As the All-Star break fast approaches, so does the looming shadow of a the 16th consecutive season without a playoff hope for the Pittsburgh Pirates; a streak that first baseman Adam LaRoche said would not continue to haunt the Pirates this season.
The Pirates currently stand at 42-48, and the 16-season streak becomes to look more unbreakable as the season progresses. The Pirates haven't been over .500 since April, when they stood at 7-6. Changes are needed with the club.
The injury-plagued Pirate pitching staff appears to be the focus. Starters Tom Gorzellany, who was recently sent down to AAA, and Ian Snell, just coming off DL, have disappointed after both putting up winning records last season.
The rotation is very inconsistent. Phil Dumatrait, who just came off the DL, gave up seven runs to the struggling Houston Astros, yet he has proved to be reliable pre-injury. Paul Maholm appears to be the only consistent starter, with a 5-1 home record, and he recorded only three runs in his last 16 innings.
Other holes have been filled by John Van Benschoten, a long-relief pitcher, and Ty Taubenheim, who was recently added to the active MLB roster. With closer Matt Capps on the DL, who has already suffered seven blown saves, Damaso Marte has taken on the role and has proven himself effective. Along with Tyler Yates, Marte appears to be the only reliable go-to in the bullpen.
The Pirates should stick to what they do best: trade. This time though, they should buy, not sell. The exodus of Craig Wilson, Oliver Perez, and Solomon Torres has proven very ineffective. However, the Pirates aren't headed into that sort of direction, as they head to trade away their only All-Star, Xavier Nady.
Nady, who is hitting .321 this season with 24 doubles, 12 home runs, and 55 RBI, emerged as a utility player last season and is now an everyday All-Star starter. Nady does have good trade value, but it would be in the best interest for the Bucs to keep hold of Nady, who has expressed his want to stay in Pittsburgh.
With an outfield of Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, and Xavier Nady, the Pirates have one of the most dominating outfields in MLB.
Possible players that should be traded could be Louis Rivas, along with Brian Bixler, the struggling shortstops who failed to cover for the injured Jack Wilson, and Adam LaRoche, a streaky hitter who has just started a hot streak and raised his value.
The Pirates need to keep their players that are producing and trade away their others before their trade value falls. This should bring in possible pitching prospects to fill in the open spots in the rotation and bullpen.