Results tagged ‘ paul maholm ’
- Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm has already arrived at Bradenton, FL. For spring training. He shared a picture on twitter: “It all starts here Monday.”
- Manager Clint Hurdle kicks off his first spring training workout on Monday at noon (Pitchers and catchers are to report on Sunday).
- This year, there are 63 players reporting to big league camp (40-man roster, plus 23 non-roster invites). Those invited include:
40-man: Ramon Aguero, Jose Ascanio, Kevin Correia, Michael Crotta, Joel Hanrahan, Kevin Hart, Jeff Karstens, Chris Leroux, Brad Lincoln, Jeff Locke, Paul Maholm, Daniel McCutchen, James McDonald, Kyle McPherson, Evan Meek, Bryan Morris, Charlie Morton, Daniel Moskos, Ross Ohlendorf, Scott Olsen, Chris Resop, Tony Watson, Aaron Thompson, Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, Jason Jaramillo, Pedro Alvarez, Pedro Ciriaco, Steve Pearce, Neil Walker, Ronny Cedeno, Lyle Overbay, Josh Rodriguez, John Bowker, Gorkys Hernandez, Andrew McCutchen, Alex Presley, Matt Diaz, Garrett Jones, Jose Tabata
Non roster invites: Andrew Lambo, Justin Thomas, Fernando Nieve, Josh Fields, Dusty Brown, Eric Fryer, Chase D’Arnaud, Sean Gallagher, Donnie Veal, Andy Marte, Cesar Valdez, Tony Sanchez, Brian Friday, Jose Veras, Joe Beimel, Tyler Yates, Jeff Clement, Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Garrett Atkins, Corey Wimberly, Brian Burres, Wyatt Toregas
- According to Jenifer Langosch, beat reporter of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Hurdle’s camp will be much different than John Russell’s. Hurdle specifically noted that there would be an increased focus on shoring up fundamentals and honing pitchers’ pickoff moves.
- During spring training, Hurdle will choose a closer for the Pirates (Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek) as well as a fifth starter (options include: Charlie Morton, Scott Olsen). Bench players and bullpen will be determined as well.
- Spring training runs through February 24th. The Pirates will kick off spring training games against State College of Florida at 12:05 p.m. ET at McKechnie Field.
- The Pirates will host games against the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros (click here for the full schedule).
In Part two, here is the list of the Pirates starting rotation and bullpen projected stats for the new season according to MLB.com Fantasy.
- Paul Maholm (LHP) Ranked: 440
2011 projections: 9-13, 190 IP, 211 H, 74 BB, 112 K, 4.45 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
*Notes: Opponents batted .263 off the lefty in 2008, .290 in ’09 and .303 in ’10. He’s also fallen well below the league average in strand rate since ’09, finishing last amongst all qualified starters last season. At 28, he appears in the wrong direction.
- Kevin Correia (RHP) Ranked: 410
2011 projections: 8-12, 181 IP, 164 H, 84 BB, 131 K, 4.38 ERA, 1.37 WHIP
*Notes: Correia posted 12 wins and a 3.91 ERA in his first year as a full time starter back in ’09…The right hander will no longer have the luxury of pitching home turns in PETCO Park, so don’t expect a full return to form.
- James McDonald (RHP) Ranked: 208
2011 projections: 10-11, 171 IP, 165 H, 72 BB, 153 K, 3.53 ERA, 1.39 WHIP
*Notes: After arriving in the Steel City, McDonald showed why he was considered one of LA’s top prospects, ratting off a fantastic September, highlighted by a 2.31 ERA and a 30/13 K/BB ratio over 35 frames…He throws hard and has proven that he can miss bats consistently. The Bucs will look to McDonald to be the ace of a developing young staff.
- Ross Ohlendorf (RHP) Ranked: 441
2011 projections: 7-13, 155 IP, 169 H, 43 BB, 103 K, 4.01 ERA, 1.37 WHIP
*Notes: The right-hander made 21 starts for the Bucs last season and came away with just one win and a GB/FB rate that has plummeted from 1.31 in 08′ to just 0.68 last year.
