To me, the addition of Cole -- and, to a lesser extent, Bell -- this week puts the 2013 season squarely in our crosshairs as the year the Pirates will be a legitimate contender in the Central Division. I disagree with Scott Boras that Cole will be in Pittsburgh within a year, but he'll almost certainly be in the show by June of 2013 -- if not on opening day. What's more, I expect Taillon to follow closely behind. He'll only be 21 at that point, but he'll be in his third year of pro ball and, with his stuff, 21 isn't unreasonably young for a debut. Throw in Morton, McDonald and maybe Lincoln, and that's a pretty nice pitching staff.
Position player-wise, one would hope that Alvarez will have energed as a force by then, and Walker will be a solid player, along with Tabata, Marte, D'Arnaud and Sanchez. Hopefully Dickerson will be knocking on the door at that point, too, and Bell will be a year or so away.
What concerns me, though, is that by the time the core is ready to blossom, our best player, Cutch, will be closing in on free agency. And since it's a given that the Pirates will never be able to re-sign him, his departure will leave a huge void to fill, forcing us to start all over again in some ways.
Seems to me the logical thing is to give him a new deal now in exchange for keeping in a Pirate uniform for a couple more years. Again, I have no illusions that Cutch will be a lifelong Pirate. But after seeing the team at it's low point last year, I'm sure he'd like to be here when they start winning again and I imagnie he'd be open to some sort of an extension if the price is right.
In any case, he's earned a raise and I can't help feeling that having brought in a lot of complimentary pieces, now would be a good time to lock up your centerpiece.