Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bob Nutting met with the team and coaches today, discussing his expectations. After the meeting he met with the media to discuss his conversation with the players, along with other topics.
“It is different this year,” Nutting said on the team meeting. “As we’re talking about the level of expectation…we’ve achieved so much as an organization, we’re in a stronger place than we’ve been, but we need to be moving forward. We need to get better. We can’t be satisfied. Every team in the league, every team in baseball is now aware of us and pushing forward, and I think this is a group that understands that and is ready to move forward.”
Nutting also added that he shared with the players the importance of having appreciation and respect for the fans of the city of Pittsburgh.
“The response the city had to the players and to the team last summer really reemphasized to me our responsibility and the player’s responsibility to perform, and to give every day, every inning, every at-bat,” Nutting said.
The National TV deal has been a big topic this off-season, with new revenues coming to each team. The numbers have been mixed, depending on what source you turn to. The Pirates haven’t seen a big increase in spending this off-season, despite the new revenues.
“What we’re doing, as we always have done and will do, is we’re going to focus on building the team the right way,” Nutting said. “We’re going to focus on the resources that we know that we have, and we’re going to make sure that we’re focused on total dollars, but how do we really invest effectively so that we’re getting the right mix of our development system. The right mix of talent coming into the organization, and a real commitment to make sure that the 2014 team knows they’re our top priority and we need to perform when in Pittsburgh.”
Nutting did add that MLB is holding back some of the reported revenues to allocate that to other places, such as streaming rights. This has been reported by other outlets as well, which means teams won’t be getting close to the $25-27 M each year.
He was asked about whether he was satisfied with the off-season, but focused on the positives that came out of the off-season in regards to the strength of the farm system.
“I think one of the most exciting things that came out of the off-season, depending on who you look at, Baseball America, the ranking of anywhere from number one to number three in farm systems,” Nutting said. “Depth of talent inside the organization. And that’s really the source of talent that’s going to sustain and build on, and continue to allow us to improve as Pittsburgh Pirates.”
The focus on internal development and the farm system was a common theme in the meeting with the media. Nutting noted that the team needed to respect the process that has gotten them to this point. He also noted that a first round draft pick is a meaningful source of talent for a team like the Pirates, which means they would be cautious in giving that up for a free agent like Kendrys Morales, who would require compensation.
“I am very enthusiastic about the team that we have to put on the field,” Nutting said. “Very enthusiastic about the rotation. Were there some areas where we talked about being able to build and supplement, whether it’s right field or first base? Absolutely. Are we in a strong position to go out and put a team that I have faith is not only going to compete, but can excel in 2014? Absolutely. I hope we’re never satisfied, but I’m very enthusiastic about where we are.”
Nutting did mention that they would continue to seek deals at the trade deadline, and said that the team would prefer to give up cash, rather than prospects, which is an approach they’ve taken in the past.
“There’s no question that it is easier, and more impactful, especially at the trading deadline, to write an extra check, rather than give up prospects,” Nutting said
When asked about whether there was any movement toward an extension for Clint Hurdle or Neal Huntington — both are under team control through the 2015 season — Nutting said that he hopes both will be with the organization for a long time, but didn’t say that there were any discussions on a deal at this point.
“I think what’s important to me is that they understand, and the organization understands that they’ve been critical pieces in getting us here, and my expectation is they’re going to be critically important pieces as we move forward to the future,” Nutting said on Hurdle and Huntington.
Nutting’s message was heavy on needing to build from within. He gave positive reviews on the 2014 team, which is something you’d expect him to say. As for the overall message, he said that the “single-minded focus” was bringing a championship to Pittsburgh.
“We’re committed to improving upon a great year last year, but moving beyond that for 2014 and on in the future,” Nutting said. “We expect, and the fans deserve for us to bring a championship to Pittsburgh. That’s what we’ve been working on for years, and that’s what continues to be the single-minded focus.”