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Wakeup Call: Huntington ties his fate to Stark

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

OAKLAND, Calif. — Brief and to the Point …

>> The Monday column is on the Steelers’ defense getting chewed up and spat out, then discussing being chewed up and … well, you’ll see.

>> Here’s some of Brett Keisel after the game …

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZ_00AtszE8

It’s clear from interviews over the weekend that Neal Huntington has no intention of parting ways with Kyle Stark and/or Greg Smith.

Here’s the Trib’s coverage from Houston.

There are all kinds of layers for analysis there, but the most important, I think, is this: Bob Nutting and Frank Coonelly won’t be able to fire Stark and/or Smith without firing Huntington. That’s a bold position to take, given that the GM is openly discussing the possibility he’ll be fired.

>> If that Friday column on the ‘Hoka Hey’ development was such a non-story, as Huntington and host/team employee Greg Brown insisted during the GM’s radio show yesterday, why invest almost the entire show on the topic?

One thing I learned long ago in this business: No individual or group of individuals decides what is and what isn’t a story.

I’ve written pieces that I thought were a really big deal, saw that the editors displayed them prominently … and they got very little reaction. Hence, not a big story. It wasn’t for us to decide.

I’ve also written pieces that I didn’t think were that big a deal at all — the one about Sidney Crosby and the captaincy last winter, for example — and they ended up becoming huge deals. (The point of discussion was a group of players discussing a temporary captain in Crosby’s absence, which I didn’t then and still don’t think was a big deal.)

Point is, the public decides. Not me, not my editors, not the Pirates.

>> Nowhere at any point in the interview did either the GM or the host dispute a solitary fact in that column.

The closest Huntington came was when he said Kyle Stark’s email was only one in a series of five and, thus, could have been taken out of context.

Does that mean we get to see the other four?

>> Huntington said this in trying to explain one of Stark’s quotes in that email: “We don’t want them to become hippies. We want them to think like hippies.”

>> The radio show is at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Right here on the blog, I’ll post all the relevant details — including how to hear it — with tomorrow’s Wakeup Call.

Flying back from Oakland today, so I’ll be out of commission.

Comments

  1. Milo Hamilton says:

    “We want them to think like hippies.”

    I’d like them to think like ballplayers. SMH.

  2. Eric Bowser says:

    Here’s Neal Huntington logic.

    - This team stinks because it was meant to stink.
    - Quit thinking about us being 16 games over, we’re back to our expected results.

    If I’m an owner hearing my general manager admit he didn’t think the team he put in place would win this year, I have an easy decision about his employment status.

  3. Hurdled says:

    If I’m an owner and my GM trades Jason Bay for nothing more than a middle reliever. I fire him on the spot.

    But I’m not an owner.

  4. Eric Bowser says:

    @Hurdled – Over any number of years, even a good GM is going to miss on a trade or free agent signing or release of one of their own but the good ones hit it right more often than not. It is sad when the best deal on his board is the Yankees giving away one of their own on purpose because A.J. Burnett couldn’t deal with the New York pressure.

    The horrible return for Jason Bay, dumping Jose Bautista for a minor league catcher, giving Clint Barmes a two-year deal, trading Casey McGehee & CASH to Yankees for Chad Qualls, and spending over $50 million in the draft for what amounts to Pedro Alvarez and maybe Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.

    Ignore the Kyle Stark emails and Navy Seals training, just judge Huntington on the win-loss record and how he contributed to the worst winning percentage among the last three general managers (Bonifay, Littlefield, Huntington).

  5. JoeBucco says:

    @Hurdled

    I clearly won the Jason Bay trade, hands down. After all, Bay isn’t even WITH the Red Sox anymore, and we still have Bryan Morris in our system. So there!

    Sincerely,
    Neal Huntington

  6. Dave says:

    Dejan,

    Hypothetic question. Let’s say Huntington is fired this offseason because he doesn’t want to get rid of Stark and Smith and the Pirates finish 3-4 games under .500. Would he be an attractive GM canidate for another franchise? Would he be able to use Nutting as a scape goat?

  7. JoeBucco says:

    @Eric – Yep, I agree. Huntington should have been fired even without this story that has made a mockery out of our team. The guy has done NOTHING, really, but ride some of Dave Littlefield’s guys (Cutch/Walker) and hands-down top draft picks that anyone off the street would have made.

    Five years in, and we’re still waiting on anyone Huntington has ever drafted in rounds 2-50 to contribute to the major league team, let alone be a regular or good player.

  8. Hurdled says:

    Let’s not forget trading Salomon Torres for nothing (he went on to save 28 games for Milwaukee the next year, and pitch in the playoffs).

    Or letting Matt Capps walk. Wasn’t that for about 500k or so? (He went on to be an All Star the next season, and was traded for a catcher who was one of the Twins best prospects at the time).

    The Nate McLouth trade netted nothing of great value (unless you view Charlie Morton’s 23-45 career record with an ERA over 5.00, or Jeff Locke’s career record of 0-5 with an ERA of almost 6.00 as great value).

    A real Hell’s Angel could have done better than him on any one of those moves.

  9. Hurdled says:

    JoeBucco, you are correct, forgot about that, my advanced metrics weren’t calibrated correctly to factor that stat in there. My bad.

  10. aglebagel says:

    A couple thoughts on the Steelers D:

    >>Remember when Timmons was being talked about by the coaching staff as the next Polamalu, in terms of his versatility and making the opposing offense worry about where he was on every play? Seems like a long time ago.

    >>I’ve fought against the idea, over the last couple of years, that the defense was old, because a quality Steelers D is always old. It just means that we have good veteran players who haven’t yet ceded their roles to our soon-to-be good young guys. Well, I’m starting to worry that Hood and Heyward aren’t quite up to the task. And where’s McClendon? Wasn’t he all the rage this year?

    >>Why, on those plays when Palmer got the Steelers to completely give away their scheme on hard counts, didn’t the players ever switch it up? The first time it happened was on that big McFadden run, and even before the play started I said aloud to those watching with me, “Oh boy, they know exactly what we’re doing now.” It happened several times in that second half, and even after being revealed, the play never changed. LeBeau’s scheme is all about deception, right? I think we’re going to see a lot of hard counts in the coming weeks.

  11. BarryVanBonilla says:

    Excellent. I’m glad he didn’t throw Stark under the bus. Having accepted responsibility for this train wreck, he makes it much easier for Bob Nutting to do what he should do: terminate the entire group. Leaving Huntington in place solves nothing. Bob Nutting also should, at a minimum, remove Frank Coonelly from any direct line authority over a new head of baseball operations. He is preternaturally incapable of resisting interference, and no prospective hire worth his salt will accept that sort of micromanaging. Keeping Hurdle on poses a problem, because a new GM will want to make his own managerial choices. Bob Nutting has some difficult professional and personal decisions to make.

  12. ron says:

    DK I have loved your work but now you have went to far .
    It looks like you have become BS at the PG .
    1.Neil has put something out of nothing .
    2.You put all the blame the wrong way .
    A.Hurdle never gave Padro Ceriaco a shot last year how dose he look now.
    B.Mercer this year same thing.
    C.Over the last 6 to 8 weeks Hurdle lost 7 to 9 games add it up Hurdle needs to go .

  13. ron says:

    So much for fair and nonbias reporting now the trib wants all egoes and selfcentered reporters to try and slant there will will .

  14. Ed says:

    From jubilation to disappointment to utter contempt in a matter of a month and a half. Only a “special” organization like the Pittsburgh Pirates can pull this off.

    Virtually all of the good will built up over the last season and two-thirds is gone. How are they going to convince people, other than those who only go for the fireworks and concerts, to come to a game next year?

  15. Skilliemischief says:

    ^^^^ is this guy drunk?!?!… ron, put down the iron city bud!!! Get some sleep!!

  16. Drew71 says:

    Dejan. The commission has met and voted.

    You’re back in.

    DK: Awesome. I will will do my best to will will.

    (Sorry, can’t even attempt mocking humor at 6 am on zero sleep while changing planes in Chicago. At least I got to meet the players!)

  17. Drew71 says:

    I used to be able to slant my will will.

    Now I can barely keep it level.

  18. Meglasdad says:

    Drew, just wanted to say that was great. Still laughing. Question for anyone who remembers, wasn’t Huntington sinking in the Indians organizational chart, not rising?

  19. MrB says:

    I didn’t hear the interview, but are you telling me that Huntington only addressed the hippie reference???

