Neal Huntington: “We need above-average players”

An interview with Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington was published at Baseball Prospectus on Sunday. It is an interesting read that gives us a bit more insight into the team’s plans, both in the near and distant future. For some analysis, check out any of these posts. However, it was one simple quote at the end of the interview that interested me:

I feel we need above-average players across the board, and that’s what we’re working to put together in Pittsburgh.

It seems simple, right? If you want to win, acquire players who are superior to other players in the league. However, Dave Littlefield and company never seemed to understand this concept. They appeared determined to find an average player for each position, then sit back and relax. (Or maybe there were other factors involved?)
Here is a look at the Pirates’ 2007 stats, compared with the National League’s average stats for each position:
National League 2007 Average
C – .257/.318/.394
1B – .284/.365/.481
2B – .272/.341/.418
3B – .280/.348/.456
SS – .279/.337/.420
LF – .278/.358/.478
CF – .273/.336/.426
RF – .275/.344/.442
2007 Pirates
Ronny Paulino – .263/.314/.389
Adam LaRoche – .272/.345/.458
Freddy Sanchez – .304/.343/.442
Jose Bautista – .254/.339/.414
Jack Wilson – .296/.350/.440
Jason Bay – .247/.327/.418
Nate McLouth – .258/.351/.459
Xavier Nady – .278/.330/.476
As you can see, this was an unimpressive group last season. Sanchez, Wilson and McLouth were slightly above average for their position; the rest of the lineup was about average or far below. Of course, this is no astonishing revelation. If you are reading a Pirate blog in December, I assume you know that the Pirate offense has been mediocre at best. However, the problem has been that Littlefield was content with that. His plan, if you believe he had one, was to let this group play until they reached free agency. When that time came, he would figure something out. But two years down the road was much too far into the future to consider.
The Pirates are not going to pick up a superstar in free agency. Maybe they can draft and develop one (or maybe even more than one?). I hope they do. But they have a better chance of securing above average players at each position. Huntington has done a good job thus far of saying the right things. I remain cautiously optimistic that his actions will speak even louder.


3 Responses to “Neal Huntington: “We need above-average players””

  1. Eric SanInocencio Says:

    Development will be the guy for Huntingdon and his staff. The Pirates have lowballed the draft, and right now that lack of interest is hurting them at the major league level.
    Hopefully, the new ownership will take a strong interest in rebuilding from within. They have some movable parts (although I’d wait until Bay’s value is higher) than can start to bring in prospects to begin that process.
    You have Andrew McCutcheon, so the foundation is somewhat built. Add a healthy Brad Lincoln and Daniel Moskos (a huge reach at #4 last year) and things can get better with good front office decisions.

  2. Randy Linville Says:

    I here by declare Neal Huntington to be nicknamed MOTO for Master Of The Obvious.

  3. sludgeworm Says:

    So when Neal lays down an interview it would be Moto Mojo?

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