There hasn't been this much optimism in Pittsburgh about the Pirates since the early 1990's. Since then the Pirates have been under the Sid Bream Curse. Now, it seems like everyone is drinking the Bucco Punch hoping the Pirates will become a better ball club. Even though the Buccos are 11 games under .500; Andrew McCutchen is playing great baseball, Neil Walker looks like he belongs, and Brad Lincoln is making his Major League debut against the Nationals on Wednesday. It looks like the Pirates finally have direction and are on their way to respectability.
The best part about this optimism is that it might actually be warranted this time. Not only are some of the young guns already learning the ropes at the Major League level; it looks like a few more might be on the way soon. The Pirates have Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata on the brink of being called up and they just drafted Jameson Taillon. Taillon a 6'7" flame thrower could finally be the ace the Pirates are looking for. The Pirates have had so many disappointments with Kris Benson, Brian Bullington, Oliver Perez, etc. that this pick is crucial to the development of the franchise. Especially when "A-Rod Light" was taken by the Orioles with the very next pick.
Sure, more has to be done. Nothing signifies the Pirates woes of the past 17 years more than having their highest paid, non-pitching, player (Aki Iwamura) be a pinch hitter. Not only is it sad that their highest paid player is a pinch hitter; it is sad their highest paid player only makes $5 Million.
Two main things need to be done to make the Pirates a legit Major League team. First they need to keep their young players. The cycle of being a "AAAA" team and just trading away players to the Red Sox and Yankees needs to stop. If these players are the cornerstone players that ownership and management says they are; they need to be signed and kept in Pittsburgh. Second, they need to spend money in free agency. They need to add to their young talent. It's impossible to win in Major League Baseball without depth. Players like Lastings Milledge should be at the bottom of the order and players like Ronny Cedeno should be bench players. Players like Bobby Crosby and Jeff Clement wouldn't even be on the roster of a competitive Major League team.
As soon as the first arbitration eligible player leaves town via free agency or trade for more "prospects" it could be the last heart break Pirates fans can endure. Pirates fans have finally bought into this rebuilding process because the Pirates aren't just bringing in Kenny Lofton, Reggie Sanders, and Matt Stairs so they can be show cased and traded at the deadline for single-A prospects that will never pan out. Hopefully the Pirates are now in the process of building something special.