Pittsburgh Pirates trade rumors: Will Neal Huntington pull the trigger?

pittsburgh piratesAt the halfway mark last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates were flying high and on their way to a playoff appearance for the first time in over 20 years. The Bucs are very much in the playoff hunt this season, but they find themselves in a much closer race.

Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington believes this year’s team is in a better position than last season’s.

“We felt less comfortable with last year’s club, as silly as it sounds with the win-loss record,” Huntington said Sunday. “But we had a pretty glaring need in right field that we went out and addressed, and even at first base. As we sit here right now, we have some internal options that if they step forward, we’re going to get some quality production from them. But we’ll still look to get better if there’s an opportunity out there.”

The 2013 team often lacked offense and the acquisitions of right fielder Marlon Byrd and first baseman Justin Morneau helped power Pittsburgh into October. However, it appears Huntington doesn’t see as big of a need for improvement with this year’s club.

With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, the Pirates may not make any moves. Like all playoff contenders, Pittsburgh is testing the market but Huntington doesn’t feel the urgency for an upgrade is as dire as last July.

“We have some guys that still have room to grow,” Huntington said. “We don’t have a ton of guys having career years. We’ve got some guys we think are on the rebound or we think are ready to take steps forward. But there are also players out there, whether it’s starting pitching, relievers, position players, role players that we think can help us.”

With that being said, third base, first base and the bullpen appear to be the weakest links on this Pirates team. Last season the “Shark Tank” was one of, if not, the best, bullpen in baseball, but this year they have experienced a shaky ride at times.

The fall of Jason Grilli was a big blow to the Bucs. His dominance last season played a huge role in the team’s success. Mark Melancon has been solid as a closer, but he can struggle at times.

The four game series against the Cardinals before the All-Star break is an example of whether this bullpen can hold up when the going gets tough. The relievers were tagged for walk-off losses in the first two games and they blew the save the following Friday against the Reds.

While the bullpen has been sharp since returning from the break, it doesn’t mean the problems have been solved. Pittsburgh will need their relievers to perform against division opponents as the hunt for October continues.

The roller coaster ride of Pedro Alvarez is another issue the Pirates are faced with. Last season the third baseman was among the league leaders in homers and an All-Star, but this season his struggles at the plate are apparent, and atrocious throws in the field have cost the Pirates games.

Alvarez has committed 21 errors, 20 of which have been throwing errors. While the Pirates aren’t ready to write off Alvarez, many fans are frustrated with his performance.

First base is another area that lacks production. The platoon of Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez has been less than stellar. In his last three starts, Sanchez has gone 4-for-10, including an RBI double on Saturday against the Rockies, but this doesn’t mean the problem has been resolved. First base is still a major question mark for the Bucs.

With these questions lingering, will Huntington pull the trigger on a deal that will help Pittsburgh get into the playoffs? Or will he sit back and hope Clint Hurdle‘s troops can fight through the problems?

Only time will tell as the deadline quickly approaches.

  • Thomas blaydes

    I think we could work with Pedro to be a firstbaseman and sit him out a couple games and send him down to triple A to get some experience with it and the way he has been swinging the bat lately he should be sent down I don’t know how many more years Neil Huntington can put up with up ad down slumps from Pedro and if we could get Kennedy or price I think we would be a lock for the postseason and price and Kennedy are doing really well with pretty bad teams if we don’t get price we need to leave him out of the hands of the cardinals

  • Andrew

    “The Pirates may not make any moves. Like all playoff contenders, Pittsburgh is testing the market but Huntington doesn’t feel the urgency for an upgrade is as dire as last July”
    Are you freaking serious, if they don’t make any moves and think we have enough internal talent to win this year than Huntington is more stupid then I think he already is! What a joke! We need pitching help and another bat or two. Ike is horrible and 1B needs to be addressed immediately!

  • Anthony Rompola Jr.

    CHANGES NEED TO TAKE PLACE!!!!!! WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF GAMES!!!!!! WE NEED REAL MAJOR LEAGUERS, NOT AAA PLAYERS @ THIS TIME OF THE YEAR!!!! HOPEFULLY MR. COLE GETS HEALTHY + STAYS HEALTHY!!!!!!!

    • Peppermintpatti

      Why are you yelling?

  • Peppermintpatti

    Send Martinez back to Triple A, bring back Hague or Lambo for an extended period and let them settle in this time. It takes time, just look at Harrison – once he was given playing time on a regular basis he provided the spark we needed. We have all the pieces in Triple A, don’t sell the farm for a rental.

    • Andrew

      I say bring back Lambo for sure, I think after the surgery this guys on a tear and needs another shot at1B, maybe he solves our problem at 1B and then we can spend the money to get a great SP, and a RP.

  • ds

    Completely ridiculous to think you can put Pedro at first; it’s not that easy.

    • CuttinplugZ

      It’s not that easy your correct. Pedro is a very nimble guy he could handle it. His arm is to good for his own hah that’s funny but yeah if he could hit .250 28-34 hr a year w our first base solved .. Harrison can at least cover third for now time will tell. All this is very hard in the middle of the season tho.

  • Daniel G Bartoli

    Big problem this year with trade deadline deals is that there are 19 of 32 MLB teams still with legitimate playoff chances. That means 19 buyers and only 13 sellers. Of the 13, it’s possible that there are no desirable talent for sale. There may simply not be any trade options available and those that are presented will be almost certainly be asking for Josh Bell level prospects. This year, Huntington may be prudent to stay out of the market.

  • aaron

    Two solutions. One, play Pedro at first and Harrison at third full time. Gets rid of Pedro’s throwing woes and gets Harrison a full time home. The use Ike in a trade for a back end bullpen arm.

    Option two, trade Pedro, Ball, and maybe a AA pitcher to the Cubs for Anthony Rizzo. Then see above for late inning relief help

    • Rik

      The Cubs aren’t trading Rizzo