The Pirates found themselves in unfamiliar territory as the July 31st trade deadline approached. In years past, as a matter of fact 18 years past, the Pirates found themselves on the losing end of .500 and were constantly the sellers. However, with an unexpected turnaround and only 4.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central, the Pirates found themselves in a position to be buyers. Leading up to the deadline, there were two sides of the fence that fans seemed to be on. The one side wanted to take advantage of the year the Pirates were having and make a serious run for the division crown. Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence, B.J. Upton and Carlos Pena were the some of the names they threw around and that the Pirates were rumored to do as well. However, the other side of the fence didn’t want to jeopardize the next 4-5 years and giving up big prospects for a rental player.
The Pirates are 3-7 in their past 10 games and knew they needed an offensive upgrade. So the organization found a happy medium between the two sides of the fence. The Pirates acquired first baseman Derrek Lee from the Baltimore Orioles for Single-A first baseman Aaron Baker and outfielder Ryan Ludwick from the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later or cash. The Pirates made the perfect moves in making a push for the postseason by adding established veterans and not giving much up in return.
Lee is only hitting .246 with 12 Home Runs and 41 RBI, but he is an upgrade over Lyle Overbay at first both offensively and defensively. Lee played for the Chicago Cubs from 2004-2010 before being traded to the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline. Lee has historically good numbers against the central division, hitting no lower than .278, 20 Home Runs or 82 RBI in any season. Lee signed a one-year deal with the Orioles this past offseason and will be looked to to provide some consistency in the middle of the lineup and at first base.
Ludwick is hitting only .238 with 11 Home Runs and 64 RBI, but was also playing in PETCO Park, which is considered to be the toughest stadium to hit in in the majors. Away from home, Ludwick is hitting .258 with 6 Home Runs and 38 RBI this season. Like Lee, the 33-year-old Ludwick, spent time in the division as well playing with the St. Louis Cardinals from 2007-2010 when he was dealt to the Padres. In those three-plus years, Ludwick hit 84 Home Runs, 305 RBI and hit an average of .278. Throughout his career, Ludwick’s best number have come in August (17 Home Runs, 61 RBI with the Cardinals), as he looks to continue that trend for the Pirates down the stretch.
Although the moves won’t be considered blockbusters, the Pirates made what I thought were the absolute perfect moves. They gave up their 4th best minor league first baseman and a player to be named later for two players who can provide the spark that they have desperately needed in the outfield and first base. With the Brewers starting to click and the Cardinals acquiring Rafael Furcal at the deadline, the Pirates are showing they are in this for this season, as well as 2012-2013. Posting a possible lineup of Tabata/Presley, Walker, McCutchen, Ludwick, Lee, Alvarez, Doumit and Cedeno, as well as the great starting pitching the Pirates have had, you have to like their chances to continue their magical run of 2011.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com