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Wakeup Call: On extending Neal

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DETROIT — Brief and to the Point …

>> The Monday column from Comerica Park wonders what Neal Huntington is waiting for.

>> One common topic that’s raised anytime I write about Huntington is that, shortly before the Pirates gave him the three-year extension last summer, I preemptively endorsed that extension in a column. Would love to link it for you here, but our database is all messed up right now. If anyone can find it on Google …

Anyway, the line of questioning aimed this way is usually: If you don’t like that Huntington did this or that, why were you behind the extension?

The answer, as I wrote back then, is that I’ve always liked his methodology, his overall plan. But, as I also wrote then, the results at the major-league level needed to improve dramatically. They’ve been very good with the pitching, very bad with the hitting. It’s an odd extreme, but that’s what’s there.

When I’m ready to write about Huntington’s job status, I won’t do it in code or in hints. I didn’t last summer, and I won’t in the future.

>> Somehow I made it through a whole column on the Pirates’ ability to evaluate hitters without mentioning Jose Bautista. So, there’s that.

>> It was uncomfortable watching Nate McLouth yesterday in Comerica Park. He was jittery in the hours leading up to the game, and he went … well, you saw it. He’s at .143, he’s 0 for his last 19, and he looks utterly lost at the plate.

I will be very surprised, as I mention in the column, if this is sustained much longer.

>> My weekly appearance on TribLIVE Radio will be today at noon.

>> And this was my appearance last night on KDKA-TV’s Showdown.

177 Comments

  1. DK,

    When you say that you’ll be “surprised if this is sustained much longer,” what exactly are you referring to? The Pirates winning as much as they have been with this offense?

    DK: No, McLouth being run out there. Or even staying on the roster.

  2. Well written column. Here’s to hope that something will be done.

    DK: Thanks.

  3. Dejan,

    When do Hurdle and Ritchie start being held accountable for the lack of offense? Hurdle is known to be an offense guru and under his watch no one with the exception of Cutch has performed up to their potential and most players have had a gradual decrease in production.

    Also why didn’t Gorkys Hernandez start a game this weekend? I can see Hurdle wanting to try to snap McLouth out of his funk, but at least if they’re going to recall Hernandez give the kid a shot. Speaking of call ups why wasn’t Hague the one who was recalled?

    When will it be time to pull the plug on the Barmes experience and let either Harrison, Navarro, or Drew Sutton get some time at SS until Mercer, D’Arnaud, or someone else is ready? Barmes’ defense can’t so good that we’re carrying a player with an under .500 OPS on the roster.

    DK: Answer to your first question is in a column two weeks ago.

    Hernandez didn’t start a game because isn’t a good hitter. Not that he was being blocked in that regard, obviously.

  4. McLouth has clearly lost it and it has been 3 years since he has even performed like a marginal major leaguer. He is an absolute automatic out and is an embarrassment. Navarro, Barmes, Gorky’s need to be replaced by at least soemone capable of hitting .250 with an occasional long ball. Every single starter should be in play to upgrade the offense with Karstens returning and other options like Lincoln available. You owe it Cutch to try and get him some help not to mention the long suffering fan base. You need to do it now because there is no help in the coming years in the minors. I would even suggest packaging a reliever with a starter if that is what it took, you can’t stand pat with this lineup.

  5. @DK-

    Gotcha. Thanks.

    @ Dave-

    I agree that it’s disappointing that Hurdle hasn’t been much help to the offense, but with that being said, how exactly do you think Hurdle should “start being held accountable?” There’s pretty much one way to hold a coach accountable, and that’s to fire him.

    @Anyone

    It’s unlucky for the Pirates (what else is new?) but also a fundamental problem with their pitcher-stockpiling philosophy that the league is in a pitching-heavy stretch right now. Huntington’s idea that you can always just trade away pitching to get comparable hitting may have sounded good when he started in 2007 and the league had a .758 OPS and pitchers had a collective 4.46 ERA, but things change. Major League batters are now posting a .714 OPS and pitchers currently have a 3.87 ERA, and now you’ve left yourself with only one commodity and it happens to be the one that nobody needs.

  6. I agree with pgh in California.. McLouth adds nothing to this team. I like the guy too.. A shame. Why not bring Marte up, even though he’s not been hittin well in Indy? And Navarro? Why is he in Pittsburgh?

  7. DK you’ve done it again. Excellent column. Excellent.

  8. Great column. However, with the talent evaluation as bad as it is for hitting, would you trust Huntington’s team to get a worthwhile return on a Cole or Taillon trade?
    Huntington’s offense scouts have proven, through Brandon Moss, Andy LaRoche, Gorkys Hernandez, Lastings Milledge, and others, that they have little ability to gauge talent. It almost feels like criticizing them for trying but failing to make a move is like criticizing Nate McLouth for trying but failing to hit a baseball: at a certain point you have to accept that they’re terrible at their jobs and should get cut.

  9. The picture of Pedro on the column page says it all- not looking at the ball as he swings and misses. It seems every time he Ks his head is nowhete near looking at the ball in the hitting zone. When he hits a home run or other solid hit he does watch the ball into the hitting zone. Coincidence? Not a scientific study, but just what I notice when he bats.

  10. @Buggles

    There are 2 good reasons to not bring up Marte. First, he makes Clint Barmes look like a patient hitter. But the more important reason is that it would accelerate the time when he would start making the big money and/or hit free agency. All teams, not just the cheap Pirates, want to delay that as much as possible.

  11. JAL’s Bittersweet Symphony Morning Links

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

    PIRATE BLOGS

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Notebook: Why are Teams Pitching to McCutchen?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/pirates-notebook-why-are-teams-pitching-to-mccutchen.html

    Indians Snap Losing Streak With Two-Hit Pitching

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/indians-snap-losing-streak-with-two-hit-pitching.html

    What Has Jeff Locke Been Working on Since We Last Saw Him?

    http://blogs.piratesprospects.com/williams/what-has-jeff-locke-been-working-on-since-we-last-saw-him/

  12. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES

    11 CBS Sports

    New York vs Pittsburgh Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20120521_NYM@PIT/metspirates-preview

    12 The Southern

    If the Pirates keep losing, I’m going to keep running

    http://thesouthern.com/sports/if-the-pirates-keep-losing-i-m-going-to-keep/article_6950321e-a2f7-11e1-9b02-0019bb2963f4.html

    13 Chicago Tribune

    Pittsburgh Pirates – Team Report

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20120521_NYM@PIT/metspirates-preview

    14 Altoona Mirror

    Pirates’ Karstens to rehab in Altoona Monday night

    http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/560971/Pirates–Karstens-to-rehab-in-Altoona-Monday-night.html?nav=751

    15 Detroit Free Press

    Detroit Tigers 4, Pittsburgh 3: Max Scherzer sets new career high with 15 strikeouts

    http://www.freep.com/article/20120520/SPORTS02/120520013/Detroit-Tigers-4-Pittsburgh-3-Max-Scherzer-sets-new-career-high-with-15-strikeouts?odyssey=tab%7Cmostpopular%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

    Drew Sharp: Potential, frustration of Max Scherzer’s game matches that of the Tigers

    http://www.freep.com/article/20120521/COL08/205210408/detroit-tigers-max-scherzer-consistency?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Sports

  13. Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Talkin’ Cornerbacks: Steelers’ Starting Cornerback in 2012 Not As Important as Positional Depth

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/18/3028240/steelers-2012-roster-cornerback-depth-chart-keenan-lewis-starting-cortez-allen-curtis-brown

    Is the Position of Running Back Still a Valued Commodity? Not as Much as in Years Past According to the Draft Trends

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/19/3028518/is-the-position-of-running-back-still-a-valued-commodity-not-as-much

    Former Steelers LB Greg Lloyd Sounds Off On Direction of Offensive NFL

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/20/3032248/steelers-greg-lloyd-comments-on-nfl-roger-goodell-marvin-lewis

    21 Steelers Depot

    - 5 Things to Look for During the Steelers First OTA Session

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/05/5-things-to-look-for-during-the-steelers-first-ota-session/

    22 Nice Pick Cowher

    5 Steelers Ready to Breakout in 2012, Part I: Offense

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/05/18/5-steelers-ready-to-breakout-in-2012-part-i-offense/

    5 Steelers Ready to Breakout in 2012, Part II: Defense

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/05/19/5-steelers-ready-to-breakout-in-2012-part-ii-defense/

  14. Pitt Blogs

    23 Pitt Blather

    Wanna Come to PITT? Sure, No Problem ….

