Deals weren’t in Pirates’ cards

PITTSBURGH – Baseball’s non-waiver trading deadline passed, and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ roster remained the same.

Ernesto Frieri, Brent Morel and Michael Martinez were all in place after the frenzy had passed. It was business as usual for a team that talked about a lot of deals but didn’t make any.

Reaction was swift, angry and predictable. They had betrayed their fans. They were delusional about the potential of their prospects. They passed on a chance to pursue success.

The Pirates needed pitching help, especially for the starting rotation. The two big tickets moved, Boston’s Jon Lester to Oakland and Tampa Bay’s David Price to Detroit. The Pirates’ rotation, which currently lacks a clear cut No. 1 starter, stayed intact.

At this point, it’s relevant to invoke the words of the British philosopher Mick Jagger, who once pointed out that you can’t always get what you want.

The Pirates evidently pursued both pitchers. In the end, the Red Sox parted with Lester for the chance to acquire Yoenis Cespedes, a right-handed power hitter who should put some dents in Fenway Park’s Green Monster. If that’s what the Red Sox wanted, the Pirates probably never had a chance.

Cespedes is a wild swinger who has too many strikeouts and not enough walks, but he has a pedigree as a home run hitter. He had 23 and 26 in his first two major league seasons, and is on pace for more than 30 this year. In other words, he’s not quite as well-rounded as Andrew McCutchen, but has accomplished more than Starling Marte at this point.

If that was the price for Lester, the Pirates were not a match.

After the smoke had cleared on the three-way deal that sent Price to the Tigers, Peter Gammons wrote this: “Most people thought the Pirates’ offer, which was all about prospects and minor leaguers, might have been greater in terms of talent and that the Pirates were much closer to getting Price than we realize.”

The Rays opted for a package of two major league players (left-hander Drew Smyly and infielder Nick Franklin) as well as 18-year-old infield prospect Willy Adames. Tampa Bay was apparently interested in immediate help rather than a bundle of prospects who might be two years away from the major leagues. It’s their yard sale, so it’s their prerogative.

That’s the thing about trades – you make your pitch and hope for the best. As any plaid-jacketed car salesman knows, sometimes the customer goes down the street and makes a deal with someone else.

You tweak and haggle and hope but sometimes (here’s Jagger again), you can’t get no satisfaction.

False alarms

The deadline spotlighted the kind of dubious reporting that seems to be rampant these days.

ESPN ran with a false report that Tampa Bay utility player Ben Zobrist had been traded to the Pirates. They bought into the bogus scoop to the point that the network’s experts were discussing how Zobrist would fit into the Pirates’ lineup.

Former major league general manager Jim Bowden, a notorious loose cannon, falsely reported the Philadelphia Phillies had traded Marlon Byrd to the New York Yankees. His uncredited source was apparently a fake Twitter account a prankster had set up using the name of a New York newspaper columnist.

A million or so years ago, new employees of The Associated Press were always instructed with one of those corny sayings that sounds like it came from somebody’s fussy old grandmother: “Get it first, but first get it.”

Might be time to dust that one off again. It’s even more relevant in a Twitter-driven environment.

Mehno can be reached at