Split Duties: Starter/Bullpen/Minors
- Scott Olsen (LHP) Ranked: 607
2011 projections: 3-7, 111 IP, 125 H, 42 BB, 76 K, 4.70 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
*Notes: At 27-years-old, the right-hander is unlikely to ever become the dominant force that many envisioned him as several years ago. A few more strikeouts, however, could make him a serviceable mid-rotation hurler.
- Charlie Morton (RHP) Ranked: 626
2011 projections: 5-6, 90 IP, 106 H, 34 BB, 62 K, 4.30 ERA, 1.56 WHIP
*Notes: Morton’s soaring 2009 K/BB ratio had some tabbing the 27-year-old right-hander as a possible breakout candidate last season, but the strides he made at Triple-A never translated to the major leave level. Morton’s chances of starting the season in Pittsburgh rotation were dealt a serious blow by the team’s acquisition of Scott Olsen and Kevin Correia this offseason.
- Brad Lincoln (RHP) Ranked: 760
2011 projections: 2-5, 60 IP, 66 H, 14 BB, 36 K, 5.10 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
*Notes: The fourth overall selection of the 2006 first-year player draft has had to play catchup after recovering from Tommy John Surgery that coast him all of ’07. His velocity has fully returned after the procedure, but high strikeout totals haven’t followed…He’ll need to have a standout spring to avoid starting the year back with Triple-A Indianapolis.
- Jeff Karstens (RHP) Ranked: 617
2011 projections: 3-4, 94 IP, 106 H, 23 BB, 63 K, 4.60 ERA, 1.37 WHIP
*Notes: Karstens gave the Bucs innings as both a starter and reliever last year with slightly better results than in 2009. His 2.0 BB/9 ratio an improvement, but the advanced control was offset by a .300 average against and a 1.5 HR/9 mark.
- Joel Harahan (RHP) Ranked: 215
2011 projections: 2-4, 26 SV, 66.2 IP, 60 H, 25 BB, 82 K, 3.92 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
*Notes: A spring training competition with Evan Meek for the Pirates closing gig awaits, but Hanrahan’s far superior strikeout rate should give him the early edge.
- Evan Meek (RHP) Ranked: 259
2011 projections: 4-3, 7 SV, 74.1 IP, 62 H, 28 BB, 63 K, 3.27 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
*Notes: The emerging righty pitched to a 1.11 ERA and 1.05 WHIP before the All-Star break and finished the year with stellar all-around umbers, collecting a handful of saves in the process. Should serve as a key late-inning contributor even if he doesn’t assume the stopper role.
- Chris Resop (RHP) Ranked: 747
2011 projections: 1-2, 53.1 IP, 49 H, 27 BB, 44 K, 4.22 ERA, 1.43 WHIP
*Notes: In 22 appearances for Pittsburgh, Resop registered a nifty 1.89 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. The right-hander figures to fill a larger bullpen role for the club in ’11.
***Neither Joe Beimel or Jose Veras, both who I project to be a part of the Pirates bullpen, were ranked in the MLB.com Fantasy projections.
The fifth spot in the rotation is still up for grabs heading into spring training. Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Kevin Correia and James McDonald round out the top four (not necessarily in that order). Charlie Morton, Scott Olsen, Brad Lincoln are among the top to battle for that spot. Left out in the mix, is Jeff Karstens who in 19 starts (26 appearances) went 3-10 with a 4.92 ERA.
What is Karstens ideal role for Pittsburgh?
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to start,” Karstens said. “Because [that way] I’d know when I am pitching. But, what it honestly comes down to is whatever they want me to do to help the team succeed. That’s all I want to do.”
On Friday (Day one of Piratefest) myself and several Pirates bloggers (Pirates Prospects, Rumbunter, Bucs Dugout, Pittsburgh Lumber Co.) were invited to a sit down interview with Pitcher Paul Maholm, General Manager Neal Huntington and President Frank Coonelly.
On whether he pitches differently because of poor infield defense: “No. I’m a ground ball pitcher. I’m going to keep throwing ground balls.”
Maholm isn’t a big strike out guy. He went on to say, “Last year was sad that [Joel] Hanrahan almost got me in the strike out category. We were neck and neck, sweating it out.”
