- Grove City, Pennsylvania


July 24, 2013

EXTRA INNINGS: Being Pirates' GM Huntington for a day

OPINION — OK. YOU are not you. You are Neal Huntington, general manager of the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates, seven sleeps before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

For the first time since before Bill Clinton became President, one year before the Rockies and Marlins played their first game, and five years before the D-Backs and Rays joined major league baseball, the Bucs have a legitimate prospect of playing October baseball.

The team has a real shot at being the division champion and a greater chance of grabbing a one-and-done wild card berth.

So, Neal, what do you do between Wednesdays?

Unlike any time since 1992, the 2013 Pirates pitching depth has provided 11 different quality starters due to injuries — not a catalog of suspects who never made it. Pittsburgh’s mound corps has led all of baseball in ERA for much of the season. And that bullpen! Get the team to the eighth inning and it leads to hoisting the Jolly Roger nine out of 10 times.

While this year’s staff illustrates why a team can never have too much pitching, there are greater worries than which pitcher might next land on the disabled list.

“Led” by the bat miseries of Garret Jones and Neil Walker, the 2013 offense leaves much to be desired. After a recent run of 0-for-29 with runners in scoring position and just one sacrifice fly since May 27, the offense has been downright, well, offensive.

Particularly, right field and shortstop have been sinkholes, swallowing up outs with distressing regularity.

Jordy Mercer performed adequately when he first took the job away from Clint Barmes, but has since put up such weak numbers that it makes fans hope that Clint Hurdle will soon stick hitting coach Jay Bell at his old position. Travis Snider, Alex Presley, and Jose Tabata have taken turns at plugging the dam, with similar unacceptable outcomes.

So, Neal, are you looking for a shortstop, a rightfielder, or both?

Are you looking for rent-a-player types who will be free agents at season’s end or are you scanning rosters for established athletes who might be with the team for two or three seasons?

And whom are you willing to part with to get them?

Hopefully, as you learned last year, when you trade fringe players like Brad Lincoln, Gorkys Hernandez, Robbie Grossman, and Casey McGehee, you should not expect more than Snider or Gaby Sanchez in return. Further, you should not pawn them off as “players with upsides whom we control for several years.”

If instead you trade for, as some have suggested, White Sox right fielder Alex Rios or Milwaukee’s Norichika Aoki, what do you do about star outfield prospects Gregory Polenco who could be ready as soon as next year and Josh Bell who could arrive in 2015?

If you are committed to the youngsters who will be under control for six or seven years and at a much smaller cost, then do you “rent” Mets right fielder Marlon Byrd or the Cubs’ Nate Schierholtz for two months?

Certainly the Byrd seed required for the New Yorker or the Cubbie would be less than for Rios and/or Aoki.

While experts say that the organization’s shortstop prospect Alen Hanson could be ready by 2015, the Bucs have been linked with Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez.

Another factor is that Ramirez is signed for $9.5 million next year, $10 million for 2015, and $10 million for 2016. Rios is owed $12.5 million in 2014 and $13.5 million in 2015.

So, Neal, how much money would the Sox have to kick in? And if you are committing to “stars” for your team for a couple of years, why would you object including “can’t-miss prospects” Polenco and Hansen in a deal?

You’ve got a week — less if you want help for the huge upcoming five-game series with St. Louis.

Whom will you get? Whom will you give up?And what will you tell us fans next Thursday when we criticize whatever you’ve done?


Text Only
  • SRU Hall inductee Wise set for SRU Hall

    SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Former Grove City High athletic great Tom Wise has been selected as a 2014 inductee to the Slippery Rock University Athletic Hall of Fame.
    Wise was former three-time All-American and three-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champion track and field student-athlete at Slippery Rock.
    As a Rock student-athlete, Wise claimed a fourth-place finish and two sixth-place honors in decathlon competitions at NCAA Division II national championships.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • THE CHECKERED FLAG: Western Pa.'s Zeigler scores big

    LAST FRIDAY, I headed west to Attica Raceway Park for the FAST “410” Sprint Cars and UMP Late Model “Summer Nationals Hell Tour” along with the first appearance by the UMP (E) Mods.  A great field of 37 Late Models, 28 Sprints, and 23 E-Mods were on hand along with a packed house.  Overcast conditions made for a fast 1/3-mile track that provided great racing all night long. 
    Craig Mintz picked up the win the last time I was at Attica on June 6, but shortly thereafter suffered a back injury that kept him out of action for a month.  On Friday night, Mintz returned and led every lap of the 30-lap Sprint Car feature for his season’s third win.  The Gibsonburg, Ohio driver’s victory was worth $3,000 and had to hold off a last lap slide job by Christopher Bell. 

    July 27, 2014

  • THE CHECKERED FLAG: Up and down week for Sodeman

    LAST FRIDAY I headed south to add I-77 Raceway Park to my track attended list, which made for 162nd track all-time.  I-77 is located south of Ripley, West Virginia just off Interstate 77.  This season, I-77 moved from the crowded Saturday night line-up to Friday night racing and teamed up with Ohio Valley Speedway.  I-77 normally runs Super Late Models, Semi-Late Models, E-Mods, Mod Lites, and 4-Cylinder Mini Stocks.  With the Sprint Cars on the schedule, I decided to make the trip and they were joined by the Super Late Models, Semi-Late Models, and E-Mods.

    July 21, 2014

  • NCAA Football: Rock 6-1 after 17-3 win over Cal U

    Slippery Rock University rode a length-of-the-field scoring drive by its offense and a goal-line stand by its No. 1-ranked defense late in the first half of action Saturday to a 17-3 win over 14th-ranked visiting California (Pa.).

    October 19, 2011

  • steez pc.jpg NFL: Steelers top Jags as Mendenhall makes return

    Mike Tomlin isn’t ready to say the Pittsburgh Steelers are back. Not after watching his team sleepwalk through the second half against Jacksonville on Sunday.

    October 19, 2011 1 Photo

  • wheldon, dan pc.jpg IndyCar Racing: Crash takes Wheldon’s life

    Every race car driver heads onto the track understanding this race could be the last and hoping it won’t be. On Sunday, IndyCar drivers got a harsh reminder when the worst happened to one of their own.

    October 19, 2011 3 Photos

  • pens pc.jpg NHL: Sabres beat Penguins 3-2

    The Buffalo Sabres have had trouble with the Pittsburgh Penguins whether Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin play or not.

    October 19, 2011 1 Photo

  • canadiens logo pc.jpg NHL Quick glance: Montreal at Pittsburgh

    A breakdown of the National Hockey League game Thursday night between the Pittsburgh Penguins and visiting Montreal Canadiens.

    October 19, 2011 4 Photos

  • High School Highlights: Oct. 19, 2011

    A look at the last few days in local high school fall sports action.

    October 19, 2011

  • washington, ron pc.jpg Leading Off: Oct. 19, 2011

    News and notes from the local, regional and national sports scene.

    October 19, 2011 5 Photos

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide