While one observer tips the Pirates to select a hurler “steeped in Pirates minor-league culture” (ie. Missouri righty Kyle Gibson) in the upcoming amateur draft, Pittsburgh GM Neil Huntington is in full-on damage control mode after last week’s controversial trade of All-Star OF Nate McClouth to Atlanta.

Calling the decision to trade McClouth for 3 prospects, “perhaps the most difficult one both personally and professionally that we have made to date,” Huntington sought to calm fans and perhaps his own clubhouse with an open letter, published yesterday at KDKA.com.

Andrew McCutchen (above) has proven that he is ready to take the next step and begin his career at the Major League level. Andrew has done what we have asked of him in Triple-A and showed he was ready for the challenges of the Major League level. Andrew is an intelligent, hard working player that has shown the present ability to play impact defense in centerfield. While we do not expect Andrew to replace Nate’s power production immediately, Andrew is an exciting top-of-the-order player who proved this spring that he can be an exciting part of a productive offense.

I understand why some people at first glance may believe this move was financially motivated, but I can assure you that this was strictly a baseball decision. In fact, our owner Bob Nutting was as surprised as some of our fans when we sought his approval for this trade. I am grateful that he has the faith in me, our baseball operations staff and the processes we have in place to approve a move like this, despite the risk of public backlash on him personally and the organization as a whole. Furthermore, I am appreciative that he continues to provide us with the resources necessary to build a championship caliber organization. Whether we sought to build our new facilities in Bradenton and the Dominican Republic, sign our young major league players to long-term deals, triple our amateur signing bonus budget in order to be aggressive in acquiring talent both domestically and internationally or significantly increase our scouting and development budgets, Bob was willing to provide the resources necessary to make these fundamental changes.