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The Pirates are just going to have to win in spite of their owner

After reading and digesting last week’s article in The Athletic that detailed Bob Nutting’s cheapness, let’s just say I have a whole new perspective on the Pirates’ long-time owner and his willingness to do what it takes to win.

Nutting is never going to do everything it takes to win. Does that mean he wants to lose? I’m sure it doesn’t mean that at all. Who doesn’t want to win? If the Pirates win, Nutting makes more money. But he’s also making a lot of money now and will continue to do so no matter where his team finishes in the standings.

That’s just how Major League Baseball’s system is set up. Where’s the motivation to win for owners of small-market franchises? Where’s the desire?

Unlike in the classic baseball movie, Major League, where the Indians’ owner was motivated to field the worst possible team so she could relocate to Miami, Nutting is just rolling with the system. If the Pirates win, great! If they lose, he’ll feign disgust while talking to the media, but there is certainly no urgency to do anything from a financial standpoint.

The Pirates will remain in Pittsburgh, regardless, and Nutting will continue to make money.

Having said all of that, the Pirates actually do have a good, young team at the moment. It does appear that they are close to prying open a window that will allow them to succeed for a few years. Unlike those mythical Indians, the Buccos have been built up thanks to general manager Ben Cherrington doing the only thing small-market executives can do to try and win: Tear the whole thing down and then rebuild.

The rebuilding is just about complete. The Pirates have lots of potential stars. They have a talented offensive lineup. Their starting pitching is a little suspect, but that could all change once Paul Skenes, the number one overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, arrives in the big leagues at some point in the 2024 campaign. He’ll join Mitch Keller, the Pirates current ace who just inked a five-year, $77 million extension.

Some say Keller’s deal was a public relations move to quell the universal criticism that was the result of the Nutting story. Some say it was just a coincidence.

No matter how you slice it, Keller is a good dude who has overcome a lot to get to this lucrative point in his career.

That’s really the heart of this story, you know? The Pirates have a team full of good dudes. They’re easy to cheer for, which is in direct contrast to the owner.

It’s like that aforementioned movie. Nutting isn’t exactly Rachel Phelps, but he doesn’t seem above forcing his team to take a charter bus to Milwaukee.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to continue to cheer for these Pirates. Why? Because there isn’t anything Nutting can do to prevent them from winning at the moment. If Oneil Cruz blossoms into a top-five player in baseball, the next few years could be a run ride. If Skenes develops into a true ace, the Pirates are going to be hard to beat.

If Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes can just stay consistent, man, it’s going to be fun.

If Aroldis Chapman joins David Bednar as the second part of a deadly 1-2 punch in the bullpen? Man, I can’t wait to hear what the new nickname will be.

No, Nutting probably won’t do much to supplement a young, talented Pirates team and make it even better, and he’ll surely tear it down pretty quickly once the window slams shut, but there isn’t anything he can really do to a roster that’s ready to hatch into a winner.

Nor does he want to.

It’s easy money.

It doesn’t mean Nutting doesn’t suck, but just because he sucks, that doesn’t mean we have to cheer against the Pirates.

Instead, let’s see what they do once the window opens.

To quote Jake Taylor, maybe they’ll even win the whole bleeping thing.


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