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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – The day after trading the face of the franchise in Andrew McCutchen, Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington called into The Starkey and Mueller Show to talk about the decision and the direction the franchise is headed.
Right out of the gates, Huntington talked with us about the tough decisions they had to make to take this organization in the right direction “as counter-intuitive as that seems.”
“We recognize that we traded two very popular, two very talented players, two players that were a huge part of our success” and “unfortunately we weren’t good enough the last two years,” which led to the moves as both players contracts were coming to an end within the next two years.
Huntington sited internal projection models that showed they were right on the verge of the playoff race this upcoming season with Cole and McCutchen on the roster and was asked if that’s the case, why not build around them to get over that hump?
“Because we weren’t good enough a year ago and I’ll take all the blame for the moves that I made after 2015 and 2016 not working and putting up back in the playoffs.”
That being said, Neal outlined how organizations can get themselves in trouble by not realizing when it’s time to give up the false hope in front of them.
“Teams get themselves in a lot of trouble if they continue to hold on with some hope that may or may not be real and fail to make the moves that they need to make to restock and replenish and to refresh and that’s what we feel we did in these trades.”
Neal admitted that they understand the anger over those moves from the fans.
“We get that those were hard decisions, we completely understand our fans anger and our fans frustration and disappointment…and our single focus is to put this club back into the postseason as quickly as possible and we’ve made hard and unpopular decisions before, we believe this is the next wave of them and we believe that for us to continue to be good, for us to continue to do what we’re going to need to do we’re going to have to make another wave of unpopular decisions that don’t scream we win the offseason or don’t scream that we win the trade deadline.”
When asked why he has been reluctant to use the term “rebuild” like many in the industry have, Neal says “Rebuild implies that you’re looking five years out and you’re going to punt the current season or maybe the next three or four seasons because you’re going to be good in the future. We are not rebuilding. We have a good group of core veteran players, we have a good group of core young Major League players, we have a good wave of players coming on the horizon and we feel like we’ve just added four guys that can help us win games at the Major League Level hopefully, potentially as soon as Opening Day, probably as soon as Opening Day and that’s not a rebuild.”
With Cole and Cutch now gone, there could be another move to come as a report surfaced from Ken Rosenthal saying that Josh Harrison wants out too if they aren’t going to compete in the next two years. We read Harrison’s comments to Huntington and asked for his thoughts.
“I have spoken with him today and we’ve walked through his thoughts, his concerns and why he made the comments that he did and we agree with him. We want what’s best for the organization and we want to win and we want to win sooner than later.”
Click the audio at the top of the post to hear more from Huntington as he evaluated the players he has received in the Cole and McCutchen trades and what he likes about each of them.