Thanks, everyone, for your questions. Here's the second round of answers.
IowaSteel: Jameson Taillon has essentially not pitched in two years, and Tyler Glasnow only threw slightly more than 100 innings lat season. If the Bucs follow the usual custom, their innings will be limited. It’s not clear to what extent that will be true since both have previously pitched 150 innings in a season. Given the somewhat parlous state of starting pitching at the major league level, most of us are hoping we will see one of these two or perhaps both in Pittsburgh next season. How many innings do you think the pair will pitch for the big club next year?
Neal Huntington has said that Glasnow and Taillon are expected to arrive in the second half of the season, or perhaps somewhat sooner. The Pirates will likely treat the Super Two threshold as a barrier, but there are also baseball excuses to hold them back -- Glasnow needs to work on his mechanics, while Taillon simply needs to get used to pitching again.
Beyond that, their situations are completely different. Glasnow has a relatively good health record and is coming off an excellent season in the minors. Taillon hasn't pitched in two full years and wasn't nearly as dominant as Glasnow even when he was last healthy. At least right now, it looks like Glasnow is a significantly better, and readier, prospect. I'll guess Glasnow pitches 100 innings in the big leagues in 2016, with the Pirates having him take it easy in Indianapolis for the first couple months. I'm guessing Taillon will pitch 40, with a huge error bar -- there has to be at least a reasonable chance that his recovery won't go as planned, or that he simply won't be all that effective. To me, he's much less of a sure thing than many fans and commentators seem to think he is.
Vlad: Within the time you’ve been a Pirates fan, has there been a not-great player for whom you just had a personal and irrational fondness? If so, which player (or players), and why?
Craig Wilson, because I felt the team didn't appreciate him enough (and because he seemed like a funny guy). And Mike Fetters, because of this.
In recent years, obviously, it's been easier to like players for reasons that are pretty closely connected to what they've done on the field. As a writer, though, it's hard not to like the ones who are personable and interesting in interviews -- Tony Sanchez, Chris Stewart (most catchers, actually), Jared Hughes, John Holdzkom and Dean Anna all stick out in that regard.
Now that I think of it, putting aside the part of the question about players who are "not great," a bunch of the Pirates' minor leaguers, like Cole Tucker, Josh Bell, Kevin Newman, Connor Joe and Stephen Tarpley, all stand out as being really likable and smart, to the point that I've wondered whether the Bucs are valuing these kinds of players more highly than other organizations are.
Of course, those are my own biases, and I try not to let them come through in my assessments of these players' on-field abilities. I also try to keep in mind that Latin American players don't speak English as a first language and might not feel as free as American players are to be themselves when American reporters stick microphones in their faces. There are also players who just don't like giving interviews, and it isn't as if that reflects badly upon them as people or anything.
This answer went in some strange directions.
Karp62: There's been some chatter about approaching Andrew McCutchen about an extension He’s a superstar. Starling Marte is quickly becoming a star. I also believe that Gregory Polanco, who will play the majority of 2016 season as a 24-year-old, will develop into a fringe star. Do you believe that, among players who might be considered extension candidates, the Pirates need to make Polanco the top priority?
Yes. Nothing that's happened in the past year has changed my opinion. His athleticism, plate discipline and defensive ability make him very likely to be productive, in one capacity or another, for the next several years, and his ceiling is still very, very high. He also isn't eligible for arbitration until after 2017, so his incentive to agree to an extension probably is as great now as it's ever going to be.
Hank Chadwick: Let’s say I’m a powerful wizard and I’m willing to make a deal with you regarding your favorite baseball team. Which of these scenarios would you choose?
1. The Pirates will win the World Series this year guaranteed but will have losing records for the next six years after.
2. The Pirates will make the playoffs five of the next seven years, including three trips to the NLCS, but I will not guarantee championships.
I'd take door number one, easily (as long as you could also promise to erase my memory of our discussion so I didn't know the Pirates were going to win a World Series before they actually did it). The point of all this is to win a championship. And as someone who followed the team through their endless period of irrelevance, six years of losing doesn't seem like that long a time.