Neal Huntington Addresses Recent Trades and the Starting Rotation

PITTSBURGH – Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington had his usual meeting with the media this afternoon, including our own Alan Saunders. He answered several questions about the non-waiver trade deadline last week, the possibility of the Pirates being active in the August waiver trade market, and some general questions about the Pirates’ starting rotation.

On the moves made last week, Huntington specifically addressed the trade that sent Francisco Liriano, Harold Ramirez, and Reese McGuire to Toronto in exchange for Drew Hutchison, which demonstrated a heretofore unseen willingness on the part of the Pirates’ current front office to trade prospects for salary relief.

“We used the younger players as currency to acquire Drew Hutchison,” said Huntington, reiterating the team’s interpretation of last week’s events. “That is the primary motivation, was the primary motivation, and that is our reality.

“We understand that there are those on the outside that might question that. But that was our primary motivation and remains our primary motivation, to get a young pitcher by the name of Drew Hutchison that we like a lot and feel will be a quality starting pitcher for us as we move forward.”

Huntington did recognize the financial reality of the transaction, noting with an oft-repeated phrase that the trade gives the Pirates “financial flexibility” by clearing nearly $18 million dollars in payroll over the next two years.

Part of the negative reaction to the trade was a perceived delay by the Pirates in confirming that two prospects were indeed being sent to Toronto, and that it wasn’t simply Liriano being traded for salary reasons and/or poor performance. Huntington tried to address some of those concerns this afternoon with some lengthy comments on how what the team does can affect public perception.

“In this situation, our ability to let out what our intent was, what our primary motivation was, it wasn’t there,” said Huntington. “And we understand that with the franchise’s history, that allows people to jump on the negative very quickly.”

It was clear that the team felt their ability to present their “side” of the trade story was compromised by waiting until they had spoken with both Ramirez and McGuire before releasing a public statement. That allowed for other reports to circulate and feed fans’ negative reactions to the deal.

“We wanted to make sure we respected this player, and that was the focus for us, and as a result the optics came out very negative,” said Huntington. “We’ve taken a beating for it, but we feel like we still made the right move in doing what we needed to do to handle the situation the way it needed to be handled.”

Huntington was also asked if the newfound financial flexibility from the Liriano trade would allow the Pirates to take on salary this season via a waiver deal later this month.

“It could absolutely play,” said Huntington. “We’ll look at how acquiring a player with a significant salary plays for this year and plays for future years as well. We have the flexibility to be open, to be aggressive in claims, whether it’s to block our opponents from being able to acquire some players that they may want or need, or for our own benefit.”

“We look to be able to utilize that,” said Huntington, but he quickly couched his response in more careful terms. “I certainly don’t want to sit here and promise that we’re going to be active, because there’s so much beyond our control of our ability to be active.”

Given that the Pirates are currently looking to pass a few other teams to secure a playoff spot, they may have a slight advantage when it comes to the waiver claim process, as their lower position in the standings gives them a higher waiver priority. However, there does not seem to be a clear target to acquire, as waiver trades are usually for highly paid players nearing the end of their deals, or replacement-level players.

Of course, the Pirates recently completed a successful waiver trade with Seattle for Arquimedes Caminero, and Huntington mentioned that the trade came from discussions that were ongoing as the non-waiver deadline approached.

Huntington’s comments echoed those of Clint Hurdle yesterday on Jeff Locke’s moving to the bullpen, that having different multiple-inning relievers was something that the Pirates were focusing on coming out of the August 1st deadline.

“We were looking for multiple pitchers that could give us length out of the bullpen,” said Huntington, noting that Tony Watson, Neftali Feliz, Felipe Rivero, and Antonio Bastardo are generally only used for one inning. Replacing Caminero with Locke does add additional potential innings, but whether positive results will follow after Locke’s transition to the bullpen remains to be seen.


Starting pitching has been a consistent area of concern for the Pirates this season, and Huntington addressed some of the concerns about how the Pirates would construct their rotation over the rest of the season and beyond.

“The benefit of having quality young starting pitching is that we don’t have to worry about going deep into the free agent market,” said Huntington. “We’ve talked from day one, you need seven or eight, maybe nine. The team that gets one or two starts from their sixth starter is the rare one in this day and age. You need seven, eight, in some cases even nine, to have an opportunity to run a deep rotation out there to put yourself in a position to win the most of the 162 as possible.”

“We’ll explore the free agent market, we’ll explore the trade market, but we love our young arms internally,” Huntington added. “How much we can ask of how many of them does become a question. That’s where the Drew Hutchison acquisition comes in.”

To Huntington’s point, the Pirates have seen Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Chad Kuhl, and Steven Brault all miss time with relatively minor injuries this season. That of course doesn’t include poor performances from Liriano, Locke, and Jon Niese, or the injury to Ryan Vogelsong, all of which affected the rotation early in the season. It also does not include the concern about workload for Taillon as he returns from various injuries, and for Glasnow as he approaches his previous high for innings pitched in a single season.

Asked whether these myriad issues had encouraged the team to seek rotation help well before the trade deadline, Huntington seemed to say that help was either not readily available on the market, or at least not available at a reasonable cost, thanks in part to the changes to the playoff structure and the addition of another Wild Card team.

“It’s harder to acquire players, because more teams are in the hunt,” said Huntington. “And even as we looked at the ‘sellers’ as we got closer to the deadline, many of them had already made moves.

“There were some that held players that are on expiring contracts; that typically doesn’t happen, but they’ve held them for their reasons. So it’s not like there’s a plethora of starting pitching available in May or June, even if a team wants to acquire a pitcher. We were engaged in the market, and did not find something that we thought made a ton of sense for us.”

A name that has been floated as being a good fit for the Pirates’ rotation was J.A. Happ, who joined the team at last year’s trade deadline and pitched as well as any starter in baseball over the final two months of the season, posting a 1.85 ERA (2.19 FIP) over 11 starts. Happ is 15-3 with a 3.09 ERA (3.83 FIP) in the first year of his contract, pitching in more challenging environments against opponents the AL East.

