Pirates Trade Rumors: Shane Victorino Could Be Final Piece in Playoff Puzzle

Steven GerwelContributor IIIJuly 28, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 07: Shane Victorino #8 of the Philadelphia Phillies bats against the Atlanta Braves during a MLB baseball game on July 7, 2012 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Braves defeated the Phillies 6-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

In 1992, Barry Bonds led the way for the Pittsburgh Pirates with 34 home runs and 103 RBI during a promising season that resulted in a 96-66 overall record.

The Pirates faced the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS and were one game away from a World Series appearance against the Toronto Blue Jays, but they were eliminated. 

After than season, the Braves went on to win three more National League pennants and one World Series, but the Pirates were not so lucky. 

In fact, their Game 7 loss to the Braves in the 1992 NLCS was the team's last playoff appearance. 

It's now two decades later, but the Pirates now have a chance to finally rise above their historic mediocrity and claim a spot in the playoffs. 

The Pirates are just two games out of first place in the NL Central behind the Cincinnati Reds and are the current wild-card leaders with a 57-42 record. 

The division rival St. Louis Cardinals are notorious for late-season magic and are charging back with a four-game win streak. The Cards are just 3.5 games behind the Pirates. 

The current wild-card runner-ups, the Braves, are on a three-game win streak and are just two games back. 

With Pittsburgh feeling heat from two perennial playoff contenders, perhaps this should be the year that they approach the trade deadline as buyers for a change. 


Shane Victorino Would Beef Up the Outfield

Andrew McCutchen is having an MVP-worthy season in the outfield with 22 homers and a .369 batting average, but he could certainly use some help. 

McCutchen is the only Pirate hitting over .300 and one of only two hitters on the team with double-digit home runs. 

If a deep playoff run is truly the primary objective in 2012, the Pirates need another weapon. 

According to Jayson Stark of ESPN via Twitter, the Philadelphia Phillies are listening to offers for outfielder Shane Victorino. 

Victorino is not the dominant bat that the Pirates would love to acquire, but he is a solid hitter capable of an occasional bomb. He would certainly make the Pittsburgh lineup more dangerous. 

But the three-time gold glove winner adds the most value in the outfield next to McCutchen. The two of them would create on of the better defensive outfields in the league, which is ideal for a team that relies on solid pitching and defense more so than hot bats. 

Also, the Pirates are a highly inexperienced team and need more veteran leadership in order to make the playoffs realistic. 

The 31-year-old Victorino is not only an eight-year veteran with multiple playoff games on his resume, but he also won the World Series in 2008 and understands what it takes to win. 

If the Phillies decide to sell, Victorino is a smart move for Pittsburgh.