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Volume 24 No. 156
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Pirates Owner Nutting Wants To Win World Series With "Superior" Farm System

Pirates Chair Bob Nutting yesterday said that he wanted the franchise to attempt to win a championship "through a superior player-development system and cautioned against high-profile additions at the trade deadline that force the Pirates to part with the jewels of that system," according to Bill Brink of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Nutting said, "We could have patched pieces together for a short-term blip to pop us over .500. I'm glad we didn't do it because I think what we did was the responsible and correct things for the long term of the franchise." He added, "What I hope we don't do is mortgage the future to make it a very short term." Nutting: "We are absolutely maximizing where we can in the major league payroll because, fundamentally, we need to win in Pittsburgh" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/21). Nutting said, "The mindset is, we must take a step forward. We expect to win. ... I'm incredibly optimistic we're in a position to take another step forward." Nutting, noting the team has not had a winning season since '92, added, "At some point we're going to need to pass through 82 wins. When we do, I will celebrate." In Pittsburgh, Rob Biertempfel notes the Pirates will go into this season "with a payroll of about $74 million -- the largest in franchise history, although it still will be among the smallest in the majors." Nutting said, "We are not in a position where we've held back and kept a big reserve (of cash). That would be irresponsible" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 2/21).

NEW-LOOK HOME: Biertempfel noted 90-year-old McKechnie Field has undergone a $10M renovation as the Pirates "begin their 45th year" at the Spring Training facility. The "new-look field" was unveiled yesterday. By installing outfield seats "for the first time, capacity was boosted from 6,500 to 8,500." It is the "fourth-largest ballpark in the Grapefruit League." The centerpiece of the renovation is "a 19,000-square-foot boardwalk spanning the outfield." A new "agility drills area, a half-field and indoor batting cages were built behind the outfield." The team paid $3M "toward the stadium upgrade; the public contribution came via a tourist development tax." As part of the deal with the city of Bradenton, Fla., and Manatee County, the Pirates will "spend up to $400,000 annually to promote Bradenton via advertising in Pittsburgh" (TRIBLIVE.com, 2/20).