BRADENTON, Fla. – Following the trades of Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen, Pirates’ second baseman Josh Harrison released a statement saying that he wanted to be with a team that wanted to win. If the Pirates weren’t intending on winning in 2018, Harrison had one message: Trade him.

On Sunday, Harrison arrived at Pirate City for the report date for position players. He arrived two days after David Freese called out the organization, saying the team has lacked a winning culture the last two years. He arrived a day after we talked with Gerrit Cole, who echoed the same sentiments about the organization. And when asked if his feelings have changed from his earlier statement, Harrison responded with a simple “No.”

“My statement was something that was from the heart,” Harrison said. “At the time it was on my heart. Not to say it’s not on my heart now, but with each passing day it’s something I can’t dwell on. I spoke what I spoke, said my feelings, and at the end of the day I can’t control certain things. All I can control is me.”

Harrison said that he had no intentions of holding out, or not reporting to camp on time. But he became the third player to discuss the organization over the last two years in a not-so-positive light, and a lot of his comments boiled down to the communication coming from the organization to the players.

“These are the things that we’ve talked about, that I’ve expressed to them,” Harrison said. “You don’t have to tell us everything. We understand the business side. But when it comes to guys who are going to be here and put on this uniform everyday and want to win, I think there needs to be some type of communication to know that the plan is to win. Sometimes that gets lost. We back pedal to say certain things. Not every move is going to be agreed with, I get it. But if you stand convicted with what you do, that’s when you have guys go out there ready to fight.”

Harrison repeated those points throughout his interview with the media today, saying that it was hard to be part of an organization where the main goal isn’t winning.

“We all want to win, and not saying nobody wants to win, but when you feel it’s not the main goal of everybody — whether it’s in the clubhouse or dealing with the organization — that hard to be a part of,” Harrison said. “Especially when you know at this level it’s only a fraction of our lives playing at the Major League level. I’ve been playing since I was three. My mom was my first coach. And here I am, 30. Nobody knows when their last game is going to be. I can tell you when we put on that uniform, it’s to win. You want to be somewhere that wants to win and has those statements.”

Harrison talked with both Clint Hurdle and Neal Huntington following his statements, and expressed his feelings about the communication, especially the human side.

“A lot of it has to do with communication,” Harrison said. “The human side of this game gets lost. I understand the business, but we’re also humans. We’ve got families, we’ve got feelings. At the end of the day my main objective, and hopefully everyone else’s main objective, is winning. When you feel that hasn’t been seen eye-to-eye, those are the things that — I’m a lovable, laughable guy on the field, and just because I didn’t say much in previous years doesn’t mean I don’t have these feelings. When somebody like me comes out to say anything, it’s like ‘What’s going on?’ It wasn’t my place when Cutch was here, when Cole was here, because I’d just be another voice drowned out. Once those moves happen, and every year there are going to be moves to be made for each team, whether it be pleasing to the fans or not. You just want to make sure everybody is on the same page. I care about winning.”

In regards to Harrison’s conversation with Huntington, he didn’t come away sounding like a guy who was convinced of the direction of the team going forward.

“At the end of the day there wasn’t anything said or done where I could breathe easy,” Harrison said. “He talked to me, said he wants to win. At the end of the day, it’s about action, not speaking.”

Harrison repeated the “actions over words” thought when discussing some of the comments Freese made, and discussing how the Pirates can get that winning attitude.

“It’s not through words. It’s through actions,” Harrison said. “I think my actions on the field speak for itself. In my statement I said you can’t question my heart or my love for the city. Pittsburgh is a championship city. To feel like we haven’t given them what they wanted has definitely fallen short of the marker. Freese spoke on it, you need complete unity of everybody wanting the same thing.”

Harrison has been the subject of trade rumors all offseason. He didn’t exactly come out and say that he wants to be with the Pirates, instead saying that he’s happy any time he’s playing baseball, and that he’s really good friends with guys in the clubhouse. He then reiterated his feeling of not wanting to be with the Pirates if they aren’t focused on winning.

“As Freese said the other day, it’s got to be urgent, and not just from a couple of guys,” Harrison said. “It has to be top to bottom. Freese is a World Series MVP. The guy has been there. He knows what it takes to win.”

Harrison said that he and Freese had some of these conversations during the season, discussing some of the topics that have been brought to light in the last few days. As for whether he thinks the Pirates can win, that was another area where he provided a vague answer.

“I don’t put anything past any team,” Harrison said. “I know what those guys in [the clubhouse] can do. But it’s got to be a collective effort of wanting to win. Any team is banking on anything to go right all year. Even teams that have gone out and signed free agents, made trades, you’re banking on everybody being healthy and doing what they’re supposed to. Baseball is a funny game. You can’t control it. All you can control is yourself, and whatever happens, happens. My peace is I’ve spoke what I said, and I’m here. I’m going to be J-Hay, I’m going to do what I’ve got to do, and whatever goes from there is where it’s at.”

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173 COMMENTS

  1. Harrison and Freese both bought their tickets outta town and they have my support. Teams know we wanna move them so I’d say the return will take a hit, but that’s where a desperate organization plays the game. This is a long term problem that is disheartening and sad for the great Pirate fans of the past. Baby boomers and before who remember what it felt like to be a part of the “City of Champions,” will probably not see this turn around in the time we have left. You can say a fan must endure the good with the bad but this is a lot to ask. I trust nothing management says unless they are from the accounting department. I had the pleasure to spend some time with Mitch Keller and once thought he would be a part of the great uprising but now I hope to see him traded to environment that appreciates his youthful exuberance, rather than a troupe of snake oil salesman. Make your money and count it as many times as you like, sleep with it bath in it and keep it very close…cherish it…I’m not buying any more carpet bagging tricks today.

