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Biertempfel: Pirates keeping focus on future

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, 11:42 p.m.
 

It has only been 10 days since the non-waiver trade deadline, so it's impossible to say with any certainly how well the Pirates did.

Their first move was to acquire Wandy Rodriguez, which put another lefty in the rotation by bumping Kevin Correia to the bullpen. They also picked up veteran reliever Chad Qualls, who's struggled this year and was about to be cut by the Yankees.

The Pirates made bids for high-impact guys such as Hunter Pence, Shin-Soo Choo, Shane Victorino and Chase Headley. In the end, the Pirates got Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez, both of whom had spent much of the season at Triple-A.

When he announced the trades, general manager Neal Huntington spent a lot of time talking about “years of control,” especially with Snider and Sanchez. Both are making near the major league minimum and won't hit free agency for a while. Hope for the future, blah blah blah.

One phrase I didn't hear, though, was, “This puts us over the top in the playoff race this year.”

At the start of spring training, Huntington made a sexy trade when he snatched A.J. Burnett away from the Yankees. The clubhouse was energized from the moment Burnett toted his gear to his locker at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. Since then, the feeling has only grown more positive.

It was different when Rodriguez, Qualls, Sanchez and Snider arrived. Not exactly in a bad way, but also not in a manner that suggests the team feels a new sense of completeness.

There's a feeling among some of the holdover Pirates players that, with a postseason berth within reach, management did not step up and get them some help for the here and now.

Manager Clint Hurdle knows the temperature of his team. When he closed the doors for a post-deadline day meeting last week in Chicago, he wanted to stomp out any dissatisfaction about the new-look roster. “Anyone who has any GM in them, they've got to let it go,” Hurdle said. “Anyone who has any manager in them, they've got to let it go.”

The price to get Burnett was almost shamefully cheap: two minor leaguers with low ceilings and not a ton of cash in salary obligations. The cost to get Snider — former first-rounder Brad Lincoln — was higher. Yet the front office did not part with any of its top prospects. And, with an eye toward escalating salaries for guys like Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, James McDonald and Pedro Alvarez, management moved to keep other costs low.

The future could've been now. Instead, the five-year plan mentality is still alive.

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