With the clock ticking, Neal Huntington is on the move
Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington joined Greg Brown in the booth for his weekly radio show. Here are the highlights.
"A.J. has been so good for us. Look at win loss record, so much better. What a huge outing last night. Watching pitch count we were hoping gets through five, he gets through seven. Sometimes just how good he has been for us gets lost in the shuffle.Even before season, battling for postseason, he’s been a part of us. Even before all that, he talked openely. I certainly hope we can bring A.J. back, assuming he wants to come back. He’s pitched as well as he has pitched in several years."
What is to stop you from just going to him and getting him signed?
"In A.J.’s case there has to be the decision made. Both sides have acknowledged the interest. Our hope the next time we talk about A.J. it’s that we have a deal or that he is going home to his beautiful wife and two great boys.We have talked a number of times about how we put best starter on field for these last seven games. We talked about the wild card. Bigger picture, we win division how do we align pitchers. But we have to worry about today."
Huntington named four starters as throwing the ball well and then began discussing the bullpen.
"Jason Grilli came back. I still argue Mark Melanacon didn’t blow any of those saves. Five softs hits, error, we still have all the confidence in him. Watson is throwing well.Grilli is close. The fastball command isn’t where it was, but running the fastball up and in was good. It was great to see adrenaline. After the soft single, got the double play ball.In talking about Grilli being the closer again, Greg Brown talked about starting what the team started with Grilli in the closer role.Melancon was really good in the ninth. Barring bloop and bloop, error and bleeder. Some good pitches that found grass.But no question pulling Melancon back into the eighth, Watson has dealt with a little shoulder fatigue. We wanted to give Justin Wilson a breather. It allows Clint to be aggressive in possibly getting the starter out and having confidence eighth and ninth inning are locked up."
Brown asked about Watson possibly being a starter again….
"We have to keep an open mind to what the player wants to do. Watson had surgery from time he was starter. His arm slot is lower, would his velocity drop, would his three plus pitches become two solid and one average?We are working hard to have A.J. in that mix. Huntington started talking about all the other options. I think Tony realizes he is in a good spot."
Huntington then jumped into the Jeanmar Gomez Project.
"I fully anticipate we will bring Jeanmar Gomez fully stretched out ready to start. In April or May, he will get opportunity to spot start assuming he continues throwing the ball as well as he has thrown it."
Brown asked about the beanballs and the quotes from Dusty Baker.
"We have talked about pitching inside. For strikes. For balls with intent and the other element all way back to Drysdale and Gibson. There’s a difference from going inside and hitting people.Looking at our guys that have hit people I would say Charlie and A.J. hit batters with breaking balls they yanked. That’s very different than hitting guys squarely in back. I have no interest in getting into a he said, she said, with Dusty Baker."
Huntington tried to compare it to hockey.
If our guys think someone came at one of our games intentionally, I have no problem with our guys taking care of it. I don’t understand the frustration drilling (after homers)
Someone wants to take a shot at one of our players, I don’t have a problem with retaliating. It doesn’t need to be up around the head. There is no place in the game for headhunting or pitches up around the hands.
Regarding Byrd and Morneau.
"Lineup is deeper. With Byrd another quality bat behind Cutch against lefties. With Morneau a veteran presence. Some maturity to clubhouse. Some guys with slow heartbeats. It made us a deeper bench.But even these players as men, how they go about their business….and how they influence whether directly or indirectly on our young players like Pedro Alvarez how a long term successful major leaguer goes about their business…. they have added to our clubhouse as well as our on the field results."
Brown asked about Jose Tabata and Starling Marte.
"Skills wise Tabata is not same player as Marte. Tabata in the box has done nice job. He’s driving the ball with authority. Starling is just that tick off. It’s nature of beast, every game has value. Clint is trying to naviagate that. Jose has earned those at bats. We aren’t in position to give Marte a cluster of at bats.Marte is valuable as defender in that game we lost in ten innings. Marte makes that play on the Xavier Paul soft liner. He has value.If you tell me that Jose will continue to do this in the postseason, I will sign up for that. It will be a good problem to have. (sounds like Huntington will have Marte on his postseason roster–I mean how do you not?)We have guys that are maturing into quality hitters, staying middle of field instead of rolling over. We were ahead of the Cards in scoring runs until…Cashner threw great. Tyson Ross also threw the ball well. Gotta tip your cap. In terms of runs scored and the threat of our offense we are better in second half.You see errors on routine balls. Red Sox, Braves, Dodgers make mistakes. We capitalized on Votto mistake last night. Sometimes we forget that mistakes do go on somewhere else."
Huntington talked about packing for the road trip. Essentially saying pack like the team might not be home until couple Fridays from now. Really cool part of the show.
"It’s within our control."