After heavily criticizing every trade the Pirates have made since 1992, the Pittsburgh faithful are now screaming for the front office to make a trade in lieu of their fight for first in the NL Central. With some big names available for trade this year, the Pirates have an opportunity to upgrade their major league club before heading into the final stretch of the season. As of today (July 24th), the Pirates have yet to make a move and acquire a big bat or big arm. The "lack of action" from the front office has made fans express their distrust in the organization. However, based on calls from fans on the radio, and the media's usage of twitter as an outlet for frustration, I have seen a few common arguments that seem to lack substance. We can break these down into two categories:
Why the Pirates need to trade.
Why the front office hasn't done anything.
Why the Pirates need to trade
"The Pirates need to go out and trade for Beltran/Pence because he's a big bat and the Pirates need one of those."
I somewhat agree with this statement. The problem isn't the statement itself, but the tone in which it is stated. Fans are going insane right now because Beltran hasn't already played a few games as a Pittsburgh Pirate; as if the deal is so easy to execute. As Tim Williams from Pirates Prospects pointed out earlier today, most deals aren't done until right around the day of the trade deadline (July 31st). The reason? Asking prices go down once the deadline approaches.
"Well whatever, we have the prospects to pull off a trade. Our farm system is stacked with talent!!!"
No it's not, actually. Yes, Neal Huntington and the scouting department have done an excellent job instilling talent into the system over the last three years. However, in comparison to the rest of the league, the farm system is average at best. Baseball America had the Pirates farm system ranked 19th going into this season. Consider how disappointing Zack Von Rosenberg, Stetson Allie, Rudy Owens, Andrew Lambo and Justin Wilson have been, and the farm system looks to be knocked down a peg.
The Pirates are loaded with right-handed pitching prospects but most of them have yet to show anything notable. They are still young, but their uncertainty and rawness blocks them from being used to acquire a player like Carlos Beltran. Plus, part of being a deep organization is having a ton of prospects at each position. I've heard fans calling for a trade that includes Starling Marte because of Gorkys Hernandez's offensive numbers in AAA this season. Unfortunately, one good season in AAA does not make a career out of baseball players. Marte has better all around tools, as explained in my last post, and will be the starting center fielder for years to come in Pittsburgh. Giving him away for a rental seems rather dangerous when you consider the uncertainty of the outfielders behind him in the minors.
As for the asking price for Beltran?
According to Buster Olney of ESPN on twitter, the Mets are in trade talks with the Atlanta Braves and are asking for a combination of Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado and Mike Minor. To give you some perspective, Teheran is one of the top five prospects in the league and the Braves have the second best farm system in the league. The Mets are asking for one of the top prospects as PART of a package deal for Beltran. The equivalent for the Pirates would be along the lines of Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, Luis Heredia and Starling Marte.
"Who cares?! We've been losing for 18 years now!"
And? What is the point in selling out for one winning season and jeopardizing the next five years of the franchise? The true talent of this team is still in A ball. We all marvel over the pitching now, but the prospects in the minors have the talent to be even better without using smoke and mirrors. The plan of the organization was not to build a team to win for one season, it was to build a team that was meant to sustain winning, much like the Rays. Trading away your big prospects for this year could lead to more 2010 type seasons in the near future.
"The Penguins added Hossa and it got them to the Stanley Cup! Why wouldn't it work for the Pirates?"
Because the Pirates are not the Penguins. Hockey is not the same as baseball. There are much more parts to a winning baseball team than a winning hockey team. The Penguins have two world class players who contribute both offensively and defensively. If you want a comparison, Andrew McCutchen is equivalent to Marc Andre Fleury because he is one of the best at his position. There are no equivalents to Crosby and Malkin and the Pirates are not one of the top teams in the National League. As much as I love my Buccos, they are still more than one piece away from winning it all.
Why the front office hasn't done anything
"Bob Nutting is so cheap, he has shown when it comes to winning he is not willing to spend money on the team to win."
Bob Nutting has spent more money than anybody (team) in the draft. He's not going to leave a team he's invested in, hang out to dry when they need him most. The players for cash deals are done at the trade deadline. Even if he doesn't spend money at the deadline to acquire a player, the logic that he was too cheap is flawed. It would most assuredly be because the trade would not improve the team. Don't believe me? Look at Gerrit Cole's contract on August 16th. It's time we quit pinning the current owner with the same mistakes/mentality of owners in the past.
"They're waiting for this team to fall out of contention after this coming week against the Braves and Phillies. That way, they can make an excuse for not making a move."
If you truly believe the team will fall out of contention after playing the Braves and Phillies, then maybe this team is more than just one bat away from a World Series team. The Pirates are ranked 23rd in the league in offense and have a pitching staff that is slowly starting to come back down to earth. Even though the pitching staff is ranked 7th in the league, the Braves and Phillies have better pitching. Adding Carlos Beltran would not be enough to push this team to the World Series. Make no mistake, THAT is the goal.
In all of the excitement and more importantly, success of this team, a move should be done. The Pirates could use a bat and maybe another arm in the bullpen. But Neal Huntington's job is tougher than any GM in the league. He has to think about this year while also protecting the assets of the franchise. In addition, since the Pirates have been stuck in 18 years of losing, other teams may be trying to take advantage of their situation to end the drought. By asking for big prospects now, teams are looking to benefit from a desperate Neal Huntington. As I said in an earlier post, I would add Carlos Pena for salary due to their glaring hole at first base. They have a few big bats in their organization who are trying to return. Let them lead the charge since they will have the best chance to be in the lineup when the team is at its best in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
If nothing else, ask yourself this question: Do the Pirates have enough talent to win a World Series this year? If the answer is no then we must continue to be patient and trust that the organization will do what's best for the club.