  2. Are there similar rumblings and grumblings going on in other camps that you’ve heard of, or is this just a Pirates’s thing? From the way this off season has gone across baseball, tensions between players and management seem to be building.

  3. Bad news Josh is that you have a manager and GM that never seem to feel that sense of urgency Freese referred to. He threw the towel in too many times in games last year. Why leave your young pitchers of the future in to get battered rather than bring the bullpen in. IMO he needed to protect the starters not middle relievers. You should have enough confidence in your farm system to plug in a middle reliever and play the injury card on middle relievers who ain’t getting done at the time. I really look forward to seeing the young guys play but that is always a crap shoot with this team. I still have nightmares of Jaso and Jose patrolling the outfield last year.

  4. I think a good example of what the players are saying is the trade deadline last summer. The Pirates got on a roll and were within 2 games of first place in the division. A commitment to winning by the FO would be to go out and obtain a couple bats to fortify the offense. Instead, the FO goes out and deals with relievers, as usual.

    The organization has lost the competitive advantage they had with analytics. Other organizations with deeper pockets have also committed to using them. They stockpile pitchers and relievers but don’t use them in deals. It’s got to be frustrating as a player.

  5. A high percentage of baseball players play for other teams at some point in their career. Some make their own choice through free agency, others do not. The system has been agreed to between management and MLBPA. Pittsburgh will always have to be creative being a small market. These are all things everyone knows. The issue here remains the attitude in the clubhouse – usually that is taken care of through hiring a new manager. No doubt Hurdle had his place in the Buc dugout – the question seems to be: Is he the one who should be leading now?

  6. You guys are absolutely precious.

    You would’ve given JHay keys to the damn city two months ago. Never once questioned – in fact, have lauded – his effort and leadership on the field.

    But criticize management and he turns into a no good overpaid bum that should shut up and do his job.

    Absolutely precious.

    • Always easy to turn on someone who makes a lot of money playing a game, and just as easy to forget that someone chose to pay him that amount because they have much more money.

      It seems to me that, if there was an issue in the clubhouse, the manager needs to be clear about why they need to care for those five hours+ on a game day.

      • You know what makes the pro-management crowd jumping the shark so obvious?

        The next one of them to state that both JHay and Freese outperformed their projected value over the past two years – which actually happened – will be the first.

        Instead they go straight for specious “what have they done” arguments. Well, for one, performed better than expected.

      • That works both ways though. These players, Harrison, Fresse in particular, signed contracts and accepted a lot of money. Harrison with his extension and Fresse after he saw the “lack of commitment in 2016.” Life seldom goes as we plan. Leaders gut it up and contribute rather than whine like spoiled children.

        • So when life doesn’t go as planned, leaders like Neil Huntington say things like “We’d love put the money we are saving from Kang and Marte back into the team just as soon as we can.” And then go on to add nothing until reacquiring Sean Rodriguez after the trade deadline and long after the Pirates were out of contention. A bum like J Hay improves upon his 2016 season and make the All-Star team.

          Gotcha.

  7. Question…why should there be some type of communication to know that the plan is to win? Shouldn’t the plan always be to win?

  8. These players are a joke. They had a chance to win something but Cole crapped the bed twice and the great McCutchen never drove in one run in any playoff game. But go ahead and blame the management for Kang and Marte being selfish fools. Inmates running the asylum.

    • If the inmates are running the asylum, that’s a failure of leadership. Leadership flows from the top down. Where things are it seems obvious changes need to be made. It sure sounds like Hurdle has lost the clubhouse. I think neither J Hay nor Freese make the opening day roster.

      • Not sure about Hurdle losing the clubhouse but pretty sure Harrison is whining about losing his dance partner. Agree that both should not be on the opening day roster. Let the young guys play.

        • I like J Hay. I think he gives his all every night and wish that everyone in the Pirates organization was as passionate about winning as him. I also largely agree with his criticism of the organization. That said, a player can’t openly question the GM on TV. If ownership wants to take control they’ll have to move him. I like Hurdle too by the way, but the players sure seem out of control. If his days aren’t numbered, they should be. But making a ballsy move like firing a manager you just extended isn’t something that an organization like the Pirates would do.

  9. WHERE was the winning attitude with McCutchen, Cole and Freese as senior members of the club house the past two years?

    These players can ‘man up’ and take responsibility. Harrison is getting paid some $10,000,000 to play a game! At least be a professional and come with the burning desire that shows you EARN that salary

    • Based on the Todd Frazier and Eduardo Nunez contracts, Harrison is probably overpaid and therefore difficult to trade.

    • What indicated that he hasn’t/won’t continue to come out with the burning desire? That man gives 100% every play.

  10. Hey Tim. Any chance you think the pirates try to trade for Dickerson DFA or put a claim in for him if he clears waivers

  11. I love Hurdle, but the things Freese and Harrison has said really make me wonder if he has been the right coach or his style has been the right one for these group of players and you have to wonder when they extended Hurdle, did they even interview the players? Seems like they didn’t interview Freese. If there is internal division in this club, that isn’t good.

