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|Chat Transcript: Dave Littlefield
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07/24/2002 3:58 pm ET
Chat Transcript: Dave Littlefield
Pirates GM Dave Littlefield answered questions from fans during a live online chat on Wednesday, July 24 at 3:00 p.m. eastern.
Below is a transcript of the chat:
Moderator: Hello everyone and thanks for attending today's chat. Dave Littlefield is in the room and ready to take your questions.
doober: Do you consider yourself a buyer or a seller as the trading deadline approaches?
LITTLEFIELD:: I would say we have had a nice start since the All-Star Break and would like to be in the position of a buyer, but it's important to be realistic. Currently we are 9 1/2 games out, so we will have to see how the team continues to play.
stanglep: How are you going to bring more offense to the pirates in the near future?
LITTLEFIELD:: I think one of the biggest things we can do to improve our offense is to get more production out of the players that we have. Ramirez is starting to show signs of getting back on track and hopefully Rios will be back soon, as well.
PirateFan11: You've spoken about needing to get more offense, but what else do see as needs for the Pirates in the coming months or in the off season?
LITTLEFIELD:: I think you always have to keep starting pitching in mind. Championship teams almost always have quality starting pitching. The bullpen and defense would be the next priorities respectively.
PirateFan11: How is the strike affecting your ability to make trades or sign some of the draft picks?
LITTLEFIELD:: Even though I read some of the same comments, there is a lot of discussion between general managers as the trading deadline nears. We have already had a fair amount of big trades and I would anticipate more. We have had a great deal of success signing the draft picks that we want to sign. To update you on Brian Bullington, the first pick in the draft, we are continuing to negotiate with him. Normally high draft picks take a little longer than most to come to terms, but we feel confident that Brian wants to play professional baseball. We feel he is a fine prospect and would be a nice addition to the organization.
doober: How did the open tryout camp at PNC Park go today? Do you think you'll sign anyone?
LITTLEFIELD:: We had a great turnout, somewhere around 500 players are currently at PNC Park working out. We would very much like to sign anyone who has potential to play pro ball. Ed Creech and his scouting staff will be evaluating the players based on their ability and hopefully we will have some prospects.
bucco78: Will Sean Burnett pitch for Altoona at any point this year
LITTLEFIELD:: Burnett has had a fine year at Lynchburg and had a nice outing in the Futures Game in Milwaukee. We are confident that he will be a nice addition for the Pirates in the future, however he won't turn 20 until September and my experience has taught me to be cautious about young pitchers. Considering his success, we will be keeping an eye on him as to when the appropriate time is to move him to the next level.
RussellSteele: Do you think that Jason Kendall's loss of power is still due to the wrist injury from last year?
LITTLEFIELD:: Although he got off to a slow start, Jason has been swinging the bat very well since May. Due to our lack of a leadoff hitter, we have moved him to the leadoff spot and he's handled it fairly well. He has a career .304 batting average entering the season, and frankly we are more concerned about his overall game than the power. He has shown a limited amount of power in the past. But I would imagine he will get back to those levels in time.
bucfan105: What's the status of JR House and Bobby Bradley?
LITTLEFIELD:: J.R. House had surgery on a stomach muscle recently and is currently rehabbing in Bradenton. We anticipate him coming back in the latter part of the 2002 season and likely participating in the Arizona Fall League or winter leagues this year. Bradley has been throwing off the mound recently in Bradenton. He has been making solid progress after Tommy John surgery. We continue to have high hopes for him in the 2003 season.
bucco78: If your were to trade Brian Giles would it be possible to include Kevin Young in the deal to open up money to sign your own free agents next year. Or is that two much money for any team to take on.
LITTLEFIELD:: Our approach with trying to improve our team is that we will continue to be open-minded about any potential trade that would make us better. Some players are harder to trade than others, but I think it is important as a GM, particularly coming off a 100-loss season like we had in 2001, that we are open-minded to all possible options.
doober: How have people enjoyed the experience at PNC Park?
LITTLEFIELD:: Since PNC Park opened in 2001, we have had tremendous fan support and very positive feedback in regards to the overall experience here. Obviously there has been a lot of frustration through the years from Pirates fans in regards to the competitiveness of the team. We feel we are improved and much more competitive on a nightly basis, but have a lot of work ahead to get back to the championship caliber teams of the past. We drew over 2.5 million last year in 2001 and it's comforting to know that when we get back to winning ways, the support will be there for us.
stanleybuc: What do you think about the idea of a worldwide draft?
LITTLEFIELD:: It has become a big topic in baseball operations. There are two sides to this issue. On one hand, it will give every team an opportunity to draft and potentially sign every player in the marketplace. this is a step toward leveling the playing field and giving every club the opportunity to choose the player they think is best, relative to their draft position. On the flip side, currently teams can make the decision to bid for the high-priced amateur free agents if they want to get into that market. If they determine that the price for that player is too high, they can simply drop out and put their resources toward other players. People in baseball operations seem to be somewhat divided on the concept, however the idea seems to be getting stronger support to include international players in the first-year player draft.
Moderator: Thanks for participating in today's chat. We look forward to seeing you again in future chats at pittsburghpirates.com and MLB.com.