Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington talked Josh Bell’s defense, shifts, Tyler Glasnow and more on his weekly radio show heard on 93.7 The Fan.

Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington makes a weekly radio hit on the team’s flagship radio station 93.7 The Fan. Each Sunday, Pirates Breakdown will bring you a recapping of Huntingting’s show, picking out the best tidbits from the show, hosted by Greg Brown. Let’s get started.

On Baseball’s Unique – And Often, Frustrating – First Week Schedule

As years of being a farm director, I can tell you that nobody wants mid-week April dates. They don’t sell in the south, or the west…it [The April schedule] is an attempt to balance out and have the schedule be true to teams. For an interleague series, it seems like it would make sense to play elsewhere – be it west or south….that is the one area where baseball would take a step of aggression and say that interleague series has to be played in a dome, so you know you’re going to play, rather than try to make a miracle of an overlap later.

On Tyler Glasnow Serving as the Fifth Starter

Ultimately it came down to, no one really took the job and owned it. Not that we get caught up in spring training results, we want to respect the body of work and where they were in camp – better or worse – in Tyler’s case, we believe he has dominated AAA baseball, and the best next step in his development is to do it at Major League Baseball.

On Changing Team Philosophy and Using Trevor Williams As a Reliever

It is a bit of a shift, but that’s the comfort we have with Steven Brault and Drew Hutchison, that they can make major league starts…now we are going to get to a point in time where Trevor will be de-conditioned a a starter, and we’ll have to make a decision then if we are going to send him back to AAA to be re-conditioned as a starting pitcher.

On When Nick Kingham May Be Ready To Help the Big League Club

[Kingham] Rolled his ankle and had not been fully built up. He will unfortunately be de-conditioned; he’ll have to get the ankle right then get re-conditioned. But he is another starter who we feel will be more than capable to come up and help this rotation this year.

On Josh Bell‘s Defense at First Base

[Bell is] significantly better than he was two years ago; is a playable first baseman at this time, continues to work hard and get better; a year ago we were defending John Jaso at 1, now we sub him in on defense, so Josh is working hard as well.

On the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Continued Use of Shifts

It is hard to argue with the hundreds of balls in play since we’ve used analytics to help position our players. More often than not, a lot more balls would be put in play if our guys did not go where we told them. Sometimes, it does not work out. The challenge for us is that we recognize when a shift is being beaten.  I can’t emphasize enough ,it’s hundreds of balls a year that are turned into outs because of the shifts. We’re playing probabilities. The data with Leon is that he never got a bunt down. 

Jason Rollison

Jason Rollison has been analyzing baseball and the Pirates in one way or another for 4+ years. Jason's previous stops include rumbunter.com, Pittsburgh Sporting News, Call To The Pen and several print publications. He also covers the State College Spikes for the Centre County Gazette (State College, PA) When it comes to analyzing baseball, he likes to take a middle-of-the-road approach, with one foot on the analytics side of the fence and the other on the old-school side. Having said that, he is a sucker for pitchf/x. Jason has appeared as a phone-in and in-studio guests in numerous outlets, including Trib Live Radio and 93.7 The Fan (CBS Sports Radio)