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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

David Freese Says the Pirates Have Lacked a ‘Winning Culture’

BRADENTON, Fla. — There have been some major changes to the makeup of the Pirates clubhouse heading into the 2018 season, but the most impactful change might need to come from the attitude of it, accord to veteran third baseman David Freese, who reported to Spring Training on Friday.

Freese was critical of the tenor of the clubhouse and the amount of accountability that’s been meted out to players over his two years with Pittsburgh, and it’s clear that he believes that the departure of several veteran players can also be an opportunity to re-establish a winning culture in the Pirates’ clubhouse.

Here’s Freese’s long rant on why he feels that the Pirates have performed below their talent level over the last two years:

“My opinion is that I don’t think we lost 87 games because (Starling) Marte wasn’t there or because (Jung Ho) Kang wasn’t there. I think we lost 87 games because our environment doesn’t allow it. I think it’s something that we have to work on. I think it’s important to focus on the foundational components of what it takes to have a winning culture. I think this place kind of gets ahead of itself. They try and keep up with the way analytical stuff is working, but man, you’ve gotta have urgency. You’ve gotta have accountability. You’ve gotta have all these things. I’ve been here for two years and we’ve just kinda lacked in that department a little bit.

“You’ve gotta start from the ground up. You can try to do all these things, but if you don’t have the accountability or the demand to win, what’s the point in doing it? The last two years, we haven’t done as well as we could have because of our environment. That’s what I think. I walk in every day, and it’s not in the air. The demand to win is just not in the air. That’s what you need. You can say all you want about how we’re going to win, this and that, but if you don’t walk in, you don’t feel it and you don’t see it in people’s eyes, it’s just not going to work.”

Freese didn’t limit his criticism to the front office, saying that the players own a full share of the environment that’s been created.

“These young guys on this team are animals and studs and a few of them are going to be superstars,” he said. “We need the guys that have been around to step up and play better, whether you’re an everyday guy or a bench guy, you’ve gotta work hard. But the three hours, man, when you’re in that dugout and on the field, it has to be about kicking some ass. When you’re losing 10-2 in the pouring rain against Joe Maddon and you’re laughing, that’s not good. That says a lot.”

Freese also clarified that he doesn’t believe that the Pirates aren’t trying to win, rather, that their focus on the analytical and nuts and bolts part of baseball has left a hole missing in the leadership and accountability side of things.

“I think the intent around here is good,” he said. “I think everyone that is in this organization is trying to win. I think we just get ahead of ourselves. The foundational components to winning are not that difficult. It’s the same as when you’re in high school. You grab some talent, you have some desire and you demand that you go out there and win. I get it, you can be selfish and get your own. You need guys like that. You need all sorts of types of players on your team. The bottom line is that we haven’t played as we’re capable of, I think because of what we’re expected upon ourselves.

“I feel like the last two years, teams come in and they’re just kinda like, ‘Alright, we’ve got the Pirates. Let’s take care of them.’ That’s unacceptable. You go through ’13, ’14, ’15, I wish I was here for that. I do, because I think I would have a better understanding of the difference. People talk about the different feeling from those years to these (last) two. I walked in when I signed, and I could tell. I walked into a clubhouse coming off 98 wins. I’m like, ‘Here we go.’ Within a day or two, I’m like, ‘Man, what are we missing? What’s going on here?’

“Do we have to win? Not necessarily. But you’ve gotta be exhausted at the end of the year, and played you tail off, collectively, to win as many games as you can. I think the fans the deserve that in any city, especially as passionate as these guys are, and we deserve. We have to respect ourselves and respect the opportunity that we have to do things that are special. … At the end of the year, you have to feel that we honestly went for it. If that happens, I think you can be happy.

“Losing Cutch is tough, but I hope the fans understand the Pirates are trying to do the best they can to be, I don’t want to say competitive. Screw that word. It’s such a safe word. … I think the fans, I hope they understand that the Pirates are trying to win and they’re trying to do the right thing for the organization with what they’re allowed to do.

“It’s part of the deal and you move on. I think this group is excited. I think it’s going to have a fresh feel. We’re ready to go.”

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Richard C

Neil Walker

ralph j

LET’S GOOOOO!!!

BASEBALL ’18!!!!

dr dng

Thank you Mr. Saunders for a great article.
It has many folks talking Pirates in the
tri-state area and beyond.

And also commenting on this site.

Have we set a new record for comments like I predicted?

Bruce G

Accountability – When I think of that in baseball terms, I think of playing the game the right way. Getting prepared, minimizing mental mistakes, and doing what needs done to help your team win. Freese doesn’t want to point the finger at Marte or Kang, but to me their actions lacked accountability and had a huge impact on the team. I also think the frequent mental mistakes and occasional lack of hustle has to be considered. How many times have we seen guys thrown out at 3rd on ground balls hit in front of them? Those are the things that have to drive professionals like Freese nuts.

tcs3gobucs

Ummmm…on second thought, keep Freese!

