Q&A with Neal Huntington

Q&A with Neal Huntington

The Pirates upper management has widely ignored OBP (on base percentage) in the past. How important will OBP be in player evaluation under your leadership?
-- Eric S., Pennsboro, W.Va

We are going to utilize several objective measures of player performance to evaluate and develop players. We'll rely on the more traditional objective evaluations: OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) , WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), Runs Created, ERC (Component ERA), GB/FB (ground ball to fly ball ratio), K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings), K/BB (strikeouts to walks ratio), BB%, etc., but we'll also look to rely on some of the more recent variations: VORP (value over replacement player), Relative Performance, EqAve (equivalent average), EqOBP (equivalent on base percentage), EqSLG (equivalent slugging percentage), BIP% (balls put into play percentage), wOBA (weighted on base average), Range Factor, PMR (probabilistic model of range) and Zone Rating.

That said, we will continue to stress the importance of our subjective evaluations. Succinctly stated, we believe that a combination of quality objective and subjective analysis will allow us to maximize our probability of success and to make the best possible decisions.

Other than the hiring of a new manager, what do you feel is the biggest need of the team personnel wise?
-- Mike P., Sandy, Pa.

As an organization, Mike, we need to infuse talent into the system. We need to utilize all methods of player acquisition to improve the depth of talent in the system. We need to be aggressive in scouting and signing amateur talent domestically and internationally. We need to be creative in acquiring professional players via trades, free agency and waiver claims.

We have some pieces in place for a successful 2008, but overall we need to add talent and depth to the system to position ourselves to bring a consistent winner to Pittsburgh.

What are the most important qualities you're looking for in a new manager?
-- David H., Pittsburgh

We are looking for a manager that brings positive energy and passion to the clubhouse. He will be a tireless instructor, an exhaustive communicator and will instill discipline and a sense of pride in the Pirates, what we stand for and how we play the game.

What is your roadmap to mirror the success of the Rockies, who were last place in the NL West last year?
-- Michael S., Atlanta

There are several clubs in similar markets to Pittsburgh that have experienced recent success, and we hope to take successful elements from each and apply those appropriately to the Pittsburgh model. Colorado, Arizona and Cleveland all had terrific seasons and did it with young players from their scouting and development system. To attain the level of success we plan to attain, Michael, we need to successfully evaluate, sign and develop championship caliber players and staff.

We are in the process of putting in place quality personnel and systems to ensure a systematic and consistent structure to maximize the ability of every executive, scout, instructor and player in the system. We need to be creative and will have to make some tough decisions as we progress, but those decisions will be logical, rational, well researched and for the benefit of this organization.

In the end, our success is contingent upon our ability to evaluate, sign and develop championship talent.