Over the weekend, Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington participated in “Going to Bat for Vermont Farmers” – a baseball roundtable which also featured Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein, and Buster Olney. Sox Detox was in attendance for the event, and spoke with Huntington afterwards on several key topics this off-season. I recommend checking it out. Also, check out the recap from the roundtable. Some of the highlights:
-Huntington acknowledged that a Joel Hanrahan trade might be more attractive if the current closers market holds, specifically if Ryan Madson signs a deal a little less than the four year, $50 M deal that Jonathan Papelbon received from the Philadelphia Phillies. I wrote last week that the Pirates should try to trade Hanrahan, as the market for closers is extremely favorable, and Hanrahan’s low cost the next two years would make him an attractive option.
-Huntington talked about veteran leadership and expectations for the 2012 team. He noted that Rod Barajas was signed as much for veteran presence as he was for on-field performance. He also noted that they were looking for more leadership from Neil Walker.
-The key to the 2012 season will be Pedro Alvarez’s performance, or the quality of the contingency plan if Alvarez underperforms.
-He noted that Starling Marte’s ETA is 2013, although that could be delayed by struggles with AAA pitching. Huntington gave an example o a 34-year old pitcher with an 81 MPH slider on the edge as the next step for Marte. In comparison to McCutchen, Huntington noted that Marte’s defense is better right now, but McCutchen’s power was better at the same age.
-He mentioned Cole might come up earlier, in a follow up to Marte’s ETA. That could mean 2012.
-He talked about how the Pirates prepare guys for MLB success, not single-A success. He used Jameson Taillon as an example, noting that they don’t want Taillon striking out guys in low-A on his breaking stuff. Huntington said he’d rather have Taillon work on fastball control than making unpolished hitters look bad. Having seen Taillon several times this past season, I’d have to agree. There’s nothing wrong with Taillon’s curveball. It’s a major league pitch right now. If he used it on a regular basis, I wouldn’t be surprised if his ERA in low-A would have been below 2.00. Taillon’s problem right now is that he elevates his fastball at times, which the Pirates were focusing on during the 2011 season. It’s not a major issue, but it takes priority over low-A statistics.
-The Pirates are not in play for Yoenis Cespedes.
-Huntington mentioned there are four guys in the system that hit 100 MPH on the gun. Cole and Allie are the obvious first two. Taillon has hit 99 MPH before, and could be in this group. Outside of that, Diego Moreno, Duke Welker, and Yhonathan Herrand have all been in the upper 90s. Justin Wilson hits 99 MPH out of the bullpen. There are other possibilities here as well. I’m interested to find out which players hit triple digits.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
Why even bother about this team…NH might be ok…but the owner really does not care about this team winning. Really look at the talent.. who would the Yankees or Red Socks or Cardinals want from this team?? Maybe 3 or 4 playes as part time fillin players.. NO PITCHING=NOT WINNING.. SIMPLE..
Wow, to even talk about trading Hanrahan tells me one thing. He has been on the market for a while and the Bucs are not liking what others offer. Comments like this go a long way on the mlb trade rumors, hopefully upping his value… They should have traded him months ago and I know Texas is a deep team.
Hanrahan is the best trade chip the Pirates have had since Jason Bay only its much easier to replace a 1 inning pitcher than a power hitting OF. I think as the winter goes on they could sign a Broxton or Franky Cordero type cheap on a 1 yr deal to fill in until the deadline then flip them for more youth. Hopefully someone Meek Morris Leroux Veras even Resop is ready to take the job by then. I agree with Tim Morris could be the closer for the next 4-5 years.
-The Pirates are not in play for Yoenis Cespedes
I am totally shocked that the Pirates are not going to go after a player with talent that would cost them more than their payroll for 2012.
None of the guys that are mentioned so far were used in closing situations last year. Meek would not even make the club if I were running the team. Try trading him and see what he brings? I would much rather see them bring a guy like Dotel in, he can pitch the 8th inning and could be used to close if all the other experiments fail, but as usual, if Hanrahan goes, we are back to experimenting for a closer, experimenting usually equates to losing. They could not even find someone to pitch the 8th inning last year, think where they would have been if Hanrahan wouldn’t have been around!
I am not saying I would never trade Hanrahan, but someone would have to blow me away before I would let him go.
Are you joking, meek not on the team? He is probably one of the best relievers in our system. And as tempting as it is to want to get a great return back in a trade from hanrahan, as a team that doesnt have a great offense and always finds themselves in one run or tied games i think it would be much more beneficial to the team if he stays
Meek has a season ruined by injury and he’s garbage? Ridiculous. However, if after an entire off-season of rest, he comes back and still can’t hit 90, there might be a serious problem with him.
These are the same things that were said about Hanrahan prior to the 2011 season. Remember when there was a competition between Meek and Hanrahan? I remember there were some complaints when the Pirates picked Hanrahan early in Spring Training, without letting the competition play out.
I think it’s a no brainer to trade Hanrahan. I love him, but if Madsen gets what is rumored, Hanrahan should bring in some nice prospects or younger players on the rise. With this year and next year in team control, there is plenty of time for that other team to secure a friendly contract before he dominates like last year.
If they trade Hanrahan, who closes? they don’t even have a setup guy, for a team that scores few runs, one run leads are precious and have to be held onto, ask the Phillies, without their overall pitching and guys like Madson they were and average team.
Huntington has said many times that he subscribes to the on year off year for bullpen pitchers, that would lead me to believe that he will dangle Hanrahan. Huntington may figure that Hanrahan will be at his highest value right now.
But what’s Hanrahan’s value on a team that can’t make it to the playoffs? There’s no reason to hang on to a guy that can give you players ready for MLB right now or quality prospects higher up in the system.
With the way they are being constructed who care who closes..What is the differerence between 100 and 115 losses? Not much..
Who cares who closes if we can get a huge haul with a trade? Hammer was more or less terrible when the Bucs picked him up and converted him into one of the better closers in the game last year. I have faith that NH will be able to figure something out.
BTW, don’t take the first sentence as a bad thing, more of an honest question.
if healthy, Meek could close.
if retained, Veras has possibilities. Justin Wilson may have closer stuff; i dont believe the 99mph stuff that one game, but he does throw harder out of the pen. Leroux is a possibility but I would pick those other 3 before him.
plus we could pick up an affordable closer type this offseason.
other than cole and taillon, no one is untouchable, including the hammer.
Wilson’s velocity was more than just one game.
I’d also put Bryan Morris in the mix.
Huntington’s comments seem to be valid. Neil is a very sharp guy who has a difficult job in a system that favors large market teams. We can expect to see Cole late this year in the majors barring injury. I think we will see Taillon the following year. I do expect the Pirates to dangle Hanrahan but I think it will take a great offer for the Pirates to let him go mainly because he is so cheap. I am looking forward to the next couple of months to see how the Pirates put together the team.