    Amazing…

  20. JAL says:

    JAL’s Your Ghost 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/

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Notebook: Bucs Spark Hit Parade; Huntington Addresses SEALs Criticism

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/pirates-notebook-bucs-spark-hit-parade-huntington-addresses-seals-criticism.html

    First Pitch: Spending Money in Free Agency Isn’t Worth It

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-spending-money-in-free-agency-isnt-worth-it.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates Leave Houston With 8-1 … Win?

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/9/23/3379032/pirates-leave-houston-with-8-1-win

    6 Rumbunter

    Pride. Passion. Pittsburgh Pirates.

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/09/23/pride-passion-pittsburgh-pirates/

    7 Yahoo Sports

    Pirates snap 5-game skid with 8-1 win over Astros

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/pirates-snap-5-game-skid-214523120–mlb.html
    8 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Put It Together In 8-1 Win

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/09/bucs-put-it-together-in-8-1-win.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Bucs leave Houston on a high note

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2012/09/bucs-leave-houston-on-a-high-note/

    10 Fan IQ

    .500-less Days of Summer – The Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.faniq.com/blog/500less-Days-of-Summer–The-Pittsburgh-Pirates-Blog-55370

  21. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 CBS Sports

    Pirates-Mets Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20120924_PIT@NYM/piratesmets-preview

    12 Houston Chronicle

    Pirates explode for 18 hits, down Astros 8-1

    http://blog.chron.com/ultimateastros/2012/09/23/pirates-explode-for-18-hits-down-astros-8-1/

    13 Chicago Tribune

    Pirates Report

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-bbo-pirates-teamreportmtze89mq2k0xl-20120922,0,6784700.story

    14 Sporting News

    Hot Seat: Will Bobby Valentine, Ozzie Guillen, others be back in 2013?

    http://aol.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2012-09-23/ozzie-guillen-bobby-valentine-jim-leyland-mike-sciosia-hot-seat

    15 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Strauss: Molina in hunt for NL MVP

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/strauss-molina-in-hunt-for-nl-mvp/article_940836c5-4270-5663-9bdd-8390e427e9d1.html

    16 New York Times

    Assessing Manager of the Year Races

    http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/22/assessing-manager-of-the-year-races/

    17 Bleacher Report

    7 ‘Problem Child’ MLB Players Who Will Struggle to Find New Homes This Winter

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1345551-7-problem-child-mlb-players-who-will-struggle-to-find-new-homes-this-winte

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    18 PBC Site

    Burnett stellar, gets plenty of support as Bucs win

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_09_23_pitmlb_houmlb_1&mode=recap&c_id=pit

    Huntington blames ‘survivor’ mode for Bucs’ struggles

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120923&content_id=38891794&notebook_id=38891802&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18401

    20 Fangraphs

    AL MVP Debate: We Did This Two Years Ago

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/al-mvp-debate-we-did-this-two-years-ago/

  22. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Vs. Raiders: Pittsburgh Blows 10 Point Lead To Lose 34-31 To Oakland

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/9/23/3379850/steelers-raiders-recap-analysis-stats-week-3-nfl

    Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger On Pace To Shatter Franchise Touchdown Record

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/9/24/3381530/steelers-quarterback-ben-roethlisberger-passing-records-nfl-week-3

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Roethlisberger Claims He Called Plays Not in the Playbook

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/09/roethlisberger-claims-he-called-plays-not-in-the-playbook/

    23 Steelers Gab

    Mike Tomlin’s Post Game Comments After the Raiders Loss

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2012/09/23/mike-tomlins-post-game-comments-after-the-raiders-loss/

    24 Nice Pick Cower

    Steelers vs Raiders: Two Dormant Running Games Ready To Awaken

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/09/21/steelers-vs-raiders-two-dormant-running-games-ready-to-awaken/

    Pitt Blogs

    25 Pitt Blather

    Overthinking Newkirk

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/09/20/overthinking-newkirk/

    26 Cardiac Hill

    As Expected, Pitt Wins; Now What?

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/9/23/3375152/pitt-vs-gardner-webb-football-pittsburgh-panthers-score-tino-sunseri-paul-chryst-recruiting

    WVU Blogs

    27 Metro News

    Austin Comes to WVU’s Emotional Rescue

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=55161

    28 WV Illustrated

    Late Goal Pushes WVU Women’s Soccer Past No. 7 Oklahoma State

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/19617451/late-goal-pushes-wvu-womens-soccer-past-no-7-oklahoma-state

    Soccer(football)

    29 Sky Sports

    Van Persie pen sinks Reds

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/live/match/267523/report

    30 Daily Telegraph

    Manchester City v Arsenal: lessons from Etihad Stadium

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-city/9561734/Manchester-City-v-Arsenal-lessons-from-Etihad-Stadium.html

    31 World Soccer Daily

    Kerlon: where did it all go wrong?

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/blogs/kerlon-where-did-it-all-go-wrong

  23. JAL says:

    Song is Your Ghost Kristen Hersh, 1994 Lead singer of Throwing Muses does many types of songs.

  24. JAL says:

    Mr. B

    I heard the interview and Huntington address all the references

  25. JaxBuc says:

    I’d love to comment or ask a question of ron, above in post #12, but I have no idea what language, accent, or species I should channel to try to communicate effectively with him.

  26. MrB says:

    JAL – Thanks for the clarification.

    DK: Over on the previous comment thread, you’ll find a much more detailed recounting of the radio show.

  27. Fat Jimmy says:

    I love it when people try to be critical and then have 8 typos/grammatical errors in their post.

  28. NMR says:

    Why would you even egg him on like that, Jimmy?

    Check the immaturity at the blog across the river.

  29. chuck snow says:

    All should be fired. Spare no one Mr Nutting including yourself.

  30. Fat Jimmy says:

    Okay, positive and negative outlooks on the Steelers:

    Positive: They are 1-2, but they lost one game despite being down 5 with 3 minutes left and the ball in Ben Roethlisberger’s hands. I’ll take that scenario every week. We’re not going to lose very often when that happens, so a bit of a fluke. We lost another game on a field goal at the gun. This team is two plays away from being 3-0.

    Negative: We lost two games against two BAD teams. Denver has not looked good in their two games after us. The Raiders stink. Even the Jets aren’t particularly good. You would hope the Steelers would be +60 PF/PA at this point.

    Dejan, I completely agree with you: Lawrence Timmons has to start doing something. And I’m a guy with a Timmons #94 jersey. The guy is capable, but doesn’t justify his salary. He’s a cap risk at some point.

  31. Hurdled says:

    Control seems to matter more to this front office than winning does.

    Anyone who dares go against them and their “plan” is removed.

    Anyone who speaks out against them is seen as the enemy.

    Differing opinions are not necessary, because in their minds, they are always right.

    However someone a little more powerful than they will ever be once uttered this quote:

    “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”
    - Theodore Roosevelt

    I’ll let that speak for itself.

  32. Fat Jimmy says:

    You’re right, NMR. My bad. Dejan, if you’re able to edit, I’d welcome it.

    DK: Will do.

  33. NMR says:

    @Jimmy

    I enjoy your posts, and think it is downright embarassing how you were treated on the other blog simply for adapting your views as time changed. Just don’t want those guys over here to make this place the same way.

    DK: What other blog? There are more?

  34. Karen22 says:

    Steelers took the Pirates’ place in the loss column yesterday. Whoda thunk??

    No running game, no pass rush, no pass defense, no discipline (penalties—-whoa!). Long season indeed.

    And Huntington is defending his minions to the death. Hoka hey!

    Rainy days (at least inside) and Mondays. UGH.

  35. Sarcastic Sword says:

    Why cant Smith and Stark be fired w/o firing NH?

  36. NMR says:

    Sports are full of ridiculous hyperbole and metaphor, so the whole “Hoka Hey” thing didn’t phase me at all.

    How many times do we have to hear about a game played between adults compared to hand-to-hand combat or war?

    Yes, the email was taken out of context. No, that doesn’t make it any less nutty.

    Getting overlooked in the reaction over the language used is the fact that multiple people are taking their internal frustrations to outside sources, primarily Dejan.

    On top of the fact that rival execs are doing the same. When was the last time you heard that happen?

    The Collapse II wasn’t caused by Huntington and Coonelly, but maybe the silver lining is that it has exposed the organization we couldn’t see.

  37. Bizrow says:

    I dunno, I think there are several bloggers here that “saw” what the organization is all about?

