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Neal Huntington: jerkin' his players around

Dec 13, 2009, 8:49 AM EDT

Twice last week Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington said that he would tender closer Matt Capps, and all other arb-eligible players a contract: “At this point, our plan is to tender all eligible players,” he said on Monday. He repeated the phrase almost verbatim on Wednesday.  

Last night: no contract tendered to Matt Capps.

As Aaron mentioned last night, this is a pretty cheap move by the Pirates. Capps took a step back last year, but he’s a solid pitcher who could easily rebound, and his arbitration number would not have been bank-breaking. He’s going to make someone’s bullpen better next season, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t have been Pittsburgh’s.

But more than cheap, this is just petty. It’s easy for us to think of players as mere names on a spreadsheet, but you can bet that Matt Capps was wondering about his future these past few weeks and took some comfort in hearing his boss say that he was going to be offered a contract. If Huntington wasn’t planning to offer him one, he shouldn’t have jerked him around by saying he would — twice — last week.

This is the sort of thing the players notice. At the very least you can bet Capps’ suddenly former teammates noticed, and will be increasingly loathe to trust Pirates’ management going forward.

  1. Old Gator - Dec 13, 2009 at 9:01 AM

    Uh-huh. And when was the last time any of these guys “trusted” their general managers in the first place? Whenever they interview a player about a stunt like this – unless they’re talking to Milton Bradley, or someone suffering from a genetic predisposition to emulate him – the answer is always “well, there are no hard feelings, baseball is a business after all,” usually uttered through a frozen rictus and gritted teeth which, if you can decode them, really mean “I hope the goat-boffing bastard dies soon but very slowly of some prion-vectored disease that causes his intestines to rot out.”
    And speaking of middle management, who the hell told you that you could take a day off, anyway?

  2. dan - Dec 13, 2009 at 9:31 AM

    Huntington was quoted as saying the team was in contract negotiations with Capps and Dumatrait (the other non-tender), but that each player “preferred to explore free agency,” so i’m not sure this is as much of a shock to Capps as you’re making it seem.

  3. john pileggi - Dec 13, 2009 at 9:32 AM

    The Pirates are a team the Players Union can always point to as an issue when negotiations heat up over a CBA. There is revenue sharing, the Pirates got a new and beloved stadium, and yet they do not seem to ever improve. If the strategy is to do what Florida and Tampa have done, i.e., trade players when they get expensive but use the acquired players to stay competitive, then the execution has been poor. Either the Pirates are being illegitimate in terms of using the revenue from the sharing and they stadium, or they are poorly run.

  4. Mike C - Dec 13, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    I just think the elbow/shoulder injuries are worse than is being let on…ticking time bomb.

  5. Joe S. - Dec 13, 2009 at 2:33 PM

    Capps is done. A 93 mph straight fastball with little else does not bode well for his future.
    Neal Huntington has to make some tough decisions, but if the Pirates are going to improve, they’ve got to get past hurting people’s feelings.
    Obviously you do not realize how bad Capps is. And perhaps he doesn’t realize it either.

  6. JBerardi - Dec 13, 2009 at 3:33 PM

    Huntington was trying to trade Capps. Pretty tough to do that if you admit you’re just going to make him a free agent in a week anyway. Was that unfair to Capps? Maybe, but hey, that’s just the nature of the beast.

  7. Vinny - Dec 14, 2009 at 1:52 PM

    Since when is it smart for a small market team to wast say 4 mil on a reliver with a 5.80 ERA, non-tendering was about as shocking as someone ordering pancakes for breakfast

  8. jamesy - Dec 14, 2009 at 11:07 PM

    Capps will live through this; he’ll resume his baseball career somewhere else. He may not even have much to say publicly about what happened to him with Pittsburgh. But what he will do is very privately tell all his friends, most of them baseball players, about the lies Neal Hunington told him. It’s not a good situation for a general manager to be in.

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