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Ryan Ludwick, Derrek Lee Trades Will Bolster Pirates' Struggling Offense

In case you haven't seen it, here's a recap of the Pirates' trades of the past weekend. They got first baseman Derrek Lee from the Baltimore Orioles for first base prospect Aaron Baker, who wasn't among the Pirates' top 30 prospects. They also got outfielder Ryan Ludwick for a player to be named later or cash. 

First, it's worth pointing out that the Pirates gave up practically nothing here, except money. Baker isn't worth worrying about, and the player to be named probably won't be either. That's a coup for the Pirates in a trading market in which other teams gave up top prospects for help. In addition, the Pirates may be able to get compensatory draft picks for Ludwick and/or Lee after the season is over.

Lee and Ludwick are both veterans on the downsides of their career, but they both can definitely help. Lee is a much better hitter than Lyle Overbay; that's obvious. While he has had a poor year by his standards, he's only two years removed from a brilliant 2009 campaign, and he's better than Overbay even as his current depressed level.

Ludwick's stats this year have likewise been unimpressive, but he's had to play in the very tough hitting environment in PETCO Park. He's a better hitter than Matt Diaz, whose role he'll essentially fill, and a much better defensive player. He's good enough to handle the big left field in PNC Park if need be. There's been some speculation about who will lose his job as a result of Ludwick's arrival. I suspect it will be Diaz. Ludwick is a righty, like Diaz is, and is better than Diaz in just about every phase of the game. Ludwick should play a bunch until Alex Presley or Jose Tabata come back, and then he'll take on a reduced role.

These additions won't put the world on notice, but general manager Neal Huntington upgraded the Pirates while paying very little.

For more on the Pirates' trades, check out Bucs Dugout.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.