Does Clint Hurdle’s Love Of Veterans, Hurt The Pittsburgh Pirates?


Brad Hawpe had one hell of a ride when he played for Clint Hurdle with the Colorado Rockies.  The guy was a monster.  Which lead us to that one burning thought about the Pittsburgh Pirates, Clint Hurdle and their love of veteran players.

You know the players they have dished out millions too over the past few years for their ‘clubhouse guy’ abilities.  Players like Matt Diaz.  Players that are brought into camp because once upon a time they Why is it that veterans get such a vital opportunity to prove themselves, while the youth have to fight and claw for such a chance?

There are only so many meaningless Spring Training at-bats to go around, so why waste them?  For example, in 2011 the Pirates invested their time watching the final 31 at-bats of Garrett Atkins career–how did that improve the ballclub?  While Atkins toiled at Bradenton, there wasn’t enough room for a player like Brandon Moss who was in the Phillies camp and would eventually show his potential a year later for Billy Beane and the Athletics.

Do the Pittsburgh Pirates really think Brad Hawpe is going to find the fountain of youth in Bradenton, Florida?  Look, we understand the intrigue.   Hawpe was a big leaguer, a producer for Hurdle’s Rockies.  But is it a mandatory requirement that in every Spring Training, the Pirates must bring in a player that Hurdle managed once, and provide that player with an extended look in camp?  Is that in Hurdle’s contract?

We fully believe the time could be invested in watching a younger player do some work against some of the most talented arms teams like Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Boston, Baltimore and New York have to offer. Matt Curry and Adalberto Santos have the potential to benefit from some looks against talented arms don’t they?  Matt Hague isn’t going to be a superstar in the bigs, but he still has more hits than Hawpe and he’s been gone since first cut.

Even Andrew Lambo, who has been passed over in the Rule 5 Draft more than Grandma in the Taurus on the Parkway, has looked more focused at the plate this year than Hawpe.  We entirely understood why Clint Robinson was sent down in the first cut.  We watched Robinson work up a serious sweat with Coach Pags in the cage.  The 28-year old has some weaknesses, but maybe another week would have been enough time for him to improve.  A few plate appearances against high-quality pitching might have helped a player like Robinson that has been blocked for most of his career.

It worked for Garrett Jones when the Bucs brought him to camp, pre-Clint Hurdle.  So why has that changed under a skipper who has posted just one winning record in the big leagues?  It seems like Hurdle might be over his head.

And we aren’t even going to get into the pitching side of the things.  We got a tweet from BearandPizza this morning that was right on point on this topic.

Going to Bradenton is something we always enjoy immensely.  It’s also a bit frustrating to watch the old Hurdle connections like Hawpe and others before him get written into Jeff Banister‘s lineup card with regularity.  Brad Hawpe has about as much a shot of being on the 25-man roster as we do winning a million bucks on a coffee scented scratch off ticket.

Why waste everyone’s time?  Is it just to show younger players that one day they too will be given a last gasp with their old ball coach?

What a waste of manpower, what a waste of the fans time.  It’s nice to know Clint Hurdle will never forget a player.  It’s cool to know that Hurdle will never give up on players that helped him achieve success once-upon-a-time.   But sooner or later, the Pittsburgh Pirates must focus on finding the next Brad Hawpe, not the old Brad Hawpe.