According to Rob Biertempfel of the Trib, The Pirates and Ross Ohlendorf did not agree to terms.
If the two sides can’t come to an agreement before the hearings, the case will be left up to the arbitrator.Arbitration hearings are scheduled to take place from February 1-21st. The Pirates have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004 with Jack Wilson.
The Pirates offered Ross Ohlendorf $1.4M and he was seeking $2.025M according to Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette,
Ohlendorf, 28, is coming off an injury plagued season. He went 1-11 with a 4.07 ERA through 108.1 innings. Ohlendorf made $439,000 during the 2010 season.
The Pirates gave non-roster spring training invites to Tony Sanchez, Brian Friday, Andrew Lambo, Eric Fryer and Chase D’Arnaud according to Rob Biertempfel of the Trib on Tuesday.
There are currently 61 players invited to spring training in Bradenton, FL., the 40-man roster plus 21 non-roster invites.
The non-roster list includes: Justin Thomas, Fernando Nieve, Josh Fields, Dusty Brown, Sean Gallagher, Donnie Veal, Andy Marte, Cesar Valdez, Tyler Yates, Jeff Clement, Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Garrett Atkins, Brian Burres and Corey Wimberly.
The Pirates and reliever Joel Hanrahan have agreed to a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration. The contract is for $1.4 million.
The 29-year-old went 4-1 with a 3.62 ERA in 72 appearances (69.2 innings) with 100 strikeouts (a career high) and picked up six saves. Hanrahan made $453,000 during the 2010 season.
“It was that close,” Pirates right-handed relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan said of an arbitration-avoiding deal he signed Tuesday afternoon with the Pirates. “We got it done at 12:58, just before the [1 p.m.] deadline. It feels good to get it done. I definitely didn’t want to have to go through the arbitration process, possibly go to court and all of that.”
General Manager Neal Huntington has not announced who will be the closer during the 2011 season; Hanrahan or Evan Meek. Huntington also said last week during the Pirates mini camp, there will not be a spring training competition.
“Just ready to get going now,” Hanrahan said. “I’m just excited that the contract stuff is behind me and I’m ready to get going this season.”
New Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle sat down with Trib’s beat reporter Rob Bietempfel at Pirates City where he discussed: expectations, challenges and if the Bucs can compete against the pitching heavy NL Central.
What are your expectations for this season? Have they changed or expanded over the past month, as you’ve settled into the job?
They haven’t expanded. I think we’re better now than when I took the job. (General manager) Neal (Huntington) is working diligently. He’s been aggressive and creative and is trying to spend our money wisely. What people sometimes don’t realize is sometimes it’s not about paying more money. Some players don’t want to come to Pittsburgh right now. There have been times when we put more money on the table (than other teams), but we still haven’t gotten the guys. That’s the state we’re in right now, and I understand that. We’re not the best dancer at the prom, but we can dance. We’ve got to win some more games so we get a little more attractive as this thing moves forward. It’s not about setting a number of wins. We’ll talk about winning the National League Central. People can laugh, but we’re going to start with that thought. We’re going to set some standards, the biggest one being to perform at a championship level. That’s going to be one of the mandates we throw at them at the beginning of spring training. If you’re going to be a champion, you’ve got to start that right now and hold yourself to championship standards. It’s not important to me what anyone outside of this room thinks. They’re not a part of what needs to get done here. Opinions are wonderful. I actually listen to them once in a while. But not from people who are just about criticism or cynicism. That can’t permeate in here. We’ve got guys who have been here one year, three years — but not 18.
Many fans expect you to be a difference-maker right away. Do you welcome that challenge?