Mmarchionda

So if Cutch was the leader of the team and the clubhouse, aren’t Freese’s comments a direct attack on Cutch’s leadership and attitude? I love Cutch as much as anyone but maybe it was time for him to go.

GreenWeenie

There were times when I watched the Pirates and felt like they lacked some intensity, compared to a team like the Cubs. Then again, I’d watch Osuna chasing down a fly ball and I knew he shouldn’t be in the OF. Maybe there’s some merit to Freese’s comments, but We need better players.

Randy W

I love what he said about players laughing in the dugout while the team is getting its ass kicked. I’m sure I’m misremembering some specifics here, but I seem to remember last season they were playing the Cubs, and it was when the Bucs were still in the mix for the division lead. It was the 8th inning and they were down a few runs. With two runners on Cervelli struck out with two outs. The next inning they showed him laughing and joking in the dugout. Now, I get that you have hundreds of ABs a year and that you can’t freak out about each one; and I understand that baseball isn’t life and death and that you shouldn’t trash the dugout every time you fail, but I remember thinking, “Holy shit you’re in the middle of a pennant race and you just struck out with two runners on late in the game while down a few runs. At least ACT like you care!” As you can tell, I’m still pissed about it today.

ralph j

Marte strikes me as one of those guys…

outthere2

I’m sorry, but I never saw David Freese that upset when he took a called strike down the middle.

Steve Zielinski

So, the Pirates need to replace analytics with cliches and very red asses….

yutz03

Whats it going to do when you lose guys like Walker, Burnett, and Martin and replace them with nothing. Is Cutch supposed to run through walls for the management but they trade the close while 3 games out of the WC? Bad moves bred this malaise, or not give a crap attitude. You think the players don’t talk to each other when the competition gets Chapman and we’re doing this nonsense dance of trying to compete while never actually going all in? Oh god we can’t trade Glasnow or Meadows…lol, how that working out for us? The team quit the year we traded Melancon, pretty simple, and they had every right.

Chiburgh

Great stuff, Alan.

Love this point. Freese also clarified that he doesn’t believe that the Pirates aren’t trying to win, rather, that their focus on the analytical and nuts and bolts part of baseball has left a hole missing in the leadership and accountability side of things.

John Odermatt

The quote about laughing in the club house while losing in the pouring rain to Joe Maddon…..That was a shot at Cutch I believe. Cutch was a great player, but was he a great leader? I’m not sure that he was.

John_Odermatt

Nevermind. Found this quote from Freeze on another site:
“(McCutchen) deserved better,” Freese said. “He took this organization from the ground up into the spotlight. You wish it could have ended better for him. You wish he could have been surrounded by a group that wanted to kick some ass for him. He’s going to be a hero for the city of Pittsburgh forever, but, man, it could have been so much more.”

Matt B

I’m usually very positive. I had a feeling about this though. This sounds
like Giles & Kendall all over again. I do hope that the Pirates let the young guys play this season. Let’s see what kind of prospects we have on the team.

cabbo80

The missing part was one man. AJ Burnett. He was the rock those teams broke themselves against…he was just tough. He didn’t want to win he won…that’s a huge difference. We have had no fire in our belly since he left. Hell he made Locke a great pitcher. He didn’t take any shit from Hurdle and he challenged Cole and let Cutch be Cutch helping him be a star. Freese is a veteran calling out the entire Pirate way from soup to nuts…he just signed his walking papers but damn I’m impressed. It will make little difference except the chatter that will bounce for a few days but hey it’s a start.

Ron Zorn

Tremendously said, keep him around!

EWS34

We’ve all seen this before. Perotto called it the Bucco Malaise. Hit the nail right on the head. My opinion: GM NH despises players that speak out. These analytic leaders don’t get the value of having the right TYPE of players. Look what the Steelers did in the last draft. They focused more on getting leaders. A lot of their draftees were team captains on their respective teams, high quality/character players. Someone needs to kick Marte and Polanco in the butt when they screw up. I want to see Srod or Freese in their face after another stupid base running blunder. Players can hold players accountable.

Tim Williams

I can tell you with absolute certainty that the Pirates value leaders and characters. I don’t know if they have some type of analytical factor there. But it plays a big role in their evaluation.

EWS34

Thanks Tim. Good to know.

TonyV

Yep, this is Huntington’s fault. “We need the guys that have been around to step up and play better, whether you’re an everyday guy or a bench guy, you’ve gotta work hard. But the three hours, man, when you’re in that dugout and on the field, it has to be about kicking some ass. When you’re losing 10-2 in the pouring rain against Joe Maddon and you’re laughing, that’s not good. That says a lot.”

