Kevin Creagh of Pirates Prospects recently interviewed Pirates team president Frank Coonelly, who spoke about a number of hot stove topics. Let's recap…
- If GM Neal Huntington wants to make a move that would cause the team to exceed its budget, whether it be a trade, free agent, draft signing, etc., Coonelly said "Neal and his staff will make a case for such a decision and I will then take that case to [owner] Bob Nutting. If Bob agrees that the case has been made and that exceeding the budget for the proposed signing will not hinder our ability to make the other investments that need to be made, he will approve the acquisition."
- Nutting and Coonelly will bring the fans' interest into the equation if a trade involves a popular player, such as Nate McLouth or Jason Bay.
- "We need to reduce the compensatory selections so that the second selection of the club drafting first in the country is not 58 or 60 instead of 31," said Coonelly, with regards to the draft pick compensation system. "Now, [the Rays] received those selections because it lost good players in free agency but it is difficult for the draft to serve its purpose when there are so many compensatory selections before the second round."
- The team would not be able to support a $70-80MM payroll right now, but they "will be able to support that payroll very soon if [their] fans believe that [they] now have a group of players in Pittsburgh and on its way here in the near future that is competitive."
- Nutting told Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that payroll is not dependent on attendance. "We're not artificially handicapped by extreme limitations on dollars, as we have been in the past," said the owner. "I don't see there being an artificial constraint as we move forward."
- Factors such as track record, health, makeup, and character go into the decision about whether or not to sign a player to a long-term deal. "We need to be convinced that we can count on the player over the long term and that requires trust in the player as a person and as a teammate," said Coonelly.
Coonelly also spoke about his day-to-day responsibilities, minority partners, and how he spends his free time.