When this year’s Trade Deadline passed, many looked at the Pirates with some question, as they didn’t make any headline deals. To some, the perception was that these were the same old Pirates with an owner who didn’t want to spend money on superstar talent and a GM who didn’t want to give up any highly regarded prospects to acquire such talent. The Pirates weren’t “going for it” like teams such as the Royals and Blue Jays and their quiet trade deadline acquisitions proved just that. In reality, we can clearly see how untrue that is. Not only did the Pirates fill out their positional needs, they did so in an incredibly cheap and efficient manner.
The NL Central journeyman got off to a slow start when he made his return to Pittsburgh recording only four hits in his first 34 at-bats. Since then, Ramirez has slashed a .304/.360/.443 line with seven extra base hits and has even driven in 18 runs. He did this while starting at third base for the Bucs and with the return of Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, Clint Hurdle has said Ramirez will now have a more reduced role coming off of the bench and starting only a few nights a week. Having that kind of production off of the bench will be huge.
The former Tigers’ closer has been everything the Pirates have needed to bolster their bullpen. In 12.1 innings for the Pirates, Soria has only given up three earned runs and has struck out 11 batters. More importantly, he has locked down the seventh inning and has shortened games for the Pirates. If a Pittsburgh starter goes six innings with a lead, one has to feel pretty confident the Pirates will win the game with the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings going to Soria, Watson, and Melancon.
The 34-year-old righty has been undeniably fantastic for the Pirates. In 18.1 innings with Pittsburgh, Blanton has given up only one run and has compiled 23 strikeouts. His only run given up was in his first appearance with the Pirates. He has been almost perfect in his last 16.1 innings and hasn’t given up a run in a month. Joe Blanton has been a clear upgrade over Vance Worley as the Pirates long-man reliever.
Morse hasn’t logged a great amount of playing time since joining the Pirates but in the time he has played, he has done well. In mostly platoon and pinch-hitting roles, Morse has 10 hits in 33 at-bats with two doubles. He brings an experienced right-handed power bat off of the bench and was a big part of the San Francisco Giants World Series run last year.
The 32-year-old lefty may be the biggest surprise of the Trade Deadline up to this point. In five starts with the Pirates, Happ is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA. That is the lowest ERA among starting pitchers traded at the deadline. If you take out his first start where he gave up four runs in 4.1 innings, Happ has a 0.78 ERA. Although this success may not be sustainable over a long period of time, Happ has been an outstanding replacement for AJ Burnett and has stamped his name into the rotation when AJ returns. What’s more incredible is that Happ was in the midst of a pretty terrible rough patch when he came to Pittsburgh. Much of the credit has to go to Ray Searage and Jim Benedict who at this point could probably turn a washing machine into a Cy Young candidate.
This Trade Deadline, the Pirates did what they always do. They find value in players that so many other teams overlook and they exploit the heck out of it. The Pirates do such an incredible job of buying low and fixing, especially at the major league level. There is really no need for them to go out and get the David Price’s and Johnny Cueto’s of the world when they can get J.A. Happ to do the same exact thing. The Pittsburgh Pirates are among the best in the majors at squeezing as much production as possible out of any player and that is a huge reason why they will be heading to their third straight postseason as a legitimate World Series contender.