BRADENTON, Fla. -- What I like, and don’t like, about the Pirates:
What I like
• The enthusiasm. The biggest thing the Pirates need is better players. But this was also a dull team under John Russell, and it's less dull with Clint Hurdle sitting in the manager's office. People in Colorado will remind you that Hurdle can wear out his welcome, but he's a good fit for what the Pirates need right now. "His enthusiasm is infectious, and our players feed off it," general manager Neal Huntington said.
|Andrew McCutchen believes he can be great. He also believes the Pirates can win. Read more>>|
• The kids. Andrew McCutchen is 24. Jose Tabata is 23. Pedro Alvarez is 24. It's a little easier to feel good about the Pirates' future when their best players are so young. McCutchen is already on the way to being a star. Tabata impressed scouts this spring. There's still not enough talent here, but there is some. And McCutchen, in particular, is fun to watch.
• The even younger kids. The Pirates didn't do much right last year, but they finally did spend money on the draft, and it shows. Scouts love 19-year-old pitcher Jameson Taillon, who is a ways away from the big leagues, but did appear in a game this spring.
What I don't like
• The rotation. The Pirates are right to put more money into the draft and development, and less into their big-league team. And it is extremely hard to get free agents to even listen to the Pirates right now. But that doesn't change the fact that it's hard to get excited about a rotation of Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton and James McDonald.
• The older guys. Again, I know the Pirates can't sign big free agents. But the veterans they have surrounding McCutchen, Tabata, Alvarez and Neil Walker just aren't very good.
• The view from outside. With a team building from the system, you'd sure like to see more highly regarded prospects. Baseball America ranked just three Pirates among the top 100 prospects in the minor leagues, and ranked the Pirates 19th among the 30 teams in organizational talent. The good news for the Pirates is that these rankings are very subjective and highly changeable. The Royals, now regarded as the kings of young talent, ranked just 16th last year, and had just four of the top 100 players, with none ranked higher than 39th.
• The history. It's 18 straight losing seasons. It's 94-plus losses every year since 2005, with 105 last year. It's ugly, and it's tough to overcome. But it sure would be easier to overcome with more talent.