“The challenge is [Francisco Liriano]’s first year of his three-year contract was a fantastic season, and J.A. has thrown the ball well, and certainly has shown to continue the ability to do what he did for the two months here,” Huntington said. “There’s still two years on that contract for time to tell.”

“Hindsight always gives you the opportunity to wish you’d done something differently,” said Huntington, noting that the team wanted to re-sign Happ but couldn’t meet the financial aspects of the three year, $36 million deal he signed with the Blue Jays in the off-season.

“We have to make the best decisions we can at the time with the information we have,” Huntington added, taking a more meta perspective. “We have to project what we believe is going to happen, and then work through the outcomes, and learn from what works, and learn from what doesn’t.”

  • Even if we accept everything Neal said, it’s fair to ask “WHY were you so high on Hutchison?” This is NOT a guy who’s dominated AAA, and why are the Pirates scouts so much smarter than the rest of the world? When Huntington said that other teams evaluate the Pirates prospects, that was a weird statement that flew in the face of everything the management team has been saying. So, is it “we’ll see what other people set as the market and evaluation of our players,” or “we’ll do our own evaluations?” A damaged pitcher, and two B grade prospects for someone I fear will turn out to be a Quad-A pitcher, or the right-handed Jeff Locke.

    • They’re not as high on him as they are saying. They like him, but this was a “salary dump.” As it stands today, Hutchison wasn’t worth the two prospects given away. Toronto wanted more in return for taking all of FL’s salary. NH agreed and coonely, Nutting signed off on it. The FO believes that sacrificing the 2 prospects is worth the money saved and the pitcher they received in return. They obviously are projecting FL to continue his regression. The FO can spin all they want.

      • You say spin, I say thoughtful way of managing a team in the bottom 1/3 of payroll, I guess we could argue about that all day or night my time, unless we look at the results the past 3 plus years… but sure, I do understand the angst, I always have, but never got it…

        • Bottom 17% in payroll, actually.

          According to Forbes magazine they are #17 in gross revenues. According to Sport track they are #25 in payroll. But, who is counting?

          And 1 wildcard win in the 10 years NH has been in charge. But who is counting that either? I wouldn’t call one wildcard win and three postseason game wins total in 10 years “success” but what do I know.

        • Last three years were good previous 20 some odd years not so much. Since the change of the rules on draft salary caps and signing on non draft eligible players the Pirates have been pretty woeful to the adjustment to the new market conditions.

          • How so?

            • I think NH, made the best choice to acquire talent, who
              our scouts thought the best player going forward. Drew Hutchinson had close to 400 MLB innings pitched, going into this season….Our scouts felt Drew is about to turn the corner and be a solid Starter

              Look back on the Cubs trade for Jake Arrieta, Jake was close to 400 innings pitched.. He had power stuff, but couldn’t make it work at the MLB level. The Orioles gave up on him…He mastered his mechanics, and the last 2+ years Jake has been one of the top 2-4 pitchers in the NL…

              Can Drew be as good as Arrieta? Who knows, but going from the AL East to the NL Central. Hutchinson will be much better, maybe a run to 1.5 ERA runs better….

              The main concern I has is Drew mental state, in that has he lost his confidence.

              Looking back on Pitchers who turn the corner it usually happens around 500 MLB innings…

              So, 1 bad season and we are still in the race, with as many bad things, injuries, and Cutch having a bad season…

              We saved $$$, got the best, closet guy who could break out…

              Will he? Not sure but I hope so….

  • If the “primary motivation” of trading the top prospects was acquiring Drew Hutchison and he sits today in AAA then how does it not follow that Neal tanked the season when coupled with the Melancon trade? All but the most partisan FO defenders believe that, including most impartial baseball writers.

    • I don’t believe that, though my nickname is irrational/unrealistic, NH Tedwins :)… Hutchinson was a trade for the 2017 future, based on value about pitching and the rising cost, and the two kids who went, not easy, I get it, but such is life… Liriano, well time will tell if pretty much getting rid of him, and having money in the bank to do other moves, is better than Nova…It is just my view Michael T…. what do I know 🙂

    • The only difference in this trade is that Liriano isn’t on the roster. They’re also calling up Kuhl, rather than Hutchison. So if your definition of tanking the season is replacing Liriano with Kuhl, rather than Liriano with Hutchison, then they tanked.

      But an objective look shows that replacing Liriano with anyone is probably going to be an upgrade.

      • Tim,
        Your response misrepresents what I said. I put forth an opinion that dumping Liriano AND trading Melancon tanked the season, and as I have posted before sent that same message to the team. They seem to be playing as if they got the message from their boss. They were 16 and 8 before the Melancon trade.
        We will certainly see if “anyone” is going to be an upgrade over Liriano. I’m surprised that is your view.

        • You mean if, “anyone” will be an upgrade on his stats in pgh during 2016, right? Or do yo mean, that will Nova be better than him the rest of 2016, curious….

          • tedwins
            ask Tim….he opined that “an objective look shows that replacing Liriano with anyone is probably going to be an upgrade.”
            That is absolutely not what I said, I hate the trade and the Melancon trade and the effect it had on the team, who were the hottest team in baseball immediately before the Melancon trade.

            • fair enough mate…. thoughtful response I assume, it gets confusing after awhile, especially when you reach my age, not pretty trying to keep up 🙂 🙂

      • Tim you would be correct if Liriano performs the way he has the last three months but how likely is that with his previous three year history? I would rather take Liriano then Nova or Hutchison. I would like to think the sample size of three years far outweighs the sample size of the most recent three months.

        • So you must have been one of the folks who debated me and took me behind the woodshed for me wanting Happ last FA season, because his 3 years of previous experience certainly didn’t “outweigh” his two months of success in pgh in 2015, right???

          • I liked Happ because apparently they made a change with him that seemed to help him (though I questioned the original trade that brought him here). I was not horribly upset that we did not sign him but I would have rather signed him then trad Walker for Nieses 10 million dollar contract. I was Ok that we traded Walker I just felt Niese was a terrible use of 10 million. I felt NH misread the pitchers market and thought he could get a FA for a decent price

        • I wrote this before the trade, but I really think there’s concern that hitters have figured Liriano out. It became common knowledge last year that he never throws his slider for strikes, yet people keep swinging at it. This year we’ve seen hitters laying off the slider, removing his biggest weapon.

