EDIT: I apologize readers, I thought I had published this article earlier this month and completely missed that it did not publish but because it still involves the remainder of the month as well, I thought I’d go ahead and publish.
Here we are, the 2nd to last month of the regular season and the Pirates are exactly where I thought they would be. After finishing June 1 game behind where I predicted they would be, they finished July 1 game ahead of where I thought they would be. This makes me dead even with predictions so let’s see if I can keep it up and I hope that it’s a very good month of August.
I’m writing this after the Pirates won the 1st 2 games on August and my original prediction would be the Bucs take 3 of 4 against the D’Backs which means, on Sunday, there should be another victory coming. The team has an off day on Monday before beginning an 8 game home series which will be very important to the team’s success as the rest of the month is somewhat brutal.
Pittsburgh welcomes the Miami Marlins to town on Tuesday and I’ll say the Pirate take 2 of 3 while hosting the Padres through the weekend. I’m thinking the Bucs get close to a sweep but I’ll guess 2 of 3 there as well. The Tigers come in and this could really depend on the pitching matchups on who will win either game but let’s say the Bucs get a little lucky and don’t face Price and Scherzer. With that, let’s say the Pirates split the series to finish the homestand 5-3. They will then head to Detroit where I’m guessing they get swept 0-2 before heading to Washington to play the Nationals. The weekend series, I’ll say the Pirates win 1 of 3. The Braves come to Pittsburgh and much like the Detroit series, to me it depends on the pitching matchup but I’ll be kind and say the Pirates take 2 of 3 there.
Next comes the NL Central matchups again by first going to Milwaukee where the Pirates haven’t played well at all but the Brewers have not been very good lately so I’ll say the team takes 2 of 3 there in a shocker while taking 2 of 3 at home vs the Cardinals and 2 of 3 vs the Reds to solidify their place atop the NL Central. All of this SHOULD bring the Pirates record to… 74-62 at month’s end, 12 games over .500 and into September leading the NL Central.
There is a lot of talk going on right now about what’s wrong with Pedro Alvarez and to be perfectly honest, it is mostly a mental thing at this point. Pedro is probably over-thinking every throw to 1st instead of going by instinct and his throws being wild. The problems at the plate is more troublesome because everyone seems to be waiting for some hot streak to come for Pedro but to this point, it never has. This is a much bigger concern than errant throws but the lack of offense has definitely blew up the fact he’s become a liability on defense as well.
Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle has said they will look at all options for Pedro and figure out what’s best, not only for the player but for the team as well. There are lots of suggestion that the team moves Alvarez to 1st base where everyone believes he was bound to end up anyhow but there is a problem with that move. It’s really difficult for a player to learn a position he’s never played and to do so during the regular season is even more difficult. Pedro does not have an option left and he would surely be claimed on waivers if the team tried to pass him through so that won’t happen either.
I tweeted out(@EricScot13) that the team could have Pedro develop a phantom injury that would allow him to go on the DL and have a couple of weeks there plus a couple more weeks in rehab starts to work out at 1st and see if he can play the position. As terrible Pedro’s offense has been, the hope is that eventually he comes out of it and will go on the tear we keep hearing about. When he does go on a tear, this team could beat anyone because he provides instant offense with the home runs and extra base hits.
It’s all a mental thing at this point for Pedro and perhaps a position switch would be the best thing for him mentally not having to think about those throws to 1st and will relax him by taking a month off from regular season action. Pedro could come back around the beginning of September and be there for the stretch run and playoffs. I feel this could be the best course of action of what to do and with Starling Marte about to come back, the team could easily put Josh Harrison at 3rd for the rest of the season.
THE NEW TRADE DEADLINE
As much as Bud Selig would like everyone to believe the current trade deadline of July 31st is still the best deadline, even with the addition of a 2nd wild card spot, I believe the system is showing this to be not true and the deadline needs to be pushed back 2 weeks to August 15th. While there was a lot of moves by the deadline, there would be a lower cost association for teams on short term rentals that could impact their teams for years by losing higher quality of players.
The Pirates were in on David Price and according to reports were thisclose to pulling off a mega deal that would have landed the Tampa Bay lefty. If Price were on this team, they would be the big favorites to win the Central and with the resurgence of Francisco Liriano and the hopeful return of Gerrit Cole, they would have had a Top 3 that would have rivaled anyone in the entire league as far as playoff pitchers go.
Oddly enough, Major League Baseball saw something they haven’t seen in a while, teams giving up big pieces and getting in return other big league players with big names. There were a lot less minor league players being used for trades this time around but I feel as though if the deadline were moved, there was the potential for more moves by more teams.
As it stands, the Pirates made no moves at the deadline and based upon last year, Neal Huntington was able to make some moves before the August 31st Waiver deadline and that could be the case again this season. The biggest target I feel the team should go for is from the Phillies in pitcher Cole Hamels and the Bucs certainly has the prospects to make this happen. If the Phillies want a bigger package, they could include some money to help pay for Hamels plus a reliever(Bastardo?) that would keep the Pirates in the playoff chase for the long-term.
Hamels will cost a lot, in terms of prospects and in terms of overall money but he would be worth it to a team that has some of their best players in their prime or reaching their prime. I also don’t feel as though this should hamper the pursuit of re-signing catcher Russell Martin in the offseason or even prior to the offseason. Going into 2015, the Pirates may or may not be able to bring back Francisco Liriano but they will have Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, Vance Worley along with Jameson Taillon potentially by mid-June. Hamels could anchor this staff and really do some damage.
All in all, the Pirates are still in the race and while no moves were made, as of yet, I fully expect some to be made before too long and the Phillies are a team that shocked everyone by not making moves but they will have plenty to choose from in the next couple weeks. However it shapes out, it will be interesting to see it through.