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/05/18/wanna-come-to-pitt-sure-no-problem/

    24 Cardiac Hill

    Outside Lawyers Comment On Pitt’s Lawsuit Against Big East

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/5/19/3030167/pitt-big-east-lawsuit-sues-pittsburgh-panthers-football-acc-recruiting-paul-chryst-suit-basketball

    WVU Blogs

    25 Metro News

    Winning Separated WVU For Rawlins

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=52803

    26 WV Illustrated

    Previewing 2012 WVU Football Opponents: Marshall

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/18552941/previewing-2012-wvu-football-opponents-marshall

  15. “Malkin becomes the first hockey player since Wayne Gretzky in 1982 to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s scoring champion and lead the world championships in scoring the same year.”

    I know the Worlds aren’t a favorite tournament, and I didn’t watch any of it either. But that is just awesome. Way to go Geno!

  16. In the 1990s now. Bittersweet Symphony The Verve 1997 Their only major hit though they had some hits in the UK. The group has broken up and reformed several times. The song cause legal problems as it was argued it relied too much on the melody of the Rolling Stones The Last time so copyright and royalties went to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

  17. DK, I don’t know what the Trib site changed, but I can’t pull up your column. I’ve never had trouble with that before :(

  18. Charlie wants us to “Tone Down The Hysterics”

    http://pittsburgh.sbnation.com/pittsburgh-pirates/2012/5/21/3033538/pirates-offense-andrew-mccutchen-trade-rumors

    Is it just me, or did he just call us all stupid ?

  19. Milo, I think he said we’re “nuts”. Pfffft! I say he’s delusional. But what do I know?

  20. And if you rememer what I posted Friday, it’s HIS opinion, and opinions are like *******, everybody has one and sometimes they stink!

  21. This front office is a joke. DK I wonder if you have any insight into the Pirates’ minor leagues development plans. I am shocked in all these years that not one hitter has made some sort of strides in the minor leagues under NH. Alvarez is the only hitter on his watch to make it to the show. It is almost impossible to not have one kid come up and make it (was Pressly a NH pick? So maybe one). I wonder if they are teaching these kids the right things?

  22. Milo

    have that in the morning links–number 16, post 15

  23. Criticizing NH for not improving the hitting enough in the offseason seems like fair game to me.

    But DK, you’ve gone on this rant about when is he going to do something to fix the hitting now (which seems to be fueled by people criticizing you on twitter). Two suggestions you mentioned was bring someone up from the minors and/or claim someone off of waivers.

    Before you respond with “That’s NH’s job”, can you please name some specific players that you would bring up/pick up? Any suggestions? Fox, Hauge, Brandon Wood, Xavier Paul….?

  24. @JAL

    Sorry about that. I even looked through the links just to make sure I didn’t duplicate. That just proves 7:24 AM is too early for me to be productive.

  25. Milo

    No problem, easy to miss things early in the day.

  26. Whatever extenuating circumstances that prevailed which Huntington would like to hide behind, he (Huntington) was directly responsible for Jose Bautista getting away. The home run stats alone show Joey Bats as one of the three most dynamic in the majors. That blunder tells me he knows nothing about evaluating offensive talent, and then deciding that Andy Laroche offered more, is incompetence.

    The plethora of failed attempts since to add marginal talent only solidified him to be a GM that was taking us nowhere.

    This weekend’s games in Detroit clearly showed we have a lineup full of batters who insist on trying to pull outside pitches instead of going with the pitch, which resulted in K’s or weak ground outs. Huntington, Hurdle and Ritchie bear that blame.

    Remember NH, you want a Cadillac you pay for it; a Chevy is a lot cheaper.

  27. In some ways, the ship has sailed.

    NH could have acq’d Pence or Bourn last season to give this offense a chance to score more runs in 2012. He could have acq’d Trumbo this offseason. I’m sure he called on Pence and Trumbo, and I’m sure he is trying. Any one who gets criticized as much as NH must feel the pressure to be better, but he chose to do what he always does: acq has-been bums and pray for one last great season. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

    This all comes back to the poor drafts in 08 & 09, and his poor trades/FA signings. I thought Brandon Moss would be hitting 25 bombs a year per FO fanboys? I thought Morris would be winning MLB games or at least a valuable trade chip? Sanchez was supposed to be our starting C in 2012 when he was chosent as a safe pick. The 25th overall pick from 09 was a HS player named Mike Trout, and he is kicking tail in Anaheim right now. Our college C is still in AA. Our project 2nd rounder Allie is struggling in extended spring while Smyly is having a nice season @MLB.

    NH is just not a good talent appraiser. He is probably an avg GM, but we need an above avg guy to be able to thrive. NH just isnt great at his job, and with our budget constraints, we need a guy who is truly the smartest guy in the room – not an Enron-esque wannabe.

  28. Sorry if this was in the links JAL, but here’s an article with a really annoying non-reference to the Bucs. Scott Van Slyke hit his first major league home run this weekend. Yes, Scott Van Slyke “son of former Cardinal Andy Van Slyke.” Have we actually fallen so far that we can’t be referred to in connection with our former players? Not even written by a Midwestern writer – it’s an LA guy.

  29. If Scott Van Slyke hitting his 1st major league homer doesn’t drive home the point of how long a road this has been, I don’t know what does.

  30. Very good column. I disagree on one thing, though. I believe there are more potential starters at AAA than just Marte. Mercer, possibly Hague (although the Bucs don’t share that opinion), d’Arnaud, maybe one or two more. Just my opinion, though and since Charlie says were stupid, we probably are.

  31. As always nice artical DK.

    Just to look at the brighter side of things. Most if not all of the current players batting well below .250 are well below their career averages and some of those have a considerable sample size of many years of playing baseball. I have to believe that they will eventually level off.

    If they don’t then you have start pointing the finger at the coaching they are receiving after these players get into our organization. Why have so many proven middle tier free agenst we have signed played so far below their career averages. They come in with established track records and then play well below that level.

    Diaz, Hinske, Barmes, Barajas, McGehee…..if any of these guys do what their career averages show they should they are not bad signings/trades by Huntington. In my opinion in none of those cases have we overpaid based on the previous performance up unil we got those players. It’s not like a Lastings Milledge or Jeff Clemente where we are taking a chance and it doesn’t pay off. These seem like safe bets but they continue to come up empty.

