When evaluating what the Pirates acquired today, I think we've first got to establish what they gave up. Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, and Ian Snell are all players that have their own value. Sanchez is a .300 hitter with a decent gove, Wilson has a great glove, and Snell still has stuff that could make him a solid major league starter.
The thing to remember is that Wilson is a pending free agent with an expensive option that the Pirates weren't going to pick up, that Sanchez has had injury trouble the last two years that's interfered with his production and an expensive vesting option the Pirates didn't seem thrilled to pay, and the team's relationship with Snell had completely soured to the point that he couldn't return to the Pirates.
I've got a pretty long post, plus a long list of links below, so check it all out after the jump.
To summarize, the Pirates had three players that absolutely no one in the world thought would end the week in a Pirate uniform. Given that they were starting with a tipped hand and that Sanchez's option seemed to be driving interest in him way down, the Pirates could've traded all three guys for the proverbial bag of balls today and the general response would've been that we all should've known better than to expect more for these three guys.
Instead, the day ends with the Pirates bringing one top prospect (Tim Alderson), a former top prospect (Jeff Clement), and three interesting young pitchers (Brett Lorin, Nathan Adcock, and Aaron Pribanic). And Ronny Cedeno, who at least plugs the immediate hole created at shortstop for the short-term.
These players aren't without their own risks. Clement is a buy-low pickup in the mold of the Milledge and Tabata acquisitions, but there's some question as to how his bat will play with his inevitable move to first base. I think that he's certainly capable of hitting well enough to carry that position, but he's far from a sure thing to do so. And there's always questions with pitching prospects, whether it's Adcock or Alderson's fastballs, Lorin's age relative to level, or Pribanic's strikeout rate.
All that being said, think back to this exact date one year ago. The Pirates best pitching prospects after Brad Lincoln, who we were still unsure of because of his TJ surgery, were probably the recently acquired Ross Ohlendorf and Dan McCutchen. Today, Lincoln has rehabbed well, Rudy Owens has emerged, and Huntington has added Alderson, Lorin, Adcock, and Jeff Locke as very good pitching prospects along with Pribanic, Hunter Strickland, and Bryan Morris (who I'm stubbornly not giving up on yet) to create a second tier of pitching prospect in the system, PLUS Trent Stephenson, Victor Black, Brooks Pounders (who have signed), and hopefully at least one or two from Zack Dodson, Zach von Rosenberg, and Colton Cain.
On top of the dramatic turn-around with the pitching depth in the system, we've added Clement and Milledge (who aren't technically prospects because of their MLB experience) this month for much, much less than anyone would've guessed we could have. We've certainly gutted the big league team, but the influx of talent into the system in the past month is amazing, especially considering what we've given up to get it. We've still got a long way to go, but today is a great day to be a Pirate fan.
More links/reaction to today's trades:
McCovey Chronicles on the Sanchez trade.
Marc Hulet at FanGraphs really likes the Sanchez trade for us.
David Laurila at BP talked to Tim Alderson back in May.
Rounding up the Pirate blogs on the moves: Raise the Jolly Roger (Wilson, Sanchez), BUCCO Fans (Wilson), Bucs Dugout (Wilson, Sanchez), and Thoughts From My Couch (Wilson, Sanchez, blog written by UtesFan89, who you might recognize from the comments and who does a nice job on his blog that I should've linked to before now)
If you've got more links, share 'em in the comments.