he still has the tools to become a star.
In reviewing the names above, I can comfortably say that at least five of the seven players were dealt for much less than they would have been a season or two ago. While some would say that the return for arguably the Pirates three most valuable trade pieces wasn't impressive, I would argue that buying low and acquiring a greater number of prospects than they might have otherwise is a great strategy to employ for an organization with a thin minor league system and in a position to take chances.
Additionally, both Bay and Nady held significantly less value at this time last season making the Pirates cashing in their chips at the right time that much more impressive. See for yourself;
.278/.330/.476 in 2007
.328/.385/.535 in 2008
.247/.327/.418 in 2007
.282/.375/.519 in 2008
Give Neil Huntington a ton of credit for following up a solid 2008 draft with the addition of two, pre-season top 40 prospects and two more former 1st round picks. Adding players with pedigree is never a bad thing. While the three other players involved will never be stars, they should help to successfully bridge the gap between the current and future pirates and allow players like their top prospects to develop without having to be rushed.