Pittsburgh Pirates need to keep perspective during important week


Jul 28, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins third baseman Ed Lucas (59) is late on tagging out Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) at third base during the second inning at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s keep some perspective here.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ next five games over the course of four days isnot the season, one way or the other. The St. Louis Cardinals come to town, fresh off being swept by the Atlanta Braves. Yes, it’s a big series and yes, it could catapult the Pirates into remaining in the hunt all season. Or, it could be part of their downfall for the remainder of the season.

The Pirates need to treat this series as a playoff-type series, and try to win three games out of the five. Certainly, it feels like a playoff series but probably way more so for the Pirates than the Cardinals. Despite the Cardinals being only 1 1/2 games over the Pirates for first place in the National League Central, the Cards don’t have 20-plus years of losing going against them. Most of their players have been in a pennant chase before.

For the Pirates, it’s much different, they need to prove to their peers, to their coaches, to their general manager, to their fans and – most of all – to themselves they can play along with the biggest and baddest team in all of Major League Baseball. This time has to be different; this time, the Pirates have to show up, play their best and win these games.

We all know the trade deadline is quickly approaching and the Pirates will have completed three of these games before 4 p.m. Wednesday. I don’t think those first three games will ultimately determine for GM Neal Huntington whether to make a move, or what level of move to make. If the GM and his staff are going to upgrade the team, they must upgrade it based on a transforming a positional weakness into a strength.

Jul 26, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Jose Tabata (31) looks on from the dugout during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have been linked to numerous trades involving guys such as Giancarlo Stanton, Nate Schierholtz, Alex Rios, Marlon Byrd and Hunter Pence. Personally, I would have loved to see the Pirates make their move before the start of this series; I’m highly doubtful something will happen.

I love when Twitter blows up when certain players get pulled from games. During Sunday’s High-A Bradenton game, shortstop Alen Hanson was pulled from the game and not seen in the dugout. Everyone started to look around the league and to see whom else was pulled. The Dodgers’ Jerry Hairston, Jr. was also pulled from his game and the Hairston-for-Hanson rumors begin.

In this day and age, it’s fantastic to have these social media websites that can allow people to share information on trade rumors. ONe of my friends absolutely loves going on Twitter and stirring the pot to see if he can get false rumors trending. I’m sure that he’s not the only fellow to do this. Most people with “inside” information really have no clue what they are talking about; rather, they talk about what they would like to see the Pirates do.

I get asked plenty of times about who the Pirates should trade for and who they should avoid trading for. I’ve said it plenty, if you can’t get a guy like Giancarlo Stanton, go outside the box a little bit and get yourself a guy like Angels first baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo. Young guy, hits for average, tons of power and would look great for the Bucs at first base, moving Garrett Jones into a platoon with Jose Tabata in right field. I also wouldn’t mind seeing the Pirates go after Michael Cuddyer from the Rockies and putting him in right field for another season.

If you are/were hoping the Pirates would make a move before the Cardinals series starts, just remember that both teams need to want a deal completed and all the terms worked out, including who goes back to the trade partner. I’ve seen it all too often, especially this season: Pirates fans going back and forth on the true need of making a trade.

When the Pirates strike out 16 times and lose 2-0, of course the Pirates must make a trade if they want to compete. The very next night, the Pirates rack up 14 hits and score seven runs and all of a sudden it’s, “Let’s not trade away our future and let’s go with the players we have.”

It’s a common problem amongst all fans: their reactions are direct results of the previous game. I try to stay as impartial as possible but I fall into that trap at times. I seem to start looking at the best possible deals giving up the best players we have in the minors.

Prior to Gerrit Cole coming up, I was OK with the Pirates giving up Jameson Taillon to get a huge return in trade this season.  Now that Cole has moved up and doing well, I wouldn’t give up Taillon for almost anyone. I also go back and forth about losing Gregory Polanco.

Here is a player the Pirates could call up today and he would probably be very good, and rather quickly. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t struggle and he probably would but he may also be a better option than over half of the guys being discussed trading him for.

All in all, this Pirates series with the Cardinals is huge, absolutely no question about it. It’s a very big series even if it’s mostly one-sided. The Pirates need to win at least three of the next five and erase any doubts that they can contend with the big boys.

On the other side, if the Pirates lose three or more to the Cardinals, fans must realize that ultimately it’s one series, not the end of the season. It’s difficult to do but try to keep some things in perspective.