Neal Huntington finds himself in a difficult situation these days. The Pirates are in contention. Even if the Cardinals sweep this weekend, the Bucs are still a contender. Mr. Huntington needs to keep his eyes wide open and his emotions in check as the deadline approaches.
First of all, the Pirates have remained in contention despite having four starters spend significant time on the DL. The experiment of d'Arnaud, Wood, etc. at SS showed us how valuable Ronny Cedeno is as a shortstop. Secondly, among Tabata, Doumit, and Alvarez, the Pirates have some significant pieces returning soon. I believe Pedro is in AAA right now for two reasons: (1) to get his confidence back; (2) to not have to make any major moves with Wood, Paul, etc. on the off chance that they may be small pieces in a bigger deal.
So, what should the Pirates do? Buy or Sell? Both.
Carlos Pena IS an upgrade at 1B. Even if he continues to hit .225 the fact that he is a threat to hit a 3-run HR during MOST ABs makes him invaluable to the Pirates. Buy if: no more than a mid-level prospect and pick up remaining salary
The starting staff has been great. But, they don't project to continue that way and it appears as if Lincoln and Ohlendorf could step in an fill a void. Maybe Maholm can bring in a young power hitting RF or 1B. Sell if: the return includes some thunder in the lineup.
Hunter Pence is a good baseball player...the kid's a gritty, hard-nosed player Pittsburghers love. And, he is signed through 2012- which keeps his as a cog in future plans. It will take a few prospects to get him, but we have depth in some places. Tabata, McCutch, and Pence sounds like as good as an OF in 2012 as Tabata, McCutch, and Marte. And he could be had for say, Marte, Owens, and someone else. Buy if: 1 top line prospect; 1 mid-level; and one good performing Single A player
Some of the names brought up in talks (Connor Jackson, David DeJesus, etc.) make absolutely no sense. We already have guys hitting .235 with 2 HRs. Buy if: never
Some say, "Win now"; others say "protect the core at all costs". I say "Protect the core but recognize that the right deal might allow you to win now AND win later." Andrew McCutchen a trade candidate? Never, right? What if the Dodgers said, "Kemp and Kershaw for McCutch". I'd say, "Hope you like Dodger-blue Andrew".
If I am Huntington, I know that for the right price, I can trade Maholm, Karstens, or Correia; d'Arnaud, Harrison, Pearce, or Mercer; Marte, Hernandez, or Pressley and still give my team the opportunity to win now AND later. And I can trade Wood, Jones, Paul, Diaz, and Overbay without sacrificing either. And, finally, that if I try to trade the "Fort" I will be run out of town!