Stark mad, McCutchen Saturday, and vids

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Here’s two video clips of Neal Huntington many of you have probably not seen. The first one was three days after taking the GM position and the second one is from the GM winter meeting. Windows media is required for viewing them.

I’ve received a bunch of emails from high and low places (folks in and around the game) rallying to support Kyle Stark after I said his appointment as player development director blows chunks. The general consensus from all the emails is that he wasn’t just a paper pusher with the Indians and he’s solid man to lead the Pirates rebuilding development plan.

But not one of the folks who emailed would admit he has any real depth in pro scouting, although one said he was a "acceptable" amateur talent scout, everyone agreed he’s not a true evaluator, he’s not sabermetric oriented, and the best quality mentioned by most is that he "knows pitching", whatever that means.

Yet everyone says he’s impressive.. a significant hire.

Rewind the clock six years and here’s what what said about Brian Graham who had attended UCLA:

"This is big. It’s a significant hire for us. He’s another significant piece in putting things together." — Dave Littlefield, December 1, 2001

Now if you remember, Graham’s resume included five years of pro ball, nine years managing for the Indians, and then three years of direct front office player development gigs. That’s 17 years in the game with 12 years directly evaluating talent.

Stark?

He never played pro ball, he never managed or coached pro ball, he started as an Intern with the Indians out of law school in 2004 and in 2007 was a "coordinator" for baseball operations. Believe it or not, he was even listed in the Indians Media Guide (PDF document) in the baseball operations department underneath the Executive Admininstrative Assistant for operations Marlene Lahky.

As one old timer in the game said to me, he might be one **** of an organizer, he might be one **** of an evaluator without anyone knowing it, but without the basic foundation, someone better be babysitting him.

As I said, the appointment blows major chunks to me.

Jeff Andrews pitching coach? Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens hitting coach?

OMG.

At least Tony Beasley and Rich Bombard make a little sense.

Remember Jeff Wetherby – the Yankees scout who some said was tagged to become the Pirates scouting director but declined? He was hired by the Tigers to take Greg Smith’s place who became the Pirates scouting director. How ironic.

I mentioned a week or so ago that I emailed the Pirates front office asking what happened to Jamie Romak since he vanished from the lineup card in Hawaii. Romak resurfaced shortly after I inquired and is now hitting around the Mendoza line overall and just .156 last ten games.

The Pirates evidently don’t want to talk about it but it’s becoming pretty clear that either Romak had a complete meltdown or he was injured. We’ll see if anything comes out over the winter.

At 2:35 PM Saturday you can watch Andrew McCutchen and the Phoenix Desert Dogs take on the Surprise Rafters in the championship AFL game. You can watch it on MLB.tv if you have a subscription.

As expected, the $5.85M option Cesar Izturis was declined by the Pirates setting him adrift, perhaps to the Cardinals. He could still land back on the Pirates roster if he accepts a lower deal. Essentially, I see him as a -1 win player who gets 20% playing time so think utility, and think $1.5M – $2M.

The Astros signed Oscar Villarreal from the Braves today. Boy, Ed Wade is wasting no time putting together his roster.

I also see that solid minor league free agents are starting to fly off the shelf.

MLB.com has Pirates long sleeve t-shirts on sale at $19.97 down from $34.99. Good time to grab for Christmas gifts.

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