          He might have some success in the AL, because those guys haven’t seen him as often. But I’d question whether he can get back to his old self, with his biggest weapon removed.

          • I remember the article and I can understand that but giving up on a guy who has been there for you for 3 years to take flyers on Ivan Nova and drew Hutchison seems a bit much. Tim I am really worried about what we gave up for Nova and get the feeling its going to be way worse then we hope which will jack me and everyone else up even more about this deadline.

      • Actually I think they replaced Liriano with Nova. Kuhl is being called up to replace Locke in the rotation, which I heartily endorse.

      • Not sure if you saw Liriano’s last start? He looked very in sync and pitched 7 innnings to get the win….

        • 6 innings, actually. I saw he had a good outing (4.13 xFIP). He had good outings with the Pirates. He just didn’t have them consistently.

          • Hello again, Tim,

            I actually watched the game and what i saw was very little glove movement from Martin and no shake offs……looked pretty solid to me

          • Hey, @Tim, not trying to beat a dead horse, but, looks like Francisco found some consistency…..

  • With whatever the rest of the season brings, at least each game will be interesting in the sense of watching whoever the starting pitcher is. No more Locke, Niese, Liriano blocking the youngsters development. Anytime those 3 pitched, it was just a negative feeling before the game even started and a HOPE that they’d get through 5 innings…on a good night.
    NOW BRING UP BELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I’ve always heard that the mark of an effective executive is to recognize and correct his mistakes as expeditiously as possible. NH is the person responsible for signing Liriano to a relatively expensive (by Pirates’ standards) extension; trading for Niese, etc.

    The reason they’re called mistakes is that they cost more to fix than avoiding the mistake in the first place.

    The only people NH owes perfect transparency and honesty are FC and BN, the Pirates’ owner and the owner’s executive representative. If NH’s explanation of the latest moves prove to be yet another mistake in the eyes of the fans (and more important, in the clubhouse), then additional costs will be incurred to correct this mistake.

    • …and a bad exec knee jerk reacts and creates more bad decisions and mistakes. Only time will tell what NH just did.

  • Sounds like he is describing his email server and whether the emails had …………

  • Neil blew this one, either:
    1. He truly believes Hutch is worth 2 top prospects, including a number one pick. In this case, he is the only one in baseball who believes this and he really over paid.
    2. It was a salary dump and he lied about the reasons for the trade.
    3. Or he was told to get rid if the salary and followed orders to do so, lied about the reasons, and didn’t have the stones to stand up for what he believed.
    In any case, he blew it and should be held accountable, and not be apologized for.

    • Liriano



      Not perfect but not worth the overreaction.


      • Good as long as you’re okay with selling prospects to make up for a bad contract. He had to sell prospects to make up for his own mistake. For that he should expect the criticism. Apologize for him all you want, fact is he screwed up.

        • And if Huntington had let Frankie walk after 2014 and Frankie subsequently has the great 2015 season wearing someone else’s uniform, you’d have been ok with that?

          It’s a no win situation. Don’t sign the free agent to a multi year deal and you’re cheap and uncompetitive. Sign him and he goes bust, and you’re a screwup.

      • lets be realistic about this,


        Hutchison and whatever arm problems he is currently dealing with
        Addition of several new chair lifts and cabins to Seven Springs

        If we thought we would be receiving an $18m type of pitcher next year, we wouldnt be bitching so much and this is no overreaction

    • It’s #3, we all know it’s #3, and no one who has ever had to publicly cover for his boss would call into question another man’s stones. You do realize if NH calls this what it is, he is being insubordinate, right? Throwing you boss under he bus is rarely a great career strategy. He’d almost certainly be fired, and no owner would touch him for years afterwards.

      Huntington doesn’t owe the fans an honest explanation, because we didn’t hire him, we don’t pay him, and we can’t fire him. His allegiance is to one guy and one guy only, and if that guy wants him to tell everyone this was a trade for Hutchison and not a salary dump, then you can bet every penny of his multi million dollar salary that’s what he’s going to say.

      • I don’t know if he was following marching orders…but, let’s be real…

        …the stories have been leaking out for awhile that Liriano was being a dick. He wasn’t following the advice/coaching being given and, from what I’ve read, the writing was on the wall.

        If you’re Chris Sale and putting up numbers, you can get by with being an asshole and marching to your own drum. But, when you’ve got an ERA pushing 5.50…meh, not so much.

        Maybe Neal was forced, maybe he wasn’t…but, I gotta think…if Frankie was putting up 2013-15 numbers…there was no way it was a force. We can all bitch that the Pirates dumped salary…but they also dumped the salary of a guy who wouldn’t allow himself to be coached and who wasn’t performing.

        • I would like some point of reference to those stories other then hear say on this board. I understand there was a BP session he got in to it a little with the pitching coach but that happens ALL the time with almost every pitcher in baseball. I think its a little insulting to Liriano who for all purposes was a heck of a player and a great team mate according to all the players on the team.

          • There was a story post trade in the local rag that Liriano was an important father figure to the Dominican players, and greatly respected by his teammates. The opposite of what is said above by another poster.

      • If he can’t give an honest explanation then he should keep his mouth shut instead of insulting everyone’s intelligence. McGuire is a 21 year old first round draft pick who is holding his own in AA. He doesn’t turn 22 until next May. There is no way to defend an even up trade of McGuire for a 26 year old former prospect that has failed at the MLB level.

      • If you take public money, solicit sponsorships and sell season tickets I submit you should be honest with the fans.
        The fact that people need to call them on dishonest statements is important.
        Obviously, the major reaction to the deadline dump and Melancon trade got the attention of the ownership and management.
        That is why Frank and Neal were dispatched to do damage control over the weekend with the writers and on the media outlets.

    • Regarding #1 – Really? The only one in baseball? That is such a ridiculous statement. I did not want to lose McGuire either but keep in mind these were top prospects in our system. Not every outlet outside of Pirateville had both of these players rated really high. I would venture to bet NH and others in baseball know more about players and development than all of us.

