19June2011. The Neal Huntington Show notes from today.
[As always, this is recapped as quickly and briefly as possible. If you have questions send them to us on Twitter.]
Greg told Neal Happy Father’s Day. Neal brought out the importance of baseball. He talked about baseball
Greg Brown: The tweet question of the week was from @truez: If the Pirates are close to the wild card spot at the All Star Break, will you make a move to improve the team?
Neal Huntington: That’s the stiuation we are looking to be in. It’s why we look to fill up the minors. (A few lengthy sentences) The next big part of the farm system is to have depth to trade.
We always have to balance short term and long term.
The ultimate answer is yes. We look forward to the situation where we are trading prospects for an established major league player.
GB: Do you think you will have to go externally to boost offense?
NH: Easiest way is to do it internally. Is it reflective of what we will see over next three months? Alex Presley is doing nice job. Chase d’Arnaud is coming on strong. It’s hard to make trades in June. Since opening day we’ve been scouting other players on teams around the majors.
There is a good chance we will be both buyers and sellers this year at the deadline.
GB: Dejan brings up interesting points on front office being offensive in his article today (link to it below.) Because job team has done how important is that factor or is it important at all. Players deserve it?
NH: No question. Positive signs. Lots of credit to Clint and our staff. (Discussed all the missing pieces) We would love to add to it. We can’t react emotionally. It’s a matter of how much we stretch.
Teams that panic are teams that make it difficult to sustain.
I agree they deserve it. The practicallity isn’t realistic. It’s important to remember it takes two to tango.
There are fewer sellers right now and it drives up asking price.
GB: (He set up scenarios for the Pirates being six back, three back, etc)
NH: It’s a grey area. Some of the injured players aren’t back next week. We can’t rob Peter to pay Paul.
GB: At some point, Paul Maholm …..would you be in favor keeping him here long term?
NH: Paul has done solid job. We anticipated it. We thought he would bounce back. Paul needs more run support. It would have got him a few more wins, got the team a few more wins.
We are open to a lot of things, but it has to be rational. A year ago, people weren’t clamoring for it.
We will kick it around internally..
GB: Pedro Alvarez progressing?
NH: Pedro is making solid progress. It is day-to-day. He is doing athletic activities. Closer to game action. We are going to have to see where his timing is , where his confidence is.
We need him back when he is ready not because we NEED a bat.
His injury never fully healed. It’s why we pulled plug. Let’s get it back to where it’s a healthy muscle.
GB: Pedro’s conditioning?
NH: He has to have the discipline that he isn’t burning as many calories. He has done a nice job. He isn’t too far away from where he needs to be.
GB: Steve Pearce?
NH: ..like we learned from Jack Wilson. (Yankees Jeter also discussed-similar injury) It takes time. He tried to play through it. He is a ways away. (Deep sigh from Huntington after that sentence)
GB: Ryan Doumit?
NH: Doumit has healed quickly. We are still looking mid late next month, maybe August.
GB: Mike Crotta?
NH: Michael Crotta is coming back strong. He might go to Indianapolis.
GB: What’s it like to come back to Cleveland in the enemy camp?
NH: It’s very different. To walk in as true visitor was different experience. A lot of turnover in this organization. It’s par for the course.
We are all a collection of our experience. I learned a ton of what to do from Indians…. Expos.
[ Talked about his scouting experience and drawing on Bill L and Chuck T. ]
Mark and Chris are close and personal friends of mine. It has made it difficult for us to make a deal (with the Indians.) We give it a shot every time, but agree to disagree. But I never stop trying.
NH: I haven’t spent a ton of time on it. It would be awfully tough to be in the AL East. More teams making playoffs would be fascinating. We are open to it. Would love to see some more ideas. A lot of them have holes and drawbacks.
GB: National League or American League?
NH: I grew up in NL with Expos, spent AL with Indians. I love sixth through ninth in the NL. But I hate one through five in the NL. The late innings in the NL are great because of the moves. The National League games…late in the game are fun.
