Some notes and quotes from Sunday at PNC Park:
-P- Neal Huntington is busy prepping for the a potential deep postseason run, so he hasn't given too much thought about how to change baseball's playoff system, but he's open to change. The current system doesn't accomplish its primary goal, he says.
"The idea behind the Wild Card was to give the division winner the advantage," Huntington said. "I'm not sure sitting for five days to play your first playoff round is really an advantage."
Of the reforms being discussed, the idea of a three-game wild card is gaining the most momentum. In order to prevent the postseason from dragging on too long, Theo Epstein has proposed playing a doubleheader in the Wild Card round. Huntington is not a fan.
"We're talking about arguably the most important game of a team's season and we're going to ask them to play 18 innings in the same day?" Huntington said. "Now, I love our depth, and I love in a vacuum what we would do in situation like that this year. ...[But] I think it is unfair to a team, or to two teams that are playing for their playoff lives, to play two games in one day. It's never been done. There's are reasons why there is a rain-day built into each series so you don't have to play a doubleheader."
Another idea is to re-seed teams following the Wild Card. Huntington said that re-seeding would be a "no-brainer" if there were a balanced schedule.
"I know if I were the Cardinals I wouldn't be all that excited about our first round opponent being the second or third best team in baseball," Huntington said. "Now, the Dodgers and the Mets aren't that far behind. So, it's not like the Dodgers or the Mets are going to be an easy opponent, if you go in another direction."
-P- The Pirates will have the largest number of free agents they've ever had in the Huntington era this offseason. The Pirates' general manager is open to bringing them all back next year.
"Each one of them could play some role for us as we go forward if they wanted to return," Huntington said.
J.A. Happ is the most interesting of the bunch. He has pitched himself into an Edinson Volquez contract, or maybe even better than that.
"J.A.'s thrown outstanding since coming in here," says Huntington. "There's interest. It's just a matter of how it all comes together. How it works for him, how it works for us."
-P- Huntington was uncertain whether Jung-Ho Kang would be able to attend Wednesday's Wild Card Game.
"We're working through that," Huntington said. "He's wanted here. It's just a matter of does it make sense for him health-wise, medically and all those important parts of the discussion. He'll certainly be here with us in spirit. We'll work to see if he can be here physically with us."
-P- Following last night's game, many of the Pirates commented about looking forward to the atmosphere at PNC Park Wednesday night. Francisco Cervelli, in particular, was anxious to experience live what he watched on television last year.
"I can't wait," Cervelli said. "I remember last year, it was the only game I watched of the postseason. I was on vacation. Somewhere the television was showing Pirates and Giants and it was unbelievable. They were showing the noise [meter] on TV. I can't wait to see it."
-P- If you haven't read it yet, head over to JABO and check out Jeff Sullivan's piece on the fates of aces in playoffs. He concludes the Pirates have about a 40-45 percent chance of winning Wednesday's game. From their comments, it was clear that both Clint Hurdle and Huntington had read the article. Hurdle specifically brought it up during his pregame press meeting, and Huntington gave his own estimation of the Pirates odds:
"Arrieta's a good pitcher, but like every good pitcher, he can be beat. The aces get beat 40 percent of the time. The odds are against you. We like our guy. We consider our guy one of those pitchers that you line up and you feel you've got a 60 percent chance to win the game."