I was sorry to see Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez traded away last year and not just because they were good players and all around great guys. It’s because they were Pirate loyalists who would have been willing to play on the team for less than they appeared to be worth on the open market.

An important consideration for the low-budget Pirates.

(FanGraphs valued their performances at between eight and nine million dollars in 2009, a level that Sanchez, but not Wilson, has maintained in 2010. Sanchez is playing for six million and Wilson for five million a year with their new teams, about one million more than the Pirates offered them.)

This trade came with a silver lining: The emergence of Neil Walker at second base, who has personal ties to the Pirates, specifically to Roberto Clemente before he was born.

Walker’s father was a personal friend of Clemente’s and scheduled to accompany him on that ill-fated flight to Nicaragua. At the last minute, Clemente told Walker’s father not to go, not only sparing the father, but the future son. Here is the making of a future Pirate loyalist.

I did not want us to trade for Jose Tabata two years ago, because of his, or rather his (then) wife’s personal problems. But Tabata worked through those problems with his team behind him, and to the surprise of yours truly, has become a productive player.

He was reported by the press earlier this year as being “happy” in this role. Perhaps these “warm and fuzzy” feelings would cause him to sign contract extensions toward the end of his club controlled years.

With the benefit of hindsight, it might have been a mistake to draft Brad Lincoln in 2006, but that was almost beside the point.The real issue was that the draft class included Kyle Drabek, son of former Pirate pitcher Doug.

Assuming that he was truly first round draft choice caliber (and subsequent events have proven that he is), Kyle should have been drafted, almost without regard to the other candidates, on the theory that his father’s connection with the Pirates might have turned him into a loyalist.

One group of potential loyalists are older players. There are a number of players who began their six club controlled years in their late twenties, like Garrett Jones. They will become free agents toward their mid-30s, close to retirement age for such people.

Provided that their “late blooming” status makes them worth keeping, these are players that could retire as Pirates, possibly with one or two years of contract extensions into their free agent years.

That’s one reason why I did not want to see (then) 29-year-old Nyjer Morgan traded last year. With the benefit of hindsight, he should have been traded, but for something better than Lastings Milledge. (Unless the argument was that this deal was a “loss leader” to get Joel Hanrahan.)

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