On if he has a different approach this offseason due to roller coaster 2010 season: “As far as training and everything? No. I have a trainer. I go in there and do what he says. It’s been different exercises. But still the same mechanics. The same goals, training wise. Throwing off the mound is mainly fastball command. I haven’t thrown any other pitches yet. Trying to make sure I am good to go.”
On Pitching Coach Ray Searage’s approach compared to others he’s worked with: “I’ve known Ray for about eight years now. He knows my mechanics. We just kind of ‘go pitch’. I tell everybody who’s about to work with him, ‘If you’re ever feeling bad about yourself, go throw a bullpen with Ray.’ He’s the most energetic guy to be around. As pitchers, you need plenty of confidence and he’s going to be there.”
On Manager Clint Hurdle wanting the starters to pitch deeper into games: “I’m not a happy camper if I go 60 or 80 pitches. I expect to go deep into games. To me, 100-120 pitches a normal outing. We got to get deeper into the games so that the back of the bullpen stays fresh.”
On potentially being traded: “I’m here. My number one goal is to win. But I also want to be the team that wins here. I think the fans deserve it. I want to be here but I have no control over it. It’s not bothering me, I’m going to prepare. If Neal [Huntington] and them [President Frank Coonelly and Owner Bob Nutting] want to approach to me about staying, I’m all for it. It’s in their hands. I’m here until otherwise.”
On the recent reports of Pedro Alvarez’s 15 pound weight gain: “Let the guy play … there’s plenty of people in baseball who aren’t the prototypical athlete… He’s a good third baseman. He gets to a lot of balls, he has a great arm … Don’t try to bash him for his weight.”
General Manager Neal Huntington:
On the reports of Pedro Alvarez’s 15 pound weight gain: “It’s not completely accurate. Pedro’s not where we need him to be but it’s not as desperate as maybe that article [PiratesReport.com] seemed it is.”
Huntington did not give an exact number on how over weight he is but did say, “He’s not where we have concerns. He’s not enough where we don’t think we can get him to where he needs to be.”
On how long Alvarez will remain at third base: “That’s a better question for Pedro Alvarez. He has the hands. He has the arm. He has the arm versatility. He even has the feet to be able to play third base. It’s a matter of how he’s going to do physically in order to stay there. The ultimate answer will be shown by his actions.”
On why Wil Ledezma was taken off the 40-man roster: “As we began to look at adding players, taking players off, Wil had good secondary numbers last year. He’s got a good arm. A good fastball. He had some opportunities with us. Had the one bad outing. As we looked at our 40-man roster we made the decision that we were going to keep some other players on that 40-man roster. Part of the decision was the contract we signed him to. We thought it may make it difficult for a team to claim him and risk paying him $300,000 at the Triple-A level. It was a gamble that didn’t work out for us. We had a chance to claim him back and we chose not to do it for the same reasons we put him on waivers the first time.”
Andrew McCutchen was recently ranked the #1 Center Fielder in baseball, Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata received honorable mentions. Huntington on young bucs starting to make their mark in baseball: “It’s exciting for us to look at our group of players that are 25 and under. You take it from the major leagues on down. We feel very comfortable that that group matches up with some of the best in baseball. We’re excited about where we are both at the high end and also the depth of the group we have coming in the system. We had some guys graduate to the big leagues this year. We didn’t have a lot of guys with break out years. Unfortunately most of our guys in the mist of break out years got hurt. Starling Marte or Tony Sanchez or Brock Holt. We sustained some bizarre injuries. It wasn’t chronic injuries that we have long term concerns about. It was collisions, it was hit by pitches, it was a broken hamate. All things we recovered from. We’re looking forward to some guys having some break out years. That group of 25 and under, we’re really excited about. Which added us to the moves of the veteran presence this year. With [Lyle] Overbay. With [Matt] Diaz. With [Kevin] Correia. Now with [Jose] Veras and [Joe] Beimel to go along with Scott Olsen. To help keep this group moving forward. Help get some guys that can help them learn how to win on the field. And also how to grow and mature. To help reach their potential quicker. It’s one thing for a coach, or manager to help a young player. It’s another thing for another player to help a young player. That’s where the most impact is made. That’s where the Overbay and the Diaz moves in our minds are significant upgrades for us from what we had prior to that.”
On whether the Pirates farm system could handle a Matt Garza or Zach Greinke kind of trade: “We feel like the farm system is deep enough to put us in a position to make trades, when the major league team is ready to make those. In Milwaukee, in Chicago’s case, one could argue they are a little further along in the curve then we are. We need to see some young guys take some steps forward. We need some of our veteran players to take some steps back to where they were in the past. We need our additions to come in and do well. A big part of why you develop a deep farm system is to have replacement at the major league level. It’s to make trades, it’s to fill that hole that you have at the major league level. To add to your depth. The signings that we’ve done haven’t impacted what we are doing anywhere else. We’re still going to invest heavily into the draft, this year, the next five years. We need to. We’re still going to invest heavily in Latin America, in the International Market. We have to. We need to. Part of the reason is to have a deep system so that we can make trades.”`
Huntington did go on to say that the pirates “engaged Tampa Bay” on both Matt Garza and James Shields, but ultimately the Rays “thought that they had better opportunities elsewhere”. The Pirates were never in on Grienke because the equivalent package would have been Tabata, Walker, Moreno, and another player –to hard of a hit.
On injured minor leaguers with possible set backs in 2011: “Donnie Veal coming off the hand surgery is probably the most prominent. There is a handful of other guys. Most of the guys we’ve talked about; Marte, Sanchez, Holt, that sustained the injuries last year, they’re on track. They are going to be ready to go and ready to compete in spring training. Hopefully we will have a lot fewer dramatic injuries this year.”
On Veal’s time frame: “He wants no part of the June/ July return that is the typical 12, 13, 14 month return. It’s really 12-18 months. Donnie had the surgery early in the season, so he’s progressing as well as we could have possibly hoped. He’s actually probably a head of schedule. We’re excited. He’s fired up. He feels great.”
On locking up the young players (McCutchen, Walker, Tabata Alvarez): “It’s part of the plan. It’s easier said than done. It takes both sides.”
President Frank Coonelly
On being Pirates minors being ranked #19 (Baseball America) and #21 (Keith Law ESPN): “Not happy with that number. But pleased, not satisfied with the progress. They are subjective rankings. If we were 1 I would agree with it, if we are 19, I’m not so happy with it. We graduated a large number of prospects. If you look at the number of players, whether major league or minor league, 25 or under on our club, I think we match up very well with the No. 1 organization –Kansas City. The issue is all their top players 25 and under are still in the minor leagues. That’s why they are No. 1. In their eyes and Several of ours are at the major league level doing great things; Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez. When you graduate a large number of players like that obviously now all of a sudden your elite prospects are at the next level. The other thing I encourage you to look at is, because maybe we don’t do a good enough job, making the calls to Baseball America or to Keith Law and really talking up our own players. Look at the statistics of Rudy Owens and Kyle Drabek. Last year, the year before, somehow Kyle Drabek was named ‘Eastern League Pitcher of the Year’ beating out Rudy Owens. Across the board Owens numbers are much better. 93, 94 mph. Unbelievable command from the left side. Drabek I believe was #16 on Jonathan Mayo’s [list], I’m sure he’s up on these guys’. Rudy Owens isn’t even in the top 100. Something’s not right there. Several of our top prospects had some injuries last year that kept them back. We need to be much better than 19. And I think we are better than 19. Maybe we need to do a little bit better job selling ourselves.”
On Clint Hurdle’s impact on getting players to sign in Pittsburgh: “Extraordinary effective. Joe Beimel is just the latest in the number of agents who got on the phone with Clint Hurdle. Neal and I must not have a personality. Everybody comes out and says, ‘the reason I’m coming to Pittsburgh is because of Clint Hurdle’. He embraces the opportunity. He’s very good at it. The reason he is good at it is because he’s genuine.”
Coonelly said that he sat in on a recruiting phone call with a player they did not end up getting but, “I was ready to sign to sign up for it.” “We didn’t get the player, somebody offered more money, but they should have come to Pittsburgh for the reasons that Clint gave them. It was an effective presentation. Clint has a lot of experience that he can draw from.”
On if there is an end point on the draft once the major league level is stacked: “There is no end point. We always have to be extraordinarily aggressive in this area. If there’s a slotting system, we have to find another area to be aggressive in securing talent. I don’t like being #19 in the Baseball America rankings. I want to make it impossible for them to not put us in the Top 5. Really, for a club like ours, we look to graduate two or three top prospects into the major leagues every year.”
Coonelly said, “the strength of our minor league system right now is starting pitching. It’s all those kids who took Altoona to the Double-A Championship last year. I refuse to believe that Rudy Owens is not one of the Top 100 prospects in baseball. I refuse to believe that Bryan Morris shouldn’t be in consideration as one of the top prospects in baseball. Jeff Locke, Justin Wilson. These are real prospects that are looking to have an impact sooner, rather than later.”
On the reports that 16-year-old Luis Heredia’s will debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2011: “That decision hasn’t been made. That would be pushing it but so far everything that Luis Heredia has done for us has shown that he’s ready to be pushed. It would not be surprising or shocking to me that he started in Bradenton.”
On new media types: “I think the level of analysis, and I’m not just saying this because you’re here and I’m sitting in front of you and you have the power of the pen, but the level of the analysis that you get from blogs, and particularly blogs that focus on one team or one aspect is at a much higher level then the traditional media.”
**Special thanks to Matt Nordby, Paul Maholm, Neal Huntington and Frank Coonelly for the great opportunity. And Jim Trdinich, Tom of Rumbunter and to any others who helped make this event happen.
- Ross Ohlendorf spoke to Upper St. Clair middle school on Wednesday for day three of Pirates caravan. He, along with Andrew McCutchen and Evan Meek, discussed the importance of education the dangers of bullying.
“I like it a lot,” Ohlendorf said of participating in caravan. “Everybody is really big Pirates fans and it’s fun to interact with the people that support us and are looking forward to watching us turn things around. It’s also a lot of fun to come talk with the kids. When I was younger, I remember we had athletes come visit and it was always really cool.”
- Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm landed safely in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He tweeted, “Just landed in the burgh it looks cold but looking forward to seeing some die hard fans over next few days.”
- The Pirates farm system was ranked No. 19 in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook (Royals were No. 1).
- ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Pirates farm system 21st out of 30 in Major League Baseball.
- Pirates Outfielder Andrew McCutchen was interviewed on MLB Network Radio on Wednesday (Unfortunately, I was unable to listen or tape the interview). Jim Bowden did say this after the chat, “A.McCutcheon [sic] told us he loves the city of PG. He is open to being with Pirates for years to come.; had no comment if offered long term deal.”
The Pirates released the autograph signing schedule and the live event schedules for Piratefest. The three day indoor caravan takes place at the David L. Laurence Convention Center Friday, January 28th(Season ticket holders only), Saturday January 29 (10-8) and Sunday January 30 (12-5).
You can purchase tickets here.
