I am going to set this up a little different than the 13 past posts, instead of talking about individual people I am going to take the front office on a s a whole and list a few things want them to accomplish by season’s end. Think of it as something like a checklist if you will.
1. Sign Andrew McCutchen to an Extension. This one should be pretty obvious, McCutchen is the face of the franchise and the front office needs to find some way to buy out at least 1 but preferably two free agent seasons. McCutchen is the type of a player you can build a team around and the Pirates are finally at the point where they can start thinking that way.
2. Find a Long Term Solution for 1st Base. I don’t care how they do it, trade, draft or from within but somebody has to emerge as the long term answer at first base. This position represents the Pirates biggest hole going forward and the time to try and fill it is now. Getting a first baseman would give the Pirates a bat to pencil in to the middle of their order and that is something this team desperately needs. As a side note if this happens to become Pedro Alvarez then switch the position need to third base because the team need Alvarez plus another bat.
3. Overcoming Restrictions and Finding a Way to still have a Good Draft. There is probably no bigger obstacle facing the Pirates front office this season and beyond then continually to draft effectively. The draft is the Pirates best chance of acquiring impact pieces and missing on first round picks can be disastrous to the franchise. The front office needs to hit on the first round pick and find, draft and sign good players in the later rounds.
4. The recent 1st round picks need to step up in a big way. The success or failure of this front office is highly dependent on the success of their 1st round picks: Alvarez, Sanchez, Taillon and Cole. All four of these players must step up this season and show signs of being able to perform at or near the level they were thought to be able to at the time of their drafting.
5. Some over-slot signings need to make a step forward. The recent strategy of this front office has been to spend big in the draft and sign players to over-slot deals. As of yet none of the over-slot players has really broken through. This is the season where some of them must do that. Just to throw out some names, Josh Bell, Zack Von Rosenberg, Coloton Cain, Zach Dodson, etc. Also included in that group is last year’s breakout start Robbie Grossman, he needs to show he can produce in AA.
6. Come trade deadline time moves need to be made that will have a quick impact on the major league team. Sounds confusing I know but what I am saying is if the team happens to find itself in the race like last season players need to be brought in to help for the stretch run. Should the team find themselves out of it the front office needs to explore trading players like Joel Hanrahan, Jeff Karstens and Alex Presley but not for players in the low minors but rather for major league ready players playing in the majors or AAA. Positions to look for could be C, 1B, SS or SP.
7. Long term answers for the rotation must emerge. Another very simple thing. The Pirates have good options long term for the rotation in Taillon and Cole but after this season Bedard and Correia will be gone leaving the Pirates with holes in the rotation. Some players from the group of Morton, McDonald, Owens, Locke, Karstens or even Morris, Wilson or MPherson need to step up and look like they can be counted on to help the rotation in 2013. If not pitchers need to be brought in via trade who can do so.
8. On the field success. The last thing I will be looking for when it comes to judging the front office this season is how the team performs on the field. We have come to the time where improving the minor leagues is no longer enough. To be judged as being successful this season there must be signs of improvement with the major league product. This is not to say the team must break the 500 mark but an improvement on the 72 win mark is a necessity. Should the team fail to do so it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which this season could be judged as a successful one for the Pirates front office.