Pirates Notebook: Hurdle Discusses David Freese Comments; Bullpen Might Be Taking Shape

BRADENTON, Fla. – David Freese arrived at Pirate City today, a few days ahead of the report date for position players. He also brought the fire, giving some brutally honest comments about the Pirates over the last two years. For a recap of those comments, check out Alan Saunders’ article from earlier.

Clint Hurdle said he wasn’t going to comment on what Freese said, but did comment on Freese and his perception.

“David and I had conversations at the end of the season, and I love his perception,” Hurdle said. “I love all the players’ perceptions. I think one of the best lessons I’ve learned over time is you can’t argue with somebody about their perception, and I think when you accumulate all the information from a lot of different people — especially guys with experience and David would fall into that category — you listen, you find truth and then you talk about opportunities to improve, areas to improve, methods to improve.”

Hurdle said that he’s not going to argue with the way Freese sees things, saying that he sees them differently, and that the goal was sharing thoughts and ideas and coming up with a plan for everyone. He also noted that he’s not in the clubhouse everyday, after removing himself from the mix after his first two years. So he “honors what the men have to say.”

Since the trades of Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates have seen two of their veteran players speaking out, with Josh Harrison saying he wanted to be traded if the Pirates weren’t going to compete, and now Freese making his comments. Some of Freese’s comments today brought up the topic of leadership on the team, which Hurdle addressed by first bringing up the two players who have spoken out about the team.

“Freese is as good as I’ve come across in all of Major League Baseball in preparing to play a game,” Hurdle said. “Josh Harrison is as good as anybody I’ve ever come across. He’s a CEO, but it’s a Chief Energy Officer. [Jameson] Taillon is a guy who is quiet, not a lot of words, however, he’s very cerebral. Nova is more comfortable in sharing now than he’s ever been. Rodriguez, there’s a man that everybody in that clubhouse respects, based on preparation, effort, intensity, edge, overcoming adversity. There’s a handful of guys who can provide leadership.”

Ultimately, Hurdle said everyone was on the same page when it comes to wanting to win.

“David and I want the same thing. Josh and I want the same thing,” Hurdle said. “How we navigate it together is always fun and can be challenging in sports.”

Expect Brault and Glasnow in the Bullpen

I made some changes to the Spring Training tracker, moving Joe Musgrove to the rotation and Michael Feliz to the bullpen, rather than having them competing for roster spots. This is based on Clint Hurdle’s comments the last few days, including directly saying that Musgrove is in the rotation.

I might have to take the same approach with Steven Brault and Tyler Glasnow for the bullpen. Hurdle was discussing all of the options in the bullpen today, and was asked about Brault for the lefty spot. He said that Brault would be an option. He also said that Glasnow would be an option for the overall bullpen, which he’s said almost every day.

Then he delivered the following comment that was very telling:

“It’s tough to look at those guys and say ‘One more year of Triple-A would be good for you,'” Hurdle said.

The Pirates have long carried an approach in development where they want guys either moving up, or moving out. They will challenge guys by pushing them to Double-A after spending multiple years in Bradenton, rather than giving a third year in Bradenton. It seems they’re set on doing the same thing with Brault and Glasnow, getting them ready for the MLB bullpen, rather than sending them back to Indianapolis.

Where Would That Leave the Bullpen?

If that happened, it would leave Kyle Crick, A.J. Schugel, Jordan Milbrath, Josh Smoker, Jack Leathersich, Edgar Santana, and Dovydas Neverauskas as the prime contenders for the final two bullpen spots. And Hurdle’s comments on Crick make it sound like he’s got an inside track for one of the spots, saying that Crick was trending up last season after some previous struggles that declined his stock.

“I think we’ve got a guy who is in a really good place,” Hurdle said. “He’s experienced a lot. He’s probably got the most confidence he’s ever had. Seems to have found his niche with his pitches. We like him, and we’re looking forward to giving him the ball so we can put our eyes on him now.”

I wouldn’t say that Crick is a guarantee to make the roster, nor would I say Brault and Glasnow are guarantees. But if I’m making a guess right now on the bullpen, I’d have those three in the mix, along with Feliz, George Kontos, and one spot remaining. That last spot could go to Jordan Milbrath if he looks like a guy that needs additional views. Otherwise, it’s really up in the air, with no one having the inside track right now.

More Players Reporting

Other than David Freese, there were more position players who reported today. Austin Meadows arrived at camp. Starling Marte participated in his first workouts. They join other early arrivals like Jordy Mercer, Max Moroff, Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, and Jordan Luplow. Alan Saunders posted some videos of those players hitting over on our Instagram page.

