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Clint Hurdle Impresses Fans At PirateFest

I was at PirateFest Friday night, and the big story from the Q+A between fans and management was Clint Hurdle. The fans really seemed to like him a lot - his answers to their questions were dynamic, upbeat and emphatic, which must seem like a great change of pace after several years of the ultra-quiet John Russell. (It should be said that most of his answers, or at least the ones I heard before I headed to a special session for bloggers, were overly vague.) Here's an account of the Pirates management's Q+A session.

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After that, I spent about 45 minutes talking to general manager Neal Huntington, team president Frank Coonelly, and pitcher Paul Maholm. You can check out the full account here, but here are a couple highlights:

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-P- Huntington admitted that Pedro Alvarez has, in fact, gained weight this offseason, although he won't say exactly how much. That doesn't bode well for Alvarez's ability to stay at third base in the future, because as he gets heavier, he may have to move to first.

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-P- Huntington and Coonelly both think the Pirates' farm system is stronger than the recent organizational rankings by Baseball America and Keith Law, which both placed the Pirates in the bottom half of all major-league teams, suggest. They pointed out that many of the Pirates' better young players (such as Pedro Alvarez) are already in the majors (and thus don't count as prospects anymore) and that injuries to many minor leaguers (such as Tony Sanchez) set the farm system back last year. They also think outside sources underrate some Pirates prospects, such as pitcher Rudy Owens.

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Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.