GB: Speed score from FanGraphs was discussed as
NH: Flaws in it ability to take the game situation into it. It’s an attempt to quantify speed on the bases. Average is five.
Tabata is five. Cutch is five.five. Walker is four.
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Remember when Joe Sheehan wrote this in his newsletter around Christmas time? With the Pirates sitting at .500 today, are you rethinking the Matt Diaz contract now? Lyle Overbay’s?
It looks like Sheehan nailed most of it, the conspiracy is
Joe Sheehan Stirs The Pittsburgh Pirates Minimum Payroll Conspiracy Plot
Joe Sheehan has a very solid newsletter. But today, I nearly fell out of my chair when I read it. He always has an interesting take on subjects and today was no different. He takes a look at the Pirates offseason thus far.
I think the Pirates’ spate of signings this month, bringing in Lyle Overbay, Matt Diaz and Scott Olsen, is entirely about getting the payroll to some unstated minimum to keep the MLBPA off their backs. I have absolutely no proof of this, but the other possibility — that the Pirates think paying Lyle Overbay five million dollars to play baseball for them is a productive use of their time and money — is too ridiculous to consider. It can’t be about trying to win to get people energized, because Lyle Overbay doesn’t change your fortunes in that regard.
Overbay would be a bad signing for a good team desperate for a left-handed-hitting first baseman to complete their roster. Since turning 30, Overbay has hit .255/.344/.427 with about 15 homers a year and a 420/242 K/BB. He hasn’t hit more than .270 in that time. His strikeout rate and K/BB went kablooey last year, an awful sign for a middling 33-year-old. He has a good defensive reputation and the numbers match that. This signing is a near-perfect re-creation of the Doug Mientkiewicz signing from two years ago. Same type of player, same age, same likelihood of having any impact at all on the fortunes of this franchise.
I have no idea if Steven Pearce can play, but wouldn’t 2011 be a decent time to find out by giving him 500 at-bats? The Pirates appear to have given up on Ryan Doumit as a catcher. Play him at first base and see if he can hit enough to get back his trade value. Hell, leave the position open for when you finally realize that both Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez are playing out of position and you need to shuffle the infield. Do anything, but don’t sign Lyle Overbay. It’s not a sign you’re trying to win; it’s sign you don’t really know how.
The same thing applies to Matt Diaz. Diaz is a useful fourth outfielder on a team that lists to the left a bit and can get Diaz off the field in the seventh inning with a lead. He’s also not someone whose services need to be guaranteed past the next payday. Giving him two years commits a 40-man roster spot to someone who, coming off a .302 OBP, really should be an NRI. The Pirates non-tendered Lastings Milledge and signed Matt Diaz, and that sequence makes about as much sense as what the Cards did at shortstop. I’m telling you, it has to be about the money: the two signings boosted the 2011 payroll by 20%!
Oh, shortstop. I get to end this on a positive note. The Pirates grabbed Indians prospect Josh Rodriguez in the Rule 5 draft. Rodriguez is 26 years old, the Tribe’s second-round pick out of Rice back in 2006. His career stalled in part due to hamstring problems that cost him a big chunk of the ’09 season. The Indians used him as a utilityman at two levels last year, and while he’s a bit error-prone at shortstop, he’s also not much of a second baseman. The Pirates, who tried Ronny Cedeno last year to little effect, have very little to lose by giving Rodriguez a chance to win the everyday shortstop job. Rodriguez has a clue at the plate and a little bit of power, and while his defense would likely be shaky — and in an infield with Walker and Alvarez, that’s saying something — his upside makes him worth that risk.
Picking up Rodriguez was a good idea. The Pirates would have been better served by taking two other guys like him in the Rule 5 draft rather than committing time, money and roster spots to Overbay and Diaz
[We made some jokes about the grinch and winning--we will spare it for you]
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