I sent an email to the Umpbump staff last week. I was working on a post about the Pittsburgh Pirates, who haven’t had a winning record in 16 seasons, and I needed some help. It’s not that I didn’t know what the Pirates needed, it’s that I didn’t know where to begin.

Here’s what Paul had to say about the Pirates:

There’s nothing that’s going to save the Pirates in the next decade. Nothing. They’ve botched everything. They traded away Bay and Nady already so they’re low on movable pieces. No one’s taking for Jack Wilson’s contract or his performance. Freddy Sanchez is one of the worst regulars in baseball. Ian Snell is lost. Tom Gorzelany came back down to earth. Zach Duke is a #4 at best. Their best pitcher and three best hitters in 2008 (Paul Maholm, Ryan Doumit, Adam LaRoche and Nate McLouth) are arbitration eligible and getting decent raises.

Yes, they’re very young, which is good for them. But they are young and bad. Maybe they’ll give Andrew McCutchen a shot in the outfield next year. I’d see what McLouth can bring you in a trade after his “Gold Glove” season (but not trade him unless you get a great deal). But the problem with that is you’d end up with an outfield of McCutchen, Brandon Moss, and Nyjer Morgan. They may slug .600 COMBINED. They’ll have the LaRoche duo at the corners, and the worst up-the-middle duo in baseball.

I think that about sums it up, don’t you? The Pirates, it seems, need a miracle. Barring that, they’ll need to continue to commit to player development in the hopes of competing several years from now.

Fortunately, the Pirates are way ahead of the competition when it comes to player development. While other organizations are scouting college players and youngsters in Cuba, Japan and Korea, the Pirates are cornering the India market. They recently signed two reality show winners to minor league contracts. The two Indians are represented by Jeff Borris, who estimates they will need three to four years of minor league experience before becoming major league ready.

Three to four years for two kids who have never pitched in a baseball game? That sounds about right. I’ll be holding my breath for that.

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