At least not too much longer.
We all know the Pirates are probably the worst run franchise in the history of sport. After all i can barely even remember the good old days when they were above .500. That probably has a little to do with the fact that I was one year old. However there is actually reason for optimism in Pittsburgh other than the Steelers and Penguins.
Reason No. 1 - Neal Huntington looks like he's actually trying.
Everyone loves to rip on the Pirates for giving players away for monetary reasons, but if you look at the trades over the summer Huntington actually traded for -gasp- players. Not only did he trade for prospects but he's spending money too. That's right, no more trading Aramis Ramirez for a sack of magic beans because we can't afford him. He has been talking long term contracts with Nate McClouth and Ryan Doumit. He also brought in Joe Kerrigan who should be able to show our pitchers how to throw over the plate, instead of taking talented players and making them suck like the Pirates usually do.
Reason No. 2 - A roster with ... talent?
Midway through the season, before blowing the roster up the Pirates had one of the top five offenses in the Major Leagues. That's right, the Pirates. Hitting. And Scoring.
The Pirates look to be pretty set in the outfield. Nate McClouth is already a stud, Andrew McCutcheon is on his way to the majors and is also supposed to be a stud. Brandon Moss will turn into a fine young fourth outfielder. And the third outfield spot should eventually to go Jose Tabata, the extremely talented prospect who came over in the Nady trade. He was having a down year this year, but immediately turned it around after the trade, and has been dubbed the next Manny Ramirez in the part.
Now this is where it all falls apart for the Buccos. They have one stud prospect in Pedro Alvarez on his way. One player who would be extremely good if he played the whole year in Adam LaRoche. One great young hitting catcher in Ryan Doumit, who batted .340 a good part of the year but can't stay healthy. A couple of hit or miss prospects in the so far busts Neil Walker, Steve Pierce, and Andy LaRoche. A former batting champion in Freddy Sanchez, and Jack Wilson, the big drain on funds who can only play defense. Now all this probably won't turn out to be too great, but it certainly isn't horrible in the long term.
Yes, the pitching was too horrible to even explain last year. But the year before pitching was the Pirates biggest strength. Paul Maholm is a good solid pitcher. Phil Dumatrait looked good until he got injured. Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny were horrible last year, but studs the previous year. They have a bunch of hard throwers with closing prospect Craig Hansen, former top prospect Ross Ohlendorf (the main part of the most recent Randy Johnson trade), former top prospect Donnie Veal just taken in the Rule Five Draft, and two game super stud Jeff Karstens. A good closer in Matt Capps. A prospect that should project to be solid in Daniel McCutchen. And at least two solid relievers in John Grabow and Sean Burnett. Also another former stud pitcher in Zach Duke. With Joe Kerrigan now in the fold, the pitching staff probably will work their way to being not awful. They could even eventually be considered good with work.
So the Pirates definitely are not world beaters, and won't be soon. But if you add in another high draft pick, whatever they get in return if they can unload Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez, and even a few Littlefield prospects like the not Matt Weiters first rounder Daniel Moskos, they definitely have talent. I know all of these prospects won't develop, but this is what the Pirates have been missing. Prospects, good ones. They have great offensive prospects, and if just a few pitchers return to form this could be the next version of the Rays or Brewers before them. The short term will probably be more painful losing, and more idiots who can't spell going "lolz Pirates sucks 4 eva" which is well deserved since we are the Detroit Lions of baseball. But in the long term the Pirates should develop some good players, and keep them, and easily break the .500 barrier, possibly vaulting into the playoffs.