Podcast: Breaking Down the Pirates’ Issues During the 2016 Season

Podcast: Breaking Down the Pirates’ Issues During the 2016 Season

On Wednesday, our Altoona writer Sean McCool joined Cory Giger on ESPN Radio 1430 in Altoona to address the question of what went wrong this season for the Pirates. In the discussion, Sean mentioned the Pirates’ starting pitching and lack of home runs as two reasons, among many, that stood out (yes, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker were name dropped in the discussion). They also talked Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, and what could possibly happen with Andrew McCutchen over the offseason. The full podcast can be heard below.

  • chethejet

    I can simplify the the 2016 season in one word. MONEY.

    • Sean McCool

      We can agree to disagree. Sure, the FO could’ve done better, definitely. However, players need to perform up to their potential.

      • gozurman1

        Agree. Underperformance and injuries on top of it. If Liriano does not fall off the edge and McCutchen’s D does not fail and he hits anywhere near where he has, they are in it for the wild card at least. Throw in Cole’s injuries, Niese’s injury, Marte’s injury, Cervelii and Stewart’s injuries and you have a recipe for failure.

        • Jared

          Cutchs D has been awful.

          • Y2JGQ2

            ….for years

  • Brian T

    I like Neal Huntington but, I put the struggles of this season squarely at his feet. The Pirates had a 98 win team last season & instead of going for it, Huntington did nothing to improve this team. Bridge yr my ass! Call it what it is… Mailing it in.
    Simply put, this team cannot afford another off season like last yr ever again.

    • freddylang

      Point pleasant bridge year.

    • tfiely

      For the most part when NH has been interviewed he has taken the credit for the failure of not doing more I would think a 2nd off season of such bad moves and he would be a hot seat candidate add his in season moves of moving minor league players with any amount of talent for what’s come back he should already be on the hot seat

    • Y2JGQ2

      I agree- but I don’t think Huntington had any intent on going for it this year, so that we could go for it and have a better shot in 2017 and 2018 specifically. We will have to see if i’m right.

  • freddylang

    Normally I love the podcast but after seeing what this one’s about I have to pass. I don’t want to relive all the pain.

    • Sean McCool

      I’m optimistic by nature, normally not focusing on the negative. You can trust me, though, that I didn’t delve too far down any rabbit holes.

  • gozurman1

    It was under performance. Look at Cole & Liriano’s W/L records for instance. If they pitch like they did last year, (with McCutchen playing like he should) you have an 18 game swing in wins between the 2. Add those 18 wins and they are sitting at 96 wins right now. If Niese’s knee does not go, add a few extra wins from him and would not have had to depend on Frankie and Cole as much. Every team has to deal with a bunch of if only’s to realize how close it is between and great season and a stinky season. Pirates had too many if only’s from players they were depending on and should have depended on .

    • Jared

      Wrong. Sorry, but wrong. It wasn’t ONLY underperformance. Niese had no business on this team and that was an awful trade just like most of the offseason. Hurdle waited way too long to move Nicasio back to the pen and move Locke out of the rotation. Not enough at bats for Bell or Frazier. Too many ABs for Jaso. Sure injury and unferperformance were huge contributing factors, but this team was poorly conceived/constructed and even more poorly managed.

      • gozurman

        Niese had an ERA under 4.00 when he pitched against the Mets in June. He hurt his knee and he was done. Was horrible after that. He does not hurt is knee and he continued what he was doing in May & the start of June, who knows?

        • Jared

          (Sigh)…you choose is ONE month with an ERA under 4??? His FIP was what? Oh yeah, 5.20. He was awful…basically, always.

  • Jared

    Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Cutch sucked but he sucked much of last year too. The offense was good enough with this crappy NL. Our pitching was god awful and the managing was just as bad. Hurdle was worse than terrible and, honestly, should be feeling FIRE underneath his butt as we speak. His inability to make correct decisions on lineup/rotation/playing time leaves this team not only with a likely losing record but without enough experience from players who will be asked to carry much of the load in 2017. He was asleep at the wheel and clearly does not know how to manage this team. Cutch was borderline insubordinate much of the season with his comments and play and Hurdle did nothing but continue to be tuned out. His platitudes are not working and are ALL he actually has to offer. He was too slow to turn to prospects in the field and the rotation…hes bullish reliance on veterans is bullshit especially as they struggle.

