...by one additional year, locking him up through the 2008 season.
I know some fans out there aren't going to like this, but I think he's got the organization on its way. The series of articles that Dejan wrote in the P-G yesterday were very insightful into some of the changes that Littlefield and the Pirates have implemented (the one about the increased presence in Latin America was terrific). The piece about how Brian Graham tracks the progress of these prospects (the "Pirate Plan" stuff) was also a pretty interesting read. I'm not sure how much that kind of stuff went on when Bonifay and Mickey White were running the show.
I think the problem a lot of people have with the Pirates is that it takes a lot of patience to see this stuff through. Unfortunately, casual fans look at the way the things can be fixed relatively quickly in the league the Pirates' neighbors play in. In the NFL, free agency helps make things a little easier to turn things around (two years ago, the Steelers were 6-10) or mask mistakes in personnel (Zo Jackson, for example). A lot of casual fans probably expect the same "quick fix" stuff to happen here, and when they don't get it, they don't want to invest time and money into the product. I can't say I entirely blame them.
I'm willing to give Littlefield more time because I think he's got it going in the right direction. Bonifay invested five years in a plan that blew up in his face. It's taken Littlefield time to blow it all up and start over, but I think it's finally starting to look up a little.