For the first time in a long time, that light isn't another train coming, and it's also not a mirage or fool's gold! Having said that, what the Bucco management team does next will greatly determine what level of success the major league team has over the next decade and beyond.
Bob Smizik of the PG has an excellent article on this subject today. He talks about the "core" the Buc's have at five positions. They are as follows: first (Garrett Jones), second (Neil Walker), third (Pedro Alvarez), left (Jose Tabata), and centerfield (Andrew McCutchen).
This group has the "potential" (along with several key additions) to surpass the Pirates of the early 90's. I know some of you are probably labeling me a "kool-aid drinker" at this point. Not so fast, let's break it down first.
When was the last time this team looked solid at five positions? Also, they haven't had two guys at the top of the lineup as speedy as McCutchen and Tabata since Omar Moreno and Frank Taveras took turns striking fear in the minds of pitchers back in the 1970's. With these two guys roaming left and centerfield, my advice to other teams is "hit it to right field" (until Starling Marte gets to town that is).
Should the above mentioned players continue to develop as expected, that would leave three "positions" to fill. Hopefully Marte and Tony Sanchez will be here in a couple of years, but until then, Chris Snyder is a serviceable catcher who has more power than Pirate fans have seen in a while at that position.
What's next? Pitching.
I know it looks bad, but it isn't as bad as it appears. Getting rid of Joe Kerrigan is a first step, and as Mr. Smizik pointed out, Ross Ohlendorf has an ERA of 2.54 over his last eight starts. I also think Morton and Lincoln will turn it around enough to get back to Pittsburgh as starters.
What about the minors? Yes there's a dearth of talent at AAA, I can explain that in three words and they are, Alvarez, Tabata, and Walker. Sometimes it takes a while to reload, but look on down to double and single A. That 's the future, that's what we have to look forward to from here on out.
Do we need to sign some free agents? Of course we do. Will all of our players "pan" out? Of course not. Will the Pirates have to increase payroll? Greatly, but sometimes deciding if a glass is half full or half empty isn't determined by your "positive" or "negative" view, but by the direction the contents of the glass are flowing (in or out).
From my vantage point, it's in.