Will Alvarez be moved to first base and will pitching be addressed in the offseason?
President Frank Coonelly held his monthly online chat on Wednesday. If you missed it, here are a few of the interesting questions.
The team made some improvements and showed some growth, but has a glaring lack of starting pitching going into 2011. The team made some improvements and showed some growth, but has a glaring lack of starting pitching going into 2011.
“We agree that, despite what was an incredibly frustrating and disappointing season, a solid core of position players have emerged that showed growth in the system and are players about whom we are excited moving forward. For the second consecutive year, we had multiple players — this year Jose Tabata, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez — who should receive serious consideration for top rookie honors. I also agree that our pitching, particularly our starting pitching, was extremely poor and made it difficult for this team to win on a consistent basis. Fortunately, a strength of our Minor League system is the starting pitching that helped the Altoona Curve win the Eastern League this year, particularly Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris and Jeff Locke. While the strong performances of these young pitchers bode well for our rotation in the near future, it is far from certain that any of them will be ready to join the rotation out of Spring Training. As a result, we will look to add starting pitching this offseason, either through the free agent market or the trade market. James McDonald obviously was a bright spot after joining the rotation in August and Ross Ohlendorf, who pitched much better than his record would otherwise indicate, will be ready to rejoin the rotation in the spring. Our fans, including season-ticket holders like yourself, should know that one of Neal Huntington’s highest priorities this offseason is to improve the pitching staff.”
Do you see any of the current coaches being retained by the new manager?
“There are quality baseball men and quality individuals on our coaching staff who are highly valued by the organization. I certainly can foresee members of last year’s staff having a role on the staff in 2011 or otherwise within the organization. In fairness to the staff members, Neal informed them that they were free to explore other opportunities. But he also told them that they were highly valued by the organization and that we would working hard to select a new manager as expeditiously as possible so that we could provide them with a definitive answer in terms of their role with the Pirates.”
Are there any plans to move Pedro Alvarez, whose defense was suspect at times, to first base and sign a free-agent third baseman?
“There are no current plans to move Pedro to first base. Our focus remains putting Pedro in a position to stay at third base for his entire career. Pedro made several above-average-to-spectacular plays at third base this season but, at the same time, struggled at times. While this is not unexpected for a player in his first Major League season, we need Pedro and the rest of our fielders to play superior defense if we are going to play winning baseball. Pedro understands the importance of conditioning to his ability to stay at third base and we are confident that he will work extremely hard this offseason to put himself in a position to be an above-average defender at third base. As we have said, Pedro has all of the physical tools necessary to be an above-average defensive third baseman, and he is much more valuable to our organization if he is able to stay there. Pedro’s aspirations are aligned with ours in that he views himself as a third baseman and is determined to demonstrate that he should stay at third base. As you look at the list of free-agent players eligible this offseason, it is much easier to find a quality bat who can play first base on the free-agent market.”