Shark in the Tank: The Pirates
By Michael Jong
I recently sent over a few questions of interest to me to the man behind Rum Bunter, the Pirates blog here on FanSided. That man of course is Tom Smithis, check him out, he’s always got a lot of interesting and passionate takes on the Pirates. Unfortunately he was away for work and was unable to have a sit and chat with me, so I tossed him the questions and he tossed me back some answers. Here’s the interview.
1. From what I’ve read, you’ve been a fan so far of Neal Huntington and the numerous moves he’s made since taking over as GM last season. How would you rate him so far as a GM, and do you think he’s can be the front office guy who helps your team back into respectability and eventually contention in the years to come?
NH makes the tough moves. He is relentlessly pursuing the lost art of winning to the PBC.
2. What about today’s trades? I’m sure you were OK with dealing Hinske, who was a veteran signing that was meant to be dealt midseason, but what about the trade that brought Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett? Are you a fan?
Taking all of the personal emotion out of the trade. The Pirates took on some risk by moving Morgan and Burnett. Did we add a head case, we trust not. And we only have trust. Morgan is the best interview in DC outside of BHO. Morgans gentlemans name is Tony Plush…The market here (in DC now) absolutely loves the move.
We know what we had with Morgan. Burnett was also sold high and was a solid part of an underrated bullpen.
In short, we don’t know what we picked up other than an injured player. Time will tell. I like taking risks so consider me a fan of the move. It seems especially optomistic after reading the Washington Post (‘when three months ago Milledge and Hanrahan were the building blocks for the Nats.’ Chico Harlan WP staff writer)
High risk equals high reward and the Pirates, unfortunately, must rebuild in this manner.
3. The Pirates pitching staff is dead last in strikeouts and in the bottom half in FIP, but the team’s defense before the Morgan trade was second in the majors in UZR. Do you think this pitch-to-contact style is working so far, or should the staff find a way to miss more bats?
Joe Kerrigan has done a tremendous job. The team was at the bottom of most pitching stats last year and have done a 360. With Duke, Maholm, Ohlendorf, and Karstens (now in the pen) making such moves in the right direction, the Bucs have been built around defense and pitch to contact. Despite losing our starting catcher Ryan Doumit and trading our one source of pop, the Bucs have pitched well. Diaz and Jaramillo have played well beyond expectation in Ryan’s absence. They can’t win in the NL Central Division (11-22)without another bat or two which doesn’t bode well for the second half pending some more moves including the trading of Adam LaRoche.
4. You’ve been very adamant about getting Andrew McCutchen into the All-Star Game as the Pirates’ representative. He’s only played a month, but he’s been somewhat impressive. What do you think his ceiling is as a player? Do you think he’ll ever develop a power bat to be a middle-of-the-order guy, or is he going to be best as a speedy leadoff guy? Where can he use some improvement right off the bat?
‘McClutchen’ will be the leadoff batter of the future. He will hit 15 to 20HR and have a pile of triples, 50SB. He needs to continue to draw walks and reduce strikeouts. He will get to the gaps in time. He has just missed two slam jacks this year and is always a threat for an inside the park homer as well with his dearth of triples.
Short, sweet, and to the point. Hope it gave you some insight on the Pirates and, as mentioned, check out Rum Bunter. And subscribe to my blog if you want more daily Marlins content at your fingertips!