Comments on: First Pitch: Fire Neal Huntington? Let’s Keep Perspective http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-fire-neal-huntington-lets-keep-perspective.html Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Mon, 19 May 2014 02:19:00 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 By: wtmiller http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-fire-neal-huntington-lets-keep-perspective.html#comment-20101 Fri, 14 Sep 2012 16:28:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=41703#comment-20101 I’m disappointed Morales couldn’t stay healthy. I’d have been perfectly happy seeing him and McKenry split catching duties in Sept. Barajas could just catch AJ.

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By: Tim Williams http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-fire-neal-huntington-lets-keep-perspective.html#comment-20097 Fri, 14 Sep 2012 16:17:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=41703#comment-20097 I would agree with you there. I’d like to see Michael McKenry get a lot more playing time. His numbers might not remain at this level as a starter, but what’s the worst that could happen? He becomes the next Barajas?

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By: wtmiller http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-fire-neal-huntington-lets-keep-perspective.html#comment-20094 Fri, 14 Sep 2012 16:00:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=41703#comment-20094 The pitching staff has performed above expectations for two years now with something like eight different guys catching, including the much-despised Ryan Doumit. I have a lot of trouble with the notion that Rod Barajas’ game-calling adds any value, certainly nothing that remotely compares with the handicap created by his non-existent hitting and throwing. A better explanation for the improved pitching is the team’s NL rank in defensive efficiency (to which catchers contribute very little), which is 3rd.

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By: Tim Williams http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-fire-neal-huntington-lets-keep-perspective.html#comment-20088 Fri, 14 Sep 2012 15:50:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=41703#comment-20088 Their preference on catchers seems to be game calling. For whatever reason, they don’t seem to care about controlling the running game. And that’s in the minors as well. Two more things that could be looked at closer.

You’re correct on the hitting. What I was pointing out with the philosophy is that even if the guys were performing at their best, they’re still probably not going to be near the top of those lists. It’s almost like a moneyball approach that they’re taking. Traditionally, 1B and the corner outfield positions are offensive positions. The guys they’ve been targeting for those positions haven’t played up to their potential. But even if they did, guys like Tabata, Presley, and Overbay aren’t going to lead any offensive categories. All three guys sacrifice some offense, but have the potential to upgrade the defense.

I’m not saying this is right or wrong. It’s different. It’s not traditional. It doesn’t look like it’s working, mostly because there’s not enough offensive upside to begin with. If a good hitter slumps, he’s still going to have decent numbers. When these guys slump, they’re going to be below a .700 OPS, which is not what you want from a starter. Overall they’re not really aiming high offensively, and trying to make up for that value with defense. In theory I could see how this would work if the players were hitting well, but they’re not hitting well.

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By: wtmiller http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-fire-neal-huntington-lets-keep-perspective.html#comment-20084 Fri, 14 Sep 2012 15:37:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=41703#comment-20084 Coupla problems:

If they wanted Barajas for defense, they’ve got some pretty strange ideas about catcher defense. His ability to control the running game disappeared several years ago and the pitch framing study at BP showed him to be poor at framing pitches.

And Tabata and Presley don’t do anything well offensively. Tabata’s OBP is poor for a corner OF and Presley’s is horrible. This isn’t a one-season aberration, either. Here’s the Pirates’ NL rank in OPS in LF and RF since the departure of Bay and Nady:

LF

11th
14th
11th
16th

RF

11th
13th
15th
7th (thanks to Jones)

And here’s 1B:

13th
16th
15th
14th (despite Jones spending half his time there)

This has nothing to do with philosophy. Huntington has consistently been unable to find hitters for the hitting positions.

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By: Tim Williams http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-fire-neal-huntington-lets-keep-perspective.html#comment-20079 Fri, 14 Sep 2012 14:47:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=41703#comment-20079 I think that raises a few questions about how the Pirates do things.

For Barmes and Barajas, the Pirates prefer defense at those positions. So the offense is going to struggle (although it shouldn’t struggle this much).
Tabata and Presley are guys that don’t have a lot of power. They do have extra base power. They’re more top of the order hitters at best, which you don’t traditionally find at both corner outfield spots. Again, there’s a defensive aspect with these two positions.

