The Pirates are also reportably after starting pitcher Brandon Webb. The right-hander has spent all seven major league seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is 87-62 with a 3.27 ERA, averages 7.3 strike outs per nine innings. Webb also averages around 200 innings pitched each season.
Webb missed the entire 2010 season and only logged four innings in 2009 due to right shoulder bursitis and had surgery by Dr. Keith Meister of the Rangers on August 3, 2009.
Webb was drafted in the eighth round of the 2000 draft. He won the Cy Young award in 2006 and is a three-time all star and led the National League in wins in both 2006 and 2008.
Webb is known for his sinker and according to Sports Illustrated: “Webb said he probably uses it at least 80 percent of the time, and it used to be closer to 90 percent”
Webb also throws a change that clocks in the mid-80′s as well as a curve in the low 70′s.
Baseball writer at MLBFanhouse.com’s Ed Price tweeted this: #Pirates GM Huntington said “We’ve got some flexibility and are kicking some tires.” Possible high-upside fit is RHP Brandon Webb.
Baseball writer for ESPN.com and Baseball America’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted this:
Teams with an interest in Brandon Webb: Dodgers, Pirates, Twins and Rangers. And don’t rule out Nationals, Reds & Cardinals
The Pirates main focus this off season is pitching and their top target? Left-handed pitcher Jorge de la Rosa.
De La Rosa, 29, went 8-7 with a 4.22 ERA in 20 starts for the Colorado Rockies during the 2010 season.
The Pirates will have to fight for the lefty as The Rockies, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, and Milwaukee Brewers are reportably interested in him as well.
In six seasons pitching in the National League, De La Rosa is 38-31 with a 4.80 ERA. He does average 8.7 strike outs per nine innings but the downside is his innings pitched per year. In 2009 De la rosa threw 185 innings but his second highest is just 130.
He will also come with a hefty price tag. De La Rosa has said he wants at least a four-year contract at 11 million per year.
According to Troy Kenck of the Denver Post:
“Teams are expected to begin meeting with De La Rosa’s reps today. Washington, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Rockies, Yankees among those with interest.”
New Pirates Skipper Clint Hurdle attended the Steelers game on Sunday night as well as the Pens game on Monday (not taking much time to win fans over).
Also in attendance at the Steelers game were Pirates Neil Walker and Joel Hanrahan, who got to meet their new manager for the first time.
“He believes in guys having their say, but he’s also going to put his foot down and demand hard work,” Hanrahan said. “It sounded to me like he’s not going to take any crap from anyone.”
Said Walker: “It seems like he has a lot of passion for his job and getting us moving in the right direction and likewise, obviously. I’m excited to see the fire in his eyes in November. It was definitely cool to see, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him more.”
Clint Hurdle also seemed to hit it off with both Walker and Hanrahan as well.
“We were watching a football game and I didn’t want to give them 20 questions, but I did engage them in conversations,” Hurdle said. “I told them how excited I was for this opportunity personally and how excited I was to be able to work with them as two of the young players that have taken steps forward.
“I do know they’re hungry. I see the disappointment. I felt it [Sunday] night. They want to engage, and they’re ready to fight right now.”
Hurdle has said he wanted to get in touch with as many players as possible whether it be on the phone or at mini-camps. Hurdle wants to be familiar with all the personnel so that they can dive right into spring training without many introductions.
“Phone calls are great when that’s all you have available,” Hurdle said. “But there’s nothing like being able to touch somebody, look them in the eye and have a conversation with them.”
“We’re going to simplify some things in some areas and we’re going to challenge them in some areas,” Hurdle said. “For me, it’s about the individual taking on his own accountability. If we can get every guy who breaks camp with us in spring training to improve in one area, our team will be better.”
Neil Walker has texted several of his teammates discussing Hurdle and how he is looking forward to working with him.
“When you’re talking about a club that’s struggling, it’s important to kind of do things in a different way and look at things in a different light as opposed to following suit and hoping the next day is better than the last,” Walker said. “He took the Rockies from the bottom to the top, and that sort of stuff obviously doesn’t happen overnight. But having a guy who’s gone through those situations makes it a little easier on him and gives us the trust and belief that he knows what he’s doing.”
Joel Hanrahan also had good things to say about Clint Hurdle. The closer is good friends with Jason Jennings and LaTroy Hawkins who played with Hurdle in Colorado.
“I told him congrats on the year they had in Texas, but that’s over with now, time to start with us, and I think he kind of liked that,” Hanrahan said. “But it’s nice having a guy who knows what it takes to get there.”
If you were unable to attend MLB Network’s viewing of game seven of the 1960 World Series at the Byham Theatre on Saturday night, you are in luck. On December 13th at the AMC-Lowes at the Waterfront there will be a free viewing of the event.