One of the best lessons I’ve learned in this game is I can’t control what other people say, think or do. I can control my preparation, my energy. My goal is to make a difference in a positive way. My goal is to re-bond the city of Pittsburgh with the Pirates. When we do that, you’ll hear the roar from the four corners of the United States. It’s a tradition-rich organization. One of the things that’s galvanized me to this job is it’s the greatest coaching opportunity in all of sport. I got the information from Neal, (president) Frank (Coonelly) and (owner) Bob (Nutting) that I needed to hear. I didn’t need to manage. I left a very good job, a very comfortable job, in Texas. But it’s never been about comfort for me. I’m looking for challenges. And this is a very unique and good challenge, a heck of a challenge. One thing I hear from fans is, ‘My Dad’s got one foot in the grave, and he wants to see the Pirates win …’ I’ve heard that more than anything. That’s our goal.
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing at this point, with spring training a month away?
Biggest challenge? Names. There’s a large volume of people I’m meeting for the first time. I’m big with names. I think it’s important you learn people’s names. Eye contact is critical when you’re talking to people. You can’t call everyone ‘buddy’ or ‘pal.’ You’ve got to find a way to connect. Another challenge from a personnel side is just getting eyes-on more than hands-on. Just getting these guys out on the field, running around. One of the benefits of minicamp is the entire staff can get its eyes on these guys. We want them to move around, show us some technique, swing the bats, field some balls. We want to find out where they are from a physical standpoint. And logistically I have to find my way around Bradenton. It’s been 23 years since I’ve been in Florida for spring training. And finally, I’m getting to know our player development staff. One of the things I’m most impressed with is all the work that’s been done in a three-year period with our scouting and player development programs. Everybody’s aware of the fact that we’ve spend more money the past three years than anybody else on scouting. We’ve made a transfer over — we’ve got a good group of young men coming up who we sought out and got. We have big hopes for them. There’s a lot of first-time stuff going on for me. But as far as anything daunting or overwhelming … no. It’s baseball.
How is this situation with the Pirates, a young team trying to re-establish itself, similar to what you had when you took over as Rockies manager in 2002?
I’ve got experience with the situation the Pirates are in now. It has a lot in common with 2005 when I was with Colorado. We had some guys who had some success in the minor leagues who were coming up, trying to figure out things at the major league level. We had a handful of veterans who were brought in to provide some clubhouse stability and on-field stability and leadership. But the challenges have been real. One thing you can’t control in this game is the pace and when players are actually going to pop. You want them all to pop at the same time, but that’s not the way it always happens. But I think there’s tangible evidence at the major league level of things that have been accomplished in the farm system. I’m probably as optimistic about our pitching as anything. Neal made a very gutsy call last season. Instead of dabbling in the free agent market and getting some guys who are banging the drum toward the back ends of their careers, he decided to let the young men pitch. Unfortunately it didn’t go as well as anybody wanted. The young men gained experience. Now it’s up to them to take that experience and the humility the game can bring you from time to time and use it as a positive and take it into this year. I think we’re in a good place right now with those young guys and the commitment Neal made to them. Although the numbers didn’t work out last year from a won-loss standpoint, benefits will be reaped this year.
Other teams in the NL Central have strong starting rotations. Can the Pirates compete in that regard?
They’ve probably got better names than we do, but you play the game on the field. Good pitching will beat good hitting. There are teams with more experience on the mound. I spent a lot of time in the National League West, where there always was pretty solid pitching. Last year in the American League West, Oakland threw four (good) arms at you every time you went in. The Angels threw three or four arms at you every time. Against Seattle you caught the King (Felix Hernandez), the left-hander (Jason) Vargas and (Doug) Fister. This is the big leagues.
You’ve had so much success as a hitting coach. What’s the secret?
