Sorry for the lack of posting this week; I had to give lab meeting this week and I have a committee meeting next week and that's resulted in a lot of time in lab and a lot of time trying to piece things together. When you throw in a lot of time watching playoff baseball, well, there's just not much time left for anything else.
The good news is that I did have time to talk to CocktailsFor2 and the Rumbunter Podcast on Monday evening, to talk about the Pirates both with Cocktails and SoxDetox and to listen in on the Clint Hurdle interview that's obviously the selling point for the whole thing. There's a lot of good stuff there, and so if you've got the time I'd recommend checking it out. If you're unfamiliar with SoxDetox, he's a converted Red Sox fan that brings a pretty interesting take to being a Pirate fan; there's a huge contrast between the way that he and I reacted to the end of the season. Perspective is good.
The Hurdle interview is interesting, too, if only to give you some insight into what happens at the end of the season for these guys. As soon as the season ended, Hurdle went to Bradenton to work with the young guys for fall instructionals and once that's done, he's headed into meetings with the front office to figure out how to plan for the off-season. During spring training 2011, I spent a day at Pirate City when the Pirates had a day off in their spring training schedule. As a result, Hurdle was at minor league camp for the day's scrimmages and I was really impressed by how involved he was. He was constantly moving, working with different players, standing up in the crow's nest talking to coaches, checking in on everything. It's one of those things that managers do outside of in-game management that you'd never see unless you looked for it. Hurdle strikes me as the sort manager that's really good at these things, which is why I'm often willing to overlook some of his maddening in-game decisions (at least, ones that I think are pretty common among baseball managers).
Also -- if you were thinking that Frank Coonelly's "vote of confidence" for Neal Huntington and company didn't represent ownership's view, I think that this is a pretty good indication that it does. The Pirates are in Florida and they're preparing for the winter. If they were planning on changing courses, Neal Huntington/his staff/Clint Hurdle would all be out already, because there's a limited amount of time to find replacements before the real off-season starts when the World Series ends. Huntington and his guys have one more year.
In any case, I think I'm going to use next week to do minor league writeups. That means prospect rankings, discussion of where the system is and where it's headed, etc. I'll do my best to get ahead on some of this stuff over the weekend so that next week won't be so light on content.
"Huntington and his guys have one more year."
So after two second-half collapses in a row, there are no consequences at all?
I gave them a pass for the 2011 collapse -- no one seriously expected that team to contend -- but this year's failure was utterly unprecedented. Mr. Nutting, just because Huntington and his guys aren't as incompetent as Dave Littlefield's staff doesn't mean they are the best qualified folks available.