For the first time in over 20 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates enter a season with optimism and very high expectations. That's what happens when you make the playoffs and take the eventual National League champions to a winner-take-all game in a postseason series.
Getting that long-elusive winning season under their belt was one thing, but the Pirates will have a lot of work to do if they want to be a consistent October threat. They didn't use last year's success to start spending feverishly on free agents or trade away prospects to supplement the MLB roster.
Instead, the Pirates opted to do something that will benefit them in the long run: stick with what they knew and trust the minor league development staff.
Pittsburgh isn't used to having a baseball team that's better than the football team, so you can understand why the city might not be receptive to the quiet offseason the Pirates had. But the team has never been extravagant on the open market.
For this franchise to succeed, it has to develop its own talent. It worked last year with Andrew McCutchen winning the NL MVP award, Starling Marte turning into one of the best left fielders in baseball and Gerrit Cole looking like an ace in October.
Here is a deeper look at what the Pirates can expect from 2014.