Inside Pittsburgh Sports

TIOPS Inside Buzz

Pirates GM Neal Huntington knew he was going to be taking some heat this evening following the trade of Francisco Liriano, along with Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire.

“We fully recognize we’ve given up two quality prospects,” Huntington said during a conference call with the media. “We feel like we dealt from a position of organizational depth.”

What was clear from Huntington’s comments tonight is that without him actually saying it — is the involvement of McGuire and Ramirez opened the door for the Pirates to dump Liriano’s salary on the Blue Jays —

“Our goal in trading Ramirez and McGuire was to acquire Drew Hutchison,” Huntington said of the acquisition.

Huntington, as expected, also said ownership gave no mandate to unload salary.

“This was all our choice to create some financial flexibility to keep this club competitive while adding to our future,” said Huntington.

HutchisonSurprisingly Huntington didn’t talk glowingly about Hutchison to the extent that I expected him to based on the cost of Ramirez and McGuire.

The Pirates plan moving forward is for Hutchison to spend the rest of the minor league season in Triple-A than be an option in September for the Pirates, though, the Pirates eye is on Hutchison hopefully being in the rotation for 2017.

“We feel he can step right into our rotation next year,” Huntington said.

He better be from the standpoint that he turns 26 years old in August.


Huntington indicated that the rotation will now consist of Gerrit Cole, Ivan Nova, Jameson Taillon and Ryan Vogelsong. The fifth starter is going to be a revolving door.

It’s interesting how Vogelsong has suddenly played his way into being a lock in the rotation.

Another potentially questionable move to block a young starter from getting needed experience down the stretch when you have the likes of Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault and Tyler Glasnow (progressing from injury) in the minors.

FullSizeRender (9)Talk coming out of the organization today is the tentative plan is for Josh Bell to finish the season in Triple-A before coming up to the Majors. Have a hard time believing it but that’s the word at this point. Still think he comes up sooner than later with the Pirates needing some good PR.

— With Jon Niese being shipped back to the Mets, as expected Huntington was asked about any regrets of trading Neil Walker.

“In hindsight it doesn’t look like the right call,” Huntington said, while coming to his own defense saying “the players we could have gotten for Neil in the off-season (other teams), no one would have been thrilled by them.”

Instead of acquiring Niese, One return from the Mets would have netted the Pirates a mid-tier and lower tier prospect. It’s believed Baltimore was offering a similar prospect type offer.

The Walker situation has become a debacle because in 2014 the two sides weren’t that far apart from a three year extension. Don’t blame Huntington on that one. s


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Steelers Camp Buzz (Monday Notes)

— The good news for the Steelers is Senquez Golson didn’t reinjure his surgically repaired shoulder. The bad news is Golson’s injured again.

This time he has a mid-foot injury that saw him carted off and was scheduled to have an MRI tonight.

Rookie Sean Davis moved into the slot today like he did much of OTA’s when Golson was sidelined.

When it comes to the Steelers top two picks, it’s night and day on how much more NFL ready Sean Davis is than Artie Burns.

Antonio Brown is having fun in making life miserable for Burns through four practices. Brown torched Burns all day again and Darrius Heyward-Bey [hide] blew by Burns for a 40 yard+ catch during 7 on 7 drills. Burns has had difficulties covering and the biggest issue for him has been against the run where he’s getting pushed back far too easily.

Asked about Sean Davis following today’s workout, Mike Tomlin gave a Mike Tomlin type response…..

“Nothing really that stands out,” Tomlin said of Davis. “He’s a good young guy.”

— Rookie D-lineman Javon Hargrave continues to flash a combination of power and athleticism. Has been really impressive in one-on-one drills, and had a field day against Cody Wallace. It’s early but he’s a player coaches feel could contribute early.

— Two standouts in camp at linebacker have been Anthony Chickillo and L.J. Fort. Chickillo who has two interceptions during drills so far, looks to have improved footwork when rushing from the outside. Joey Porter impact there. Chickillo beat Alejandro Villanueva twice in 1-on-1 drills.

Sammie Coates rebounded well today after a struggle in Sunday’s workout (Coates was great on Saturday). 2015 4th round pick Doran Grant was no match in covering. In his second NFL camp, Grant has a ways to go in proving he can be an NFL caliber cornerback down the road. —

Art Rooney II said on Steelers Nation Radio today the team has a couple contracts they expect to take care of in regards to possible extensions. We’re told Steelers remain very confident that a deal will get finalized with David DeCastro and the team is going to try to find common ground on an extension for Lawrence Timmons. —