After taking power in late 2007, the new front office team set what GM Neal Huntington called “a series of series of short-, medium- and long-term goals.” By the end of this season, the management crew will reach its third anniversary.
“With the short-term goals, we’ve accomplished a tremendous amount,” Huntington said. “It’s below the surface. It’s completely revising how we scout, how we evaluate, how we sign and develop players. That’s gone very, very well.
“With the short term, you could argue that the only thing we’ve missed on is the wins and losses at the major-league level. We didn’t expect this team to be staring at 90 or 100 losses again. I also can’t stand here and tell you I expected us to win 100 games. We set the playoffs as a goal, not a prediction. Have we lost more games than we anticipated? Yeah. How do we overcome that? We need to play good, sound fundamental baseball.”
It’s hard to argue that the minor-league system isn’t better off now than it was three years ago. The depth has improved significantly and it seems the quality of talent brought in via the draft and international signings is much better than before.
But I would argue that wins and losses aren’t the only thing missing at the major-league level. All too often, fundamentals are lacking. Some of that is on the coaches. Some of it’s on the players. And some of it is due to a higher than expected turnover of coaches/instructors in the farm system. (You may recall I wrote in April about Kyle Stark’s disappointment about some of the turnover.)
Too many of the players Huntington imported in his early days — Brandon Moss, Andy LaRoche, Charlie Morton, Jeff Clement — were unable to take advantage when they were handed key, starting roles. If the same thing happens with the latest wave of young players — Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, Brad Lincoln — the front office will be due for another round of housecleaning.
“We need to make sure that this group capitalizes on those opportunities,” Huntington said. “Wins and losses are an outcome. How we play the game is a process. That’s our focus, the process. If we take care of our process, the results will take care of themselves.”
· Indianapolis reliever Vinnie Chulk likely is headed to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese Central League.
Lineups for tonight’s game:
Brewers (43-51) — 1. Rickie Weeks 2b, 2. Corey Hart rf, 3. Ryan Braun lf, 4. Prince Fielder 1b, 5. Casey McGahee 3b, 6.Jim Edmonds cf, 7. Alcides Escobar ss, 8. Jonathan Lucroy c, 9. Dave Bush (4-7, 4.07) rhp
Pirates (32-60) — 1. Jose Tabata cf, 2. Delwyn Young rf, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Garrett Jones 1b, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. Lastings Milledge lf, 7. Erik Kratz c, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Brad Lincoln (1-3, 5.14) rhp