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Is new Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle in a no-win situation?
1.) Will this team ever contend?
In fairness to the Pirates and their long-suffering fans, there seems to be a glimmer of hope with a lot of young talent inhabiting PNC Park.
With Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, and Andrew McCutchen anchoring their lineup, Pittsburgh figures to score more runs than last year's edition which finished second-to-last in the league.
However, the Pirates haven't finished over. 500 in 18 seasons and, even with the young talent, that doesn't figure to change anytime soon. This is a team that desperately needs to change its organizational culture and, until it does, what's left of the fanbase will continue to suffer through mediocrity.
2.) Who's going to pitch for this team?
A quick look at the starting rotation reveals a who's who of retreads, guys who, once upon a time, were regarded as bright, young stars, but ultimately flamed out.
Right now, the rotation is "headlined," and I use that term loosely, by Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf. They're followed, in no particular order, by Kevin Correia, Scott Olsen, and James McDonald.
While most of these guys could be decent enough, the Pirates are going to have trouble sustaining whatever success they have because they lack even one above-average starting pitcher.
3.) Will any of the new additions make a difference?
Starting at last year's trade deadline, the Pirates have imported Chris Snyder, Matt Diaz, and Lyle Overbay to supplement their young talent.
However, all three are nothing more than filler at this juncture and, barring a minor miracle, it's likely that none of the players will make enough of an impact to help keep this team out of the basement.
The Pirates best hope is that they can serve as mentors for the kids and provide enough, on both sides of the ball, to keep this team from sinking to the depths that last year's did.