  32. Thundercraxk:

    Very much enjoy your posts. I have since going back to the pre-pay per blog (thanks, Milo) at the old stomping grounds. Killer moniker too, BTW. I would certainly be a darned fool for presuming what Dejan thinks, but let me say I doubt few professional columnists ever write a column as reactionary counter argument to tweeters, bloggers or good old fashion editorials.

  33. Reading the BD article and thoughts on “expectations.”

    My expectations for 2012 were set back in 2008 when we were told by FO supporters that dismantling, gutting, and trading would lead to a better 2012, a winning team, and the playoffs. I will say that this FO is remarkably good at never setting any expectations, even thought they love the phrase “accountability,” but on the various blogs, message boards, etc, we argued about how great things would be in 2012.

    The embarrassment of the 2nd half of 2008 was for 2012, the 99 losses in 2009 were for 2012, and the 105 losses in 2010 were supposed to lead to a better tomorrow. Tomorrow is here, and we have an offense that is historically terrible.

  34. I fear they’ll trade for someone like Dominic Brown – a guy who was once a prospect but has fallen on hard times.

  35. Nate makes very good points, but that brings back the question are there no competent major-league hitting coaches anywhere with proven track records that can be brought in? Nothing against Ritchie, I’m sure he’s working as hard as he can, but this is a results-oriented business. A person can work his tail off and still fail. Sad, but it’s the business they’ve chosen. (Hyman Roth, Godfather, Part something).

    Where’s Don Long now? He really helped Jason Bay and others. There has to be someone, if we are standing pat with these players, they need help.

  36. Just wondering what the date is where you can bring a rookie up from the minors and not have them accrue a year in the majors? June something?

  37. @Biz

    That’s already passed. The Nationals made sure they were past that date when they brought Bryce Harper. The consideration now would be if a player would qualify for a 4th year of arbitration.

  38. I think they’re development methods, with hitters, is flawed. Pedro didn’t grow, Tony isn’t growing, d’Arnaud, Mercer seem to have stalled.

    Andy LaRoche died here. So did Brandon Moss.

    Alex Presley thrived when he was written off. So did Neil Walker. They become prospects again and ….

    What’s up w/ Hague this year? Not on the radar until he started raking last year. Now…

    We could go on. But, no one, other than Cutch, has taken that next step.

  39. @Biz

    Per the MLBPA:

    A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. In addition, a player can be classified as a “Super Two” and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 22 percent (increased from 17 percent in previous agreements) in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.

    I’m sure that should clear everything up,

  40. My one last point about NH today; he is solely responsible for the scouting system and of course the director of scouting.

    What is it that they fail to not only urge – but insist (or stronger) – that NH move on a certain individual in college, high school or someone else’s farm system. That requires strength of character – leadership – and seemingly nothing of value gets done.

    I can’t accept that premature exposure to the major leagues will destroy the confidence of a major leaguer, thus making it impossible to groom him for the future. If we had great instructors here, or coaches here, guys like Chase d’Arnaud could get the necessary OJT here and not Indy. With his “potential upside” he would be more enjoyable to watch than Barmes. And by the way he proved last year he knows how to steal a base. Even Cutch could learn his technique – so could Presley. Presley came here and made a splash offensively, why did he regress? Did someone here at the big league level tamper with him, or did other teams discover a weakness, and our astute coaches not know how to adapt. .

    Chase d’Arnaud just looks like a ballplayer to me, in the way that Chipper Jones looks like a ballplayer. Yes I know its a bad comparison, but I’m just sayin’.

  41. Thanks, so less than 86 days, lets see, sometime in July? Of course there is that top 22%

    Milo, I’m not sure, but I think the Nats gave up a year with Harper, he came up early in May, right?

    Just wondering what this would mean if Marte was called up, they may just let him sit a year down there though.

  42. FINALLY was able to bring up the column. And it’s great! Please, please, do SOMETHING! Try harder!

  43. J in O,

    I based by remarks/opinion based upon reading tweets to & from DK. (and his blog posts too)

  44. @bob, there is still 10.5 million reasons why Mr Barmes will be the SS for the rest of this year and most of next,

    Unfortunatel.

  45. @Biz

    The arbitration clock & free agency clock are two different things. 1 year of major league service is 172 days. There are about 182 days in a typical season. Harper will be with the Nats this year + 6 more full years before he can be a free agent. John explained the arbitration rules.

  46. @Thundercrack:

    Oh, thanks. I was just thinking that most columnists don’t care much about what is being tweeted or written.

  47. I hope Washington didn’t lose a year of Harper’s services. But I’m sure Mike Rizzo called Stan Kasten and asked when it was OK to call him up.

  48. Bizrow@49

    Yes and that will hold back d’Arnaud unfairly. The “accountability” of that $10.5 million falls in the lap of NH due I presume to the “urging” of Hurdle, Barmes buddy from a previous life.

  49. @bob

    I’m in agreement on Chase and the “eye test”. He clearly wasn’t ready when he got called up last year, but to my eye, he wasn’t overmatched.

    He’s got the bat speed, foot speed, and arm to be a major leaguer. To me, it just looked like the game was moving too fast for him last year. Swinging at anything, rushing plays in the field. Hopefully he can mature into a player.

  50. There once was a coach named Ritchie.
    Who made all his fans quite bit*hie.
    His hitters have failed.
    So Buc fans have wailed.
    We need runs, we are getting quite itchy.

    *****FIRE GREG RITCHIE*****

    Besides AMac, name me one hitter who HASN’T regressed under his ‘tutelage’. I hear that Mickey Hatcher is available.

    Foo

  51. Nice limerick, Foo. Good to hear from you. Shame you spend all your time on the “paying blog”. (Kidding)

  52. Foo,the official poet laureate of The Dejan Kovacevic Blog.

    Long Foo Low

  53. Whew! No Nantucket in that limerick. That was a close call.

    Nice Foo job.

  54. hey it’s FOO! :)

  55. NMR, thanks for the concurrence. The rushing you mention should be able to be controlled by – let’s all of us say it at once – GOOD COACHING!!!

  56. Bob,

    Amen and Amen!

    Free Greg Ritchie! (to get on with his life’s work. Chuck Noll)

  57. ee fooings

  58. The only issue I have with the column is this insistance on using the “Even the two good hitters on the team were drafted by Littlefield” line.

    That comment insinuates a comparison of the two GM’s.

    Walker and McCutchen were drafted in ’04 and ’05 respectively. Thats nine years ago. Neal hasn’t even made it to five. If you’re going to make a comparison, at least make it apples to apples.

  59. Here is what bothers me most about the Pirates right now. The lack of patience at the plate. They fall into more 0-2 counts by swinging at pitches out of the zone than any team I have EVER seen. And the weak flailing flips of the bat for strike three are terrible.

    Offender number one is Pedro. Three weeks ago he was patient. Not waving at the slider down and away. Drawing walks and if he did get that slider that stayed on te corner he would go out and get it. Since moving to clean up we have seen him revert to his one swing mentatlity. No reaching for the corner and going the other way just that big looping power swing. I think he has in his mind that clean up = power and just swinging for the fences every at bat is acceptable. They may be no better hitters in that spot than Pedro. But Pedro is certainly better not in that spot. Move him back to 5. Let Jones/McGehee/Walker handle the clean up spot. Maybe that gets Pedro going again.

