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December 26, 2012 - Jay Bennett
Even in little old Wirt County, there's talk about the Pittsburgh Pirates.
I was in Dick's Market this past Monday evening and a Pirate fan was discussing what now has become official — former closer Joel Hanrahan getting traded to Boston.
Personally, I liked the idea a lot for various reasons.
I know the Pirates are still trying to snap that streak of losing seasons, but I think Pittsburgh fans have to like the direction things are going.
While I'm more of an American League fan myself, everyone knows in order to win it has to be done with pitching.
Sure, one can argue that Hanrahan was a solid closer and he was, but he struggled in the second half last year and the Pirates will save some money on this deal.
On top of that, Pittsburgh fans have to be pleased with the addition of a solid defensive catcher in Russell Martin along with the addition of talented, yet often erratic left-hander Francisco Liriano.
Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington already has said the closer job is Jason Grilli's to lose. Although the Pirates might need to add another bullpen arm at some point, I think Mark Melancon was a good haul in the Hanrahan trade, despite his less than stellar 2012 year with the Boston Red Sox. I've always been a fan of guys, for one reason or another, having those weird even/odd splits and it does happen.
Although the Pirates' minor league system is stocked with some solid talents, I'm sure no one is going to get rushed anytime soon to the big show. However, perhaps a few rookies will need to play a hand this upcoming season if the Pirates are to challenge for a Central Division crown again.
One trade I also liked aside from Hanrahan being dealt was when Pittsburgh acquired left Andy Oliver from the Tigers in early December. A team never can have enough pitching.
Always having been a big fan of James McDonald, here's hoping a projected top four of the pitching staff that includes the ex-Dodger along with A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and Liriano will lead to at least 82 wins next year.
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