I’ll never take full credit. You’re not going to be a successful hitting coach unless you have good hitters. When I was a player — this has been in the back of my mind since high school — when a new coach or manager came in, I always had three questions: Can I trust him? Will he make me better? Does he care about me? What’s helped me develop a relationship with hitters and get them in a comfortable place so they can play up to their skill set is that I try to answer those questions for them sooner than later. When you capture a player’s heart, and it’s not easy, their skill set will follow. I’ve been in a lot of situations where I was a skill set: left-handed bat, corner infielder/outfielder, blah blah blah. They didn’t know me because they thought it wasn’t necessary to get to know people. It’s a different society we live in now. When you can get a guy engaged a little bit, have him open up and get out of himself and plug him into a team concept … one of the things we talked long and hard about in Colorado and Texas is making good outs. Most coaches talk about getting hits. At this level I don’t think the mental side of the game in many cases is developed to the extent it can be. Not every kid out there is going to say, ‘Yeah, I want to spend time with a mental skills coach.’ I spent time with a mental skills coach, and I want to find ways to open that package. You can’t open every package the same way. Some kids need a pat on the back, others need a smack on the backside. You need to know the difference. Timing is everything, as well as presentation. So developing a relationship that is real, professional and personal is the first thing to do. Then we can work on the skill set.
In this weeks Pirates inbox, beat reporter Jenifer Langosch is asked about the future of catcher Tony Sanchez (You can read the entire chat transcript here).
Where do you think Tony Sanchez will start next year? Do you think he has a chance to begin in Indianapolis?
I’d anticipate Sanchez starting the year with Double-A Altoona. Had Sanchez not missed significant time with a jaw injury last year, he could have been in position to begin the year in Triple-A. But as it was, Sanchez never got to Altoona last year as anticipated.
Though Sanchez won’t begin the year in Indianapolis, don’t rule out the former first-round pick being promoted there midseason. The Pirates saw Sanchez as a candidate to move through the Minor League system fairly quickly, and that could still be the case.
That said, Sanchez has some areas needing improvement before we begin talking about him being close to Pittsburgh. He must continue to improve on his game calling, and he can get better with his catch-and-throw and receiving ability.
The Pirates have signed reliever Jose Veras to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
Veras, 30, went 3-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 48 appearances with the Florida Marlins in 2010.
According to ESPNDesportes, Veras had other offers from the Giants, Rockies, Twins, Marlins, and Rays.
If he makes the major league roster, Veras will make $1 Million plus incentives.
- General Manager Neal Huntington on whether they have approached Andrew McCutchen on a multi-year deal:
“We won’t negotiate publicly with anybody. Whether we approach somebody or not, we’re not going to acknowledge. We hope the first time it’s heard about is when it happens.”
- On whether some Pirates prospects will be called up and play a large roll this season:
“Tampa is the model organization for a lot of reasons. They’re a successful, small-market team that develops its own players. They do a tremendous job of letting their pitchers develop over time. They don’t rush a pitcher to the big leagues because they have a need. They let a guy spend a full year in A ball, then a full year in Double-A, then maybe a full year in Triple-A and bring him to the big leagues when he’s ready. That’s what we’ll try to do. We brought some guys up last year who didn’t hit the ground running and had some early struggles. We’re going to figure out why they weren’t ready and help them get better. We want to learn a lesson to help the next guy come through. As hard as that is, we can’t bring a player to the big leagues because we have a need.”
On who is the closer; Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek:
“We explored the (free agent) market, like we did a year ago when we brought in Octavio Dotel. It’s a nice feeling to have Evan and Joel to mix and match in the seventh and eighth innings. We explored the market, but nothing came to fruition. We continue to look if there’s a veteran we can add to the bullpen. We’ve got some great arms internally. It’s not something that Clint and I have sat down and talked about just yet. But I’d expect we’ll have that decision soon, whether we’re going to go with both guys (as closers) and let them battle it out during the season or if we’re going to set a guy at the beginning of spring training.”
After watching the Steelers defeat the Ravens Saturday night, Pirates Josh Fields (@OkieFields) had this to say:
What a game! Steelers just grinded and found a way to win! We are going to transfer some of that mentality to the diamond this year!
First baseman Lyle Overbay’s decision to come to Pittsburgh this season had a lot to do with Manager Clint Hurdle.
