Pittsburgh Pirates Owner Bob Nutting Chooses Mediocrity

By Jeff Moore
Charles LeClaire – US PRESSWIRE

This is why the Pittsburgh Pirates remain a second-rate organization.

After six weeks of essential soul searching, with the soul being the inter-workings of the franchise in which he is the principal owner, Bob Nutting decided not to change a thing.

Despite a second straight season in which his team got off to a contenting start only to collapse and finish below .500, Bob Nutting decided not to change a thing.

Despite spending as much money on the draft over the past three years as any team in baseball and seeing little in return, Bob Nutting decided not to change a thing.

Despite a payroll in the bottom-third of major league baseball, in spite of plenty of organizational profits, Bob Nutting decided not to change a thing.

Despite an organizational developmental philosophy that has become the laughingstock, not just of major league baseball but of all of professional sports, Bob Nutting changed one thing.

Nutting did put the kibosh on the Pirates controversial Navy SEAL training that was potentially injuring some of the Pirates top prospects, and at the very least, was cutting into time that should have been spent on developing, you know, actual baseball skills.

But he kept the man responsible for instituting this ridiculous practice in the first place, Kyle Stark, the Pirates Director of Player Development.

If the organization needed a symbolic change, which you could easily argue it did, Stark would have been the obvious candidate, but despite the controversy stirred up by Stark’s ideas and lack of any argument in his favor for instituting them in the first place, Stark will get more opportunities to steer the development of the Pirates young talent.

But rather than stir up the pot, demonstrate that things will be different, and exercise the demons of twenty straight losing seasons, Bob Nutting decided not to change a thing.

GM Neal Huntington has made his share of mistakes, but has also had his hands tied due to a limited payroll and an inability to bring talent into a losing culture.  Manager Clint Hurdle has navigated the ship to two straight late-season collapses, but both of those were due, in large part, to the fact that he had gotten the team to over-achieve in the first place.

The change wasn’t about these men. Perhaps they are bad at their jobs (although in the case of Hurdle, he has proven that he can lead a mid-level payroll team to the World Series with the Colorado Rockies in 2007), but that decision can’t be based on their inability to do their jobs with less than a full deck of cards.

The change that was needed had to come from the top. With more payroll flexibility to work with and more accountability for the obviously poor decisions from within the front office, those already in place might just have an opportunity to do their jobs properly.

Yet Bob Nutting decided not to change a thing.


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