  12. I am confused at how anyone doesn’t understand the direction of the team. NH has said many many times that he wants to win a World championship, but he does not think trading away the future in order to create a window is the way to do that.

    Taken literally, that means he will never trade prospects in order to add to a playoff caliber team in order to try to win in any given year. I think that what we have seen over the last few seasons is that that is exactly what needs to happen. Teams with unlimited funds can remain competitive through that down years, small market teams must literally tank and stockpile in order to compete in the good years.

    • And to breakthrough in those good years you have to spend and move prospects. They blew this simple concept when they had the chance. They paid fake lip service but their actions said otherwise. Now we are rebuilding and they still won’t acknowledge that they recognize where they went wrong previously. Scary stuff, imo.

      • I am not sure if you entirely missed my point, or fully understand my point. Those players are still on the team, because the management group refuses to accept the facts. No team in the current climate of baseball can compete year in and year out, no matter what their payroll is. The wealthiest of teams can remain fringe wildcard teams, but not really be contenders in their down years. The small market teams, need to look for more finite windows in order to have a shot. IMO, the Pirates had it timed perfectly where they were good when almost every big market team was going through a re-build. That was the time they should have went all in. Currently, almost every big market team is good, so now it comes down to timing again. They need to guesstimate as to when those teams will go through a down cycle in talent and set up their entire organization to try to be good during those years. From the outside looking in, That would appear to be 2019-2020. What they do in the interim really doesn’t matter, just so long as the team is constructed to be coming into its prime during those years. This time, however, they need to go all in when they get there.

        • All in is very subjective and available talent is rarely obtained without a large $ commitment for an extended time. The attendance peaked in 2015 and was a record breaking year and we still only ranked 15th. Not much wiggle room money wise. Then attendance fell off the cliff in 16 and 17. The fact is PGH doesn’t support this team. 13-16 And 90-92 illustrate that.

  13. I think it is refreshing to hear that the players are speaking out. In a lot of ways they are standing up for the frustrated fans and making the Pirates actions even more visible on a national platform. Any embarrassment they can create towards Nutting is a good thing in the big picture, but further shows that they are not coming close to winning anything when the players have no confidence in the organization.

  14. This is bad because the rot is all the way bottom to top. Players are griping and under-performing. Management is under-performing yet painting sunshine & roses and handing out extensions. 3 players have said what I’ve been feeling for 2 years. Glad it was said, but its not good that a player has to say it to management. At issue is the culture set from the top and that can only be handled by Nutting himself. Winning must come with profitability. BUT, profitability at the expense of winning is unacceptable. Putting under qualified personnel in place and hoping for the success is…well, I tell my boys that hope and a nickel will get you a bag of she-it.
    The 10-ton purple elephant in the room is this – the players are being held accountable contract-wise, management is not. Unless, of course, the ONLY metric is profit. Winning must be a metric. Surely the FO understands metrics and stats.

    • Where does he talk about his 2016 performance and what he is doing to insure that it doesnt happen. To this point, in 7 or 8 seasons he has had 1 very good season and 1 solid season. Other than that he hasnt often been better than league average. Perhaps some self reflection should occur before disruptive criticism.

        • Perhaps you should look at the stats. 2 years he had 200-250 abs and didn’t play more because he stunk. 1 year with less than 100, and 4 with 400 plus. If you decided to look at stats instead of buying into false narratives you would know this. And when someone posts “just saying” they are doing just that, saying rather than having facts.

          • So 200 – 250 ABs makes a full time player? Two of the years you’re talking about he played in less than 65 games and one he missed 6weeks or so due to injury. Do you actually watch the games? You’re aware that there’s 162 games in a season, right?

            Harrison was a spot player until 2014 and has basically been a starter for four years, two of which he made the all star team. He’s plenty qualified to talk about the “culture” of the Pirates organization, I dare say more so than you or me.

            And to your original point, maybe he did look in the mirror after the 2016 year. He certainly had a much better 2017. For the first half he was the best player on the team. An you say the same of NH?

            • Valid question, as is where is he accepting responsibilty for his poor performance? My issue is his finger pointing and accusations. He failed in 16 as well as Cutch and Cole. It happens. The point is dont point fingers when you were a major part of the problem.

    • Profit is clearly the metric that Huntington and Coonelly are measured and their first priority. That is why there is a near revolt brewing. Only the rosiest front office backer could claim otherwise. It oozes through in every transaction. The players know it..

  15. Tim, This is way off subject but I was wondering if Jamey Carroll will be coaching at the minor league camp and if Trae Arbet was still in the system. Arbet seems to have been in the system for a while, but never got above A ball.

  16. There are not many things that I hate more than baseball players complaining about the effects of the CBA. Other than, of course, that even journeymen ballplayers can expect to make more money in their ten year careers than most of us can make in a lifetime.

    But one of the things that even irks me more is fans complaining that ownership is cheap when they accept the financial constraints imposed on them by the failure of the CBA to include revenue sharing of all income streams to the franchises.

    If you’re concerned about the Pirates’ inability (and it is inability, not unwillingness) to spend on big ticket free agents, arrange to picket the stadium for the cause of total revenue sharing, as exists in both the NHL and the NFL.

    • I agree with you except for the fact that our owner fully supports the system as is. He is front and center against a salary cap. I however am all for a salary cap and think that maybe this off season could help us get to that. I also believe if we did get a salary cap our owner would likely sell this club.