  • So Hurdle has removed himself from the clubhouse, he doesn’t make decisions on fielding positions, he is giving up building his batting order……….what the hell does he do?

    • He points a lot; he thinks about ways to not answer anything directly; and he attends a lot of investment seminars like any other guy who just got a 4 year extension for being a lot less than good at his job – that happens for a lot of people?

  • More Hurdle Bull shit.

    • Is Bullshit one word, two words such as bull shit, or is it hyphenated such as bull-shit?

      • One word…..noun, verb or interjection.
        Although when used verbally as an emphatic interjection to express disagreement when someone spouts nonsense, we often pronounce it as if two words. As in……BULL……….SHIT!

        In the context of this site, here are a couple of NH statements that cause people to call bullshit:

        1.”People are quick to criticize our return for the Cole and Cutch trades but we did in fact get four top 100 prospects that GRADUATED from prospect status. ” Bullshit on the “graduated” designation on all four prospects….many believe they could end up as Travis Snider repeats. Or as one one national wag tagged them….”pass-around former prospects.” Ouch.

        2. “Drew Hutchison was the primary motivation in our moving McGuire, Ramirez and Liriano. We love the arm.” Loud national chorus….BULL…….SHIT!

  • That is a deep pen. Wonder if there is small chance they go with 8 arms but probably not

  • Rivero

    That is the likely bullpen. Once Burdi is ready, Milbrath can be injured.

    After this season, Glasnow can roll to the rotation, Santana and Neverauskas can go to the bullpen. That will give the Pirates a very in-expensive pitching staff.

    Heck, next offseason, the Pirates could legitimately make a run at Harper or Machado.

    • You’re missing Feliz. He’ll replace Brault in your list above, IMO. Might as well see what they have in Millbrath while Brault prepares to become a reliever in AAA. Crick has an option too so he could go to AAA for a hot minute, especially if they’re tinkering with him, while the Bucs tryout Smoker or Leathersich (who has reverse splits, so doesn’t fulfill the typical lefty reliever role).

      The Pirates will have a very inexpensive everything next season. To think those free agents would consider the Pirates is as laughable as the possibility of Nutting writing that check.

    • Close with the pen. I think Feliz is in and Crick is out…

    • I guess it depends on how they feel about keeping Brault/Glasnow in the pen the entire year just to preserve their options. Also could get shifted into rotation for injury or Nova trade. i think Crick has at least another option as well but I wanna see what he can do. Hudson can be traded dfa’d in August when Burdi is ready same idea for Kontos though I think he’s been solid it’d be a cheap DFA waiver transaction. Might be foolish but I believe they can do an 8 man.

    • We can dream. While we may be able to afford that type of contract for a few seasons, the Pirates will not be able to afford it over the 10 or so years those players are looking at.

  • We can see if Neil Huntington is true to his word…….truely competitive teams almost never carry a Rule 5 pick on their roster. Burdi would be an exception since it is going to be harder to actually get the required time on the roster in his case. But if the Pirates carry Milbrath, that is almost like saying the team is really not trying to compete this year.

    • Roberto Clemente, Bobby Bonilla, & Jose Bautista were all rule 5 picks

      • You know what else those 3 have in common? Not one of them played for a playoff team in the year they were selected in the Rule 5 draft.

      • Bobby Bonilla and Jose Bautista were rule 5 picks by other teams when the Pirates were stupid enough to leave them off the 40-man. The Pirates were in last place when they took Clemente in the Rule 5 draft.

    • I don’t really get this logic. If he’s rostered just to hold onto him, okay, you’re right. But if he’s one of the seven best bullpen options–and he’s interesting and unique enough that that’s possible–it shouldn’t much matter how he was acquired. He’ll belong in the Bigs by merit of giving the team the best chance to win.

  • “All right everybody take a knee. This here fellow beside me is Colin Moran we got in one of the trades..I think it was Cleveland or maybe Houston or something. He has an idea on increase of power and that’s important since Andrew got traded to the big leagues. Listen up cause it might work and hell I got no other ideas. I see a couple you other new guys here so if your a pitcher head over there and see Ray and he’ll fix you…we hope. That fellow out there running laps is David Freese..don’t talk to him. If any of you see JHay please tell him he does not play for the Mets. Neal said we cannot use the word “win” this year when talking to the media “wishful or damn lucky” are both acceptable. If you need me just tell Sean. Alright infield get into shift position.”
    …Hurdle first team meeting.

    • Is the second Hurdle team meeting going to cover not using PEDs and not driving under the influence of alcohol / drugs?

