Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Down on the farm with Wilbur Miller Part 1

Wilbur Miller was kind enough to take his time and do an interview with us that I have wanted to do for a long time.
This 4 part interview with five questions in each part covers various issues and thoughts on the Pirate system,their philosophies,certain prospects and more.
I hope to have Wilbur do another one of these on the big league club after the season either in this format or a round table type with myself and perhaps someone else.
I will add a post on my thoughts on the interview after it has been completely posted.
Thanks again to Wilbur for his time and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

1)How do you see the future of Andrew McCutchen?
Do you see him as a high end player or merely a good player that looks better in a bad system?

Probably more like a pretty good player who should be an average or a little above average starting CF. His performance has never really matched the hype. He seems to lose focus or something, and gets to where he can’t lay off the sliders. Maybe the challenge of playing in the majors will lead him to stay as focused as he apparently was early this year and he’ll blossom. Failing that, there isn’t much reason to see him as a star.

2)Assuming the Pirates sign Pedro Alvarez,how do you see a possible result for a Alvarez-Neil Walker position battle?

Unless Alvarez is a huge disappointment, there won’t be a battle. Walker will move to the OF.

3)Besides the obvious Littlefield/Creech reasons,is there a lesser known reason for the state of the system?

A lot of things seemed to change with the Aramis Ramirez fiasco and one of them was the approach to the minors. They hadn’t been doing well with the draft up until then and the international scouting was non-existent, but I thought there was a distinct downturn. For instance, they stopped drafting high school players almost entirely and loaded up on low-ceiling college players, an awful lot of them seniors. I don’t know what exactly was going on. Maybe Littlefield told the scouts he wanted players who could reach the mid-levels quickly to help the won/loss records and impress McClatchy. Maybe they wanted to be sure they signed a lot of guys, especially their first ten picks, again to keep McClatchy happy and create some positive PR—that would explain the fact that they frequently overdrafted in the early rounds. They also focused heavily on relievers, which seemed to be an effort to get help for the majors quickly. Bottom line was that, after the Ramirez trade, I thought they pretty much abandoned any pretense at building up the farm system. The entire focus seemed to be moves that were designed to preserve Littlefield’s job by impressing McClatchy, who appears to have understood virtually nothing about baseball.

4)Steve Pearce has not had a huge year at AAA Indianapolis,Do you think he has leveled out as a prospect?

Probably. At his age, whatever breakout he was destined to have most likely happened last year. He’s not adjusting to offspeed stuff and, even though he’s improved steadily over the season, he hasn’t had a really good stretch yet. He seems to be surviving more than thriving and he’s too old for that.

5)Considering the surprising numbers of Todd Redmond at AA Mississippi,do you still think Redmond for Tyler Yates was a good idea?

It’s easy to say that in retrospect. I thought it was an OK deal at the time, one that would have little impact on either team. Yates isn’t as good as some people seem to think—his ERA is a prime example of reliever ERAs sometimes being misleading. His control is just awful. And if Redmond was still around, he’d be in the Pirates’ rotation now, which isn’t saying much. I still think in the end the deal won’t amount to that much. I’m skeptical Redmond will be more than a marginal pitcher.


Mike said...

Great stuff Shawn,As always

Shawn said...

Thanks,Mike-I appreciate it!