Jun 12, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker (left) the Pirates first round selection in the 2014 supplemental draft speaks with Pirates general manager Neal Huntington (right) after signing his contract before the Pirates host the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Well Neal Huntington, it looks like you are going to be right again.
You have weathered relentless criticism from fans and foes alike that continue to imply that the decisions you make are based on profits over progress. Dollars over dominance. Bucs over the Buccos! They wondered how you could be so blind to the fact that there is no chance that the Pirates can win without buying, buying, buying!! Or maybe it’s that you really don’t care about winning in the first place?
So how’s that working out?
After not re-signing AJ Burnett, Huntington absorbed a relentless shotgun blast of vitriol from a seething fan base. No one cared that AJ’s ego is bigger than the US Steel building and even though NH made him a good offer, he didn’t stay. I don’t know about you, but I say now what I said then….good riddance.
Not to get off subject, but way to end the career AJ. Instead of being a hometown hero and staying to possibly do something special with the Pirates, $3 million dollars more bought yourself the opportunity to be a middle of the rotation nobody on a team stacked with overpaid prima donnas (like you) that has no chance to win. Congratulations. You stay classy now.
But Huntington didn’t wither under the weight of criticism from the likes of Mark Madden and his fellow absolutists who inexplicably predicted the Pirates demise for not making it rain free agents in the offseason. He knew that he didn’t need to sign any overpriced free agents because the rest of the roster (that actually mattered) was still in place. You know, the unbelievably talented core of McCuthen, Marte, Walker, Martin, Alvarez, Mercer, Cole, Locke, Melancon, Watson, Wilson, Morton and now Polanco?
Funny how all of the folks that screamed and yelled about not signing Marlon Byrd aren’t really complaining much about that anymore? Perhaps now they see that the plan all along was to give Polanco right field? So in hindsight it seems that making the decision to sign Marlon Byrd, or any other high-priced right fielder for that matter would have not only been a waste of money, but would have literally defied any resemblance of logic? Right?
The Pirates are 16-9 in June, they boast the 4th best winning percentage in the National League over the last month and a half and to say that they are firing on all cylinders would be gross understatement. But for some reason there is still angst in Pittsburgh about this team.
I had the displeasure of catching a segment on 93.7 where the host said if the Pirates don’t go 7-3 on this home stand they are in serious trouble. WHAT? That is what the public gets in terms of baseball commentary in this town? Not sure if he knew, but there are 80 games left after this home stand. Losing a series in June does not ruin a season. That is a laughable assumption. That statement right there unfortunately epitomizes the weak and mindless analysis that Pirate fans are exposed to on a regular basis.
What many people forget is that baseball is a marathon not a sprint. Giving up on a team because they don’t make a few free agent signings or have a bad start to the season is premature and ludicrous. Spending money doesn’t equal wins. Ask the Phillies. Having a quality organization at all levels equals wins.
The Pirates have a veritable bevy of young talent that is just waiting for their turn. Because of the depth that Huntington has created, the Pirates are well positioned to have sustained, long term success even when the likes of McCutchen, Alvarez, and Cole move on for the bigger pay days. In addition, when the Pirates trade these players in the final years of their contracts guess what Huntington will get in return?
More young talent.
So I hate to break it to all of the opponents of the Pirates who seemingly bask in glory after every Pirate loss. The Pirates aren’t going anywhere. They have too much talent people. As I said in the beginning of the offseason, they will contend this year. As I said in the beginning of May, they will contend this year. In fact, they will contend next year too and even when Pedro leaves and we get to hear all of the same boring criticism about the Pirates never spending money….they will contend that year as well.
Neal Huntington has put in motion a nearly unstoppable force of young, talent rich baseball players that are working hard day after day to get their shot at being the next Andrew McCutchen. He’s cultivated an organization that is now embracing the culture of winning at all levels. Free Agents will WANT to be here. Prospects will WANT to stay here. And fans across the league will WANT to watch.
So kudos to 2013 GM of the year runner up, he recognized the talent that was in front of him instead of focusing on the talent that was not. Because of his diligence, we will have the pleasure of watching our favorite team win again.
And THAT’S some meaningful insight.
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