PITTSBURGH -- Management touted some lofty expectations heading into 2010, throwing out the word "playoffs" back in January and telling fans that they should expect on-field improvement this year.
Entering play Thursday with 65 games completed, the Pirates were a National League-worst 19 games under .500 and mired in a 10-game losing skid. The team has eight fewer wins than it did at this point last season, which ended with 99 losses.
Cognizant of the expectation level he set earlier this year, Pirates president Frank Coonelly expressed his frustrations with how the season has played out to this point.
"The level of disappointment is so high I can't accurately give you a word for it," Coonelly said. "I'm extraordinarily disappointed and frustrated by the play. We certainly knew we had challenges this year, but we were excited to attack those. More important, we do believe we can turn it around. While the play on the field at the Major League level has been very disappointing, we've had real growth and development from players we expected and hope will be the core of the franchise. They're all here now. We see them as being part of the core that turns this franchise around."
While meeting with reporters on Thursday, Coonelly answered questions on a variety of other topics as well.
-- On the decision to acquire second baseman Aki Iwamura, who was designated for assignment on Wednesday, for a $4.85 million price tag this offseason: "Ultimately I take final responsibility. Not only did I hire [general manager] Neal [Huntington], but Neal consults with me on trades and so ultimately I take all responsibility. ... It was a decision to fill a need, and if we are going to ask our general manager that you cannot sign any player or acquire any player via trade who you are not 100 percent sure is going to meet or exceed expectations based on past performance, then we're going to have a general manager that does nothing."
-- On who made the final call to promote Pedro Alvarez on Wednesday: "It was Neal consulting with [farm director] Kyle Stark. It wasn't made because we were struggling on the field in the Majors. It's a decision they'd been contemplating for at least a week. ... It was not from me. It did not come from above."
-- On public criticism that a number of recent trades haven't produced ample return: "Not all of them have worked out as we'd hoped. That's the case anytime you make trades. The one thing that is missed in the analysis of the success or lack of success of the trades is the assets we had to trade. I believe the assets we had to trade were not nearly as valued in the industry as they were valued here in Pittsburgh."