Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why the Pirates should make a trade for a run in 2011

Although not as widespread as Steeler Nation, there are pockets of Pirate fans all across the United States and around the world.

But that expansive reach also means that most are detached from living in the City of Pittsburgh itself. You can read about it online, follow on TV, call friends back home, but it is not the same as actually being here.

Pittsburgh is dying for a winner with the Pirates. The fact that after 18 losing seasons ANYONE shows up at PNC says that there are good fans here (and/or masochists). The ownership and front office of the Pirates owe it to the fans to take every advantage of this season in 2011. For a team and a front office that is not the best at public relations, this would be the signal to the cynical talk show fans that don't believe this ownership wants to win.

Life is not a binary proposition. It is possible to both keep building for 2012 and beyond AND contend in 2011. No one is saying to empty out the farm just to try and win 82 games. But it is possible to trade 1 or 2 guys, not the key guys of Taillon/Allie/Heredia (*I know they can't be traded until August -- theoretically they could be Players To Be Named Later), and get a bat or arm for a run at the NL Central.

Just because the Pirates may not be the leading contender to win the NL Central in 2011 does not mean you should just bag the season and start trading guys like Maholm and Hanrahan. At some point you can't treat the season like an Etch-a-Sketch and just erase it because you may finish in 3rd place. You need to draw a line in the sand and say "We're building from here on out".

Most of the reason for my distaste of not going for it in 2011 is The Streak. If the Pirates had a 3 or 4 year streak, I would probably agree that trading guys would be the best course of action if the team was .500 at the ASB. But this magical season has been dropped in the Pirates' lap and they can't just squander it by saying "We're not all the way there yet". It's like a musician that keeps tweaking a song and never performs it on stage. Sometimes you just need to go with it.

I like that players like d'Arnaud, Presley, and maybe in the near future Hague, have come to Pittsburgh. But if a chance to obtain a quality, established bat or arm for a stretch run comes along, it should be taken. The market on June 28 is vastly different than what will exist on July 15 or July 31. Teams will be desperate to sell and obtain prospects and salary relief. It happens EVERY year.

There are also off-field aspects that give reason to making trades to improve the team in 2011. In most cases, Perception is Reality. Most hard-core fans feel this team is on the way up, but the vast majority of Pittsburghers don't see it yet. Showing committment leads to 2011 ticket sales. It leads to 2012 season ticket sales. It helps with future free agents to see that Pittsburgh wants to win. It leads to increased sponsorship from the corporate level.

When life presents you with an opportunity, you can not squander it. You don't know when the next one will come along.

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