    • Neither trade made the team better this year. The question is whether both trades made the team better in the long run. For me, it’s too soon to tell

  17. Huntington might need to call a presser and get this situation under control, like stat. Christ, they haven’t even had a full workout and the inmates are running the asylum. He’s gotta do something here, explain how you plan to win in the next couple of years. It’s a brush fire right now, but if NH doesn’t do some damage control it’s going to be like the Thomas Fire.

    • What can NH do other than Lie. At this point the damage is done. As for leaders on this team if Freeze or Harrison are our leaders than heaven help us because they will be gone the first second any team needs a 1B, 2b or 3B and is willing to pay his salary.

  18. One of the telling comments that Clint Hurdle made was that he hadn’t been the clubhouse much in the last two years. That approach can work when you have senior leadership from the players, like Willie Stargell or Dave Parker were for Chuck Tanner. But the Bucs didn’t have that the last two years. Cutch is a fine athlete and a great person as the face of the franchise, but he is not the right personality type to lead a clubhouse. If the right players aren’t there then the managers need to step in and exert a “will to win”. That is what Freese and JHay seem to be saying.

  19. Don’t the players have some accountability here? Last year, the Pirates lost Marte to PED’s. Not FO fault. Lost Polanco to 50th hammy issue. Not FO fault. Kang to DUI, Not FO fault.

    I’m tired of hearing about the organization not wanting to win. There is talent on this roster. Now shut up and play. No more excuses.

  20. Does ownership want to win, or is its top priority to maximize profits/minimize losses? If the answer is no, they need to sell to someone who does and one who will hold everyone in the organization accountable to winning.

    When the owner decided to give the GM and Manager 4 year extensions, after two horrible seasons filled with embarrassing decisions and non-decisions, you know that there isn’t any accountability to winning.

    When the team gets new ownership and management, there may be hope.

    • Can’t agree more. The extensions oh Hurdle and Huntington were proof positive (as if more proof was necessary) that Nutting is not in it to win, but maintain sufficient cash flow to support the other Nutting family businesses. He never will risk reducing profit margins by taking the steps necessary to field a consistent contender.

  21. I agree 100& JHay…does this organization even have a vision and plan? If it is, someone please fill us in on what it is….

  22. J Hay and Taillon are the only guys on the Pirates that I personally think are worth the price of admission. There is no questioning his heart or his commitment to winning. All he is saying here is that he questions managements commitment to win given their actions. I completely agree with him. The motivations of management baffle me. This off-season, I have no idea what the hell they are trying to do whether it’s save money or put a winning team on the field eventually, they don’t look like they’re trying to do either thing

    • Perhaps I’m oversimplifying things, but I think the FO intentions are obvious. Cut payroll, but keep the 2nd wild card San plausible as possible so the fans stay engaged and spend more $$.

      With the first objective taking priority, the second is pretty hard for NH to execute on (and probably very frustrating given he inability to sign Free Agents even in this current buyers market).

    • Or Carlos Gomez to play CF and keep Marte in LF. Gomez is a head case but he can run them down. This keeps Marte’s arm in left. Also, if we play Houston we can have the Cole-Gomez bat-flip stare-down continue.
      The Steelers had talent to win but individuals were more interested in touchdown celebrations, personal statistics, contract disputes, personal jealousy, and the desire to outsmart the world than winning championships. Now, Freese and JHay are in the position to lead as Cole and Cutch are gone. If they remain on the team, there will pressure on them to be the new leaders.

      • All great ideas but really who here thinks we go after any of these guys. Also its my guess that all of those guys would take less not to play here due to the lack of commitment from the FO and ownership

    • There are ton of free agents out there that could make this team better that wouldn’t cost them an arm and a leg. It’s really hard to figure out what they are trying to do. If they want to go fullbore rebuilding, they should’ve already gotten rid of J Hay, Nova, Rodriguez, Freese and others. If they wanted to win, they should be adding. I really can’t figure out what they are trying to do and to me it looks like there is no plan.

      • NH has professed to be “retooling” and hoping to contend. That is why they should work out a trade to bring in Corey Dickerson.

  23. Go JHay go….I don’t care for your dancing and showboating, but you definitely are preaching the truth.

    We fans have been on this train for some time!

        • Just so we’re talking about the same thing. Pirates trade for JHay, give him an opportunity to play on a winning team. Reward him with a long-term deal securing his financial freedom for life after one good season. And he shows his gratitude by going to media, not NH, demanding to be traded b/c he doesn’t think the team around him is good enough before even reporting for ST.

          What a team leader!

          • Ah, there’s the issue!

            I’m talking about reality, where JHay signed an extension that “shared the risk” (Huntington’s words), spoke with both Hurdle and Huntington about the direction of the team (as they’ve said themselves) and explicitly *did not* ask to be traded, but instead asked management to build a winner *in Pittsburgh* after understanding what literally every single win projection agrees with, that they’re not good enough as presently constituted.

            You’re talking about some hypothetical version of reality that suits your own narrative.

            There’s the issue.

            • He sent in a piece to be published by The Athletic immediately after Cutch was dealt in which he said trade me if team isn’t interested in winning a championship.

              As for “experts” prognostications…totally meaningless to what happens between the lines once the games begin.

              • You know what I’ve noticed?

                Scott K never bashes Tim for being an “expert prognosticator” when his projection beats out the others.

                Imagine that!

  24. Surprised that professional athletes need to hear that the intent is to win. Seems like management believes in the teams ability more than the players believe in their own. Or do the players know they don’t have what it takes. Perhaps it is a good thing that Cutch and Cole are gone. perhaps Freeze and JHay need to go to. They don;t seem to have any confidence in their teammates ability to win.

