MLB Trade Deadline Speculation 2011: Where Should the Pirates Look to Improve?
With 68 games left to play in the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates sit atop the NL Central. Their record of 50-44 is better than the Brewers, the Cardinals and the Reds. All three of those teams are veteran clubs that were expected to blow out the young Pittsburgh squad. The Pirates have proved all the doubters wrong and grabbed first place.
Wow, that feels great to say.
With the trade deadline approaching, the Pirates should be looking to add a piece or two to make sure that they can stay at the top. What positions are the biggest needs for Pittsburgh?
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Ronny Cedeno and Chase D'Arnaud have both been decent shortstops, overall. Their defense has been very solid, but their bats haven't been producing. The Pirates could use an upgrade at the position. However, the shortstop market is very thin this year. With Jose Reyes and JJ Hardy most certainly out of the Bucs' price range, the only player they could really go for is Rafael Furcal. Is he really worth it? No.
Look for the Bucs to stand pat with their two shortstops.
3. Third Base
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Pedro Alvarez has been a huge disappointment so far, hasn't he?
After a very rough start, Alvarez got injured and left Brandon Wood and Josh Harrison to fill his spot. They haven't done anything out of the ordinary for the Bucs. If the Pirates want to make a run at the division title, third base would be one area they definitely want to shore up.
With Aramis Ramirez saying he would not accept any trade, the market at the hot corner is relatively thin as well. The Pirates best bet is to wait for Alvarez to produce at Triple-A and then promote him. Hopefully, he can have an outstanding end of the season like he did last year.
2. Right Field
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Right field is a big weak spot on the Pirates. Garrett Jones and Matt Diaz are not the answers here. The Pirates would greatly benefit from an impact player here.
From my point of view, the Bucs have two options. They can stand put, once again, and wait for Jose Tabata to come back. The outfield would then consist of Tabata, Andrew McCutchen and Alex Presley. These three are good enough to keep the Pirates in the hunt.
The other option makes a little more sense. The Pirates can trade for a big-name player. A name that has been going around lately has been Carlos Beltran. He makes perfect sense for Pittsburgh. If the Mets are willing to eat some of Beltran's salary, the Pirates would give up a few decent prospects. In return, they'd receive an All-Star slugger who can help deliver a division title and a run into the playoffs.
1. First Base
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Let's be honest. Lyle Overbay is not the answer at first base.
While he has been doing a little better recently, the Pirates need an upgrade at first base badly. Overbay is going to disappoint when he is needed the most.
The best option the Pirates can go for is Carlos Pena of the Chicago Cubs. While Pena is a strikeout machine, he can be the power bat that Pittsburgh has been looking for. He wouldn't help the Pirates' poor batting average, but he can help bring in runs. As a two-month rental, Pittsburgh would have to give up very little to snag Pena from Chicago. He would demand much less than Beltran would.
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Playoff baseball in Pittsburgh? It puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.