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Planting the seeds for future success

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MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Pirates added to their front office with the hiring of Oz Ocampo. Previously with the Houston Astros, Ocampo was the lead man in acquiring international talent. For example, first baseman Yuli Gurriel was signed under his watch.

Ocampo will serve as a special assistant to player personnel with the Pirates. Whatever his title may be, this is a great add for the front office. When this winter is through, Ocampo may end up being the Pirates’ biggest acquisition.

And that’s okay.

With the obvious unbalance of financial power in the MLB, small market teams must be at the forefront of finding and developing homegrown talent to have any chance of sustaining success against the big dogs. That starts with hiring sharp minds in the front office. For a time, Neal Huntington had success hiring great people around him. Those people eventually left for other opportunities and Huntington lost his touch.

The small market front office game of musical chairs really is a vicious cycle.

  • A new General Manager is hired.
  • That person attempts to hire smart people around them.
  • If successful, an enriched system of player talent is built.
  • The team wins games.
  • Said smart people are then poached from other teams.

Teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics have been successfully maneuvering through steps 2-5 for a while now. Although difficult, it is not impossible. The Neal Hungtinton led Pirates were not so lucky. As we all know, Ben Cherington was hired to replace him this offseason.

Right now, the Pirates are attempting step two in the cycle. This is obviously the hardest step in building a front office. Finding the right smart people is not an easy task. Hopefully Cherington knows the correct buttons to push. With the hiring of Ocampo, it seems as though he is off to a nice start.