A former Pirates minority owner's comments about Bob Nutting are already attracting some attention, as you'd expect they would. I should say right off that I know next to nothing about finance, and have only the tiniest inkling of, for example, what a mutual fund is. So I'm not an expert on any of this in the least. If you are, feel free to pitch in. That said ...
“People say he is a cheap owner, but nothing is further from the truth. He allocates the money properly. He wants to make enough money to keep us from going into the red. He is running the business rationally, trying to make money. No small-market teams that win make money.” ...
“It's almost like (fans) deserve an owner who is a little eccentric, maybe like a 70-year-old guy who is willing to spend the money he made in his lifetime on building a winner in Pittsburgh,” [Jay] Lustig added. “Bob is too rational a businessman to ever spend more money to build a winner.”
This reminds me of being four and wanting an Iroc-Z that shot LASERS as my Christmas present. Is there any owner, throughout MLB, who's this eccentric billionaire who's making it rain just because he can? Owners like Arte Moreno (Angels) and Mike Ilitch (Tigers) spend a lot, but their payrolls aren't wildly out of sync with what you'd expect. And, while we don't have access to every team's books, I must have missed the part where the Wall Street Rays were losing money, because they seem to be doing well.
Of all the people who are vilified for the Pirates' current predicament, Bob Nutting probably deserves it the least. It seems to me, from the outside, that's he's mostly just playing the hand he's been dealt. Lustig notes elsewhere in this same piece that Nutting isn't making money, and is feeding the profits the team makes back into the organization. So what should he do? If the Pirates were very close to competing, he might operate the team at a loss for a couple years to make a playoff push. And if the Pirates can really get to that point, then I'll be all for that. The problem, of course, is that they're not there. They're probably going to post a win total in the high 70s this year. And they haven't been there since Nutting took over as controlling owner, which is why he's poured tons of money into the draft but not into the major league payroll.
If the Bucs' situation has really changed at all in the past few years, it's been a result of their TV contract. I haven't commented on that very much, because I have no idea if their decision to re-up with ROOT Sports just before TV contracts throughout baseball went through the roof makes the Pirates bad businesspeople, or victims of timing and circumstance.
Otherwise, the Pirates' main issues are the same as always. They're not doing a good enough job finding players, and baseball's economic system is stacked against them to an absurd degree. In order to counteract the second problem, they need to have a GM and scouting department that are among the best in the game. They don't have that. And even if they did, it still might not work. This fancypants-billionaire idea seems like an absurd fantasy. If you're going to slam the Pirates, there are a ton of better issues to pick than this one.