    A fish stinks from the head, as it were

  38. SJB says:

    “This team is two plays away from being 3-0.”

    Yup, and if I would have only picked 5 different numbers, I would have won the lottery…many times.

    There’s glass half full and then there’s being blindly obtuse.

    “Dejan, I completely agree with you: Lawrence Timmons has to start doing something. And I’m a guy with a Timmons #94 jersey.”

    Fat Jimmy, I always wondered if there were any people out there foolish enough to buy a Timmons Jersey. Now I know. Do you have a hard time trying to figure out whether to wear that one, or your Kendrell Bell jersey?

    The only #94 jersey you’ll ever see me in is one that has the name “BUST” on it.

  39. JMB says:

    It’s hard for me to get too emotionally fired up about NH being fired since we (fans) have no control over the outcome or the replacement. Yes, I’ve wanted him fired since the pathetic return on the Bay trade, and I’ve believed for years that another qualified GM would have us further along by now with better drafts, FA signings, and trades. However, like Nutting’s ownership of the team, no matter how much I type, complain, wail, and vocalize, we are stuck with these guys until we aren’t.

  40. Bizrow says:

    Now its all bad luck and the players being selfish, “survivor mode”?

    Okay……..

  41. Naje says:

    Young money receivers?

    More like self-absorbed, self-promoting, extremely talented flops when it comes to crunch time… when it comes to holding onto the ball as the team is driving for a score that could put the opposition out of reach.

    Antonio Brown… your act is tired. Just do your job and stop the childish grandstanding. That stuff tends to come back and haunt you. Please pound your chest and point to your name when you fumble in the second half of a game and cost your team points.

  42. JuniataKid says:

    OK, so let’s forget the Hoka Hey email. Let’s look at August and September. After five years of drafting at or near the top, how many guys were ready to come up and make an immediate impact, or at least help pull them out of this tailspin? None. Marte was closest, but he was hitting around .250 going into yesterday. How many guys were unable to bunt, employ proper footwork, recognize pitches, hold a runner or steal a base? A lot. That’s inexcusable. Clearly, something’s wrong somewhere. Could be drafting, could be development. Either way, it’s on Huntington. Yes, I admit willingly, he improved things. No doubt. But he started at rock bottom and in my opinion hasn’t improved things nearly enough, especially when looking at the nearly abject lack of bats in double-A and triple-A. Time for Huntington to go. Could the next guy do worse? Absolutely. But after five years, I’m convinced Huntington and Co. don’t have what it takes to make this team a true contender.

  43. Nancy52 says:

    Away for two weeks and …..a losing streak breaks out.
    The WiFi connection my brother used to give me “updates” on the Pirates
    while we were in Maine and Root Sports in the Hazelton hotel room Saturday
    night gave me enough of an idea but then I start reading some game blogs.
    3 wins while we were away. I guess it’s a good thing I couldn’t watch or listen.
    The more I read the more I think the FO has no idea what they are doing.

    As for the Steelers…….defense, running game….where are they?

  44. Milo Hamilton says:

    Here’s something that kind of scares me. Is Bob Nutting really waiting for 10 meaningless games at the end of this regimes 5th year before deciding on its fate ? I heard someone say yesterday that as soon as they lose that 82nd game that heads would roll. Really ?

    Sure he has a big decision to make. But whichever way he decides to go, I sure hope he’s already decided. You have 5 years of evidence, don’t let 10 games color your view. And whichever it is, please get on with it, for the sake of everyone involved.

  45. JMB says:

    My thoughts on the Steelers:

    Without two/three of our best playmakers, this team just doesn’t have the ability to, ahem, ‘make a play’ when they need to. When/if Polamalu, Harrison, and Mendenhall come back, this team should get back on track. I’m withholding judgment until that point, but we do need much more out of Timmons, Woodley, & Mundy.

  46. JAL says:

    On the Steelers, lack of effective pass rush was big yesterday. Give a QB like Palmer time and he pick any defense apart

  47. Naje says:

    JAL– Palmer will pick apart any defense that doesn’t rush him and that has a secondary as weak as the steelers when it comes to making plays.

    The defense is more concerned about running their scheme than they are about reacting to the ball and making plays.

  48. Steve says:

    It’s beginning to look like the recent Steelers’ drafts have not produced much in the way of quality defensive players. Sure a number of the high picks are seeing regular playing time – Timmons, Lewis and Hood are starting and Worilds and Heyward are playing a lot but have any of them really started to impact a game with “splash plays?” Add some of the other recently drafted d backs into the mix and it seems to me the Steelers have not drafted adequate replacements for their aging players like Harrison, Polamalu and Kiesel. Aaron Smith was a great player but neither of the two recently drafted d-linemen appears to be approaching the level he was able to play at. McClendon was all the talk during the pre-season but he doesn’t seem to be impacting things now. This defense wasted a great performance by Ben yesterday. There was a time when the Steelers NEVER lost 10 point, second half leads.

  49. Leefoo says:

    Jandy…..My wife loved “Wicked”. I was not that impressed. Told her it was like watching a ‘chick flick’.

    Very talented cast, but the musical numbers were boring!

    JMHO

    Would’ve rather have been at SC watching the Lions beat the Owls. But, as a husband, it made the wife happy, so that is most important, right?
    :)

  50. Matt Gajtka says:

    Unpopular opinion alert! I do think Huntington is correct in saying that the team wasn’t likely to stay at 16 games over .500. If we’re being honest with ourselves, the talent level of this team didn’t dictate those results. I expected a backslide, although not to this extent.

    My only gripe is that NH said this on a public radio show, where it can come back to the players very easily. Not the type of thing you want your team hearing when confidence is so important in sports. Seems like his desire to defend himself took precedent in this case.

    DK: Speaking only for myself, Matt, No such thing as an unpopular opinion. This place should take pride in getting and welcoming all kinds of viewpoints, as the past few days have illustrated yet again.

  51. Arriba Wilver says:

    This is a little off the beaten path, but I was at my daughter’s first Parents’ Weekend at Ohio University this past weekend, and went to the football game (Bobcats are now 4-0) and the marching band was something else. They kept announcing them as the best marching band in the land, which seemed like an exaggeration . . . but not by much after I saw them. This bit wasn’t the only reason, but it was certainly a crowd pleaser and unusual (yes, I know about the viral video) :

    A lot of teamwork involved . . . hmmm.

  52. Milo Hamilton says:

    I don’t think age or injuries are the main concerns for the Steelers defense. They just don’t think enough like hippies.

  53. Fat Jimmy says:

    Arriba, as an Ohio alum, I was there in the mid-90s when we would go to the football games to see the band, and then leave after halftime. This is a nice change!

    Milo, my only disagreement with your post about Nutting’s decision is that he hasn’t had all that long to seriously consider it. As late as early August, there wasn’t anyone but the normal naysayers who were calling for the GM or manager to be fired. If anything, there was a good bit of congratulations for how the season had been going.

    I don’t think Nutting would have been seriously considering firing his staff at that point.

    While the last 10 games shouldn’t have an enormous role in determining Huntington et al’s future, I can appreciate that Nutting needs a couple weeks to decide.

    DK: I don’t want to break out the violin or anything, but man, it’s good to have you around here. I know we don’t always agree — no one does — but I’ve always valued your opinion and humor.

    The latter might be getting put to use soon!

    Short. Stop.

  54. Naje says:

    Apparently, DK, with the results of the recent Steelers drafts on display this year and last, Kevin Colbert and crew might not be a good comparison with what Huntington’s done.

    Do we overlook or downplay the awful offensive line? The non-playmaking defenders, of which he’s drafted and missed on so many since Cowher left?

    Maybe a little light shown on his drafts—and I know Timmons gets ripped here often, but how about Woodley and his what-looks-to-be 280 lb girth and the lack of production?—is in order…

  55. Fat Jimmy says:

    Yeah, Naje. I stated that Timmons needs to do more, but let me be clear: Timmons isn’t a BAD football player. He just isn’t a great one. Unfortunately, there were a lot of BAD football players on the defensive side of the ball for the Steelers yesterday, including (in order):

    Ryan Mundy
    Ziggy Hood
    Brett Keisel
    Everyone at DT

  56. Arriba Wilver says:

    Jimmy–what’s the “110″ reference for the band?

  57. Naje says:

    Jimmy… I agree… I’m just not one to proclaim that the Penguins and Steelers management teams are infallible… compared to the Pirates’ management, probably so. But I don’t see either of those teams, with all of their incredible talent, doing anything except losing first round playoff series (three years in a row) and games (last year against a terrible 8-8 Denver team) in recent years.

