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The Pittsburgh Pirates are three games under .500 and 4 1/2 games out of first place. That doesn't mean that now is the time for the front office to lose focus. We all have to remember that .500 isn't a destination, but a road marker, and that there's still work to be done here. So who's next to go? Who's likely to go before the trade deadline?
Ian Snell's name has been flying around a lot lately. The only way we're trading Snell right now is if Huntington and Russell agree that the effort put into straightening him out and the chance that he never gets there outweighs his potential as a mid-rotation starter if he does put it all together. I'm sure JR is fed up with the guy after outbursts like the one on Friday, but I'm also not certain that that means he's going to be traded. Any trade we do make involving Snell is going to be mostly a dump; I can't imagine anyone's willing to pay a high price for a guy pitching like him right now.
There have also been a lot of Jack Wilson rumors, specifically that the Boston Red Sox might be interested in Jack. Of our veteran trio (Wilson, Adam LaRoche, and Freddy Sanchez), Wilson seems to me to be the most likely to be moved because he offers one premium skill (his defense) instead of a smorgasboard semi-indistinguishable skills. Of course, Wilson's age, bat, and contract don't exactly make him easy to trade either.
This sort of stuff is what weighs down potential deals for LaRoche and Sanchez, too. LaRoche will be a free agent, his bat is unreliable, and while his glove is pretty good it's not exactly at an important position. Sanchez's bat is mostly average-dependent and his glove skills have been declining for two years now. He's not likely to be a free agent, but only because a monstrous option kicks in for him at 635 PAs this year. Huntington will shop Sanchez and LaRoche and he might even trade them, but there won't be a lot coming back in return.
That leaves John Grabow, among the obvious trade candidates. He's a very useful left-handed reliever who will probably interest some teams in his own right, but might be used to sweeten the pot with one of the guys mentioned above, similar to Damaso Marte in the Nady trade last year. The thing to remember is that he's not as good as Marte and none of the players the Pirates have (except maybe Wilson) are as attractive as Nady as a trade target, so I'd be surprised to see any deal swing a Jose Tabata-type prospect back our way.
Of course, if Nate McLouth can be traded, that means that Huntington might also be shopping non-obvious players. There's always Ryan Doumit, if he can get healthy and hit for a month or so before the deadline. It wouldn't exactly be selling him high, but with him there's always a chance that he injures something that really affects his career somewhere in the near future. There's also one guy that no one's talking about that I won't be surprised to see shopped: Matt Capps. He's had arm troubles in each of the last two seasons and even though his ERA looks great since the Joe Kerrigan fix in mid-May (1.69 in 12 appearances, 10 2/3 innings) his strikeouts are still way down this year and his walks are up (in that same span he's got 5 Ks and 4 BBs). The whole of Capps' success relies on his control and this year might portend something bad coming in the future. That would make him a great sell-high candidate, especially if his ERA keeps coming down in the next six weeks.