Huntington may trade himself for right price
By Eric Heyl
Published: Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009
This sports update brought to you by the Exaggerated Press:
PITTSBURGH — Having purged virtually every recognizable name from the Pirates' major league roster, Neal Huntington wasn't done dealing.
The Bucs' general manager today pulled the trigger on a trade involving a veteran Pirates employee.
Curtis "Beef" Wellington, the longest-tenured member of PNC Park's janitorial staff, was dealt to the Washington Nationals. In return, the Pirates received Burt Silva, the janitor for the Syracuse Chiefs, the Nationals' Class AAA affiliate.
"We'd like to thank Beef for his years of service to the Pirates," Huntington said at a news conference. "But Silva is younger, already vacuums like a veteran, is good with the broom and doesn't go overboard on the Glass Plus. He has a lot of upside."
Asked why he would jettison someone who doesn't play for the Pirates, Huntington said, "If we're going to become a championship-caliber team, we need to acquire depth and talent at all levels of the organization."
He denied his dizzying series of recent personnel moves was an attempt to distract from the fact the Pirates are on the cusp of their 17th consecutive losing season. That would be a professional sports record for futility.
The team's incredible ineptitude flies in the face of assurances the Pirates made more than a decade ago that the team would be competitive once taxpayers picked up most of the cost of PNC Park.
Huntington also denied he has an addiction to deal-making, saying, "I can quit whenever I want."
But the Wellington deal follows Friday's unprecedented trade in which Huntington swapped two veteran Toronto Blue Jays to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for four minor leaguers.
The remarkable deal was the first time in Major League Baseball history that a trade between two teams was negotiated by the general manager of a third, entirely uninvolved team.
"I don't consider it a bold move as much as I consider it one that helps both clubs," Huntington said. "The Jays received some prospects we believe can help them down the line, while the Dodgers picked up some experienced guys who should immediately make them better."
Asked why he would broker a deal involving two other teams, Huntington momentarily grew defensive.
"Look, we're a small-market club that can't buy our way out of our self-created messes like the New York Yankees," he said. "We have to be innovative in our approach."
Huntington refused to confirm ESPN reports that he is actively involved in talks that would bring the Bucs the Milwaukee Brewers' assistant general manager and several young scouts in exchange for Huntington.
But ESPN's Jayson Stark said fans shouldn't be surprised if Huntington deals himself for prospects.
"Having been with the Pirates for nearly two years, Neal now is a veteran presence," he said. "He certainly fits the profile of the people he typically moves."
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