  60. someone said it above. If you get everyone at their career averages, then we can get on a roll. the problem is, why aren’t they hitting at their career averages? Is it Richie? Could be. Let him go and get someone else. See if that works while you work on getting a bat in here. They don’t need that much

  61. I wonder what kind of shape Jermaine Dye is in these days. Open tryouts.

  62. If anyone needed a 3-year or 4 year apprenticeship in the minors it is Pedro. He was rushed to the bigs without the necessary plate discipline, awareness of the strike zone or the ability to distinguish between a fast ball, sinker or slider. Thus futile flailing at pitches he can’t hit, net result K’s or weak grounders.

    One point aside, Pedro is a SLOW runner, Tabata’s speed has been grossly misjudged (or is he just lazy)?

  63. Bob,

    I still say Pedro’s problem is mental. He’s been under a lot of pressure since he was drafted and everyone fooling with his mechanics, etc. He needs to clear it out and get some peace, then just let his talent work for him instead of against him. Some spiritual conselling would help him. He’s a fine person.

  64. Lucky……..I have this site bookmarked, but I always fooget to visit. But, you’re right, I do spend most of my time on the Paysite AND P2.

    Btw, wasn’t this site supposed to get new blog software? If anything, it has gotten worse. They don’t even have a link to this on the main page.

    .

  65. Thx to all for their kind comments…I esp liked the ”ee fooings”. :)

    .

  66. This blog is better, Foo, and this team will hit!

  67. I share DK’s view of : “… I’ve always liked his methodology, his overall plan.”

    The fact that he’s been able to change the culture of pitching in this organization I think is a great step going forward.

    BUT…

    We need a new person/team in to take the next step. As I said, I like the foundation that Huntington has laid. Now granted, hitting is at a near dearth level, but the pitching has firmed up and there are legit prospects throughout the minors. That’s a good foundation.

    The fact remains though, that Neal Huntington and his coaches & scouts have been terrible at evaluating & developing hitting. At the major league level, his free agent acquisitions are forgettable. It’s the combination of no hitting in the minors, combined with poor hitting evaluation at the major league level that signals to me a change needs to be made.

    If the Pirates ever hope to take the next step at true competitiveness & title challenging, then a change at GM is a must. And preferably, at the end of this season.

  68. Lucky, he graduated from an excellent school – Vandy – ostensibly he got a great education, has a high IQ, and speaks with reasonable articulation. SO HE’S SMART.
    As I stated, he was fast-tracked through our system and I don’t know if anyone tampered with him. But if so, it should only have been the “routine” or “usual” adjusting to the big league pitching.
    His natural swing might have been ok for college, where you get a preponderence of fast balls down the middle. That “ain’t” the way it works here, which is why I said 3-4 years in the minors might have exorcised those mental demons as relates to hitting.

    Just my opinion!

  69. It is really hard to wait 3 to 4 years on a collage player that was drafted second overall to make it to the majors. That is the type of route a Josh Bell takes. 4 years puts Pedro at 25 years old and then very few players excel initially. I could have seen them waiting maybe 1 more year back in 2010 but 3 or 4 would have been a long time span for that high of a draft pick out of collage.

    Plus don’t forget what he did at the end of 2010 in no way warrented being sent back down to start 2011. I agree it’s mental and when he relaxes and just allows his natural ability to take over he is fine. Maybe batting 4th in the line up is to much to ask at this point. Maybe the demotion he needs is not the minors but to 6th in the lineup.

  70. Bob,

    Did he graduate? Besides, the mental aspect seems to be the real problem in most of the major sports. JAL, I believe, did an interview with a former major-leaguer and he expanded on it. It was really informative. It’s my opinion, too, but I see this every day with talented people who over-think things to the point where they can’t do anything let alone hit a round ball with a round bat, squarely in front of thousands of people who paid big bucks to see him do it. He needs to talk to A.J. about the mental aspects of the game if he hasn’t already.

  71. I hereby offer that the BMTIB hires Lucky for team pastor/mentor. He can help them sort out some of their mental difficulties.

  72. Perhaps you sharpies in here will remember better than I, when Pedro was a junior or a senior at Vandy, it came to pass that a few of their games were on TV – either from the SEC tourney or the College World Series (which I doubt they qualified for), but I do recall having seen him play, and he did not look dominant in my mind.

    At that time there was talk he was #1 draft material, but I wasn’t certain about that. I had doubts, and Pittsburgh was being mentioned as a possible destination.

  73. @Milo, I was talking about not letting Marte have 4 years of arbitration.

    Probably wasn’t clear on what I was alluding to.

  74. Jandy,

    Believe it or not, I’ve thought about that, not with me in mind, but they have coaches for everything from bullpen coaches to tying your shoelace coaches. These guys are young, away from home and family and need more than just coaching. They need the right things going into their heads and hearts when negative things happen on the field. You see football teams praying together at the end of games and other sports getting involved that way. Baseball needs a guy on the bench or in the clubhouse or somewhere to be available to guys like Pedro who need something more than “Don’t worry kid, we’ll get ‘em tomorrow” and go call your wife on your cell phone.

    I’ve been to a lot of minor league games and you see those kids on their cell phones in the dugout all the time. I know that doesn’t happen on the ML level, but they’re not ordering pizza. They’re talking to family or friends and filling a void. Oh well, no more preaching, but you’re right–they need coaching mentally and spiritually as well as all the other.

  75. It was his junior year because he came out after his junior year. He was actually pretty dominate in the SEC tournament as well as leading Team USA when he was on that team. He pretty much was considered to be the top hitting prospect by almost every team and if he misses I would have a hard time blaming Huntington or his scouts. Maybe the coaching within the organiztion needs to be questioned but that would be on Huntington as well.

  76. DK

    Great article.

    If anyone in here saw Joey Bats’s explosion coming, please raise your hand!

    The fact is, NOBODY saw this coming, not even the Blue Jays who picked him up. Please feel free to youtube Jose talking about his change in timing.

    That said, he was still more productive than what the Pirates ever got out of Andy Laroche or really anybody else for that matter. I was always on the fence about Jose. Liked him some games, hated him others.

    Tough call all the way around. Probably NH’s worst trade, even before he started putting up his current type of numbers, though his BA is down this season.

    Let’s face it, he wouldn’t be a Pirate today anyways, but his trade value would’ve been up and the possibilities could’ve been endless.

    I bet NH loses sleep over that trade.

  77. @Biz

    I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to worry about a 4th arbitration year for a guy hitting .239 in AAA in his 6th minor league season.

  78. Lucky, seriously, they need SOMETHING, and it can’t hurt!

  79. There are lies, damn lies and statistics. Some balance on the perspective

    The Indy Indians did have a 5 game stretch where they scored 1 run.

    But that was after a 9 game stretch where they scored 40 runs and went 6-3. Oh and even with losing 4 of their last 5, they were still in first place. And just scored 10 runs in the last two games. But if picking out a 5 game stretch and claiming it is representative of the team furthers your point, feel free. It doesn’t make it factual.

    Also, the Indy Indians are within 10% of the runs scored average for the leage 159 vs 178. And they are within 10% of the Runs scored per game. 3.97 vs 3.71.

    The Indy Indians also lead the league in pitching – ERA – by 0.25 ERA. They also have allowed the least runs in the league 133, with the 2nd best team allowing 162. That’s a net positive on the Runs scored vs Runs allowed of +26 or more than a half a run per game.

    But if it makes folks feel better to make up reality to complain about, have at it.

  80. RF,

    Buffalo committed 7 errors in those 2 games you mention, but all Indy’s runs except 2 or 3 were earned. They won with very few hits, as the Bucs do. Just a statistic. It’s our right to complain.