“I’ve got three boys,” Overbay said of his sons who are 7, 6 and 2. “And Clint Hurdle is a man who is, in a sense, raising boys here in this clubhouse. He is an inspirational person and I’d like to coach someday and that is the kind of man I want to surround myself with.”
“Things are changing here and I want to be part of something special,” Overbay said.
Overbay made his major league debut in 2001 with Arizona and spent three years with the Diamondbacks. He then spent two seasons with the Brewers and the last five with the Blue Jays.
“I was with Milwaukee when we lost just as much and my second year there [in 2005], we turned it around. It was like we had won the World Series [finishing 81-81]. That same kind of stepping stone can be done here, things are changing, confidence is here, people here are not accepting losing. It doesn’t take long around these guys to realize it.”
Overbay attended the Bucs mini camp held this week where one of the things that was discussed was trust.
“I want to know where I am and be part of the solution and help,” Overbay said. “One of the questions Clint asked me, and he asked everyone was, ‘Do you trust me?’
“You have to trust him because he’s honest. He tells you where you stand with him. I’m a grown man and if he says something that I might not like, he’s not out there to hurt me, he’s out there to make me better. I understand that and that’s a big part of what is going to be the atmosphere around here — you have to trust Clint.”
Fans were not happy that the Pirates didn’t sign a bigger name free-agent first baseman (like Derek Lee) but instead signed Overbay. Hurdle addressed which players the Pirates acquire:
“At this point in time, people need to realize something,” he said. “We need to identify players who are out there, but who also want to come here, and then we have to go recruit those guys.
“There are a lot of people who say, ‘Well, you should have gone out and tried to get this guy or that guy.’ Well, you know what, maybe that guy never even wanted to come to Pittsburgh. And it is not about another million dollars or another 3 million dollars, there are some guys who are never coming to Pittsburgh. That’s the reality of where we are right now. And the reality is we aren’t going to get them until we start winning.”
General Manager Neal Huntington is in his final year of his current contract and the performance from the team this season could determine whether he will have a job in October.
In the three years Huntington has been GM, the Pirates have gone: 67-95 in 2008, 62-99 in 2009 and 57-105 in 2010. We have seen fan favorites traded away, but even more talent acquired.
Huntington discussed his future with the Trib’s beat reporter Rob Biertempfel.
How would you assess the job you’ve done to this point? Will your contract be extended beyond 2011?
The simple answer is, we’ve won fewer games in each of my three years here. That’s not acceptable. We have to get better. We have to win more games. But I wasn’t brought here only to manage the 25-man roster. I was brought here to overhaul the baseball operations department. I am proud of what we’ve done in scouting on the pro and amateur side and on the international side, with the talent we’ve flooded the system with, with the way we develop players. I am tremendously proud of all of that. The depth and talent system, both on the field and in the scouting arena and coaching arena … we’ve taken huge steps forward. Because we have so many at the major league level, our prospect depth may not be (ranked) in the top 10, but we don’t focus on that. We focus on how do we win games at the major league level — and not just for one year. How are we going to do it, year in and year out? The complicated answer to your question is, I am very proud of everything we’ve done except for the won-loss record at the major league level. I get that (wins and losses) are all that people care about. It’s only been three years. We think we’ve made a significant impact on creating the foundation and building the first level of the house that will allow us to be a consistent championship-caliber organization. As far as my job, I’m going to do it to the very best of my ability until they tell me not to do it anymore. My contract is irrelevant. The day I start making moves to save my job is the day I should be man enough to resign. That’s not what I’m about; that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to put a championship team back on the field in Pittsburgh, and that doesn’t happen with quick fixes.
What are your expectations for manager Clint Hurdle this season?
The expectation for Clint are for him to be the manager, the voice in the clubhouse, the one who comes in and makes an impact. We’re going to be better this year; it’s just a matter of how much better. It’s an exciting time. We expect there to be a lot of energy in spring training. It’s going to be a fun camp but also a camp where there are a ton of decisions to make, which isn’t ideal. Our guys are going to have to be ready to go from day one. Clint’s personality, energy and communication skills will make players comfortable, but at the same time, with a little bit of edge. We’ve got to go. We’ve got to get better and win some games this year.
