Pirates Notebook: Nutting 'frustrated' with record
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CINCINNATI -- Bob Nutting expressed displeasure with the Pirates' performance in 2009, even as the team's owner expressed confidence in his management.
"I am personally frustrated with the team's performance as a whole," Nutting said yesterday. "While there were difficult moves that needed to be made to speed up the process of bringing winning baseball back to our fans and some individual bright spots that are very encouraging, nobody within the organization, at any level, should be satisfied with our performance."
He did not waver in his support of team president Frank Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington, even though the Pirates' performance dropped dramatically after all the first-half trades. Almost all of those trades were made for prospects, as Nutting noted, and are expected to resonate more in the future.
"I have confidence in Frank, Neal and our baseball operations staff. We are a much stronger organization than two years ago when you consider the increased investment in our core operations, whether it be with more scouts and scouting systems, improved player development processes and facilities, or our increased focus in securing impact talent in the draft and internationally. We must now continue to work hard to add to that foundation to bring winning baseball back to our fans, not just for one season but on a consistent basis. That is what I expect, and that is what our fans deserve."
He expressed appreciation for the team's fan base.
"We understand that we have tested their patience again with some of the moves that were made, but we have done so to return winning baseball to Pittsburgh sooner rather than later."
The Pirates do not plan to pursue a starting pitcher through free agency or trade this offseason, largely because they were pleased with the performance of the current rotation, as well as its potential for depth in 2010.
Zach Duke, Ross Ohlendorf and Paul Maholm will be locks, with Charlie Morton close to that status. The default fifth starter will be Kevin Hart, but he will need to dramatically upgrade his 1-8 showing to fend off Daniel McCutchen. Top pitching prospect Brad Lincoln is close, too.
Huntington declined to offer positional targets for free agency, as he has done in the past.
"We don't see any desperate hole that we absolutely have to overpay to fill," he said. "We see a need for continuing to add talent, maybe some experience. I've made mistakes in the past of articulating exactly what we were going to go after, then you spend the whole offseason defending why you didn't get that player for that spot."
By finishing 62-99, the Pirates finished with a worse record than the 64-98 Baltimore Orioles on the final day and will have the No. 2 overall pick in the draft next June. The Washington Nationals will pick first.
• The Pirates announced dates for some offseason events: Minicamp in Bradenton, Fla., will be Jan. 12-16. The Winter Caravan and PirateFest will be Jan. 24-31. There also will be two conditioning camps in advance of minicamp, one in Bradenton in November, one in Pittsburgh in December. All are voluntary.
• Catcher Ryan Doumit's concussion is mild and is no threat to add to his history, Huntington said.
• The four players on the active roster set to play winter ball are infielders Neil Walker, Ronny Cedeno and Luis Cruz, and catcher Robinzon Diaz. The rest will come from the minors.
• The very tentative target for pitcher Jose Ascanio to return from shoulder surgery is early June, Huntington said.
First Published October 5, 2009 12:00 am