Neal Huntington was asked about some grades after the first 40 plus games.
The team has shown positive signs and it also has shown us signs that we have a lot of work to do. We have to play well to win.
Individually, A.J. and all those strikeouts from starting rotation and the backend of the bullpen have been positive.
Unlike a year ago, Andrew getting hits to drive guys in, or Andrew relying on others to drive him in after he got on base…we haven’t had to rely solely on Andrew. The thing is we really haven’t hit all strides offensively.
Wandy has quietly done a nice job. Jeff Locke has stepped up. We are continuing to grow and develop guys at AAA.
We have a good number of wins in the bank. We have some depth.
Brown: McCutchen had to carry team on shoulders last season, as you said there are now different guys every night. Encouraging to think it would get better?
NH: Yes we are getting some production from throughout the roster…(Huntington gave a specific date and then said since that date, Barmes has .800 OPS…..Jose Tabata has done good things. Travis Snider….Gaby…haven’t got Neil Walker going yet. We have to focus on the business. We have to show everyday to beat somebody.
Brown: Liriano. Is he going to be a guy that won’t give you a lot of innings?
NH: The challenge is that he is coming out of Spring Training. The first two starts, essentially just made his April 8 start. He’s one hundred percent healthy. As changeup and slider get outs, as fastball command, becomes more efficient he will get deeper into games. He will be built up and more efficient.
Brown: Liriano. Two starts…exicted and encouraged?
NH: Encouraged that strikes he threw…he got a lot of chase in the minors. And he has been able to do that at ML level. The fastball command is key. When it’s not good, it’s a battle. We fully expect as all pitchers there will be bump in road.
Brown: Jeff Locke goes today. Would you prefer to break up lefties. Wandy, Liriano, Gomez as rotation, is this what you envision?
NH: These guys are different. Liriano and Locke attack differently….there is seperation between them. In a perfect world, we break it up. But guys are on a good track so we don’t break that up…
NH: that’s a question best answered when we are ready to answer it. Certainly, healthy Morton our guys are pleased our guys see the Morton we had before the hip. It’s easy to forget how many were excited before the injuries.
Karstens impressed our AA guys with his start.
Gomez is in rotation as long as he is in rotation. When time comes we will decide.
Brown: (Esentially) Karstens role will be what?
NH: After two more starts we are going to decide where is best for Jeff and best for organization. We have to walk through things internally and with Jeff.
Brown: Incredibly long question and no idea what he was asking…something about pitching.
NH: Clint is well aware of pitchers and does great job protecting them. We have to give Clint seven relievers a night to win a ball game.
Brown: Someone asked when Jameson Taillon would get promoted? Does it matter what Cole does? Would you prefer them to be separated?
NH: No. He is making really good progress at AA, and there are some things we are working through.
Brown: What do you like about West Virginia Power?
NH: Good arms. Tyler Glasnow and Clay Holmes…velocity and explosion of the fastball. Change ups are a work in progress.
Stetson Allie hit a laser. Allie has short swing for big man.
You see Josh Bell getting confidence back.
Wyatt has the raw abilities behind the plate and in batter box. You know Wyatt has a really good ceiling.
It’s fun to watch our staff bring energy to field. They look to take out middle infielders out. It’s like in Pittsburgh, they think they can win everytime, great team unity. Fun to see energy and the love of the game.
Brown: Orlando Merced is hitting coach…
NH: He likes to help young players. Loves Pirates organization. This level presents a whole new set of challenges. He is complimentary of the work ethic.
Brown: Did you see Glasnow pitch?
NH: Bob Walk had a scope on this guy from the day we drafted him. Same high school….Tyler pitched last night. He gave up a two-run homer in first and then was dominant. He topped at 97. Flashed quality breaking ball, when he trusted it—it was a hammer. The change is a work in progress.
Clayton showed three quality pitches the night before.
Both pitchers are showing positive signs and continuing to grow.
Brown: Vic Black
NH: We thought about bringing up Black, Mike Zagurski, Ryan Reid and ultimately settled on Jared Hughes. He can eat up the innings.
Brown: Ryan Reid has been unbelievable huh?
NH: Reid has been. Mike Zagurski has saw his velocity rise from spring training.
Brown: Indianapolis is 31-13
NH: They have pitched well,…..played pretty…good defense. There isn’t one guy that has dominated. Bullpen has been lights out.
Brown: Despite win for Astros last night, can’t help but ask you…..do you similarities less than three years ago that lost 105 games.
NH: The pain of losing. They are tearing it down. They will have some money in free agency when they think they are ready to compete. It’s a challenge. I have a ton of respect for Jeff.
It’s a challenge for us to see Robbie Grossman in their outfield, but you see Wandy taking the ball and you hope it’s a trade that works out well for both teams.
Brown: Staying on the Astros topic…difficult from public perception because nobody uses term re-build.
NH: As I made a comment we weren’t trading away ’27 Yankees…it’s a model that we think has worked here, bigger step is sustaining the success. We are glad we are a couple steps ahead of them on the ladder.