Earlier today we heard rumors from Ken Rosenthal that the Pittsburgh Pirates had extended general manager Neal Huntington. Prior to this news, it was believed that Huntington and manager John Russell were both working without contracts in 2011.
John Russell and Neal Huntington Extended This Past Off-Season
It has since been confirmed that not only did the Pirates extend Huntington, but they also picked up the option for John Russell in 2011, and on top of all of that, made both moves this past off-season. Jennifer Langosch has a statement from Pirates’ president Frank Coonelly on the extensions, and the decision to have the extensions go unannounced. In the statement, Coonelly does mention that the existence of a contract does not guarantee anything, which means that Russell or Huntington aren’t guaranteed to be with the Pirates through the 2011 season.
I mentioned earlier that I like the extension for Huntington. As for Russell, I could honestly care less. I’m of the opinion that a manager has very little impact on a team, and that talent is what wins and loses. Furthermore, Russell was in a bad situation from the start. The Pirates have traded away pretty much any player who was productive at the major league level over the last two seasons, in order to try and build up the farm system, and build a team that can compete together for multiple years. It’s hard for any manager to win with that type of rebuilding going on. Finally, a lot of the moves Russell gets criticized for (no triples defense, certain players in the batting order, pitcher batting eighth) aren’t moves he has made, but moves that are made from above. I don’t think you could put a single manager in this situation and get better results, which is why I don’t think any manager should get fired for the results of the rebuilding years that we’ve seen while Russell has been the manager.