WEEKLY PIRATES REPORT
By John Perrotto
*Analysis, Rumblings & musings*
When Milo Hamilton was broadcasting Pirates’ games in the last 1970s, he used to give the “happy, happy totals” after each victory.
The Pirates’ offensive totals haven’t been very happy. Though the Pirates are coming off back-to-back wins for the first time this season and have won three of their last four games entering the opener of a three-game series with the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night at PNC Park, their hitting has been awful.
The Pirates have scored just 26 runs in 12 games. Their average of 2.17 runs a game is the worst in the major leagues. The Pirates’ .252 on-base percentage and .287 slugging percentage are also last.
Finding help from outside the organization at this time of the year is difficult. Teams have played just a dozen or so game and want a larger sample size before deciding to make significant roster moves.
However, there is a chance at some point later in the season that the Pirates might be able to add a hitter with upside to the lineup.
The logical position to add that hitter would be first base where the Pirates don’t consider Garrett Jones a part of their long-term plan, or with due respect to Matt Hague, a top prospect ready to step in.
The most likely trade bait would be closer Joel Hanrahan, who will start getting very expensive after this season and could be replaced by Jason Grilli in the short term.
Here are three potential trade targets:
—Brandon Belt, San Francisco. The Giants have lost closer Brian Wilson for the season because
of Tommy John surgery but say they will go with a closer-by-committee approach. However, committees rarely work and the Giants might eventually be shopping for a closer.
Belt is getting limited playing time behind Aubrey Huff at first base. Huff is a free agent at the end of the season and Belt is seemingly the heir apparent in 2013 but the Giants might be willing to give him up if they feel a desperate need for a closer.
Belt, a 24-year-old left-handed hitter who stands 6-foot-5, has batted .343 with 31 home runs in 189 career minor-league games.
—Mark Trumbo, Angels. The addition of Albert Pujols has pushed the 26-year-old Trumbo off first base. Los Angeles has tried him at third base but the results haven’t been good and their outfield is already overcrowded.
Closer Jordan Walden saved 32 games last season as a rookie but also had nine blown saves. Thus, it’s not out of the question that the Angels might look for an upgrade at some point.
The right-handed hitting Trumbo belted 29 home runs last season and finished second in the
American League Rookie of the Year voting to Tampa Bay right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.
However, he also hit just .254 with a .291 on-base percentage.
—Tyler Moore, Washington. Moore hasn’t been a highly touted prospect but the 25-year-old
has pop from the right side and hit 31 home runs each of the last two seasons at high Class A
Potomac in 2010 and Class AA Harrisburg last season.
The Nationals traded Hanrahan to the Pirates in 2009 after he twice lost the closer’s job that season. Ironically, he could appeal to them in that role again as closer Drew Storen is recovering from elbow surgery.
Moore is off to a fast start at Class AAA Syracuse with five home runs in 13 games, which is five more dingers than much-ballyhooed teammate Bryce Harper has for the Chiefs.
John Perrotto has covered the Pirates and Major League Baseball for 25 years.