Huntington: "I am ultimately accountable for everything."

Pirates GM speaks about the present and future of the organization.

Noah Hiles
July 08, 2018 - 6:20 pm

© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – Less than an hour before the first pitch was thrown in their Sunday afternoon game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington met with the media to speak about the current state of his ballclub and what the organization's future plans are with the trade deadline approaching at the end of the month. Having lost their last five contests, many were curious as to what the general manager had in store for the Pirates present and future. 

“I believe in our coaches and I believe in the message and the information that they are giving to our players but we are where we are; its real,” said Huntington. “We have had a 15 game spin in a relatively short period of time and we need to recognize that.”

With just over a week remaining before the all-star break, the once first place Pirates entered Sunday 12.5 games behind the National League Central division leading Milwaukee Brewers and were only 1.5 games ahead of the last place Cincinnati Reds. For Huntington, the recent struggles of the Pirates on the field begin with the mistakes made by himself and the rest of the front office.

“I am ultimately accountable for everything,” said Huntington. “Some of the moves that we have made haven’t worked the way we anticipated, but there is a we in this and we need to figure out a better way. Ultimately this is the club I put together and I am accountable for it. We’ve got to assess how we got to this point and more importantly assess how we get back to the post season.”

With the trade deadline on July 31 just over three weeks away, there has been a debate as to if the Pirates should look to add talent in order to make a run at the post season, or sell some valuable pieces on their current roster to create a deeper talent pool to use in the future.

When asked about the club's intentions at the deadline Huntington said, “We need to make up some ground in a short period of time and then we need to show that we can continue to do that. Otherwise, we get to a point in time where we start to take a realistic look at this club and look at the young players that we do like. There’s a good group of young players that are really interesting that we will continue to look to help get better and see how we can build around those players. We have guys that are on expiring contracts that would maybe make more sense to give their at bats and innings to guys that are young and that are learning.”

A word that the Pirates front office has been to reluctant to use in the past few off seasons has been, rebuild. While the team has been vocal about their intentions to win now, some have wondered if it would be better for them to attempt to start from scratch in order to become competitive again. For Huntington, those drastic measures are not necessary.

“The reason we have avoided (the term) rebuild is because it indicates that you are looking five years down the road,” said Huntington. “You’re looking multiple years down the road because you don’t have much talent in your system and you have veteran players nearing free agency. We’ve done the rebuild thing, that was 2008, 2009 and 2010. We restocked the farm system at that point in time and made some good free agent acquisitions. Our staff did a remarkable job having some guys turn corners and get back to what they were and we had some young players come into their own. We like this young group and we like the next young group coming behind them.   So, the reason we don’t use the word rebuild is because it is not five years from now.”