Pittsburgh Pirates: Bucs fans say “Bring us the Head of Bob Nutting!”

There is perhaps no dirtier word in sports than ownership and no dirtier name in Pittsburgh than Bob Nutting.

Nutting, who took full control of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007, has done little during his tenure to ingratiate himself with fans.

On a recent episode of the ‘Talk the Plank’ podcast, hosts Jake and Connor spent some time getting into the weeds. They listed out issues that might affect the Pirates going into 2024. Catcher Endy Rodriguez, now injured and out for the season, having played Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic, the struggle to develop and maintain young talent, the years of losing records. As the list grew, and in a moment of frustration, they rounded on Bob Nutting,

“This guy just refuses to commit, refuses to take risks and they’ve been bad for so long.. The fanbase wants his head!”

This will not be news to Nutting. Fans have voiced their displeasure with him for years. In 2022, posing for a photo beside the Bucs owner, one fan used his shirt to send the message home. It read simply:  “Sell the Team”.

Sadly, for frustrated Bucs fans, there was no Damascus moment. Nutting seemed annoyed but not all that embarrassed. He grinned and shrugged it off. Still, it was chalked up as a victory.

Pirates fans aren’t demanding a World Series tomorrow or that the front office blows past the luxury tax; they just want to see a half-decent team take the field and compete.

“See you in the World Series!” Bob Nutting with Andrew McCutchen. Credit: Joe Sargent / Stringer via Getty images

But the problems in Pittsburgh run deeper than a billionaire owner who is unwilling to spend. When it comes to the question of cash flow, it is the how and why of Nutting’s decisions that seem to be a bigger concern.

Nearly 10 years ago, the club spent $8 million on new training facilities. According to the Athletic, Nutting insisted the money be taken from the payroll budget, effectively undermining the roster. On his watch, high value prospects have been traded away with little gained in return and hitting coaches were hired only to find players secretly seeking out alternative advice. It is no surprise then, that his judgement might be called into question.

Still, despite all this, and having not made the playoffs since 2015 or seen a winning record for five seasons, Nutting insists that the Pirates enter the 2024 season wanting to compete.

Veterans Andrew McCutchen and Aroldis Chapman will sit at the core of the Pirates roster this year. Cutch returning in 2024 on a one-year $5 million contract. Chapman was acquired in the offseason on a one-year contract worth $10 million. Outfielder Bryan Reynolds is a mainstay, but it may be players such as shortstop Oneil Cruz and third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, now a gold glover, who have the flare and talent to drive the Bucs forward. Providing they can stay healthy.

Whenever I sit down to watch Ke’Bryan Hayes highlights, I end up thinking, “the Pirates could go all the way!” But then I remember, it’s the Pirates.

The Pirates won 14 more games in 2023 than in the previous season and are predicted to do about as well this year.

Although there have been recent reports of injuries to pitchers David Bednar and Dauri Moreta, Spring Training has seen flashes of talent from players including pitcher Wei-Chieh Huang, second baseman Termarr Johnson, and Jared Triolo.

Triolo was brought up to replace the injured Hayes last season but is experienced at shortstop, second base, and third base.

This might be just enough to convince fans that the Pirates are sailing in the right direction, but all the while Bob Nutting is at the helm, a sense of uncertainty will remain.

Featured image credit: Jared Wickerham via Getty Images. 

Tom Baker is one of the new writers who joined the Bat Flips & Nerds team in 2024. Check out his other articles and follow him on Twitter @TomBaker1981

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