PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Friday to discuss the team’s offseason moves and the upcoming 2016 season.
With Spring Training only a few weeks away, some fans are growing restless about the lack of big free agent acquisitions the Pirates have made during the offseason.
“I understand that people think the ability to spend other people’s money is really, really simple,” Huntington said. “If you look at the last three seasons, nobody’s given us a chance to win, and this club is probably more talented than most people give it credit for.”
Speaking to the talent of the team, Huntington said despite preseason predictions, you still have to play the games.
“The beautiful part about the game of baseball is the pundits and all the experts can say what they think is going to happen, but then you actually have to go play the games,” Huntington said.
Huntington explained that spending big money doesn’t mean guaranteed success, it’s having the right players.
“We’re one of three teams in baseball that’s made the playoffs each of the last three seasons, despite having a bottom-ten payroll,” Huntington said. “We’ve shown that it’s not money that brings you postseason bids.”
The Pirates’ recent success has led to a dramatic rise in attendance at PNC Park. While record attendance has been seen in each of the last two years, Huntington said the team is still mid-pack in the league.
“Our attendance has risen,” Huntington said. “We’ve set the franchise record each of the last two years, and that is awesome, and it’s a testament and tribute to our fan base. The reality is our attendance still sits in the middle of the pack for the industry. We have a good television contract for the size of the market, but it still sits below the large markets…so there is a limit as payroll rises.”
Some fans are raising the point that teams in a similar market size are spending more money than the Pirates – specifically, the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals.
According to Baseball Prospectus, the Royals’ payroll for 2016 sits at roughly $120.5 million. By comparison, the Pirates’ payroll is just $92.3 million.
In 2015, the Royals were at $112.8 million, while the Pirates came in at $90.3 million.
“The Kansas City Royals also had a much higher attendance to build upon as they go forward,” Huntington said. “Their jump in attendance was significantly higher than ours, and as a result, they’ve generated more revenue to put back into the team. We will continue to spend what we take in, and whatever the fans generate for us, and whatever the revenue sharing is…we’ll continue to pour that right back into the team and the organization.”
With Spring Training just around the corner, fans are also wondering about whether or not Tyler Glasnow will be in Pittsburgh for Opening Day.
“History tells us that a hundred innings in Double-A and Triple-A combined does not make a pitcher ready for the major leagues,” Huntington said. “We saw some things last year, again, that we loved…but it is extremely doubtful.”
The interview can be heard here: