dabigtuna: Neal. Very dedicated Pirate fan, and I like where the team is headed. With the impressive play of Jaramillo and Diaz as of late, has there been any consideration to giving Doumit some starts in positions other than catcher?
Huntington: I appreciate the support and the question, dabigtuna. Ryan is in the middle of his rehab and making quality progress and we are looking forward to his return as our regular catcher. Robinzon and Jason have played well in his absence and provide us quality depth at the catcher position.
tylerrc: Is there any chance that Tom Gorzelanny stays in his bullpen role for awhile?
Huntington: tylerrc, Tom has shown flashes of the pitcher he was two years ago out of the bullpen. That gives us even stronger conviction that we are on the right path for getting him back into the role of quality Major League starting pitcher. Quality starting pitching is much tougher to acquire than relief pitching, and as a result, Tom will make a bigger impact as a starter than he will as a reliever.
jm_bucsfan: Which prospects are performing above expectations and which ones are struggling more than you expected?
Huntington: jm_bucsfan, above expectations: Brad Lincoln has shown above average velocity and breaking ball while making significant improvements in his delivery mechanics and changeup. Andrew McCutchen continues to make quality progress in all areas at Triple-A. Chase D'Arnaud has had a very solid two months in West Virginia. A lot of people are concerned about Pedro Alvarez's batting average and while his overall production is not where he, or we, want it to be, he is making quality progress in his first season as a professional baseball player.
schnoah2: Neal, Thanks for taking these questions. I was wondering if you could fill us in on what is taking place at the Dominican Facility. Is it attracting more talent or players because it's new?
Huntington: schnoah2, our state of the art facility that was Bob Nutting's vision has already begun to pay dividends. Our current coaching staff and players on our Dominican Summer League team have already reaped the benefits of the first-class facility, and the impact on the free agent players have been as positive as we could have hoped.
schnoah2: With our compensation pick for not signing Tanner Scheppers last season, will we go safe with that pick so we don't lose it if they don't sign? Or will you go out and still take the top talent on the board?
Huntington: We are looking to add quality talent with each and every pick in the Draft and our process at pick No. 49 will be no different than any other pick in the Draft.
peterock75: Does Andrew McCutchen have any chances of making an impact this season?
Huntington: peterock75, impact is a strong word. Andrew continues to make good progress and we expect his arrival in Pittsburgh this summer and look forward to him patrolling the outfield at PNC Park.
backbay: In hindsight, do you feel the Jason Bay move was in Pittsburgh's best interest?
Huntington: backbay, as we review the events of last summer, and particularly the Jason Bay trade, the reality remains we did not have enough talent to put ourselves into position to compete. And as difficult as the decision was to trade Jason, the uncertainty of the offseason trade market and the uncertainty of our ability to resign him indicate to us that the summer trade was the right time. There is a lot of inaccurate information out about the players we could have received, and we still feel good about the package we received for Jason.
jollyrog: How would you assess the job of John Russell so far this year? Would you like to see him more animated at times?
Huntington: jollyrog, JR continues to do a quality job maximizing the abilities of those in his clubhouse, be it players or staff. While Pittsburgh loves a fiery and animated manager/head coach, it is our belief that the quiet intensity that JR brings to the position and his willingness to have a tough and strong conversation behind closed doors is the most appropriate message given the current environment. Our players have been vocal about their respect for JR and we believe they play hard for him.
billbuc23: How much credit should we give Joe Kerrigan for the improved performance of our pitchers?
Huntington: billbuc23, Joe has played a significant role but has not been the only factor. Given our performance last year, there would have been a likely regression to the mean which in this case would have resulted in better performance, but Joe's knowledge, intensity and program, combined with the defensive improvements led by Perry Hill and Gary Varsho have resulted in a much improved starting rotation.
swesker: With Young getting some looks at second base, is the plan for him to be the future second baseman? Young is a good player, definitely a great pickup, but I would hate to see Sanchez leave.
Huntington: swesker, given the contract status of some of our veteran players, we have to potentially prepare for the future without some of them. In a short look, Delwyn Young has shown his abilities to believe he has the chance to be a part of this organization, potentially as an everyday player or as a role player. As does every club in a mid to small market, we will have to make value-based decisions and some of those will be tough decisions.
bucoholic: Hi Neal, Would you anticipate being active during this year's Trade Deadline?
Huntington: bucoholic, we do anticipate being active. We've made progress in the depth of talent within our organization but there is still the need to accumulate more. We will continue to seek out good baseball trades and work to improve the overall talent level needed to become a consistent championship caliber organization.
clamdig: Neal, Andy LaRoche has been a pleasant surprise since his slow start, but do you think he will ever pick up some power and be a 20-25 home run guy?
Huntington: clamdig, as an organization we believe that good hitters with certain indicators can develop power as they mature. We feel that Andy has the indicators and that he will develop extra-base and home run power as he settles in at the Major League level.
backbay: Do you believe Craig Hansen can contribute at some point during the year?
Huntington: Craig is continuing to work back from his injury that has essentially bothered him off and on since Spring Training. We feel that now that we have a full understanding as to the cause of his ailment and what will be a proper course of treatment, we look forward to Craig getting healthy and continuing to work and fulfill his vast potential.
Huntington: Thanks again, everyone, for joining me. This will be the last question of the day.
buccofevah: When can we expect to see some of our prospects be promoted to higher levels?
Huntington: buccofevah, we are pleased with the overall progress with the prospects in our system. In the big picture, our system is based upon patient, progress-oriented development. Player movement is dictated by the players' progress mentally, physically and fundamentally. We have some guys getting close to being ready to tackle the challenge that comes with in-season promotion.
Huntington: Thanks again everyone. I appreciate your continued support and hope to see you all at the park this summer.