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Pirates GM Takes Blame For 2016, Sets Stage For Return To Playoffs In 2017

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) -- Pittsburgh Pirates General Manger Neal Huntington joined The Cook and Poni Show on Thursday to recap a season that ended earlier than planned.

This is the first time the Pirates have failed to make the playoffs in the past four years. So what went wrong?

Huntington says it all starts with the starting pitching.

"Our rotation did not do the things we believed it could do," Huntington said.

He also admits there were struggles on offense, most notably with Andrew McCutchen who had a down year. Injuries also played a role, losing Francisco Cervelli for a large portion of the season, along with Jung-Ho Kang and Starling Marte, who missed significant time.

But despite the setback this year, Huntington continues to see a bright future for the Pirates.

"What does feel good is you see the young players that we have coming back, you see the core we have coming back," Huntington said. "Hopefully, I have a better off-season than I had a year ago, and we will come in next year hungry and come in next year ready to compete and put ourselves in a position to win the division, or once again play meaningful baseball in September."

Huntington takes a big deal of the blame for off-season moves that did not work as well as he and his staff had planned.

He acknowledges that there has to be improvement with the rotation, but they are dealing with a very thin free agent market and a very "tight" budget.

He also adds that they will continue to make moves to make the club better, but will not be concerned with outspending the others in the division.

"We do what we can do to be as good as we can be and put ourselves in a position to play as strong, as consistent baseball as possible," Huntington said. "As soon as we start worrying or focusing on external or what our opponents are doing, we focus on the wrong things because we have to take care of our own business. Had we done that to a different degree this year, whether it was me in the off-season or during the season, than we would have had different results."

Listen to the full interview here, including Huntington's thoughts on the rotation, potential free agents and where the team needs the biggest upgrade:

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