Through the years, the Pirates have lacked usually at least one of these traits above that make up winning teams year and year out. For the long stretch of the 90s the Pirates lacked talent after the departure of Bonds, Bonilla, Bell, Van Slyke, etc... Ditto for the first half of this past decade. Besides Jason Kendall and Brian Giles there really wasn't much talent. However under the Huntington regime, when the Pirates had Bay, Nady, McClouth, Wilson, Sanchez, the team was decent. I know many will disagree with me but I think Joe Maddon could easily have at least made this team fringe playoff contention (please don't take it for any more than that). Indeed, the Pirates with this squad were competitive and after, at the time, 15 years of losing, "competitive" sounded pretty good to many bucco fans. This was the last time the Pirates had any semblance of Talent, Experience or Consistency.
As evidence of this, by the end of July of that year (2008) the Pirates were 50-58, not great, not fantastic, but doesn't disqualify you from the playoffs by July either. This is when Huntington threw a wrench into Littlefield's ensemble and declared that its the Pirates goal to Win it All and not merely be "competitive". So Huntington stripped the team of all talent, experience, and consistency to rebuild each category. Now Huntington's work has finally come to fruition and we can see if all the excavation was worth it. The Pirates now clearly have Talent (I believe the Cutch, Tabata, Walker, Alvarez, and even throw McDonald in there for good measure, is better than the Bay-Nady combo). The Pirates now have more experience with a year under their belt, plus the addition of Overbay and Diaz may help with leadership. Finally, and most importantly, the Pirates know who their team is and can fight on for better or worse. Read this article from ESPN that explains how trading Carmelo Anthony from the Nuggets has solidified team chemistry because they know who the team will be. http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/26699/with-melo-gone-good-times-in-denver .
In Short: The three components of success are here, perhaps it'll need another year of seasoning from experience and perhaps one or two added talented players, but nothing to disrupt the team. Prediction you can take to the bank: the Pirates will be at least the 2008 level of play this year (level of play by the end of July), and in 2012 will be teetering on the playoffs.
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