Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/17/14

(Opening image credit Gene Puskar, AP)

Last night, the Pirates beat a free-falling Cubs team 1-0 to move to 21-24 on the season.  SP A.J. Burnett qualified for the win with 5.1 innings of shutout, 6-hit ball, while four members of the surprisingly strong bullpen combined for 3.2 scoreless innings.  A quick rundown of thoughts:

1.  The strength of the entire team’s pitching has been the only thing keeping the Pirates themselves from plummeting into the NL Central basement.  After an impressive showing until August of last year, perhaps it is time to give some of these arms more credit.

2.  As bad as the signings of SS Clint Barmes and C Rod Barajas were, so far, GM Neal Huntington’s free agent signing of SP Erik Bedard, and trade for Burnett have been positives.  Despite a 4.19 ERA, Burnett is striking out over 8 batters per 9, and has kept the Pirates in 6 of his 7 starts, surrendering no more than 2 runs (outside of a 2.2 IP, 12 ER albatross) in each.  Of those 6 starts, A.J. went 6IP or more in 5 of them.  That’s impressive.

Bedard’s last two starts (4 ER each) slightly weakened a very impressive statline that still reads to a 3.52 ERA, and over 1K/IP.

Bedard; Image credit hdnux

3.  What has to be very frustrating for many of the Pirates starters is that their records should be much better than they are.  Bedard is 2-5, despite giving up 2 runs or less in 7 of his 9 outings.  Burnett is 3-2, but could easily be 6-1 with a quality offense behind him.

4.  During his first 3 years on the job, Huntington struggled to assemble a bullpen comparable even to predecessor GM Dave Littlefield.  But last year’s ‘pen was solid, and the 2012 edition may be the best during Huntington’s tenure.  Outside of RP Evan Meek’s 7.59 ERA (now at AAA), every other member of the pen has an ERA under 3.60.  Take out RPs Tony Watson (3.60) and Chris Resop (3.15), and…

Joel Hanrahan, Jason Grilli, Brad Lincoln, Jared Hughes, and Juan Cruz are all below 2.70.  That’s dominant.

5.  For what time he may have left, Huntington has some tough decisions to make on the trade front.  He has few trade chips at his disposal, and of the ones he does have, it would serve him do deal these players rather quickly, before their numbers have a chance to trend south.

Burnett- Strong start and the most well-known name on the staff.  Consistently starts seasons strong before he tapers off.

Bedard- LHPs with over 1K/IP are incredibly rare.  If teams aren’t scared away by his prior fragility, there will be interest.

Hanrahan- Huntington missed a huge opportunity to deal his closer last trade deadline, when returns of young talent for similar arms were significant.  After slumping down the stretch and beginning the 2012 season on rocky ground, Joel has saved 11 games, and boasts a 2.70 ERA with 20K in 16.2IP.  A lot of contenders would find Hanrahan incredibly desirable.

With so little help available to the Pirates at the AA and AAA levels, they have to consider trading chips early, if teams are willing to part with solid, age-appropriate prospects.  This offense simply isn’t capable of supporting the excellent pitching effort down the stretch; the Pirates need to accept that, and play for the future once again.

Thanks for reading.  Follow me on Twitter @jim_krug

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Klay Thompson takes knee to head from Ariza

WATCH: Ducks score controversial goal

Report: Ray McDonald arrested for violating restraining order

Braves, Dodgers complete six-player swap

USA Soccer, CONCACAF losers in FIFA’s ‘World Cup of fraud’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Tom Brady suspension appeal date not set yet

Are the St. Louis Rams setting up Nick Foles for failure?

LeBron: Didn't see Cavs reaching Finals at start of season

Pete Carroll: Communication with Russell Wilson is ‘great’

Mike Zimmer: Adrian Peterson can play for Vikings or not at all

RG3 misses 'having fun playing football' after two tough seasons

Warriors beat Rockets in Game 5, advance to NBA Finals

Jared Dudley: 'Melo is most overrated player in NBA

Garrick Sherman bashes NCAA in epic drunken Twitter rant

Adrian Peterson denies reports that he wants to be traded

Report: Bulls players told Tom Thibodeau will not be back

Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders "gets it"

Bucs DE George Johnson is a dog show enthusiast

The 3-point shot has become a divisive metaphor in the NBA

Corey Crawford is the weakest link for the Blackhawks

Propaganda season begins with SEC spring meetings

Indians support Aviles, ailing daughter by shaving heads

McIlroy will donate his winnings if he wins Irish Open

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

USA Soccer, CONCACAF losers in FIFA’s ‘World Cup of fraud’

The 3-point shot has become a divisive metaphor in the NBA

Corey Crawford is the weakest link for the Blackhawks

Star player missing OTAs? Keep calm...

Transfer rumors: Drogba, Pirlo and Gomez linked to MLS

Cano's slump: The good news, bad news

Disappointments of the MLB season

UGA wants SEC to ban transfers with misconduct issues

Long's great reaction to Bears releasing McDonald

Crazy stats from the NBA Playoffs

Royals' Guthrie sets records in blowout

Bears cut McDonald after incident

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.