Does Huntington Have a Plan?

So far this offseason I am unsure as to whether or not Neal Huntington has a plan. Let’s take away the minor trades involving the likes of Chris Resop and Clint Robinson as those are your typical minor moves. So far the Pirates have made three moves of any real substance and I am struggling to see how they fit together and due to that I am struggling to even get a basic understanding of what Huntington must see as this team’s strengths and weaknesses. The Pirates three  big moves so far have been signing Russell Martin, DFAing Jeff Karstens and resigning Charlie Morton for two million dollars. Let’s discuss these three in a little bit of detail.

Russell Martin

I’ve been over why I think this is a bad signing but lets put that aside for a moment and consider why Huntington would feel  compelled to do it and what signing him means for the rest of the team. By signing Martin to a fairly larger contract Huntington must fell this team is close to competing. Spending significant dollars on a marginal upgrade at the catcher position makes no sense unless you believe it is one of maybe two or three missing pieces from the team being a playoff caliber team. The other possibility is a lack of confidence in the catchers currently on the roster. The final point is of course not with out merit but then again if the Pirates feel there was no hope for the catching position in the short term future why would they add two catching prospects to the 40 man roster? The fact both Sanchez and Cabrera were added to the 40 man roster shows the Pirates are intrigued by what they have in the upper minors at catcher which brings us back to the point that Huntington has to think this team is close.

Jeff Karstens

By DFAing Karstens Huntington is saying one of two things. Either he is saying the Pirates have a lot of pitching depth so going with a middle of the rotation starter who is oft injured would be a waste of resources or he believes that this team is still a step away from contention and the starts Karstens would receive is better off going to young players so he can properly evaluate them. The Martin signing would indicate that Huntington doesn’t believe the second half of that possibility so by process of elimination he must believe the first.

Charlie Morton

Again there are two possibilities with signing Morton either Huntington is so concerned with the pitching depth that he is desperate enough to bring back a guy who won’t be ready for at least two months or he believes Morton is much more than a back of the rotation arm and that half a season of him is worth more than a full season of Karstens. Obviously if Huntington was concerned about pitching depth Karstens would have been tendered a contract so what we are left with is that Huntington must believe that the possibility of maybe having Morton for half a season (for which he’d probably be rushed back since he will only be able to spend 30 days in the minors) is somehow better than having Karstens for a full season. Could Huntington really believe that? At this point I don’t think we have any choice but to say he believes that because the other alternative is that he is completely incompetent and doesn’t have a plan.

If we are to extrapolate Huntington’s thinking out we shouldn’t see any starting pitcher depth brought in and what we should see is him act aggressively to fill the final one or two holes he sees in the Pirates roster, whatever those might be. If he fails to do this then I seriously have to question what in the world he is thinking because right now it doesn’t look like he has much of a plan.

4 Comments

NH just didn’t think Karstens was good enough to warrant that money. He’s often injured and doesn’t have much stuff. Would it surprise you if he completely got knocked around next year? Let’s just wait and see what NH does here this off-season before we jump to conclusions. Obviously he feels he can get someone better than Karstens, via Trade or Free Agency. Lets wait it out.

You are right perhaps it was just an overreaction on my part but the point remains the Pirates needed to add a starter before getting rid of Karstens so now NH has the task of bringing in two. Call me what you want but I just don’t see that happening.

Russell Martin is a solid pickup who believes he can make pitchers better by knowing their strengths and by mentally keeping them above water when things start to go south. I believe he will be good for our pitchers. I’m glad they brought Morton back. I believe he just tried to come back too soon from his hip surgery and that led to his elbow injury, but if he can get healthy and get back in the rotation, suddenly the rotation has a solid 1-4.

Great blog by the way. I was wondering if you would be interested in doing a link swap. I am Co-owner of http://www.pghsportsforum.com and believe our members would enjoy reading your blog. If so, our direct link to our Pirates blog/message board is http://www.pghsportsforum.com/forum/external.php?type=rss2&forumids=22

Once again, great blog, I really like what i read today.

Martin isn’t a bad pickup but I feel the money would have been better spent in other areas. Retaining Morton is fine on its own but coupled with the DFA of Karstens makes little sense. As for the link swap I think I’d be up for that. I’ll check out your blog and if I like what I see I’ll put it on my links section.

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