Back after close to a week off with various issues that I'll keep to myself,but feeling great and ready to pound some posts out.
Look for more than the usual output over the next few days!
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place.
I know-let that sink in for a second.
Now,considering that,can this run be sustained?
The contenders in the National League Central that are competing with Pittsburgh remind no one of the American League East and the division is up for grabs,so why not Pittsburgh?
The Reds might be better A to Z,but what have this group of Reds won?
And the Cardinals?
Well,they are not what they once were with their losses,so they are vulnerable also.
The pitching has been beyond what anyone could have expected with the maturation of James McDonald,the strong comeback of A.J.Burnett and Jeff Karstens is back to replace the injured Charlie Morton.
If the team can get even mild improvement from either Erik Bedard or Kevin Correia,the rotation is solid and do not forget about the bullpen,which has been beyond description in how well it has performed from top to bottom.
Yes,the team could use another strong stick in the lineup,but who couldn't?
Andrew McCutchen would be the league MVP for the first half,if such a thing existed and Pedro Alvarez has been downright scary at times this season.
Neil Walker is hitting nearly .300 and the role players are starting to pick things up as Casey McGehee and Rod Barajas are picking up steam.
Add one bat and this team is ready to win....
No,Get ready for the bounce.
Sorry,not buying it.
I'll give you McDonald as a rising star and maybe A.J. Burnett continues his history of playing well without the large market scrutiny,but Bedard looks to be almost cooked and Correia is as bad as he always has been.
Jeff Karstens is a five starter on a good team at best and you want to rely on him?
The bullpen has been dominant,but it is tough to stay at that level all year and they almost have to.
As good as they are,slippage is inevitable and this team cannot afford the smallest of slides.
Andrew McCutchen almost has to keep his numbers where they are now all season for this team to have a chance (OPS of over 1,000!) and his season to date is beyond what the most optimistic dreamers could have thought up.
Even considering the talents of Cutch,doing that all year might be beyond hope.
Pedro Alvarez epitomizes streaky and you simply cannot count on him for anything beyond the occasional bomb and tons of whiffs.
Neil Walker has only hit six homers and the reason that Casey McGhee,Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes are Pirates to begin with is because they are dime a dozen players.
The Pirates have to trade for a bat to even have a chance and then the first half needs to be repeated by so many that it is not realistic to think that can happen.
If the right trade is there,fine-go for it,but lets make it someone that could be a Pirate for a few years not a one year rental....
Now that I am finished arguing with myself,I would say this-Maybe.
My most likely scenario is the team hangs around,attempts to land a bat,does not get the type of bat that could be a game changer and fades around mid to late August,maybe early September.
I do think the chances of the team breaking the losing season streak are above average and all things considered,I would take that as a successful season.
A bat is a dire need and as long as the team trades anyone not named Cole,Taillon,Hansen and Heredia,I can live with the attempt.
The problem with that is that those players will be the first asked for and a refusal to add those players will not land the type of bat that could make the type of difference in this race.
Do the Pirates want to go all in for a one year run and then watch as those players star elsewhere?
I would say no,but Neal Huntington might say yes.
I would really like to see the team keep Starling Marte if at all possible as a McCutchen/Marte defensive outfield pairing might be as good as they come in the game,but whoever swaps a bat is going to want a close to big league ready player (s)and Starling Marte is the best player that the Pirates have in their system at that point in time.
The player that I might consider a deal for that would cost plenty would be Justin Upton of Arizona.
Upton would be a Pirate for three more years and at a reasonably affordable rate.
If Upton were offered,I might have to think about the top four names in the system and reevaluate my stance.
Some of my worries on dealing one of those three pitchers might be calmed if the Pirates are able to reel in first round draftee Mark Appel .
Appel is not a Taillon or Cole in my opinion,but he would be a top prospect and make the loss of one of them easier to take.
We will know by tomorrow as Appel must sign by the deadline or go back into the draft..
A Upton/McCutchen pairing would instantly upgrade the Pirate offense and make them a solid contender for the next three years along with giving the team time to continue the hard work of building a farm system..
All told-we will see as the trade deadline nears!
Back later with the Browns getting aggressive in the supplemental draft today and adding perhaps an impact player!