Andrew McCutchen will be headed to the disabled list with an injury. Many Pittsburgh Pirates fans, myself included, originally called for immediate waiver pick-ups, signings, and all out panic. However, as I sat back and let the panic inside me stew for a day some sense started coming into fruition.
Neal Huntington made no moves at the 2014 non-waiver trade deadline for a reason. He believes in the prospects that the Pirates have, but also knows there just aren’t quality hitters available to target.
My initial reaction was to drive to Pittsburgh myself and tell Huntington to get on the phone and make something happen, but that would have been ill advised. Again, there just aren’t any great bats available at this time. Certainly none that even closely resemble McCutchen, the reigning National League MVP. Fans don’t like to hear it, but the answer isn’t out there. There is no magic button that Huntington can press to get a player even close to the value of McCutchen.
The lack of pop available for the lineup doesn’t mean the Pirates are done though. In recent days Pedro Alvarez lost his role as the everyday third baseman and a move to first seemed to not be in the cards till at least the end of the season. However, the recent injury needs to shift Clint Hurdle’s thinking.
Alvarez really brings one asset to the table and that is raw power. The Pirates will have to grind for runs now that they’ve lost a top player in the game. A bat like Alvarez’s that can put runs on the board with one swing needs to be in the lineup. His defense may have lost him the job at third, but Hurdle needs to realize there is nothing wrong with Alvarez’s bat winning him the spot at first.
If Alvarez does move, Josh Harrison should and will find a full-time role as the Pirates starting third baseman. Removing Harrison’s role as the ultimate utility man will prove strenuous for the Pirates, but they have to expect it won’t be easy going without McCutchen for the near future.
The third outfield spot currently is up in the air for the Pirates. They just recently signed Jayson Nix who appears to be first in line to try and fill that role. Incumbents Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte will man the remaining outfield spots.
The solutions available aren’t good. It is no doubt McCutchen will be missed. He was the most valuable player in the league for a reason. For right now though, Pirates fans must understand that overreacting would be the worst thing to do. The prospects the Pirates have aren’t worth the lackluster bats on the market. The real solution is that the players the Pirates have now will need to step-up. If they can’t, then the Pirates have more problems then they had previously thought. Hopefully, Huntington won’t overreact and make Pirates fans regret this injury for many more years to come.