Monday, July 27, 2015

Deadline Approaches With Holes To Fill...

The opening deadline deal the Bucs swung for A-Ram was out of necessity, and well played, we think. The FO brought in a legit 5-6 hitter to poke a finger in the dike while Josh & Jordy are out, without adding to an already crowded left side of the infield. When they return, A-Ram adds a solid RH bat to the bench in September. The next set of moves is to shore up the soft spots; this is the week, as the deadline expires on Friday afternoon..

The biggest question the Pirates had to answer during the deadline selloff was whether they were going to stick with Pedro at first. Last week, Jeff Passan of Yahoo!Sports said he was being offered to everyone; this week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted his spot in Pittsburgh is etched in stone; we assume market response had something to do with that swing. And with Josh Bell's estimated arrival in 2017 meshing with Pedro's estimated departure, looks like it'll be the same ol' next season, too.

Pedro remaining at first simplifies the Pirates deadline dealing (photo Gene Puskar/AP)

If that is the case, the Pirates may or may not look to upgrade the spot by adding a RH hitter. But the market isn't offering much, even in that limited role, and Sean Rodriguez isn't going anywhere. Mike Napoli? Maybe, but he's not really much of an improvement. And where exactly does that leave the now redundant Travis Ishikawa?

The most obvious need is some bullpen help. After Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Jared Hughes - he's been every bit as dependable in his role as The Shark and Tony have been in theirs - the FO has to find an arm or two. Antonio Bastardo, Deolis Guerre and Archimedes Caminero may all have cool names, but unfortunately, that's where the coolness ends as all three have been wildly inconsistent. A Tyler Clippard, Tommy Hunter, Brad Boxberger type would bolster the pen considerably (EDIT - scratch Clippard. He went to the Mets for minor league RHP Casey Meisner.) Internal reinforcements include the return of Rob Scahill and rehab of John Holdzkom, but neither are on the near horizon.

A righty stick, preferably in the OF (ideally, 1B/OF) might be a piece worth considering, even with Ramirez aboard, to ease Gregory Polanco's transition. The Bucs are reported by Rob Beirtempfel  to have interest in Boston OF'er Shane Victorino. The Flyin' Hawaiian can still hit against lefties (.304 this season) which makes him a possible platoon guy with Gregory. He also carries what remains of a $13M contract with him, so his price shouldn't be much. Victorino is a FA at the end of the year and would be a pure rental, which would be a perfect fit. (EDIT - he was; but for the Angels, who picked him up today for Josh Rutledge.)

Don't let the smoke of players like Justin Upton get into your eyes; Pittsburgh is sold on Gregory and aren't gonna hedge their bets quite yet. The Pirate OF is actually quite solid on the farm, and the organization finally has a few youngsters at Indy, though none are making any noise yet.

More starters, please? Charlie has hit the wall after the sixth inning recently (a fact known to all but Clint, apparently), and AJ is regressing, as expected. But unless a well timed visit to the DL pops up, the Pirates really don't have anyplace to move the current rotation; there are no young guns to send down. That doesn't mean that twenty-something like Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner wouldn't interest the Pirates FO, but it would involve a lot of moving parts.

The possibility also exists that Pedro Florimon may wear out his welcome sooner rather than later, which would open the door for a Clint Barmes reunion. We don't think anything like a Ben Zobrist offer is in the works; the FO seems OK with most of the core and is looking to apply some putty around the edges.

No comments: