PITTSBURGH _ There was plenty of speculation swirling around the Pirates’ clubhouse Sunday morning that another big trade was about to go down.
General manager Neal Huntington, manager John Russell and the coaching staff held a long meeting in Russell’s office before the Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers 6-3 in the afternoon.
More than one person in the clubhouse seemed convinced right-hander Ian Snell was headed out of town.
They might be right. There are indications the Pirates are willing to trade Snell and the Colorado Rockies are shaping up as the most likely trade partner.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who replaced Clint Hurdle last month, is a big fan of Snell’s. Tracy, then the Pirates’ manager, decided to put Snell in the starting rotation to start the 2006 season when seemingly everyone else in the organization thought he profiled as a set-up reliever because of his small stature.
The Rockies suddenly look like contenders after tying a franchise record with their 11th straight win on Sunday.
While the Rockies are 10 ½ games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West, they are 2 ½ games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL wild-card standings.
The Pirates sold high on center fielder Nate McLouth when they traded him to Atlanta on June 3 for left-hander Jeff Locke, right-hander Charlie Morton and center fielder Gorkys Hernandez. However, they would be selling low on Snell as he is 1-7 with a 5.25 ERA in 13 starts this season.
However, there are some in the organization who would like to just get rid of Snell and the approximately $5.95 million remaining on the three-year, $8-million contract he signed in spring training last year.
Since the All-Star break in 2007, he is 10-26 with a 5.22 ERA in 59 starts as his numbers clearly do not match his immense talent.
The Pirates have preached accountability since the current management team of president Frank Coonelly and Huntington took over late in the 2007 season.
Snell has been anything but accountable this season as he has blamed his losses on such factors as teams stealing the catcher’s signs, the umpires having inconsistent strike zones, the catchers calling the wrong pitches and the pitcher’s mound not being well-maintained.
The final straw may have come last Friday night when he punched the dugout wall after giving up a second run-scoring single to Tigers rookie pitcher Rick Porcello, who had never batted in a professional game.
However, Snell wasn’t upset about allowing the hit. Instead, he was angry about Russell ordering an intentional walk to shortstop Ramon Santiago just before Porcello’s hit.
Snell then publicly questioned Russell’s strategy after the game, which raised eyebrows both in the front office and clubhouse.