Over the last three years, this organization has had to make some very difficult decisions to get our house in order. We've done so, and because of hard work and perseverance, the Pirates are now in a much better baseball and financial position than we have been for years.
Dave Littlefield accepted the challenge of improving our minor league system and producing players from that system for the major league team. We have seen the results of those efforts as we've brought young, talented players like Zach Duke, Chris Duffy, Ryan Doumit, Brad Eldred, Paul Maholm, Nate McLouth, Ian Snell, Jose Bautista and Tom Gorzelanny to the major league club. They join a solid nucleus of players who continue to improve like All-Star Jason Bay, Jack Wilson, Jose Castillo, Humberto Cota, Oliver Perez, Mike Gonzalez, Salomon Torres and others. By far, this is the best group we have had in years, and there are still other talented, young players waiting to join us.
Now we need to hire the best manager possible to ensure that this group of players continues to grow and develop. Just as important, because of the tough decisions we've made over the past several years, we have the flexibility to grow our payroll next season by more than 30% from where we are today to the upper $40 million range. With these increased financial resources, Dave can obtain additional players that will complement our roster and help us to win.
We are very optimistic about 2006 and beyond, and we would not be in this position without the loyal support of you, the Pittsburgh Pirates fans. Thank you, again, for coming to PNC Park "the Best Ballpark in America" this summer. We look forward to a very busy and productive offseason.
CEO & Managing General Partner