Neal Huntington is in his contract year as GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates and as with most players, you have to perform or show value in order to get that extention. Huntington has made many moves, good and bad, over the years and its almost time for his performance review. After the jump, comparing Huntington and why he deserves the extention...
Huntington has shown an ability to build a bullpen out of nearly nothing. With the signings or pickups of Jose Veras and Chris Resop this or last year, Octavio Dotel and Javier Lopez last year, Huntiington has been able to build a bullpen using very little cash. He was then able to turn Octavio Dotel into James McDonald and Andrew Lambo, both promising players for the pirates future.
The Trade, part 1
Considering the amount Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte gave the Yankees, it appears that the Pirates took a chunk of prospects that have all performed well this year. Daniel McCutchen, the least of the three most likely to succeed, is a pivotal part of the bullpen, Jeff Karstens has a top 10 ERA, and Jose Tabata is showing the ability to hit well, slump, and return to form (which is a good thing). Ross Ohlendorf was decent last year but hasn't been healthy this year. Neal deserves a lot of credit for pulling together this trade.
Although the Kevin Correia signing appears to be one of the better pitching signings of this last offseason, we can not forget about the forgettable Lyle Overbay and Matt Diaz. Both getting paid significant money (Diaz has a two year deal btw) and both putting up insignificant battings stats, not to mention less than stellar fielding. Scott Olson, another free agent pickup, was released early this year after not being able to get healthy. Waste of money. (Also see Bubba Crosby)
The Trade, part 2
The Jason Bay deal was the first trademark moment of his residency and it has proved to be less than fruitful, with Brandon Moss and Craig Hanson already out of the Pirates system. Bryan Morris appeared to be showing some signs of life, but with his injury this year, he has been permanently moved to the Bullpen and will need time to return to form. For one of the best trade pieces in that market, it stings a great deal when the prospects fail miserably.
What's Left for Neal to Prove?
Buyers or Sellers
With the Pirates playing .500 baseball this year, I as well with everyone else want to see us bring in a bat and try to compete for the playoffs. But this is not the year in my opinion. The question is, will Huntington see that or will he feel pressured to win now and acquire pieces. I pray that Neal goes the route he has gone when the season was over by the all star break. Sell your relievers for prospects. Veras and Resop should be able to garner similar hauls that Dotel did last year, if they continue to perform. Sell Maholm. If he continues to perform well, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Yankees come calling, considering our trade relations in the past. Try to sell Overbay, but I don't blame you if it's impossible, move Jones to first, and call up Presley. The kid is destroying AAA right now and deserves his shot. Finally, the point that I will probably get beat up on, Sell Karstens. Karstens is having an unbelievable year and he should be applauded for his efforts. But his value is as high as it is going to be. Karstens reminds me a lot of young Zach Duke. He had great location and pitch selection, but after a year, people figured it out and he was never the same. Karstens could be one of the top pitchers available at the trade deadline and would command near MLB ready talent.
Gerrit Cole and Josh Bell need to get signed. Josh Bell is the more improbable signee and will take a great deal of money. But by drafting him, the front office essentially told the rest of the world that we are willing to pay young talent (also see Pedro Alvarez, Luis Heredia). And it makes sense, as you can hold the right for longer and get them into arbitration. Huntington, Coonelly, and Nutting need to get these two guys signed. It will make the future much brighter.
I see Neal making the necessary moves and I see him getting the extension regardless of what he does at the deadline. With the plan that the Pirates are on, Neal has been able to rebuild the farm system that Dave Littlefield effectively destroyed. I expect Neal to get a two-year extension. 2013 is the year that the pirates will be ready to contend.
This is my first post for Bucs Dugout and I hope to write everyday. I hope you enjoy and look forward to the competitive banter that will ensue regarding my posts.
Tomorrow: Why I still believe in Charlie Morton, but not as #electricstuff...