Since I joined Bucs Dugout, I try to make an effort to engage with what I call the Commentariat. I appreciate that you guys take the time to comment, even if it’s to complain about what I’ve chosen to write about, and I’ve had some fun back-and-forths with yinz. This is your blog too, and I always welcome suggestions for future articles, particularly in the cold, snowy gray of the offseason (that’s coming to an end, PRAISE).
And so it came to be that on my article from last week, BD commenter SoCal_BucsFan laid out some history about Neal Huntington’s first years as GM. I thought it should be brought to light for those who don’t want to do a deep dive into a comment thread. Thanks, dude.
The Pirates went 68-94 in 2007 (after going 67-95 in both 2005 and 2006, etc., etc., etc.), and Huntington was hired on 25 Sep that year. He proceeded to blow the team up over the next two years, trading away pretty much the whole (of a bad) team (in order): Salomon Torres (on 7 Dec 07), Damaso Marte, Xavier Nady, Jason Bay, Jose Bautista, Ronny Paulino, Nate McLouth, Sean Burnett, Nyjer Morgan, Adam LaRoche, Ian Snell, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Tom Gorzelanny, and John Grabow (on 30 Jul 09). There were a few other smaller deals along the way involving minor league players, but these trades pretty much cleared out the previously existing ML team. As one would expect (from tanking), the team record went down: 67-95 in 2008, 62-99 in 2009, and 57-105 in 2010.
As some new acquisitions took root among a few leftovers, it started to turn around: 72-90 in 2011, 79-83 in 2012, and 94-68, and a wildcard berth in 2013. After going 88-74 (and another wildcard berth) in 2014 and 98-64 (the second-best record in all of MLB) in 2015, Huntington apparently went insane and made a slew of horrible moves. Thus, the current state of affairs.
As I noted and SC_BF acknowledged, the most significant difference between Huntington’s #TankForImprovement and Ben Cherington’s moves is that in Huntington’s moves, he went for players who were ready to go in the Show right then. In contrast, Cherington’s MO is to go for high-end prospects who will need at least a couple of seasons to develop. Unlike Huntington, though, Cherington has a proven track record with developing players, although in Boston that didn’t make up for his less-than-great choices of who he believed to be worthy free agents (cough Pablo Sandoval cough).
However, I believe that Cherington will see success with his moves long before the six years it took Huntington. This, of course, hinges on everything not imploding next year as a result of the new CBA or lack thereof, a matter that is already getting ugly.
But spring training’s almost here, and there will be concrete subjects to write about, I promise.