First, the intro to Dejan Kovacevic's interview with Pirates owner Bob Nutting, and then a couple of questions:
- A year ago, at the opening of the Pirates' Winter Caravan promotional tour here, the franchise's controlling owner, Bob Nutting, said of his expectations for 2009, "We're not going to accept an inferior performance," and he pledged accountability.
The team's record fell from 67-95 to 62-99, and it grew worse after several veteran-for-prospect trades in June and July. Management and coaching staff remained almost entirely untouched.
Question: You almost have to view 2009 as a bottoming out, don't you? You can't keep hovering around 62 or so wins and see that as progress, right?
Answer: Oh, absolutely. We are going to win more games than last year. We are going to see improvement on the field in Pittsburgh, in terms of wins and loses. We have to.
I said last year that was my expectation and, midway through the season, we clearly weren't seeing that. And the team took decisive action, made change. That's part of why you have the broader pool from which the pieces will come for 2010 and moving forward.
Q: Can we expect to see accountability beyond changing the roster?
A: I think, just as you saw accountability at the player level last year, ultimately, my job is very simple: It's to set the level of expectation to win games in Pittsburgh, period. And my tool to do that is to hold people accountable to reach this goal.
I think I've done that effectively so far, and I believe everyone in the organization understands that the expectation is high.
It's far too early to talk about "accountability" in the Pirates' front office, considering that: 1) the men at the top have been in their positions for slightly more than two years, and 2) it's not like they've been making a bunch of stupid mistakes. Yeah, the Pirates nosedived after July, going 18-41 the rest of the way. In June and July, they traded Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, and Adam LaRoche; that is, three-fourths of their infield and two-thirds of their outfield. And someone's supposed to be held accountable for the Pirates' record?
If all the prospects the Pirates have acquired in the past couple of years don't lead to a 70-win season in 2010 or '11, then we can start talking about accountability in the front office.