Neal Huntington has been a wheel and dealer, but 2014 looks like a different story

Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Rumors: Overpay? Now Isn't the Time, 2nd Place Bucs Have Work to Do

The biggest trade deadline news for the Pittsburgh Pirates might be the fact that the team as we know it today, might be the team we see move forward tomorrow.  Neal Huntington has said repeatedly that it must be the right deal at the right time.  Huntington is too smart to give up something of significant value for a rental player.  Looking at the market, we agree entirely.

Shane Victorino?  Shit. No.  Hunter Pence?  Carlos Lee?  Come on.

Nonetheless, in about 24 hours, the Pirates will have made the moves that the team feels will give this 2012 club what it takes to grab a spot in the playoffs.  Let’s trust the 2013 and 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates are set for success as well.  All along, Huntington has said that is the plan.

Unfortunately, the developments over the past week have made the waters on the North Side mirky.  Real mirky.  Will the question marks make the Bucs do something out of character in order to overtake the Reds?  We doubt it.

Some of those developments and questions are as follows:

A young ace in James McDonald has some things to work on.  If you watched the game yesterday, the Buccos right-hander could be seen flexing his pitching hand on a few occassions.  We’re not sure what that was about, but we trust as he approaches the most innings he has thrown as a big leaguer, that he will remain healthy.

July 29, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage (54) talks to starting pitcher James McDonald (53) against the Houston Astros during the third inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Veteran pitcher Kevin Correia has came out to the press and said he wants to be a starter.  Some have said, that he demanded to be traded.  Whatever.  Correia wants to help the team win.  The guy is as competitive as it gets and I trust he can stick around and won’t be moved.  Love him or hate him, the Pirates are better with six experienced ML starting pitchers than they are with five.  What would Correia get right now–a marginal prospect or a bench bat?  No thanks.  We know some of you are pissed about what KC said, but this team is better with him on it than trading him for some prospect or a bench bat guy who gets an AB once every three games.

The Pirates offense keeps slugging home runs, but failed to hit very well with runners in scoring position against what could be the worst team in baseball this past weekend.  A rare four game sweep of the Astronauts was missed because of a combination of all three of the areas of concern.

And finally, with all that on his plate, today is Clint Hurdle’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Clint!  He might be so damn busy he doesn’t even get to enjoy his cake.  In fact, how Hurdle goes about his day should decide what the Pirates will look like after the trade deadline dust settles.

Will Hurdle have a heart to heart with Correia?  Yeh, we would take that to the bank.

Can Hurdle and Searage fix JMac before the big Reds series this weekend?  We bet it’s going on right now.

Can Hurdle be absolutely certain that his team is focused on a Cubs series that could mean just as much as the Reds series coming up?  Lose another series to the Cubs with the Reds chalking up win after win, and winning that Reds series this weekend in Cincy where they are 7-2 the past two years, won’t be such a big deal.

The Pirates need a clubhouse leader to step up and take charge today.  If not, a golden opportunity to set up a showdown in Cincy could be gone.

The Bucs seem very reluctant to include Starling Marte, or any big arms like Gerrit Cole in a deadline deal.  We are behind that thinking as it directly relates to picking up players like Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence.  Victorino can’t hit line drives anymore and his power is gone.  Pence has been awful in right field, sure…. all of us have seen enough of Josh Harrison, but the thought of Pence in Pittsburgh doesn’t make me immediately think the Bucs will get to the promised land.

But what about selling right now…you know adding by subtracting?  Surely teams have asked about left handed pitcher Justin Wilson?  He has pitched 113.2 innings and struckout 120.  The part we love is he has given up just 81 hits.  As you know, the downside is his walk rate of 4.75BB/9 stinks.  Wilson is sporting a 4.06 FIP.  Would the Pirates move him in a deal, he has looked solid in the International League if it wasnt for those damn walks.

Wilson catches Wil Rhymes looking during a 2-0 Indianapolis no-hitter earlier this season.

Here is Wilson whiffing Josh Rodriguez during his seven strikeout, five walk outing yesterday.

Would the Pirates move Tony Sanchez who recently has found his homerun stroke?  You can take it to the bank that teams have called on Sanchez’s availability.  Ballsy move?  Sure it is, but Sanchez has made some questionable decisions in his career.

Let’s face it.  The 2012 Pirates are close.  But take a really good look at that team in Cincy.  That team is better right now, even without Votto.

But check this out, the Pirates are 15-9 in head-to-head matchups against the Reds in the past two years.  Suck it Marty.  The Bucs are 7-2 at their house, just 8-7 at PNC Park.  The Pirates have scored 95 runs in those games and allowed 93.  The Bucs addition of Wandy Rodriguez should help reduce those runs allowed based on what he has done against the current Reds lineup.  An improved Bucs defense will help as well.

But will it be enough?   We think the Reds pitching staff is due for a regression.  So we think it is.

Another point that is brought up is why not sell a few Major League pieces and be set for a while, allowing the team to grow?   I still keep looking at 2013 and wondering what that team will look like?  We can’t see the Pirates paying Joel Hanrahan in ’13, but the market is limited as most of the competitive teams have a solid closer.  So just what team is going to give up those Major League bats for the Hammer?  We are still trying to find out.  Maybe that guy meant two actual bats…you know, the Louisville Slugger kind.

The Pirates match up well in head-to-head competition against the Reds without any more moves.  The Pirates are probably concerned about just what the Reds will add at the deadline, but based on our beliefs, it will only weaken the Reds in the future.

The Pirates have work to do that doesn’t involve overpaying for a bat.  Sweep the Cubs.  Figure out JMac.  Calm Correia’s ass down with some tough love from the birthday boy.

The Bucs should add a reliever if the price is right, but now isn’t the time for the Pirates to move any of their best prospects for the bats that they have been linked to in trade rumors.   Based on what we hear about the demands of the selling teams, the idea of trading for one of those bats right now compares to going into Sheetz and paying five hundred bucks for a one dollar scratch off ticket.

Screw that, even if all the proceeds benefit Pennsylvania senior citizens.

 

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Tags: Carlos Lee Hunter Pence Neal Huntington Neal Huntington Photoshop Pittsburgh Pirates Shane Victorino

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