    • I’m pretty sure he knows Hutchison isn’t worth what he gave up.

  • Oh, also, Mr McCool, LLOYD don’t do twitter but if he did, he’d agree with you on the Phelps turn……..RIDICULOUS!!!!
    That dude is a God of athletes!!!


  • Damn you guys are rough…….haha
    LLOYD thinks that Neal has earned the right to see how this plays out the rest of this season and next and maybe even further. Please show LLOYD a GM with a payroll anywhere near the Buccos over the last 5 seasons that has done a better job.

    As for this season, why is Nova and Bastardo for Liriano and Neise not at least considered a wash? Maybe even better…….

    And next season we shall see if payroll drops by 10 million or so. LLOYD’s guess is that it will increase for the 6th year in a row. Been following Hutcheson from afar since about 2012 and he excites me after getting out of the AL East.

    LLOYD is not happy to lose either prospect but if Liriano was still putting up a 5+ ERA next season, you dudes would act the same way on here that you always act. Wish I had time to go back and see all of the bashers for the resign of SRod and signing of Joyce. Now that would be entertaining.

    HAHAHA, thanks for waking up this old feller’s ass with these over the top comments (LLOYD doesn’t read many).

    Let’s hope Kuhl can give a jump start on Tuesday and the others start playing with a little more focus.

    Night night men!!!


    • The best GM’s are those that win championships. Why would you settle for anything less.

      • HaHa,
        Give LLOYD a list of these current GM’s Donald.
        Thanks in advance.


        • I’m sure Lloyd could look up the last three world champions, if he truly exists. With all the third person speak, maybe he doesn’t.

    • Lloyd thinks Lloyd needs to reset his agenda and develop a new ozone exhaust system.

  • Neal is having a bad year…..Walker, Jaso, Niese, Rogers, Harrison, Alvarez, Happ, balanced by Joyce and Feliz, and Freese falls in his lap.
    But the deadline dealing of his closer Melancon and dumping Liriano while selling propects signaled WE QUIT and that will live in infamy.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      August 7, 2016 10:37 pm

      The FO certainly made the statement they were quitting on 2016, and some of the players have seemingly followed suit….the next two months will tell a lot about this team and individual players…which ones will just go through the motions (Cole, that looked like you today) and which ones will bust their butt and actually elevate their game.

      • What do you think “holding players accountable” looks like? Liriano, Niese and Locke were the worst starters the Pirates had, with performance metrics well below the minimum line for a MLB starter. Two were fired and one, the cheapest, was sent to the bullpen. Why does that bother you?

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          August 7, 2016 11:20 pm

          Who said that bothered me? I had no problem with ridding ourselves of Liriano and Niese, and sending Locke to the bullpen. The problems I have are; (1) we traded for Niese to begin with and thought he was an adequate #3 starter, (2) that we kept those three in rotation past June 1 – changes needed to be made then to salvage the season, (3) the team was too cheap to send money, instead of top prospects, to Toronto, and (4) lying to the fans about why the Liriano trade was made – as if we’re total morons and can’t see the obvious.

    • The Pirates are a .500 team and are retooling, both buying and selling. Why in the world do you want to keep Liriano, he with the 5.50 ERA? No team should keep a starter with an ERA above 4.75.

      • A contender put him right in their rotation. He gave them a quality start and they won. His ability is still there. July 21st he had 13Ks, 0 walks.
        Before the deadline capitulation the Pirates had gone 16-8. They were getting healthy.

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          August 7, 2016 11:22 pm

          9-1 before ASG 7-7 after sending Bell and Kuhl back down and giving more starts to Liriano, Niese, and Locke….a sign of insanity

      • I would keep Liriano because he has a three year and a one month history of success with Pittsburgh versus a recent three month failure. You don’t see the Cardinals dumping Wainwright because he has sucked this year you didn’t see the Reds trade Votto when he was batting 190 for two months earlier in the year. You also do not include top prospects. Hutchinson only dreams of having the kind of results Lariano has had in the burgh. what also scares me about this trade is it signals to every GM that good players (Cutch) having bad years can be had for cheap because money is more important to us then talent right now.

  • Neal also announced his new self-help book “How to lose 17-20 wins in 12 months.”

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      August 7, 2016 11:14 pm

      Or “How to keep Locke and Niese in a MLB rotation for nearly 4 months, and not get fired”

      • I’m not gonna say I trashed the Niese deal but it’s brutal to bust in a trade where you trade away a fan favorite, a productive player, and a local kid. Walker was all three. The main thing I complained about was Niese being called a number 3. If Niese went into the season as a #4 or 5 and then failed it would hurt but less. They needed a better guy in the middle of the rotation, they had until now to get one…huge fail. I never have thought of hurdle as a tactician, and oh boy he proves that nightly, but tough for him to take all the blame. He was dealt an incomplete staff and bullpen most of season.

        • check out the Walker WAR figures against Harrison’s and it looks a lot worse.

  • I am so tired of NH talking to fans like they are stupid. Any goodwill he had at the beginning of the year is gone….

    • Couldn’t agree more. Talks down to fans and its demeaning

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      August 7, 2016 10:23 pm

      He is VERY arrogant – and quite frankly, he hasn’t accomplished enough to be arrogant. He’s made some good signings and trades – and some of his draft picks have panned out well. But, he is also made some bizarre trades and draft picks (the Liriano being the worst obviously, but numerous others I could list), underutilizes the farm system, and he has not shown that he has the ability to steer this team to the next level. All would be easily forgiven, if he was more contrite and transparent….fans respect that.