    This team has MORE question marks and holes going into THIS offseason than LAST and I am more pessimistic now than last year. This team was managed into a losing team with only the faintest of hope even for 2017 after falling 2 games shy of 100 wins last year. Managed by NH and Hurdle into this mess…and there is only ONE of those two I trust to rebound and help us get out of this mess.

    • Y2JGQ2

      Hurdle has never had any skill as an “ingame manager” and wasn’t hired or kept for that purpose. He handles the day to day off the field stuff, fans, and keeps things positive, he’s a players manager. I don’t like him, never did- but his positives are known as are his negatives, and they aren’t going to change. Do we need someone who can push this team more? Yes- are we going to hire Hurdle? Laughable, not going to happen

      • Jared

        I’m not so sure we SHOULDN’T…the positives you mentioned were basically non existent this season and when you listen to Cutch it sounds like a lot of the Hurdle platitudes have fallen on deaf ears…with a team that is getting younger we need someone who actually knows how to manage or we will see several more sub.500 seasons.

    • dr dng

      Jared. I could not put it any better than you.

  • Dale O

    Great start by Glasnow tonight – I think a needed “feel good” for him heading into the off season.


    • Jared

      Woah Woah Woah sllllllllllllowwwww the roll man. 4 BB…barely 50% of pitches thrown for strikes: 79-42. Hardly a glowing performance.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD

        4 Ks and held the Cards to 1 run and 1 hit for 5 innings, despite his 4 walks. He has electric stuff….even when he’s not having his best night control wise. His upside is off the charts….

        • Jared

          (Sigh)…way too over-excited about a mediocre start man. This site has even indicated that Glasnow may not reach that big upside…the upside is there but, unfortunately there is serious doubt abt him reaching that upside and tonight does little to overcome those concerns.

          • IC Bob

            I guess you can be excited about Williams he threw over the plate

            • Jared

              Yeah bc “throwing it over the plate” is what to get excited about…it is exactly the same as control. Not excited about Williams or Brault. Not excited abt pitching staff in 2017 as currently sitting here.

              • IC Bob

                Glasnow was jerked around quite a bit. He has work to do like so many others but management did him no favors by not working with him on his delivery and not working with him to hold runners better. Additionally when he was going good (and he was going great early in the year and late last year) they chose to make up silly reasons not to bring him up and that was proven when they brought him up after he stared faultering (when he should have been kept down). Pirates did the same with Kuhl suggesting he was ready right after ho had been bombed three straight times. Our team rarely makes baseball decisions for the sake of the team and usually make decisions based on long term goals and cost. I personally am getting tired of it because we were told that once the fans came we would start putting money back into the team and that really has not happened. We are still near the bottom on cost and no matter how good we get we will never leave the lower 25%. Looking forward to when Nutting decides he has pillaged this team and this city enough

      • Y2JGQ2

        Jared- we wanted him to just go out and pitch and he did. That’s what he needed.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    Neal Huntington….that is what happened to 2016 season.

    • Jared

      You mean a giant ball of suck happened? Haha…yeah. that’s what happened. Can we get rid of Hurdle, please? Yeah, I realize he didn’t give up the doubles or the homer…he just is a god awful manager.

  • Bill Harvey

    You want to know what happened to the starting pitching? This team had more than 1/3 of its games started by the following 3 catchers, Erik Fryer, Eric Kratz and Jacob Stallings. No offense to any of those 3 men, but if they are starting a major league game at catcher, your team probably should not win that game.

  • candyfan

    Let’s get off the “it’s Hurdles fault” bandwagon! He played the game with the deckhands he was assigned. Still a superior MLB manager. Huntington? He’s to blame for the large starting pitching gamble that sank this ship! Bad enough with his cheap approach to #3 – #5 starters. Worse, he had no plan for Cole and Liriano regressing, which ultimately was the difference between 98 wins and .500. And Cutch didn’t help either.

