CHICAGO — If it’s late May, then it can’t be too early for the Pirates to look back to the future.
It sure beats a look at back at what happened against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night, which to say another shutout loss, 4-0, the second for the Pirates in as many games.
The Pirates were limited to five hits, and in the process, they wasted another solid performance on the mound. Starter Ross Ohlendorf allowed three earned runs in 7 2/3 innings but was stuck with the loss, anyway.
“I mean, we’ve mixed in different guys,” said manager John Russell, who sounded like someone who had exhausted most if not all of his options. “The last time we went through this, even the bench guys struggled a little bit. We just gotta stay together and try to have good at-bats.”
If the Pirates haven’t found the answers one-fourth of the way through the season, then it may be time to look for them elsewhere. And if the New York Mets weren’t in their sights already, then they should be soon.
The Mets have urgent needs at first baseman and shortstop at the moment, and in Adam LaRoche and Jack Wilson, the Pirates could fill one or both of them.
The Mets will be without first baseman Carlo Delgado because of a hip injury until late July if not longer.
Shortstop Jose Reyes also is sidelined because of a calf injury that could linger for the rest of the season.
Outfielders Daniel Murphy and Jeremy Reed have filled in at first base, but neither is the long-term answer there.
Alex Cora was the best option at shortstop before a thumb injury sidelined him indefinitely. His absence leaves journeyman Ramon Martinez and converted outfielder Fernando Tatis as the stop-gap replacements.
Enter LaRoche and Wilson, either one of whom would
give the Mets the kind of established player they may need to keep their heads above water in the playoff race.
LaRoche is eligible to become a free agent after this season, and the Pirates are expected to unload the remainder of his $7.05-million contract before then.
The subject of trade rumors for years, Wilson will be paid $7.25 million this season, after which the team has an $8.4-million club option for the next one.
Given the urgency of their situation, the Mets undoubtedly would have to listen to any and all offers at this stage.
The time may be right for the Pirates to inquire about shortstop Wilmer Flores, 17, who would give them another young talent to build around in the future.
Baseball America ranked the 6-foot-3, 175-pound Reyes as the No. 2 prospect in the Mets farm system this year.
Unless Reyes is traded, however, they may have no place for Flores in the future.
LaRoche and Wilson went hitless in seven at-bats, but they were hardly alone. The visitors failed to get a baserunner as far as third base against journeyman starter Clayton Richard and three relief pitchers.
The White Sox offered Richards in the aborted Jake Peavy trade only days earlier.
“I don’t know why,” said Craig Monroe, who managed to reach base twice. “No, I know why – because Peavy is one of the best in the game.”
Clayton Richard or Jake Peavy, it doesn’t matter. They all look like Cy Young to the Pirates these days.