      • I don’t think that he’s arrogant as much as he is covering for the owner and dancing around the simple fact that they can’t compete due to $ and they want to be competitive every year (i.e. Not going all in).
        He’s a great GM, he’s working with an arm tied behind his back, but he’s not without his flaws

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          August 7, 2016 10:34 pm

          My saying he is arrogant wasn’t solely based on the above interview – its been consistent with past interviews – he comes off as very condescending

  • Locke does add additional innings, but…

  • Can’t understand the hate directed toward Neal Huntington over this trade. I mean isn’t this the same GM who trade for and got our No10 prospect Brault and No19 Tarpley last year for nothing (well Snider but he came back later in the year), so why don’t we wait till next year to judge this trade.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      August 7, 2016 10:06 pm

      The trade was bad – very bad. But, the dishonesty in explaining why they did it is why NH is getting skewered in this article – and rightfully so. It shows complete lack of respect for the fans…

      • PiratesFan1975
        August 7, 2016 11:14 pm

        Fyi…. no one cares about you. Not MLB, not NH, not Nutting, nor any other prospective gm or owner. Get over it. It’s baseball. Not your life. If you are so miserable over the situation withdrawl yourself from it. Getting yourself constantly worked up over MLB decisions that have no impact on your life is beyond silly. It’s a game. You’re not spending money on the Pirates from Maryland so why would they care anyways? You can complain and hand wring all you want. It’s not going to change a single thing.

        • HartHighPirate
          August 7, 2016 11:47 pm

          I think it is respect for the flag, the Jolly Roger. Fans love to win. You see it after a walk-off win when the players rush out onto the field and jostle the hitter that won the game.
          Players love to win.

      • Do you really think he would admit to tanking? Ummm…NO!!

      • HartHighPirate
        August 7, 2016 11:44 pm

        The interview was not necessary.

      • Scott Kliesen
        August 8, 2016 7:51 am

        Your perception is the trade was bad. In reality, it’s far too soon to evaluate the merits of the trade. And how do you know he’s being dishonest? Have you hacked his personal e-mails?

      • You probably cried yourself to sleep every night last offseason when they traded Snider. Bet your argument was the same old rhetoric, NH is stupid, Nutting is cheap, Snider was better than Polanco, etc etc etc. How’s that look now? Your act is tiresome. Like the one commenter said below, get over it already, move on, it’s baseball. To freak out like you do and accuse people of being liars and attacking their integrity is getting out of hand. I am willing to bet You could NEVER do NH job half as good as he did or can, so stop pretending like it.

  • Can not believe that NH believe s what he said. I would not be surprised that Hutchinson does not make the team next year and that is not because he used the money saved by selling prospects in acquiring a better pitcher. He would not sign either Volquez or Happ as they were to expensive, so who will he spend the money saved on? No one!

  • Why would you want more multiple inning relievers? To limit the innings of your young pitchers. This team is playing for 2017, make no mistake

    The comment about Happ being in his first year are pathetic. Winners don’t wait to see if a player will fail in year 2/3. Happ is dominating RIGHT NOW. And that’s all Toronto could ask for thus far into his deal. I never thought pirates could have or should have resigned Happ. They were priced out. But let’s not talk around it, Happ has delivered.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    August 7, 2016 9:58 pm

    This is my biggest problem with NH – a lack of humility and transparency….

    “We used the younger players as currency to acquire Drew Hutchison,” said Huntington, reiterating the team’s interpretation of last week’s events. “That is the primary motivation, was the primary motivation, and that is our reality.”

    That is a line of bull crap – the prospects were traded to get Toronto to agree to take on Liriano’s contract, not to get Drew Hutchison. Trading either McGuire or Ramirez straight up for Hutchison would have been a horrendous trade for the Pirates. Hutchison is tried and failed major league pitcher. He may have been rushed to the majors too soon by the Blue Jays, as he didn’t accumulate a lot of years/innings in the minors before getting to Toronto. But, he’s 26 now and not a prospect anymore. I think he will never be more than a AAAA pitcher. He doesn’t have overwhelming stuff and the word is his fastball lacks velocity (91-93 max) and movement. I could be wrong, and for the Pirates sake I hope I am.
    This trade was motivated and completed to unload Liriano and his contract, Hutchison was an after thought – and the Blue Jays threw him in because he’s not part of their future anymore. He reminds me of Brad Lincoln….
    As I said before, the Pirates traded a lot more to get Hutchison than they received for Melancon. That pretty much sums it up.

    • Has it occurred to you that NH can’t say what you have just pointed out or the League might look at the deal? Now you would love for that to happen so the deal would be reversed. But NH really wanted to be rid of Liriano, obviously because he lost faith that he was fixable. If a GM comes to that conclusion he has to act. Kudos to NH for being decisive.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        August 7, 2016 11:12 pm

        And who gave Liriano the contract that we had to rid ourselves, at the expense of 2 of our best prospects?

        • No one was bashing that contract last year. Only looks bad now because Frankie went off the rails. If he turns it around in Toronto, Neal will look like a fool for giving up on such a valuable, cost controlled commodity. No win situation there.

          • further to that point – there was a lot of grumbling about not extending Volquez after 2014, but look at him now. The fact is, giving multi-year contracts to fringy starting pitchers is very risky, and frequently does not end well. Morton, Niese, Volquez, Frankie all look like poor contracts in retrospect. As Huntington alluded, Happ may go the same way before all is said and done. Look outside at other teams – Kennedy, Sabathia, Lincecum’s last deal with SF, Garza, CJ Wilson, Ubaldo Jimenez…all looked awful with multiple years remaining.

            So either you never sign any free agents or extensions, and get raked for being cheap, or you do sign them and get raked when they inevitably ho south.

            • Happ will likely earn his contract in the first year. If you think he could go south trade him after one year.

  • I believe that Huntington has admitted he made mistakes this year. During a 5 hour drive Saturday I heard his boss Frank Coonelly interviewed. Lots of Prez/GM noodling but even Frank said “Neal would say he made mistakes this year” but “on the other hand he signed Joyce , Feliz, and Friese.” But I don’t buy the prospects for Hutchison principal motivation for the trade with a whisper of “financial considerations” for dumping $18M.

    • But the best part of the drive was a Pompeani live interview with former GM of the year Jim Bowden. His observations about the Buccos:
      1. Trading closer Melancon and Liriano “crushing” your chances and “crushing in the clubhouse.”
      2.Not signing Happ a big mistake. You fixed him and knew what you had, the money was fair
      3. The left handed power of Walker and Alvarez is missed
      4. Money saved in the Liriano salary dump is not nearly enough to pay for a quality free agent starter in today’s market.
      5. To get the pitching needed the Pirates will have to trade a valued outfielder, either Meadows or McCutchen. Marte and Polanco too cost effective, and proven.
      He concludes we still have a good team with a shot…go fill the park. Which I interpreted as saying, stay home and bitch or go watch your team….its all we got.

