GM on Maz, Moss and more


The beat writers spoke at length a few minutes ago with GM Neal Huntington. Some revealing highlights:

»»» Huntington said the club is in “wait and see” mode with injured right-hander Jeff Karstens: “No reason to rush him back, but also no reason to shut him down. If he can finish the year on the mound, that’s a better place than the disabled list.”

»»» Brad Lincoln, who has made one start since coming off the DL at Triple-A Indy, might take Karstens’ spot in the rotation: “Brad started on (Sept. 1) and got through it. It wasn’t real crisp or real sharp, but the velocity was fine. It seemed like he felt pretty good. It depends upon where Brad is and how he feels, what kind of command and stuff he has … does he come up and go into the rotation, does he come up and go into the bullpen, does he come up at all?

»»» Karstens has proven his grit, albeit not durability: “He showed us the willingness to take the ball in multiple roles, battle and compete. But we have the same concerns that (caused) us to put him in the bullpen — the (inability) to run out there for 30 starts and give us 190 innings. He’s not the most physical guy. He doesn’t do it the easiest. He’s had a tough time getting past that 90-pitch mark; the warning bells go off. He’s given us everything he’s had every time out. He’s shown us he has definitive value. Is it as a starter or a long man or swing guy?”

»»» High-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona are in the playoffs: “What’s encouraging for us is, it’s age-appropriate players and prospects. You can push older players back to win games and hype things that aren’t really there.

“In both situations, and in Altoona in particular, they did it with the prospects that we’re excited about — the four starting pitchers: Rudy Owens, Jeff Locke, Bryan Morris and Justin Wilson. But they’ve also had some guys take big steps forward. Danny Moskos took a big step forward. They’ve had some guys pitch out of the pen who’ve done a very nice job and put themselves on the radar. Alex Presley had a very nice year before being moved to Triple-A. Jordy Mercer’s had a solid year. Josh Harrison’s had a solid year. It’s a fun group to think about as they move forward.

“The Bradenton group is kind of a remarkable one, in that they lost their catcher, shortstop, center fielder all for extended periods of time. They lost third baseman Jeremy Farrell. Jeff Locke and Bryan Morris moved to Double-A. And yet those guys just kept going out and winning. Some unheralded guys and guys were brought in from outside really needed to step up and they did.

“The wins and losses might not be where we hoped they’d be in West Virginia and State College, but there’s a lot of good things going on there.”

»»» More callups will arrive Tuesday, but Huntington is not ready to say who: “We initially talked about a moderate number. But with (Ross) Ohlendorf, Karstens, (Jeff) Clement and some of the injuries we’ve had recently, there’ll be more callups than we were planning. You want to get into September and give your manager some options and not overtax the bullpen. But at the same time, we have a lot of young positions players who we’re going to put out there. You hate to bring up a guy, have him get two at-bats in September and then take him off the roster in October. You also walk the fine line of emotional what you’d like to do and intellectually what you need to do for the organization. Those are never fun challenges.”

»»» It doesn’t appear that Brandon Moss will be a callup: “He’s not ruled out. It comes back to, (Jose) Tabata’s gonna play, (Andrew) McCutchen’s gonna play, (Ryan) Doumit’s gonna play. There’s (Lastings) Milledge there and we’ve already brought up (John) Bowker. Now you start looking at Alex Presley and Brandon Moss — there’s really not many at-bats to be had here in 2010. Now, you start looking to March 2011, thinking about the makeup of the club and how does it all come together.

“Brandon is the one who, emotionally, you’d love to bring to the big leagues. But intellectually you take a step back and ask, how does he first short- and long term? Come Monday night, we’ll announce the decision we’ve made. He’ll be a minor league free agent (next year). If we were to bring him in and put him on the 40-man roster, he’d have to make the club out of spring training next year or we’d take him off. He’s out of options, so if we hold him on the (40-man) roster this offseason, what player do we risk losing in the Rule 5 draft? There’s a lot that goes into it beyond the 92 RBI and the kind of guy who Brandon Moss is. And yet, he’s made a lot of adjustments and you could very easily push that we should give him another shot because of all he’s done this year. You can battle with yourself all day on that one.

»»» The Pirates have no special plans for Ohlendorf this offseason: “Let him heal, let him get healthy. Just a typical offseason throwing program. In a perfect world, he would’ve built up to 200 innings this year. But I don’t envision us asking him to go to winter ball to pick up innings.”

»»» Huntington marveled at Bill Mazeroski, whose statue is dedicated today: “It’s been very enjoyable to learn more about Bill Mazeroski the person. As a baseball fan, you know about the home run. Unfortunately, working in the game you lose that fandom and they become just ordinary people. When I talk to Maz, I still have that (excitement) because he generates that. But he doesn’t carry himself that way. Here’s a Hall of Famer from one of the most important, if not the most important, moment in Pirates history, and yet he sits there as if he’s your father or grandfather and you’re having a normal conversation with him. He’s one of the more remarkable men I’ve been around. It’s just the humility and also the knowledge and passion for the game. He still loves the game and still loves the Pirates.”