This is in relation to Charlie's post about Hurdle deciding to bunt with McCutchen on Friday, but there are enough other points that I thought it was worth a separate FanPost. I was in Hurdle's office and specifically asked him about the bunt situation and a bunch of other things.
1. When Hurdle said he "thought about a bunch of things," he then did go on to discuss what exactly he thought about. Most of these things had to do with player personnel moves. I ripped him for bunting both on twitter and on the postgame show. Having talked to him about it, my impressions are this: He liked the idea of bunting. Period. That's it. He did think about other things, but he wanted a man on second and if it cost him an out, so be it. He didn't talk about Cutch's DP stats specifically that Colin Dunlap referenced in his article.
Obviously I and many others disagree with this thinking, but that was his answer.
I asked Xavier Paul about running and he said it was a bit sloppy around first. I asked if he had a green light to go on his own and he said yes, but it was clear in that situation with the bunt on, it wasn't his call. But he did say the conditions weren't great. J.R. Towles was behind the plate and had only thrown out one of 11 basestealers. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to ask about him directly, but, as noted, Hurdle said the pitcher was neither fast nor slow to the plate.
2. I asked if he considered burning Garrett Jones when the Astros brought in a lefty. The more I think about it, this was as big, if not bigger, a tactical error as the bunt. Jones was 1-for-10 against lefties this year and both Steve Pearce and Ryan Doumit were available on the bench.
This is where being a man down (with Pedro Alvarez out) hurt Hurdle. He talked about wanting to be able to score in either the eighth or ninth and figured if Chris Snyder got a hit in the ninth he would have to run for him. I asked if he would run any of his pitchers and he said neither Kevin Correia or Jeff Karstens was much of an upgrade and that left only Sunday's starter James McDonald, and he didn't want to use him there.
When talking about pinch-hitting Doumit he mentioned he would have left him in the game in right. He said that Doumit has practiced the last two days there but probably wasn't ready and wanted to give him a few more days of serious work before games. Having Snyder hurt in spring training, Doumit focused exclusively on catching. I don't get the impression that Doumit will get starts in right. Rather, when they make late-inning moves and use Doumit off the bench they would keep him in the game in case something happened to Snyder. While this hurts defensively, the situation means the team is probably behind and isn't a bad idea.
The larger point is he should have hit Pearce for Jones and I think he over-thought this one. But, again, he expressed what his thought process was very clearly. I just think he got it wrong in my opinion.
3. I asked about his relationship with Dan Fox and how open the lines of communication were with Dan and his people. (Dan Fox is the head of the Pirates Baseball System's Development and came out of Baseball Prospectus.) It is clear that Hurdle has a lot of respect for Fox and he said he has had Fox and his people sit with the coaches on various occasions so that they understood there were more tools available to them. I will have the audio of this part of the conversation up on the Extra innings website in the next 24 hours if you would like to hear his full response.
4. Charlie linked to Tom Tango's book, The Book, as I did on my website a few days ago. Yesterday I gave Clint a copy of The Book. (I meant to do this before the went on their west coast trip, but didn't get down to the stadium before they left. This was NOT directly in response to the Cutch bunt, but to his decisions as a whole.) Hurdle is very receptive to new thinking and realizes he doesn't know everything. The Book isn't exactly new, but he seemed genuinely pleased to have it and said he would read it.
5. I again asked about Brad Lincoln and discussed his peripherals vs. front line stats. He said the team has had eyes on all of Lincoln's starts and the one before the last wasn't particularly good, but they were closely monitoring the situation. My take is that if Lincoln can put 2-3 starts together he will be called up with Karstens going back to the long-man role.
Brian Burres is now back in the equation because there is an open spot on the 40-man. Sean Gallagher has really hurt himself with a string of bad starts in Indy. The opportunity was there and it may not be much longer.
UPDATE: The Lincoln question was asked directly to Neal Huntington on his show today and he said Lincoln has not been able to throw his breaking ball or changeup for a strike when he was behind in the count. His fastball was being elevated and what was causing him to be hit at the AAA level would certainly cause him to be hit at the major league level. As you might imagine, he needs to put together a string of good starts to get the call.