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Pirates in desperate need of fresh thinking

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03:50 PM ET 12.20 | In a recent blog post on ESPN.com, former Major League Baseball general manager Jim Bowden classified Pirates' GM Neal Huntington among the "new school" when it comes to negotiating trades. While the post served to illustrate the swap stalemate at this month's winter meetings, I have a quibble with Bowden's characterization of the Bucs' baseball operations boss. Perhaps chiefly by virtue of his relative youth, the 43-year-old Huntington is amenable to rapid-fire texts and emails instead of face-to-face or phone conversations with his GM peers. But this embrace of communication technology doesn't put him among the more progressive personnel managers in MLB. If it's innovation and creativity you want, the Pirates front office isn't the place to find it. At times, it seems like Huntington is following a paint-by-numbers routine in his attempt to construct the next winning baseball team in Pittsburgh. Over the course of his five-plus years in command, Huntington has certainly followed the conventional wisdom of the rebuilding playbook. Trade older, expensive talent for young promise. When some of those prospects develop into viable MLB players, sign them to longer-term, team-friendly contracts. Make low-risk, high-reward moves in-season to augment a potentially-successful team. All of those things aren't without merit. In fact, in the correct doses, they have proven to be effective building blocks for cost-conscious franchises. However, if we accept that the Pirates will never approach an average payroll, more must be done to break this once-proud team out of its doldrums.

City of Champions

Neal Huntington, Getty Images/Joe Sargent Neal Huntington, Getty Images/Joe Sargent
Comment #1 has been removed
December 21, 2012  06:07 AM ET

I would call NH a lot of things BUT progressive is NOT one of them!

December 21, 2012  07:50 AM ET

Isnt that a "Master of the Obvious" statement

December 21, 2012  08:30 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Isnt that a "Master of the Obvious" statement

yes, it IS!

Comment #5 has been removed
December 21, 2012  09:50 AM ET

The Bucs are in the same boat as the A's are in that they are limited on spending for high price free agents and blockbuster trades because they are in small markets.

December 21, 2012  12:14 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

Nah, I'm not as down on the Pirates as you guys. They have a couple of super pitching prospects in the minors (Taillon, Cole), and a pretty good young lineup (McCutcheon, Walker, Alvarez). I wish they would deal one of the young arms for a good bad at 1B or RF, a guy such as Mark Trumbo or Ike Davis.Building through the farm system is the only way to put together a winner. But, yeah, it's taken Pittsburgh a long time to get it right. They're not as far off as you think.

I think you are right. The Pirates hung in there for much of the season last year. They need a few more players, RF, 1B. C, at least one SP. Probably too much to get all in one year, but if they can get half of their needs this year, the NL East could be a very deep division in 2013.

December 21, 2012  01:07 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

I think you are right. The Pirates hung in there for much of the season last year. They need a few more players, RF, 1B. C, at least one SP. Probably too much to get all in one year, but if they can get half of their needs this year, the NL East could be a very deep division in 2013.

I take it that you meant the NL Central. ;o)

December 21, 2012  02:09 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

I take it that you meant the NL Central. ;o)

d'oh!

Comment #10 has been removed
December 22, 2012  12:16 AM ET

wiseup: Pittsburgh is that far off from contending(at least a winning season fist time in 20 years). They hung in there through most of season last year.McCuthen carried the Pirates the first half , making All- Star game hitting .375. After All- Star game McCuthen slumped and his average spiraled downward the second half ending up in the mid.320s They also had Carl Morton and corria on dl most of year. With a healthy starting staff. and more consistency from Tabata and Alvarez would help. Add a few younger prospects. Hurdles job could depend on winning season.

 
December 22, 2012  11:42 AM ET
QUOTE(#6):

The Bucs are in the same boat as the A's are in that they are limited on spending for high price free agents and blockbuster trades because they are in small markets.

The A's won their Division, Pirates 3rd place, The A's laid out some money for free Agents that produced!

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