  81. The hitting is bad. I wonder, is it historically bad at this point of the season? How did other teams that started this bad, finish the season? Regression to the mean, or stay at their low?

    Another hmmm note – many here are calling for Matt Hague, the hit collecter, to be promoted, and believe he will contribute at the major league level. Didn’t NH draft him in a later round? Didn’t he draft Chase D’Arnaud? Jordy Mercer? None are all-stars, but they appear to be doing well for 3-4 years after their draft.

    And Barmes is hardly the worst starting SS in the majors. There are like 5 SS in the league that have an .OPS around .500 or lower. Barmes also is among the leaders in fewest GIDP, HBP, and SF/SH. Minor categories, but ones where you would expect a veteran to contribute. Barmes batting average is not acceptable, for sure. But for anyone to say now that he was not worth a major league starting spot is rewriting history. He was considered one of the top 3 of the available mid-level SS free agent in the offseason, with 2 top-level SS above him. He received a two-year offer from Milwaukee to be their starting SS as well.

  82. Lucky,

    10 runs in 2 games are still 10 runs. Didn’t recall DK talking about earned runs, so I was trying to do apples in apples to make a fair comparison. Something that seems to be lacking in many comparisons here.

  83. Ryan, I think you stated my case better than I did @#30, regarding Joey Bats. Absolutely correct when you say, there were days you hated him, but on others you loved him.

    I’m using a little hind sight, but someone liked him alot because he left our system and we got him back. He wasn’t a Gold Glover, more than adequate however, but he launched alot of towering homers for a slightly built infielder.

    He had moxie then and swag, and wasn’t intimidated. And he was in his late 20′s, with several more years ahead of him – which is where we are right now.

    If judiciously evaluated by a learned, experienced mind – he would have been worth the gamble. Money probably wasn’t an obstacle.

  84. Roberto,

    Do you have to add the dig with every post? Just state the facts. You’re good at it, just leave the criticism out. I was agreeing with you BTW.

  85. Wow, Lucky, Did you make that up?

    I just decided to look up the actual stats.Indy’s 10 runs were 7 earned, not 2 or 3.

    Being off by more than double is a big error, wouldn’t you say. I am a little surprised.

  86. Roberto

    I agree with alot of your points you bring up, but in the case of writing a column you have to take a side and offer evidence to support that. The column was on the inability of the minor league system to hit and no matter how you slice it they can’t. Picking out a 5 game period does strengthen the arguement but they are currently really bad for the entire year.

    If the artical was about the entire minor leagues system your points about the pitching would be valid but the artical was just about hitting and in this case as always I think DK was pretty fair in his assessment.

  87. Lucky,

    I will make a deal. You get Milo to stop adding snide digs in everything (NH, other posters that prove him wrong, etc) and I will leave out the criticism’s of factual inaccuracies.

    Deal?

  88. The reason Clint Barmes is among the leaders in fewest GIDP is because …

    a) he makes contact so infrequently
    b) There is rarely anyone on base when he bats
    c) There are often 2 outs when he bats
    d) All of the above

  89. By the way Ryan, did anyone see that barry Bonds was going to be the all-time leader in home runs?

    Certain things can’t be known ahead of time, but extenuating factors can be introduced to make an unknown a reality.

  90. Sorry. :)

  91. Roberto,

    Re-read the post. I said all Indy’s runs were earned EXCEPT 2 or 3, which is right. I can’t control Milo and have no desire to try. I can control me and you control you. Like I said the other day, I like you, and you add to this blog, just tone it down a bit. Deal?

  92. Milo,

    D.

  93. @Lucky

    Correct.You win the three rooms of carpeting & a gift selection from the Spiegel catalog.

  94. LEAVE NEAL ALONE!!!

  95. If Milo pulls his comments and opinions, I’m cracking out my VISA and moving on to the pay per blog.

  96. Milo,

    I want my prize from Jandy’s flooring company, wherever and whatever that is! For a gift from the Spiegel catalogue, I’d like a roll of duct tape, wide, to fit my own mouth.

    Roberto,

    Didn’t mean to usurp DK’s authority. It’s his blog. You say what you want. Not my place to correct.

  97. @NMR

    Exactly. All of our complaining is counter productive. Why do you thing Stetson Allie hits the mascot more often than the catchers mitt ?

  98. Milo

    You apparently need to contact the Trib marketing department and work out a deal to get folks into the pay site.

    That or go on tour. I hear Dan Tosh is looking for an opening act. It would fit together perfectly.

  99. Milo,

    I also picked up some more cowbells this weekend for my next weekend at PNC. Hoping by the end of this season that there will be 30 or 40 kids that go to games regularly and have cowbells.

  100. Keep trying, it’s not working.

  101. Roberto:

    Just a point of order. I know you live in lovely Chapel Hill (Groat would disagree), yet you get to that many Pirate games per year. You must be loaded, dude. Just wondering.

  102. Travel for work – work pays for the travel, so I can fly home or to any other city with a reasonable airfare.Grew up in PA, so have lots of relatives and friends to visit. I love baseball, and if not going to MLB games, then Triple-A, Double-A, NY-Penn league. I’ve even been know to go to college and high school games if it works out. All what you spend your miscellaneous budget line item on.

    I have only been to 4 games this year at PNC, But I went in on some Pirates season tickets. Already made money reselling the tickets to the games we didn’t attend. Funny, as bad as the Pirates are, there are still sellouts and people willing to pay over face value for the tickets. Strange how that works. Maybe it has something to do with the PIrates ability to win at home.

  103. @Milo

    I couldn’t help but shake my head when I heard Neal backtrack on that Allie question just to take a jab at the “media and blogosphere”. I was without cell service, so it wasn’t until last night that I read DK’s tweets.

    What the h*ll is that guy doing on Pirate blogs?

  104. One more point to Ryan about Joey Bats; your assessment of his talent which also brought about many frustrations to we fans is accurate.

    Many of the entries in this blog today are about talent evaluation, scouting, coaching up, etc.which under NH was absent with regard to Joey Bats. Call him a diamond in the rough if you will, because it was obvious to you and me that he had talent.

    Every diamond taken from the ground doesn’t go right into an engagement ring either. In fact none of them do; prepping, cleaning, polishing occur and even then the diamond can turn out imperfect. Enough – for the moment – about Joey Bats.

  105. @Roberto:

    Oh, thanks. Pirates are lucky to have such a passionate fan base.

    @NMR:

    I was thinking the same thing. Not a good idea at all for players and management to even look at blogs or listen to sports radio.

  106. Didn’t the GM of the Blue Jays admit that they almost DFA’ed Joey Bats in the offseason before his breakout year? Guess what makes his talent evaluation skills better than NH’s are a coin flip.

    Anyone know whether a game used bat and hat from Joey Bats in the minors is worth anything?

  107. …or at least to publicly comment on such things, that is.

  108. @John

    So how close is Oshkosh to Beloit. I am sure WI is a big state, but not familiar enough with it. I have a close friend who coaches for Beloit.

  109. Roberto,

    A couple of “Bucs”. Pun intended.

  110. Robin Gibb passed.

    Leaving Barry Gibb as the lone survivng brother.

  111. @Roberto:

    Beloit is about 2 1/2 hours away near the Illinois border. The Brewers have a class A affiliate in Appleton (Wisconsin Timber Rattlers) about 15 minutes away. I go to their games a lot.

    UW-Oshkosh has a fine Division III baseball team. You may remember Jarrod Washburn-he pitched there. As well as former Buc Jack Taschner. I go to their games a lot, also, but I’m not crazy about aluminum bats!

