PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – As the post All-Star Game portion of the season is set to begin, Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington joined Starkey and Mueller to discuss the upcoming trade deadline and the direction his team is headed.
When it comes to the trade deadline, Huntington says they are in a different position than they have been in years past given that they have no glaring holes they need to fill.
“There are players out there on every facet, starting pitching, bullpen, position players that would make us better,” Huntington said. ” The challenge is, how much do you reduce your future to make your present better and is it short-term, moderate-term, long-term impact? I can’t sit here and tell you there aren’t players that would make us better. The nice part for us where we are right now is unlike a couple of years ago or unlike last year, we don’t have a glaring hole where we have to get better. We can pick and choose, we can be smart in our adds, but we are, we’re looking on all fronts to see if there’s somebody that can make us better and at what cost? Again, it is that trade off, it’s not like that’s a free acquisition. Somebody we add this year is going to cost some part of our future, is that a good move for us?”
While there aren’t glaring holes that need filled on the roster, Huntington does look at some of the issues the team faces with its own guys, particularly third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
“The expectations have become so high for Pedro because of the consecutive 30-plus home run years that that’s become the measuring stick,” Huntington said. “His walk rate is up, his strikeouts are down, his hard contact is up. He hit into a ton of bad luck in April and May, line out after line out to left center field where a normal ballpark it’s a double to the gap, but in this one because everyone’s deeper, it’s a deep fly out, or because they’re deeper, it’s a line out. To his credit, he didn’t turn and start trying to yank everything. He’s still hitting the ball hard, just maybe not with the loft. He’s striking out less but walking more. Now the challenge is, he’s still on pace to have a 20-plus home run season, it’s just not leading the national league with 36. Now what’s interesting is, he has not had that white hot stretch that he typically has where he can throw up eight in 14 games. And he typically has two of those a season, he hasn’t had one yet. So if he has one, he’s going to be right back among the home run leaders, if he has two, he might be back in front again.”
Click the audio link below to hear more from Huntington as he talks about the long-term plans for catcher Russell Martin, expectations for Gregory Polanco as the league adjusts to him, how Josh Harrison will be used and who all is involved when it comes to putting together the daily lineup.