AttyMike

Love it!

Yung-Han Chang

I think that what is trying to say is “stop complaining about how our stars are being traded away, that is just another excuse. By working hard all season long to improve yourself the entire team will improve.”

Bill W

The Cardinal Way! It’s all about winning and having pride in you work. I agree with what he is communicating.

a0399

Last two years… a lot of bad moves and even more bad luck. What is done is done. Currently sounds like they need a charismatic leader. On the coaching side, Meccage sounded fiery and direct. Great addition, good timing.

joe s

Glad to see that someone on the teams realizes what is needed to create a winning culture on the team. Hurdle should not have been renewed. He will not allow a rookie to play enough to succeed or fail. Wonder when Pirate management will dump Freese?

TonyV

Bell, Frazier, Tallion and earlier Marte, Polonco? Yeah, he doesnt play rookies.

Darkstone42

You know, I get it, but I don’t fully agree with everything. I’ll never buy into the idea that you have to project misery when you’re losing a game. I don’t think it’s healthy, and I don’t think it’s a great way to recover your confidence before the next one. I don’t think focusing on analytics precludes playing hard and competing.

And I definitely don’t agree that “attitude” was a bigger problem than not having two of your best players in the lineup, one for the whole year, and the other for half of it.

I do think the team needs to get a couple upgrades talent-wise. I do think the team needs to get a little more flexible on its strategic philosophies. I do think they need to bench struggling veterans more readily in favor of giving someone else a chance for a bit (hi, Clint). But “attitude” and “culture” only do so much, and it’s not the difference between a losing team and a playoff berth.

Arik Florimonte

Came here to say this.

Darkstone42

You’re welcome for reducing your risk of carpal tunnel, then.

piraddict

So to be a Champion having a winning edge is a necessary but insufficient condition if the talent isn’t present.

Darkstone42

I think not having Kang especially hurt them. They’re a much different offense with his .200 ISO in the middle of the order.

piraddict

True.

Darkstone42

To elaborate (even more), no Kang and only half Marte probably cost them about 6+ WAR. I cannot imagine “attitude” ever accounting for 6+ WAR.

piraddict

Not true. I’d say culture can be 10+ WAR.

Darkstone42

Wow, he sounds pretty good. Can we sign him?

🙂

NMR

“Organizational culture is poor right now but off-field incidents kept our clubs from reaching their roughly .500 talent-based projected records over the last two seasons” isn’t exactly a rallying cry, even if more accurate. 😉

Paul Smerker

Thank you David Freese! It is about time someone steps up for the pirates. Read the article a couple of times. Understand what he is saying. Hey Saunders this is not a rant, this is heart.

jaygray007

okay… i’m REALLY trying to understand his points here… REALLY trying.

paragraph starting “My opinion.” seems that his main point is that the FO lacks urgency and accountability. I understand urgency. Getting an OF instead of playing Jaso out there, for example. Not sure what exactly he means by accountability by the front office and what Neal saying “yeah i screwed X up” would fix.

paragraphs with “you’ve gotta”…. seem like he shifts back to the clubhouse. “when i walk in every day.” seems like it’s about players/coaches’ attitudes.

paragraph with “these young guys”… the players need to play better and stop laughing when we’re losing.

paragraph with “i think the intent”… they are trying to win but “get ahead of ourselves”. this one is really hard to understand. some of the players are out there for themselves, and are there for the team, but you also NEED some guys who are out there for themselves? okay? what does “we haven’t played as we’re capable of, I think because of what we’re expected upon ourselves” even mean?

paragraph with “i feel like the last two years”… teams viewed the Pirates as an easy win for two years. The attitude wasn’t good when he walked in.

paragraph with “do we have to win”.. we have to try harder. we have to be exhausted at the end of the year.

paragraph with “losing cutch” … honestly the “WHAT THEY’RE ALLOWED TO DO” is the most meaningful phrase in this whole damn rant. seems like he’s saying theyre trying, but arent being given the resources to do so.

jaygray007

honestly, if athletes would just stop overusing the word “you,” it would solve a lot of problems.

half the time when they say “you”, they actually mean “I”

say “I”, or “management” or “players”.

he said the word “you” 35 times just in his quotes on this article.

jaygray007

thank you for making it much clearer than David Freese did haha.

John W

It sounds to me that a lot of this is directed at the younger guys? I mean the entire roster in theory but I sense Freese sees an incredible amount of talent with some of these younger guys but doesn’t see the obsession with winning that is probably necessary in professional sports?

I’m hoping his commentary serves as a catalyst for some of the younger guys and brings people together as opposed to pushing them apart.

