Bucs won’t be making any big deals


PITTSBURGH — Buyers or sellers?

That’s the most overused and useless phrase since “Face of the Franchise.”

The MLB non-waiver trade deadline arrives Tuesday at 4 p.m., not a moment too soon. But let’s not forget — there’s a whole other month to make trades, even though waivers have to be secured. So this won’t entirely go away at 4:01 on Tuesday.

The latest projections give the Pirates a 13 percent chance of making the playoffs. If there’s a 13 percent chance of rain, do you carry an umbrella or postpone your picnic? Probably not.

Because as any math major can tell you, a 13 percent chance to reach the postseason means there’s an 87 percent chance of not getting there.

Realistically, that slim 13 percent chance is a shot at the wild card and all the drama that one game creates. The division title is out of reach, with the Chicago Cubs holding a seven game lead over the Pirates at the start of business on Saturday.

And keep this to yourself, but the Cubs are better than the Pirates. The Cubs’ run differential is 100. The Pirates’ is zero.

We’ve seen the Pirates play well and poorly this season, with extremes at both ends. They could be getting better. Jameson Taillon has shown some signs of improvement, and maybe he can develop into that No. 1 starter he was projected to be.

But is there enough in the rotation to make a serious run at the postseason, then stay in the playoffs? Probably not, and there’s nobody on the trade market who is going to make a big impact.

Middle relief could use some help, but it wouldn’t be worth sacrificing a prospect of any pedigree. Those pitchers tend to represent a crap shoot — the 2017 George Kontos was helpful, the 2018 Kontos was useless enough to get released by two teams.

Is there an available big bat that will help the offense? Doubtful, and there’s really no place to put a new acquisition now that all three outfielders are hitting and Austin Meadows is knocking on the door behind them.

If the Pirates do anything between now and Tuesday, it will probably be something small. That will keep the phone lines jumping on sports talk radio, but that’s the way the situation is likely to play out.

And given that 87 percent chance of being excluded from the postseason and the very good chance they won’t maintain the .824 winning percentage they’ve had in the current hot streak, that’s probably the prudent way to go.

Buyers or sellers? Most likely neither, when it comes to anything big.

Happy landing

So Antonio Brown took a helicopter to training camp this season, which ups the whole vehicular entrance quotient.

Saint Vincent College is landlocked, so there’s no chance for a water entrance.

What’s next, parachuting in? You’d love to see the faces of Kevin Colbert and Art Rooney II if they watched their $68 million investment floating down toward the green grass of Latrobe.

Despite Brown’s airborne entrance, the favorite training camp transportation story still comes from the old days. A geography-impaired rookie arrived at Greater Pittsburgh Airport, jumped in a cab and told the driver to take him to Saint Vincent.

The meter was probably clicking like a weed whacker as the cab made that 58-mile journey. Thereafter, the Steelers made certain newcomers understood camp was not exactly in the neighborhood.

Misguided idea

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred criticized Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels for not doing more to promote himself.

Only in baseball would the commissioner find fault with one of the sport’s biggest stars and best citizens.

Only in 2018 America would modesty be considered a flaw.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com.