Can Pirates GM Build A Winner?

Saw a mention of the fact that next year will be the 30 year anniversary of the Pittsburgh Pirates 1971 World Series Championship team.  Joe L. Brown was the General Manager of the Pirates for twenty years beginning in November of 1955.  He came back in 1985 on an interim basis when the drug trials had hammered Pittsburgh. 

I thought it was relevant, because so much was made about the Pirates coming from last place finishers to world champions in 1960.   Then Brown used the rich scouting of Latin America and the Caribbean to assemble a team like no other to win another title in  ’71.   It seems the Pirates are trying to go back to their roots to return the club to glory.  So the question is does current GM Neal Huntington have what it takes to do the same thing that Brown did so long ago? 

Brown’s career path really stood out because he spent his entire life in baseball.  He worked hard throughout his life, even spending time in the military during WWII, and eventually worked his way up to earn the job as GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

He missed on his first managerial choice of Bobby Bragan, but in 1957 during the middle of the year, Brown replaced Bragan with Danny Murtaugh.  The midseason move was a spark and by 1958 the Bucs were contenders.  Could history be repeating itself in Pittsburgh?   Perhaps Huntington missed with Russell,  a large number of fans feel that he has.  But if a move were to be made, who could improve this young team?

Brown was different in a few regards from my perspective.  The first is in the trades that put the ’60 Bucs over the top.  Huntington’s trades some would say are still in the mix, but there is nothing he has done that has matched what Joe L. Brown did.  Almost all of the research I did on Brown explained his sharp eye for talent.   His resume does all the talking.  Especially in Latin America with his good buddy Howie ‘Big Daddy’ Haak.

I pulled out the ’72 yearbook trying to see what quotes stood out about Joe L. Brown.  It hit me like a hammer.  Pirates announcer Nellie King was the man quoted:

“Joe L. Brown is people oriented, not thing oriented.  I’ve known Joe Brown since 1954 when he was the GM with the New Orleans club, and I have always found him to have a deep sincere feeling for the people who work for him.”

No matter what you say about Joe L. Brown, you have to respect a quote like that especially when it is in the World Champion yearbook in 1972.  I can only imagine all of the quotes that were  available to be used after winning a world championship.   How special is it that a quote about being people oriented makes the cut?  Powerful stuff.

It’s all about the people.  Let’s trust that one day Neal Huntington gets that part of the business and could have a quote like that in a World Championship Pirates yearbook.

“Pirates Pick Brown: Rickey Successor Predicts Pennant,” The New York Times, Oct. 25, 1955.

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  • DrewRit21

    Any doubt in anyone’s mind NH is planning to trade Doumit? Reports are after AS break Jaramillo going down, Kratz coming up. I’m thinking NH wants JJ to get 2 weeks of regular ABs before he is the full-time starter.

    Here’s hoping NH can get a SS (AA, AAA) in return for Doumit. I’m thinking Doumit has to go to AL, but I haven’t looked at teams and needs. There are a lot of other teams that could withstand a catcher that can’t throw anyone out more than the Pirates, or he can be DH. Lets face it – he is healthy and performing up to par. His value is at its peak – always a ripe time for a NH trade.

    • Tom Smith

      Nothing would shock me. I heard we have Brian Bixler headed back to the ballclub. Perhaps a SS is on the move soon as well.

  • Doc

    The Pirates traded Andy Laroche and Jack Wilson for SS’s and just acquired another in Bixler.

    The problem isn’t trading for them. The problem is being able to recognize major league talent., and that would be players traded FROM Pittsburgh, Until a new GM ( and probably owner given the “hometown discount” approach to current players) the Pirates will continue to push their losing streak into a previously unthought of area.

  • Doc

    oops.. that is ADAM Laroche, not Andy. My bad!

  • DrewRit21

    Doc –

    I liked Jack Wilson, but he has hardly been anything to desire since joining Seattle.

    Adam LaRoche is a fair point, but he would’ve been difficult to keep anyway, but he isn’t a shortstop.

    I never saw Cedeno, Diaz, or Crosby as legitimate MLB starters. We need a legitimate MLB shortstop, and I don’t disagree that this management team has a difficult time identifying such a thing.