Now that it appears Jack Wilson will play the 2009 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he says he wants to win -- and that the team needs more players to do that, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"The only thing I wish we could do was compete," Wilson said in a phone interview with the newspaper. "I wish we could go out and get some more players to make our team competitive. And, you know, now that this whole trade thing has probably blown over, that's going to be my new focus on the Internet: Instead of looking for my name and where I might go, hopefully, we might get some players. Because we need them."
Wilson, the team's longest-tenured player, has been the subject of trade rumors during the offseason. But now that he's likely to return, he wants to see the Pirates, who dealt away Xavier Nady and Jason Bay last season, bring in players who can help him end the team's string of 17 straight losing seasons, according to the report.
The Pirates' most notable offseason move has been the signing of free-agent utility infielder Ramon Vazquez.
"I wanted to make sure that, if I was giving up a couple years of free agency, I had a chance of competing. That's one of the main things that went into my signing that piece of paper, that we'd compete," Wilson said, according to the Post-Gazette. "Since I signed that, that hasn't happened. We've lost key players who were going to be part of that team they were talking about. They are now gone."
Wilson also referenced the mantra of "accountability," oft-cited by team president Frank Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington, the Post-Gazette reported.
"The biggest thing stressed over the past year was accountability," Wilson said, according to the report. "That includes everybody in the organization, as far as having accountability for themselves and in wanting to win. It's not just the players."
"Look, we've got to do whatever we have to do to try to find a way to compete," he said, according to the report. "I know that there are 25 players right now who would love to compete at this level for the Pittsburgh Pirates. There are eight core players who are dying to compete. There are thousands and thousands of fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates who are dying to compete. And we all need to be accountable for that."
Coonelly, responding to Wilson's comments by e-mail, agreed that the entire organization must be accountable as it tries to turn its fortunes around, according to the report. But he also noted that last season's World Series teams -- the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays -- were built largely on smart drafting and player development. Under previous management, the Pirates' efforts in those areas was widely deemed inadequate.
As for the trades that sent away Bay and Nady, Coonelly noted that the 2007 World Series champion Boston Red Sox had only seven players left over from the team that won it all in 2004, according to the report.
"Instead of worrying about who is and who is not here, we all need to figure out how we can win with the 25 players who report to Bradenton this spring," Coonelly said, the Post-Gazette reported.