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Morning Pirates Buzz: Cole, Hultzen latest; Culture change in 2011?

Morning Pirates Buzz
— Just two days until the MLB draft and whispers coming out the Pirates organization meetings in Florida is that team is very close to settling on UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole.
The team went into their meetings mid-week with the decision coming down to Cole and Virginia’s Danny Hultzen. From what has been relayed to me, position players Anthony Rendon and Bubba Starling have been out of the mix for a few days now.
Of note, the Pirates spoked extensively with Hultzen’s advisors at CAA Sports on Wednesday and Thursday to get a feel of his asking price and whether there was any possibility of a pre-draft deal like they had with Tony Sanchez in 2009.
However, Hultzen’s reps are demanding big money just like Scott Boras will be for Cole.
Cole though has been viewed as the Pirates guy for sometime now and the Pirates should be applauded for when they select him No. 1.
— Jeff Karstens continues to show his value to the team, limiting the Philadelphia Phillies to 4 hits and 1 run in 7 innings of work in the Pirates 2-1 (12 innings) win against the Phillies last night.
Karstens (3-4, 3.30) has allowed 2 runs or less in his last 5 starts. With the Pirates getting nothing this season from two of their projected starters this off-season, Ross Ohlendorf and Scott Olsen (released), Karstens stepping in has been crucial.
— There continues to be some concern about Evan Meek’s down velocity this season.
— Some interesting tidbits from ESPN’s Jayson Stark yesterday with some comments from one assistant NL GM who says at somepoint the Pirates have to change the culture and need to strive for .500 this season.
“I know it’s important to think long-haul, but part of the long-haul thought process is getting rid of that losing tradition,” the NL Assistant GM told Stark. “And the only thing that can give people in Pittsburgh hope for the future is winning. If you continue losing, it breeds something unmanageable. So I think it’s important to take this opportunity to win as many games as you can. And even if you only win 79, I don’t think it’s a mistake. How far does developing that winning mentality carry you in the future? It’s not quantifiable.”
Anyone connected with the Pirates tries to move away from any talk of the goal being .500 but at some point you have to start somewhere and with a young core that needs a taste of winning, this could be the year the Pirates stand pat, not for the reason of making playoffs which is not realistic but just to stay competitive and try to change that losing culture.
Even 77-79 wins is going to be seen as a success this season.
However, this is still a developmental year and the team shouldn’t shy of giving a Xavier Paul an extended look in the outfield over veterans like Matt Diaz.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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