    Sure, the Pirates’ management team is light-years behind in talent procurement and, especially, publicity… but the Steelers are dangerously close to being a .500 team this year and the Penguins, well, they have their issues with playoff flops since winning the Cup.

  58. Milo Hamilton says:

    Jimmy,

    I agree on the timing. And it is a big decision.

    What do you think of this scenario. Nutting orders Huntington to fire Stark & Smith. The ball then is clearly in Neal’s court. He talked big yesterday but when it comes right down to it, will he have the guts to walk ? If he quits in protest, Nutting is off the hook for the remainder of then contract. The question there is – would Nutting be OK with Neal coming back with new lieutenants ?

  59. Naje says:

    Thought of that scenario, too, Milo… either Nutting or Coonelly order Huntington to fire Stark and Smith… a nice standoff that may get the PBC out of this messy, odd (being nice with word choice here) group of talent evaluators.

  60. Milo Hamilton says:

    Another thing, if Huntington & Coonelly both stay, Frank needs to stay out of Neal’s business. He’s a bean counter, count the beans.

  61. Fat Jimmy says:

    By the sound of it — and Dejan obviously heard it this way as well — Huntington isn’t going to throw his guys under the bus. It sounds like house cleaning or same old.

    To be honest with you, I kind of admire Huntington for that. It doesn’t surprise me terribly. You can say a lot of bad things about that guy, but lack of conviction isn’t one of his problems.

    SHOULD they get rid of everyone? I say yes. WILL they? I’m going to say no. And not for any of the Nutting-is-cheap or Nutting-doesn’t-care-about-winning rhetoric. As I posted on Friday, there are very few roster decisions to be made next year (outside of gutting the team, which hopefully no one believes is necessary). Outside of setting the team back one additional year, is there really any harm in letting Huntington finish his contract?

    Again, there are virtually NO reasonable moves that can be made to this team for next year. You’ve got a lot of decent players under control. So outside of a franchise shakeup like trading McCutchen, the team that finishes the year this year is going to be the team that starts next season +/- a couple guys. Getting a new FO in only will help improve the 2013 draft.

  62. Fat Jimmy says:

    Arriba, 110 stands for 110% and they only take 110 members, so it’s a smaller band by college band sizes but they pride themselves on that and it lets them do more creative dance numbers.

  63. NMR says:

    @Jimmy

    I understand the logic, but strongly disagree that there are no moves to be made over the winter.

    While this team does have a lot of positions already settled with young players, it a desparately thin on the bench and bullpen.

    Collapse II has shown just how important those spots can be.

  64. Arriba Wilver says:

    Thanks, Jimmy. I thought it might have something to do with the size, but didn’t know the background. Just by happenstance, we sat on the end in the section right next to the band. It was a fun afternoon, seemed like a bunch of good, talented kids.

  65. Fat Jimmy says:

    Sorry, NMR, I just summarized my post from Friday. My Friday comment was more comprehensive.

    Yes, I agree that catcher and bench and bullpen could all be upgraded. But my point was that there will only be about 2-3 40 man spots available and only a couple guys off of the previous 25 man. We’ll need a new starting catcher. Another RHRP to replace Grilli, and maybe a 1B/RF free agent (especially if you let Sanchez walk).

    So that’s it. We can argue over the value of those various upgrades, but I’ll say that those position changes do not cause a team to vacillate from a .600 winning percentage to a .333 winning percentage. The core causes that, and the core is intact for next season — for better or worse.

  66. NMR says:

    @Jimmy – no no, you’re right on the money. And with just about any other squad I’ve ever watched, I’d agree with you completely.

    But after two collapses, I believe the character of this team is absolutely an issue.

    I have no idea why Huntington feels the need to create this whole “survivor” term, but his overall point is on the money. Once the team started sliding, the players panicked. They quit playing within themselves and the performances suffered.

    I believe the right mix of veteran guys off the bench and in the pen could make a difference.

  67. JMB says:

    If, as was reported, the team’s morale plummeted after the trade deadline due to locker room GM’ing, then firing NH sh/could have a major effect on the 2013 team’s attitude & spirit.

    As to the 2013 draft, I’d like to see someone else in charge of it.

  68. 21sthebest says:

    “If that Friday column on the ‘Hoka Hey’ development was such a non-story, as Huntington and host/team employee Greg Brown insisted during the GM’s radio show yesterday, why invest almost the entire show on the topic?”

    I agree to a point. If I were NH, I would have completely ignored your story DK. I think that would have been his smartest course. On the other hand though, since it made national news, I can see why someone as involved as NH wanted to defend what he was doing in the organization. That’s human nature, IMO. But I think what he did was a mistake.

  69. jackdeloplane says:

    Agree with NMR (again) and the others here who believe the Bucs are finding their true level. I had hoped we would catch lightning in a bottle like the O’s and A’s did this year, but we need to improve between the lines and between the ears. Vets will help with both. But shouldn’t the manager be helpful with this?

    Yes, he has made questionable decisions at times (like any time he signals for Qualls from the pen) but the lack of leadership to stop this malaise is the most glaring issue I have with Hurdle.

  70. nate83 says:

    Milo,

    What you stated in 58 is the exact scenerio I hope plays out. Neal’s blind loyalty to those two men may be what eventually has him go down with the ship. The more I hear about Stark the more I don’t like.

    I guess the disputes he had with some of the former minor league managers 3 or 4 years ago should have been a sign that this is a very stubborn man who has an ego that just won’t listen to those that may know better then him. His ego and NH’s pride may get them both fired.

    I’m hoping the ego goes but if NH goes as well I think it’s a great oppertunity to find an experienced baseball person to take the improved system NH brought and execute it better. I hope we look back 5 years from now and look at NH in a much more positive way then the previous two GM’s. If we don’t that may mean we are in the middle of losing season number 25.

  71. Arriba Wilver says:

    Over at the other paper they’re reporting, accurately, that Neal is 100% behind his team (within the FO) and believes 100% in what they are doing, in an article entitled “Huntington Will Not Make Changes if Retained.” In the same article, they are also reporting that Neal says “I came out in the middle of the season and talked about we weren’t going to have the same second half because we had better depth,” he said. “We had better players. We had better leadership. Unfortunately, we had the same slide. We’ve got to take a long look at ourselves.”

    Anybody else see a disconnect there?

  72. Fat Jimmy says:

    “I believe the right mix of veteran guys off the bench and in the pen could make a difference.”

    I’m a believer in chemistry and leadership and some of those other qualities that don’t show up in SABR. But one of my big issues has always been when a team’s “leader” stinks on the field or doesn’t play much to begin with.

    Maybe this team does need more veteran leadership, but — if it does — then that player needs to be the type of guy who can play every day and play well. Not a guy who pinch hits or platoons.

    So the question becomes: where does this veteran play and (based on projected FAs) who is the right guy?

    I’m not sure there is a good answer for either part of the question.

  73. NMR says:

    “If, as was reported, the team’s morale plummeted after the trade deadline due to locker room GM’ing…”

    Whoa, whoa, whoa…don’t you think thats getting a little loose with the facts?

    This is the exact quote:
    “There’s a feeling among some of the holdover Pirates players that, with a postseason berth within reach this season, management did not step up and get them some help for the here and now.”

    http://blog.triblive.com/bucco-blog/2012/08/10/friday-column-directors-cut/

    Where do you get this plummetting morale stuff?

    Even assuming your gross exagerations were correct, shame on those players. Sanchez has been the best hitter of any traded around the deadline and only Zach Grienke has a lower ERA than Wandy.

    The trade deadline deals were the least of this teams problems and anything other than acknowledging that is the ULTIMATE excuse.

  74. nate83 says:

    I personally think the morale after the trading deadline thing is not a big thing. These guys are wired to compete at the highest level. Losing for most of these guys is not acceptable. Not to mention they have millions of reasons to fight through their friend getting traded away and that comes in the form of cash. They don’t perform they don’t get paid.

    The only two players that may not be concerned about their next contract are Cutch (who is to competative to let up) and Tabata (who knows what is going on in his head). Moral at the trade deadline in my opinion is very low on the list of reasons for the collapse.

  75. NMR says:

    @Jack

    Absolutely agree on Hurdle. For all the superlatives he gets, he’s shown zero ability to lead his team through hard times.

