Colin Dunlap: Huntington Ready To Roll With This Roster
These are your Pittsburgh Pirates.
The ones who swept the Cardinals in a doubleheader on Tuesday.
The ones who have enveloped the city in excitement since April.
The ones who have built a 65-42 record (best in baseball) when you awoke on Thursday.
And the ones who, almost-certainly, will push this team to those heights you dreamed about as a fan or, conversely, force yet another letdown.
I would have liked them to get better at the trade deadline, swing that huge deal. However, I can totally understand general manager Neal Huntington’s decision.
Yes, these are your Pittsburgh Pirates — and they are most likely going to remain as such moving forward, barring a waiver-clearing player making his way onto the club.
With the non-waiver trade deadline coming and going without the club making a deal by 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, the Pirates’ front office has spoken strongly and sharply. They are ready to roll into August and September — and hopefully beyond — with this group of players.
Did Huntington explore external options? Yep. He would have been silly not to do so.
“We think they are the right 25,” Huntington said of this roster. “We like this group. We have to get some guys healthy, we have to get some guys going … I talk a lot about we don’t want to do something stupid. We were willing to do something stupid, we just didn’t want to do something insane.”
Was it the right move to not make a big splash trade? Only time will tell.
Was it the wrong move? Same answer; can only be gauged in time.
But here is what can be deduced from a lack of movement before the non-waiver trade deadline: the Pirates feel they are just fine trying to reach the pinnacle of Major League Baseball (this year, anyway) with the players they have on their roster and they really, really, really, value their top-end prospects. Or, that is to say, they like their top-end prospects enough to not part with two of them in one trade.
Such a move is a likely what Huntington was referencing with the “insane” part of the previous quote.
Some of the names who were bandied about as potential targets for the Pirates were Alex Rios, Hunter Pence, Nate Schierholtz, David DeJesus and, there were even rumblings in several outlets the Pirates were making a play for Angels slugger Mark Trumbo and Marlins standout Giancarlo Stanton.
But it appeared in the past — and seemed the story again — that Huntington was unwilling to part with more than one of the major prospects such as Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson, a few of the key components to the organization that other clubs reportedly eyed in trades.
If it truly shook out this way — and the overwhelming thought here is that it did — good for Huntington. Good for him for sticking with his convictions, beliefs and long-term plan as he continues to push this organization forward.
“There’s no question that we forced the issue,” Huntington said. “I made offers that made me incredibly uncomfortable, but I did so with the idea that we wanted to help this club.”
There is, make no mistake, truth in the statement that Huntington has pushed this organization forward.
Just open up the newspaper and take a look at the standings.
All this said, I was someone who advocated — and did right up until 4 p.m. on Wednesday — giving the Marlins, in essence, everything they wanted for Stanton. Even if it included Taillon and more of those major prospects, I was on board with going for it, right now.
Stanton is a player who, this season in my eyes, could have put the Pirates over the top, could have propelled them to the World Series. That isn’t to say they can’t get there without him, but the opinion here is the path would be easier with him.
This is a season for the Pirates that, up until this point, has been charmed, one that has been far-overreaching in delivery as measured against the predictions.
To me, it is one that might not come back around again for another 20 years.
Sure, the Pirates might have the best record in baseball again next season as August approaches.
They might also be third in the National League Central at this time next season.
That’s why, at least from this view, I felt it best to deal in the knowns; and the only current known is this is the best opportunity to make real noise since 1992.
Again, though, Huntington is the man ultimately charged with the duty of making the most significant personnel decisions with this club. He showed — by his choice to stand pat on Wednesday after mulling offers — that he’s ready to pretty much live and die with the men he has assembled on his roster today.
I can’t necessarily say I agree with the decision. In fact, I would have done something, in Huntington’s view, that would have been deemed “insane.”
However, I have to respect the hell out of a guy, Huntington in this case, who sticks firm to his beliefs and strategy.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.