    • He’s not saying the players need to HEAR that the intention is to win. He’s saying that management has done nothing to SHOW that their intent is to win, regardless what they say. He’s saying that winning is facilitated when players AND management pull together, and that management isn’t pulling. Has management done anything since trading for AJ Burnett and signing A Ramirez to make winning in the present more likely? If we judge management on its actions, I think we must conclude that they don’t think the Pirates can win in the present, no matter what they might reasonably do to facilitate that goal.

    • The Pirates would have had winning records the last two years had the players performed as expected. But, that didn’t happen. Cutch and Liriano declined. Kang and Marte wrecked the 2018 season. Cole was injured one year, erratic the next. Injuries derailed Polanco’s walk to stardom. Taillon had setbacks. Glasnow floundered in th Majors. Injuries made Cervelli ineffective.

      The plan was to have a 12 to 16 WAR of, a rotation composed of 3 1-2 starters, a power hitting 3b with a SS’s defense, etc. That was the plan. To it one would add Bell at 1B, Kuhl and Kingham, Keller, Meadows and a lot of hard throwing relievers. 2017-2022 — those were to be the glory years. That was the plan. Build through the draft and from the DR.

      On what planet were the players living that they missed the obvious?

        • That was the plan. However like Harrison said you can’t always bank on everything going right. They have tried to draft well and sign cheap free agents hoping they turn it around. What hasnt the front office done? Sign an actual star free agent. Trade prospects for a significant piece that they won’t be able to resign. That is what I assume the players are frustrated about. After 2015 they should have added to the core instead of shifting pieces that are more controllable.

          • It’s 2018 and you’re suggesting they’re bellyaching about 2015? Oh please. This is about Cutch and Cole being dealt.

            I say let JHay and Freese have their pity party now, but get your head in the game by Opening Day, or get them out of town, too.

            • I’m saying that was the start. After the poor 2016 they blamed low attendance for the lack of impact additions. There is always an excuse with this f.o.
              It is a pattern and obviously the team is getting fed up with it.

              • The problem with your theory is NH made an offer for Price, but TB wanted ML ready players instead of high ceiling prospects while they were competing for a title.

                No offseason signings the last two years would’ve made up for the drop in performance from Cutch, Cole, and Liriano the team was counting on.

          • Chris Thomas wrote:

            “Sign an actual star free agent. Trade prospects for a significant piece that they won’t be able to resign. That is what I assume the players are frustrated about. After 2015 they should have added to the core instead of shifting pieces that are more controllable.”

            Well, if that’s their issue, then griping Pirates players can look at MLB and the MLBPA for the root causes of the Pirates’ predicament. MLB lacks a hard salary cap. So, it makes do with team-imposed caps that reflect their constrained budgets. Teams in low-revenue markets, teams like the Pirates, lack the revenue — duh! — to compete with teams in high-revenue markets. Their margin for error is so small that one high-cost free agent can wreck a franchise. Sports teams must pay dearly for quality when operating in an open market. This is a problem. Recall Howard Baldwin, as characterized by the ‘most excellent’ Ron Cook:

            “Baldwin cared deeply about the Penguins and their fans and, for a time in the 1990s, was the city’s most beloved sports owner. But no one knew at the time he was keeping a winning team together by giving huge contracts to Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and so many others that he didn’t have the money to do the deals. It wasn’t until the franchise filed for bankruptcy in October, 1998, that we realized just how reckless and foolish many of his decisions were with the players, with Spectacor Management Group, with Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh and with city and county officials.”

            Clearly, the fans, the players, team management and the Nutting Partnership have differing preferences with respect to the costs, risks and rewards involved when building a team. The fans and the players want to win now. The vocal among them make this plain. Team management must win at some point. Team management will not last if it does not win. But team management must act in the interests of team owners, who are more concerned with the long-term value of the franchise. Loosing money is not acceptable to team owners, and it is unrealistic to expect teams to incur long-term debt to fund risky short-term projects like an aging and expensive FA.

            I doubt the Nutting Partnership does not want to win. I also doubt the Partnership will ever go all-in to win a championship.

            A hard-cap would eliminate these problems. But the player’s union refuses to consider it. This refusal makes star players very expensive. The Pirates act within the limits of this economy.

          • Or maybe FO looked at what they had & figured this core wasn’t good enough to get it done. Cutch had 1 great month & a crap load of ave to pathetic months for 2 years, Cole was put in big situations & crapped to bed. Walker showed nothing in post season & declining regular seasons. Hurdle decided that if it wasn’t in a chart then he didn’t know what to do with it.
            The players are pointing fingers because they choked when the opportunity was there. FO didn’t do what they had to. BS!!! They assembled a team to win 98 games, they believed Cutch, Cole & company could bring it home, they choked. I didn’t hear FO calling the players out for choking in PO. Hey Jhay & Freese suck it up buttercup

            • Your assessment of Cutch over the last 2 years is incorrect. He has had 2 very bad months over the last 2 seasons, 2-3 extremely good months, and a host of average months.

