Back in December I commented on some ofthe Pirates off season moves. Now that we're coming up on the trade dead line I figure I'll take a stroll though that post and also go over some of the guys that Pirates should be looking to pick up. Of course this is just a fan's point of view.
Right now the Pirates are 51-50, 11 games over .500, a half game out of first place with only 4 teams in all of Major League Baseball that have a better record.
After a horrible offensive start to the year, being held up by top notch pitching and on the bat of Andrew McCutchen, they where at or near last in nearly every offensive category. The teams bats started lighting up at the end of May. Nearly every player started getting hits when needed. It was truly one of the best performances by a MLB team I have seen in years.
The star of the team is Andrew McCutchen who is leading the league in Batting Average of .369 and is in the top 5 for Home Runs and RBIs. As of right now he is a Triple Crown and MVP candidate. Not enough can be said for his individual performance this year. Neil Walker the past month has been outstanding as well raising his average to .299
Pittsburgh's pitching staff has been outstanding with little downside. James McDonald and A.J. Burnett have been the top two starters along with Eric Bedard, Kevin Correia and recently off the DL Jeff Karstens. A couple others have made a few starts as well. Over the season the team ERA is 3.55 good enough for sixth in the MLB and a opponent batting average of .245 which puts them at eighth.
Last year around this time the Pirates picked up Derrick Lee and Ryan Ludwick. I was excited but I am not a huge fan of rentals, which turned out what they where. They didn't seem to make a huge impact and the moves may have made things worse.
In the off season the Pirates signed Clint Barmes to replace Cedano at short. At that point I didn't think any one could be much worse at the plate than Cedano was. Turns out Barmes has not hit much of anything this year. Though he has had some clutch hits this year. Barmes has been fairly steady fielding but has made a few errors that have been entertaining. At short it is hard to find an available player, but over all he is overpaid in my opinion.
Rod Barajas was another pickup that I thought was over paid. His base speed and hitting are far from the best but his experience and ability with the pitchers is worth a lot. While I still feel he is a little over paid, over all I think it has been a good pickup.
Nate McLouth did not last long in his second stint in Pittsburgh. He did not cost much to bring back though it clearly was still too much.
Erik Bedard, I am pretty disappointed in his performance. I didn't expect him to win 20 games but teams seem to have his number. Seems to throw good pitches but they just all get hit. Once someone figures out why I think he'll be dangerous.
A.J. Burnett is the best player on the Pirates the Yankees are paying for. Between him and Barajas, I feel have helped the confidence of the whole pitching staff.
Casey McGehee, Hasn't been the best but was fairly cheap and can play first and third.
First Base: Jones and McGehee have been platooning the role and doing fairly well. Hague has come up to play the position fairly well too. In the line up you want to have Jones in when you can.
Second Base: Walker has been a beast at the plate the past month, his fielding has been better than average.
Short Stop: Barmes has done a fair job fielding but over all at the plate has been pretty bad. A few others have filled in from time to time but over all right now Barmes is the best option.
Third Base: Alverez has come alive. Tied for fourth in the NL in Home runs and eleventh in RBIs. He has also got some clutch hits. His average and OBP are rather low and his strike out number is still pretty high but he has made a huge leap this year and seems to be getting better as the year goes on. McGehee also fills in when Alverez is on rest or has a bad pitching matchup.
Catcher: Barajas as played the position great though batting hasn't been the best he does have power. McKenry has also played pretty well. Picking off people taking second has been pretty bad.
Outfield. The only sure thing out there is Andrew McCutchen. One of the better Center fielders in baseball along with his bad make him a serious MVP contender this year. Left and right are up in the air. Jones has been playing some Right field Not the best but far from the worst. Presley, Sutton and Hernandez have been playing left.
Pitching. A.J. and J-Mac have been outstanding. Karstens is doing pretty well since his return. Correia has been holding his own. Bedard continues to get hit on, Though his last outing was pretty darn good. (one earned run, yeah good). In the bullpen, Lincon and Grilli have been darn good with Hanrahan closing. It is hard to argue they're not doing well though some improvements can be made.
There are some players available at the trade dead line that could fill some gaps, most notably short and outfield.
Justin Upton: While Arizona hasn't said he is on the market, they are listening... which means he is on the market. I like this guy but his numbers out side of Arizona take a dive. He is under contract through 2015, has a decent enough glove and could do as well as any other option we currently have available. The cost will be high
Carlos Quentin: This guy gets on base. But most likely would just be a rental. However he would be cheap and give us time to find or develop another out field option.
Marco Scutaro: Shortstop is much needed, this guy can play it and is better than average behind the plate. Again most likely a rental given his age. However should he decide to stay in Pittsburgh, he shouldn't cost any more than Barmes has.
There are plenty of available rentals available at pitcher as well. However I do not feel most of these would be viable for the Pirates at this time.
In the minors there appears to be a few players that are nearing their time.
Marte could be the outfielder the pirates need though his strike out numbers seem a bit high. Cole, we've been hearing about him since he was drafted. I see both of these players getting some time in this year.
Again all this is just a fans point of view, I am by far an expert.