BRADENTON (93-7 The Fan) –Frank Coonelly has heard it time and time again, and he doesn’t expect it to stop.
Why don’t the Pirates spend more?
As his players hit the diamond for workouts on Wednesday, the Pirates’ president sat down with “The Fan Morning Show” to address that persistent question – one that never seems to go away despite his and the organization’s best efforts to silence their critics.
Coonelly addressed the issue directly, saying he feels significant progress has been made, even if the organization’s critics refuse to see it.
“You said that we should have spent more last year, and I’ve heard that we should spend more this year,” Coonelly said. “I’ll go way back. I’ll go back to five or six years ago. I remember writers, fans asking, can you ever get to where Milwaukee is today – and that was, I think, $70 or $80 million – could you ever get there in payroll? Then, we got to the $70 or $80 million, and I was asked the question, could you ever see yourself getting to that $100 million level? And I said yes, we can get there.”
“Well, we have increased our payroll by an average of over $10 million a year in each of the last five years. Last year, we increased our payroll by $17.5 million, which was, in terms of a percentage, in the top five in the entire industry. Is it enough? I understand that we’ve earned the trust of some of our fans. We have not earned the trust of all of them. I’m continuing to work extremely hard to earn the trust of every single one of our fans, to let them know we’re doing everything we can to put a winning team on the field for them.”
Coonelly wants to win over every one of the organization’s detractors, but he doesn’t expect to.
“It’s always going to be [$10 million more],” Coonelly said. “What if it was 10 more million? Well, it was 10 more million. It’s been 10 more million in each of the last five years. Last year, it was 17.5 more million. It’s never enough for some. We’re working to earn the trust of those that it’s never enough for.”
Though the questions about their payroll persist, the Pirates have managed to build one of the best teams in baseball, putting them in a position to contend for a World Series. Coonelly sees that as the goal for this club, but he’s not prepared to risk squandering what he and the organization have built in a desperate attempt to secure a championship.
“Our goal is to win the World Series,” Coonelly said. “Now, we have to, from my perspective, give ourselves a chance to win every year…it is way too much fun to be playing meaningful games late in August and in September, so I don’t ever want to put ourselves in a position where we were before, obviously…we don’t look at windows. We want the window to be wide open. We want to give Pittsburgh a team that they can support and be proud of every single year…We want to have Pittsburgh be a powerhouse every single year.”
Coonelly was adamant that the Pirates’ goals are both loftier than simply staying competitive, and loftier than contending for – or even winning – just one World Series.
“The goal is…to win our sixth World Series, and then work extremely hard to defend that sixth World Series championship,” Coonelly said. “That is the only goal that we have.”
The interview can be heard here:
“The Fan Morning Show” will be broadcasting live from Pirates spring training in Bradenton all week long.