PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — It may be an unpopular opinion locally, but Frank Coonelly has given a vote of confidence to his current management team despite presiding over one of the biggest collapses in Major League Baseball history.
Here are Coonelly’s remarks in their full tapestry, courtesy of the team’s official website:
“For the second consecutive year, we put ourselves in an excellent position to meet our objective of winning our division but did not play nearly well enough during the last two months of the season to accomplish it. Our fans are understandably disappointed and frustrated, as is every individual in the organization.
“As soon as we finish this season as well as we possibly can, we will turn our full and total attention to evaluating why were unable to finish the job and what we must do differently to take the next step to becoming a championship team. There will unquestionably be changes made to the way in which we operate as a result of this thorough critical self-evaluation, but we will not be making personnel changes at the very top of our baseball operations department. Neal, Kyle, Greg and Clint are dedicated and intelligent baseball men in whom I have great confidence.
“Confidence in and support of Neal, Kyle and Greg should not be misunderstood with acceptance of another poor finish at the Major League level. We must understand why the quality of our execution and play deteriorated so markedly in August. Finishing was the focus from spring training but it certainly was not achieved.”
Coonelly’s superior, team owner Bob Nutting, has not addressed these specific comments, though he, too, recently expressed discontent with the Pirates’ second-half slide, and looked forward to an off-season reassessment of the franchise.
“We’re all frustrated by and upset with the performance and seriously looking at what do we need to do both to finish the year appropriately and make sure this isn’t something we ever see again,” Nutting said Sept. 15. “I don’t think it’s ever fair to speculate on people’s jobs. My approach has always been to fully support the team we have in place, and when it’s time to make a change, we make a change.”
The Pirates were formally eliminated from playoff contention Thursday night, the latest in the season that has happened under the current administration. They must win five of their last seven games to snap their North American professional sports record 19-year streak of losing seasons.
“Yeah, I suppose that’s nice,” center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. “Glad they’re coming back. Don’t have to worry about anybody going anywhere. So, I guess that’s always a plus.”
Catcher Michael McKenry, also asked about Coonelly’s remarks, came to the defense of the Pirates’ front office.
“Those guys have put in time, put in work. They’ve taken a lot of chances on a lot of guys in this locker room, and that’s paid dividends,” he said.
“Anytime you think it’s change that needs to happen, most of the time it has nothing to do with it. It’s just time. We have a lot of young players and we have a good ballclub here and I think the future’s really, really bright in Pittsburgh, from a front-office standpoint and the players’ standpoint.”
The Bucs have an all-time winning percentage of .457 since Coonelly and Huntington took office in September 2007.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.