Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington was on Clubhouse Confidential yesterday in their Executive Suite Segment. C[C ] is one of the better shows on MLB Network, especially with segments like “High Heat,” “The Showdown” and “The Shredder” welcome differing opinions to reach conclusions in the new age of baseball analytics.
The first question was about the Pirates approach to the draft prior to the new CBA and how the new CBA will impact the strategy.
Huntington, always the gentleman, hit the usual, ‘that’s a great question’ and then talked about the Bucs ‘well-over slot offer to Mark Appel.’ The Bucs GM said the team was very happy with the picks they made behind Appel, but also said obviously you don’t make up for not getting Mark Appel. He mentioned that hopefully the team can address that with their ninth pick this year.
The second question was where are Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole in their development.
Huntington said both are progressing very, very well. Gerrit will come into our camp with one year of minor league ball under his belt and will come into camp looking to open up some eyes and ‘most likely’ end up in our Triple-A rotation.
Feels like Taillon has been around longer Huntington mentioned and comes into his 21-year season looking to open some eyes in camp. He finished at the Double-A level and most likely will start there for us as he continues his path toward the big leagues.
Two power arms, two great people, two great competitors, and two guys we are very pleased to have ‘anchor our system.’
The next question about Taillon pitching for Team Canada.
‘He is a mature young man he will do great,’ Huntington said.
The fourth question was the report about Francisco Liriano signing with the Pirates and recovering from a broken arm.
He is working back through it. the biggest key was healing the right arm and getting himself back to be a major league pitcher.
The next question was about Jonathan Sanchez.
Upside is not too long ago, both pitchers were very good pitchers. With Sanchez, we felt we got a guy who was pretty good pitcher in 2010 and even 2011 before injury. He will come into camp and have an opportunity to compete for a spot in the rotation.
Huntington spoke about Liriano saying we felt that a transition into our ballpark would help him. He discussed his ERA, and mentioned similarity to AJ Burnett.
Of course the Pirates slide to end the season was brought up, and Huntington was asked about what will be different in 2013.
We spent last two offseasons studying why. There isn’t a definitive answer. Its about talent. Having young talent, the moves we made in July and perhaps I probably disrupted the chemistry. Are we durable enough? Mentally are we tough enough to grind through 162 games plus postseason. We have number of guys that have to step forward.
A question about Andrew McCutchen’s popularity was the final question.
The Bucs GM talked about how hard McCutchen works and said they team didn’t finish strong which didn’t keep him in the MVP race.