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Help on the way for the Pirates?

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes that Pirates president Frank Coonelly doesn’t expect the club to deviate from their current plan, even as general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell enter the final year of their respective contracts:

1. Lame-duck years will not be regarded any differently by the Pirates than any other years, and allowing someone to enter a lame-duck year without an extension will not be seen as a lack of faith.

2. Coonelly would prefer that those under him never go into survival mode and attempt short-term solutions that deviate from the team’s overall plan. By not focusing on contract terms or arbitrary lame-duck precedents, the concept goes, those involved are less inclined to single out any year as one in which it would be OK to abandon the plan.

3. Coonelly displays a strong, genuine and unwavering confidence in Huntington and Russell.

It’s hard to evaluate Russell and Huntington based on simple wins and losses because so many of the players acquired over the past two years (Jose Tabata, Tim Alderson, Jeff Clement, Daniel McCutchen and Gorkys Hernandez, just to name a few) have yet to amount to much on the major league level. In turn, Huntington will be judged on the progress of the organization as a whole while Russell and his staff will be measured by how they maximize the talent they are provided with.

With such a rapid turnover, it’s going to take some time -- and they’ll have a hard time avoiding an 18th straight losing season -- but as John Perrotto mentioned in his Top 10 prospect write-up for Baseball America, the club has spent more money ($18.7 million) over the past two drafts than any other team, even going overslot with regularity to secure their draft picks. With a farm system on the rise, there’s plenty of help on the way behind Andrew McCutchen.