8-2 on the latest homestand can do a world of wonders for any team in the Major Leagues, it can help a team catch up to another it’s chasing, it can add separation to a team that is close to them, it can boost confidence in players and managers and it can certainly energize a fan base. There also negative effects that a big winning streak can do, which is mask certain problem areas that a team has which still needs to be addressed and could ultimately be the downfall in the long run.
For example, the Pirates of 2 weeks ago needed to add a starting pitcher to bolster the rotation. AJ Burnett was a guy specifically mentioned that the Pirates should bring back to the fold. 2 weeks later, the team sits 6 games over .500 and just faced AJ Burnett and now, no way in unholy places should the Pirates consider AJ to come back to the Burgh. It’s even that way in media outlets and radio hosts and fans who pretty much only live in the here and now and not the consideration of the future.
OK, so the Pirates DID technically add to the starting rotation by Jeff Locke and his return being really good to this point. Vance Worley has looked very solid since his arrival as well, Gerrit Cole is back from the DL, Francisco Liriano is about to do a rehab assignment which could bring him back right after the All Star break, etc, etc. Sure, the re-emergence of Locke, the arrival of Worley, the return of Cole and the hopeful comeback of Liriano will hopefully mean the Pirates won’t need to make a trade at the deadline but it certainly can’t be cast aside by the here and now.
What if Liriano can’t return to his 2013 form? What if this injury problem of Cole’s lingers for the rest of the year and maybe even gets shut down? What if Locke has a great “1st half” but blows up in the 2nd half? What if Worley reverts back to his horrid pitching ways of the last couple of years? At that time, all of those people I’ve mentioned above will be DYING to see AJ Burnett back in the Pirates uniform.
I’m not saying that AJ Burnett is the guy I want the Pirates to get, my obvious top choice would be for David Price and taking a chapter out of the Oakland A’s book of another small market team, they just landed Jeff Samardjiza AND Jason Hammel from the Cubs for 3 top prospects. Those prospects in terms of the Pirates would be something like giving up Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell and Nick Kingham. It would certainly hurt but the A’s are going for it and trying to win a Championship now.
The Pirates are always trying to find the balance between winning now and winning later. At no point, have they proven yet they are willing to go after the Championship by making a huge statement. Price would not only be a huge statement but they have him for this season AND next season and I don’t really care about the price tag because he is worth that amount of money to provide what he can provide to any team in the league. That doesn’t say that Price is the answer and there are certainly guys at a lower end who could help in that regards which wouldn’t cost nearly as much.
Another area I think the Pirates really should consider is finding a new closer and my top choice would be the San Diego Padres closer Huston Street. The Pirates could instantly upgrade the back end of the bullpen and solidify it completely. This move could be made right now as the Padres are surely in sell mode. Adding Street would put Melancon back in the 8th inning or even the 7th inning considering the great work that Tony Watson has provided.
I would say that adding a big bat to play 1st base is a good priority to have, however, I think the Pirates can stick it out with Ike Davis for the remainder of this year because you can deal with a lower average and lesser power if you are getting solid defense at that position. The real key to the Pirates team is truly Pedro Alvarez. The Pirates can become a true contender, not only for the playoffs but for the Division if Pedro could catch fire and sustain it for the remainder of the season. Don’t laugh, it could happen and it has with several players in the past.
Do the Pirates really need to make a trade? Absolutely and I would say they should make the move as soon as possible for a closer(Street), hold on to the deadline to see what you have with the current starting rotation and if someone bites the dust on offense, maybe pull the trigger prior to the end of August as they did last season. The great thing about winning, it certainly does mask most of the problems but they are not completely hidden.
Until Next Time,
BTW, Congratulations to Andrew McCutchen, Tony Watson and Josh Harrison for the All Star Selections!