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Sellew: Pirates bringing the fireworks again

| Saturday, July 5, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Who would have thought that at this point in the Major League season that the hottest team in baseball would be ... the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Yes, the Bucs still sit six games behind the Milwaukee Brewers, but the Brew Crew has faltered a little bit lately allowing the Pirates to creep back into contention. Over their last 13 games the Pirates are 10-3.

I stated earlier this season that the first month, when the team struggled mightily, the Pirates arguably had the most difficult schedule in the majors.

Now, the Pirates are beating the teams they are supposed to beat. The Mets, the Phillies, the Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays. When the Pirates were bad, they were decent against tougher pitchers and tougher teams, but they couldn't handle the teams that were below them or equal to them in the standings. Last year, and now this year, it's quite the opposite. The Pirates are beating and have beaten teams like the Cubs and the Marlins, teams that have been bad in their own right.

Now, can the pitching sustain what they have been doing? Can Gerrit Cole get over these nagging injuries? We'll see.

• Add Pirates I. McCutchen for MVP again??

• Add Pirates II. I've been guilty of claiming that the Pirates ownership has no clue what they're doing and that they need to start spending more money to attract bigger name free agents. Lately, though, I'm starting to backtrack on that slightly. Do I think the Buccos need to go after a bigger name in free agency this season? Yes. I'm thinking David Price of the Rays.

I've noticed that unlike the past years when the Yankees were “buying championships” because they could ... spending big money now doesn't necessarily mean success.

Look at the Oakland A's. Look at last year's Pirates team, which, appear not to be a fluke. Yes, each year there's usually one team, maybe two, that surprise with a lower payroll, but this is the Moneyball era.

I have a hard time feeling bad for any team from that city across the state, but with the third-highest payroll in the majors at $180,052,723, the Phillies aren't cutting it.

Four of the bottom six payrolls—Oakland, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay—made the playoffs last year. Only three of the top six teams did. I'll take smart management any day, although maybe ONE big name to go with it would be nice!

• Time for some holiday weekend Sellewtions.

1. Everyone needs to show their patriotism more. Not just for Independence Day, not just because the guys in red, white and blue were kicking a ball around in Brazil. Be proud every day.

2. For all you dads out there, you're never too manly to paint your daughter's toenails. When she throws a bottle of nail polish at you screaming “toes!,” you do them.

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jsellew@tribweb.com or 724-684-2667.

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