Some of the younger players, Andrew McCutchen in particular, are reaching the point where contract extensions might be in order. What are the risks in that process?
It takes two parties to reach a deal. Both sides have to compromise. The club takes on a tremendous amount of risk because, as we’ve experienced here already, it doesn’t always work out to the club’s benefit. The player takes the risk that he might be underpaid for three or four years. But if he is underpaid, he’s about to make $60 million, $80 million, $130 million, so the player really has almost no risk in a multiyear contract. He just doesn’t want to be underpaid for years four and five of his arbitration eligibility, but then he’s going to be rewarded as a free agent. The club takes on most of the risk, but there is cost-certainty and hopefully some savings. Maybe we (buy out) a year or two of free-agent (eligibility) for a player who we believe is going to have a quality career. It is part of the plan. It is part of what we hope to do going forward. But it’s always going to require a compromise on both sides
Can the Pirates compete with the other starting rotations in the NL Central?
There’s no question it’s a pitching-strong division. The nice part is most of those guys aren’t here for three, four or five years unless their clubs extend them and commit significant resources. In terms of this year, there’s no doubt we need guys to step up. We’ve got to figure out how to score some runs for Ross Ohlendorf, who last year was the best 1-11 pitcher I’ve seen in a long time. Is James McDonald for real? We need a bounce-back year from Paul Maholm. Looking at Kevin Correia, the numbers behind the numbers gave us comfort that he’s going to come back this year closer to the pitcher he was in ’09. To go through what he did last year, losing his brother, I can only imagine how tough that must’ve been for him. His strikeout-to-walk ratio, his ground ball rate … we feel there’s a good chance he bounces back. For the No. 5 hole, can Scott Olsen, Charlie Morton or Brad Lincoln step up? Looking down the road, there’s Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, Jeff Locke — and that doesn’t include all the arms we drafted (in 2009 and 2010). We believe we need to be strong in pitching. But we’re not prepared to give up our absolute best prospects for guys who might only be here a couple of years. We’re in the process of building something for the longer term. We’ve got to develop our own starting pitching because it’s just so expensive on the free agent market.
- Ross Ohlendorf and Joel Hanrahan filed for salary arbitration on Friday. They are the only two Pirates to file, just 119 players in major league baseball.
- Garrett Jones arrived at mini camp on Thursday (he was late due to a family wedding in Mexico) noticeably thinner and “a little bit faster, too.” Jones weighed 255 last season and is said to have dropped 10 pounds. This offseason Jones has been diligently working with a speed enhancement and velocity trainer.
- Pirates beat reporter Jenifer Langosch addressed the possible future of five players as spring training approaches us.
Jose Ascanio missed the entire 2010 season due to an injury but has pitched well during the Venezuelan Winter League. Most likely, his role in 2011 will be as a reliever.
Kevin Hart missed the entire 2010 season as well, he underwent labrum surgery after a disastrous spring training. Hart is currently healthy and threw during Pirates mini camp. His role in 2011 would most likely be as a reliever, until he can prove himself as a starter.
Charlie Morton had a horrible first two months of the season, picking up nine losses and then was optioned to Triple-A Indy. He pitched much better toward the end of the season but the Pirates are still unsure whether he is mentally tough enough. Morton will be competing for the fifth spot in the rotation during spring training.
Chris Resop is one of the leading candidates in the Pirates ‘pen. After being claimed off waivers in August, he allowed four earned runs and struck out 24 in 19 innings.
John Bowker will be competing for a spot as an extra outfielder along with Alex Presley, Steve Pearce, Cory Wimberly and Ryan Doumit (Garrett Jones and Matt Diaz will split the majority of the playing time in right field this season). Bowker was acquired in July by the San Franscio Giants and batted hit .232 in 26 games with the Pirates.