Pirates Notebook: GM says .500 mark will not influence moves
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CHICAGO -- If the Pirates' management decides to keep its current roster intact all season, rather than trading key pieces for young talent, it will not be because of a wish to finish .500 or better and break the franchise's 15-year losing streak.
So spoke general manager Neal Huntington yesterday, in no uncertain terms.
INDIANAPOLIS (35-38) lost to Columbus, 6-5. RHP Ty Taubenheim (4-9, 4.88) allowed six runs, two earned, and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five, walked one. RHP Evan Meek (0.00), making his Class AAA debut, pitched a scoreless inning of relief. CF Andrew McCutchen (.286) went 2 for 5 with his 20th steal. C Ronny Paulino (.410) went 2 for 4 with a double and committed his third passed ball. 3B Neil Walker (.229) went 1 for 5.
ALTOONA (30-37) beat Reading, 4-3. RHP Yoslan Herrera (3-7, 3.42) allowed one run and six hits in six innings. He struck out two, walked two and got 14 ground-ball outs. 2B Shelby Ford (.361) went 2 for 4 with a triple and RBI. CF Chris Duffy (.167) went 1 for 3.
LYNCHBURG (29-42) lost at Kinston, 4-3. LHP Tony Watson (4-8, 4.24) allowed four runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out seven. 3B Jim Negrych (.349) went 2 for 4 with a double.
HICKORY (30-40) was off.
STATE COLLEGE (0-1) opened its New York-Penn League season with a 7-6 loss at Jamestown. RHP Emilis Guerrero (0-0, 2.25) allowed one run and three hits in four innings. 1B Calvin Anderson (.600), the Pirates' 12th-round pick in the draft this month, homered in his professional debut, a two-run shot, and went 3 for 5.
"The only time we hope to get to .500 is on our way past it," Huntington said. "It is not an end result. It is not a goal. If we have this club in place and we reach 82 wins en route to our higher destination, then so be it. But I will never be the general manager of a club that has a focus on winning 82 games."
He did allow for two exceptions.
One is if the team is in clear playoff contention. And, with how the Chicago Cubs are performing, that might mean monitoring the National League's wild-card race. The Pirates trail the St. Louis Cardinals by 7 1/2 games on that front.
"As we sit right now, the wild card is an easier climb," Huntington said. "The division might look a little different if you hold your fate in your own hands, but we've already played 12 games against the Cubs. That's the beauty of the wild card. It gives you two opportunities to make the playoffs. Both will play a factor as we make our decision."
The other exception would be if management determined, even if a playoff berth were out of the question, that the current group could improve. Given the general age of the group, though, that seems unlikely.
"The only way we would hold this club together is if we felt bigger and better things were coming from it in the future," Huntington said. "But holding it together just to get to 82 wins ... that is not something our field staff has interest in doing. It is not something I have interest in doing."
Right fielder Xavier Nady said his bruised left shoulder "felt a lot better" after some range-of-motion exercises yesterday, but he has no set date to swing a bat.
That leaves open the possibility that, if Nady is not ready to play Friday when the Pirates return to Pittsburgh without the luxury of a designated hitter to cushion his absence, he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list. But that seemed no better than a 50-50 notion yesterday.
"He's a lot better off now than when it happened," manager John Russell said. "We'll see."
Nady's shoulder joint was bruised when colliding with a wall Saturday.
Signed picks to top 30?
The Pirates signed their third- and fourth-round draft picks, shortstops Jordy Mercer of Oklahoma State University and Chase D'Arnaud of Pepperdine University, as well as 39th-round pitcher Albert Fagan of Rockland Community College.
That raised the number of signed picks to 24 of 50, including half of the top 10. Management had forecast it might sign only into the low 20s, but that number probably will exceed 30 now.
• Reliever Evan Meek, who opened the season with the Pirates as a Rule 5 draft pick, was promoted from Class AA Altoona to Class AAA Indianapolis. In nine appearances with the Curve, Meek had a 2.81 ERA, 17 strikeouts and three walks.
• To make room, starter Luis Munoz, a member of the 40-man roster, was demoted from Indianapolis to Altoona. In 12 starts, he went 3-3 with a 5.45 ERA.
• Chicago White Sox third base coach Jeff Cox, who held that position the two previous years with the Pirates, had a chance to renew acquaintances. "Couldn't be happier here," Cox said.
• About 3,000 of those $8 standing-room tickets remain for the Pirates' series against the New York Yankees June 24-26.
First Published June 18, 2008 12:00 am