  112. John

    Are the Timber Rattlers in the Midwest league? If so, go see Sano when Beloit comes. When I saw him in ST this year, he hit 2 HR’s and a triple off the Low-A pitching group he was scrimmaging against. In one game. Still wondering whether Minny will promote him this year. They are going really slow with him.

    But his agent is a real a$$. He kept going up to the dugout and trying to talk to Miguel every inning. If Miguel doesn’t get him in check, he may never make it to the majors with Minny. They don’t put up with that. But Miguel was great. My buddy called him over after a game and had him sign autographs for us. I rarely ask for autographs and my coaching friend knows it, so it was pretty cool for him to do that.

  113. Wait a minute..I didn’t get a chance to reply to the question to win the prize WAH! lol

    Lucky, the carpet store is in Duncansville, PA.

    JohninOshKosh, I’ll be right behind you, friend.

    I refuse to acknowledge the rich little boy’s antics. (Rich or not, I refuse).

  114. @Roberto

    Midwest League. Yes. I think they play Beloit again in June. Will try to catch a game while they are here.

  115. Just wondering, if we repeat “Pirates can’t hit” enough times will they start hitting? :)

  116. JAL, it seems to work with hockey when DK says things. So far, it hasn’t with the Buccos , tho :/

  117. Jandy

    Is Richie Rich here? Who’s next, Wendy the Good Little Witch? :)

  118. @Milo

    Regarding a fourth Arb year for anyone in our system.

    I’d be willing to bet that the FO worries about stuff like that when thinking about bringing someone up to the show…..

  119. JAL lol, sometimes I wonder!

  120. “We could be the Royals, we could be the Pirates who haven’t won anything in 20 years…” (Chris Perez, 2012).

    So, Chris Perez has been ripping the Indian faithful for not coming to the ballpark to support their first place team. I’m not sure why, but the above comment really seemed to put some color in my cheeks. Maybe he’s not aware of the almost 40 years that went by without his Indians making the playoffs?

  121. @Biz

    They often tip off what they really think of players by how they handle just such situations.

  122. John,

    Believe it or not, the low-A team here in Bowling Green (60 miles) is in the Midwest League. Originated in the Sally League, which makes more logistical sense. Beloit doesn’t come here at all. BG went there already. Shame, although it would be tough for me and my boys watching Sano and knowing what the Pirates should have had. We saw Tony Sanchez when he first was drafted. He looked good then, before the broken jaws and bar fights. Robbie Grossman, too.

  123. Garrett Jones a super 2–arb eligible after last season and still has 3 more arb eligible years though I doubt he will be with Pirates that long.

  124. Jandy,

    Can I fit 3 rooms of carpeting in an old Dodge pickup? (Remnants, right? or samples patched together) I know where you are now!(kidding)

  125. Roberto,

    I love your undying optimism. But you gotta admit that your stats showing that the Indy is close to average but still below average indicates that there isn’t much in the way of major league hitting on their roster.

    And while the Pirates are only three games under, their hittins is still abysmal.

    It is torture watching a Pirates game right now. At least when they had hitting and no pitching it felt like they always had a chance to get back into a 3 run ballgame or pull out a win. With the way the team is currently compsed if a starting pitcher gives up 3 runs(which is still a respectible start) it feels like the game is over.

  126. @ DK – Just wanted to add that I really enjoyed your column today.

    I have stated for the past week it is Management’s responsibility to both the team and its fan base to attempt and making some changes. To this point the biggest have been sending Alex down, recalling Gorkys who has not played, and adding arms from time to time McCuthchen who was hurt who not even making an appearance, Locke who was scheduled to start in AAA to replace Grilli for a few days, Meek up and down, and rightfully recalling Hughes.

    On offense our biggest change has been to give Nate my time has passed McOut the opportunity to further make the bottom of our lineup look atrocious.

    I am not even asking for the moves to work out as there are never any guarantees, but speaking of guarantees there is none that says Wilson, Owens, Locke, Cole, Heredia, Tallion, Alderson etc. make it as top of the line MLB pitchers, although we “project” them to be. But at least making a move or coming out and saying we are working around the clock to give the club some help would be much better than sitting on our hands and thinking today is the day McOut becomes the hitter of five years ago, Barmes’ best baseball is ahead of him and not behind him, we like what we have at 1B and corner OF.

    It is a testament this team is 19-22, and it would be nice to think what this Club could end up being if invested in.

    DK: Thanks.

  127. Legend being a super two was not due to the PBC calling him up for his major league debut.

    @JRay3 – NH doesn’t have to worry, he’s got two more years plus an option on his contract.

  128. Lucky, sure it would! Remnants, not junk for our prize winner! ;)

  129. Oh and Lucky, if you come to town I’ll make you the best stuffed shells you’ve even eaten ;)

  130. @AJS

    Agreed – there are no Miguel Sano’s in Indy. But I have seen 6 of the 14 IL teams so far this season, and there are no Miguel Sano’s on any of those teams either. Pitching is the new approach.

    Personally, I don’t mind pitching duels. I know it doesn’t excite folks like the dinger, but its the way small revenue teams like SD, Cle, Min, KC and the Pirates will be able to compete. And even the big boys are now trying to stockpile pitchers.

    But if you are going to invest in a pitch-first strategy (which the Pirates clearly are), we do need speed and defense, and not bad baserunning. The Pirates have wasted waaaay too many baserunners for a team scoring like it is.

  131. To: NMR, Jandy, Milo, Lucky
    Re: Apology

    I asked you all about 10 days ago to give “I’m Glad You Didn’t See Roberto Because You Would Have Traded Him After His 1st Year” a chance———I insisted he would learn to moderate his comments and not be in “everyone is out of step but me” mode toward folks here.

    Facts can be helpful; facts can be used obnoxiously. Guess which one he always chooses.

    I WAS WRONG! I ADMIT MY ERROR! Shun away if you wish.

    Some folks just aren’t worth the attempt to rehabilitate. His cutting comments make even lurking here painful.

    I should have known he would be from Chapel Hill!!!!!!!

    By the way, Charlie Wilmoth, who wrote the article both Milo and JAL reference above (telling us fans we are stupid——everyone else is stupid but him) is a grad student at Carolina. Must be in the water there on the wrong end of Highway 15/501.

  132. Jandy,

    I’ll hold you to it. My wife, bless her darling heart, does not make good stuffed shells, as she isn’t Italian like half of me. And, it would be “up’ not down. We’ve been “down’ to Georgia to get carpet at the mills, but it would be “up” to get to you. I know, hockey experts are not necessarily geography experts. I have to draw my wife a map every time she drives home. Probably killed 20 trees in the last 14 years giving her directions.

  133. “It is torture watching a Pirates game right now. At least when they had hitting and no pitching it felt like they always had a chance to get back into a 3 run ballgame or pull out a win.”

    I truly don’t mean to offend anyone, but the statement above is exactly why I don’t want any GM listening to fans.

    “Back when they had hitting”, they still lost over 90 games a year. That tells me that even if it “felt” like they had a chance, they really never did.

    Fans like offense. Period.

    Neal Huntington’s “plan” to prioritize pitching is not unique nor original. One only needs to look around the league.

    At this point, sacrificing the important parts of the pitching staff(the ones that would bring a return) in order to turn a horrible offense into a bad offense is only going to make the team worse.

  134. Jones being a super two was due to being called up–always relates to service time in majors. Pirates could have waited a couple more weeks and he would not have been a super 2.

