Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington Talks About Gerrit Cole Debut


The Neal Huntington Show this afternoon was hosted by Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Greg Brown.

Neal Huntington thanked all of the leadership on the MLB Draft.  The Pirates GM talked about the hard work numerous scouts put in to make the success.  We feel very good not only about top of draft, even guys in day three as well.

GB  Gerrit Cole biggest start since Brad Lincoln against Nats….Kris Benson.  Getting to know you, I think you don’t like all the hoopla….uh, was it tough for you to make the call to Cole for the start Tuesday.

NH  it’s not the quality of the stuff, it’s the readiness, it’s the ability to not outstuff the hitters.  Triple-A showed him that last year, even some this year.  It’s about being able to bury hitters and pound the zone.

We felt that Cole is ready to contribute.  Karstens, Morton, McDonald at ML level.  Obviously the Jonathan SanchezKyle McPherson and Phil Irwin…we have had a lot of injuries.

It’s about helping a playoff caliber team win a game.  We feel good about him coming out on Tuesday.

Some of the ability for him staying in the rotation is in his hands too.  We arent all that focused on Tuesday, but more focused on long term helping Cole be long term dominant starter.

GB  Talked about waiting on Alvarez, Cutch, Tabata, in this case you’re comfortable with this Cole decision?

NH  In a perfect world, it’s still a bit early.  I have thought from day one, the worst reason is that you need him.  We feel comfortable where he is.  He’s not a finished product.  He may come out and never go back.  He may come up and need to go back in two weeks.  We aren’t ready to commit one way or another.

We are trying to get message out there.  Some of it is in his control whether he stays in rotation, some of it is not.  We want him to focus on what he can control.  It is going to be extremely challenging for him to not worry about the things beyond his control when he has had the hype that he has.

GB  About marketing of the Cole callup.  I am sure it won’t be a sellout.  Is part of you pleased about marquee name Cole has become?

NH  If I was a fan and heard…..I would love nothing more than to come out and see him as a fan.  But I understand it, we would have love nothing more than to fly him in Monday without all the attention.  But in this day and age, it’s really hard.  We would love to fly under the radar.

But I do love that there is excitement from our fanbase.  We hope it’s that way when Jameson Taillon comes up.  There have been a lot of players that had to go back down.  There are also others that didn’t take a misstep and had to go back.   The last thing we ever want to do is rush somebody.

We think it is ideally a bit too early.  But we think he can help us win a ballgame…or two or three.

GB:  There will be pressure on Cole.  It can be a positive if he can handle it right?

NH  You make ML debut once.  Special feeling goes with that.  Happening early in a playoff race.  We are doing everthing to stay there.  Gerrit respects that he has a team that is fighting.  We think Gerrit will focus on helping us stay in an early playoff hunt.

GB   The Super Two thing?  Do you know…

NH  We don’t know.  We hope to pay our guys a lot of money.  That means our guys have earned it.  As guys earn money or multi year contract, thats a wonderful thing for our organization.  There is a chance if Cole stays up there is a chance that he will be arb eligible, it’s not a driving factor in our decision.  We are doing what we can in our minds to keep this team rolling.  I think we are on our 11th or 12th starting pitcher.

As McDonald and Morton get healthy…and how does Rodriguez feel?  We have some uncertainity in our rotation.

GB   You talked about Wandy.  I guess we find out Tuesday.  If he can’t go Thursday.  Clint Hurdle hinted Charlie Morton might be able to go?

NH  Charlie got to 96 pitches.  Six clean, very clean innings.  That’s the Charlie we have rolled out there before.  His sinker was lower mid 90’s.  changeup was good for him.  He left with runners on and the relievers let them score so those runs go to Charlie.

If Wandy can’t go, then Charlie is in line to make that appearance.  We have to see how he feels going forward, but part of the reason we lined him up is because of Wandy.

If he can’t go we will scramble.

GB  (Brown rattled off Pirates starters, but forgot Gomez…)

NH  You forgot, well if you didnt mention him I apologize.  But don’t forget Jeanmar Gomez. He will be going in rehab stint.  Talking to Clint earlier today we talked about having too many starters.  We laughed and said we will take that.  Pitching is game of attrition especially starting pitching.

GB   James McDonald allowed seven steals.  What happened?

NH  There is no question we have to get James McDonald locked in on a consistent basis.  James is working through how long he will need before he gets back.

GB   Jeff Karstens’ future?

NH   We took calculated risk of non tendering and then resigning him.  All we got was the risk of signing him.  If there is a chance he could help us, we will get him in bullpen.

I wouldn’t bet against Jeff Karstens.  He is an effective major leaguer.  Jeff is going to continue to be an asset to us.  He will work hard to get back if it’s feasible.

GB  Any news on Jared Hughes?

NH  Hughes will have further eval tomorrow and Tuesday.  We need an accurate diagnosis.

GB  John McDonald decision?

NH  It’s hard to rehab a utility player.  As Clint and I joked, it’s hard to prepare him for his role.  It doesn’t do him a ton of good to play nine innings.  We have tried to cluster his at-bats.  But also be able to get him ready to come off the bench.

We will have some decisions to make.

GB  Talk about the war room and when you found out Meadows was going to be there.

NH  We thought he would go before us.  To get an athlete of this caliber we felt comfortable.  We think there will be power, like the defense, there is risk.  Reese McGuire we would have been comfortable taking him at nine.

Projectible high school starter in second.  Athletic guy…can he play infield Jacoby Jones.

We felt very good about our draft.

GB   Is this your best draft to date Neal?

NH  They are snapshots until five, seven, even ten years.  Alvarez, Mercer, Wilson and Grossman on Astros roster.  The nine draft we used four players, we still like Tony Sancheez, others..  We like ten (NH started rattling players and we just couldn’t keep up…)  We like last years draft.  If you take Meadows and put him in last years draft.

We have gotten pieces that have helped us.  We have had our misses.  We have players that can help us going forward.