Catch22

I don’t want to read too much into this, but I think he’s pointing at Cutch as well….Especially with the accountability stuff. Hell, Cutch could do nothing for 2 months and wouldn’t get benched or moved in the order. Cutch’s accountability was blaming official scorers, the way the grass was cut, etc.

I thought this was pretty telling when he spoke of the Cutch trade – “It’s part of the deal and you move on. I think this group is excited. I think it’s going to have a fresh feel. We’re ready to go.” Fresh feel.

Blaine Huff

On the whole, I think Freese is correct…but it begs the question:

He’s been here for two seasons, what has he done to change the culture?

Blaine Huff

Sincerely sorry for my illiteracy…and not trying to be snarky at all…but in this article? I read it once and skimmed it a couple of times and still not seeing that quote.

As for part time player…meh…he’s averaged about 500 PA’s/season. I get that he’s not plugged in as a starter, and I’m not trying to split hairs…but it’s not like he’s a guy getting a start/week.

jaygray007

in other articles, you can see that he admits that he hasnt done enough.

scrappy2499

It is refreshing to see Freese step up and say what he has. I watch the team the last two years and it reminds me of the everyone gets a trophy era…Hey I’m making 500,000.00, we are down 6-0 who cares everyone wins yeah dance in the dugout. Need leaders to step up and say have some self respect they are beating us down and you are dancing and pointing to the dugout after a single…play hard until the final out and see what happens. Hurdle should be telling them play with grit work your tail or ride the pine. These young guys have winning culture as they all have been on winners in the minors. Hopefully they will remember how that was and bring the winning culture back.

Catch22

Wow. He went directly at NH….all of it!

“I don’t want to say competitive. Screw that word. It’s such a safe word. … “

jaygray007

really reading through the quotes… i actually think very *little* of this rant is about Huntington

John W

It doesn’t necessarily point to Neal but I don’t see how what Freese said doesn’t reflect poorly on Clint Hurdle.

Catch22

After reading the entire article at PG, I totally agree.

michael t

There was more said directly attacking the organization, comparing it to the winning culture with the Penguins and Steelers. He really cut loose and probably wants out now. Given the scope of the remarks the organization may quickly accommodate him.

IC Bob

Good point we may even trade one of our top 20 prospects to get rid of him!

jaygray007

i respect david freese and if he says that the culture is off, then i absolutely give that weight. i believe him.

but if he thinks that attitudes are worth 12 wins in a season, and having Kang and Marte wouldnt have helped at all, then i’m afraid i’ve got some bad news.

beaverjp

Cutch and Cole are about half of the deficit

Catch22

This was more about NH….analytics and saying competitive.

Scott K

I think this was secondary to his comments about the culture of the team. Too many veterans getting caught up in the whole grass is greener mentality instead of handling their own business is how I took it.

The more I think about it, the more I see this as being pointed at JHay than anyone. First thing JHay says is trade me after his BFF is traded away. Freese is letting him know the woe is me attitude has been the biggest issue the last couple years, and it needs to change.

This lineup would look a whole lot better if the 4+ WAR JHay showed up this year.

michael t

I suggest you find and listen to the interview….his comments about JHay were highly supportive. Basically, a winner who signed an extension…now seeing the team blown up and who doesn’t know where he’ll be in three months.

NMR

Yeah that couldn’t be any more wrong…

“On All-Star second baseman Josh Harrison requesting a trade and criticizing the club’s direction after the McCutchen trade: “It’s just somebody being real. JayHay is real. He’s up there at the top of my list as a guy who plays as hard as anybody. He has a right to say what he wants. I’m glad he’s here. I know we all are.”

Scott K

Who benefits from him “being real?” Save some money by using the media to be his therapist?

How about be a team player and show some leadership skills instead of whining b/c his BFF is gone. To suggest his comments served any positive purpose for him, his teammates, or the organization is pure fantasy.

To me, Freese’s tirade cuts to the heart of this type of prevailing attitude, that he claims existed in the clubhouse the last couple years.

NMR

Scott with the pro-management, anti-labor take. Now I’ve seen it all. 😉

jaygray007

can you elaborate?

it’s hard for me to follow all of his points. sounds like you understand it better.

IC Bob

I think what he is saying there is more to a ballplayer then what a computer spits out.

michael t

Exactly. When you listen to the interview the context of what he is saying is clear.

battlingbucs

I’m sorry but I don’t get the prevailing sentiment that David Freese is right. The Pirates lost 87 games last year because they weren’t a good team (I can’t believe this is apparently an unpopular opinion).

IC Bob

I think the issue is no one seemed to care that they lost 87 games

capirate

I agree that last year they weren’t a real good team. But in 2016, they were a good team and played below their talent all year. I didn’t expect them to win 98 games again, but they should have been able to contend.

