Dejan Kovacevic has an article in Monday’s Tribune-Review criticizing the Pirates’ front office for not taking action to address the club’s offensive struggles. It is a well-written article and offers up a lot of valid points.
The Pirates offense has been awful and, with ‘Cutch out of the equation, is hitting .203/.253/.321. Those are the facts, plain and simple. Whose fault is it that the offense is that bad? Partly because of the front offense. Partly because of the players underperforming. Partly because of the team’s manager giving away multiple outs due to bunting or base running.
So, what’s the solution? Kovacevic says that it does not really matter how, but the club simply needs to add some bats. They need to add bats by claiming players off waivers. They need to add some bats by sifting through other minor league systems. They need to add bats by trading prospects.
Let’s just go after claiming a player off waivers. There is a reason why players are placed on waivers. Those reasons usually include the fact that the player is not good. In fact, that player is so “good” that the player placing him on waivers has decided that the player is not contributing to the team and that they feel the players never will contribute to their team ever again. That doesn’t sound like the player who can turn this offense around.
Second, let’s look through the scrap that is sitting around in other organization’s minor leagues. The acquisition of Drew Sutton yesterday is looked at as an example of this. These types of trades usually do not involve the club receiving a player to have to give up anything other than cash. The problem with these trades? There is a reason why these players are “minor league scrap.” These guys aren’t going to provide any help unless they are called upon in case of an injury to provide replacement level numbers.
Last is the always great option of making a trade. So far this season, there have been three Major League players traded. Those three players are OF Marlon Byrd (.475 OPS), RHP Michael Bowden, and RHP Ernesto Frieri. Not exactly anyone worthwhile. In 2011, three players were traded before June 30th (2B Scott Sizemore, LHP David Purcey, and 2B Brad Emaus). You can click on their names if you want to know how impactful those players were.
There are a few reasons why trades don’t happen at this point of the season. The “buyers” are usually very, very desperate, which is what the Pirates would be in this situation. Also, a lot of teams at this point are still contending. No team is currently more than nine games out of a playoff spot. Last year’s World Series champions were 10.5 games behind in the wildcard standings in the last month of the season. No team is ready to go into “selling mode” yet. When you have a desperate buyer in a market of practically no sellers, the cost for “goods” can skyrocket to the point that it would be incredibly stupid and foolish to pull the trigger on a deal. Now, can a team try? Yes, they should. But the Pirates had trouble trying to pry away teams’ backup catchers last summer because teams knew they needed one. Other teams can look up statistics. Other teams know the Pirates’ offense is awful. A trade at this point would be near impossible.
Don’t read this into me “blindly defending Neal Huntington” because I am not doing that. He shoulders a lot of the blame for being in this situation. But when he says the options have to come internally, he is correct. I am all for, at this point, trying out Jake Fox and/or Jordy Mercer. But the fact also remains that the current players on this roster just need to start playing better. McCutchen is the only player right now performing up to or better than his career numbers. That needs to change.
It is easy to say that the team needs to “add some bats.” Coming up with viable options is the problem.