Strike now.

That’s what the Pirates should do.

Don’t wait, don’t let the Cardinals continue to run away with the National League Central and don’t let those Wild Card spots keeps distancing themselves farther and farther away.

No. The Pirates need to strike, and strike for Philadelphia Phillies left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels. They need to do it right now, as the Hamels sweepstakes is only going to heat up as the summer progresses.

The Phillies don’t stand a chance and have a high-priced gem on their hands that can fetch a mint; they will act, at some point, this season.

A novel concept would be getting out ahead of the curve and snatching up that much-sought-after commodity before everyone else truly has a chance.

Be bold.

Make a trade.

Offer what you need to offer and solidify this Pirates rotation.

I know I like the sound of Hamels, Burnett, Liriano, Cole and Morton.

How would that sound to you?

How would you feel about five consecutive nights at PNC Park and those men being the men to climb atop the pitching rubber for the home nine?

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a turn through the rotation right now where — outside of Morton — I’d be supremely confident that each guy would most likely give me a really great chance of winning that night.

I’d also be supremely confident in Hamels from the left side at PNC Park, a place lefties love to pitch.

There is, to be sure, a price to pay. But, that’s the cost of doing business when you become a good team in baseball, as the Pirates have.

Granted, it will most likely take at least one high-end prospect (perhaps two) and a Major League player to pry Hamels away from the Phillies. On top of that, the Pirates would be on the hook for about $90 million. The flip side, the glaring positive, is that they would have Hamels at least through the 2018 season.

He isn’t a short-term fix or patchworked solution. He would be a real, bona fide acquisition.

I’d do it. Right now. As in today.

There is another component to all of this as the Pirates should be concerned. With St. Louis standout Adam Wainwright down for the season with an Achilles injury, isn’t it just a matter of time before the Cardinals get heavily involved in the Hamels sweepstakes? Heck, they could be already.

Something tells me the Cardinals are a more-than-safe bet to be on that short list of Hamels suitors.

It would be one thing to see Hamels go somewhere else; be quite another to see him in St. Louis. There is a surefire way to make sure that doesn’t happen. Simply, you go get him yourself.

If the Pirates — and Bob Nutting in particular — want to really compete with the Cardinals in this division, they need to go out and make bold, aggressive and unflinching moves for top-end talents.

Making a strong play for Hamels — and not some trade deadline rental — is acting in way that should truly make this franchise better, not just piece in a starter who you hope to get some quality starts out of.

There is no way in the world the Pirates’ bats will remain this quiet all season.
They will perk up, they will get going, these guys — at some point to some degree — are bound to hit some more.

To me, there’s another inevitability. For as unreal as A.J. Burnett has been, there’s no way he can maintain at this pace and he will drop off from a stride that has pushed him to among baseball’s best through eight starts.

How far will Burnett fall off? I don’t know, no one does. But my opinion is that he will pitch definitely above average throughout the entire 2015 season, giving his team a chance to win in the vast majority of games he takes the ball.

But he will, inevitably, fall off some.

The Pirates, however, seem to have built a franchise that has a window to compete right now and for the immediate future. One big roadblock in the way to that NL Central crown is the St. Louis Cardinals.

If the Pirates want to overtake the Cardinals, if they want to eventually get to the top of the division, they must act dauntless and truthfully go out and get another stud arm.

He’s there to be had.

He’s Cole Hamels.

The Pirates should make their play.

Now.

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