The Pittsburgh Pirates are tied for first in the National League Central Division and are 19 games above .500 at 53-34. In short, they are one of the best teams in baseball right now.
That record doesn't scream that the team needs improvement, but this team's lack of offense could come back to haunt them in September and a potential playoff run. In the NL, the Pirates rank 12th in runs, 6th in home runs and 11th in average, on-base percentage and OPS (on-base plus slugging).
I get that pitching wins championships, and the Buccos have had excellent starting and relief pitching this season, but these low offensive numbers have to be a concern for the team and fans heading into the second half of the season.
Fortunately, general manager Neal Huntington and owner Bob Nutting have shown in the past few seasons that they are willing to take on salary in order to try and improve the team at the trade deadline. A few years ago they snatched up Derek Lee and Ryan Ludwick. Last year brought in Wandy Rodriguez. These moves didn't result in playoff appearances, or even winning records, but they showed that the organization recognizes that this team has an opportunity to punch a playoff ticket and are willing to make moves to help make it happen.
So here is the unoriginal blog post looking at potential options for the Pirates to grab by the trade deadline!
- Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins - There has been no indication that the Miami Marlins are willing to depart with their young stud, so I don't think this would ever happen. Then again, you can never trust what the Marlins say or don't say. Their owner is a joke. If he was available, the Pirates would have to part with a package or prospects including the organization's best in Jameson Taillon. The question is, would you prefer a man capable of 40 homers or a top of the rotation guy?
- Alex Rios, OF, Chicago White Sox - The team could certainly use a right fielder with some pop and his name has been circulating as a possible fit with the Pirates. He wouldn't require the team to give up much, but he would have a $12.5 million price tag next season. It could be a good move for the Pirates, but it depends which Rios they get. Do they get last season's star who mashed 25 home run, stole 26 bases and hit .304, or do they get the 2011 version of Rios who was arguably one of the worst players in the majors? Rios has been Jekyll and Hyde this year as well. Hew as very good the first two months of the season and was pretty miserable in June. He hasn't homered since June 9, so there is a risk that the Pirates wouldn't get the offensive boost they want.
- Howie Kendrick, 2B, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Neil Walker can't hit lefties (.196 average). Even when he does hit them, it's only for singles. Really, he doesn't have an extra-base hit against lefties this season. The Angels are disappointing again and have a valuable commodity in Kendrick at second. He also has a .325 average and almost .400 OBP against left-handed pitchers. He would be an expensive platoon with Walker but could help make a playoff push.
- Adam Lind, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays - This would be a risky move, but the reward could be great and the Pirates wouldn't have to give up much for Lind. The man will never replicate his 35-homer season of 2009. Lind is in a career-year, though, and has been having a bit of a comeback season with 11 home runs and a .309 average. But a quick look at his history and you'll find he is just a slightly better version of Garret Jones. While he is hitting for a good average against lefties this year, he was absolutely terrible against them in 2012, and not much better in 2011. So at best you'd be getting another platoon player.
- Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays - Toronto spent big money this offseason, and just like the Marlins last season, they doing poorly (43-45). They gave up a lot of prospects in the offseason and could be looking for a way to replenish the farm. One person they could move is Encarnacion. He hit 42 home runs last season and already has 23 this year. He also tends to hit lefties and righties about the same. It is certainly worth a call to Toronto. If it comes back that they need Taillon in return, then hang up and call the White Sox about Rios.
- Kendry Morales, 1B, Seattle Mariners - Morales looked like he was ready to be a superstar in 2009. The switch hitter blasted 34 home runs and hit .306 for the year. He actually finished fifth in AL MVP voting. He was off to another good start in 2010, then he broke his leg celebrating a walk-off home run. It was such a bad break, he missed all of 2011. When he returned in 2012, the Angels had Albert Pujols at first and Mark Trumbo as DH or right field, so Morales saw less than 500 at bats. He still managed 22 home runs. This year he has 11 homers playing in a major pitcher's park in Seattle. The guy hits righties and lefties well and would be an instant upgrade over Jones and Gaby Sanchez at first.
- Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies - Just joking. I sincerely doubt the Pirates want a declining second baseman with major knee issues. Maybe if they take Brandon Inge off the team's hands, then they can start talking!