    • You’ve captured the theme but it just isn’t wordy enough. Also lacking the required anecdote tying things to “when I was with the Rockies” or “As a player I did……”

  • Would Freese put himself at risk in any way
    because of his comments?

    • His comments inspired those inspirational words from Clint Hurdle – lots of words used to say very little. We have David Freese, Sean Rodriguez, and Josh Harrison – two of those three can leave now, and all 3 will be gone before Aug 1. However, nothing any of them have said will play into the extent of their future with the Pirates.

  • rickmontgomery
    February 16, 2018 8:19 pm

    With all the options for bullpen arms, I’d expect whoever gets those slots to be on short leashes. My guess is we’ll see more than the usual turnover even if there are no injuries.

    • I don’t really think you are going to see Glasnow in the bullpen. Brault as a lefty…..yeah…i see that. Glasnow, you don’t want to mess around with his arm and preparation. You can’t take the chance of injuring an arm like that, for the relatively low value of having a relief pitcher. I think Glasnow stays as your 6th starter in Indy and the first pitcher that goes down, struggles, gets traded, glasnow gets in there. If musgrove can’t do it, Glasnow will……..unless they really think having glas pitch as a long reliever will help him. I don’t/

  • I’ve liked Brault for the bullpen for a while now. I think he’ll be good there.

    It might not be a bad move for Glasnow, either, as long as they intend to use it to jump him into the rotation later. Learn to get guys out at this level without the pressure of going deep into games, then add the length later.

    But I still need, *need* to see Milbrath pitch for the Pirates.

    • I’ve often called him the next Watson.

      Btw, the ONLY reason I replied to you is that I’ve noticed a disturbing tendency on your part to reply to your own posts.

      🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Get a life dude.

      • He likes to reply to his own jokes which in a very dry way makes them funnier.

      • I post drunk.* Don’t judge.

        *This is a lie. I actually just prefer not to use edits if another thought occurs to me too long after the initial post which is related. I deem it somehow dishonest.

        Unless I’m making a joke, in which case, the self-reply is almost always–as deacs astutely noted–part of the joke.**

        **The joke is that I’m sad and lonely. It’s hilarious.

        Also, in case you were wondering, I am exactly my real-life self online. I am actually this bad-joke-telling, self-deprecating person in real life. There is no difference in how I engage real humans, and how I engage all of you, who are obviously robots.

    • Steven Brault had a 1.94 ERA in AAA last year, and has a minor league career 2.56 ERA. Genuine question: with very great and consistent success, why do we rule him out as a starter, or at least not feel it is likely he would produce?

      • I think his command is at precisely the level that he can be a dominant starter in AAA, but ineffectual in the Majors, and that his stuff gets a big enough boost from the bullpen, coupled to a reduced cost for the nibbling, to be a really excellent reliever.

        • This is precisely the reason Kyle Hendricks will never EVER make it as a starter in the majors. He justbdoesnt have the repertoire nor that one “out” pitch that will lead to success as a major league starter.

          • I don’t think Brault has the depth of secondary pitches Hendricks has, and that’s a significant difference between the two. Brault’s fastball is better, but he doesn’t have the quality change/curve combo Hendricks can lean on. They’re not swing and miss pitches, but they do generate outs. And I’m also not convinced his command is as good as Hendricks’s.

            • I was speaking more in generalities. Neither Hendricks nor Brault have an “out” pitch, however, Hendricks is still able to get major league hitters out. Brault has shown throughout his minor league career that he is able to get batters out. Why would he not be given more than 3 starts at the major league level to see if he can figure out how to do it there?

            • I’m disappointed seeing Brault as a reliever because we won’t see him hit. 21 career ab and no strikeouts. Pretty incredible for anyone to start their career let alone a pitcher.

          • Straw man strikes again.

            Hendricks generates a ton of late movement on his pitches. This allows him to stay in the zone, where he generates weak contact early in counts and walks practically nobody. It may be an unconventional skill set for this high velocity era, but it’s clear as day what he does, and he’s better at it than anyone else in the league. And most importantly, when given a chance at age 24, he was lights out.

            Brault is nothing like Hendricks. I love his competitiveness, but he has neither the movement nor the control of Hendricks, and his velocity isn’t great enough to make up for it. He racks up a ton of pitches per inning and a fair number of walks. He needs to have pretty damn good command to be an average starter, and he hasn’t shown that yet.

          • But Hendricks has one of best changeup sin mlb as an out pitch

        • This and the fact that his mentality is less cerebral and more gung ho emotional, and the fact that he doesn’t have a broad selection of secondary pitches.

  • If Crick has an inside to a bullpen slot, I guess that leaves all of those guys Tim mentioned battling for one job?