    His managing was reflected in the teams demeanor: desparate and panicked.

    That being said, I’m not a fan of replacing him unless you have another guy in mind that you feel will improve this area. Just like the GM, I’ll take the good with the bad over a revolving door of either up-and-comers or retreads.

  76. Milo Hamilton says:

    this is a bit off the beaten path but, Bill Snyder has to be the most underrated coach in college football. All you have to do is look at his 2 stints at K-State and compare them to the 3 years he was retired. Simply remarkable coach.

  77. JMB says:

    @NMR #73

    Plummeting moral:
    16-33 (.327) in Aug & Sept.vs. a weak schedule. The record and schedule are facts.

  78. NMR says:

    @JMB

    Your cause and effects skills are flawless.

  79. Arriba Wilver says:

    Milo@76–passive-aggressive?

  80. JMB says:

    @NMR

    If the team acq’d the 2nd best SP and the best hitter at the deadline, per #73, and the team played .600 ball in June & July. Why did they collapse in your opinion: a weak bench? regression to the mean? Dude, Where’s my car?

    If a collective has to have a closed door meeting on a subject, then it is a major problem.

    From your link, “Manager Clint Hurdle knows the temperature of his team. When he closed the doors for a post-deadline day meeting last week in Chicago, Hurdle wanted to stomp out any dissatisfaction about the new-look roster. ‘Anyone who has any GM in them, they’ve got to let it go,’ Hurdle said. ‘Anyone who has any manager in them, they’ve got to let it go.’”

  81. JMB says:

    “Stomp out” is also a pretty emotional word choice by Rob B., so I feel that it is/was a major issue for the team.

  82. nate83 says:

    JMB

    How does the record show fact that it was because of morale? Yes 16-33 is fact but morale being the reason is not. Both sides of the debate are strictly opinion. Every player wants to be all in every year. Why would a current player care if we trade away a player that will help us in 4 years when there is only a 25% chance they will be playing for the Pirates in 4 years. The O’s and A’s didn’t collapse when they made even fewer trade deadline moves then us.

  83. MrB says:

    @ Hurdled – Your post 31 is right on the money and reflects on what many of us have been stating for years. Your statements fit the description and actions of immature, incompetent fools placed in positions of authority, who know that they are not qualified for their jobs and in way over their heads.

  84. NMR says:

    Weak bench, regression, poor managing, and too many guys not playing within themselves.

    Not one magic bullet.

    And certainly not “plummetting morale”, which you still have absolutely zero proof exists, over the trade deadline.

    Think about what you’re saying…25 men collectively chose to pout their way through a second embarrassing historic losing streak because their GM didn’t trade for a flashy name.

    What part of that makes any sense?

    How were the Orioles, A’s, Phillies, Padres, or Brewers somehow, miraculously able to pull themselves up by the boot straps and show up to work everyday without these magical trade deadline deals?

  85. Leefoo says:

    AW…on # 71…I believe that the unexpected (steep) decline of JMac, Karstens’ hip and then Walker’s two injuries were key.

    Losing the JMac of the first half, was like losing your ace.

    JMHO

    ..

  86. nate83 says:

    If the collapse is because of morale after the deadline I don’t want any of these weak minded players on my team anyway. Maybe they need NAVY SEAL’s training to teach them how to be more mentally tough. At the end of the day if the inability to mentally overcome perceived failure to make a move at the deadline is an issue this team wasn’t going anywhere this year anyway’s.

    Maybe they needed Tomlin to come in after the deadline and tell all the players that standard is the standard now shut up and go out and play up to our staandars.

  87. Arriba Wilver says:

    Foo-but if you take, as Neal has appeared to, the FO performance out of the equation. how do you “take a long look at ourselves” with any credibility?

  88. NMR says:

    @nate

    It’s not even fair to the players to entertain the idea that their collapse in performance is tied to being that incredibly, embarrassingly mentally weak.

    It’s laughable for that to be seen as the cause.

  89. Milo Hamilton says:

    I don’t know about you guys but after 2 years of this, I’m suffering from plummeting moral.

  90. NMR says:

    I think the entire fan base is suffering from plummeting “give-a-sh*t”.

  91. JMB says:

    @Milo

    Me2!

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Plummeting

    In honor of FJ’s #27, it’s plummeting.

    @NMR please don’t put quotes around “plummetting,” as if it was my typo.

  92. Fat Jimmy says:

    If the collapse is because of morale after the deadline I don’t want any of these weak minded players on my team anyway. Maybe they need NAVY SEAL’s training to teach them how to be more mentally tough. At the end of the day if the inability to mentally overcome perceived failure to make a move at the deadline is an issue this team wasn’t going anywhere this year anyway’s.
    ******

    Completely agree.

    If morale caused this slump, then Nutting should spend $10 million on a psychologist.

  93. nate83 says:

    NMR

    I agree completely. These guys are not wired to have prolonged emotional issues that keep them from winning. Sure a “big” trade could have given them a 3 or 4 game emotional jump start but a 49 game collapse is not because of morale. The only time this could be true is if a manager has lost his team. That is not what I see happening to this team.

    Leefoo @ 85 stated the number 1 reason for the collapse. Batting average is exactly the same as it was before the all star break pitching ERA has went up more then a run. Amazingly the best starter since the trade line is Wandy and we have him at a reasonably low salary for 2 more years. Maybe that will boost moral.

  94. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    How exactly do Hippies think? I wasn’t around in the 60′s, so its kinda difficult for me to think that they actually think.

    I live in Northern California, the place where hippies go to mingle, I still don’t know how they actually think?

  95. JMB says:

    @NMR

    Speaking of cause & effect, the Giants are 33-17 (.660) in Aug. & Sept. since acq’ing Hunter Pence.

    I’d agree that his personal numbers are poor and don’t lead to a clean, clear cause & effect, but the record is the record. Maybe the Giants’ FO pumped up their team by being truly “all-in” at the deadline. In a 162 game grind, team morale matters immensely.

  96. Leefoo says:

    AW…I feel reasonably sure that Nutting will take a long hard look at EVERYTHING.

    If he thinks NH is delusional, I think he’ll fire him.

    However, NH was in a lose lose situation in that interview. No matter WHAT he said, it was gonna be criticized.

    JMHO.

    .

  97. Thundercrack says:

    I know I sound like a broken record, but I thought last year’s “collapse” was mainly due to injuries. Especially to pitchers and catchers.

    There have been some injuries this year, but not as many. Something happened to JMac, Shaky bullpen plus zero clutch hitting in the past few weeks have been a factor this year. Plus when your shortstop and catcher (usually your #7 & #8 hitters) hit around or below .200 -that is eventually going to catch up with you. And of course, they strike out way too much.

    That is my humble opinion.

  98. Leefoo says:

    Ryan…when I was a hippie, I didn’t think….I just partied!!!!

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..maybe Kyle IS on to something!
    :) :) :)

    ‘Hash’ing it out Foo

    .

  99. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Pirates won and Steelers lost, who would’ve thunk it?

    Honestly, from my view, the biggest issue with the Steelers is the pash rush, or lack there of. Woodley got to the QB one time. Not much of a pressure after that at all, by anybody.

    Now, there were a lot of high scoring games this weekend. I believe that is due to the replacement refs. They are calling ALOT of defensive penalties. This tighten downs what defenders can do. A lot of those calls will get called with the replacement guys whereas the regulars might let some go……

    Either way, the NFL isn’t losing any money by keeping the replacement refs in there. If anyone has studied economics, its called inelastic. Why bother rushing to get the regulars out there when fans won’t leave, still tune it, and still dish out all the money for the games? Win/win for the NFL, even though Goodell looks like a bigger stooge than usual.

  100. Jandy says:

    Foo #49, you did the right thing. If wife is happy, EVERYBODY is happy :)

  101. Thundercrack says:

    Foo, I agree with you. But that is part of Huntington’s problem. Sometimes he should say less.

    Yesterday he could of (or should of) spent 5 minutes of that show talking about the leaked email and the SEAL training. Then move on to what is happening on the field.

    That team really needs to hire a public relations firm to teach them a few things.

  102. Arriba Wilver says:

    JMac pitches, or at least used to pitch, every 5th day. In April-July he was 10-5. In August and Sept he is 2-3. So assume he continued his production after July, he’d be 3-2 or 4-1 in Aug-Sept instead of 2-3. So, best case scenario if he had continued his pre-August production, we’d have 2 more wins. So how does morale mean nothing, but JMac’s production answer everything?

