As 2009 draws to a close, let's remember where we were when it started. The Pirates entered the year with Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Adam LaRoche, and John Grabow facing free agency, questions lingering about Pedro Alvarez after his long vacation, questions about what sort of Major Leaguer Andrew McCutchen would become, questions about Jose Tabata in general, questions about Brad Lincoln's recovery from Tommy John surgery, and almost no pitching at all behind Lincoln in the minor league system. Which is to say that Neal Huntington's front office got the ball rolling towards cleaning the franchise up in 2008, but there was still a lot of work to do.

In the span of a year, all of the pending free agents were moved in trades, Alvarez had a great first year in the minor leagues, excelling...

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