PITTSBURGH - You know the shorthand on the first quarter of the Pittsburgh Pirates' season:
Great pitching, no hitting.
So when the offense is missing, you obviously look to add some. That has a lot of people screaming for the Pirates to do something anything.
While there's no arguing they could use some help, general manager Neal Huntington needs to be the one person who keeps his wits and understands the big picture.
Championship-caliber teams that need an extra piece will often make a move for temporary help. The Milwaukee Brewers did that in 2008, sending four prospects to the Cleveland Indians to get pitcher C.C. Sabathia, who was approaching free agency.
Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 earned run average to help the Brewers get into the playoffs. But he declined their offer to stay and fled to the New York Yankees.
The Pirates have done it in the past. In 1960, they needed a starting pitcher and got Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell from the St. Louis Cardinals for second baseman Julian Javier.
Mizell delivered, going 13-5 with a 3.12 ERA to help the Pirates reach the World Series. Javier was a regular for the Cardinals for a decade, but that was OK. The Pirates could meet that price because they had Bill Mazeroski to play second.
In 1990, the Pirates found themselves in need of a lefthanded complement to Doug Drabek. They acquired Zane Smith from Montreal for a package of prospects headed by Moises Alou, who would wind up playing 17 years.
But Smith worked out, posting a 6-2 record and 1.30 ERA in 1990, then winning 16 games the next season to help the Pirates repeat as division champions.
The 2012 Pirates are not a championship-caliber team in search of a missing piece. Like it or not, they're still a work in progress.
Legitimate contenders have two (preferably three) genuine middle-of-the-order hitters and two honest-to-goodness top of the rotation starters. The Pirates are lacking on both fronts.
If there's a trade possibility that works beyond 2012, go ahead. If there's a "something ... anything" chance to get someone else's version of Casey McGehee, pass.
"Something anything" usually doesn't work.
The Pittsburgh Steelers once had an impulsive coach named Buddy Parker who would trade his top draft choices to get end-of-the-line veterans to plug holes. The Steelers were awful for a decade.
The Pittsburgh Penguins did the same thing, sacrificing young talent (Rene Robert) to get a "name" like Eddie Shack, who was basically useless.
Make a sensible deal? Sure. But don't make a deal just for the sake of making a change.
Mehno can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org