              • His starts the last 2 years has helped bury the Bucco’s by June in both years. His attitude towards his spot in the lineup & his position in the outfield didn’t help team morale either. He was most definitely part of the problem & not part of any solution

                • Actually, statistically speaking, he was the best Pirates player last season. I am not a fan of taking one month from one player and saying it doomed the entire teams season. If that were the case, the same could be said about the first month of every season of his career, and 5 times through out his tenure in Pittsburgh, that was not the case.
                  Last season was doomed by Marte’s suspension, Polanco’s inability to stay on the field, Cole’s inability to keep the baseball in the park, Glasnow’s inability to throw anything other than meatballs. Cutch’s slow start may not have helped, but it was not the deciding factor in the Pirates season last year.

                  • # 22 was at the Mendoza line the 3d week of May last season. And then when he did start to hit well, the FO didn’t act to add a couple of pieces that might have continued some momentum when McCutchen cooled off. Just as after the wrong moves during the ’15-’16 off season, there is plenty of blame to go around.

                  • If you re-read my comment I specifically said helped bury the team. You left the police lights in Korea.
                    I’m just saying there is a crap load of fans that had Cutch made out of Teflon. He was a big part of their success in playoff years in regular season. But he was also big reason for playoff failures & helped bury team by June the last 2 years in regular season. To many people in thus town act like we just traded the defending MVP. When in reality that guy hasn’t been around on or off the field in a few years

            • NO – THREE years of playoffs means an extension.

              The self-destruction of Marte and Kang, and the decline of Cole, Cutch, Cervelli, etc. wrecked the team

      • No they wouldn’t have. You can’t replace Charlie Morton, AJ Burnett and J Happ with John Niese and Ryan Vogelsong and pretend that you are serious about winning.

        • It was a bridge year. I made that claim before the 2016 season. Prospect promotions from the minors to the majors made 2016 a bridge year. The Pirates cannot afford to compete on the FA if those players fail, succeed but eat salary space and succeed but block prospects. The Pirates will never compete for star FAs. They must grow their own.

              • Didn’t have enough talent have a winning team in 2016, Period. To say they would’ve had winning records if the players had performed as expected now, is ridiculous. They expected to take a step back from 98 wins and they said it publicly before they took it back. It’s completely valid for fans to question the motivations of this management team and obviously players feel the same way.

                  • If you are saying that the 2016 team had enough talent for them to win 82 games if everything went right, I agree with you. That’s exactly my point. They never had enough talent to be anything more than an also-ran which isn’t “competing for a championship.”

                    If you are saying that the 2017 team had enough talent at the beginning of the year, prior to the losses of Marte and Kang to win 82 games if everything went right, then I agree with you. Which again is my point. They never had enough talent to be anything more than also-rans.

                    In my opinion, and in the opinion of several media outlets, the current team has enough talent to win about 75 games if everything goes right. It seems to me that they are moving in the wrong direction. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to question managements motives

        • And you can’t block top pitching prospects like JT & TG were in 2016 by signing expensive FA’s.

          You’re spinning the truth to fit your narrative.

          • The truth is that if they had re-signed Happ, neither Taillon nor Glasnow would have been blocked. Hell they had to go out and get Nova. It’s the Huntington apologists like you that are always spinning the truth.

            • So let me get this straight, you’re complaining Pirates didn’t re-sign Happ, and as a result had to acquire Nova instead. Nova had been a hell of a lot better SP than Happ. Happ had exactly zero success before Pirates gave him a chance for 2 months in 2015.

              You’re acting like letting Happ get away was akin to Dodgers giving up on Kershaw. Give me a break!

              • How exactly am I comparing Happ to Kershaw? You said that they needed to go with a washed up bum like Vogelsong on a one year deal in 2016 because otherwise they’d have blocked Taillon and Glasnow. That’s what the FO said at the time but it was always a silly notion. I pointed out that had they signed Happ to the same three year deal he got, Happ wouldn’t have blocked Taillon or Glasnow. Neither were ready. The fact that they had to go out and get another starter just supports that point more.

                And Happ’s stats were better than Nova’s both before and after 2016. Ditto Niese and Vogelsong.

                • I never once said I was a fan of Vogie signing. I said signing an expensive FA to a long-term deal would block top SP prospects. Nor was I a fan of trading Walker for Niese. I wanted them to get prospects in return.

                  You may want to revisit Happ’s career numbers. There’s a reason Mariners gave him up for next to nothing. He was not productive.

                  When Pirates acquired him, it was roundly criticized by media and fans alike.

                  • Here are Happ’s numbers:

                    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/happja01.shtml

                    Here are Nova’s:

                    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/n/novaiv01-pitch.shtml

                    Despite pitching in the AL, Happ never had an ERA above 5. Nova had 3 years with an ERA North of 5. You accused me of making up facts to support a narrative, so…..

                    What’s your point then? I said “You can’t replace Charlie Morton, AJ Burnett and J Happ with John Niese and Ryan Vogelsong and pretend that you are serious about winning.” You wrote “And you can’t block top pitching prospects like JT & TG were in 2016 by signing expensive FA’s.” Sure as hell sounds like you were justifying “the plan.”

                    Do you think the strategy the Pirates front office used the off-season of 2016 made sense or not? If you think it didn’t, what’s your point?

        • Not to mention career reliever Nicasio. The Bucs were coming off the 3 most successful regular seasons in a long time and couldn’t justify spending more on the obvious SP deficiency than the $2M they spent on Vogelsong? Happ, Fister, Garcia, and a boatload of other SP’s were available for short contracts with $5-15M AAV. How the Bucs ended up with none of them is criminal.

