Pirates notebook: Team becomes attractive destination for pitchers on rebound
While the Pirates did not land free-agent pitcher Josh Johnson, who signed with San Diego late Tuesday night, the Pirates were among four finalists for the veteran right-hander, said his agent, Matt Sosnick.
That Johnson was interested in the Pirates is evidence of a residual effect from the Pirates' successful season: The club has become an attractive destination for pitchers seeking to rebuild value.
“I think Pittsburgh was considered, at one time, a total no-go as a destination,” Sosnick said. “I think that Neal (Huntington) and his group there have changed that and that mindset.”
Francisco Liriano was named the National League Comeback Player of the Year in 2013 after the Pirates helped him to become a pitcher who more often threw a strike on his first pitch to each batter and generated more ground balls.
A.J. Burnett improved dramatically in Pittsburgh after struggling in New York. Charlie Morton, Mark Melancon, Jeff Locke and Jason Grilli all had career years in 2013.
The Pirates' success in rebuilding pitcher performance is tied to pitching coach Ray Searage and PNC Park, which is among the most difficult venues at which to create runs. The Pirates also employed an inventive defensive plan in 2013 by increasing shifts, and that coupled with a collective improved ground ball rate improved the club's defensive efficiency.
“We have heard from some agents that our track record and reputation makes us an interesting destination for pitchers,” Huntington said.
The Pirates again are focused on finding upside pitchers in the free-agent market, and agents have noticed the Pirates' recent success in helping pitchers.
“They've done a great job as an organization figuring out what pitchers really work well (with) their defense. I think they have figured out that part,” said Charisse Espinosa, the agent for ground ball specialist Roberto Hernandez. “They are going to be in the market for some pitchers this year.”
Adding pitcher would not rule out Burnett
Huntington said adding a significant free-agent pitcher would not preclude the club from signing Burnett, who has yet to inform the team whether he'll retire or pitch in 2014.
McCutchen to present music award
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen announced Wednesday he will be a presenter at the American Music Award at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC.
It's a continued foray into the music industry for McCutchen, who will team Red Sox slugger David Ortiz as a co-executive producer of a 30-episode series on MTV2.
Pirates sign five minor league free agents
The Pirates announced the signing of five minor league free agents Tuesday, all pitchers, with Jake Brigham, Jay Jackson and Josh Kinney receiving non-roster invites to major league spring training.
The Pirates also signed former major league pitchers Seth McClung and Collin Balester, once a top prospect in the Nationals organization.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.