Chris C

Some of Freese’s comments are interesting but dismissing the loss of Marte, Kang, and the use of analytics is naive’. There are intangibles in sports but there are also “tangibles” I.e. talent. Nevertheless I do wonder about Cole and Cutch’s ability to lead. I loved Cutch but was very disappointed in his desire to continue playing CF when there was a much better option. I wanted to hear him say “anything for the team, anything to win” but didn’t. Cole goes to the Astros and talks about heir commitment to winning, blah, blah, blah, what about his mediocre pitching the last 2 years…

Wabbit_Season

There you are! We have a winner! Exactly.

-BB

freddylang

I may be over simplifying but you have a front office that has turned the talent around in the minors and actually produced some decent players. Not a lot but some and way more than the previous 10 or so years. Then they have a few good seasons and maybe over achieve and make the fans happier than they have been since 1991 or 1992. On top of all that and most importantly they get a few more fans in the seats and make more money while fielding better teams, albeit for only a few seasons. Then after seeing that they have a few bad years but continue to rake in money. Ownership responds by extending everyone responsible for what, 8-9 years of basically .500 ball overall and zero trips to even an LCS? To me, there is the answer for what the culture is. Status quo as long as the money rolls in. I understand the goal is to make money, but the Pirates’ situation to me is obvious and it is from the top down. Even if Cutch became apathetic even a little the last few years could you really blame him?

piraddict

Yes. I think Cutch is a “happy-go-lucky” personality, which is fine if you have other players on the team who can bring competitive fire. It isn’t realistic to expect Cutch to bring that. It does point out then when constructing a team it’s not all about statistics. Non statistical character and personaility traits matter as well. From that point of view I think Russell Martin was the key contributor to the Bucs run of success.

rrlindsey

Bucs won 10 more games after Martin left. So there goes that idea. Winning solves a lot problems. Funny how no one notices anything until losing sets in.

Scott K

Yes I can blame a player, even one I admire like Cutch, for being apathetic.

Players are paid, quite lavishly, to play baseball. Not to construct a roster or worry about how much money another man has.

IC Bob

I played on a team where I was the best player on the worst team in the league. I had a great season but being good on the laughing stock team in the league wore on me. That wore on my like you wouldn’t believe and it does affect your play

David N

I think it was Upton Sinclair who said something along the lines of: “Nothing can compel a man to understand a problem if his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” There has to be accountability on all sides. Two veteran and highly acclaimed members of the team are gone this year. What does that tell you? Several members of the BMTIB were awarded four-year contract extensions last year. What does that tell you? Since the end of the 2015 98-win season we have stuck with a strategy of draft and develop and cost control along with the technical fiddling David Freese refers to. Ultimate accountability belongs to ownership.

Scott K

I remember in ’88, Kirk Gibson joined the Dodgers and Jesse Orosco pulled a prank on him early in ST, and the whole team was laughing at him. Gibson just lit into the team and told them that’s why they were losing. Nobody takes this seriously.

Hopefully this candid assessment of the state of affairs in Pittsburgh will be a wake up call to the entire organization to stop whining about this, that, and the other, and do your damn job as good as you possibly can for the guy next to you. And maybe, things will turn out like it did for the Dodgers in ’88.

freddylang

Players who can laugh during a bad loss or really any loss are an insult. I see that stuff all the time in every sport. They are an embarrassment. I think back to the 80s in a small steel town in Eastern Ohio and what would have happened if you were getting destroyed and were goofing off in the dugout. You might get shoved or slapped. You would surely get called out. These are more sensitive and softer times now. In some ways that is good but in other ways it allows the people that just don’t have what it takes to continue on and have their spot and be mediocre.

mpg21

What is the context for the Cubs loss comment? Who was laughing? When did it happen?

beaverjp

Someone queue Jeremy giambi scene moneyball

terry martin

David Freese is right on the money. When A.J. Burnett was here, there was an
intensity! His attitude rubbed off on players. Remember how lefty
starter Jeff Locke responded. And he actually had some brief starts
where he excelled. I too think the past 2 years our club has lacked that
killer instinct. I really hate Cutch being traded, he was one of my
all-time favorite Pirates, but the current club can’t dwell on that and
must look ahead. Hurdle is preaching the right message and mindset.
Marte is approaching it the right way. Will be interesting to see what
comes about. If Harrison, Cervelli, Mercer, Bell, Polanco and company
buy in….it might be an interesting season. Will the Bucs sit around
letting the Reds,Cubs, Cards and Brewers kick them to the bottom of the
NL Central…I hope not! There are pieces in place, talented
players…Young players coming up with ability…While I loath “Bottom
Line Bob” Nutting and Frank Connelly, I must agree the club is at a
crossroads to move forward…Who will provide the spark? Beat’em Bucs

michael t

I don’t think Marte, Polanco and Cervelli have what it takes to assume a leadership role. Bell might. The 2013-2015 leaders have all been sent packing.

bucswsbound

It doesn’t seem all that long when we were told Burnett wasn’t a leader or didn’t act like a leader or some such nonsense.

