Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Pirates didn't do anything at the trade deadline, but they didn't get worse

Things like NFL free agency and MLB's non-waiver trade deadline have become events, events that, well, if something doesn't happen for the home team, fans feel deflated.

I won't lie, I felt a little deflated when I turned on my car radio around 4:30 pm on Thursday to discover that the Pirates didn't acquire the services of Tampa ace David Price (I had already learned that Jon Lester would be leaving the Red Sox, but he would be going to Oakland--and not the neighborhood located in Pittsburgh, the city located in Northern California).

It's natural to want to see a result after days and days of speculation that usually accompanies baseball's trade deadline each and every late July.

My cousin texted me that he was "so frustrated." My brother texted me way too much for my tastes, telling me that the Pirates didn't get better, while the Cardinals, with their acquisitions of pitchers John Lackey and Justin Masterson; and the Brewers (the other NL Central team Pittsburgh will have to duke it out with down the stretch in 2014), with their acquisition of Gerardo outfielder with six home runs and 30 RBI, did.

Maybe St. Louis and Milwaukee did improve their respective squads with the pieces they added, but the Pirates didn't get worse simply by standing pat.

Whether it be hockey's or baseball's, I always find the trade deadline intriguing because we've become conditioned to think that if our team doesn't do something, it's a disservice to the fans.

Why is that?

If your team was good enough to make it to the trade deadline as a contender, why, suddenly, is it going to go downhill if no major moves are made?

The Pirates are still the same team that's 57-50 overall and 47-32 since early May (as of this writing).

Of course, our expectations rose over the past few days amid the rumors that Pittsburgh was suddenly a serious contender for Lester, and that a deal was believed to be imminent by many people "in the know."

But the Red Sox weren't just willing to accept a top prospect or two for Lester, a free agent at the end of the year who would be damn-near impossible for a team like the Pirates to sign to a long-term deal, they wanted a major league player........from a contending team.

You know who that major league player turned out to be? The A's Yoenis Cespedes, a 28 year old outfielder with 17 home runs and 67 RBI, and he won't be a free agent until after next season.

Now, the A's will be the team that will have no chance to re-sign Lester after this season, while Boston will certainly have the resources to lock up Cespedes AND maybe even Lester, who seemed to love playing with the Red Sox.

Can you imagine the Pirates parting ways with Starling Marte? If you can't, you shouldn't be crying that Lester didn't come to town, because there is no way he would have, otherwise.

And considering Marte is having a bit of a down year thanks to injuries, unlike Oakland, who also had to give up a draft pick, fellow outfielder Josh Bell or Austin Meadows may have also been part of a deal for Lester.

What about Pedro Alvarez? After all, he's having a down year. Forget the fact that he'll be in Pittsburgh until after the 2016 season and he hit 36 home runs last year (oh yeah, he's probably the only one in the organization with that kind of power), just throw him into a deal for Lester. After all, we gotta go for it!

It has been said that the only way for a team like the Pirates to acquire the services of a power hitter with the pedigree of an Alvarez would be to trade for him or draft him, which they did with the second overall pick in 2008.

Now that he's on the roster, you're just going to throw him into a deal for a rent-a-player simply because of a bad year?

If Alvarez can somehow get it together over these last two months, he would represent value that Pittsburgh simply couldn't bring back in any trade--at least from a hitting standpoint--and he could be the missing piece to the puzzle that gets the Pirates back to the postseason.

The A's did acquire outfielder Jonny Gomes, a 30something with only six home runs this year in the deal along with Lester, but how would that guy look in left field at PNC Park? Might as well just stick Travis Snider out there.

As for the trade of Rays' prized ace pitcher David Price to the Tigers for basically nothing note-worthy (Drew Smyly, a 25 year old starting pitcher who has made 17 starts and 23 year old infield prospect, Nick Franklin), I guess Pirates gm Neal Huntington doesn't have the fleecing chops of Detroit's gm because I'm sure had he been able to land Price, 28 and not a free agent until after next season, for, say, Jeff Locke and Jose Tabata, I'd like to think he would have driven both of them to Tampa himself.

In any event, the Pirates didn't get worse at the deadline, they just stayed the same. So far, that hasn't been too bad.

And if Gerrit Cole can also get it together down the stretch.................

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