Dan Szymborski recently wrote an article about the Pittsburgh Pirates for ESPN Insider. His conclusion:
Are the Pirates the best team in the NL Central? No. Are they a good team? Also no. But after nearly 20 years of futility, Neal Huntington has the team clearly pointed in the right direction. The big question remaining is how supportive ownership will be in investing the team as players like McCutchen and Walker accumulate service time and head to arbitration and eventually free agency. The biggest hurdle may be the skepticism of the fan base, but it's hard to blame them at this point and it's going to require an aggressive commitment from ownership to the team's stars to get fans believing in this team again.
It helps that Szymborski noticed that players like Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez are performing below expectations, that the bullpen has produced excellent results and that this performance is very real. He also pointed out that Garrett Jones and Kevin Correia are performing above expectations. He failed, though, to consider Charlie Morton's results to be a personal outlier awaiting a fall to his personal mean. Morton is not the same pitcher he was before this year. He's now relearning to pitch with new mechanics and different stuff. Because of this change in Morton's game, past performance may not be wholly reliable basis on which to make future predictions. And, we know that the Pirates are already discussing a long-term contract with McCutchen that ought to convince the most rational of the Nutting doubters that the team is serious about building a contender in Pittsburgh. All in all, Szymborski provided a hopeful but realistic assessment of a team that is emerging from a long, dark winter. Pirates fans can expect read more articles like this one in the future.
Dare we say it: The post-Bond's era is coming to an end!