Saturday, January 29
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Jose Tabata, Brad Lincoln, Charlie Morton
11:30 am – 1:00 p.m. James McDonald, Kevin Correia, Al Oliver
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Garrett Jones, Ross Ohlendorf, Bob Friend
2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Mike Easler, Bob Walk, Bill Madlock, Sean Casey
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Andrew McCutchen, Jeff Karstens, Paul Maholm
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Neil Walker, Evan Meek, Jim Rooker, Doug Drabek
Sunday, January 30
12:00 Noon – 1:30 p.m. Andrew McCutchen, Brad Lincoln, Kevin Correia
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Evan Meek, Ross Ohlendorf, Al Oliver
3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Jose Tabata, Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton
Live Event Schedules:
Saturday, January 29
Minute To Win It: (12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m.) Evan Meek, Joe Klimchak
Softball Clinic: (12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m.) TBA
Youth Baseball Clinic: (1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.) Clint Hurdle, Jeff Banister, Kevin Correia, Bob Walk
Deal or No Deal: (1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.) Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton, Greg Brown
We Are Family Feud: (2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.) Neil Walker, Jose Tabata, Joe Klimchak
Pierogie Eating Contest: (2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.) Paul Maholm, Greg Brown
2011 Pirates Q&A: (3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) 2011 Pirates, Greg Brown
Reading with the Parrot: (4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.) Pirate Parrot, Cannonball Crew
Ask Pirates Management: (4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.) Clint Hurdle, Neal Huntington, Frank Coonelly, Greg Brown
Minute to Win It: (5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.) James McDonald, Joe Klimchak
Pierogie Eating Contest: (5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.) Ross Ohlendorf, John Wehner
Deal or No Deal: (6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.) James McDonald, Greg Brown
Guitar Hero: (6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.) Andrew McCutchen, Joe Klimchak
Sunday, January 30
Youth Baseball Clinic: (12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m.) Clint Hurdle, Jeff Banister, Joe Klimchak
Deal or No Deal: (12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m.) Evan Meek, Tim Neverett
Minute To Win It: (1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.) Paul Maholm, Tim Neverett
Guitar Hero: (1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.) Jeff Karstens, Joe Klimchak
We Are Family Feud: (2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.) Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton, Joe Klimchak
Pierogie Eating Contest: (2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.) Brad Lincoln, Tim Neverett
Deal or No Deal: (3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) Ross Ohlendorf, Tim Neverett
Reading with the Parrot: (3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) Pirate Parrot, Cannonball Crew
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.
The Pirates have announced what players will be at Piratefest this year. The indoor baseball carnival features live events, autograph sessions, prizes, games and much, much more. The event runs Friday, January 28th(for season ticket holders only), Saturday, January 29th (10-8) and Sunday, January 30th (Noon-5). You can purchase tickets here.
Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Evan Meek, Garrett Jones, Jose Tabata, Paul Maholm, Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, Brad Lincoln, Kevin Correia and James McDonald, along with new manager Clint Hurdle, pitching coach Ray Searage and bench coach Jeff Banister are scheduled to attend.
Yours truly will also be at Piratefest all day on Saturday and Sunday, so be sure to say hello.
Pirates beat reporter Jenifer Langosch answers fans questions in this weeks inbox (You can read the entire transcript here). Here, she addresses the current pitching rotation.
Are the Pirates done pursuing free-agent pitchers? Can we expect any more help other than Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen? Neither of them seems to be a front-of-the-rotation guy. I certainly was hoping for more given the young talent in the field and the poor starting pitching performance last year.
The Pirates will contend that even if they don’t add any more starting pitchers this offseason, they will enter the 2011 season in better shape than they ended up last year. It’s hard to argue that given how bad the 2010 results were for the starters. Correia has potential to help stabilize the rotation, and Olsen gives the Bucs more depth for the back end of the rotation.
The truth is, though, that the biggest effect on the rotation can come not from the new additions, but the returning starters. Guys like Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton and Brad Lincoln are going to have to put poor 2010 seasons behind them and move closer to their potential. If improvements can be made from that group, the rotation can go somewhere. If they don’t, it’s going to be another long season.
Now certainly, adding another experienced and proven starter would increase the chances of the rotation making significant strides forward. But there just aren’t many options left. The best free-agent pitcher left was Carl Pavano, who is returning to Minnesota.
A more realistic signing would be Jeff Francis, who continues to look for a contract that includes a guaranteed roster spot. The Pirates, who would give Francis the opportunity to play under Clint Hurdle again, might offer that. Francis, who has had recent injury issues, is a another risky sign. But he would likely take a contract laced with incentives.
Pirates veterans Paul Maholm and Ryan Doumit, along with Bucs primary catcher Chris Snyder were noticeably absent from the five-day mini camp that kicked off on Monday. Although the mini camp is not required, it is important for players to work with new Manager Clint Hurdle, meet the new faces on the staff/ball club and to build team chemistry.
I asked Maholm (on twitter) why he wasn’t attending the mini camp this week. Here is what he had to say:
“Have a personal trainer 4 times a week and throwing 4 times a week and spending time with fam. Sticking to the routine. Be down on feb 3rd.”