Pittsburghers will get to watch the event two days before it airs on MLB Network (December 15th and 8 PM ET). The show should last around three hours and is hosted by Bob Costas. During the telecast of the game, there will also be interviews by members of the 1960 Bucs as well as Michael Keaton –who flew across country to be at the event,
You can purchase tickets through Comcast, Pirates.com and Clear Channel.
And incase you missed it, I attended the filming on Saturday night. You can read my article here.
Pirates beat reporter Jenifer Langosch answered fans question’s in this months inbox. There are a few below, but you can read the entire chat here.
My question involves the Pirates’ catching situation. Is Ryan Doumit more likely to be traded or kept? If he is traded, who do the Pirates look to? Tony Sanchez is a couple of years away, and Chris Snyder does tend to struggle with the bat. Will the team just try to develop Snyder into a better hitter and stick with him, or look to free agent or trade options?
I know I’ve mentioned this in this forum before, but the Pirates will be willing to listen to offers for Doumit this offseason. The club has the luxury to do so after acquiring Snyder in July, and Doumit is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract. As we’ve seen time and time again, the Pirates aren’t shy in trying to get something for players nearing free agency.
Now, let’s take a look at the two scenarios. If Doumit is gone by the start of the 2011 season, Snyder will get the majority of playing time behind the plate. The Pirates didn’t acquire Snyder for his bat (though they expected a little more production than he showed late in the season), so any lack of offense from ’10 isn’t going to cut into his playing time next season. Jason Jaramillo could serve as Snyder’s backup, or the Pirates could go get a backup catcher pretty easily this offseason.
If Doumit stays, Snyder will still receive most of the playing time. Again, the Pirates acquired Snyder because of his reputation for being an above-average defender and for his ability to work well with pitching staffs. Doumit would get the catching duties on Snyder’s periodic days off and would likely play a lot in right field.
According to Pirates president Frank Coonelly, Pedro Alvarez will stay at third base. Does that rule out the team drafting third baseman Anthony Rendon from Rice and instead going after a pitcher with the No. 1 pick next year?
Without a quote from Coonelly in front of me, I assume you are referencing something he wrote in a recent chat on this website. That said, I can say that the Pirates are still somewhat unsure of whether Alvarez will stick at third base for the entirety of his Major League career. The plans are for him to be the Opening Day third baseman in 2011. But from there, it will be largely dictated by Alvarez’s conditioning habits as to whether he’ll stay there or not.
If the Pirates determine that Rendon is the best available player in the 2011 Draft, the club will take him. Alvarez’s presence won’t stop the Pirates’ chance at getting another impact bat. If Rendon does turn out to be the Pirates’ pick, expect Alvarez to transition to first base when Rendon is Major League-ready.
Do you think that Starling Marte will be on the Pirates’ 40-man roster on Opening Day 2011?
I don’t foresee any reason for the Pirates to use a spot on their 40-man roster for Marte before Opening Day. Yes, the outfielder is one of the top position-player prospects in Pittsburgh’s system. However, he is not eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft this December, and he isn’t going to be ready for the Majors in 2011. Those would be the only two reasons to put Marte on the roster.
Marte was signed in 2007 when he was 18 years old, which means he will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after the ’11 season. So at this time next year, yes, you can expect Marte’s name to be put on that roster.
No Pirates players received Rookie of the Year Awards (Although, Neil Walker and Jose Tabata did receive one vote each by Pittsburgh-Post Gazette writer Dejan Kovacevic) .Nor will they take home any other post season awards this year.
But they will be recognized with local awards. The Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America gives out two awards at the end of the season: The Roberto Clemente Award and the Chuck Tanner Award.
Second-baseman Neil Walker received the Roberto Clemente award after a great season with the Bucs. He finished 2010 with a .296 average, 29 doubles, 12 home runs, 66 RBIs and a .349 on-base percentage. The Roberto Clemente award has been given out since 1973 and goes to the player who best exemplifies the standard of excellence established by Clemente.
Pitcher Evan Meek received the Chuck Tanner Award. Meek finished the season with a 5-4 record, 2.14 ERA through 80 innings of work. He also picked up four saves and was named the Pirates lone representative for the 2010 All-Star game. The Chuck Tanner award has been given out since 2006.
I got an email from Pirates.com written by President Frank Coonelly on Tuesday afternoon:
Dear Pirates Fan,
As I hope you have heard, yesterday we announced the hiring of World Series concluded and Clint was available to meet with us.as our manager. I would like to thank you for your patience as we worked through an exhaustive search process. Once you have a chance to get to know Clint, I am confident that you will agree that the opportunity to hire an experienced and dynamic leader like Clint Hurdle justified the decision to wait until the
We had identified Clint as a strong candidate early in the process but respected the fact that he had a job to do preparing the Tampa Bay Rays, the and, ultimately, the San Francisco Giants in the post-season. Once we had a chance to speak with Clint, however, we knew that he was the right person to lead our young players to the next level.to face the
Clint is an experienced Major League manager with a proven track record of molding young talent into winners. As he said yesterday at his introductory press conference, his sights are clearly set on being part of the team that will return the Pirates to a championship. Clint has fully embraced this challenge and has made it very clear that losing is simply not an acceptable option.
