Home Opener Observations: Looking ahead to 2020 Pirates season, when it happens

PITTSBURGH — The top brass that turned around the Pirates is gone.

Frank Coonelly, Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle, the trio behind National League wild-card teams in 2013, 2014 and 2015, are gone, swept away as the Pirates cleaned house in the longest of off-seasons.

Owner Bob Nutting hired Travis Williams to replace Coonelly as team president. That move was followed by the hiring of Ben Cherington as general manager and Derek Shelton as field manager.

Thursday would’ve been the debut for the 2020 Pirates, but the coronavirus has extended the time between seasons, so fans will have to wait a while longer for a glimpse at the new management team and the 2020 edition of the Bucs.

The off-season was also a time to say goodbye to the team’s star center fielder, Starling Marte, who was traded to the Diamondbacks before the start of spring training.

When MLB returns, what remains for the Bucs and what can fans expect?

Well, the fan base can certainly rally around a group of young talent.

It starts with first baseman Josh Bell, who hit 37 home runs a season ago.

The Bucs also found a regular shortstop in Kevin Newman and Bryan Reynolds hit .314 as a rookie.

With Marte gone, the Pirates signed outfielder Jarrod Dyson to a one-year deal, and a healthy Gregory Polanco provides hope that Polanco can finally live up to expectations.

With Francisco Cervelli and Elias Diaz gone, 30-year-old Jacob Stallings enters this season as the team’s most experienced catcher.

Adam Frazier (2B) and Colin Moran (3B) round out the infield.

Any team’s success usually starts and ends with pitching, and for the 2020 Pirates it’s looking like a starting rotation that includes Chris Archer, Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams and Derek Holland. Keone Kela will be the closer.

We will have to wait and see, whenever the 2020 MLB season gets underway.