1997. That was the last time Pittsburgh Pirates fans have seen the Pirates in contention within their division at this point of the season. Furthermore, it has been a full 19 seasons since the Pirates have been this many games north of the .500 mark.
Obviously, Pittsburgh fans are buzzing. Where all of the jerseys and shirts used to be symbols of futility and mismanagement (I still have my Giles, Kendall, Bay, Sanchez and Ramirez shirts), the Pirates are now contenders and buyers and the young names associated with the team are something to be proud of.
New to this side of the waiver free deadline, speculation has skyrocketed not over whether the Pirates will trade for someone, but for whom.
While reports have the Pirates interested in Ubaldo Jimenez and Aaron Harang, as a small ball team looking to contend, the Pirates’ lackluster offense (all major statistical rankings in the 20’s of the league) a bat is what will send the Pirates over the edge.
SB Nation has reported that the Pirates have been scouting Hunter Pence of Houston, but as Tim Kurkjian reported a couple of weeks ago, the Astros are willing to unload players, but not Pence. He is their franchise player, at least for this season.
CBS Sports has reported that Aramis Ramirez is on the block and could make a return to the ‘Burgh, but the Pirates are truly in need of a power bat in the outfield to fill holes, even with their injured infield. Also, Ramirez would only leave if he somehow cleared waivers and the Cubs management decides to officially declare the dreaded stage of rebuilding.
An intriguing name to watch is Josh Willingham of Oakland. While he may not have the power the Pirates are looking for, he would not come with a large price tag but would add another solid player to the Pirates lineup and would be second on the team with his current 12 home run season.
Perhaps the biggest name and target for the Bucs is Carlos Beltran. Buster Olney reported last night that the Mets are willing to cover some of Beltran’s contract in order to move him by the deadline. This makes him very appealing not just to the Pirates but many teams.
The Pirates have the edge because of their farm system. The Mets need pitching help at all levels, and the Pirates can offer top prospects such as Stetson Allie or Rudy Owens. If the Pirates would part with James Taillon, the Bucs would be looking to get more than just Beltran.
So ring the bell and open the market. It’s time to start buying, Bucs.