I think we’re all painfully aware of just how critical the Pirates’ hiring of a new chief executive is to the long-term well-being of the franchise. The results of the next decade of seasons could very well be directly tied to this one front office move. Pick the wrong guy to steer the ship and a perennial loser is indefinitely shipwrecked.
In a yet to be released interview for Sports Weekly, I chimed in with my $.02 on the issue:
SW: If you bought [the Pirates], who would you fire first?
CH: Ed Creech, the Pirates’ scouting director: We haven’t had a solid draft in the entirety of Dave Littlefield’s reign as general manager, and the farm system is hurting as a result. But Brian Graham, director of player development, and Littlefield himself would be able to join Creech on the first plane out of town.
SW: Since you probably can’t buy the team, who should?
CH: I’m not convinced that we need new ownership just yet. Bob Nutting, who became the public face of the team within the past year, hasn’t made any horrible decisions. As long as he hires a legitimate “baseball man” to serve as the Pirates’ new chief executive—as he said he is the plan—I’m willing to give him a little rope.
The popular answer to this question would be Pittsburgh native Mark Cuban, but I’m not sure the Pirates would be able to support a free-spending owner. Nutting’s every move is calculated, and if he surrounds himself with the right people, he could be the right man for this team. You don’t need a $100 million payroll to put together a contender.
Notice how I don’t name names—nor have I even broached the subject in any depth on this blog. Who’s the right man for the job? I haven’t a clue. I’ve done my fair share of research as headlines are made, but I won’t claim to have a thorough enough knowledge of baseball’s inner workings to pick one candidate out of what must be a stack of dozens of legitimate resumes.
Recently, John Perrotto wrote in the Beaver County Times that he supported Pittsburgher Tony LaCava—currently Toronto’s director of player personnel—in the political race for the Pirates’ front office vacancy.
Two days beforehand, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Paul Meyer discussed Nutting’s process for the search. Previously the P-G had also mentioned Dan Duquette as a CEO possibility.
This much is known:
- “I would be surprised if baseball people don’t [recognize the name of] the final successful candidate,” Nutting said.
- “What I’ve learned and decided is, we want to have a single person who will be an overall team president with full responsibility for the club,” Nutting said.
Past that, we’re in the dark. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we stay that way until Nutting makes his decision. Once he does, I’ll pay him his due—that is, so long as he chooses an individual who possesses the skill—and is given the authority—to productively hire and fire at will.
If you’re interested in reading a little more about what my Pirate blog colleagues have to say about the potential candidates, check out this handful of links. I think I’m going to stay out of what’s turning into a soap opera:
- The Case for Dan Duquette [Bucs Dugout diary by Vlad]
- Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid, Bob [Only Bucs post by WTM]
- Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid Bob, Part Two
- In Re: Miller’s Kool-Aid Essay [Bucco Blog]
- Bucco Blog Endorses Tony LaCava for Pittsburgh Pirates CEO/President
- LaCava [Honest Wagner for LaCava]
- Let’s talk CEO [WHYGAVS against LaCava]
- Pat Lackey’s Let’s talk CEO Post [Bucco Blog disagrees with WHYGAVS]
I’ll say this much: Any executive with a baseball background will be a serious upgrade over our current operation. With much respect for McClatchy’s business savvy, it’s of unspeakable importance that Nutting chooses to bring aboard someone who knows how the game works.
Duquette, LaCava, Walt Jocketty: I imagine I’d be satisfied with anyone along those lines, though I don’t doubt there’s an appreciable difference even between the baseball candidates. But as long as we don’t have a newspaperman trying to learn the sporting world on the fly—or acting as another schill in an effort to make a quick buck—I’ll consider the hiring to be a step in a positive direction.
After that, we can start to talk about the futures of Dave Littlefield and Jim Tracy…