Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Boss on the Bucs

Neal Huntington had a Q&A with Pirate fans Tuesday, and touched on a trio of players: Pedro, Jack Splat, and baby LaRoche. Here's what he had to say:

On Pedro's contract: "This is an agreement that we would have been pleased with on August 15."

"And despite the increase of $355,000 in minor league salaries, the value of the new contract is actually less than the original agreement because we were able to spread the signing bonus over four rather than two years."

"In the end, we eliminated any litigation risk and got Pedro on the field immediately without increasing our financial commitment."

On Pedro's future: "It is too early to know for sure where Pedro will start next season, but most indications are he will start with one of our A-ball clubs (Charleston or Lynchburg). He has missed a significant amount of time this season."

When asked when to expect Alvarez to hit the bigs, he said "Pedro's skills, abilities, aptitude and development will determine his progression through our system. In my experience, few players have been damaged by a conservative development path, while many have been irreparably damaged by being rushed."

On Jack Splat's place in next year's plans: "We are planning on Jack Wilson being the shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates next season, and perhaps beyond. That said, we will explore all potential avenues to make this organization stronger. As a result, no player is untouchable."

On Andy LaRoche: "Andy is not alone is his struggles as he attempts to establish himself as a Major League player. A historical perspective shows several All-Star, and even Hall-of-Fame-caliber players, that did not perform well at a similar age in their first extended exposure at the Major League level."

"Some development remains with Andy, but we still believe he will earn his at-bats and become a very productive Major League player."

And that's about as good a job of CYA as we've ever heard.

As we translate his rap, Huntington said a) we signed Pedro to get him in camp and to avoid a possible sticky decision by the arbitrator, and he'll start at A, just like Matt Weiter, b) Jack Splat's gone as soon as we get an offer that's not completely laughable, and c) Andy LaRoche is our third baseman, even if he makes Joey Bats look like Mike Schmidt. Get over it.

Also, Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette reports that the Bucs may have cast Jeff Andrews and Lou Frazier to the wind because a couple of available vet coaches may be on their radar - Rick Peterson, Joe Kerrigan, and Perry Hill.

Peterson, fired by the New York Mets this summer, is a new age pitching coach, heavy on biomechanics, psychology, and a touch of tao as his worktools. He made his name with the Oakland A's staff during the Art Howe era.

Kerrigan was the New York Yankees' bullpen coach, after serving stints for the Expo's and Phillies as a pitching mentor. He managed Montreal briefly, and would add an experienced shoulder for John Russell and Gary Varsho to lean on in the heat of battle.

Hill, a highly touted glove guru, and the Bucs were close to a deal last November, but Hill didn't bite and spent a second season out of the game. He may not want to roam far from his Texas home, though.

Huntington has said that he doesn't have anyone lined up, and is just in the process of building an interview list. If those guys are on it, it's an impressive group.

Finally, congratulations to the Chicago White Sox, who took the division with a 1-0 win over the Twins. Jim Thome went yard in the seventh, Junior threw a runner out at the plate in the fifth, and that's all John Danks and Bobby Jenkins needed. Now off to Tampa Bay, as the playoff dance card is now full and starts tomorrow.

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