Pittsburgh Pirates' Open Letter: Fans, 'Be Patient' with Neal Huntington

David Gaston@@Dave_GastonContributor IIIJuly 22, 2011

Dear Pittsburgh Pirates Fans,

It's been a great year, hasn't it? The Bucs have been hovering around first place for a while now. The whole city is rejuvenated. Baseball is meaningful again. Things are looking pretty good from the crow's nest.

How 'bout that pitching staff? Kevin Correia has 11 wins. Jeff Karstens has a 2.28 ERA. Paul Maholm, James McDonald, and Charlie Morton—you're getting bushels of quality starts.

And let's not forget 'The Hammer,' Joel Hanrahan, about as dependable as they come as a closer. Yes, that pitching staff (with kudos to pitching coach Ray Searage) is now sixth best in the Major Leagues and lighting up the N.L. leader boards.

Anybody see that coming at the beginning of the year? I thought not!

Lots of speed this season. Stealing bases and stretching them, too. Defense looks pretty sharp as well.

And, hey, with all of those injuries going on—didn't all of those kids step in and make you proud? That Alex Presley kid is a keeper in the outfield. What a job catcher Mike McKenry has done behind the plate.

And those bats. Ahem. Yes... those... bats.

There seems to be a little concern there.

I know you're feeling it. Heck, I am too.

There are a lot of guys' averages on this team hovering dangerously close to the 'Khalifa' line.

Not Wiz Khalifa, the Pittsburgh rapper who is up for an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist.

I'm talking Sammy Khalifa, the former Pirates shortstop who had a .219 lifetime batting average.

The good news is that the Pirates are out-hitting the Rays, Giants, and Braves. The bad news is that the Pirates' team batting average of .245 is 23rd in the majors.

Room for improvement, don't you agree?

Lots of you want to see Carlos Beltran or Hunter Pence in a Pirates uniform. And you want it NOW.

The problem is the cost.

It's not about the cost in money. It's about the cost of mortgaging the future for the present. For some of you, the future IS now. To that, I say...

"Be patient."

GM Neal Huntington has done a splendid job assembling this coaching staff. And this pitching staff. And this speed. And this defense.

And Neil has been very deliberate in making moves to insure that the Pirates will be competitive for years to come. Why should the acquisition of any bats be any different?

I still squirm a little inside when I implore "Trust Neal."

But you have to tip your hat to Huntington for insisting on getting it right.

The cavalry of improved offense begins to arrive in the very near future, as Ronnie Cedeno, Ryan Doumit, Steve Pearce, and Jason Jaramillo all rejoin the team from injuries. Pedro Alvarez is regaining his swagger on assignment in Triple-A.

One bad multi-player trade could send the Bucs straight back to 1997 and a baseball sequel of "Groundhog Day."

So... be patient.

Savor the pitching. Marvel at the speed and defense.Take heart in the fact that there are young men in the system who can capably hold down the fort when injuries decimate the lineup.

Neal Huntington has earned your trust, PBC Nation.

The best is yet to come...

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