By Jared Lankes
It’s July 1st, which means it’s getting to be time to seriously talk about some trades. Now, some have been made already. For instance, James Shields, Fernando Rodney, and Bud Norris were all dealt before July even hit. But, now is the real time we talk about trades, and for me specifically, Pirates trades. I love trades in baseball, but I obviously lean towards the Pirates’ ones because they mean more to me.
So with the Pirates sitting a few games below .500, they still aren’t out of the playoffs by any stretch of the imagination. The NL Wildcard has literally been a wildcard, and nobody really knows what to think about it. It got more complicated with the Dodgers placing Clayton Kershaw on the DL and Steven Matz and possibly Noah Syndergaard could have injuries for the Mets, as they both reportedly have bone spurs that could limit them and/or become a problem later on. Combined this with the face the Pirates are closer to getting healthy than not, or at least hopefully, it can be assumed that nothing is close to done yet. Now, will the Pirates buy or sell has been a debate many have talked about for a few weeks now. There are people on both sides of the argument, but I’m going to give my take on the whole thing.
Firstly, let’s look at this team as a whole. The roster is stacked with talent and AAA is too. It’s safe to assume the Pirates have it going on when they are playing their best. It’s the fact they haven’t that’s the issue. However, when you look at the team as a whole, the one terrible thing that stands out is starting pitching. The bullpen will be fine, and the offense will do its thing, and oh yeah, the defense has been almost air tight. As for starting pitching, it hasn’t done its job.
Going off of that, I don’t think it’s worth tearing this talented team apart just because they need one starter. Jameson Taillon and Chad Kuhl have sort of helped, and Tyler Glasnow will help too if he comes up this year. This team is literally a starting pitcher and maybe a bullpen pitcher, if you want to get greedy, away from being a serious contending team.
The argument I see for selling is all the impending free agents or free agents to be after the 2017 season. Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Neftali Feliz, Juan Nicasio, Francisco Liriano, Jon Niese, Sean Rodriguez, Matt Joyce, David Freese, John Jaso, and others fall into that category. That’s a lot to lose in two years. Many people are also thinking that this is a transition year, so selling off these players now might be the best move for an organization like the Pirates. Whether organizations believe in transition years is not for me to decide, so I’ll leave it up to the front offices.
For me, I think this Pirates’ roster is the most talented one they’ve had in quite a long time. I think it’d be really hard to just give up on a team with so much potential. Even a team in a supposed “transition year” might have troubles doing such a thing. Take the Toronto Blue Jays last year as an example. They saw they had a good enough team and went for it. Pirates don’t need to be as drastic as the Blue Jays were last year, but the comparison stands as such anyways.
I know everyone is quick to just assume losing means selling in Pittsburgh because we have been used to that. This year is a special case though. They have a very good roster, aren’t that far out of it while teams ahead of them have injuries, they’ll be healthy soon, and the schedule gets way easier now than it was in June. I don’t think this team is selling unless they have a July that is similar to June. That is literally the only way. They may take it down to the wire and then decide to buy, sell, or do nothing. It’s truly not etched in stone yet what this team will do come late July, but as of right now, I wouldn’t sell.
However, July can change everything. If this team starts rolling, they’ll be buyers. If they slide, they’ll be sellers. If they hang around .500, who knows. As July unfolds, everything will become clearer to everyone what the intentions are for the Pirates and many teams around baseball. July is truly the month that decides how seasons go in the MLB. July can make it or break it. We will see which category the Pirates fall under.