Neal Huntington had his online video chat today and he offered up a few tidbits for us:
— it appears he sees Chris Duffy, Steven Pearce, Romulo Sanchez, and Neil Walker starting in AAA next year;
— for ’08 the club is looking to add a backup receiver, middle and corner utility players, and looking for bullpen help;
— he seems to have a 12-man pen in mind;
— he’s still looking to add scouts and scouting supervisors, and he will be adding a 1B coach possibly Thursday;
— Sean Burnett will challenge for a rotation spot in the spring;
— he said Zach Duke feels his mechanics are already "right";
— look for Brad Lincoln to be back in form in 2009;
— the Pirates will take "best available" in the draft, all things considered.
The starting lineup card seems to be the same as last year other than Morgan in CF, barring trades of course. The bench (I have to guess based on his comments) will have Thompson, McLouth, two FA utility players, and Doumit.
A few of his comments caught me off-guard:
— he said Jason Kendall’s throwing problems "improved dramatically" after Russell became a coach. You can decide:
INN SB CS SBA CS % # INN 1 CS No Russell ’99 – ’02 4215 277 135 412 32.8% 31.2 Russell ’03 – ’04 2537 128 60 188 31.9% 42.3 diff -35%
— he said he wasn’t sure he wanted to come in for the GM interview to begin with as if he was reaching out to someone trying to kiss and make up;
— he seemed to indicate Neil Walker’s offensive fades might be health related. That could be why all of a sudden we are hearing Headley rumors – just a guess;
— he stated a scouting 101 answer to the question if the Pirates will take best available in the draft or fill for need by saying "overall upside, probability of obtaining upside, makeup, and signability." Unfortunately, I didn’t hear the word "tools" which I would have expected to be the first thing he said. Scary.
— he seemed to indicate the club will continue to draft with a preference for college players over high school which I mentioned was a concern in my mind with new scouting director Greg Smith’s high regard for picking high school players. We’re just too far away from being able to add years on to development to think high school right now, imo.
— he said Doumit’s injuries have been "strange injuries" which suggested to me a makeup issue in Huntington’s mind;
— he held the Q&A at the same exact time John Perrotto was doing his Q&A at BA on the Pirates prospects. Low blow.
Honestly, it was a very dry, very boring, thirty minute Q&A. If he had any message to get out it seemed directed at the players in that he expects them ready to show up to play, and possibly an "I’m sorry message" he was projecting out to others.
Speaking of Perrotto’s chat on the Pirates prospects, here were a couple of interesting exchanges:
Q: Wilbur Miller from Silver Spring, MD asks:
Is Yoslan Herrera a real prospect, or was this more of a PR stunt? His stuff looked pretty pedestrian to me.
John Perrotto: More like a PR stunt at this point, though the guy hadn’t pitch competitively for nearly three years until last year. I’ll give him a mulligan in 2007 but he has to perform well in 2008 to really be considered a prospect.
Q: Mike from Toronto ON asks:
Sure McCutcheon looks good as a Pirate, but how does he compare to top outfield prospects from last year’s BA top 100? Can you rank McCutcheon, Chris Young (ARI), Jay Bruce, Carlos Gonzales, J Upton, C Maybin?
John Perrotto: Frankly, I’d have to put McCutchen behind all of them at this stage.
Hilarious stuff, but not for the obvious reasons. Anyway, I agree with him on Herrera and McCutchen.
BA’s official Pirates Top Ten prospects are:
1. Andrew McCutchen, of
2. Neil Walker, 3b
3. Steve Pearce, 1b/of
4. Brad Lincoln, rhp
5. Daniel Moskos, lhp
6. Shelby Ford, 2b
7. Jamie Romak, of
8. Brian Bixler, ss/2b
9. Duke Welker, lhp
10. Brad Corley, of
What about the report out of St. Louis which suggests the Cardinals may target Jack Wilson? When a club’s rebuilding and knows it’s going to take more than three years to complete the process, dealing a player like Wilson in the division really isn’t so worrisome. Especially when they will eat his entire salary (although I think he’s underpaid myself and therefore has value to the Cards).
Jerry Cransick at ESPN also reports the Pirates are "actively shopping" Matt Morris. Right, well, there might be someone willing to take on a workhorse. But just how much would we have to sent with him, or does it even matter?
Combine that with the Nady to Padres rumor from yesterday and Jeff Passan’s announcement that Torres and Marte are likely chips to be dealt, and that will officially put broad smiles on Bob Nutting and the rest of the shareholders faces going into 2008.
Seriously, I think the Cards article is a PR move and unlikely to happen, I’m still not convinced losing Nady and McLouth for Headley is a good idea unless Walker’s health is indeed a question mark, and it’s just a matter of time before Marte and Torres are sent packing.
Shane Youman, who was DFA’d when the roster was set, was picked off the wire today by the Phillies. What a shame to lose Youman over Eldred or Barthmaier. Perhaps the 40 pitch type innings Jeff Andrews forced him through at Indy last year fried his arm and we don’t know it yet? Two thumbs down losing a servicable back of the order guy.
But hey – there is good news. Josh Sharpless, Bucco Blog’s 2006 Most Balls Award Winner, sailed through the wire and will again be put into the Pirates system.
Rumors — to be quite honest, there really isn’t much to talk about that I’m hearing yet. The newspapers are drumming up some, and like they say where there is smoke there is probably a fire, but there just isn’t a lot making it to my email box like last year. I tend to believe Huntington’s phone is a lot quieter than he wants it to be right now.