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Giger: Pirates can't afford mistakes at trade deadline

Commentary

July 21, 2013
By Cory Giger (cgiger@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

Adding a player at the trade deadline and adding the right player at the deadline are two very different things.

Case in point, Alex Rios.

The Pirates are believed to be considering putting a deal together to acquire the talented but potentially troublesome Rios, a right fielder, from the Chicago White Sox.

The same Alex Rios who was pulled from Friday's game by his manager, Robin Ventura, for failing to hustle on a double play groundout. The same Rios who has had numerous issues like that throughout his career and who has a reputation for being good when he wants to be but lazy far too frequently.

Sure, Rios' career numbers make him enticing as he's a .278 career hitter who three times has topped 20 homers and 80 RBIs. But the Pirates have to be very careful bringing a player with a reputation for not hustling and a bad attitude into a clubhouse full of young, promising players who play the game the right way and need to see others doing the same.

When you're so hungry to win and, frankly, so desperate to win, it's easy to fall in love with a player who has shortcomings and think that bringing him into your environment will all of the sudden change him. Rios, though, is 32 and making $12.5 million a year, so at this point in his career he's probably not capable of turning into an all-out hustle guy.

Rios is just one name floating around who's drawing interest from the Pirates, as well as other teams. Whoever the Bucs ultimately do end up trading for, they need to do their research and make certain he's a good fit on and off the field, rather than just getting enamored by statistics.

As I've said before, the Pirates have a great window of opportunity for several years with their core nucleus, and the last thing they can afford is to give up several quality young prospects and not get the perfect piece of the puzzle in return.

As the trade deadline approaches, several members of the Curve will be hearing and reading their names as part of potential deals. All teams are sure to inquire about prized pitching prospect Jameson Taillon, plus pitcher Nick Kingham and outfielder Gregory Polanco will be high on other teams' wish list, as well as outfielder Alex Dickerson.

"The Pirates value us as minor league prospects pretty highly, so I know if they were to do anything it would be for a big piece that would help the big club," Taillon said.

"I enjoy following [the trade rumors] just for baseball because I'm a baseball fan. But as far as [my name being mentioned], I try not to pay too much attention to it."

Taillon should not be considered an untouchable by the Pirates, but it would take a perfect deal for the organization to part with him. Don't count on it happening, and it's hard to imagine Polanco being dealt, either.

Kingham could be a key part of any deal the Pirates make, and his name has been thrown out in connection with a possible trade for Rios. The 21-year-old right-hander is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven games (five starts) since joining the Curve from high-A Bradenton.

"I've heard it, I see it on Twitter my name gets mentioned, but there's nothing I can do about it," Kingham said of trade speculation. "I just need to go out and play and prove the team right -- [either] the Pirates why they want to keep me or the other team why they want me."

Is it nerve-wracking or flattering to hear his name as potential trade bait?

"Not nerve-wracking," Kingham said. "I mean, it's nice that both teams are wanting me. The Pirates, I love being here. I think they like me, as well. And the fact that another team wants to add me, it's also flattering, too."

Curve manager Carlos Garcia said it's important for all the players being speculated about in trades to continue to show up every day, keep working hard and not think about the rumors.

"You never know what the management is thinking," Garcia said. "You never know who the other teams are looking for."

We do know what the Pirates are looking for -- a right fielder and shortstop -- and the moves they make in the next 10 days could be the difference between making a run at the World Series or falling flat and missing the playoffs.

General manager Neal Huntington deserves a lot of credit for assembling a team that's in this position, but now there's a lot of pressure on him to make the perfect moves. Let's see if he's up to the challenge.

Follow Giger on Twitter @CoryGiger

 
 

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