Pirates GM Talks About A.J. Burnett, Current State of Team With David Todd


Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington was on with David Todd of ESPN tonight.  The Bucs are riding high, but have plenty of questions as A.J. Burnett and Starling Marte will now be missed.

Huntington talked about the surplus of pitching.

"If you look at our depth chart we will have run one thru thirteen in starters after Saturday.    He called the Burnett strain mild.We want to put A.J. in the position to be successful."

Huntington talked about the offense and said:

"We are counting on a regression to the mean in a positive direction to help take the pressure of the pitching."

Charlie Morton will be the tenth different starter.  A.J. Burnett will be placed on the 15 day disabled list.  Jose Contreras was released.

In regard to Wandy Rodriguez not pitching a good bullpen.  David asked if Wandy will get rehab starts?

"Perfect world we would not like to let him sit for two weeks.  We will see how they are feeling on day sixteen  (AJ and Wandy)  but more importantly how they are feeling on day three, day four.  This is as grey as grey come be (depends on each player working through injuries)"

Scenarios for the starter on Saturday was asked by David?

"We have four scenarios.  Part of it is contigent upon things we are working through.  We think it will internal.  If not on our roster, we won’t announce until Saturday because we cant announce it today."

David asked about James McDonald and Jose Tabata

"Fastball has fluctuated.  The command has fluctuated.  We have seen the guy that scuffled second half.  We are beginning to see the guy that pitched well more.It’s a wonderful scenario if all of the pitching gets better.In regard to Jose Tabata, he is working through baseball functional activities.  He is with the club in Pittsburgh (visible on bench last night)  Once we feel good about how he is health wise, we will get him out.  He is going to show us when he is ready to come off DL."

David asked about Jordy Mercer perfoming ‘admirably.’  Is shortstop being shared position now.  When do you say Jordy’s offense supercedes defense that Barmes brings.

"We are working through that.  (Huntington defended why he got McDonald, not being naked at short.)  We knew pushing Jordy to AAA undeservedly.  Jordy kind of forced us into a decision.  McDonald swung better than surface numbers showed.Clint will get Jordy at bats at second, short, and third.  Clint is continuing to play good defense at short and we like our combination at short."

There is no time to be developmental at big league level.  Todd asked about Brandon Inge being on the roster and position versatility.  When Tabata comes back does Inge stick around.

"We evaluate our players more than fantasy league stats.  Brandon should have contributed more based on velocity he has hit the ball, etc..  There is more to the game than OPS, there is more that Inge brings than OPS."

Gregory Polanco getting promoted was discussed.  There will be a focus on Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie getting promoted David said….

"Stetson has been a monster.  He is destroying right center field.  Spitting on breaking balls.  The strikeout rate is higher than we want it to be.Obviously, Polanco is doing what we thought he would do as we turned down trade after trade opportunity the past few years."

We have ongoing conversations about promotions.

David asked about Tony Sanchez coming up

"When Russ had neck…we brought Tony up.  As we worked through process with Tony, we are comfortable about the process with Tony.  First couple years we wondered if guys like Andrew McCutchen, etc..   we think Tony can come up and contribute to playoff contending team.  Michael is playing enough, the pitchers are comfortable with Michael.  Not that they wouldn’t be with Tony."

When do you concern yourself with the standings?

"We don’t.  If we look at St Louis and Cincy, we would drive ourselves crazy.. we must focus on what we do.  Getting the coaching staff info they need to win the game every night.  If we execute, come September we will be in good spot, results will take care of themselves."

Pretty cool interview when the top prospect in the Bucs system doesn’t even make the show.  The Bucs have a lot going on right now, don’t they?  David Todd can run one hell of an interview, so many questions, so little time.  Great stuff DT.