      • Remember, this is the same Jim Bowden who is beloved in Cincinnati for his trades!

      • Jim Bowden was terrible. There is a reason why he works for ESPN now and tries to compete against Ken Rosenthal

        • but what are your views about the substance of what he said?

          • 1. Did not crush pirates chances at all.
            2. Hindsight is always 20/20 but I agree I wouldn’t mind had Happ had come back
            3. No they don’t. Everyone was ready to run Alvarez out of town and now suddenly it was a mistake to get rid of him. NW had 1 good month 3 very bad months and now is hot again, I don’t miss that.
            4. That maybe true, but with this free agent class no one is worth that. I personally don’t care how they reallocate the money or what their payroll is, it does not equal a good or bad team IMO like most of you make it out to be. It’s all about the talent and players. Getting rid of Liriano and his contract was smart, don’t like including McGuire but I’m not going to scream and cry and rant and act like I know more than NH like mr.buccofaninMD thinks he does.
            5. Agreed. Too bad McCutchen has been absolutely terrible and brings almost no value when he’s not hitting. His defense and arm is some of the worst in the league. That being said I’m sure someone could still pay for his “name”. If he gets hot at the end of this season and resorts back to old form I wouldn’t mind they shopped cutch for a solid number 2 starter or even possibly ask the ChiSox about a possibly McCutchen, Sale headlining deal (obviously with others involved). But that’s only remotely possibly if McCutchen returns to form, which is looking unlikely. AL is McCutchens future though considering his below average defense and well below average arm.

  • If Huntington honestly believes that trading 2 top 10 prospects for Drew Hutchison was a smart trade he should be looking for another line of work. If he doesn’t learn anything from this disaster of a season and nearly 8 years of overall terrible drafting, then maybe he isn’t well suited for this job. This gets worse by the minute.

    • Huge assumption that he viewed them as top 10 prospects.

      • Not really. Check any prospect ranking (this one) or taking Reese as a 1st rounder

        • Alan Saunders
          August 7, 2016 10:00 pm

          For the record, we did not have Ramirez as a Top 10 prospect.

        • Teams don’t have the same internal rankings as do us outsiders. I’m sure they tend to agree at the top–who can deny Glasnow’s or Meadow’s talent? But once you get by the top 2-3, they surely vary.

          This is why I like PP’s method of assigning players to tiers (I don’t care much about the specific rankings after that). To quote Tim in his comments about Tier 3 (McGuire’s tier), “The thing I like about tiers is that the rankings are pretty interchangeable.” So even though McGuire ended up 6th in PP’s rankings, there evidently was little that separated him from Gage Hinsz at 17th. If McGuire was our 17th best prospect, would we view the trade differently?

    • He is the GM who oversaw the complete overhaul of the franchise. In my opinion, he is especially well suited for his job.

    • Haha terrible drafting? Terrible international signings too right? All you people are nuts in your assumptions and opinions because your so angry that we don’t have this 200 million payroll. I suggest you find another team to root for to save you from despair and agony. The Pirates are probably taking years of your life, move on.

  • Neil- you are either an idiot or a liar that thinks the fans are idiots. Either way, shame on you. And shame on any fans that believe that pile of horse shit

    • He’s probably not too upset getting slammed by people who can’t spell his name.

    • Let’s assume he was forced to trade Liriano to save money at the cost of a couple highly ranked prospects, and acquiring Hutchinson was secondary. Do you expect for him to say that was the reason it was done? Nutting would have his scalp, and rightfully so.

      Words are cheap. Actions are what count. We will all see how Hutchinson works out, how much trading McGuire will hurt the franchise, and what moves are made to shore up weaknesses of team with the money saved by this move. Afterwards you can evaluate this trade in a reasonable manner. Until then it’s just perception, not fact.

      • Michael Sankovich
        August 7, 2016 9:41 pm

        wouldn’t it be refreshing to actually hear him say that – that the underlying reason for the trade was to cut payroll? Why do we assume that people in charge can’t speak the truth? With his track record (3 straight playoff appearances), he shouldn’t worry about what his bosses might think. If he is confident in his abilities, and they want to fire him, he should be able to find another position in the industry. In any event, this is just another indication that these interviews are worthless, a complete waste of time.

        • In some respects he and the Toronto GM whispered the truth in the their statements. There were “financial considerations” as well. As in we have money and are trying to win a championship, and you don’t have money and don’t like your odds.
          Yep, they weren’t talking about Hutchinson at 3:59pm Monday, you can bet it was Neal gagging when he was forced to sell McGuire.

          • The deal was completed well before 3:59. They couldn’t notify McGuire because he was out river tubing, and held off on announcing the details out of respect for the players involved.

        • Maybe because his objective was to fire Liriano at least cost to the team. Saving the money is an additional bonus. But it doesn’t do anyone any good to say that. Good for NH for biting his tongue.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        August 7, 2016 10:01 pm

        He would get more respect from the fans by being honest, because no one but a moron or Kool-Aid drinker would buy his explanation. It reminds me of the explanation given by Littlefield for drafting Moskos over Wieters and trading Aramis Ramirez for essentially nothing. It was the dishonesty, coupled with incompetence and poor results, that ultimately cost Littlefield his job. NH would be wise to not repeat the same mistakes.

        • Littlefield and Huntington are in different galaxies talent wise. He is being honest. You just don’t like his strategy. That isn’t a basis to assault his character.

          • BuccosFanStuckinMD
            August 7, 2016 10:10 pm

            If you believe this trade’s primary motivation was to get Hutchison, you must be a relative of his or a complete apologist for him. That is utter and total nonsense….

            • I have said several times that the primary purpose of the trade was to fire Liriano at the lowest cost to the team, who deserved to be fired.

              • BuccosFanStuckinMD
                August 7, 2016 10:17 pm

                Okay, you agree that the trade’s primary motivation was NOT to get Hutchison, but you also say he is being honest – both can’t be true, except in politics – and his interview above sounds like a politician….

