The way I see it, and the way I expressed it to both Bob Nutting and Travis Williams on this extraordinary Monday inside 115 Federal, there are two distinct, highly divergent paths they can take toward turning the Pirates into contenders:
1. Rebuild. 2. Spend big on starting pitching.
Yeah, we talked a little baseball. Imagine that. I'll bet there was a whole bunch of that sort of thing happening all over the city for the first time in far too long. And with it, a little relief. Maybe even a little belief.
Fun, isn't it?
Breathe, Pittsburgh. The baseball club isn't anywhere near all the way back, but it's a lot closer than it's been in far, far too long.
As Nutting himself told me on the day he made known his firing of Neal Huntington, "Today is an enormous step forward down that path." He instantly added, "And we're not there yet," but he was nonetheless right on both points. Nothing was going to change until there was real change, and this was the vital beginning.
Anyway, Nutting and Williams met with our staff -- Alex Stumpf, Matt Sunday and me -- in one of several segmented media sessions inside 115 Federal. Jim Lachimia, a longtime independent features writer was in the room with us. This is the full transcript. It lasted nearly an hour, and it felt as candid and refreshing as any experience I've had with anyone at any level of the Pirates in years.
My focus was primarily on the future, on the next step. That wasn't going to be an easy egg to crack, given that there's no GM, no manager, no pitching coach and, thus, virtually no chance that anyone had ginned up a serious baseball philosophy. At the same time, it felt like the most pertinent thing all concerned will need to address over the coming offseason, beyond finding the right people to execute it.
So I tried. I mentioned to Nutting that it struck me that there were really two routes he could take and that each, in its own way, would require some boldness. He'd get annihilated for a rebuild of any length. On the other, he'd have to really push payroll beyond his previous comfort level. And I added that sitting in the middle was generally nowhere-ville in baseball.
"I think that final comment is maybe the most helpful," Nutting began. "Whether it’s a middle path of trying to bring in players who are pretty good ... "