On Monday it came out of nowhere, but the great Ichiro Suzuki moving from the Seattle Mariners to the New York Yankees was the first sign that things had finally gotten going in Major League Baseball's trade deadline season. So, if it wasn't already clear, Wandy Rodriguez being shipped from Houston to Pittsburgh put its official stamp on this last week of July — it's on!
The Rogriguez trade is interesting for a couple reasons, most notably because — for the first time in as long as anyone can remember — the Pirates actually consider themselves in realistic contention for a playoff spot, and are thus buying, rather than selling, at the trade deadline. And yes, this move is far, far removed from the kind of bizarre bandstanding the team used to be known for, such as when it traded for San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Morris for reasons that, years later, are still utterly inexplicable.
Of course, the Pirates have been here before. In fact, they were here as recently as last season, when they held a similar record and likewise a first-place position in the standings into mid-summer. Then they became the Pirates again, and the world continued spinning normally.
This year, however, things feel different. Behind a rebuilt rotation and James McDonald and A.J. Burnett, a superstar breaking out before our very eyes in Andrew McCutchen and the resurgence of Pedro Alvarez, this looks not only like a team which could make it to October, but could be primed for an upset once there.
Either way, acquiring the solid-if-unspectacular Rodriguez — in exchange for three mostly middling prospects — represents a serious shift in philosophy for a Pittsburgh organization whose most positive aspect was that it played in PNC Park. Now, looking like serious contenders, the Pirates have added a serious piece to their stretch run.
The Olympic Rings float in the River Thames.
"If you're a billionaire and want to
be a millionaire, invest in football. If you're a millionaire and want to have nothing, invest
–Former Queens Park Rangers F.C. owner Flavio Briatore, describing why making money in international soccer is an impossibility.
— NOT SportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) July 25, 2012
Just like a horse, you definitely don't want to catch a stray kick from an ostrich.