                • Except in politics or baseball. What do you think many trips to the DL are about? A GM has to be part politician, that is what the job demands. Syd Thrift was a brilliant GM as a baseball mind, but he sucked as a politician and that is why he was fired.

                  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
                    August 7, 2016 11:10 pm

                    Agreed…NH is a dishonest politician

                    • No, he is a dissembling politician. There is a huge difference. Subterfuge is part of strategy. That’s why the CIA is necessary on the global stage, as repulsive as many of their actions are.

        • Little field drafted Moskos because he really believed Moskos was the better prospect. That’s why we sucked so bad for so long-Littlefield was an idiot. Nutting trusted him to run the club, and littlefield shouldn’t have been managing a short season team’s finances in state college. He truly was that stupid of a human being.

          • BuccosFanStuckinMD
            August 7, 2016 10:25 pm

            You do realize that wasn’t the real reason they drafted Moskos. They drafted Moskos instead of Wieters, because they didn’t want to deal with Scott Boras and didn’t want to pay what signing Wieters would cost…end of story.

        • If he was completely honest, he would be out of a job.

      • I do expect him to say the real reason. Does he think Nutting his dumb?

        • Scott Kliesen
          August 8, 2016 5:29 am

          You mean you expect him to say what you think is the real reason? What does it matter? As I said before, words are cheap. We’ll all find out how the trade works out in due time.

      • I would add the performance of this team from the deadline weekend onward as part of the evaluation. He claims as part of the explanation that he added by subtraction.
        Many believe that is total bullshit

        • Scott Kliesen
          August 9, 2016 5:38 am

          My personal belief is the team was told in no uncertain terms they’re not good enough when Melancon was traded. And they’ve been playing to it ever since. That trade signaled to me NH had no confidence in this year’s team. Cutch was likely speaking for the team when he voiced his displeasure at the trade.

      • Scott- there is no situation which “required” him to give up McGuire. Either way, if you are doing what the fans do not want, then you just keep your mouth shut. If he lies to the fans, he’s still a liar. And if he is telling the truth, he’s still an idiot……so i’m not sure where you are going with your post.

        • Scott Kliesen
          August 9, 2016 5:31 am

          First, those who subscribe to this site are way more educated on the Pirates farm system than the average fan. Most fans have a hard enough time keeping track of the 25-man roster, let alone the draft choices who may or may not make it to Pittsburgh one day in the distant future.

          Second, you have an unreasonable expectation of NH. He chooses to meet with the media each week during the season, but to think he’s going to be forthcoming about every issue is not realistic.

          The bottom line is you have a perception about the trade, and since he didn’t echo your thoughts, he must be a liar. Whatever, words are cheap. Actions tell the whole story. Better to wait and see how the players turn out to judge the trade.

          • Being forthcoming might be asking too much, but asking him not to lie… not.

          • I didn’t say he was a liar, I said he was either a liar or an idiot. There are options there scott.

    • I don’t think NH is either an idiot or a liar. I actually like what he did, though the cost of McGuire makes me wince. Obviously he couldn’t find a team that would take Liriano’s contract for free. He threw in “Tabata” to make it happen. He likes the Hutch acquisition for McGuire. I don’t know how that will work out, no one does. But I am confident that NH and the Pirates staff are in a better position to evaluate McGuire than any commenter on this site.

  • I just read that and I know absolutely nothing more or less than I knew before. GM speak.

    I keep hearing they “love” Hutchison. Time will tell if that was true. I also hear that they will spend money…….that, too, will be borne out by time.

    However, foogive me if I am a little cynical about both of those subjects this point. I’ve always given NH (and Nutting) a free pass, but that Liriano deal still has me scratching my head. They must’ve really soured on McGuire? Perhaps those outside ratings of “40” were true? If so, that would be sad, considering the top prospects we could’ve had in the next 3 or 4 picks.

    I think it was a salary dump, pure and simple. Unfortunately, I have doubts we’ll ever see that money spent, other than on arb raises and ski lifts.

    Hutchison better be good.

    • Michael Sankovich
      August 7, 2016 9:22 pm

      yes, GM speak. And Neil is a master at it. A+ if I were handing out grades.

      • Actually Neal seems a lot more open than most GM’s. For example, he’s acknowledged mistakes in the Bay trade, the Walker trade, how they handled the promotion of Alvarez, etc. He could have placed the blame on the players but instead was quick to take responsibility. How many GM’s do that?

        • Michael Sankovich
          August 7, 2016 9:52 pm

          I admire him for his comments in the above situations. With the reason he gives for the Liriano trade, I wish I could believe him, but it takes way too much a leap of faith.

    • chuck conner
      August 7, 2016 9:27 pm

      Tunnel vision. He is not spending our prospects very well. Remember what he gave for a minor leaguer. Most GM’s have to have more than information. Sometimes they have to take risks, something NH doesn’t do.

      • Well…if you don’t consider the Hutchison trade a risk…

        • That wasn’t a risk, that was a salary dump. I consider a risk by putting up some money and trade for an established major leaguer. These teams that spend big bucks are all taking a risk. I’m not saying the Pirates should be in line for every top player, but get their feet wet once in a while.
          The Cubs payroll is 165 million and that with 5-6 players making minimum. The Pirates was a little over 100 million and now stand at 89 according to Tim. They get the full 24m from the TV package(correct me if I’m wrong)and another 18 from their salary dump. How much of that is going to go to the 25 man roster? I hope they help the major league team. Not as good as people think.

          • It was a salary dump…but…also a risk.

            To be perfectly clear, I don’t like the deal.

            However, if Liriano doesn’t find himself and the prospects don’t amount to much…the Pirates win the trade by simply shedding salary.

            They win big if that money is reinvested in the team in a meaningful way.

            And, if the above happens and the team gets a solid contribution from Hutchison…NH is a baseball god.

            So, if it’s risk you want…that’s about as high risk as you get.

            • It won’t matter if it turns out well for the Bucs. No one criticizing him now will ever circle back and give him credit. He’ll just get beaten up again for the next move. Never mind that NH has had way more successful moves than not. He’ll always get lambasted for the next one.

