PITTSBURGH (AP) — The new president of the Pittsburgh Pirates is confident owner Bob Nutting is committed to winning.
Travis Williams, who succeeds Frank Coonelly on Nov. 1, says his job is to put the right people in place to help the Pirates climb back into contention. His first order of business will be finding a general manager after the team dismissed Neal Huntington.
Williams’ relationship with Nutting began more than a decade ago, when he was the team’s outside legal counsel.
“I pay attention to what the commitment and the passion is,” Williams said.
Williams believes that if Nutting was focused on the status quo, he wouldn’t have ordered an overhaul of the management structure following a last-place finish in the NL Central. Manager Clint Hurdle and Huntington had two years left on their deals. Coonelly had been a front-office fixture since 2007. All three were highly respected by Nutting for steering the franchise out of 20 years of losing to three straight playoff appearances from 2013-15.
Yet after a second-half collapse resulted in a 93-loss season, Nutting parted with all three, the last act coming Monday when Huntington was fired29 days after Hurdle was let go and less than a week removed from Coonelly’s departure .
The easier and more fiscally prudent path might have been giving Coonelly, Hurdle and Huntington at least another year to see if they could figure out it out. Instead, Nutting cleaned house and tasked Williams with charting a new course.
“I know it really eats at Bob and really frustrated him how the season turned out,” Williams said. “I know he wants to make a fundamental change. With that commitment and his support, I know we can make it happen.”
It’s the how that will be tricky. Williams spent 10 years in the front office with the NHL’s…