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Should The Pirates Make A Deal? Huntington Should At Least Pick Up A Reliever!

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Wednesday, July.24/2013

The trading deadline has been an exciting time of year for Pittsburgh Pirates fans the past two seasons and this year looks to be bordering on an extravaganza for the city, as the Bucs will be hosting the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals for a five-game series as the deadline approaches and passes. Although GM Neal Huntington will likely be active, the sound advice might be to hold onto prospects, do not mortgage the future and go with what got you a couple games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central and for the best record in all of MLB.

The trading deadline has been an exciting time of year for Pittsburgh Pirates fans the past two seasons and this year looks to be bordering on an extravaganza for the city, as the Bucs will be hosting the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals for a five-game series as the deadline approaches and passes. Although GM Neal Huntington will likely be active, the sound advice might be to hold onto prospects, do not mortgage the future and go with what got you a couple games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central and for the best record in all of MLB.

By Brad Cuprik (Pirates Correspondent)

If you read the newspapers in Pittsburgh or listen to talk show radio, the expectation is that Huntington is going to make a significant deal to upgrade the Pirates’ hitting, outfield, bullpen, and even starting pitching.

Realizing that baseball in October is a lot different than baseball in May, June and July, if the Bucs needed upgrades in all those areas, how are they winning about 60 percent of their games so far?

The Pirates have posted one of the best records in baseball so far in 2013.

The Pirates have not had this great of club since they won 3 Straight NL East Titles from 1990 - 1992 during the Bonds and Bonilla ERA.  With the team challenging to end the longest NL Drought among teams, can they keep it together long enough to run down NL Central leaders the Cardinals - or will they be destined to play in a one game playoff match as a Wild Card?

The Pirates have not had this great of club since they won 3 Straight NL East Titles from 1990 – 1992 during the Bonds and Bonilla ERA. With the team challenging to end the longest NL Drought among teams, can they keep it together long enough to run down NL Central leaders the Cardinals – or will they be destined to play in a one game playoff match as a Wild Card?

The numbers have been lousy for the Pirates when hitting with RISP – worst in the league, in fact, at a .222 clip. The Cardinals have hit .347 with RISP, which is a difference of approximately 95 or so hits, given the same number of AB.

Former Pittsburgh pitcher Bob Walk, now a color commentator for ROOT Sports, mentioned that if the Bucs could just hit .240 with RISP, which would still put them in the bottom third of MLB, he would feel better.

Walk might be onto something there as an extra 15 or 20 hits in those situations could be the difference between 90 and 95 wins come the end of the season.

Of course, the major question for Huntington will be if those extra wins are worth shipping a top prospect away for a one-time shot at the World Series. For the Bucs, it’s time to start thinking they have a shot at a World Series title.

Nearly 100 games into the season for all clubs, Pittsburgh is 20 games over .500 but all fans can think about are the well-documented second-half collapses of the last two seasons.

The Pirates need to (excuse the pun-intended reference) steady the ship and stay the course over the last 60 or so games.

Gerrit Cole improved to 5-3 with a win over the Nationals on July 23.

Cole improved to 5-3 with a win over the Nationals on July 23. He has brought the kind of confidence in Starter needed to possibly not shop for one in the Trade Market.  Between he and Jeff Locke stepping in, they have nailed down the back end of the rotation.

There are really no trades that make sense with the names out there as being available in which Huntington sends Gregory Polanco or Jameson Taillon to a seller.

The next tier of prospects in the Pirates’ farm system may not be enough to bring in one of the top names on the market, like Alex Rios or Hunter Pence (if the Giants make him available). That likely being the case, my advice to Huntington is do not pick up the phone.

Alex Rios is one of the names being mentioned for a Pirates upgrade in Right Field.

Alex Rios is one of the names being mentioned for a Pirates upgrade in Right Field. This makes the most sense as he can be a viable option for the next few years – even if it is just to platoon with Garret Jones in a Right and Left deal.

I agree that raising your average with RISP from .222 to .240 would be nice, but to do that you either have to bring in Pence or your team has to start doing a lot better in clutch situations at the plate.

It is not unreasonable to think the latter can happen. The starting pitching has been stellar, even with A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez spending significant time on the DL.

Jeff Locke barely made the team out of Spring Training as the fifth starter and is now an All-Star. Francisco Liriano has been stellar. Charlie Morton has done an adequate job since returning from Tommy John Surgery.

Gerrit Cole has proved he is the real deal and capable of being given the ball every fifth day in the Major Leagues. It would be wonderful to bring in another solid starter, but at what cost? Too high.

The most likely of deals for the Pirates is to bring in a relief pitcher, which would cost less but give Clint Hurdle another option in the “Shark Tank”, especially after closer Jason Grilli was recently placed on the DL with an injury to his forearm.

Everyone in baseball knows the Pirates could use a RF, which drives the asking price higher and higher.

Unless the teams the Bucs are battling with for the NL Central decide to unload Carlos Beltran or Jay Bruce, the upgrade over Jose Tabata, Garrett Jones and Travis Snider is not likely to be worth a Polanco, Taillon, Luis Heredia or Tyler Glasnow.

Come August, the Pirates will have done their fans and organization a service if they are minus a second-tier prospect, an upcoming draft pick or a player like Tabata and Jones in exchange for a reliever.

Anything more than that will likely mean Huntington paid too much. Unless, of course, the Pirates are winning their first World Series in 34 years come Fall.

Francisco Liriano has won nine games with a 2.44 ERA in his first season with the Pirates.

Francisco Liriano has won nine games with a 2.44 ERA in his first season with the Pirates.  He hasn’t seen great numbers like this since his days with the Minnesota Twins.  The good news is that the LHP has Post Season experience with those Twins teams as the #2 Starter behind former Twin Ace Johan Santana.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***

A big Thank – You goes out to our Pirates Correspondent Brad Cuprik for preparing today’s featured post. Brad is longing for a return to the postseason for his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates, but enjoys watching any team and any level of baseball.

He grew up idolizing Cal Ripken and played shortstop through the NCAA Division III level. While working on two different baseball book projects, he earned his MBA at Robert Morris University, but wishes he could have majored in baseball history.

Brad’s dream is to cover the Pirates as a beat writer, but is making ends meet as a retail manager for now. If you want to talk about the greatest game, whether present or past, or e-mail him at bcuprik77@hotmail.com

. You can also follow and Interact with Brad on Twitter

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Posted on July 24, 2013, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, On the Verge: MLB Prospects, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Should The Pirates Make A Deal? Huntington Should At Least Pick Up A Reliever!.

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