It's starting to feel a lot like ... baseball season.
With pitchers and catchers having reported, I can't help but feel that this season is the year vast strides are made in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates have a bevy of young talent in the majors this year with legitimate prospects waiting on the horizon. After this season - in which I think the Pirates will keep the fans interested until mid-September until finally fading - this team will have at least five of their eight starting position players that will actually be mainstays on this team for years to come.
The outfield will be set with Andrew McCutchen manning centerfield, Lastings Milledge having a breakout year and cementing himself in left, and Jose Tabata bursting on the scene with few home runs but a lot of doubles and triples.
Jeff Clement will show flashes of why he was a former first-round pick, but he will ultimately show he is unable to be a starting first baseman and be pushed to the bench in favor of The Natural reincarnated, Garrett Jones. Clement will still be valuable as the go-to lefthanded power-hitting pinch-hit option.
Akinori Iwamura will show Pirates fans that he was a worthwhile acquisition but will be traded for a similar return as Freddy Sanchez. Andy LaRoche will show more power and will be a wizard on defense at third, but he will have some initial struggles when he is shifted to second after Aki is traded and Pedro Alvarez is promoted sometime in June or July. Alvarez will be a monster with the bat, but will struggle with the glove for a month or two.
Ronny Cedeno will be solid but still unworthy to be considered as a long-term option at the six hole.
Finally, Ryan Doumit will finally stay healthy for the first half of the season and will be traded for a fair but unspectacular return. Jason Jaramillo will hold down the fort until Tony Sanchez proves himself ready.
Need more than Battle
The good news: Talor Battle appears to be a first-round draft pick.
The bad news: If he doesn't cast a shot, it appears no one will. Ed DeChellis, it can safely be said, is not exactly an offensive mastermind. Can't he come up with a system that does more than just pass the ball around the perimeter?
Ninety-five percent of the time we run off at least 25 seconds and have to jack up a desperation prayer, if we don't turn it over before that. I know we don't have any dominating post players, but we seldom even try to get it inside.