Day 2: GM speaks


NASHVILLE — Day 2 of the winter meetings is slipping away and there have been no moves (so far) by the Pirates. It’s been a mostly quiet overall for all the clubs. Here’s a synopsis of the 11-minute media session earlier tonight with GM Neal Huntington:

»»» Does Huntington feel pressure from the fan base to make a deal during the winter meetings? “I’ve said from year one that we’re never going to win the offseason. Our goal is to put together the best club and play playoff games in October. We’re not a alone in that. There are a lot of teams in markets like ours that, we’re not going to make the big splash in the offseason and during the winter meetings. That’s the reality for probably half the clubs in the industry. You look at the clubs that won the offseason a year ago, where were they in September and October? The wonderful thing about the game of baseball is that it’s played on the field — (there are) injuries, unexpected performances in a good (or) bad way, teams that jell or don’t jell. We’re always laying groundwork with agents and other clubs. We’re doing what we can do to build a winning organization. It may not happen today. It may take some time. It may be a work in progress. And I don’t think any single move is going to make it happen. We’ve got to stay true to the process.”

»»» Manager Clint Hurdle helped recruit free agent Clint Barmes last year. Is there anybody who fits that mold now? “There’s no question that Clint’s an asset for us. He’s a guy players want to play for.” Anybody specifically who he’s doing that with? “I’m not going to answer that question.”

»»» Who’s your likely leadoff hitter next season? “That’s another question for Clint.”

»»» How much do you consider veteran presence when acquiring players? “A veteran player who can still play can always help a team, especially one who’s good in a clubhouse. We’ve had some guys who’ve really helped us. We’ve had some who, unfortunately, didn’t play well who didn’t help us as much as we expected, either on or off the field. Their ability to impact on the field will, unfortunately, impact their ability to impact off the field.” Can a big, positive impact be made by a bench player as well as a starter? “You can, but you’ve got to get the right guy. Leading when you don’t play or when you don’t play well is extremely difficult. The impact is definitely mitigated when a guy doesn’t play a ton or play well. You want to balance the younger player sitting on the bench at the risk of his development versus the veteran players who’s happy being on the bench, which isn’t the right situation, either. It’s really something you take into account as you’re walking through how you’re filling out a bench.”

»»» Do you sense that many free-agent pitchers are waiting until the top-tier guys, such as Zach Greinke, sign before they do their deals? “It’s a tough question for me to answer because I don’t dictate the market. I don’t know what the other clubs are doing. Typically, each year you see one guy who kind of breaks the backlog. I don’t know that it’s one guy in particular. I think a lot of clubs are working through their boards and their offseasons and trying to find matches right now.”

»»» With more players signing long-term, pre-arbitration contracts, is the free agent pool getting older and less talented? “I feel like an old curmudgeon, but I certainly feel each year that the free agent market has been shallower and less talented. But we also complain that each (amateur) draft isn’t as deep, that each Rule 5 draft isn’t as deep, that each minor league free agent group isn’t as deep. I might just be getting older and forgetting that the farther away we get from the field, the easier the game seems.”

»»» Are the winter meetings a chance to meet, assess and possibly hire scouts? “The process here is more (geared toward) interns and entry-level job-seekers. Most of the time, our staffs are set by the time we get here.”

»»» What role will Bill Livesey have as your senior advisor? “Bill’s going to be all over the place. He’s going to be an advisor, an evaluator, a mentor. He’s going to do scouting and be in and around our player development system and evaluate what we’re doing. He’s seen and done just about everything in the game. He’ll help all of us grow.”

»»» Will you hold a voluntary minicamp? “We’ve talked about opening the facility again and letting the 40-man (roster) players know we’ll be down there. We’ve not made a final decision but it’s been beneficial in the past.”