Bucsfan21

Yea, Alan…I wholeheartedly agree. Russell Martin, Neil Walker and A J Burnett had a competitive fire, swagger about them. I think Cervelli, Harrison and Freese could exhibit that manner. Freese sure has played on some good teams with Redbirds. And with Sean Rodriguez on the roster again, there is another fiery, competitive guy to carry the Bucco Banner. It could happen, but the players have to buy in and want to go the distance…Wow, Wouldn’t it be great if they did. I for one am getting tired of being the butt-end of jokes and defeats in the NL Central. For Pete sake’s the Cinny Reds and Brewers almost own us! Beat’em Bucs

beaverjp

Is there a Taillon extension bit?

freddylang

I love that someone stood up and said it. …and glad it was Freese, the guy that has won a World Series, and an LCS & WS MVP, and played for the Cardinals for years because everyone knows they know what it takes. Ownership giving out a fistful of extensions for mediocrity sets a bad precedent for one. I just wonder who Freese’s main culprits were. Like he said, maybe it is systematic, and if it is then Hurdle deserves a lot of the blame for the culture because he should be setting the tone. But I feel Hurdle should have been gone after 2016 so there’s that.

NMR

“People talk about the different feeling from those years to these (last) two. I walked in when I signed, and I could tell. I walked into a clubhouse coming off 98 wins. I’m like, ‘Here we go.’ Within a day or two, I’m like, ‘Man, what are we missing? What’s going on here?’”

We’re all conditioned to lean on whatever biases we already have, but this passage is the smoking gun to me.

Look at what happened between the end of the 2015 season and the beginning of the 2016 season; there’s your answer.

freddylang

…and the 98 win season with a team that didn’t have 98 win talent meant they had to bring it that year. Only a few guys would know for sure, like Cutch, Marte, Cole. Just speculation but maybe 1 or all of those guys were part of the problem and lost some edge. I would never call out Cutch out of those three. Who knows, only the guys on the inside truly know.

beaverjp

The right field tantrum is pure class

Stephen Brooks

You don’t have to say it. Pedro left.

NMR

GLUE!

Robert W

I said this for 2 years… when guys like Martin and A.J left, no one took the mantel of leadership. It’s not something you can assign, it needs to be a part of you. If the kids take it…Great. You don’t have to be a star to be a leader. Don’t get on Freeze about this because he is right but he is not the guy to lead them. If no one steps up, (and we will know it sooner than later) we are in for a rough ride.
This you can’t put on management

Wabbit_Season

Dave Parker
Willie Stargell
AJ Burnette

David Freese understands who THOSE guys were. This is a terrific article. You wanna be in Tim’s “No Man’s Land” or are you personally going to do all you can to get out of it?

WAS Cutch a leader?

Every team needs that in any sport you play.
And it doesn’t have to be negative. It just has to be strong and just.

-Wabbit

beaverjp

I think no one is spared hurdle Cutch Cole FO. I love it!

freddylang

…and I think the whole leadership thing has many facets. It doesn’t have to be a raw raw guy all the time. You need those guys because some personality types respond to it. I hated those guys when I played because I brought the intensity regardless of score and talent of team I was on and the cheerleader type was lost on me. Locker rooms and dugouts also need the guy who doesn’t say much but when he does it means something also. The personality type that is intense and quiet until other players aren’t taking things seriously and then chews a guy out for it becomes the “keep everyone in check” and “lead by example guy.” I think you need both of these types and maybe even guys who are a little of both. I see SRod as a guy who is probably the second type.

Scott K

Serpico sure looks the part. He’s a good a choice as any to be the tone setter for the team.

IC Bob

You need to hit above 150 to be a leader. I think this year will be a year to develop a leader. I don’t think there are any players right now who have earned the right to lead this team yet.

michael t

Are you kidding? Why….because he can punch out a water cooler or does the best “hold me back” act when the benches clear? There is a minimal amount of talent required to be a leader on and off the field….it doesn’t come from how much noise you make.

Scott K

Yes, I like his fiery attitude. Yes, I like his work ethic. Yes, I like that he shows the proper emotion at the proper time.