  103. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    JMB

    Check out what the Giants pitching staff has done since then. Giants go as far as the their pitching staff takes them.

    Year in, year out, it is hard to find a better staff than what the Giants have. 2010 when they won the WS, it was all about the pitching and some timely hitting.

    Pitching wins championships!! What’s the biggest cause of the Pirates collapse? Pitching. JMac blew up. BP blew leads.

  104. Leefoo says:

    TC…first off, it is ‘should HAVE’ (should’ve). C’mon man….:). Not sure where that ‘should of’ got started, but you sure do see a lot of it…like nails on a chalkboard to me. :)

    But, I agree, he should’ve done what you said….Their PR is STILL lacking….big time.

    ======

    Jandy….yes….I learned that in Husband 301. Glad I took that course. 101 & 201 wouldn’t have been enough! At intermission, in the bathroom, quite a few guys weren’t into it….musta been a LOT of college FB fans in there. :) :)

    .

  105. nate83 says:

    JMB

    But how did they overcome losing their best player to a 50 game suspension? How could they possible keep their moral up in the face of such termoil? They are playing a silly game for millions of dollars unless they traded for 8 Milton Bradley’s team moral would not be affected.

    How do you expain Philly playing better without Pence and Victorino?

  106. Arriba Wilver says:

    Foo—did you hear the interview? There could not have been a more Neal-friendly interview on the planet. No question. If he thought it was lose-lose, don’t have it.

  107. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @Foo

    Kinda what I thought hippies were supposed to do.

    Besides finding an issue to protest about, have wrong information about that issue…and stand out in front of government agencies and get in workers way.

    Other than that, I don’t get how the reverts to baseball thinking…..

  108. NMR says:

    @JMB

    And the Dodgers are 10-16 since their trade with the Red Sox.

    And the Brewers are 33-17 since they DUMPED Grienke.

    Absolutely zero positive correlation.

  109. RobertoForever says:

    @Ryan

    Agree that the biggest issue was the lack of the pass rush for the Steelers. But I would like to throw in the lack of a run game to salt away the game as issue 1A. It showed up in that 3rd and 1 late in the game, as well as the inability to put together a long drive that milked the clock at the time that running out the clock was critical.

    And on the replacement refs, last week the national media was up in arms about all the holding and contact past 5 yards that defenses got away with. Is it really a surprise that the ref crews called more defensive penalties this week on holding, illegal contact and pi?

  110. Thundercrack says:

    Foo,
    Sorry for the typo. But some of us are still trying to type blog posts and work at the same time

    :-)

  111. Jandy says:

    under the weather today, gonna nap…later guys.

  112. Milo Hamilton says:

    nate,

    The Giants didn’t lose their best player to a 50 game suspension. They lost their best player last year & they couldn’t overcome it.

  113. JMB says:

    @Nate83

    They overcame by being “all-in” in the eyes of the players.

    I’d have to look it up, but didn’t Chase Utley & Ryan Howard return for Philly?

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=howarry01&year=2012&t=b

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=utleych01&year=2012&t=b

  114. NMR says:

    I’m pretty sure losing every night had a little bit more of an effect on morale than not having Hunter Pence hitting .227 in the clean-up spot.

  115. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    RF

    I agree they need a better run game, however I disagree about needing the run game to milk the clock.

    The Steelers have dominated time of possession with the current running game that they are using.

    Defense, Defense, De-fense……..#1 issue right now.

  116. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    BTW,

    #FREEBARONBATCH

  117. JHadar says:

    I’ve always had mixed feelings about Huntington. Good plan, rotten execution. It took me a couple years of hoping to recognize that the Bay trade wasn’t going to materialize. It’s not reasonable to expect rookies to step in and play up to their potential in their first year, but after three you should be seeing something.

    You’d see flashes of what those guys should have been — especially Andy LaRoche and Brandon Moss, but in the end something — and sadly I think it was organizational rather than a lack of talent — killed their careers.

    Huntington’s trades have been both good and bad — but except for the Nady/Marte and Bay deals, not very bold. Stopping gaps and filling holes, incremental improvements when they work and when they don’t, “well there was a hole there anyway.” (The McLouth deal depends on whether you consider the Nate we gave up or what he became.)

    If you want to say that there’s plenty of blame to go around, the evidence is there. The game is played on the field, by the players that Hurdle manages, and Stark trains, and Huntington hires with a budget Coonelly sets from the funds Nutting makes available..

    Should we really be celebrating Barmes strong finish after an empty season — getting good when everyone else was getting bad, or maybe Mighty Rod Barajas creeping over the Mendoza line?

    OK, we have a core in McCutchen, Burnett, Walker, Jones, and Alvarez. And that’s where we were five years ago. We had a core and no support. EXCEPT that five years ago we didn’t but get a little sniff of .500. This year we contended. And then something went horribly wrong.

    So you have to wonder are they just now getting it, or is it really time for a change? Personally I go back to what was expected at the beginning of the season, and my personal conclusion, is that sometimes you just have to listen to the fans.

    Give the fans a winning baseball club and they will support it. They proved that this year by going to the ball park. Keep Neal and you risk losing the support at the ticket window. Yes, it will come back if he wins — and if things had gone on in August and September they way they were going, he would have been a hero, the savior of Pittsburgh baseball. No kidding.

    But it didn’t work out that way, and if I were Bob Nutting I would weighing the risk of keeping him against the risk of bringing in someone new. It’s a gamble either way, but the folks who pay the bills are much more likely to go with someone new.

    Basically this season has used up the last of Neal’s good will. If they keep him, I’ll continue to root for the club — but it will be hard to buy in, even if they are leading in August. And yes, if Neal goes, the dominoes fall.

  118. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Morale issues? Seriously that’s what its coming down too?

  119. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    beatings will continue until morale improves

  120. nate83 says:

    JMB

    If moral was low it is completely on the players. They added more pieces then the O’s and A’s which are teams that have since played their way into the playoffs. Just so I understand are you upset at managment for making morale low or are you upset at the players for not being “all-in” themselves.

  121. nate83 says:

    Milo,

    You are correct. Posey is their best player. Good catch that was an oversight on my part.

  122. nate83 says:

    JHader

    I hope we are what the Nationals where 2 or 3 years ago. I feels like we are about to turn the corner but it will still need to be supplemented with free agent pickups to fill holes, and I don’t mean someone making 4 million a year.

    Just a side note Brandon Moss’s career is not killed. He is playing really well right now and ironically trading for him and getting rid of him are both some of the worse moves NH has ever made.

  123. Arriba Wilver says:

    Hey, look, I don’t have a clue why there was Collapse II. And I obviously don’t know if the deadline deals or lack thereof are the reason, or if morale is it. But, regardless of whether you think they should have done it or not based on the prospects (yes, prospects) given up, I think it is delusional to think that Headley would not have made a difference.

  124. NMR says:

    I’m going to suck really bad at my job this week because my boss didn’t hire our competitors best engineer.

    #piratelogic

  125. NMR says:

    @Arriba – When did Headley learn to pitch? :)

  126. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    AW

    I agree, no reason to think Headley would (of) LOL helped.

    Where do you play him though? That was always my biggest question. I’m not a big fan of middle of the season switching of positions.

  127. Arriba Wilver says:

    nate–the Nationals are not a good comp for us. We are on totally different wavelengths in terms of what the ownership is willing to invest. Think back to all the ridicule about what they spent on Jayson Werth. On the other hand, they have Sean Burnett, Zach Duke and Tom Gorzelanny on the roster.

  128. RobertoForever says:

    @Ryan

    Agreed. Defense and pass rush is #1.

    How about that morale of Garrett Jones – .281/.341/.856 line for the 2nd half. His morale must be really low.

  129. nate83 says:

    Arriba

    Hindsight is 20/20. How do you know Headley is the guy to pick up? Where do you play him? His natural position is 3rd I believe. What if we picked up Pence who was a better fit in the outfield and hasn’t done much since the trade? That is like saying why didn’t we pick Tom Brady in the fifth round.

    One year Cody Ross was the magic golden ticket another year it was that little shortstop who’s name escapes me right now. If the current players on the team for the Pirates would have matched their first half perfermance we would be saying Wandy was the magic golden ticket because he has been that good since the first few starts.

  130. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Eckstein?

  131. nate83 says:

    Arriba

    Agree, I wasn’t comparing their front offices or owners just the feeling that they where close and underachieving for a couple of years. They have been a lot peoples break out team of the year pick for 3 years now and it finally happened.

