June 6, 2009
Dear Pirates Fan,
On the heels of this Wednesday's trade with the Atlanta Braves, I felt it was important that you hear directly from me as to why this move brings us closer to our goal of building a consistent championship organization and providing you a team of which you will be proud.
Obviously this was a very difficult decision as Nate is a quality player and person. We knew this move was not going to be popular in the clubhouse with our players or among our fan base who have suffered through a long stretch of losing seasons. Despite recognizing the probable unpopularity of this trade, we believed it to be the right step for our organization and made a sound baseball decision.
The quality and quantity of the players we received in this trade was the crucial component to this trade. We are excited about the three young players we received. We have been interested in and closely monitored all three of these players for some time as they are highly regarded by us and by most within the industry.
Charlie Morton is a power right-handed starting pitcher with upside, who should be ready to help us this year in Pittsburgh. In fact, in his first outing for our Triple-A affiliate, he tossed seven scoreless innings, giving up only four hits while striking out seven. Jeff Locke is an intriguing young left handed starter with the frame, athleticism and stuff to become a quality major league starting pitcher. Gorkys Hernandez is a dynamic athlete who has the speed and potential to become an above average everyday major league outfielder. It is worth noting that these three players were rumored to be sought by the Padres when they were talking to the Braves about trading former Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy.
Additionally, Andrew McCutchen has proven that he is ready to take the next step and begin his career at the Major League level. Andrew has done what we have asked of him in Triple-A and showed he was ready for the challenges of the Major League level. Andrew is an intelligent, hard working player that has shown the present ability to play impact defense in centerfield. While we do not expect Andrew to replace Nate's power production immediately, Andrew is an exciting top-of-the-order player who proved this spring that he can be an exciting part of a productive offense.
Ultimately, to become a championship team we need more championship caliber players at all levels. As difficult as these types of trades are to make, they are an important part of the talent acquisition and development process that will position us to be a consistent championship caliber organization sooner rather than later.
I understand why some people at first glance may believe this move was financially motivated, but I can assure you that this was strictly a baseball decision. In fact, our owner Bob Nutting was as surprised as some of our fans when we sought his approval for this trade. I am grateful that he has the faith in me, our baseball operations staff and the processes we have in place to approve a move like this, despite the risk of public backlash on him personally and the organization as a whole. Furthermore, I am appreciative that he continues to provide us with the resources necessary to build a championship caliber organization. Whether we sought to build our new facilities in Bradenton and the Dominican Republic, sign our young major league players to long-term deals, triple our amateur signing bonus budget in order to be aggressive in acquiring talent both domestically and internationally or significantly increase our scouting and development budgets, Bob was willing to provide the resources necessary to make these fundamental changes.
We have said several times that tough decisions will need to be made as we build and sustain a championship caliber organization. The decision to trade Nate was perhaps the most difficult one both personally and professionally that we have made to date. Tough decisions are not always popular. However, we have a singular focus on our goal of building an organization that can consistently compete for championships, not simply finish above .500. The organizational talent level has been vastly improved during the past two years and, as a result, we are a much stronger organization and closer to our ultimate goal.
Your understanding of the situation is greatly appreciated by all of us in the organization. Your passion for this team is the driving force behind our motivation to bring winning baseball back to you, the fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Senior Vice President and General Manager