PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – The debate over the Pittsburgh Pirates profits is one that has sparked a response among the fan base for quite some time, but now a former minority owner has set the record straight about where the money goes.
Former Pirates minority owner Jay Lustig joined the Starkey and Mueller Show and answered directly where the Pirates profits have gone under the Nutting ownership tenure.
“They were being plowed back into the team,” Lustig said. “I can tell you categorically, and you’re not talking to someone who has always just been a “yes-man” for Bob Nutting, in fact we have had more than enough run-ins, I’m sure he was very happy to see me leave. Basically, they went back into the ball club, whether it’s the minor league system or to increase the payroll, but I can tell you categorically, he is not taking cash out of the Pirates organization.”
Lustig provided an example of one of the times he and Nutting didn’t see eye-to-eye as he actually suggested to the Pirates majority owner that it might be time to sell the franchise.
“I think Bob Nutting did a great job as far as restoring our finances, and he and I were at odds over I thought it was a proper time to maybe go out and try to recruit an owner with deeper pockets that would basically build on what Kevin [McClatchy] and he had already started, so that was our primary disagreement,” said Lustig.
Despite not seeing eye-to-eye with Nutting, Lustig admits that there are plenty of reasons to give Nutting credit for what he has done with this organization.
“You got to give Bob some credit for putting together a management team that has gotten us to where we are now,” Lustig said. “That are our expectation levels have now been raised to a point where we’re just devastated because we’ve fallen a couple games out of a playoff spot.”
Lustig also helped shed some light on a question that has plagued the fan base for many years, and that’s whether or not General Manager Neal Huntington has the ability to take on large contracts without asking Nutting for permission first.
“I think at the onset of the season, there’s basically a budget put in place, and Neal Huntington, within that budget, can do pretty much whatever he wants,” Lustig said. “When you get late in the season or mid-season and there’s something that has to occur, maybe outside the budget, there is no way there would be a big player transaction without the approval of Bob Nutting. If there were a big free agent out there, or if there were a mid-season player available that might be a big number for the balance of the year, there’s no doubt that Bob would be consulted on that and he would have to sign off on it.”
Click the audio link below to hear more from Lustig as he gives us insight into Bob Nutting – the business owner as well as Bob Nutting – the man.