Payroll increase and off-season plans, Coonelly answers fans questions
President Frank Coonelly took part in his monthly chat on Wednesday. Some of the topics were on the manager vacancy, payroll increase and off-season plans. You can read the entire chat here. These are a few of the questions I thought were interesting.
I support this rebuilding process and am excited for the team in 2012 and beyond. That said, without giving a canned answer, are you going to add enough payroll to support a better team in 2011? Can we hope for at least a $50M payroll?
Coonelly: “I appreciate your support of our plan to return the Pirates to a championship caliber club and your recognition that such a plan necessarily takes time.”
“Notwithstanding what was a very disappointing season in 2010, we have made meaningful progress in upgrading the talent in our organization and over the last two years have added several of the most exciting young players in the National League, including Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez.”
“Speaking candidly, I have said that we have the capacity to add meaningfully to our 2011 payroll if we are able to secure players who will help us win in Pittsburgh. We have the capacity to have a payroll over $50 million and we’ll add those payroll dollars if we are able to bring in players that can help us win.”
What do you plan on doing to help the pitching situation for next year, as it was clearly our biggest weakness?
Coonelly: “There is no question that we need to improve our pitching in 2011, particularly our starting rotation. We have identified the starting rotation as a priority this off-season and we’ll aggressively pursue adding at least one starting pitcher during the off-season, either through a free-agent signing or a trade. Of course, the free-agent market for starting pitchers is rather thin this off-season and thus there is no guarantee that we will be able to add a free-agent starter who will be able to impact our roster.”
“Part of the solution, therefore, must be getting better performances from pitchers like Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, and, possibly, Charlie Morton and/or Brad Lincoln. James McDonald pitched well for us following his acquisition. Ohlendorf was pitching very well prior to being shut down with shoulder soreness and Charlie Morton, who is currently pitching in winter ball, looked like he was beginning to figure some things out as the season closed.”
“These pitchers and any offseason acquisitions should be pushed hard by the young arms (Rudy Owens, Bryan Morris, Justin Wilson and Jeff Locke) who helped the Altoona Curve win the Eastern League championship this year. In summary, we must pitch far better in 2011 and I am confident that we will.”
How confident is the organization with Hanrahan or Meek as the closer in 2011? Or will you shop for a veteran closer again (like 2010 with Dotel) until you feel one is ready?
Coonelly: ”Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek both have shown that they have the tools necessary to be quality closers. As a result, we would be comfortable relying on Joel and/or Evan closing games for us in 2011. Having said that, we are looking to add to our bullpen and if we were able to add an experienced closer, we would certainly consider making such an addition to the back of our bullpen.”