Are You Ready To Take The Pittsburgh Pirates Seriously?


Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Derek Lee in 2011? Sure it was nice to see the Pirates finally labeled as “buyers,” and Lee actually played well in his stint in the steel city (.337/.398/.584 in 101 at-bats). But it was still the failure of that team to reach the playoffs yet again that resonated and made that trade seem silly. The sentiments were similar when things collapsed again for the once-promising Pirates in 2012.

So even though the pitching staff and overall record of the 2013 version of the Pirates indicated a team that is in the playoff race to stay, there was still that stinky “Yea, but…” lingering in the air. With each meaningful victory and each day that passes and brings us closer to October, we can shed another layer of doubt that the Pirates will actually do it; they will actually make the playoffs this time…right?

Today the Pirates made the kind of trade that a contending team makes, acquiring center fielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets. As reported by ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin:

Buck’s power surge in April and May was an odd eccentricity of the young 2013 season at the time, but it now reflects a guy who will serve as a very solid back-up to Russell Martin.

As for Byrd, he is the big get here. Not sure if it is possible to “quietly” have a good season in New York, but it doesn’t feel like many people have been talking about Byrd’s numbers this season: .285/.330/.518 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI. To add him to an outfield that already touts Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte and a lineup that needed just a bit more oomph, well…that feels like a nice move to me. The Pirates gave up prospect Dilison Herrera and player to be named later in the deal.

Are you ready to take the Pittsburgh Pirates seriously? It’s not that Byrd or Buck are necessarily world-beaters who will change the complexion of the NL playoff picture as much as it is the symbolism of the move: a trade made on August 27th for two decidedly productive players that reminds us, in no uncertain terms, that this team is for real.

Who’s ready for playoff baseball in Pittsburgh? Today’s trade just ratcheted things up another notch.