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Same as before, or something new?

Before the 2020 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates overhauled its front office system, including replacing the team president and general manager. For some, this was cause for excitement. Within organizations, an overhaul is usually necessary to reach success again. For others, they assumed many of the Pirates’ plights wouldn’t go away because of who owns the team. So, is there something worth being hopeful for in Pittsburgh? Or is it, as The Who once sang, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”? For the disheartened, they assume it’ll be much of the same and therefore they remain apathetic to the organization in order to not be fooled again.

The Pirates are in a clear rebuild. They’ve been shipping off their top talent since Ben Cherington took office and that streak will continue through this offseason and certainly into 2021’s campaign. There has been one stark contrast to the front office’s recent moves compared to what we were seeing with Huntington and Company: They’re opting for high upside versus mediocre assurances; in other words, quality over quantity. Whether or not these trades work out is a different story. It is clear at this point, however, that the Pirates weren’t going to do much with players like Starling Marte and Josh Bell, and pretty soon, players like Adam Frazier and Steven Brault, among others.

It’s too early to tell whether or not this front office is going to behave similarly to the past front office, but it appears that Cherington has the ability to pull strings better within Nutting’s constraint — as hard as that might be to admit. Because of the situation in the ownership chair, Cherington is really going to have to thread the needle in order to create a formidable team in Pittsburgh. In a sport where it’s hard to succeed, the organizational moves — including drafting, trading, and free agency — are going to have be successful at an absurdly high clip, a tall task for any general manager.

We’ve seen the refrain of, “The fans in Pittsburgh deserve better.” Indeed, they do. While revenue sharing concerns and the Pirates lack of spending are genuine complaints, we haven’t given this particular front office enough time to see if they can operate within Nutting’s parameters. While I haven’t seen any Cherington slander on social media — most of it is pointed towards Nutting — I can’t help but feel like fans will ultimately turn against Cherington, as well. It’s an unfortunate situation on the North Shore. Winning cures everything, certainly, but if the Pirates aren’t able to win, then we’ll likely continue railing against the front office in general — at least until ownership changes, which appears to be an unlikely proposition.

Although I’m a bit tired of repeating this, here it is again: Only time will tell what will happen with this front office and this organization. While it might be something new in its essence, it seems plausible that it might be the case that it’s the same as before — just with different names attached to it.