          Yes underperformance hurt, but even over performance by Cutch, Cole and others wouldn’t have made the Bucs contenders in either 16 or 17. Too many things had to go right given the talent drop off, just like (and probably more so) this year.

          Meanwhile where is all the extra $$ going? There’s a clear gap between the Bucs revenue and the payroll, even before the salary shed this offseason. Perhaps Nutting will buy another ski resort…

        • You could have replaced Charlie Morton with anyone. He was traded, then pitche several innings for the Phillies before what ? Another season ending surgery. I was surprised….

      • Maybe they noticed that when Kang and Marte were unavailable and Polanco was injured in 2018, Neal did absolutely nothing to fill the gaping holes despite saying he would spend the Kang, Marte savings. Instead they put Jaso in the outfield for comedic relief.

        A year earlier Neal assumed increased production from prospects and suspects while watching Walker, Happ, Burnett, Pedro and Morton go away from a 98 win team.

        So Cole, Freese, Harrison, SRod, and Cutch are all hallucinating when they question management/ownership?

      • I agree with you, Steve.

        I think what we are seeing is guys coming into camp saying – really – the right things. Freese and JHay are stepping up and setting a tone from day one of this team. Both have the shoulders to carry the weight.

        I suspect there was a problem between Cutch and the organization but Cutch is too classy to say it. And he clearly couldn’t lift Kang’s and Marte’s suspension and Gregory’s injuries, but he conducted himself well. I think it was damaging to his pride that they wanted him moved off center field and that they entertained trade talks.

        I don’t find fault in either situation, but management should have really talked to Cutch about these things and maybe… and this is important… maybe they should have come to Cutch looking to make him a lifelong Pirate as long as they structured a deal that wouldn’t hinder the assembling of a team around him.

        WAS Cutch too proud to be moved in the order or off center field. I don’t know. But if I have to decide if he was closer to that or the kind of a player who one day gets a statue… tough call.

        But, you know, Cutch did buy into the Pirates with his whole self at a discount for the team in order that they could afford to compete and they did. They did bring in AJ and others. In retrospect, I think Freese, a person the Cardinals decided they could move on from, feels Cutch’s situation very pointedly. And is it fair to say the Pirates owed Cutch a lifetime contract?

        Was it possible to find a way to keep Cutch and still progress to the point where younger guys could outplay him honorably in a few years? That’s a really tough thing to do out of obligation. But maybe those difficult discussions needed to be had with the player fully engaged in them. Cutch did turn out to be a special case and I think Freese is saying that.

        Otherwise, Freese and Cole and others, but never Cutch, I’ll guarantee, are saying what players say when they lose a team-mate of character.

        Management and the team have to use this in a positive way to launch forward.

        -Wabbit

        • I believe the players are frustrated. They saw an opportunity slip from their hands. Cole led the pitching staff, Cutch the on-field players. Both were primary causes of the 98-win season. Both were traded after underperforming the last two seasons. These trades were business decisions/ Cole’s, more than Cutch’s, was a baseball trade. We need to get used to this kind of thing because it will remain normal for most MLB teams.

          I would have preferred Cutch remaining a Pirate for his career. But, years ago, I accepted the inevitability of the Pirates trading players like Cutch or losing them to FA.

            • No it’s most. Not just pirates. Players will not be kept into their 30s paid for historical performance post steroids. It just isn’t smart. It may feel good, but it won’t work. Let’s see what types of clubs win the series here on out. My money is on young.

      • Incredibly well said. Look no further than their drunk 3rd baseman and cheater LF. Those two wrecked 2017. Liriano stunk the joint up in 16, along with Cutch and Cole. The pirates raised payroll going into 2016. They swapped salary for salary with Neise/Walker deal and it was a bad trade. Shouldn’t have wrecked the psyche of the team. Not one player, JHay or Freese, have called out the bum 3rd baseman of LF. Till they do, shut the hell up

      • 10000% of he blame should be laid at the feet of Kang and Marte. But Cole, Freese, JHay won’t mention them. Till they do, their words are meaningless

          • They were 2 games out of first when they swept Milwaukee in late July. Kang and Marte would’ve had them about 5 games up with average years for them. Not one player has ever thrown them under the bus, yet are so willing to throw NH and BN under. Freese’s comments show, largely, that even smart players are stupid. They can’t see that their teammates failed. They can’t blame the obvious villains cause they are union brothers. Just like smart guys like Crosby can’t see the inherent lunacy in NHL players playing in the olympics. The team added players in 2016, they were the wrong ones. Freese sure was happy to take the money he has made since then. Cutch/Liriano/Cole should’ve played decent in 16. Marte and Kang shouldn’t have screwed the team in 2017. The players made this bed

            • These players – Harrison, Cole, Freese – have not learned to look into the mirror.

              THEY were the ‘senior management’ of the clubhouse the past two years, along with Cutch.

              These guys take the same approach as many ‘fans’ of the team – let’s lay blame elsewhere, like on the FO who pay them million, to play a game

      • “The plan was to have a 12 to 16 WAR OF, a rotation composed of 3 1-2 starters, a power hitting 3b with a SS’s defense, etc.”

        If my plan was to go home from work today with a million dollar house, two luxury sports cars in the garage, and enough in my bank account to retire it would be more realistic than what you’ve just listed.

        • How so?

          2015, Cutch was coming off 5.6 WAR, and had the potential of 6-8 WAR season. Marte was a 3-4 WAR player for his career. Polanco was young, full of potential, and just had reached career high 2 WAR. Combine that, it’s close to 12+ WAR OF.

