July 10, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Alex Rios (51) tosses his helmet after striking out in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Great Scot! - HELP! The Collapse Has Begun?!?

I have to admit, the fan in me is screaming “Yes, the season is over!  We are spiraling out of control!” despite the Pittsburgh Pirates great win Wednesday night vs. the Oakland A’s.

After all, it is only one win and that was after four straight losses, and six losses out of the last nine.  The baseball fan in me reminds me that every team has bad stretches of games they will experience during the season.  Maybe this will be it for the Pirates and the conversation of collapse won’t come up again.

Jul 5, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Alex Rios (51) smiles as he works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I think the most difficult part for any Pirates fan is to see the team in such a slump that you can take a nap in the third inning, wake up in the eighth inning and nothing really has changed.  It’s not as though the pitching staff has had awful outings as of late, it’s the bats have fallen and can’t get up.

The rumor mill is circulating with possibilities on how to “fix” the Pirates batting woes.  Jim Bowden at ESPN.com has suggested the Pirates trade OF Gregory Polanco, P Nick Kingham and SS Jordy Mercer to the White Sox for SS Alexei Ramirez and OF Alex Rios.

Rios has been linked to the Pirates in a lot of rumor mills and trade ideas so it’s not far-fetched to think the Pirates could make this type of deal, still hold on to Jameson Taillon and not kill their farm system.  Losing Polanco would sting but with someone like Austin Meadows, who is supposed to be able to race through the minors, may catch up enough to Polanco to not make us miss him.

Would getting a combination of Ramirez and Rios help carry the Pirates to the promise land?

Currently, Ramirez has a .280 average, .307 OBP and OPS of .656.  He also sports 21 doubles, no triples and only one HR.  Clearly, he’s a higher average hitter with little pop to his bat and he’s 31 years old.  Mercer currently has a .261 average, .316 OBP and .714 OPS while hitting eight doubles, one triple and four homers in considerably less at bats.  That’s not really an upgrade, but the real catch here is Rios.

He is currently batting .277 with a .330 OBP and .772 OPS while hitting 19 doubles, two triples and 11 homers.  He would be a huge upgrade to what we’ve had in right field to this point (not counting Jose Tabata).  Speaking of Tabata, is anyone really comfortable with him moving forward to stick in right field the rest of the season and providing a high average with some gap power but few home runs?

I am a huge fan but I think a bigger upgrade is needed.

Maybe Tabata can slowly build himself up for next season or even another team and I’m not sure if I want to give up Polanco, Kingham and Mercer.  Sometimes, it’s best for the short-term AND long-term to not mess with too much and hope what you get back works out.

If you’ve read my previous articles, you will know that I’m a huge fan of the Pirates trading for Mark Trumbo from the Angels but I’m not sure even giving up those three players would bring Trumbo back so there would be another hit to our farm system by a fourth really nice piece.

The Giancarlo Stanton rumors had ceased for a bit but some “experts” are pushing them back again saying the Pirates have all the pieces in the world to get him.  Stanton is batting .246, .357 OBP and .793 OPS with 10 doubles, 0 triples and eight homers.  It’s only been in 48 games to this point but that .246 worries me.

I know my last option here is a bit unconventional and I’m not sure the Pirates would even consider the possibility, however, if they are willing to trade off Polanco and not get back a huge return or run the risk of a possible huge return for a possible bust, I’d say bring up Polanco straight from AA and give him a shot.

Everyone has said that Polanco could struggle in Double-A because it’s the toughest level to jump to from the lower levels.  In 20 games in Altoona, Polanco is batting .295 with a .375 OBP and .798 OPS while hitting a pair of doubles, one triple and two home runs.  He has a fantastic strikeout to walk ratio of 11/9 and he can steal bases too.  In High-A, Polanco was hitting .312 in 57 games with a .364 OBP and .836 OPS.  17 doubles, no triples and six homers.

I am only suggesting this IF the Pirates don’t make a really nice move at the deadline and Tabata flames out again.

In terms of a potential Pirates collapse, until they fall off the cliff and get much closer to that .500 level again, I’m not worried about.

As the Bucs prepare for a three-game series against the New York Mets, they sit 18 games over .500, only  one game back of the St. Louis Cardinals and well above the Washington Nationals for the second Wild Card for the playoffs.

Let’s talk again, if those numbers get a lot closer.  Have faith Pirates fans, have faith and Believe!

Tags: Alex Rios Chicago White Sox Gregory Polonco Jose Tabata Pittsburgh Pirates

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