Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Comings and goings

* Running a few steps ahead of a torch-wielding mob, former Pirates GM Dave Littlefield was welcomed into the friendly confines of Wrigley Field today. His new position as a "scout" may seem like a step backward from a career standpoint, but any port looks good in a storm. The Cubs obviously owed him a debt of gratitude after the Aramis Ramirez giveaway, and they could probably see a reasonable return on any investment in Littlefield by soliciting his opinion on baseball matters and then taking the exact opposite course of action.

* In other staffing news, the Pirates have added four new members to their minor league staff. Dejan has all the details. Carlos Garcia's name should probably be familiar to most Pirate fans, and as Dejan's article notes, there's a Cleveland connection to his hiring as well. Kimera Bartee basically built a ten-year pro career around running and throwing, so in that respect he's at least an interesting choice as outfield and baserunning coordinator. Troy Buckley was the college pitching coach of Jared Hughes, our fourth-round draft pick in 2006, and he had worked with Huntington on the Expos' minor league staff. BA has an interesting post about Buckley here. He's saying the right things, and while that isn't enough in and of itself, it's certainly an improvement on some past hires (like Jeff Manto).

* Ex-Pirate prospect Javier Guzman (see Wilbur's report here) signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves. On the one hand, this is mildly disappointing, in that the Pirates already had little middle infield depth in the minors, and now we're losing a guy who spent several years on the 40-man roster. On the other hand, Guzman has never shown much promise with the bat since his 2004 campaign at Hickory, his fielding remains wildly inconsistent, and the Dominican visa scandal revealed him as being two years older than everybody had previously thought (although most web sources haven't taken note of the change - the Altoona Curve's website being one notable exception).

* Finally, it appears that the Pirates' AAA affiliate isn't going anywhere. The Indianapolis Indians are turning record profits, and they're giving signs that they'd like to extend their agreement with the Pirates when the existing deal expires after the 2008 season. Having good minor league affiliates is important for a number of reasons:
  A reasonable geographical location allows for quicker turnaround times on promotions, while also making it easier for minor league staff to travel between affiliates to evaluate and compare notes (we had gotten burned in this area a few years back, when our AAA affiliate was all the way up in Calgary).
  A neutral park and league environment makes it easier to evaluate players and teach them good habits; conversely, a skewed environment (like High Desert in the A+ Cal League) teaches players bad habits and makes it harder to sort prospects from suspects.
  A high-quality home stadium with good facilities makes it easier to attract quality minor league free agents.
All that aside, it's not entirely a good thing that the Indians are so happy with us. They like being our affiliate in large part because we've given them competitive rosters, and we've given them such competitive rosters because we haven't had many actual prospects to promote to AAA, and as such have had to make due with large amounts of (productive) veteran filler. Hopefully, they'll be happy with us in the future... but not ecstatic.

1 comment:

WTM said...

Indy's happiness may not last. Huntington has said several times that they're going to sign fewer minor league vets and go more with their younger guys. I assume that means more promotions for guys who are currently stalling out at Altoona and Lynchburg.

Of course, none of those guys are any good.