Clint was excited by the opportunity to manage the Pittsburgh Pirates for a number of reasons. First, Clint likes the young talent that has joined our Major League roster over the last three years, players like , Garrett Jones, Neil Walker, , and others. Second, Clint was energized by our commitment to building through aggressive scouting and development. Clint’s experiences in Colorado and Texas have shaped his view that winning organizations must be committed to developing their core from within and was impressed not only by our commitment to that plan illustrated by the signings of players like Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie and Luis Heredia, but also by the people and systems in place here building that talent pipeline. Third, Clint appreciates the rich history of this storied franchise and is thrilled by the opportunity to help return winning baseball to Pittsburgh. Finally, Clint loves the energy and passion of Pittsburgh and Pittsburghers and looks forward to becoming, along with his wife and children, a part of our community.
and his staff have been working hard this off-season to improve our Major League roster. We will keep you updated on our progress as we move through a busy off-season and look forward to giving you an opportunity in the near future to welcome Clint to Pittsburgh. Thank you again for your support and your passion.
Former Pirates Manager John Russell was hired by the Baltimore Orioles on Monday according to industry sources.
Russell will the Orioles bench coach. He will also serve as a catching instructor.
Russell is a former major league catcher who caught one of Nolan Ryan’s no-hitters. He finished with a record of 186-299 while serving as manager for the Bucs.
It was a very busy day for Clint Hurdle, but that didn’t stop him from chatting with fans during a live chat at Pirates.com just hours after being introduced as the Bucs Manager.
Hurdle: Hello, everyone, I’m looking forward to answering your questions today and it is an honor to be the new manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the 39th in history. I want to make sure that you hear it from me, that we are all committed to establishing a turnaround in record and a commitment to winning play, and a final destination of winning a world championship. Let’s get started.
Congrats Mr. Hurdle, welcome to the Steel Town. Any idea who you will ask to become part of your coaching staff?
Hurdle: As soon as I’m done today, Neal and I will put our focus on putting together a staff. I have a few external candidates that warrant consideration and I’m aware of some internal candidates that we need to have dialogue about also. I believe it’s important as we move forward together that we always look internally when we look to add onto the staff at the Major League level.
Mr. Hurdle, thank you for becoming our manager. Will you have this team play small ball?? It is definitely a small ball team, not a home run hitting team.
Hurdle: We are aware of the strengths and the challenges that we will have next season on the offensive side of the ball. One of the strengths of a championship club outside of pure batting average and OPS is the ability to make good outs. Bunting when appropriate will be an option, the hit and run will be a play that we’ll depend upon and we’re going to encourage a more aggressive running style of play as we enter the 2011 season.
What do you think of the young talent?
Hurdle: I’m impressed with the young talent that is in place. One of the reasons I am here is because there is talent here to build upon.
How will you change the performance of the team to get to a winning path in the future?
Hurdle: Holding ourselves to a higher level execution. It will be a challenge but it is the only way to ensure we are all headed in the same direction, and that be playing championship- caliber baseball.
Mr. Hurdle, how do you prevent negativity/pessimism from invading your clubhouse when a team is struggling?
Hurdle: Good question. One of the great challenges in sports and in life is your degree of mental toughness. And for us to keep things simplified, we will not let outside distractions interfere with the internal focus that we need to have to play better baseball. We will stay committed to the beliefs inside the clubhouse knowing that we can change the external view of the club is by giving them tangible evidence of a winning team.
Mr Hurdle, did you get very familiar with the depth of the organization and young talent level while considering this opening?
Hurdle: One of the most encouraging parts of my interview was spending the morning session with Tyrone Brooks, Doug Strange, Greg Smith and Kyle Stark listening to these men share their vision and asking them questions, and getting meaningful answers in return. I left that part of the interview very confident in the scouting process that we have in place and the personnel we have at the Minor League level to develop the talent.
Mr. Hurdle, Welcome to the Pirates! As manager of the Rockies you won the NL pennant in 2007. Looking at this Pirates team, do you think there is enough core talent to work with to take this organization to the postseason in the not so distant future?
Hurdle: Absolutely. The distance we need to cover initially is off the mound. We have some young pitchers given the opportunity to pitch meaningful innings last season and will be rewarded in the future for that experience. It takes courage to have patience, and I believe this leadership team in place over the last three seasons has shown courage. Young players have played, and young players have gained experience. It is time for many of these young players to take that next step. This will always be a market where young players have an opportunity to transition in at the Major League level.