The questions raised:

1. Is their approach of focusing on defense, even when the offense struggles, a good approach?
2. The Pirates say that extra base hits are “power”. That’s true, but home run hitters also get extra base hits. Do guys like Presley and Tabata hit for enough extra base hits to make up for a lack of homers? Definitely not this year, and I don’t think they could, even when their game is on.

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By: wtmiller http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-fire-neal-huntington-lets-keep-perspective.html#comment-20054 Thu, 13 Sep 2012 15:55:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=41703#comment-20054 I think you’re both missing what, at least for purposes of this season, is a vital point if you’re going to evaluate Huntington properly. The Pirates started this season, and played a large part of the season, with half the starting lineup made up of hitters who not only weren’t good, but were horrible on a biblical scale. Coming up with only three good hitters (that’s really misleading, because McKenry is just a backup catcher and isn’t likely to repeat this year’s numbers) is one thing. But it’s even more significant that, out of 121 players in the NL with 300+ plate appearances, Barmes, Barajas, Tabata and Presley rank 120, 116, 104, and 96 in OPS. As horrible as Barmes and Barajas have been, the terrible production from the OF corners (except when Jones is there, which of course leaves terrible production at 1B), has been even more costly. Only three of the players who rank below Presley are corner outfielders, and of those, two are guys Houston is just throwing out there as part of the tear down and the third is a platoon player, Juan Rivera, who’s only played that much because Kemp got hurt. If the Pirates had just gotten mediocre to poor production from those four spots, they’d be ahead in the wild card race. And that’s without getting to failures like McGehee and McLouth. The fact that the Pirates started the season with so many hitters who proved to be so profoundly atrocious speaks volumes about NH’s judgment of hitters, and it’s cancelled out the successes of some of the team’s other players. And it’s not like he’s managed to upgrade during the season very effectively, either.

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By: Richard Haft http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-fire-neal-huntington-lets-keep-perspective.html#comment-20042 Thu, 13 Sep 2012 07:45:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=41703#comment-20042 I hate the sabremetrics BS, it does have some value, but it often seems to validate Lyndon Johnson’s famous quote, “there are three kinds of lies, lies, damn lies, and statistics”. They won for over 120 games, that is a statically significant sample. What is “regressing to the mean”, mean? Their mean this year after 120 games was 17 games over .500. It could be argued they are playing wayyyyyyyyy below their mean and the question is why?

They were 17 games over with a soft schedule and now they are two, and really, no one expects them to finish .500. Gee, why fire anyone? For the second year in a row..yep, everyone is doing a great job!

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By: jdt2x jdt2x http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-fire-neal-huntington-lets-keep-perspective.html#comment-20041 Thu, 13 Sep 2012 02:40:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=41703#comment-20041 It comes down to wins and losses, I could care less as to who Huntington has or hasn’t brought to the Pirates, it is the team’s record is all that matters. The only good trade that he produced was Hanrahan. I am not sold on Mcdonald or any player for that matter who cannot complete one solid season from beginning to end. As for Burnett,
the Yankees needed to clear cap space and Pittsburgh was one of the only teams with money available, the need for a veteran pitcher and most importantly an ok from A.J. himself. (Other teams wanted him and he reportedly declined trades to any team over 500 miles from Md.) In part, Huntington happened to be in the right place at the right time and it had nothing to do with his abilities as a savy GM. As big of a Pirate fan that I am, a part of me does not mind that they continue to lose so that Huntingdon and his follies will be fired and the organization can start anew. His trades, his free agent signings and his drafts, most especially his “bonus babies” have been a disgrace to the organization. And even the progress made this year was at its core Littlefield guys-one could easily see what happened when Cutch, Walker, and Lincoln were on fire. The time is now to hire a GM who is focused on a now and not how good our low A team is.

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By: RandyLinville http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/first-pitch-fire-neal-huntington-lets-keep-perspective.html#comment-20040 Wed, 12 Sep 2012 23:54:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=41703#comment-20040 You are 100% correct.

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