Dejan Kovacevic, in a just published article on the Baseball America website, reviewed the history of Sealgate, his criticism of Kyle Stark and Larry Broadway and, most importantly, Bob Nutting's refusal to endorse Stark's notorious training methods. What makes DK's latest article interesting reading if not a significant intervention in the workings of the Pirates' front office is his suggestion that Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington disregarded Nutting's wishes with regards to the organization's training methods. Dejan wrote:
...all through December, team president Frank Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington continued to speak glowingly of the [organization's training] methods, remaining in lockstep as if Nutting had never spoken a word.
Coonelly described the team's methods in the minors as "mental conditioning," adding that they are "techniques that have been used with overwhelming success by numerous industries and athletic teams."
Coonelly called criticism of the Pirates' methods "overblown," even after his boss had been among those expressing criticism in public.
"We're teaching minor leaguers how to push through the grind, and somehow that's a bad thing?" Coonelly said. "We want the next generation of Pittsburgh Pirates to be able to get through a 162-game season."
Huntington went so far as to tell Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV that Nutting had never given any directive to the front office to stop the drills, saying, "We've not been told not to. It's something we believe in."
I lack confidence in these training methods and the thinking behind them. I would prefer the Pirates abandoning them. I also found Stark's email disturbing, but not something that extraordinary that it makes me doubt his sanity. That said, I find Dejan's turning his criticism into a project disturbing. He's becoming a part of this story, something most journalists should avoid. It's unclear to me how his project will help to make the Pirates a better organization.