  135. Groat, Hey, you rock, dude, so no, I won’t shun away from you. I always look forward to your comments. When I say ignore, I mean it. I refuse to acknowledge the rude comments any longer.

    Lucky, I’m not Italian, but I belonged to an Italian family for 20 years before I had to leave to save my sanity. But I *DO* make wonderful stuffed shells and lasagne. Hubby eats both dishes like there’s no tomorrow when I make them. (Makes me feel good, for sure!)

    Again, everyone, I’m absorbing all the information you guys put out there. I’m trying to remember it all, but of course, that won’t happen. But I love coming here, and I’m learning every day. Thanks!

  136. @JAL

    Jones goes back to my earlier point. If they believed at the time that Jones had any future, they would have waited to call him up.

  137. Milo

    I agree, my only point was that becoming super 2 eligible did depend on when the Pirates called him up. If he he failed to hit and they sent him down after 3 weeks then put him on the team the next season he would not have been super 2.

  138. @NMR

    Don’t take my statement as wishing for the days of no pitching. Like Dejan, I have always like Neal’s “plan” and approach to stock piling pitching with the intent of trading for hitting later. It is by far the correct approach.

    My point was only that if I had to choose between two 90 loss teams to sit down and be forced to watch every night, I’d much prefer it to be a team that could at least score some runs.

    Fact remains you have to be pretty good at either hitting or pitching and at least average in the other to compete for anything meaningful.

  139. I wonder if the definition of “facts that are helpful” means facts that “support your snide jokes?”

  140. @JAL

    This group has been pretty good at this. One thing you can’t control is players on other teams. Guys with like service time can fail and get sent back down. That moves your guy up the ladder through no fault of your own.

  141. Milo

    True,

    You can’t control players on other teams. Every year Elias provides the most likely cutoff date though that is not a guarantee. Unless it is an unusual season if you wait a week after the projected cutoff date you are usually safe for both arbitration and super 2, which are two different dates.

  142. I’m pretty sure JAL’s thought on Jones is correct. The Pirates never really thought he would be much of anything. I remember when he was called up thinking that i had never heard of this guy before. And then when he started ripping home runs every other night I couldn’t help but wonder where this guy came from. he had done nothing in his minor league career to suggest he had that kind of potential. So either Huntington saw something that no other person in the entire world did, and was actually right about it for once, or they thought the could use an extra left handed bat at first base/right field and thought he’d throw this guy a bone.

    We have definitely seen more of that guy who was nothing special in triple A than we have of that guy from that magical July. If it wasn’t for that one month and the fact it is the Pirates, Jones would have been sent down or moved by now.

  143. I humbly disagree with the Jones super two vs not calling Cutch or Pedro up to stop them from having the potential for super two, they will handle Marte and maybe Cole and the like the same way.

    Jones had time in the show with Minny.

    Just spin….

  144. Jones time in Minny was enough to count as year, it is just added to service time. Easy to calculate. Jone came up July 1, if they had waited until August 1 he would not have been super 2 eligible.

  145. NMR hit right on the nose with his above comments. I do believe they have looked at making a trade in May and I do beleive other teams have wanted a lopsided trade in order to give us a bat we need. I think you wait until July when one of two things can happen.

    A desperate team that needs starting or relief pitching gives up a blocked hitter that is already major league ready or is willing to deal 2 of their top 10 prospects to make their fans happy.

    A team that is out of it is willing to trade a proven veteran that could immediately help our team in return for a prospect that is good but not great from us. Someone like Alderson who is having a nice bounce back year and is still rather young. To trade a Cole, Taillon, Heredia or Allie at this point would be insane.

  146. And next year at this time we can have this discussion in regards to Marte.

  147. @Lucky:

    I went to a BG game when they were here a few weeks ago. I forgot to get your scouting report, though! I go to a lot of ballgames during the summer. We have a special needs son and he likes the pace of the game. My man sits there chillin’ while his old man sits there keeping score like the baseball geek I am.

    Adore baseball. I’ll even stand and watch an inning or two of a little league game if I come across one while walking in the park. Glorious game.

  148. @ All

    Me, Naterosboro, is the poster formally known as “Why Didn’t I get to See Roberto” on DK’s former blog. It was when it went to FormerBlog+ that I changed my handle to Naterosboro (basically my name).

    Just don’t want others taking credit/get lambasted for my current/previous comments.

    And I AM NOT from Chapel Hill. Did spend a week there as an intern while training for my summer intership tho.

    I try to keep my comments about the article or about the writer’s (DK’s) thoughts. I’ll admit, in my 1st exchange with Groat2Maz2Strangeglove, I went on the attack big time. I may have been under the influence of substances at the time. It was awhile ago though, so I don’t really remember.

    I just don’t want anyone else sullying the name of “Why Didn’t I Get To See Roberto” unless it’s ME! ;)

    This other Roberto fella, well, he ain’t me, babe….

  149. OshKoshB’Gosh ~ Since Groat gave you that name, I’m sticking with it! Anyhow, in the late 70′s and into the 80′s my ex-Italian family was deeply involved with Little League. I LOVED IT even thouugh I didn’t have kids of own until 1982 and 1986. Still was involved in some ways. Those were good times. I think it’s wonderful your son can enjoy that and that you can enjoy HIM enjoying it. My younger daughter has worked with autistic children, and she has said that was the most satisfying thing she has ever done.

  150. Nate, glad you cleared that up ;)

    I haven’t seen you attacking anyone…babe :p

  151. AJS and JAL are correct in their assumpitions of Jones.

    Marte/Cole/whatever “prospect” will be recalled whenever they are a.) ready and b.) pass the cut off date for SUPER 2 status.

    I predicted earlier that Nate would be gone by June and Presley would be the 4th OF as Marte would be called up. I haven’t given up on that idea yet, but Marte isn’t doing as well as I imagined at Indy right now. Presley might get his things worked out but might be stuck in AAA for now.

    I would prefer the Pirates pick up a newer 1B to take over for Jones and keep him on the bench. Jones won’t be a Pirate next year. He’s not worth whatever raise he/arbitrators would say he is. Is he worth the $2.2 he’s getting now…not even close.

  152. Whoa…testy in here today! Offensive offense frustrations reaching critical mass??

    LOVE your column, Dejan. Hit the nail on the head…again.

    DK: Thanks, Karen.

  153. Nate,

    He’s one of a kind, babe. (Which isn’t ALWAYS bad). You can tell his posts, even if they aren’t labeled.

  154. Fantastic column Dejan!

    DK: Appreciate that, Aaron.

  155. @Nate

    That was kinda like a wrestler taking his mask off.

  156. Harrison in RF tonight. Barmes hitting 7th at SS.

  157. @Nate83

    What would you expect to get that was any better than what we currently have for someone like Alderson?

    At some point we may be forced to face the facts that trading Cole or Taillon is the only option we have in getting an impact hitter. Major League level hitting requires giving up something more than a C level prospect. Cole, Taillon, Heredia, Marte, Bell, Grossman. My gut feeling is that one of those names would have to be included in a deal for a younger Major League calliber hitter.

    You may be able to trade much less than that for a proven bat in the twilight of his career(see last year trade deadline) to give some help down the stretch this season. But if you are looking for someone who may be able to contribute for the next three or four years, you aren’t getting it without giving up something of significant value of your own.

  158. @ Milo

    I had to do it. Groat2Maz2Strangeglove was confusing the old me with this new Roberto poster. I don’t want him killed/loved for my comments, and I don’t want myself killed/loved for his comments.