          Rotation would have had Cole, Taillon, and Glasnow. All three have the potential of #1-2 SP.

          Kang is a power hitting 3B. And his defense before injury has been above average. He could have been our backup SS too.

          They were too reliant on prospects and players keep growing/panning out. But I can’t really blame FO for believing Cutch would produce yet another 5-6 WAR season.

            • Right, I don’t think anyone here thinks what FO did after 98 win season was acceptable. But what FO assumed wasn’t too out of reality, unlike your million dollar house with two luxury cars dream.

              • So now we’re arguing the degree to which that expectation was laughably wrong? And we’re attacking the players for this?

                Look, this has been repeated a million times over the past two years but even *with* expected performances from the players being mentioned here only blind optimists had these clubs better than .500. That’s the baseline for this discussion.

                The talent wasn’t there, and it’s the Front Office’s job to acquire the talent.

                • Lol, I’m saying FO was not good at its job as well as the players, so they all share the blame.

                  When Harrison fails to acknowledge the fact that the players also underperformed during the period, his argument becomes much less persuasive than what Freese had said.

                  • Again, that argument is a distraction. Muddying the waters.

                    If they players *didn’t* underperform, they still wouldn’t have won. This is the entire point.

                    The Front Office took a true-talent 90+ win club, actively worked to make it worse for two years, and then drastically slashed payroll while saying they’re actually trying to win.

                    Freese has won a World Series. JHay was instrumental to the 2014-2015 clubs. They know what it takes to win more than any of us anonymous jagoffs on the internet. And they want to do it again, with the Pirates.

                    The fact that they’re being real and not blind optimists is being held against them.

                    • Freese and Frazier mentioned that the team hasn’t played as one unit. That’s why I say these. Whatever the FO does, the team needs to put their best effort.

                      And I don’t know why you mention Freese because I agree with him. FO reflected on last two years and moved on. So should the players. Freese did it. It’s a group effort, not who did it worse and whose fault it is.

  25. I really hope they are able to tackle this (as Taillon referenced) and clear the air and move on. Don’t want this sentiment to be lingering much longer. Management, coaches, and players need to come together and focus on the task at hand.

  26. I really think it’s time to trade JHay. His points aren’t wrong. But he sounds very unhappy to be here and doesn’t believe the direction of this front office (which frankly speaking, I’m confused at times too, but a player not trusting its front office is a different problem).

    Edit: But then I guess if they trade him now it could backfire and make the players think he was traded because of what he said? Idk.

    • Sadly, his contract extension is hurting his chances of being dealt at this point. If the players want to change the culture and attitude, then every players must be onboard. Having a potential leader pouting is hard to overcome, imo.

      • How is he pouting? Just because he questions the organization’s direction? I thought he did it thoughtfully and respectfully.

        • How he goes about things from here on out might persuade me to change my mind about the pouting. If he wants to be a leader, don’t talk about the desire to be traded. With Cole and Cutch gone, there is a new opportunity for others to step up as leaders. Take advantage of that opportunity to mentor the young players and bring the will to win attitude to the Pirates.

          Edit: I watched the video. I happily retract my comment about him pouting. He was very respectful and thoughtful in his comments. I stand by my remarks regarding taking advantage of this opportunity to bring the will to win attitude and culture to the Pirates.

      • Well, this is part of the issue, the players we have paid the most money to were not at their best the past few years. Cutch, Cole, JHay and Cervelli all were lesser players than they were on our playoff teams, and they ate up a bunch of salary. I would still want them, they are all good, but if Cutch and Cole had remained great we would be having different conversations this offseason.

    • His attitude is refreshing and something the team should value. Its not bad for someone to question the motivation or direction of the organization. That’s healthy. I don’t see Harrison being disrespectful at all in his comments.

      • Yeah, I wasn’t saying he’s being disrespectful. I was just saying he seems unhappy to be here – understandably – and that’s not good for both him and the team. Especially when he’s the veteran and maybe the clubhouse leader.

        • He probably is unhappy; this team is doing what it had to do, and, if not for his $10 million salary for 2018, he would already be gone. That $10 mil will help to sooth whatever it is that is bothering him.

          No BS after his OPS dropped 120 points to .717 in 2015 after signing that $27.3 mil extension, or posting the .699 OPS in 2016. It’s business, Josh – shut up and play.

  27. Only one person can set the example about communicating the plan and his name is Nutting. I believe that he has done this in saying that he wants to keep the franchise forever and leave it to his children. That is the Nutting Way. So if by chance all the fans are hoping for him to sell that is not going to happen. Maybe one of you out there can marry one of his daughters.

    • Bottom Line Bob cant be to happy with the train wreck that is occurring with his team. This is incredible that veterans have been there one day and the distractions are through the roof. Fact is NH probably needs to clarify his position which is I will make us as competitive as I can for less than 90 million. I wish ownership and senior management had the same passion there players have or in some cases had. At this point I doubt there is anything that can be done to appease the players this year. If the fans voice there displeasure BLB will probably cut the payroll to 70 Million next year.

      I will say they could get a really good OF on the cheap if we wanted to because there are a lot of recent all stars and power hitters sitting around waiting for a call. the question is are we already at or over our budget for the year?

    • Maybe some scorned women from Bob Nuttings past will come forward and he will be forced to sell the team like the Carolina Panthers owner is having to do. Is there anyone out there with pictures out of NH, and Clint Hurdle?

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