By John Perrotto
Neal Huntington isn’t as much frustrated as he is somewhat amused.
The Pirates have continued to look to trade for players to bolster their roster since the non-waiver trading deadline passed on July 31. However, the problem is that many of the players the Pirates had interest in never made it to them on waivers.
“We’ve never been in that position before (in his nearly five years as GM), where there were so many teams in front of us in the claiming order,” Huntington said. “I guess you could say it’s the one downside to winning but I would be glad to be in this position every year.”
Considering the Pirates have the sixth-best record in the 16-team National League, there have been plenty of teams ahead of them who have been able to claim players.
MLB tries to make the waiver process ultra secretive and Huntington would face a large fine if he mentioned any of the players he tried to acquire who were blocked. However, he made it clear that he’s been frustrated in his attempts to try to add more help.
While Huntington won’t rule out making a waiver trade between now and the Aug. 31 deadline for bringing players into the organization and having them eligible to play in the postseason, he doesn’t sound hopeful.
And if the Pirates are able to make trades, they will likely be like the minor ones like they pulled off at the end of last month when they acquired reliever Chad Qualls, first baseman Gaby Sanchez and right fielder Travis Snider.
“We’ve probably made our big trade,” Huntington said, referring to the July 24 acquisition of left-hander Wandy Rodriguez from Houston.
Thus, the Pirates will likely have to strengthen the roster from within as they attempt to gain their first postseason berth and winning season since 1992. They trail St. Louis by one-half game for the second wild card spot in the NL.
Left-hander Justin Wilson, who pitched one scoreless inning in his major-league debut Monday night at San Diego before being optioned right back to Class AAA Indianapolis, almost certainly will be back to serve as a second lefty in the bullpen with Tony Watson.
Others almost certain to be called up from Indianapolis are lefty Jeff Locke, right-handers Chris Leroux and Evan Meek, catcher Eric Fryer, first baseman Matt Hague and outfielder Alex Presley. Lefty Duke Welker and righties Kyle McPherson and Bryan Morris are also possibilities.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle believes his team can get to the postseason as currently constituted following the July moves.
“I have confidence in the men in our clubhouse,” he said. “They’ve gotten this far and if you would have asked back in April if we would be happy with where we are now, the answer would have been yes.”