    I felt I had to make all that ills DK’s blog right. It seems to be working.

    Now, I’ll get working on that link on the home page ;)

  159. Nate the Great!

    I’m impressed! Your comments are valuable here! I would have never, never guess that you were that previously mentioned persona.

    I’m very seriously glad you are here. I’m very seriously glad you have polished off your tactics. You have important issues to add here, and even when others do not agree with you, you do not tramp on them or put them down, as our present antagonist does.

    As I said, I am impressed. Sorry for the confusion. I’m glad you’re here.

  160. @AJS

    Can I play with you guys? I don’t mean to butt into your convo with nate83, but if I may…

    Cole, Tailon, and Bell are the only “untouchable” players for me. The rest of that group would not go 1for1 in a trade, but prospect for major leaguer trades rarely do.

    My point in all the “DO SOMETHING NOW!!!LEDBFV” talk of the last week is that I, humbly, feel that Neal Huntingdon can hurt the organization a lot more than he can help it right now.

    I mentioned in a previous post that NH would have to subtract from the pitching staff in order to land a bat. Unless a team was desperate enough to give the Pirates a legit hitter for Bedard, any trade is going to take multiple peices leaving our staff.

    To me, that weakens the only strength of the team while, at best, improving the offense from god awful to bad. You’re left with a worse team.

    I’m apparently in the minority, but I’m all for waiting until the trade deadline if it means a better baseball move.

  161. Finding ways to get Harrison in the lineup even if he is not the prototypical corner OF. Two lefties and a knuckle ball pitcher sandwiched in between should invoke a few interesting lineups.

    Pirates sitting just 3 GB of the Cardinals and 3 GB of final WC spot, important nine game home stand begins tonight especially considering we are looking up at the surprising Mets, and Reds so ground to be made up. Throw in the woeful Cubs and a 6-3 leg to get the team to the .500 mark would be sweet!

    @ AJS – interesting input, the way I see it is if we truly have great pitching depth, because of the draft and acquiring arms like Alderson back when we were sellers, than maybe we have to hope some of those arms that are not as highly regarded pan out. That gives us the flexibility and takes out some of the fear of shopping an Allie,or Heredia high level prospect, one of the many HS arms (Cain, ZVR, Kingham), or some of the knocking on the door level prospects (Locke, Wilson, Owens). Minus maybe Cole and Tallion as they truly appear to be our 1 and 2 for the future a package of the others could result in a MLB bat. If we don’t maybe it is an indication our management is unsure of what we have in the system.

  162. @NMR

    Liked we talked last week. Bedard or really any of the current starters would get us a prospect.

    A prosect like the ones you mentioned would get us the long term hitter that’s needed.

    I’m with you though, I’m not trading any of those guys just yet.

    Use the Dotel trade as an example. A veteran guy, we got 2 prospects. One JMac which was obviously a win and Andrew Lambo. I think Lambo was a “throw in” guy and JMac was the guy NH really wanted. I have to assume the latter part.

    JMac would probably still not be starting in the Dodgers rotation right now but he’s turning out to be the Pirates ace. Doing very well.

    So a veteran guy like Bedard might get us a unknowned hitting prosect, think Jeff Clement as an example.

    To get a proven guy, one of the Big 3 guys would have to be used to net them.

  163. @NMR

    I wasn’t really advocating anything at this point. Just pointing out what is likely needed to get certain things done. Notice I said “at some point we may have to face the facts” not “go out and do this right now.”

    I am torn right now. I generally tend to agree that it is not yet time to mortgage the furture to win now. One bat isn’t going to do it at this point anyway. And none of the current starting rotation project to be here in 2 years. Hoping Bedard gets back to pre-injury form and flipping him to the highest bidder at the deadline(the offer won’t be extravagant) is likely the best option right now. it is just hard to see how the hitting will get any better in the future without trading one of the young pitchers. Projecting a Cole, Taillon, Heredia top of the rotation is a lot of fun. But who, other than Josh Bell, is going to be an impact bat behind them once they get here? Cutch’s new deal will be set to expire. Maybe Pedro rounds into shape. Maybe Tabata becomes the .300 hitter he was a couple seasons ago. Maybe Walker is still around and becomes the RBI machine he was last year. Maybe they connect with a big bat in this year’s draft. That is a lot of maybes. Maybe one of Cole/Taillon is your ace with heredia as your two and you can fill in with a couple vets in the mold of Burnett and Bedard. That rotation would still rock assuming Heredia and one of Cole/Taillon prove to be legitimate.

    But at the same time I feel like there has to be something that can be done to light a fire under this offense right now.

  164. @Groat2Maz2Strangeglove

    I was young then haha! Well, young in a posting sense.

    Plus, I save all my nonsense for Smizik’s Blog ;)

  165. @Natesboro

    Well, if you are going to spout off nonsense, Smizik’s blog is the place to do it. That would make you fit right in.

  166. Ok, now I have no idea what’s going on with our Pirates.

    Just saw this tweet from DK:

    “#Pirates trade minor-league INF Drew Sutton, acquired yesterday from #Braves for cash, to #Rays for cash. So there’s that.”

    What?

    I guess, hopefully, we got more money back than we paid to get him…

    I mean, I at least hope we’re still doing good business (baseball business is a different story… ;) )

  167. DK claified…

    “Drew Sutton is going directly to #Rays, by the way. #Pirates had him assigned to minors. Tampa gives up PTBNL, not cash.”

    Well, at least we’re getting a player (perhaps the cash would’ve been better tho, we need to extend Neil W.).

    I’m just not so sure how good this “Tobe Namedlater” really is. He doesn’t need to be that good to upgrade our offense tho ;)

  168. “And none of the current starting rotation project to be here in 2 years.”

    Actually, Burnett and Bedard are the only starters who DON’T project to be here in two years.

    Trust me, I don’t perscribe to the “trade 3 C prospects for a bopper” logic. I know the Pirates would have to give up value in a trade. Which is why I’d much rather pay in terms of dollars than prospects.

  169. @Jandy:

    Thanks for the comment. To paraphrase what NMR said (I think it was him) we all love you….but only on days that end in “y”

  170. HOW DO YOU NOT FIRE THE HITTING COACH

  171. OshKoshB’Gosh ~ awwww..you’re makin me blush!

  172. @bucshort

    Firing Ritchie without firing Hurdle would be pointless. As much responsibility as Ritchie bears for the offensive quagmire, Hurdle bears at least as much if not more. Ritchie is Hurdles man, as is Barmes, and was hired at Hurdles request not because of his past accomplishments but because he shares Hurdle’s philosophy on hitting and his familiarity with the players. Put another hitting coach in while Hurdle is there as you’re either going to end up with a conflict between coaches if he has a different approach or a puppet who does whatever Hurdle says. Neither of those will solve this problem.

    Someone said earlier that Hurdle was considered a “guru” on offense, well that may be the official line from the Pirate front office but nothing could be further from the truth. During his time as manager in Colorado the media, which isn’t burdened by the unsavory relationship with the team as it is in Pittsburgh, bashed Hurdle constantly for his questionable handing of his lineups and were particularly harsh about how he managed the top of it. A significant problem we see being repeated here. His reputation is very undeserved having benefited from coaching in Colorado which produces offense regardless who manages/coaches and being handed a power laden team with the suddenly resurrected Josh Hamilton in Texas for 2010.

    My heart sank at the news of not only Hurdle being hired but of Jeff Branson being passed over and my worst fears have been realized since.

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