Bob Nutting haters. Go ahead. Call me an apologist for a front office that is commanding the worst run franchise in the last two decades. I constantly state that the Pirates care about winning and that they see a playoff run in the near future. Call me delusional for saying Bob Nutting is not trying to pocket the profits of a struggling franchise.

While you're at it, call me right.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have stated numerous times that they have an objective to build talent through the draft and create an atmosphere where they can win by building from within. I know, I know. We've heard it all before from the Cam Bonifay/David Littlefield era. The difference between this regime and its predecessors, these guys are doing it right. Whether or not Josh Bell, Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Luis Heredia carry this team to its first World Series since 1979, the front office has done their job in drafting and signing the players they are supposed to. While the development of these young talents has an incomplete grade, remember Greg Smith learned from the development staff in Cleveland during their stint of competitiveness in the mid 2000s. With the amount of draft picks they have signed (including all ten picks in the first ten rounds) this year, the Pirates are increasing their odds to hit on at least a few of those players down the road. When it came time to spend money in the most important phase of this franchise's current state, the Pirates wrote $17 million collective checks for draft spending, $5 million more than the previous record held by the Washington Nationals a year ago.

After this year's draft spending, the Pirates have spent more money than any team in baseball over the last four years in amateur players. At the same time, the current big league staff is playing at an encouraging level. The excitement of this season means an increase in attendance, an increase in ticket sales, and eventually more money to re-sign their rising stars; McCutchen, Walker, Alvarez, Tabata. Historically the Pirates have never been a team with an intimidating rotation. The additions of Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Luis Heredia and Stetson Allie set to change 125 years of Pirates baseball. The health of those pitchers seems to be promising as the team has only had one player require major arm surgery-Donnie Veal, a rule 5 pick- since the new scouting/development staff took over in 2008.

Are you still mad the Pirates wont spend on big money free agents? Good luck trying to acquire top free agent talent for a franchise that hasn't won since "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men was a #1 hit single. If anything, the $5 million required to sign Lyle Overbay in the winter is a big enough indicator on how hard it was for the Pirates to add a significant bat. Again, the only way this franchise is going to become competitive is through the amateur draft and international signings. Believe it or not, as much money as athletes command, they still want to compete for a winning team in October. The Pirates are not there yet.

I understand the frustration of seeing this franchise become the laughing stock of Major League Baseball year after year. But hitting the panic button on everything this group does is extreme. If Bob Nutting had been running the franchise since 1993, I would agree with your pessimism and angst. However, he's only owned this team for three years. Maybe Bob isn't the most popular guy because he didn't inherit a team that had won four Super Bowls in six years with people banging down the door to manage his franchise. And maybe he didn't win two Stanley Cups and keep the team in Pittsburgh-on three separate ocassions- long enough to land once in a generation type players.

For the record I'm not asking for you to build a golden shrine dedicated to his existence.

But the truth is, Nutting is a fan of his product and he wants to see them become successful. Since the Pirates have completely rejuvenated their farm system in hopes that it will payoff in the long run, rather than go half on the draft and half in free agency -I'm looking at you Jeromy Burnitz/Joe Randa signings-, maybe we should put our trust in someone who is facing the team in the right direction. After all, the Pirates have never had a system ranked in the top 10 by Baseball America since the talent rankings were first posted ten years ago. It would be a surprise if they didn't buck the trend heading into next year.

Have faith in this group. If they sell Andrew McCutchen off for a bag of baseballs, come back to this blog and I'll admit I was wrong. But don't count on that happening any time soon.

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