Step aside, baseball's best team. Pennsylvania has a new contender, and its fans are ugly.
Playing in a crappy division brings with it many delusions. The Pittsburgh Pirates, just five games over .500 and 1/2 a game out of first, look to be buyers at this year's trade deadline. According to thePittsburgh Tribune Review – via Hardball Talk – the Buccos are interested in none other than Hunter Pence.
The feeling may be mutual: [Pittsburgh Tribune Review]
That notion was endorsed yesterday by Houston Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, whom the Pirates have scouted with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in mind.
"Everyone's been talking about (the Pirates)," Pence said yesterday morning before the Pirates beat the Astros, 7-5, in 11 innings at Minute Maid Park. "They're right up there in the standings and they've been there for 90 games. They have the pitching, and that's key.
"Who knows? We play the season hoping to see Cinderella stories. It's fun to watch. Whatever moves are made, we'll see what happens. But they've already got a great team and they're competing."
Jokes aside, the Pirates have played the Phillies tough over the last couple of years and are a potential first round matchup (if the season were to end today, the Phillies would play the NL Central winner).
Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk points out that Ed Wade is essentially a lame-duck GM right now and may not be so moved to make a rebuilding type deal. Of course, knowing that Wade probably won't be in Houston much longer, we can always wish for him to give Ruben Amaro his friends and family discount, something I'm not convinced he hasn't been doing all along. Brad Lidge. Roy Oswalt.
With news that Michael Cuddyer may not be on the trading block, Pence may be the only right-handed bat out there who could make a significant impact on the Phillies' lineup. Is anyone feverishly beating that drum yet? If not, I'll start to.
Pence is a good fielder, has two years of arbitration left, and he's gangly and awkward. We like that. Beat. Beat.