The Pittsburgh Pirates have been a great team this year. With just one simple move, they got a lot better.
According to multiple sources, Pittsburgh acquired Houston Astros' lefty Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez is 7-9 with a 3.79 ERA this year, but opponents don't hit well against him. Rodriguez has only walked 32 batters this year, although he has only retired 89 batters on strikes.
Pittsburgh has a good rotation, but it is inexperienced. Rodriguez adds depth to the rotation while also adding a pitcher who throws strikes and knows how to force weak contact. With James McDonald already in the rotation, Pittsburgh's rotation just improved a lot.
In the deal, Houston received prospects Robbie Grossman, Colton Cain and Rudy Owen. Owen and Cain are pitchers, while Grossman is an outfielder. After selling their stars for a few consecutive years (and getting rid of Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Carlos Lee, Rodriguez and others in the process), Houston has stockpiled their farm system in hopes of future success.
Pittsburgh has a whole different perspective about the trade, though. The Pirates are contending for the first time in a while, and they are looking to add pitchers. A.J Burnett has always been inconsistent, and Kevin Correia and Erik Bedard have struggled to find a home. Rodriguez will add a lot to the rotation, and he will definitely be able to help if the Pirates make the playoffs.
If the Pirates don't make the playoffs, he could help them next year. Rodriguez is signed through 2013 and would be in a Pirates uniform again next year (unless Pittsburgh traded him).
With a great bullpen, a solid offense (consisting of the game's best hitter) and a much, much better rotation, the Pirates will definitely contend. Last year, the Pirates came out of the gates strong, but faded away in August eventually missing out on a playoff berth. This year's team is more experienced, and they are ready to win now.
Thanks to Rodriguez, it should be easier for the Pirates to win.