    I have serious doubts until I see otherwise of Cole coming all the way back in 2017? And good as Glasnow was last night, he pitched vs. a Cardinals team that doesn’t steal bases. Until Glasnow deals with that serious problem, he won’t be beating most teams that have any kind of running game. Glasnow not only has trouble with his long delivery with men on, he seems to lose effectiveness pitching from a stretch?

    Lots of positives from this year, but starting pitching fiasco was too much to overcome. This team MUST put out the money for Nova and I have serious doubts that too-cheap Nutting will do so?

    • billy921

      Finally, a logical answer to the year. My only problem with Clint is he kept Cutch batting 3rd. As far as Glasnow, remember the Big Unit. It took him a few years to grow into his body.

      • Jared

        No. Only a logical answer if you, ya know, ignore actual FACTS. And if Cutch batting 3rd was your biggest problem with Clint then you weren’t paying attention…Jason batting leadoff? Does that ring a bell?

        It’s amazing how people want to give Hurdle a pass on this season bc of injuries and “underperformance” of key players. Why didn’t we play Joyce more early? Why wasn’t Rodriguez playing more…seemed to do OK with expanded playing time when JayHay went down. Why Locke and Nicasio left in rotation as long as they were? Why Jason batting leadoff still in July when for almost the whole year up to that he wasn’t deserving of playing time at all let alone batting leadoff. Why Cutch batting 3rd? Why insistence on playing vets over younger players who you need to know what you have when you are essentially (and officially) out of the race? Where was Frazier who earned playing time?….I could go on and on.

        Yes, NH stacked the deck against the team a bit in the offseason and not bringing back Happ is a startlingly idiotic move…yes there were injuries but certainly no more so than the Cards or Mets or even Marlins. Yes some key players underperformed. But the FACT is that Clint Hurdle is one of the worst if not the worst game managers in baseball and has NO ability to put the players he had in the best positions to win baseball games. He had little clue what he was doing on a day to day basis and the above is just a START to the prosecutions case against him as a manager.

        You people do realize that articles have been written and there are statistics available about when the Pirates were winning the last several years it was in SPITE of Hurdle’s managerial decisions…well it didn’t work out this year that way and the end result is we saw how ineffective and terrible he is at managing a team. Keep him as a motivational speaker if you want…but by God get someone else to manage the team.

        • Jared

          And I have NO clue why my phone changes Jaso to Jason…but alas you get the point.

    • Jared

      This has to be one of the worst posts I’ve read in a long time. Starting with “superior MLB manager” to where you said “lots of positives from this year” it was basically couldn’t be more confounding. What are all these positives? Jamo, OK sure. Kuhl was nice to watch. Bullpen has major ?s…tons of production from bench will be lost in 2017…starting pitching is a nightmare…we didn’t play our younger players enough. Look at all these positives.

      And as for Hurdle? Yeah, he didn’t play the games…he also didn’t do much to put the players who DO play the games in a position to be most successful. Talking about injuries shows how little of a grasp you have on the game outside of Pittsburgh. Cards and Mets have had huge injury issues this season.

  • dr dng


    You should just keep an article/message or comment board open
    for at least a couple of weeks for us Pirate fans just to vent.

    This season is going to be a hard one to swallow.

    Having the comment board will at least provide therapy
    as we feel the need to vent.

    Its going to be a looong, hard off season.

  • faithman

    Most of the blame on the season should be placed on Huntington and Nutting. Terrible off season moves on the pitching side. Trading Walker for Niese who was horrible. Spending money on Voglesong and pitching him on the last day so he could get a bonus was just dumb. And the worse trade of the year was including McGuire and Ramirez in the Liriano trade/salary dump for useless Hutchinson. Everyone said we have Cervelli/Stewart and Diaz so we didn’t need McGuire. That is so shortsighted. McGuire would have been ready when Cervelli’s contract was up. We had to play Kratz who is 100x worse then any catcher ever because of injuries. It was all about money and Nutting and Huntington was never going to be all in and get his team into the post season this year. I am so done with Huntington only trying to go cheap and get reclamation projects.


Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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