On ESPN Insider today, Jim Bowden, Keith Law and Buster Olney teamed up for an article in which they rank the 30 Major League teams in order of how well they are set up for the future. The article is for Insiders(subscription required), so I’ll give a brief rundown for those that don’t subscribe. The criteria used for ranking each team is based mostly on the strength of the Major League club now and the minor league system. They also factor in the management, finances and mobility, which is their ability to move potential bad contracts, if there are any on the team.
There is good news and bad news in the article regarding the Pittsburgh Pirates. The trio ranks the Pirates as the sixth best team for future power. That is obviously the good news. They like the way the team is set up now and they like all of the top pitchers in the minors that are close to helping the big league club. Specifically mentioned in the article are Nick Kingham, Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow, with Kingham mentioned a second time by Keith Law as someone who could step into the rotation soon.
The bad news is that they believe the St Louis Cardinals are the fifth best team and the Chicago Cubs, with their young talent and high payroll capability, are the third best team. There is actually a big difference between the Pirates and Cubs in the rankings, as the teams are rated on a 0-100 scale. The Cubs are rated 80.9 overall, while Pirates are a 64.5, trailing the Cardinals by 8.2 points.
There is also the matter of the Los Angeles Dodgers ranking second and Washington Nationals coming in fourth place. While sixth in all of baseball is a great place to be, being the third best team in your own division and the fifth best National League team, isn’t a great position to be in for the Pirates. The New York Mets are rated right behind the Pirates, so the NL looks very strong now and in the near future.
The Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers both rank among the bottom six teams in baseball.