February 3, 2009

Huntington Interview On Stern and Kennedy

Here is the first couple of minutes transcribed, as well as I could, of Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington’s interview on Stern and Kennedy on MLB Home Plate (XM 175).

Stern:
It has certainly been an active offseason across the board. And for you guys, it seems to be, in part, about making sure that you have some of your youth and that good talent you are building around stay on board. Including, most recently, a Maholm deal for three extra years.

Huntington:
There's no question, as you approach it from a mid-market club standpoint, you are trying to accomplish a couple things. One you are trying to get some cost certainty going forward. But, in order to do that, you need to sign the right guys you feel strongly about them going forward. Not that they are going to be at the top of the market necessarily, but they are going to earn the dollars you put in front of them.

Hopefully, you are going to save some money because, maybe they outperform that contract and, as a player, if they outperform that contract, they have huge money waiting for them in free agency and you try and get a year or two, or ideally more, of free agency so you try to hedge your bets. You try and find the right players that project to be productive for you going forward.

Kennedy:
Neal, you have been on the job for, what, about a year and a half now. Tell us, is it everything you thought it would be or cracked up to be. I know you have been around a lot of great GM's and learned a lot. But now you are the guy. How has the job overall been?

Huntington:
You know Kevin, it has been great. It is very different, in a lot of ways, than I anticipated. I did learn very quickly that it is easier to give advice and help make decisions than take advice and actually make those decisions.

But that is the fun part of the job. We work with some great people here. We are going to have market appropriate resources which is all we can ask for. We feel like we have done some good things with the organization. We have added some quality depth at the lower levels. The tough trades we made last summer brought some depth in at the upper levels. Behind the scenes, we have made huge strides. Obviously on the field is where it needs to play out for our fans. And they are passionate, and that is a good thing for us.

BTW Take:

I found it interesting that Huntington referred to the Pirates as “mid-market” in the first question. It is nice to see that the front office is not suffering from “market envy”. The first response really gives insight to how Huntington is approaching the talent that is on the team.

My favorite quote is in the second response. “I did learn very quickly that it is easier to give advice and help make decisions than take advice and actually make those decisions.”

Huntington mentions “market appropriate resources”. Now, being “mid-market” I am assuming, based on expected payroll, he is talking about funds going towards the draft and Latin American signings.

As a spoiler, Huntington did note, later in the interview, that ownership approved $11M for the draft last year and they have approved a similar amount for the upcoming draft. That statement points to Scheppers not being signed as having more to do with his overall condition than deciding to sign above slot players later in the draft.

That statement also points to the fact the Pirates are finally going to draft the best player available, not the most sign able. This is the biggest step in fixing this team. Signing the talent they should have been signing for the last decade and a half.

I will work on getting more scribbled down and post it as I get it completed. Check back tomorrow, hopefully I will have some more of the transcription completed. Unless I get a message from XM to cease and desist.

By no means do I claim this transcript is absolutely accurate. Anyone who has listened to a radio interview knows many sentences run together and the words “and” and “um” are often used. For this reason, I admire Dejan Kovacevic and any reporter who has to transcribe even small portions of an interview. Especially anyone who has ever interviewed George Bush.

For fun, one day, I recommend you try recording an interview and attempt to write down word by word what the interviewee is saying. If you can make it more than 5 minutes without pulling your hair out. Congratulations.

There is a good discussion started over at The Buccos Forum. Here is a link:

http://www.thebuccosforum.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1233722408

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