Jul 4, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies during the sixth inning at PNC Park. The Philadelphia Phillies won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Great Scot: Are the Pittsburgh Pirates good enough to “go for it?”


Jul 4, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) is greeted after crossing home plate to score a run by center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park. The Philadelphia Phillies won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In a very exciting time for Pittsburgh sports and fans of the Pirates to be witnessing the potential for not only a winning season, but also a potential playoff season.

Over the past several days, most sports websites have been ranking the Pirates the No. 1 overall team in baseball. Why not? They have the best record in baseball, the pitching staff and bullpen is carrying the team, multiple players are contributing to its success, and until this week, the Bucs hadn’t had a .300 hitter yet.

Everyone seems to believe that Andrew McCutchen is bound to go on a major hot streak and that could launch the team to further heights of greatness. I personally feel that McCutchen going on a streak will cover up some downplay of the pitching staff, because everyone has ups and downs.

It’s been 20 years since the Pirates have been relevant, despite the past two seasons when they were in first place at certain times. However, most people also felt the Pirates would eventually regress and sure enough, they did.

This season just feels different. The starting pitching is not only helping keep the team in games, the bullpen is shutting things down as the starters aren’t going very deep. You could say the bullpen is getting tired and things will eventually turn the other way but the few times it’s happened, the offense seemed to wake up enough to secure the win.The Pirates aren’t relying only on McCutchen to lead them by hitting .350, a bunch of home runs, clutch hitting and defense; they are getting help from guys like Russell Martin, Pedro Alvarez, Jordy Mercer and Starling Marte. Some others haven’t seemed to hit their groove yet either and McCutchen has been just OK, at least by his standards. What happens if Neil Walker starts to hit for his usual average again? What contribution does Garrett Jones offer if his power numbers return? Where might the Pirates get a better contributor to play in right field?

A lot of talk has been going around about the Pirates grabbing Giancarlo Stanton or Alex Rios and I’ve mentioned before about the Pirates going out and trying to nab first baseman Mark Trumbo from the Angels. All could be great options this season, but what would the long-term cost be and what if mortgaging the future doesn’t pan out?

Maybe the Pirates could stay internal and hope Jose Tabata finally clicks to his potential? Maybe the Pirates stand pat and call up Triple-A player of the month Andrew Lambo to see what he can do for the team.

The bench seems to be an area of concern for most people and I happen to agree with them, however maybe adding by subtracting is the answer. If you release Brandon Inge, then call up Lambo and Alex Presley, maybe that would be enough to add to the bench. It is a very major debate right now for Pirates fans, the “experts” and probably even the Pirates management team to decide the best course of action.

My official stance is this: if the Pirates could add a significant piece of offense to the team – Trumbo is the best option in my opinion – without giving up a major future player like Jameson Taillon, I’m all for it. Taillon is about the only player that should be untouchable at this point. Yes, I’ll be very excited for the day that Gregory Polanco, Alan Hanson, Josh Bell, Nick Kingham, Reese McGuire, Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Tony Sanchez arrive in Pittsbugh to stay but we also must consider this team is looking to win now.

Are the Pirates this good? Good enough to debate which future pieces are OK to part with to have a shot of winning it all this season? Of course, but not every team has had a losing record for 20 straight years and the city of Pittsburgh is dying for a winner, which puts the Front Office in a very unique position to make the absolute right decision or else.

It’s a tough job and all of us who play general manager every day can make these decisions without the worry of losing our job. That makes it easier, but if you were really the GM of the Pirates, what exact moves would you make?

I say the Pirates go out, add themselves a player without giving up Taillon and go for it right now. That’s probably the best thing they could do. Could a package of Sanchez, Kingham, Polanco and Glasnow bring back Trumbo? I believe it would, and the Pirates would still have Taillon.

Tags: Jameson Taillon Neal Huntington Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Bobby Belan

    I agree with just about everything your wrote, until “Could a package of Sanchez, Kingham, Polanco and Glasnow bring back Trumbo?”. IMO, that’s the type of deal the Pirates will have to avoid. Trumbo has been my best dream scenario to land, but that is far too much to give up IMO. All four of those players are very likely BA top 100 players going into next season. Hell, throw Tallion in that package, and we could likely could land Trout. And Trout is one of only 3-4 players in all of baseball that I would package Taillon/Polanco to get. (Stanton is not one of those players)

    Not to mention most of these players are likely key assests for the next 4-5 seasons. Kingham could be ready late 14′ or early 15′. Glasnow is not too far behind. Both of them have top of the rotation potential. Tony Sanchez is almost a gaurentee to be backing up Martin in 14′ and taking over full time in 15′. Polanco, who I label as untouchable as Taillon, could probably be starting RF in PNC this time next season. Adding in cheap team control for 5-6 seasons per player, the Pirates would have over commit to 2013.

    I would like to see the package built around Luis Heredia/Josh Bell. IMO, the #1 reason the 2013 PIrates have been competing is in their depth from top top bottom across the organization. That trade would cripple the next few seasons potential internal options.

  • Rick Eger

    Please don’t morgage the future, it’s looking pretty bright.