Hot stove? More like lukewarm


I think one of the most interesting moments of today’s Hot Stove Luncheon at PNC Park came when GM Neal Huntington was talking about the missteps taken by the Pirates’ previous management team.

“We didn’t have patience,” Huntington said. “We didn’t make good baseball trades.”

Sitting in the back of the room, at a table with other Pirates players, was pitcher Matt Morris — the poster boy for ex-GM Dave Littlefield’s bad trades.

Other than that, there was no real buzz around today’s Hot Stove. Nor is there any around PirateFest, which begins tonight at the convention center.

Team prez Frank Coonelly began his Hot Stove remarks by noting that last year’s luncheon marked the Pittsburgh debut of Adam LaRoche (who, by the way, is near the top of the short list of Things Littlefield Did Right). This offseason, the front office has barely tweak the roster, other than to make a few waiver claims. And even though no one is giddy about the arrival of free agent Chris Gomez, Coonelly & Co. insist they’re willing to give the same-look Pirates a mulligan on their 94-loss 2007 season. “I really believe this will be a very exciting year for the Pirates,” Coonelly said.

It may be. More likely, though, it will be an exciting last week of July, when we find out just what the trade value is for Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, Damaso Marte … and, maybe, Matt Morris.

Hot Stove snippets:

— Huntington indicated he’s got the green light to add significant payroll if the Pirates are contenders at the All-Star break. “If the team performs, we have the resources to add (via a trade) in July,” he said.

— Coonelly dished out plenty of praise for pitchers Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny and Paul Maholm. Then, Coonelly laughed and said he might not be so eager to compliment those guys next year, when they’re arbitration eligible. Something tells me Coonelly was only half-kidding — remember, he was a gunslinger for management in arby hearings during his time working in MLB’s main office.

— Bay said one of his offseason highlights was a trip to Vegas with Nady to see the Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton fight.