Coonelly chats with Pirates fans
Pirates Frank Coonelly web chatted with fans on Thursday afternoon where he discussed: winter game plans, de la rosa rumors and evaluating player injuries before signing contracts. Here are several questions from the transcript. You can read the entire chat here.
As the Winter Meetings draw closer, are there any certain “game plans” you have going into them?
Coonelly: [General manager] Neal [Huntington] and his staff have been working hard all offseason on our game plan to improve the club for next season without trading away the outstanding talent in our Minor League system that has us and our fans excited about our future. As Neal has said, we are aggressively pursuing opportunities to upgrade our starting rotation. We are also exploring potential upgrades and/or platoon candidates for right field, first base and/or shortstop. As always, the Winter Meetings will bring additional inquiries from other clubs who are trying to acquire players to meet their needs. We are looking forward to having productive dialogue with both agents for free-agent players which we have targeted, as well as GMs of the other 29 clubs.
Frank, there are a lot of skeptics (media and blogs) that have said that an offer was never made to [Jorge] De La Rosa, or it wasn’t an offer worthy of proving the promise to spend on true talent. Can you clear up what happened and why he couldn’t be landed?
Coonelly: I can assure you that we did in fact make an offer to De La Rosa. It was an offer, in our judgment, that was reflective of Jorge’s market value, taking into account both his potential upside, but also the reality that he has started more than 25 games only once in his six-year career. We made the offer and engaged in the negotiations in an effort to sign De La Rosa and not in an effort to prove our skeptics wrong. Mr. De La Rosa accepted Colorado’s offer, which included, among other things, a player option for the third year worth $11 million. A pure player option such as that is a “heads the player wins, tales the club loses” situation that we would not entertain.
How do you evaluate players who are recovering from a significant injury? Can you require them to pass a physical and/or make the offer contingent on meeting certain physical standards once they report?
Coonelly: Great question. The short answer is that we use all available tools and resources to properly assess the player’s current health likelihood of remaining healthy over the term of a proposed contract. That exhaustive analysis includes: reviewing the player’s complete medical file and giving the player a complete medical examination prior to signing him to a contract. Even with this type of diligence, signing a player, particularly a pitcher, with a history of injuries is a substantial risk that must be factored into our analysis.
I also want to commend you on your deal with the Dodgers last season. I think both James McDonald and Andrew Lambo are great additions. What do you guys hope to get from McDonald?
Coonelly: we are very pleased with what we saw from both Andrew Lambo and James McDonald since we acquired them at the Trade Deadline. Andrew gave the Altoona Curve team a shot in the arm as it completed its campaign and march through the playoffs to secure the Eastern League championship. He has just wrapped up a solid Arizona Fall League season in which he tied for the league lead in RBIs with 23.
James McDonald, in a very short stint with us, showed the type of stuff that Neal and his staff thought could produce effective starts. The key for James in 2011 is to demonstrate that he has the strength, durability and consistency to start 32 to 34 games at a very high level. As a result, James has been working this offseason to get stronger and to demonstrate that he can be a middle- to top-of-the-rotation big league starter. Given the work ethic that we have seen from James thus far, we are confident that he can achieve the high end of that aspiration.