Nearly everybody hates losing. It seems that our nature as people dictates that we always want to be the best at whatever it is that we do. The Pirates have made a habit of losing over the last twenty years, and that’s hard to swallow. This season, they’ve been great, at the halfway pole of the season they were in first place, and the best team in all of baseball. They won nine consecutive games at the end of June. July hasn’t been quite as fun, the Pirates sport a record of 2-6 this month, punctuated by a lackluster offense, and a shortage of timely hitting.
This tough start to July is certainly no fun right now, every Pirates fan would much rather be on the winning streak we enjoyed in the latter part of June, but could this short-term failure help the Pirates as they try to make a run down the stretch? If the Pirates were to keep winning as they have been during the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, how likely would the front office be to make necessary moves to improve the team?
It’s never easy to hide the performances of Michael McKenry and Brandon Inge off the bench or in spot starts throughout the year, but short, temporary winning streaks make it a lot easier. The Pirates of 2011 and 2012 didn’t have any serious skids until right at or after the trade deadline. The glaring holes in those teams were able to hide under the shadow of the standings, and optimism of Pirates fans, media, and even management.
This rough patch to start the month might be just the thing the Pirates need. It might be the thing that makes the front office make the appropriate moves to immediately shore up a pathetic bench, and add an impact starter out in right field (provided Jose Tabata doesn’t go full Puig mode the next few weeks). Sure, it’s difficult now. We all hate watching our team lose, there’s even some science to show that we take the failures of our team as our own failures.
If the Pirates are finally going to get over the hump this season (either by having a winning year, going to the playoffs, winning a playoff series, etc.), they need something more than the current team can provide as it’s assembled. Baseball has the longest season of any major sport, and every team has multiple peaks and valleys in every season, but this valley could be the valley that wakes up Hurdle, Huntington, et al to do whatever it takes to help the team win, whether adding an impact bat via trade, calling up a deserving minor leaguer or two (De Jesus, Sanchez, Lambo), or even just cutting dead weight like Inge. This little skid isn’t a fun experience right now, but if these Pirates are the real deal, it will lead to good and greater things.