Today I was reading a few articles about how the Tampa Bay Rays might have to start thinking about trading David Price this summer due to their record. This was before their loss tonight, when they were sitting 16-22. That had me thinking two things.
1. I need to go up to St. Pete to see David Price soon.
2. If the Rays need to start thinking about selling because they’re 16-22 and four games out of the wild card, then what should the Pirates be talking about, sitting at 16-21 and 3.5 games back from the second NL Wild Card spot?
The games back stat is a little misleading at this point. The Rays have five teams ahead of them before you get to the teams currently occupying the Wild Card spots. The Pirates are 3.5 games back, but would have to jump past seven teams to get a Wild Card spot.
So if the Rays need to be thinking about selling right now, does that mean the Pirates need to do the same thing?
The situations are a bit different. The Rays have a lot of injuries (Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson), and don’t have the depth the Pirates do or a big impact from the minor league system on the way. The Pirates, meanwhile, have some good depth in Triple-A, and have the eventual arrival of Gregory Polanco. That means they’re more likely to receive the help they need to improve as the year goes on.
But at what point should they start making plans for pending free agents like Francisco Liriano, Russell Martin, and more?
I don’t think they need to do anything right now. They’re coming off a 6-3 stretch. One more stretch like that, and they’re one game below .500. They also don’t need to do anything until they see how the team does with Polanco. They can make some internal improvements right now, which is what they should do by making a switch from Wandy Rodriguez to Brandon Cumpton.
As far as external additions, if Jordy Mercer continues his struggles, then that will bring up an interesting debate about whether they should sign Stephen Drew after the draft, and after the point where they wouldn’t have to give up a draft pick to sign him.
You could also point out that a big reason they’re struggling right now is that their pitching isn’t performing to expectations. That especially includes Liriano, who would be the biggest trade chip if the Pirates were sellers. If Liriano’s struggles would lead to the Pirates being sellers, then selling him probably wouldn’t bring back much in return.
I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement with the Pirates. The offense isn’t as bad as we saw throughout most of April, and hopefully the positive signs we’re seeing lately means they’re starting to bounce back. The pitching has struggled, even from the guys who were expected to perform. The Pirates just have to wait it out for guys like Liriano, but they should start to think about moving on from someone like Rodriguez.
As I’ve been mentioning a lot in the last few weeks, the Pirates have dug themselves a deep hole that they now need to climb out of. That’s not going to be easy, but it is possible. There’s a chance they could also be sellers this summer, but the time to think about that probably won’t come for another month or two.
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