In your philosophy, what is the single most important aspect in a winning team?
Hurdle: Trust. Trust in themselves, trust in the front office, trust in their teammates, trust in the leadership in the dugout.
Manager Hurdle, what will be your first task as the Pirates new skipper? Welcome aboard!
Hurdle: Establishing communication with the personnel on the 40-man roster. And then I’m going to look for a hat!
Do you have a formula for using the bullpen or will you allow your closer to go two-plus innings?
Hurdle: The two-plus innings idea for a closer is very creative. One of the things we will ensure is the fact that most of the pieces we have in the bullpen can pitch multiple innings. Every once in a while we might have a situational piece in the bullpen, but versatility and depth are two of the strongest things a bullpen can have. No one will pitch more than three days in a row. that’s one of the things I’ve always done as a manager. the only time I’ve gone out of that is maybe during a stretch run where his pitch count was so low his pitch count was not going to be a concern.
Has the front office made a commitment to you that pieces will be added to make this a championship-caliber team?
Hurdle: Absolutely. Some of the most meaningful conversations I’ve had with Bob, Frank and Neal were in regards to their commitment to using resources to help up become a championship-caliber ballclub.
Our batting last year was a roller coaster. One game we’d hit good and the next do bad. What do you plan to do to get the players to hit more consistent?
Hurdle: To redefine our approach at the plate and our philosophy. Each team gets 27 outs. We have to find a way to be more efficient and make better outs on top of getting more hits and scoring more runs. On base percentage will be a topic of discussion and focus. Quality at-bats will be a focus. We need to have a “pack of wolves” mentality when we’re on offense.
Welcome to Pittsburgh. Does the fact that the Pirates haven’t made the playoffs since 1992 bother you at all? How will you change that? Any specific players you will look to bring in?
Hurdle: The greater the challenge, the greater the reward. My plan and desire is to be a part of a leadership group that’s able to establish a winning trend here in Pittsburgh, to give the city tangible evidence of winning baseball which will lead to championship baseball.
What do you feel you bring to the Pirates organization that will help improve the team?
Hurdle: Perseverance, resiliency, a consistent approach day-in and day-out of development, of accountability and of responsibility.
“Accountability” has seemed more a concept than a reality for the Pirates these past few years. How will you ensure that players are held accountable for mental mistakes, poor fundamentals, or lack of effort?
Hurdle: Great question. In life as in sport, we stay in control of what we can control. Not be distracted of things out of our control. One thing the manager has control of is the lineup, and it is usually a task-efficient way to get a player’s attention. The pen is mightier than the agent. Always, you point out shortcomings, give a player an opportunity to resolve them. If they can’t be resolved, then you move on to step two. You want to treat your players the way you would like to be treated. And I had plenty of managers who benched me for the appropriate reasons from time to time!
What’s more important to you, Mr. Hurdle — the number of 2010 Pirates’ wins or developing young players?
Hurdle: Sounds like a trap question to me, but here it goes … I just looked at the record again from last year. More wins required.
Can you give us three words to describe yourself?
Hurdle: Confident, efficient and specific.
Will pitch counts remain a priority like they have in past years?
Hurdle: One of the staples of a championship-caliber club is to get starting pitching to pitch meaningful and quality innings so you can use your bullpen when you want to and not when you have to. Pitching deeper into games for our starters is a must. The pitch count will not be an ejector button. As long as the pitcher remains effective, they will pitch on deeper in games.
Thanks so much for the support and for the questions. I would love to take more, but I have to run and finish the rest of the media rounds and get things taken care of while I’m in town. We will definitely do this again soon. Thanks again Pirates fans!
After meeting with the media and being formally announced as Pirates new skipper, Cint Hurdle sat down with General Manager Neal Huntington to discuss the coaching staff for next season.
John Russell’s staff –Third base coach Tony Beasley, Bullpen coach Luis Dorante and hitting coach Don Long were all told after the 2010 season to explore other opportunities. It is not yet been determined if any will stay or go as Clint Hurdle has a huge part in who he wants to be with him for the 2011 season.
Ray Searge (who took over as pitching coach for Joe Kerrigan) and Jeff Banister (who took over as bench coach for Gary Varsho) are said to be considered by Hurdle.
“It’s a huge part for me to make sure that there are people internally that are available that we keep in place or that we promote from within,” Hurdle said. “I think it sends a huge message to our player development program. There is some familiarity there that I don’t have.
“There are some very qualified people. None of them do I know very well. That being said, that doesn’t back me off of them whatsoever. We’re going to make decisions that are going to show our belief in our player development people.”
Jeff Banister was interviewed by the Bucs for the managerial position and has spent 25 years in the Pirates organization.
“Jeff has done some unbelievable things for this organization,” Huntington said. “He has made an impact, and it’s certainly our hope that he will make an impact for us going forward.”