            • Lot of IFs in your reply. There’s a better chance of Ramirez and McGuire starting for Toronto in ’18 or ’19 than the Pirates spending Liriano money. Only time will tell. Why does the Pirates always have a Ramirez in salary dump trades? The last one didn’t turn out to good for the buccos.

          • I’ve got them at $96.4 M.


    • Take comfort in this–by Neal saying that they really like Huchison he’s putting his front office’s reputation out there for anyone to take shots at if Hutchison doesn’t pan out. There are safer things for him to say.

      And maybe they have soured on McGuire but there is no way he would say that. Most likely, though, is that they like McGuire but like Diaz more and like Hutchison enough to part with McGuire.

    • Of course the money will be spent…Vogelsong and S-Rod are signing multi-year, multi-million dollar extensions that will keep them as Pirates into their mid-40s!

      Sorry…couldn’t resist…

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        August 7, 2016 10:05 pm

        SRod is having a career year, but I am not foolish to think he will repeat it next year or ever. I’d like to see him ride off into the sunset….and take Stewart, Locke, and Jaso with him….

        • The S-Rod/Vogey joke would’ve been funnier in the previous off-season 🙂

          • Well I hate to tell BuccosFanStuckinMD that Feliz, Joyce and Freese will be joining everyone at the end of the month when they sell everyone.

            • I don’t think any one of those guys clears waivers…of course, Cammy didn’t either and was still traded…but those fellows are owed so little money that they will be claimed in about 2 seconds.

              It’s hard to judge the value of guys like that…Joyce and Freese are just bench pieces…and a contender isn’t going to give up too much for something like that.

              • 6 week rentals will fall to the contenders because a non contending team is not going to take on a six-week contract especially if the whole length of the contract is on the line. Regardless of their value the Pirates will give them up for as much as they can get. There’s no point in holding on to them. The Giants would need somebody like Freese immediately to replace Duffy as example.

    • Maybe the Liriano deal is so hard to view as anything but a salary dump because there’s no way any other team in MLB would trade their #2 starter plus two top 10 prospects for a 25 year old “prospect” with a poor pro track record

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        August 7, 2016 10:11 pm

        Make that 26 – he turns 26 this week…

      • was Liriano really the Pirates number #2 starter? Is Cole really an Ace? In reality, if you are plopping Liriano on any team, who would call him a #2?

        • He was OUR #2 starter. Just as the prospects were our 2 of top 12. We gave up a heck of a lot (as Tim noted a possible All Star catcher) to dump $18m

      • Don’t just assume he has a “poor pro track record” because of his current standing or because of what other people have said. Hutchison was actually pretty good in 2014. Look it up.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      August 7, 2016 10:03 pm

      Yes, he certainly painted himself into a corner with his dishonest explanation…Hutchison better be good in 2017, right from Day 1. I just hope the Pirates don’t give him a slot in the starting rotation, regardless of whether he actually earns it or not.

      • So you’re saying he better be good, and they better not give him a chance to be good, even if he looks like he might be good.

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          August 7, 2016 10:31 pm

          No, how you got that is beyond me….I m saying, follow carefully:
          (1) He better be good, given the fact that we traded Liriano and two top 10 prospects for the sole purpose of getting Hutchison (per NH’s explanation) – so, NH is hitching his wagon to Hutchison.
          (2) If he EARNS a spot in the 2017 rotation, based on ACTUAL performance in the off-season and Spring Training, I have no problem with that – and no one else will either.
          (3) If he is handed a 2017 rotation spot, and he doesn’t actually EARN it, and he does poorly in Pittsburgh, NH will really get crushed – first for making a stupid trade, second for saying the trade was to get Hutchison, and third for having Hutchison perform poorly and cost the team games next year. Given his pride and stubbornness, I could see that happening.

          • Ah, ok. Based on where you put the comma it actually reads exactly the opposite of what you wrote in #2. But I get you.

            Yes, he had better be good, and he shouldn’t be anointed with a spot in the rotation just because they went out and acquired him. Especially if he sucks.

      • Well get ready bc he will be starting in a month when he’s in the rotation getting prepped for 2017!

      • No one will remember and no accountability will be exercised.

    • Kudos on “foogive” if that was intentional.

    • Based on Liriano’s over all performance this year, a salary dump is a move I have been in favor of for some time. He has just lost it, for whatever reason. To me the nail in the coffin was them scoring 4 runs on King Felix and Liriano gives seven back! Sorry, done, get him out of here.

  • #LyinNeal

    • #HeKnowsMoreAboutBaseballThanYou

    • Neal Huntington is the best thing to happen to the Pirates in 2 1/2 decades.

      I’d opine that he may know a touch more about baseball and running the Pirates than all of us combined.

      How about giving him a break.

      • we poor pirate fans .
        trapped like carrots.

      • Michael Sankovich
        August 7, 2016 9:11 pm

        you are probably right, but still, when I read “we used the younger players as currency to acquire Drew Hutchison”, ugh. Neil is absolutely, 100% correct when he later states that there are those on the outside (like long time Pirate fans, among others) who might question that.

        • Or anyone with an IQ in double figures (or higher).

        • In other interviews he has acknowledged that the salary obviously played a part in the deal, but was not the primary motivation. I wish he would have repeated that in these comments, but I still think it holds true. I think they wanted a deal for Hutchinson in exchange Liriano and prospects, and McGuire was the piece that got all of the money off the books. I also think maybe the Pirates saw Toronto valuing McGuire more than they do internally, and they were trying to leverage better trade value out of that.

      • So you really believe that the only reason we traded Ramirez and McGuire was to get Hutchison and it had nothing to do with Toronto picking up Frankie’s contract? Amazing.

        • Did he say that? I didn’t see that anywhere in his comment.

          • That was directly in his comment. He says that their rationale for trading him was to acquire Drew Hutchison, that they thought Hutchison was worth those prospects. He even goes on to blame the media for creating the negative reaction to the deal.

          • “We used the younger players as currency to acquire Drew Hutchison”. Nothing about shedding the Liriano contract.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        August 7, 2016 11:08 pm

        Regarding your opening sentence, I disagree….Cutch was.