Neal Huntington had an appearance on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” morning show on Monday, touching on a variety of topics. Among a few other choice quotes, one stuck out above the rest:
"“We have created a culture that players hate to leave and look forward to getting back to; and all the credit goes to A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano for proving that. We have become a destination that players look forward to joining.” – Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington"
I make no bones about the fact that I have heaped my share of praise on Neal and his staff for turning the Pittsburgh Pirates around slowly but surely, I am not quite able to agree with him on that statement just yet. Signing retreads like Edinson Volquez and Liriano on their own merits does not warrant calling the Pirates a “destination team” just yet. For what it’s worth, Neal was also quoted as saying that Francisco Cervelli had “heard good things” about the Bucs prior to joining them. That’s all well and good, but the point remains: The Pirates are not a “destination team.” Not yet. For that to happen, I’m going to have to see some bigger-named position players seek out playing in PNC Park. You could make the case that the Pirates don’t have any glaring needs around the diamond to warrant such a signing. You would be right. The short-sample size of two years of success just doesn’t tell us enough about how free agents see the Pirates just yet.
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The interview touched on a variety of topics. Here are a few more quotes and quick thoughts, as well as the full video below:
When asked about what he expects from Pedro Alvarez in 2015:
"“Pedro will get every opportunity to be our everyday first baseman. We feel that he made a great adjustment to first in a short window last year, so we are looking forward to getting him a full spring over there.”"
On Jeong-ho Kang, and how the Pirates went about trying to compare his skills and results in Korea to how he might show in MLB:
"“Our scouts and staff worked very hard to put a comparison model out there. It was very hard to do.”"
What does the organization expect to see from Gregory Polanco in his first true full-year in the majors?
"“We are looking forward to a solid establishment year for Polanco. There is no need for him to carry the team. We have a handful of other guys who can shoulder that load. Gregory can do many things on both sides of the baseball, he can hit with power, draw walks..”"
Here now is the full video of Neal’s apperance:
What do YOU think? Would you call the Pirates a “destination team” at this point? If not, what will it take to get there? Let us know in the comments or reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter below!