ShareThis Page

Bucs owner likes fiscal standing

Rob Biertempfel
| Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Owner Bob Nutting believes the Pirates are better now than they were a year ago and vowed the team's budget will be big enough to make them even better.

"We're in a great position right now," Nutting said Monday during a stop at spring training. "We are not handcuffed to where we have to make moves we don't want to make or we are unable to make moves we do want to make, purely because of financial reasons."

Payroll this season for the 40-man roster will be around $45 million, which will be among the lowest in the majors. The figure likely will go up, as many of the younger players, such as Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata, approach arbitration and free agency.

"As the players mature, we certainly believe we need to hold on to and sign some of these core players for a long term," Nutting said. "Those are important steps that will come as we move forward."

Nutting also said the Pirates, who have the first overall pick in the draft, will not be limited by monetary concerns. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, considered by some scouts as the best player available, will be advised by hard-line agent Scott Boras.

"We certainly will not be in a position where we select based on dollars or signability," Nutting said. "We're going to select for the greatest impact."

Nutting spoke to the players yesterday for about 15 minutes during a closed-door team meeting.

"The message this year was a change in level of expectation," Nutting said. "It's critically important that they understand that 2011 is not going to be a year where small bits of incremental progress are adequate. Until we win a National League championship, we're not going to be satisfied with incremental progress."

Nutting made it clear last year's 57-105 record was unacceptable but did not quantify what progress means for this year.

"Whether it's (winning) five more games or 20 more games, I don't think a number is critical," he said. "What's important is we have a clear goal and we remain focused (on it)."

The rewards for making progress are obvious: longer contracts, bigger salaries and such. But Nutting did not specify what the ramifications will be -- for the front office as well as the players and coaches -- if progress is not made.

"It's not the right time to start speculating on 'what if we fail,'" Nutting said. "I saw the story about (general manager Neal Huntington's) contract terms. That's not productive. That's not the right use of energy. That's not the right place for us to focus as an organization."

Huntington's contract expires after this season and no extension has been offered. Saturday, team president Frank Coonelly said Huntington's status will be evaluated during the year.

Photo Galleries

Pirates Spring Training 2011

Pirates Spring Training 2011

Images from Pirates spring training in Bradenton, Florida.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.