The Pirates Have a Huge PR Problem at the moment. One, that I think is much-bigger than they expected. After the front office traded away what was once considered cornerstone pieces of this organization, one of those cornerstones was also the face of this franchise. It has caused frustration, distrust and near hatred among the fanbase towards the ownership of this team. What added fuel to the fire and was seen as more disingenuous, was seeing the Pirates Sign Felipe Rivero to a long term contract right after the Cutch deal was announced. You could see how they were desperately trying to spin this their way. And now, they have their lone leader remains on the team speaking out and asking for a trade.
One of the team most important players in the Pirates recent successful history, Josh Harrison is now calling out the Pirates and asking… no begging for a trade. Here is part of his statement.
Baseball is a business and I understand that trades are part of the business. While I love this game, the reality is that I just lost two of my closest friends in the game. Cole and Cutch were not just friends, they were the best pitcher and best position player on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, I am the most tenured member of the Pirates, I want to win, I want to contend, I want to win championships in 2018, 2019 and beyond.
“My passion for Pittsburgh, what it has MEANT to me, what it MEANS to me, can never be questioned. I love this city, I love the fans, I love my teammates. Saying that, the GM is on record as saying, ‘When we get back to postseason-caliber baseball, we would love our fans to come back out.’ If indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next, perhaps it would be better for all involved, that I also am traded. I want what is best for the organization that gave me a chance to be a Big Leaguer.” (Ken Rosenthal, The Athletic)
All this guy wants to do is play for an organization that wants to win. He is coming out and clearly questioning what the front office has done in recent days. He knows the Pirates are not trying to win right now. The fan base knows they do not want to win right now. Matter in fact, it’s clear they don’t want to win anytime soon.
Rumors have been swirling about Harrison being traded for over a week. I have a feeling he will be next and from all accounts, he should be. He clearly has no faith or trust in this Organization so why should the fan base trust what the front office has said.
The recent moves were going to be unpleasant to bare with regards to the fanbase and the media. But when you have one of the most popular players on this team coming out and questioning ownership and asking for a trade, it shows just how far off course this organization has gone.
So much so in fact that there is even a petition that is going around asking for the ownership group to sell the team. Now we all know that is not going to happen, but there are in fact over 15k names on the petition. Not bad when you consider it just started a day or so ago. And just one more example of why Front office has an uphill battle.
General Manager Neil Huntington came out and stated that he spoke to Josh Harrison and explained that they have put together a team that is set to compete in 2018. He told the fan base the same thing.
He and Bob Nutting, the principle owner stated that they “Agonized” over this decision. They agonized so much that they just could not wait to get rid of him. So much so that they traded him to the Giants for what can only be described as sub par return and they still are paying part of his salary to the Giants.
No one on the planet can characterize these trades as anything other than what they are. Salary Dumps. The return just was not high enough.
SI.com released a story calling out the organization yesterday. Claiming they wasted their opportunities and are ignoring the fanbase. That story is just one of many, including this one.
This Front Office has soiled the trust between themselves and the fans. So much so, I am not sure they come back from it. The only way they can come back is if they win quickly. And if you look at way they are constructed, I am not convinced this team can win enough quick enough. (Our next piece will look into that further)
So in the end, all the good will and all the making up the Pirates have done during their recent resurgence has been lost and basically forgotten.
Everyone in Pittsburgh is certainly aware that baseball is a business and the Pirates as long as Bob Nutting owns the team, will be run like one. I don’t blame him for not wanting to lose money. I get that. And we know he will never put out as much as he takes in. It will not happen. You don’t get to be the 10th richest owner in Major League Baseball by not being a good businessman.
Unfortuntely a good businessman is not what this fan base wants. Which means a Bob Nutting will continue to be the most hated owner in Pittsburgh and it’s not even close.