PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – While the Pittsburgh Pirates prepared for Game 4 of the NLDS, team President Frank Coonelly joined Vinnie & Cook on Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan to provide a front office perspective on the postseason run.
Coonelly draws a direct line from the team’s success at the turnstiles to the transactions the team made during the year.
“The increased attendance this year allowed us to bring in Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd, and John Buck at the trade deadline,” Coonelly said. “And the increased attendance and excitement for next year will certainly allow us to increase payroll.”
For Coonelly, the turning point in the Pirates’ rise to the postseason came when Andrew McCutchen signed a six-year contract extension with the team in March 2012.
“That meant a lot to the organization,” Coonelly said. “It meant that our best player believed in us as an organization. He wanted to be here. And that says a lot to the others in the industry who respect Andrew McCutchen. I think it helped us in the free agency market this year.”
“You want to be a destination where players want to come. Players want to play for winners. Being a postseason team that other people will believe can contend for the postseason in future years will help us in the free agency market. You don’t want to oversell that, because that’s not where we’re going to build our team. But, it is an area where we can help ourselves as we did this year with (Francisco) Liriano and (Russell) Martin.”
Former Pirates chairman Kevin McClatchy threw the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3, and Coonelly was pleased to see the positive response McClatchy received from the crowd.
“He deserved it. His legacy is that he saved baseball for Pittsburgh. We wouldn’t be sitting here talking about Pirates playoff baseball if it wasn’t for Kevin and what he did to keep the team here. I was extraordinarily pleased with the great reaction he got from the crowd,” Coonelly said.
For more of Coonelly’s thoughts on how the Pirates can sustain their success, and whether they can keep some of their free agents, listen to the entire interview below!