For all these reasons and more, I think he is good for this team.

michael t

You are in lockstep with Neal on this one, as usual. A backup with emotion does not equate to leadership….in fact, Serpico’s act doesn’t even look genuine at times.

tom2125

It would be best for this team and the 2019,2020 teams if he was still with the Braves. He brings very little to the present team and nothing to the future

clem21

I echo the above comments. Lets see who will set the tone throughout the season now that Freese has put it out there.

dr dng

I am going to make a prediction.
This article may set a record for number of comments.

NMR

“And you know what, accountability starts with admitting Jose Osuna is a quad-A player.”

*internet burns down*

piraddict

Osuna could probably be a MLB average or better hitter if he could play 1B. But he isn’t moving Bell anywhere so he will be better off with another team.

taylor26554

I do not think Osuna is AAAA player. I think if he was able to start every day. He would hit 20-25 home runs. Veterans can handle being on the bench more.

tom2125

LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!

This comment just made my crappy work day into just another work day. Thank you

NMR

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Stephen Brooks

Dead Dove. Do not eat.

freddylang

I just blued myself.

There’s gotta be a better way to say that.

Scott Stauffer

Wow! Good for David Freese. I’m from CT so I don’t get to see the Pirates all that often. When I did, I was always struck about how much fooling around was going on in the dugout and on the field – like Freese said – it’s almost like winning was secondary. When you have players pointing to the dugout after hitting a double – 8 runs down – that says something. So, here’s the big question – who on this team steps up and really takes the reigns on portraying a winning attitude.

capirate

On the pitching side, I can see Taillon being that guy. He seems like he has his stuff together and is mentally tough. Maybe Trevor Williams. It would be nice to see Rivera lead the bullpen, but I don’t have a strong enough sense of his personality to know if he can do this.

tom2125

So when you do the Zoltan “Z” when you hit a double and are up by 1 run its seen as team spirit and winning culture? Ok, cool
When you win, you can do anything you want and when you lose everything is magnified. point blank

Scott Stauffer

So here’s the Freese quote: “We need the guys that have been around to step up and play better,
whether you’re an everyday guy or a bench guy, you’ve gotta work hard.
But the three hours, man, when you’re in that dugout and on the field,
it has to be about kicking some ass. When you’re losing 10-2 in the
pouring rain against Joe Maddon and you’re laughing, that’s not good.
That says a lot.” Given Freese’s experience, I’ll take his word for it that the focus of the team is not in the right place.

tom2125

I know Freese said that but at the same time he wasn’t here when they were winning. He came when the vets that were leaders left and the other veteran players needed to step their game up. Unfortunately the vets we were counting on either crapped the bed, got suspended, or couldn’t get into the country. That’s why they lost.. you can’t have your two best hitters unavailable and expect to win 90 games. Freese sounds like a big baby on a rant about things he knows nothing about (the previous pirate winning teams) and hopefully that will get him out of town.

freddylang

Freese already has but I think you always need a guy who is in there every single day to be the leader. You could say Marte, but I don’t see him as the type, you could say Harrison but he is in a lame-duck situation because he will be gone. Cervelli, he probably will be hurt too much. That leaves Josh Bell, probably their best hitter to step up and be the guy to be the mood-setter.

dr dng

Finally, we actually hear it.

How many times have I posted in the last couple of years
that the problem with the Pirates is there is no accountability.

“Oh, we don’t want to upset the kids when they play bad!.”
That’s some crap. This isn’t little league.

Accountability has to come first from first the coaches and also
the players themselves. I think one of the reasons that
the 13-15 Pirates had some accountability was AJ Burnett.
I did not always care for him but I know if I played bad when
he was pitching, I would not want to see him in the clubhouse.

I have said before, the Pirates need to have someone,
anyone, who would “tip over the buffet table” when
there were unacceptable performances.

Its nice to finally hear this from a player.

Travis P

I don’t know how many times. Give me the weekend to go through your old posts.

Scott K

Team is sorely lacking in someone who can look Anthony Rizzo in the eye and tell him to STFD!

leowalter

How about ” we don’t want to upset our ” stars ” when they don’t play well ” ? It seemed to me there was a whole lot of that going on since the end of the ’15 season.

IC Bob

I think some of that went on in 14 and 15 as well but those stars were not the leaders than. When it became time for them to lead it was hard because very often they were the problem.

Scott Stauffer

Russell Martin, too.

dr dng

I agree.

NMR

“…and the amount of accountability that’s been meted out to players over his two years with Pittsburgh, and it’s clear that he believes that the departure of several veteran players can also be an opportunity to re-establish a winning culture in the Pirates’ clubhouse.”

That’s an…uh…interesting…take on his tone.

Scott K

Shot across the bow to Cole? Cutch?

emjayinTN

Alan: It has to come from everywhere, and if there is any person involved who does not hate losing, he needs to play elsewhere. Or, anyone who selfishly puts himself above the team.

