PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Manager Clint Hurdle #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates waits near the dugout before the start of their game against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park on April 13, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Managers and GMs say a lot of things during the course of a season. Parsing every word, which is what we do, yields ample opportunity to discuss and speculate on myriad issues. Neal Huntington is cautious and conservative to the point of being boring. Clint Hurdle, not so much.
The Pirates have worked hard the last few years to change the general narrative. Nutting is cheap. The Pirates will never win because they don't spend. With no salary cap, small-market teams like the Pirates are guaranteed losers. For a generation, that has been the storyline surrounding the Pirates.
Bob Nutting and Neal Huntington deserve credit for altering the story. The Pirates spent as much as any team in baseball on the amateur draft before the new CBA slotted every time into a predetermined budget. They went out and added payroll at recent trade deadlines. They pursued good free agents with legitimate market-rate offers, albeit unsuccessfully. And they extended their one true superstar with a big, multi-year deal.
Most importantly, they started winning. Winning cures everything. The story around the Pirates is no longer about money.
When discussing September call-ups, Neal Huntington has been consistent. He has repeated this refrain at least 10 times:
I’ve been with another organization where we raided the Triple-A team as it was headed to the postseason. The guys came up and didn’t play very much, and that didn’t go over very well on many fronts. I’ve been with an organization where we didn’t bring up many guys, and it seemed like we needed a different guy every night than the ones we brought up. So it’s a challenge.
Fair enough, but Pirates fans have no interest in hearing about Indianapolis' playoff push when the Bucs are in one of their own. I understand why Huntington is repeating this mantra, but he should stop. If Chase d'Arnaud isn't up in September when he could potentially pinch-run, steal a base and score a winning run because they want him to start for Indy, it's a mistake.
I've criticized the organization recently for their roster construction. Indy is the Pirates farm team. Treat it as such. The Bucs haven't been in the race in forever. Worrying about Indy's playoff run, when the team could be supplemented with players from Altoona, should be about one billionth on Huntington's list of concerns. Yeah, hyperbole, but you get the point.
But Huntington didn't even get the headline. Here is what Clint Hurdle had to say on the topic, from Biertempfel:
"In my rookie year, if you got a call-up, you made $5,000 or $6,000 (in September)," said Hurdle, who made his big league debut in 1977.
"Now you’re talking about making $75,000. So if you call up 10 guys, you’re picking up $750,000 in salary and everything that goes with it."
Wow. I don't imagine Neal calls Clint into his office very often. This certainly warrants it. An organization that has worked so hard to change it's imagine doesn't need Clint completely missing the mark on this one.
Charlie and I are going to discuss this on today's podcast, so you can hear more on the topic there. Feel for to join us in the comments.
UPDATE by Charlie: I wrote about this at SB Nation Pittsburgh as well.