Pirates notebook: GM Huntington not planning staff changes
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012, 4:42 p.m.
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012
HOUSTON — General manager Neal Huntington will not purge the front office, coaching staff or development staff in the wake of the Pirates' second consecutive late-season collapse.
“I don't see making a change at any leadership position at this point in time,” Huntington said Sunday. “I believe in the people I'm working with. I believe in what we're doing and how we're doing it.”
When it comes to his own job, Huntington is at the mercy of owner Bob Nutting and president Frank Coonelly.
“If Bob or Frank decide to make a change and bring in a new general manager, that's their call,” Huntington said. “I sure hope they don't.”
Huntington was emphatic in his support of assistant general manager Kyle Stark, who has been criticized for implementing a Navy SEALs-style training program for the club's minor league prospects.
“Kyle Stark is a tremendous front-office executive — intelligence, character, ability,” Huntington said. “When you're a leader and you're willing to have a tough conversation, you tend to have people who may not always like you. That's what we're dealing with right now.”
In an internal email obtained by the Tribune-Review, Stark urged his staff to get players to “dream like a hippie,” “prepare like a Boy Scout” and “trust like a Hells Angel.”
“When you take one email and try to paint the whole man or our development system, it's inaccurate,” Huntington said. “That terminology was used to connect with 18- to 25-year-olds. They don't want to hear about ‘cohesiveness' or ‘team-building' or ‘preparation.' We're not trying to create Boy Scouts, native American warriors, Hells Angels or hippies. We're trying to get (players) to think like that. We're using images and metaphors to connect a message.”
Huntington said there are “a multitude of reasons” for the Pirates' second-half funk. Some of it, he said, might be a matter of the team simply finding its level over the course of a 162-game season.
“As we've tried to evaluate metrically how we've gotten here, you look at the numbers, and we weren't supposed to be 16 games over .500 (on Aug. 1),” Huntington said. “We should have been closer to eight (games), which is still progress.
“Since Aug. 1, batting averages on balls in play have plummeted for our hitters and increased for our pitchers, especially with runners in scoring position. It doesn't mean it's bad luck, but ... yes, it means it's bad luck. We've done some things to not play well, and we've had some things go against us. Is the last six weeks the way we envisioned our season? Absolutely not. Every team has tough stretches. Ours, unfortunately, has been longer and late (in the season).”
Hurdle: ‘It's on me'
Manager Clint Hurdle was ejected in the second inning of Saturday's game when the score was tied at 1. After the game, someone jokingly asked if the loss should go on the record of bench coach Jeff Banister, who filled in after Hurdle was tossed.
“It goes on mine,” Hurdle said with a wry smile. “They all go on mine, and that's the accountability I've got to carry with this. We're just not finishing plays. We're not crisp, we're not performing at the execution level we need to, and that's on me. All of it falls back on the manager. I've got to find a way to get us performing better.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7811.
- Pirates notebook: Penguins jerseys in fashion for road trip
- Improved depth could drive Pirates’ fortunes deep into season
- Snider’s grand slam pushes Pirates to late victory over Cubs
- Pirates notebook: NL Central not so soft after all
- Pirates get the bats going, knock off Brewers to take 4-game series
- Pirates notebook: McCutchen scratched with soreness in right knee
- Pirates notebook: Botched popup shocks Martin
- Former Pirates prospect Grossman now starting in center for Houston
- Improved roster depth could drive Pirates’ fortunes deep into season
- Baseball moves away from tradition, toward smarter defense
- Rodriguez, Walker push Pirates past Brewers
You must be signed in to add comments
To comment, click the Sign in or sign up at the very top of this page.
"...Think like a hippie, hell's angel, navy seal. We’re trying to get (players) to think like that." ...What total b.s.. How about they think like ballplayers? Navy seal training? Come on. What a crock. Baseball is not war. It's a game. Of skill and nuance. The game wasn't invented yesterday. They're tried and true methods of developing players and basic fundamentals that have worked since the beginning of time. Stop the psycho-babble and get players & coaches who are talented and willing to learn and teach the game the right way. If not, tell them to hit the road.
Submitted by: Ben on Monday, September 24, 2012
NH: "I and my staff have failed this organization in every way possible. But there's no reason to make a change." ... Here's hoping Nutting and Coonelly say HOKA HEY to NH and clean house.