Dan, an occasional commenter on the site, runs a projection of the year-end standings. All standings were projected a million times, using a Monte Carlo simulation along with the ZiPS projection system that he created. (ESPN Insider subscription req.)
The projection shows the Pirates finishing 86-76, with a 22.6% chance of winning the division and a 50.6% chance of making the playoffs. In this simulation, they miss the second wild card spot by one game.
Here is what is really interesting, Dan assumes that two wins represents a rough gauge of what acquiring a star would net a team and one win is about what a team can gain by bringing in an above-average player.
"...the Bucs' playoff odds would jump 14 percentage points with the addition of two wins, which is the largest in baseball."
A big 17 days ahead for Neal Huntington.