Notes from this afternoon's press scrum:
Pirates find success with A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano signings
After another strong showing from Francisco Liriano yesterday, it is starting to look like that for the second year in the a row Neil Huntington and the Pirates have found a diamond in the rough. Both A.J. Burnett and Liriano were veterans who had a history of volatility and went somewhat overlooked in the free agent market. But once getting to Pittsburgh they settled in nicely.
In the three season before coming to the Pirates in 2012, A.J. Burnett posted ERAs of (2009-2011) 4.04, 5.26 and 5.15. His first season in Pittsburgh he went 16-10, with a 3.51 ERA.
The story is the same for Liriano, between 2010 and 2012 his ERAs were 3.62, 5.26 and 5.15. Through 11 starts this year Liriano is 8-3, with a 2.20 ERA.
So what did the Pirates see in Burnett and Liriano, and what is the reason for their success so far with the team?
Hurdle said that when the organization was looking at Liriano during the offseason they saw many of the same things that they did with Burnett; namely, experience, with moments of success, but one thing that held them back.
The same metrics and work up we did on A.J. He (Liriano) fell into that category. He's an experienced guy. He's had layers of success. He's done special things. There have been some challenges. There's always been one thing that kept him from success.
What held them back? Consistent command.
When I profiled A.J. in 2010 I used to tell my guys, "Hey there is always one inning where we can have him to blow up." That was A.J.'s thing, that one inning would get in the way and it was a command issue. ... You've seen a completely different cat since he's been here. Liriano's along those same lines. I think it's the command more than anything. I don't know that for sure, but the numbers tell me that. ... and I think he is more confident out there, and confidence comes from results.
All-Star Game rosters to be announced at 6:30 p.m.
The All Star Game rosters will be officially announced today at 6:30 p.m. For the first time in many years the Pirates have many players that could make the team. Yesterday Hurdle mentioned six who he thought should be in the conversation: Andrew McCutchen, Jeff Locke, Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, Starling Marte and Pedro Alvarez. Today he added that Francisco Liriano should also be in included on that list.
As far as letting the players know they made it, Hurdle said that he "never" tells them during the game. "I'll probably tell them when I know, and I'm anticipating I'll know before the game. We'll get them together and let the guys know."
Hurdle also reflected on his one opportunity to manage an All-Star Game. It's a pretty neat story so I'm going to transcribe his full account:
For me it was a dream come true. The last All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. The one walkaway I have which is priceless, which I'll take to my resting place is -
They had all the Hall of Famers on the field. They called them The Legends of the Game. And so many of them showed up. They all had to come off the field through the National League dugout. So everybody, except Willie McCovey, who was in a wheelchair, came through our dugout.
And for those men to look me in the eye and say "hey, congratulations, good luck, Clint" (leans back in his chair, shakes his head). Those guys are looking at me in the eye and saying "good luck, Clint"?! I mean, wow! I'm going, "This is really cool." It's like an all-time thing. The impact of it. To have that experience makes everything else all worth it.