It's been been an interesting ten months to be a Pirate fan, particularly on this site that Charlie has done such a great job in updating, maintaining and using to educate so many of us.
When Neal Huntington was hired last year there were a myriad of opinions as to whether we hired the best man for the job. Huntington's resume appeared a bit lacking in that he had seemingly moved down in his most recent position with Cleveland. He was young, but many of the best in the game were even younger when hired, and he came from an organization that has generally thrived under the leadership of Mark Shipiro. My only argument on his behalf at the time was that we give the man a little time before we throw him under the bus with his predecessors (who so richly deserved it).
The organization had a quiet off-season with virtually no signings of note and certainly no trades above the radar. I won't go through the many moves that have taken place since March. If you are viewing this site you are probably aware of everyone of them. But, NH and Frank Coonolly had a plan that they outlined and they stuck to it. And today I think we have seen the first steps come to fruition. I would go so far as to say this month is a seminal month in the past 15 years of the organization.
NH stuck to his view that many in the organization had underperformed in the past year and deserved an opportunity to be given another chance. Many people thought the idea of giving Xavier Nady the right field job was folly. Steve Pearce had earned the opportunity and Nady was no part of the future. I was leading the call to dump Bay for a bag of balls, thinking last year was the beginning of a precipitous decline.
Needless to say the organization's decision to stick with them has now paid off in spades. In return for a year and two months of Nady and Bay and two months of Marte and two potential sandwich picks, the Pirates have received eight young players of varying talent and projectability.
Being firmly in the camp of defending the trade with the Yankees when all the talking heads feel we got fleeced, I will restrain my enthusiasm in endorsing the Bay deal. (How did NH keep Grabow out of the deal with the Red Sox desperate for left-handed relief help.? Another great move.) The reality is these trades won't be properly evaluated for two or three years if not longer. The Yankees got the two best players in the Nady deal. Nobody can argue that. But the Yankees' objective are different than the Pirates'. The Yanks can play for this year every year. We can't.
There is no question that NH got a haul for Nady, Bay and Marte. Were they the best deals possible? Who knows. Would the Bucs have gotten anything close to that in the off-season? Well, if they had gotten just LaRoche and Tabata I would have been surprised. Combined with the draft, and the hopeful signings of the top two picks in the next two weeks, the new management team has stuck to the plan. They have taken risks, acquiring Jose Tabata and drafting Tanner Scheppers, and they have gotten big returns for Nady and Bay. We can debate whether they were the best deals or not. But I think, assuming Alvarez is signed, Neal Huntington and the management team's first season has followed a well thought out plan and been an unqualified success. Congrats Neal. It's a good day to be a Pirate fan for a change.