It was after the July 31st trade deadline where I realized that the Pirates needed to clean house. This process started on the last game of the year when Clint Hurdle was fired. On Wednesday, it was announced that the Pirates and team president Frank Coonelly agreed to mutually part ways. Yesterday, the cleansing of the Pirates organization was completed by the firing of General Manager.
I want to be clear, as everyone should know that this needed to happen. You cannot bring any of this front office back or coaching staff and sell an entire fan base that winning is important. 2013-2015 was a very long time ago and the Pirates decided to go in an entire different direction after losing to the Cubs in the wild card game.
The giant narrative with this franchise is the man in charge needs to spend money. What people fail to understand is that if money is not going to be spent, then you have to be be able to develop from within. If you’re a franchise who wants to bargain shop and take fliers on vets to help contribute, then you better have a great plan in place to evaluate these bargain talents. In that regard, this front office failed.
Neal Huntington never recovered after the 2015 season to rebuild a true contender. He ultimately failed and sealed his fate with the returns of two big trades.
The Chris Archer trade was a disaster. I’ll be the first to admit that I loved this move when it happened. Going to get a guy who has top of the rotation stuff on a team friendly contract seemed great. Making this move along with finishing with 82 wins set the high expectation for the 2019 season. When the season kicked off, Archer stunk out loud while Tyler Glasnow looked like an ace and Austin Meadows made the all star game. In about 2 years, Pirates fans will be cut deeper if Shane Baz turns into an Ace.
Everyone points to the Archer trade as the worst one, but without a doubt the Gerrit Cole trade was infinitely worse. If you don’t believe me, tell that to the Cy Young he is about to win. If you trade away a guy with Cy Young stuff, you better get some players with limitless potential especially if you’re trading with the Houston Astros. The Pirates got a back of the rotation starter, a platoon player, a decent bullpen arm, and a prospect who projects as a fourth outfielder. This is not a return worth trading away Gerrit Cole. Forget about the agent and him pushing his clients to free agency. If you’re a small market team, you sell as high as possible. They traded Gerrit Cole when his value was at an all time low, and it set the franchise back years.
Earlier I said I needed to be clear in explaining that Huntington had to go. I need to be clear about one more thing and that’s thank you Neal Huntington.
Despite recency bias, he did a phenomenal job in the quest of reuniting this city with its baseball team. The rosters he built in those three years from 2013-2015 ended 20 years of abysmal baseball. Those times felt like an eternity. The times have changed and the purge of the Pittsburgh Pirates was absolutely necessary.