News of the Pittsburgh Pirates acquiring left-hander Wandy Rodriguez from the Houston Astros broke last night and as most Pirates fans likely were, I was very excited about the deal.
The main thing for me is the fact that Rodriguez is an upgrade to the Pirates rotation and he will be around until 2014 at a considerable dollar figure for the Bucs, thanks to Houston chipping in a lot of money.
But after a night to sleep on the deal, do I still feel the same way?
I love the deal for the Astros. They get three of the Pirates Top 20 prospects (based on my rankings); with Robbie Grossman being the best (I have him ranked No. 7 in the organization).
I still like the deal for the Bucs as well.
First of all, acquiring a legitimate starting pitcher had to be priority No. 1 for Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington and he did that without having to part with major parts of the future. He had to give up a lot, but I always say that good organizations load up on prospects to trade them and Huntington upgraded the team with this deal. He gave up a lot, but there’s no given that Grossman, Rudy Owens or Colton Cain ever become All-Star’s.
Rodriguez quietly has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since 2008.
Since the start of the 2009 season, Rodriguez ranks third among NL left-handers in wins (43) and strikeouts (626). Only 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and the Phillies’ Cole Hamels rank ahead of him during that 3.5-year stretch.
However one major concern is the fact that that strikeout rate has dipped every year from 2009. Wandy fanned 193 batters that year, followed by 178 in 2010 and 166 in 2011 and only has 89 K’s this season. I ignore the 7-9 record playing for a bad team and the 3.79 ERA isn’t bad, pitching for an awful team.
The decline in strikeouts does concern me though.
For now I’m chalking that up to what was said to be a change in approach to pitch to contact more.
Given the Pirates defense that will be behind Rodriguez, I think his numbers will be much better in a Pirates uniform.
The bottom line is that the Pirates needed this move.
A top of the rotation that features Rodriguez, A.J. Burnett and James McDonald, not only gives the Bucs a chance to get to the postseason, but a chance to win if they get there.
Now that Huntington made his first move, Clint Hurdle is on the clock.
The Bucs won’t be going with a six-man rotation, so Kevin Correia, Jeff Karstens or Erik Bedard must go. Given the way that Bedard and Karstens pitched their last time out, Correia could become the odd man out.
The deal for Rodriguez makes sense, given that the Bucs would have been in the market for a quality lefty during the offseason and with the bar that Cole Hamels just set, average left-handed starters would command a lot of money.
Huntington addressed one need, but he’s not done dealing. I have a feeling he’s got one more big move up his sleeve.
But he’s off to a good start as the Pirates are much better off than they were a day ago.