To the dismay of Pirates fans, Neil Huntington has decided to keep his checkbook closed. As of the 4 P.M. ET deadline today, July 31, the Pirates haven't made any moves. There were chances, and rumors. But there will be no big names coming to the Burgh.
It started with rumors speculating that the Pirates were going to bring AJ Burnett back to Pittsburgh. That never went through. Antonio Bastardo a Phillies reliever that would have been a good fit had been connected to the Pirates. Then came the big ones, it had been reported yesterday that the Pirates were in on Jon Lester. Jon Lester could have been a Pirate? Lester rumors lingered on the longest until ultimately fading today as the Oakland A's ended up snagging him in a move that sent Yoenis Cespedes back to Boston. Once Lester was gone there were Lackey grumblings. Nothing more than chatter. Then, we got back to Andrew Miller and other relievers in connection with the Pirates. The reliever talk is where all the trade rumors started and the moves that would have made the most sense for the team. Finally, the penultimate of trade deadline "almosts" for the Pirates was David Price. Late in the day, about an hour before the end of the deadline, the Pirates were reported to be in a three time battle to land David Price. If imagining Lester in black and gold was too much for you then don't even think about Price pitching in front of a packed crowd at PNC. Yet again, the Pirates missed out as Price was traded to the Tigers.
Pirates fans clamored to Twitter all day long. Cursing NH, praising him. Exploding over possible trades, groaning when they didn't go through. The scene today different than previous years. The Pirates actually had a shot at some big names, they were really in-all in on the top guys. But similarly to years past, the Pirates came up empty.
But wait, put all the frustration aside. The Pirates choosing to not make a move at the deadline may not have been a bad thing. NH had said recently he was prepared to ship off our farm system in order to get a two month rental. So you shouldn't have been surprised that some of the deals didn't happen. It does explain missing out on guys like Lester and Price however. It would have cost the Pirates entirely too much for Lester. Look at the deal the Red Sox got out of that, the Pirates couldn't have matched it. For Price, well the Rays got nothing, but he was expensive alone. Too much for the Pirates to shoulder for such a short time.
We kept our prospects. Although some think there is too much value in prospects now, there's not. Every big leaguer was once a minor leaguer, once a prospect. I understand that you have to trade prospects to get the big guys, but trade them at the right time. The Pirates have the number one farm system in MLB. Those prospects we kept can be used to make off season moves. Send Josh Bell somewhere to get a guy we keep for a few years. If not, then we have some guys down there that will play some pretty good ball at PNC one day.
The Pirates probably aren't going to win the World Series this year. Their chances would have gotten better with some of the guys rumored the past few days with trade talk, but nothing would have been certain. The time wasn't right to "give em the farm".
It was time however to fill a few clear holes that the Pirates have, whether they're visible to NH or not. The bullpen needed to be stabilized, it's been shaky all year. You're not going anywhere with blown leads and imploding late innings. Secondly, another bat would have been nice. The Pirates have a blackhole of a platoon going on at first. Our bench is still somewhat weak. To fill these holes wouldn't have cost the Pirates the farm. We could have gotten some guys cheap and swung deals to get rid of dead weight like Jose Tabata. But it didn't happen, for that there's no excuse.
Luckily for the Pirates the rest of the NL Central didn't do much in the way of getting better. The Cardinals acquired Justin Masterson and John Lackey to strengthen their rotation. To me, they did the opposite. They gave up Joey Kelly, a young arm who all of baseballs people in the know are high on. We've seen his best as Pirate fans. Justin Masterson is up and down, also having a rough go of it this year with an ERA over 5. John Lackey although a big name is at the end of his career. He has been since he got to Boston. He can't dominate, he's consistently better than decent. The Cardinals also said goodbye to Allen Craig, a Pirate killer. I know I am happy the Pirates don't have to pitch to him anymore. If you told me I had to face the Cardinals opening day rotation or the rotation they will set tomorrow, I'd take the first one. Don't be scared by the Cardinals' moves today.
The Brewers luckily didn't go out and get anyone big like some thought they might have. One big move may have pushed them ahead of the pack, instead they're right where the Pirates want them. They landed Gerardo Parra, he's batting .257 so that doesn't do anything for me. Again, nothing to worry about.
The time wasn't right for the Pirates to make a move and sacrifice too much in the way of appealing late summer excitement. This team has done just fine to this point in the season. They are in the heart of a playoff race, just like last year. Get past the trade deadline. Put your trust in the current roster and lets see what these boys can do.