Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Updated: July 21, 12:51 PM ET
Frank Coonelly: Pirates will look to add
ESPN.com news services
The division-leading Pittsburgh Pirates will consider adding players before and after the trade deadline, team president Frank Coonelly told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.
The surprising Pirates, who lead the NL Central by a half-game over Milwaukee and 1½ games over St. Louis entering Wednesday's games, also are enjoying improved results at the box office, as fans put off by nearly two decades of futility are returning in droves.
Coonelly said that success at the gate will help the Pirates pursue reinforcements as they chase their first winning season, division title and playoff berth since 1992.
This is the latest in a season the Pirates have led their division since 1992, when they won the NL East in a two-division league. This season also marks the first time since 1992 that Pittsburgh reached 50 wins in fewer than 100 games played. Last season, the Pirates won 57 games.
"Our fans have been energized by this team. The rebonding between the city and its team that (manager Clint Hurdle) talked about wanting to be a part of is happening," Coonelly told Olney. "Yes, the great response at the gate gives us greater capacity to add players as (general manager Neal Huntington) looks to make the team better at the (July 31 trade) deadline and into August."
For years, the Pirates have been midsummer sellers rather than buyers, usually trading away assets for prospects. Coonelly said this year, the demands of potential trade partners -- and not financial constraints -- will determine how the Pirates bolster their roster.
"When we are not successful in securing a player who we have targeted, it is likely to be because of the acquisition cost ask in terms of players and prospects rather than because of an inability or unwillingness to take on the financial commitment," he said.
Coonelly also said he expects Huntington will remain the Pirates' GM "for a long time. Nothing has changed on that front."
Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from ESPN Stats & Info was used in this report.