Thanks to the efforts of Brian Warecki (Sr. Director of Communications for the Pirates) and Tom Smith from Rumbunter, some of the main blogs and online magazines were able to interview some Pirate players and front office people on Friday night at Piratefest.
Joining Matt Bandi and I were Charlie and Vlad from Bucs Dugout, Tom from Rumbunter, Jon from The McEffect, and Brian from Raise the Jolly Roger. Charlie posted his highlights from the Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington interview on Bucs Dugout. We’ll be posting ours later this morning from Piratefest (thank you wireless internet access).
We were introduced to new Pirate shortstop Clint Barmes first. Here’s some of the topics discussed:
- We asked how much of an influence Clint Hurdle had on his decision — He said he had a “huge influence” on the decision, as he and the Pirates came hard after him early in the offseason.
- On the negotiations with the Pirates and other teams — The Pirates were in the mix with multiple other teams, but no one wanted to commit with any “heavy negotiations” early in the offseason, except the Pirates. They came with a concrete offer for him to play shortstop. He talked it over with his family and agent and made the choice.
- We asked about how the success of the Pirates through July influenced him — He sees they are going in the right direction and likes the composition of the team.
- There was an unlikely source of help for the Pirates in his decision — Barmes trains out in Colorado with ex-Pirate pitcher, Javier Lopez. Lopez told him that Pittsburgh was a great city and has helped him find a place to live and give him some ins and outs about the city.
- On leadership — Barmes will be one of the “older” players on the team and he is a “lead by example” kind of guy on the field and in the clubhouse.
- Vlad from Bucs Dugout had some questions about his offseason workouts — His family keeps him in shape mostly. After the offseason, Barmes takes 3 to 4 weeks off to be with them, then gets right back to his workout routine. Early in his career, he used to do a lot of heavy lifting, but now he goes to the weight room 3-5 days a week. Barmes does mostly core training and speed drills now.
Next up for our interviews was Chris Resop. In the matter of full disclosure, all of us were kind of scratching our heads trying to figure out what to ask him before he showed up. In reality, it turned into a very fun interview with Resop. He is absolutely hilarious to talk with and you can only imagine what things are like in the bullpen with he and Joel Hanrahan, especially.
- In an effort to try and boost his 2013 salary, we asked him about the possibility of being a starter in 2012 — He has no idea why people think he can be a starter, as he’s only done it for 2-1/2 months ever. He likes being a guy that can play everyday, as he would get bored waiting every 5 days to pitch.
- We asked about his mindset around the non-tender deadline — Resop doesn’t really follow the media too much, plus even if he was non-tendered he knew that he had a good enough season that he would be picked up by some major league team. This comment led me to joke “So you won’t be pitching in Japan anytime soon?” which is where the interview got quite entertaining (and informative).
- On Japan — Resop had been designated back to the minors by the Braves for the first time, so he had to accept it. However, they still controlled his rights for 2 more years, but he saw a life of bouncing around AA and AAA. His agent fielded some calls from multiple Japanese League teams, so against his instincts Resop went over to Japan to pitch for a little bit.
- The different pitching mentality — Resop said in Japan it is not uncommon for pitchers to start off a game “throwing 8-10 offspeed pitches”. It will be “ball 1, ball 2 and I’m thinking c’mon put a fastball in there and let’s go.” He said he was way too aggressive of a person (the seemingly new flame tattoos peeking out from under the sleeve of his jersey was my first clue, Professor Plum) to fit the style of Japan.
- On the lack of aggressiveness — He described a scene where he observed a player practicing his “foul ball swing”. This player would deliberately take batting practice to practice fouling fastballs off to stay alive in the count. Resop said that very few players can handle a true fastball, so they’ll just foul them off until an offspeed pitch is thrown. Kind of puts Yu Darvish’s video game numbers into a little perspective for me.
- Lack of continuity in Japan League baseball — As per Resop, there were 5 or 6 different types of baseballs in Japan with different types/heights of seams. Additionally, some of the fields are actual dirt infields (not clay) so there will be a 30 minute interlude at times to re-do the infields during the game. The mounds also differ from field to field, including some not having a mound at all. For those fields, you’re tired by the 4th inning he said, because you have no leverage to push off of like a standard mound. You have to supply all the power yourself.
- We ended our interview with Resop by asking what it was like in the clubhouse during July — “Exciting. Awesome. Guys were racing each other to see who would get to the ballpark first.” He said winning is contagious, but so is losing. They just ran out of steam last year all at the same time.
Tom from Rumbunter posted his video clips from the Resop interview. We could have interviewed him for an hour.
Later this morning, I’ll put the highlights of the interviews with Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington. We will continue to be at Piratefest all weekend. The booth is to the far right of the room, one row away from the audio/visual equipment for the main stage. Stop by to pick up your copy of the 2012 Pirates Prospects Guide Book and talk baseball with Tim Williams.