The Pirates may have the second-best record in the National League, but Pittsburgh still has a lot of work to do to ensure that the club makes the postseason this year.
Pittsburgh hasn’t played in a playoff game since 1992. There’s a bit of pressure on general manager Neal Huntington to get the team back this season, especially after such a strong start. The Pirates are 57-39 entering Monday and sit two games behind the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.
Winning the division is going to be a tough task. St. Louis is one of the most talented teams in baseball, and Cincinnati is only a few games behind Pittsburgh. Down the stretch, it’s anyone’s guess as to who sneaks into the playoffs and who stays home. Huntington can aid his team’s odds by addressing a few weaknesses at the deadline.
Jim Bowden of ESPN explains what Pittsburgh is looking to do:
There’s no question that the Pirates absolutely need to add a bat before the calendar shifts to August. Pittsburgh’s offense currently ranks 10th in baseball in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs. But that doesn’t mean that the lineup doesn’t have its fair share of holes, because it definitely does.
Pittsburgh could use an upgrade at first base, where Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez have shared time. The team’s first base position ranks 22nd in the game in WAR, per FanGraphs. The Pirates rank 26th in right field production, per FanGraphs, but that’s mainly because Starling Marte missed more than a month with an oblique injury.
If Huntington comes out of the trade deadline with a player who can preferably play first base and hit with power and consistency, Pittsburgh’s chances of making the postseason will skyrocket. Aside from the Pirates, here are two other teams that need to make some moves in order to enhance their chances of playing playoff baseball in 2013.
Detroit’s bullpen has the 10th-best WAR this season, according to FanGraphs.
But don’t be misled.
The main reason the Tigers’ bullpen WAR is so high is because of how well Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit have pitched. A few other guys have been effective at times, but for the most part, those two relievers are keeping Detroit’s bullpen intact. The team is seeking help, per Jon Morosi of Fox Sports:
The biggest issue for Detroit has been finding a reliable closer.
Bruce Rodon was supposed to be the guy coming out of spring training, but he posted a 4.76 ERA in 12 appearances. Then, Detroit signed Jose Valverde, hoping that he could handle the job. While he saved nine games for the Tigers, he also allowed 12 earned runs in 19.1 innings. Now, Benoit is the closer.
Benoit has been outstanding in the ninth inning this year:
Now that Benoit is usually pitching in the ninth, the Tigers need to add a reliever or two to fill the void where he used to pitch. That’s where someone like Huston Street or Luke Gregerson would come in. Gregerson has definitely been better this year, as he has a 2.93 ERA in 40 innings whereas Street has a 4.02 ERA in 31.1 innings.
Detroit obviously isn’t limited to just those two guys, but adding a reliever will be beneficial down the stretch. It’s definitely something that general manager Dave Dombrowski and his staff should be looking into at the moment.
The Orioles are going to have a lot of trouble making the postseason this year, and it’s not because they’re playing poorly. It’s mainly because the division has been so competitive and it’s far from a lock that the AL East will have three playoff teams. Baltimore may have to win the division—or will at least need to come in second.
Baltimore already made one move this summer, acquiring Scott Feldman from the Chicago Cubs. The Orioles still need more, though. Baltimore’s starting rotation still isn’t as good as it could be, and the team needs another bat in the heart of the lineup—albeit Baltimore has the third-best offense in baseball, per FanGraphs.
The Orioles could really use a new designated hitter, as the spot in the lineup hasn’t done much for the club this season. Orioles designated hitters are only batting .214/.265/.374 this year and rank 12th in the AL in terms of WAR, per FanGraphs. Adding someone like Justin Morneau sounds like a good idea.
But the problem that Baltimore has is that it might be out of money.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports “an Orioles-connected person used the phrase ‘tapped out’ to describe their financial situation.”
Heyman asked an Orioles person about potentially acquiring Morneau, who’s owed $6 million the rest of the season, and the person said that he would be “too expensive.”
This is truly an embarrassing situation in Baltimore, as the team cannot scrape together a few million dollars to boost the offense. Find the money, O’s.
*All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 21. All contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts and all injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus.