Pittsburgh Pirates: Buccos GM Neal Huntington Can't Be Afraid to Act

Shane McFarlandContributor IIIJuly 22, 2011

Pirates' GM Neal Huntington
Pirates' GM Neal HuntingtonJared Wickerham/Getty Images

Sitting around with several friends last night, we got into the same discussion that has been ongoing in every living room in Pittsburgh and every Pirates fan's home. With the Pirates currently looking like contenders, what will Pirates GM Neal Huntington elect to do at the trade deadline? 

While I have been a large supporter of Huntington looking outside of the organization for offensive relief, ideally in the form of a corner outfielder or first baseman, two candidates have emerged from trade rumors—the Astros' Hunter Pence and the Mets' Carlos Beltran (out of the running now)—I have been somewhat persuaded by the argument that the Pirates should see how third baseman Pedro Alvarez plays when he comes back. 

The same goes for utility man Steve Pearce.  With those two pieces back, is the organization better served in acquiring a bat, or maybe, rather, bolstering what is an already greatly improved pitching staff?

I couldn't be happier with the job pitching coach Ray Searage has done this year with the team.  The starting rotation, overall, has been spectacular, getting career performances from everyoneSeriously, everyone.

What scares most, if not all, Pirates fans is being tricked into believing that NOW is the time for the Pittsburgh Pirates to be ready to compete for a division title.  The the thing is, NOW might might be the only time they have a chance at competing for another 15 years. 

Why look past this season?  The front office needs to be careful, but can't be so cautious that they fail to pull the trigger on a deal that has great upside.

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 03:  Fans enter the ball park before the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies on June 3, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

High-schoolers Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie won't be ready for another four to five years down the line and the young 16-year-old Mexican product Luis Heredia is no further along.  At least the Pirates can have Gerrit Cole to look forward to sometime next year or the following spring (after they give him a fat Scott Boras-sized signing bonus). 

The problem with all of these options is that they are all what seems light years away.

Pirates fans have been through enough, suffered enough, been laughed at enough.  From the over zealous play-by-play and color commentators, to the die-hard fans who won't miss a game on Root Sports, management owes it to them all to put money into a team and a city that is starved for a winner.

The Pirates lineup, though wishy-washy sometimes, has been able to sustain its winning ways by scoring just enough runs to support the pitching.  Why not go out and acquire some extra ammunition for down the stretch? 

Follow the blueprint that the San Francisco Giants used last year.  Competitive starting pitching, timely hitting and good defense gets the job done. 

For the Pirates, the next two weeks are going to answer a lot of questions for the Pirates and their fan base.  Hopefully, we will be sitting here after the trade deadline talking about how brilliant Neal Huntington's trade was!

You can follow me on Twitter @mcfarlands412 or Facebook.