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Insider Only Huntington’s unpopular moves saw the GM make an honest evaluation of this ball club

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So, how was your deadline day?

The Pirates had a good one if sending the signal to your fans that the season is over on August 1st is a good thing.

That’s what they did when they sent Francisco Liriano to the Blue Jays for an average pitching prospect, two days after sending Mark Melancon to the Nationals for two OK prospects.

My favorite is Jon Niese back to the Mets for Antonio Bastardo, a left handed relief pitcher, who the Pirates had last year.

DHP_7418Of course, Niese is the guy the Pirates got from the Mets for Neil Walker last winter. So, as it turns out, the Pirates got nothing for a second baseman who’s on his way to hitting 25 home runs this season. He has 17 right now.

The last time we saw the Pirates on the field they were being swept by the Brewers in Milwaukee. They’re 17-64 against the Brewers in their last 81 games. (That’s half of a baseball season.)

General Manager Neal Huntington has been around baseball long enough to spot a team that’s going nowhere and the Liriano and Melancon trades were good deals for a team that’s decided to wait until next year.

Melancon is a free agent at the end of the year and will be cashing in on a $100 million contract from a team in a top 10 TV market in a few months.

That’s out of the Pirates’ league. The closer position may be the most overrated job in all of professional sports and the Pirates may be the smart ones for not overpaying someone to do it.

The Pirates arrived in Going Nowhereville when they decided to do almost nothing in the off-season to maintain a team that had won 98 games.

Major League Baseball made contenders out of a lot more teams when they added the second wild card team, but the Pirates showed that they learned from being eliminated in one game playoffs two years in a row.

It makes no sense to mortgage your future for a chance at a one game playoff. General managers have to be smart enough to be honest with themselves as the trading deadline approaches.

They have to ask themselves if the team they’ve been watching for four months is a player or two away from winning a division.

If the answer is no, he has to stand pat or sell. Huntington dumped a lot of salary when he unloaded Niese and Liriano and neither of those pitchers looked like they would make the Pirates better next year. He also saved a ton of money by making the decision not to get involved in the Melancon bidding this winter.

Dreaming about going on a long playoff run after winning the one game playoff is for the fans and a few too many in the media.

Huntington did what was best for the Pirates in the long term.

And, really, what’s another year to wait for trip to the World Series when you’ve already waited 37?


-Trading deadline day is the day when MLB’s stupidity is on display.

Go through the list of major deals on Monday and you’ll see lots of good or formerly good, high priced players going from teams in smaller TV markets to teams in the top 10.

The rich teams send prospect to the teams that almost never win.

The Yankees did some salary dumping this year, too, but they aren’t stockpiling prospects to develop them as much as they’re stockpiling them to use in the future to trade to poorer teams for big money stars.

And the beat goes on.

The Kansas City Royals did MLB’s apologists a favor by going to the World Series two years in a row and winning it last year, but they ended a 29-year span of no post season games when they went to the playoffs in 2014.

Prior to the Royals ending that drought, they, combined with the Pirates, Reds, Brewers, Twins, and Athletics had won four post season series’ in a combined 175 seasons.

After this year’s trading deadline, the Pirates are one game over .500 and 11 games out, the Reds and Brewers are behind them in the NL Central. The Royals are 11 games back and five games under .500 and the Athletics are in last place, 14 ½ out.

See you next year.


Photo: David Hague

About The Author

John Steigerwald

TIOPS Columnist

John Steigerwald, a life long Pittsburgher, has been covering PITTSBURGH sports since 1977 as a TV anchor/reporter, columnist radio reporter/commentator and talk show host. He is also the author of one of the best selling local books in Pittburgh history, "Just Watch The Game."

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