Losing leaders like Walker, Burnett, Martin, and Melancon left a gaping hole in the personality of this club. Then you add the irresponsible acts of Kang and Marte and the knowledge that ‘Cutch, Cole, and Harrison were soon going to be gone also, and you have all it takes to completely fall apart.

Thank you, David Freese. Thank you, Alan Saunders. NH, please read it twice.

TNBucs

This is how I took it, and I’m glad he spoke up. I remember games when we were way down yet there was laughing in the dugout. Players need to stay relaxed, but this obviously rubbed Freese the wrong way. So get it out there and let the coaches and his teammates work through these issues.

In any case, this is much better than him complaining about not having the talent to win. And it does make me wonder about the clubhouse effect that players like A.J. and Walker had.

NMR

Not even close.

sherwjohn

I saw this as a direct shot at the team leaders (Cutch and Cole).

I’m not sure if he realizes this, if the talent was better (particularly with the loss of Kang), he’d be somewhere else, likely as a non-roster invitee.

NMR

“I think this place kind of gets ahead of itself. They try and keep up with the way analytical stuff is working, but man, you’ve gotta have urgency. You’ve gotta have accountability.”

Yeah man Cutch and Cole were all about that $/WAR.

Scott K

I’m not so sure. I think several Pirates players got caught up playing back seat driver to NH at ‘15 trade deadline and ‘16 hot stove. And quite frankly, they let it affect their play on the field.

NMR

Here’s the thing: these guys are all humans playing a game for a living.

They’re not robots that can be hard coded. They’re not soldiers who’ve signed up to give their lives for the betterment of their people.

They’re sentient beings.

If one believes the mental side of the game has little value then Freese’s comments about culture mean nothing. But if one believes the mental side of the game *is* valuable then they also must understand human nature works both ways. That’s just the way we are. You’re not going to find any group of men playing this game who can only be affected positively by the events around them. We can *wish* this was reality, but it’s just not.

And part of accountability is understanding this fact.

Scott K

I get your point and it’s valid.

My point is there is no upside to letting things outside of your control affect your performance. And I personally believe this happened a good bit the last couple years.

michael t

When a major league baseball club chooses to put a catcher/first baseman in the outfield and watches him butcher plays like a beer league softball player that will have an effect on a team. It was an embarrassment…….and management had every opportunity to fill the void with a legitimate player who also had a strong bat.

JoeyMooney

Yeah I wanted to ask about this. This early in Spring and Freese just opened up. I wish he could have been a part of it in 13, 14, and 15. Definitely a different feel

Catch22

Hey man, welcome aboard!

JoeyMooney

Thank ya sir. I hope to be heading down to Bradenton for a week middle of March so I am trying to read up as much as possible. I always debated on joining but since asdding Matt it was a no brainer.

Catch22

Good for you, JM. It’s well worth it.

NMR

You just here for the freebie or did you bite the bullet?!

JoeyMooney

I bit the bullet sir. Yesterday I paid for 3 years. Some really good writers and I can’t wait to read how Kingham is throwing over 95mph!!!! Kingham Train!!!!

Catch22

You don’t have to wait to read about that….Check the 2012 archives.

JoeyMooney

There is mixed reports of Kingham post Tommy John with his velocity. Next few weeks should tell a lot

Catch22

Eh, I was here last year and they did full articles on everyone of his starts last year…His velo was pretty consistent at 90-92

JoeyMooney

In his complete game he threw 94 MPH on the stadium gun consistently so who knows!

NMR

Fantastic!

BuccosFanStuckinMD

Freese is spot on – he sees the culture in Pittsburgh, and contrasts that to what he experienced in the Cardinals organization. Its like night and day. But, it starts at the top…you have to have an owner who WANTS to win – and places winning at the top of the priority list. You also have to have a management team that creates a vision and organizational philosophy that is reflected in everything they do, in regards to player drafting, player development, trades, FA signings, etc. – that is sorely lacking with the Pirates.

bucs1971

YOU ARE SPOT-ON CORRECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clearly, Nutting does not give a rat’s behind about winning, unless it just happens to occur with reclamation projects that somehow come through and young talent coming together all at once, neither of which happens very often. Nutting clearly does not want to spend the money necessary to be a legitimate, consistent contender. That is the over arching problem with the Pirates.

IC Bob

My take is that he is saying even if ownership screws us and management loses its desire, as a player you still have to have that will to win every day and he didn’t see it. That said I think it probably was tough watching Walker go, replacing Alverez with a nothing player like Jaso watching trade rumors every day about your so called star players. I think the players may have felt betrayed by management two years ago. I get the reason why winning stopped becoming important. I also think Freeze is right that at the end of the day you have to look in a mirror and know you were in it to win it.

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