As the baseball season is in its final stretch of games, the Pirates remain mathematically in the the hunt for a wild card position at 77-77 and 4 games behind a playoff berth, but unfortunately it would take nothing short of a miracle for the Pirates to make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year. Many will point to this season as a failure, saying the front office set the team up for failure from the beginning by failing to resign J.A. Happ who was an integral piece to their 98-win season a year ago. One could have said that not signing a legitimate and proven first baseman was the straw that broke the camel's back. I could point my finger to the leader, Andrew McCutchen, having the worst year offensively of his career during a season that would require him to lead the offense and the team if they wanted to make it to the playoffs. If one really wanted to, they could say they lacked clutch relief pitching and timely hitting in one-run games, an area they dominated, especially last year. We could debate for a couple hours about this as I'm sure talk radio in Pittsburgh will over the course of the next couple weeks just prior to gushing over the Steelers.
I, however, saw this season as a success. In a city accustomed to winning, three straight playoff berths made Pittsburgh a little greedy for more. This season was a pull back to reality because let's face it, the Cardinals will always find a way to win, and the Cubs are becoming a perennial powerhouse. Therefore it is only logical that the Bucs will have to buckle down and refocus for the coming years, and I have a good feeling about their chances, and here's why.
Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco are en route to yearly Gold Glove candidates and each has quite a bit of pop on their bats. If Cutch finds a way to return to his MVP-like self, the outfield will be set for years to come, and even if Cutch doesn't regain his MVP form, Austin Meadows looks to be an exciting and promising young outfielder who would likely be the next man up.
Josh Bell is slowly looking more comfortable at first base, but at the plate, he looks like he just wants to rake. For being such a young player, Josh Bell has shown poise at the plate beyond his years. He is a Major League-ready hitter and might just be the long term solution at first base.
In the midst of a pitching debacle that could be blamed for tanking the season, young guns like Taillon and Kuhl have gained valuable experience that they will need next season if we are going to need to rely on them in the coming years. The future is challenging for the Pirates, but it is also bright.