  132. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–I think I made it pretty clear for the purposes of my post I wasn’t criticizing the FO (“Hey, look, I don’t have a clue why there was Collapse II.”), or saying they should have done the deal (not saying they shouldn’t have, either), but rather the posters who act like there’s nothing that could have been done, so the FO is blameless. If morale is way down the list, what is on the list? In my view, it sure ain’t all on McDonald.

  133. nate83 says:

    Yes Echstein!!!! Thanks.

  134. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    The name that doesn’t get mentioned in those discussions right now, Marco Scuturo. Look what he’s done since being picked up by the Giants.

    Traded for VERY little also.

  135. nate83 says:

    Arriba

    I think it’s on all the players and maybe on a lack of depth. Is it their fault they played over their head’s at the beginning of the year? I don’t think so, but they are better then the 16-33 they put up over the last 50 games. Is the manager to blame for not getting everything out of the players? I’m always one to say the players need to be accountable.

    The depth part I think will be better next year. Sanchez, Snyder and Holt would all make good bench players in my opinion. This assumes that Nutting steps up and gets 2 free agents at first and catcher that are legitimate major leaguers (not holding my breath).

  136. Arriba Wilver says:

    nate–lots of people keep focusing on Pence and Victorino. if you’re going to look at the guys who haven’t done so well since the break, then it’s certainly fair to focus on the guys who have. 20-20 works both ways, unless the conclusion going in is that the FO has no responsibility.

  137. NMR says:

    @Arriba

    Come on, man. My post wasn’t meant seriously. I even included the dreaded smiley face!

    I’m not sure who is saying the FO is blameless or that morale isn’t important. Certainly not me.

    It was stated as fact that the cause of the collapse was “plummeting morale” directly related to the FO not acquiring a flashy, big name player. That is categorically false.

    I just don’t see the trade deadline as a panacea. It never has been, and this year continued to show that it is not one.

  138. nate83 says:

    Ryan

    I agree, but again how do you know which guy is the guy. Baseball is crazy. Dodgers take on 100 million in contracts and it adds nothing to their team and then Scuturo puts a team on his back and carries them. Sanchez or Snyder could have just as easily been that guy as well. For the record they haven’t been bad by any stretch of the imagination.

  139. Boise Bucco says:

    Not gonna try to make excuses, but how much leeway does NH get for taking the Bucs GM spot when nobody else really wanted it? I won’t pretend to know who else was in the running, but even with Bay and Nady, and with Cutch and PRNW in the minors, there wasn’t really much to work with. Can’t imagine that job was too high on anyone’s wishlist.

  140. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @Nate

    And that’s the difficult part. Who knows. Won’t know. I don’t have a major issue with either Snider or Sanchez. Gabby hasn’t been doing all that bad and I suspect he’ll be the everyday 1B next year.

  141. Fat Jimmy says:

    Can we get some alignment on how we define certain terms? I see a lot of people (Dejan included) who talk about “depth” as being part of the reason for the collapse. To me, “depth” means “guys on the bench” or “minor leaguer to fill in for an injured player”. Is that what other mean by depth?

    If so, then I don’t think depth had anything to do with the collapse. “Lack of talent” was the reason for the collapse.

  142. nate83 says:

    Arriba

    My point which has been stated pretty consistently is that the FO in this case did make moves and the moves they made have actually brought in players that are some of the better contributers since the trade deadline. If the current players would have continued playing like they did before the all star break Snyder, Sanchez and Wandy would have been key additions. The current players have not performed to anywhere near the level they showed they are capable of.

    The front office can not be blamed for not having the winning lottery ticket and for what it is worth Headley does not get this current team into the playoffs because no players adds more then like 2 or 3 wins over 50 games and he would have taken at bats away from Jones.

  143. Arriba Wilver says:

    BB–let me be succinct–none. lots of people would take one of 30 jobs on the planet, any day of the week, any year. That one doesn’t fly. I’m sure there were experienced GM’s who would have taken it over being a talking head on MLB.com, let alone people with better resumes than NH.

  144. nate83 says:

    Jimmy

    That is my favorite post of the day. “Lack of talent” is to blame for my golf game as well.

  145. Arriba Wilver says:

    nate–I’m speechless.

  146. pghboyinca says:

    To Fat Jimmy and those who think there are only 2-3 major league slots and 3-4 40 man positions ot evaluate this winter I have one word………WHAT???? You have to be seriousloy delusional to even vaguely consider that let alone evaluate it and make it your opinion. Barajas and Barmes should never wear a Pirate uni again under any circumstnace. Snider, Gabby, Tabata, Pressley, Harrison, etc…all have major issues and need a fresh evaluation of where or if they fit. Outside of Alvarez the only position players young enough that are definately a part of the future are Walker, Cutch, and Marte and they have one thing in common. They were not acquired by Huntingclown.

    Where is this supposed depth of qulaity young arms? Two qulaity young studs picked in the top 3 of 2 drafts still a couple years away is all I see.

    And Huntington statinghis belief in Starks methods by saying “the ohter teams have mmssive resources so we have to resort to out of the box methods’ reeks of playing the “small market” bullshit this regime has fed this city for a decade. How about out scouting and out working the other guys? Cincy, Milwaukee, Oakland, Tampa Bay, to name just few seem to be able to compete….Stop the nonsense and fire this bozo and take Coonelly and the “development team” with him. There needs to be ahouse cleaning or demolition. This building is rotten.

  147. JHadar says:

    Jimmy — When there’s no depth, you definition is fine, is it lack of talent or injuries and lack of rest?

  148. NMR says:

    People need to take a look at the stats or really, really alter their expectations of the free agent/trade market if they think the Pirates need/want an improvement at 1st base.

    Gabby Sanchez/Garret Jones both rank Top 10 in all of baseball this season, judged by OPS.

    The Pittsburgh Pirates will not be able to improve on that.

  149. nate83 says:

    Arriba

    A lot of people at the same level as NH would take a 1 in 30 job. Because there are only 30 jobs a legitimate canidate would not take the job because you may only have one chance to be a GM. They wouldn’t waste it on a job with little chance to succeed. There are guys that everyone in the industry know will be an eventual GM. Those guys don’t mind waiting another year to two to get the job they want.

  150. NMR says:

    If top free agent players won’t come to Pittsburgh, why would GM’s?

  151. 21sthebest says:

    “There are guys that everyone in the industry know will be an eventual GM. Those guys don’t mind waiting another year to two to get the job they want.”

    Don’t be so sure. If there was somebody, for example, in the Twins organization that was a hot commodity a year or two ago and waited, what do you think has happened to their stock now? Same with the Indians.

    I’m not sure the guys you described have the luxury to pick and choose very much.

  152. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–”It was stated as fact that the cause of the collapse was ‘plummeting morale’
    directly related to the FO not acquiring a flashy, big name player. That is categorically false.”

    Do you have a number citation to a post?

    nate–so, are you saying Neal should get some leeway for taking the Pirate GM job when no one else really wanted it (#139)?

  153. NMR says:

    @AW – Read JMB’s string starting with #67. He’s been quite emphatic.

  154. Bizrow says:

    The decision needs to be made on the BMTIB’s overall body of work.

    And that work, ain’t very pretty

  155. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–I did read JMB’s string starting with #67, and don’t see him saying what you said he said.

  156. Fat Jimmy says:

    PGHboy,

    I am not delusional. Allow me to pick apart your post:

    I pointed out that Barajas needs replaced. You agree with me on that point.

    You suggest Barmes shouldn’t “ever wear the uniform”. Barmes hit .271 in August and is hitting .278 in September. He was horrible in April and May, but even if you take the last four months of the year, he’s hitting around .260 with good defense. Which shortstop in the free agent market do you think is an obvious improvement over that? Because you can’t just rail about how horrible one guy is and then not offer an alternative.

    You only identified 5 guys that you think should be replaced because of their “major issues”. You named: Snider, Gabby, Tabata, Pressley, Harrison. Only problem here is that those 5 guys have never been on a 25-man at the same time. There really isn’t any roster configuration that would have more than 4 of them on at the same time. And, if you took the time to read my post on Friday, you would have seen that I suggested that a new GM might want to upgrade RF/1B. Regardless, only Snider is a regular at this point.

    You didn’t point out that they probably will need another arm for the bullpen, so add that.

