Huntington anticipates tight market; philosophy remains the same
As the Pirates look forward to again being potential buyers this year, Neal Huntington is bracing for another very tight trade market.
"I wish these markets existed when we were on the other side of it, when we were sellers," Huntington said. "This is absolutely a sellers market, at this point in time. Now, there may be a dozen teams that go on hot and cold runs and it clarifies some pictures, but there are a lot of teams that are within striking distance. ... I think it's awfully tough to get those teams to take away from their major league team."
Echoing a philosophy that we've heard the last two years, Huntington's said the organization's approach is to cautiously walk the line between upgrading this year's team, while preserving the resources necessary to remain competitive in the future.
"A couple years ago there was an argument that we had two legitimate holes that we had to fill and we didn't at the trade deadline. We heard it a lot," Huntington explained. "We wanted to see how it would progress and where it would go from there. We were able to add Byrd and Morneau. We gave up a lot to get Marlon Byrd, in hindsight. We knew it the day we did it. Those are the types of trades that unravel an organization if you do those too frequently or too many of them. They unravel a smaller, mid-market team very quickly.
"It will be interesting to see where the trade market plays out. We always walk that balance between now and the future. We want to do everything we can to put this club in a position to make the playoffs this year, win a World Series this year. At the same time, we want to be able to be in that position as many years in the future as we can."
There have been conspicuously few updates about Andrew Lambo since he went on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis. Huntington said that Lambo is still dealing with pain associated with the condition.
"The plantar fasciitis injury is a hard one," Huntington said. "Some guys respond quickly and are able to come back. Andrew's had lingering pain, he's had lingering discomfort."
Huntington added that It may be some time before Lambo starts playing in games again.
"He's frustrated, he's disappointed. He wants nothing more than to get back to helping this club but he's just not far along yet right now."
Taking it slow with Glasnow
Tyler Glasnow is slowly working through the return-to-play regimen. Currently, he is making his way through "bullpen progression," and the Pirates are committed to continuing to take it slow with him.
"When we got him out in the game he still felt it so we decided to just go ahead and close things down completely, get that ankle as healthy as he can," Huntington said. "He's now working back through his throwing program, and because we shut him down, even from throwing, there will be a longer time period to get him worked back up again."
Hanson sticking at second?
Alen Hanson was named the International Player of the Month for May. He hit .302/.403/.595 for the month.
"His one strength is that he can barrel up the baseball, which also leads him to expand the zone at times," Huntington said. "Working with him to understand what he does well and what it means when he stays within the zone and how much damage he can do when he stays within himself."
After playing shortstop for much of his career, Hanson is playing second full time this season, and that is unlikely to change in the near future.
"We wanted to let him stay at second base to let the bat play and the bat is playing better," Huntington said. "We left him there to simplify the process for him, to let him focus on one thing, and it seems to be working so far. We'll see where we go big picture. We think he can be a dynamic offensive second baseman as a pretty good player."
Broxton's deserved promotion; Garcia waiting
Keon Broxton was recently promoted to Triple-A, and Willy Garcia may get the call soon. Huntington said that in Broxton's case there was no doubt he belonged in Indianapolis and that he was blocked by the depth of the organization. Garcia has a few more things to work on, but is getting close.
"Willy and Keon Broxton both probably deserve to go to Triple-A," Huntington said. "The challenge is when you're a playoff-caliber team you're looking at depth options in Triple-A, sometimes you block a prospect that's maybe ready to go to the next level. In Broxton's case, absolutely is ready to go to the next level. In Willy's case, we challenged him to command the zone better, something similar to what we just got done talking about with Alen, and he's been doing that. ... Willy's getting very close to being ready to take that next challenge as well."