Trust: The Great Pittsburgh Pirates Experiment


We trust Neal Huntington.  For us, trust is really important.  We don’t trust a lot of people.   The age old game of trust is an interesting part of economics research.  You’ve probably seen it, or some version of it, before.

Two individuals are each given ten bucks.  The first guy is invited to select any amount (nothing or a buck or even $9 or ten bucks) to send to the second guy.  In the experiment talked about on psychology blogs states that the experimenter, as pre-announced to both of the guys beforehand, will triple anything that the first guy decides to send.  Same thing with the second guy.  Pretty cool game right?

So if the first guy sends $5 dollars to the second guy, it gets tripled.  The second guy gets $15.  The second guy sends, or doesn’t send money to the first guy too.   Thanks to having the experimenter tripling moves, both guys can make cash by working together.

If the first guy thinks the second guy will be selfish and keep everything, it’s obvious that he is better holding onto all the cash.  The idea is that if you lack trust you could lose money.

We think the same applies to baseball.  Over the past few years, we have always invested in tickets.  The team has, for the most part, given us something to cheer about.

In regard to management, we always trusted the decisions Huntington has made.  We have questioned a few, especially the haste to move Jordy Mercer into the lineup this season.  Over the years trying to convey my thoughts and provide opinion to the fan base that Huntington was making the right moves has been challenging, hence the title to this post.  But we feel Huntington has given all he has in the tank, diving in dumpsters, scouring waiver wires, and making interesting small-market moves while Clint Hurdle manages the team to victory after victory.

To date, the Great Pittsburgh Pirates Trust Experiment is working.  The concept is pretty simple in theory:  stay under budget, grow attendance, increase revenues and most importantly win ball games.  But the Pirates have always struggled with finishing the marathon.

When we look at the Pirates current roster construction, the biggest decisions were always when was the right time to bring a player to Federal Street.   Was Pedro Alvarez brought to the big leagues to fast?  Was Gerrit Cole brought to the bigs too slowly? Remember the haste in calling up Neil Walker?  How ’bout Starling Marte?   Andrew McCutchen?    When players jump from Triple-A to the big leagues, the Pirates don’t make the move without considerable thought.

My question is pretty simple despite my lengthy economics experiment explanation above.  Do you really think the Pirates don’t want a player in right field that can swat homers like Andrew Lambo is doing right now?  Having Lambo arrive on the scene would ignite the already rabid fan base.

Since we are talking about money, the Pirates fan base is growing market share among women.  That’s according to Pirates President Frank Coonelly on 93.7 The Fan this morning.  These ladies are opening up their Gucci bags at the team store too where Coonelly said the Bucs have seen a 30% increase in sales.

Lambo is a good looking guy.  California guy.  He would be money in the bank.  (Maybe the delay is the Lambo jerseys are stuck behind all of those Puig jerseys at the sewing factory?)

But seriously, in a perfect world, Lambo would come up and hit ten homers in the next three weeks and make everyone forget about the Jose Tabata, Travis Snider, Alex Presley and now we guess, Josh Harrison experiment in right field.    All the Pirates problems would be answered.

Does that every happen though?

And play along for a moment in Neal Huntington’s loafers.  Andrew Lambo has had success before, he was a pretty good player in the Arizona Fall League years ago….and then a not so good player in the Arizona Fall League.

But what if Huntington makes the decision to bring Lambo up and he fails miserably?  What would the Pirates do then?

Um, Jose, Jose?  We’re sorry about that Lambo Experiment thing man.  We got you penciled in right tonight.  Go get ’em kid.

Baseball isn’t about playing favorites.  We don’t think Huntington dislikes Lambo.  We don’t think Clint Hurdle has a man crush on Josh Harrison.  We know that the Pirates want and need more production from right field.  Huntington even said the numbers Lambo is putting up in Triple-A are legit.  It’s hard to argue with that statement, Victory Field in Indianapolis is a pitchers nirvana.

If Lambo keeps hitting, he will be called up to the Pirates.  It’s yet another feel good story for the Bucs in 2013.  Thank you Jose Veras.

But more importantly, thank you Neal Huntington for making the deal to get Lambo.

Thanks for pulling the trigger when you feel Lambo is ready.

Thanks for trusting in your team of evaluators and coaches.  The same men who were ridiculed for not teaching fundamentals.  For not being able to develop players.

Thanks to the men who do work in the minors getting most of the Bucs starting lineup prepared to be big leaguers.  The same men that have done the transformation on Lambo.  The men that are most often overlooked in the Bucs system.

To the men that have put deep thought into the Pirates roster construction this season, thank you.

We trust your judgement.  You’ve earned it.