    It’s exactly what I said. At most, the GM will have room to add 3-4 guys to the 25 man, including only ONE positional starter.

    That isn’t much roster flexibility.

  157. NMR says:

    @Arriba – JMB certainly disagrees.

  158. JMB says:

    My #67 post was in regards to FJ’s #61 post saying that “Getting a new FO in only will help improve the 2013 draft.”

    My conclusion was “firing NH sh/could have a major effect on the 2013 team’s attitude & spirit” (aka “morale”).

  159. Fat Jimmy says:

    And, btw, I meant one positional starter besides Barajas. And I’m being fairly aggressive by saying that there is room to add that one guy. You could make an argument that given Snider and Tabata’s skill sets and profiles, the two of them are worth investing playing time. Personally, I think they both stink, which is why I’d be open to finding that RF/1B guy to add to the lineup.

  160. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    GM and his assistants must go…there’s nothing to back them up staying.

    There will be former GM’s out there who would accept this job.

    The key will always go back to development. I don’t care who you bring in, as long as their #1 focus in the minors is player development.

  161. BFD says:

    It is almost impossible to believe that some are trying to claim that an upgrade at only a few positions will position this club well heading into 2013?? After this crash and burn job???

    Also, It appears the regime is at work on Smizik’s blog this afternoon calling DK’s reporting shoddy and he only wanted to sensationalize the Stark email and purposely left out pieces of it…. The regime never sleeps.

    DK: Every last syllable of the email ran on the blog and was denoted as such in the print and online versions.

  162. JMB says:

    Speaking of Pence, Posey, and the Giants, Pence has generally been batting behind Posey since joining the team. Posey put up his best OPS of the season in August — after Pence was acq’d.

    Pence has batted 5th in 43 games with the Giants.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=pencehu01&t=b&year=2012&team=SFG&per162=0

    Posey has batted 4th in 134 games this season.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=poseybu01&year=2012&t=b

    @NMR #108 — “Absolutely zero positive correlation.”

    Me thinks thou speak too boldly.

  163. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–# 157 and #158. Oops (on your part).

  164. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Fat Jim,

    Arguing about Barmes is a waste of time….He’ll be the Pirates starting SS next season. They won’t throw away $5 million.

    Catching is the key FA target. The Fort isn’t an everyday guy. Great backup though. IMO.

    I do think Snider/Tabata will switch platoon next year.

    The big question of the off season though is what will the Pirates do with Garrett Jones.

  165. Milo Hamilton says:

    The Orioles are 32-15 since the deadline & they didn’t do anything.

  166. Fat Jimmy says:

    Ryan, I agree, and that’s my point. Though I wouldn’t position it as completely about the money. It’s about the money AND the alternatives. There’s no point paying $5 million to a guy who can hit .250 to go away so that you can pay $7 million to a guy to come in and hit .260.

    It would be a real shame if the FO didn’t retain Jones (which it can do as long as they offer him arbitration). He’s been a solid player for them and, again, there aren’t better alternatives. I can’t see that happening, though.

  167. NMR says:

    Oh shoot, you got me. He only spent the entire morning trying to back up something different.

  168. nate83 says:

    Arriba @ 152

    I said no such thing in post 139. Boise Bucco posted that. My post 149 debated with you on weather or not there where a lot of candidates. I never said in that post he should get leeway. I can’t imagine many wanting that job 5 years ago. I would bet it would be easier to get someone to take the job now.

  169. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–typical ambiguity to justify over the top accusations. Just deal with the facts, man, it’s easier, and more convincing.

  170. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    FAt Jimbo

    I agree. The only better option at SS this past offseason was Jose Reyes. Would’ve been awesome, but we all know that wasn’t happening.

    I do think Jones should be retained as well. Not a long term candidate, but a year to year guy is fine by me. Unless you can get him for 3 more years on a fairly reasonable contract.

  171. Arriba Wilver says:

    nate- I just asked the question (#152) for clarification. Didn’t accuse you of anything.

  172. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @Nate

    No leeway…….None. The Pirates went on the cheap to get him. We don’t even know who else was available or interviewed.

    I’m sure there were plenty of people willing to take that job.

    Odds are, current GM’s at the time would not jump their ship for the Buccos, I wouldn’t blame any of them for that.

  173. nate83 says:

    Ryan

    Agree completely. I don’t give NH any leeway when it comes to getting the job based on who was available. He did get the job so it is his 1 out of 30 chance to make the best of it. He has done some really good things for this franchise and he has made mistakes as well.

    I have said numerous times if he gets fired this off season I would not be outraged one bit. I am on the fence on whether he is the right guy going forward. He had the right plan and for that we are in better shape then 5 years ago. I do not think this collapse falls mostly on his shoulders. I just hope the next guy is not a return to the previous guys.

  174. NMR says:

    @AW – You have got to be kidding me. You win. JMB never said any of the things he wrote above. This conversation is thrilling. Last word is yours.

    @Ryan – Don’t even bother taking a look at the FA catching market. I think that spot is going to have to improve via trade.

  175. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    No. The collapse falls on the shoulders of the players. The lack of depth, falls on the GM’s shoulders.

    Chad Qualls? Really? The dude from the Angels? Really?

  176. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @NMR

    I wasn’t going to yet….Waayyyy too early for any of that. Trade works for me. Buster Posey available? LOL

  177. Milo Hamilton says:

    Ryan,

    The dude from the Hell’s Angels ?

  178. NMR says:

    @Ryan

    Somebody already released a “Top 100″ list. I think I counted one catcher under 35 yo.

    Rod did say he’d take a pay cut…. :)

  179. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–last word is mine? Really? OK, your response in #174 is one of your typical responses when you can’t back up your over the top exaggerations about what others have said to support your feeling of superiority. Thanks for giving me the last word.

  180. Drew71 says:

    Wow. Energetic day.

    Can you imagine what it would be like in here today if the team had LOST yesterday?

    Where’s ron when we need him.

    Or Dejan. Even if he’s will will slanted.

    DK: I will will get you for this.

  181. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Ha Ha….I’m sure they have some guys available.

  182. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @NMR

    I guess it depends on how they feel about Tony Sanchez. Another 35 year old guy would work if they feel he’s only a year away or so.

    His stats sure don’t look like it though.

  183. aglebagel says:

    @Foo-

    You weren’t into Wicked at intermission, right after Defying Gravity? Wow. Of course when I saw it I was sitting front-row center on Broadway, so that certainly made it more powerful…

  184. BarryVanBonilla says:

    In response to Milo and Jimmy, specifically Milo’s question whether Bob Nutting would be OK with Neal coming back with new lieutenants? I hope the answer is no, for several reasons.

    First, by rather forcefully defending his team, Huntington took ownership of the individuals and their work. In any event, if he is left to hire replacements there is no reason anybody should have any confidence they will be better suited to their positions than are Kyle Stark and Greg Smith. To the extent that Huntington’s own position is involved, it makes no sense to keep an executive and then proceed to cut the legs out from under him by managing his selection of subordinates.

    Second, there is serious dissatisfaction among many in the organization with Neal Huntington personally, and with his practices. Relieving Stark and/or Smith resolves none of those issues, and runs the risk that disorganization and mixed messages will pervade the player development and draft process.

    What Dejan and others in the media have been describing, and what I and others have been hearing, reflect a dysfunctional organization and a toxic work environment. In what universe can these individuals function together when the response to the e-mails matter was, instead of addressing the issues presented head on, to quarantine minor league coaches’ laptops (presumably to identify the leaker).

    In politics when you become the butt of jokes, it is said (accurately) that you are finished. The situation here is no different. No serious person takes this organization or its practices seriously anymore. That requires excising the cancer at its origin, which means at a minimum that Huntington and his hires must go, as well as Hurdle and his, with a couple of exceptions.

    Personally, I would also relieve Frank Coonelly, but if Bob Nutting is not of a mind to do so, he should at a minimum remove him from any direct line authority over the new head of baseball operations. They could do this several ways. One would be to hire a counterpart to Coonelly, who would be in charge of baseball operations and who would hire a new general manager. That neatly removes Coonelly from the baseball side, and allows Bob Nutting to avoid having to have a direct report who is a step below Coonelly, answering to him directly.

    With some guts and imagination, they can avoid the massive upheaval that occurred in 2008 and 2009, and continue the unfinished process of rebuilding, this time with professional execution. It is time for amateur hour to end at 115 Federal.

  185. Dan1283 says:

    Simply an awesome post, BVB. Thanks.

 
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