Huntington on second-half expectations
With the Pirates staring at a 31-59 record 90 games into the season, obviously the second half of the season is not going to be evaluated solely on wins and losses. Here is general manager Neal Huntington speaking to what will consitute success/failure over the next few months and also where the organization is in its long-term plan.
How will the rest of the season be evaluated?
“We’re looking for continued improvement of our young players and a maturation and understanding of what plays and how it plays and why it plays at the Major League level. Are we ready to take that step forward with these young players? Who do we need to supplement? Is it pitching? Is it somewhere on the diamond?
“It’s mostly continued development and avoiding games like we had coming out of the All-Star break. Garrett [Jones] knows that [on the foiled pickoff attempt on Friday] he gave the ball up too quickly. Well, the next step is that next time, let’s not give up the ball too quickly.
“Can we reinforce the fundamental play? It doesn’t happen overnight. All the teams that went from second-to-last or last place, it really didn’t happen overnight. It took four, five, six, seven, eight years in some instances. It’s a process. We need to continue to get better. We need to help these young players get better, and at the same time, get the most that we can out of the veteran players and continue to help them perform and play better baseball.”
Where is the organization in its evaluation process?
“As we came in here, we had a series of short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. Short-term, we’ve accomplished a tremendous amount. It’s below the surface. It’s completely revising how we scout, how we evaluate, how we sign and develop players. That’s gone very, very well. Short-term, you could argue that the only thing we feel we’ve missed on is wins and losses at the Major League level.
“We didn’t expect this team to be starting at 90 or 100 losses again. I also can’t sit here and tell you that we were expecting to win 100 games. We set the playoffs as a goal, not a prediction. Have we lost more games than we anticipated losing? Yeah, we have. How do we overcome that? We need to play good, sound fundamental baseball.
“The difference in teams making huge strides forward, it’s not one or two players. It’s a group of players that gets better as a unit. We’re not anointing them our starters for the next five years, but we’ve got a good young group. Young players take time to progress, they take time to develop.
“As we look at our medium-term goals, absolutely, it’s wins and losses. We’ve had a lot of guys not capitalize on opportunities and those guys are now getting passed by. We need to make sure that this group capitalizes on those opportunities and the next group supplements them.
“Wins and losses are an outcome. How we play the game is the process. That’s out focus. If we take care of our process, then the process takes care of the results.”
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