Williams: After Well Deserved Extensions, Huntington and Hurdle Face a New Challenge

I’ve drawn a lot of comparisons this year between the 2012 and 2017 seasons. The 2012 season saw the Pirates collapse in the final two months, which led to a lot of questions about their future. Those questions went to the extreme, wondering if Neal Huntington, Clint Hurdle, and the rest of the front office should be fired, and wondering if the Pirates were ever going to be winners.

I argued that offseason that Huntington deserved another year. The Pirates had gone from the worst team in baseball with the worst farm system, to a team with a top farm system on the verge of being real contenders at the big league level. My feeling at the time was that the Pirates front office deserved a chance to show they could make the final jump to becoming a real contender.

They did just that the following three years. They made the playoffs each year from 2013-2015, and while their runs were cut short, they managed to win more regular season games than anyone in baseball other than the Cardinals. They won so many games those two years that even when you add in the two losing seasons that follow, they still rank in the top five in MLB in wins from 2013-2017.

There’s no question that the Pirates have been successful since the 2012 season. But now they find themselves out of the playoffs for the second year in a row, and headed toward their second losing season in a row. They find themselves with some similar questions to that 2012 season: Can they get over that hump and become real contenders again?

Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle were just officially extended today, with both receiving four-year deals that run through 2021. Before I go on, I will say that this is the right move in each case.

I’ve criticized Huntington for some of the moves he’s made the last two years, whether that was relying too much on prospects in the rotation for the first half of 2016, or not really having a strong direction at the trade deadline this year. I’ve criticized Hurdle for playing veteran players on expiring contracts over younger players who could help the Pirates in the long-term (although for the last few games, he has been playing the younger players).

But there have been positives the last two years. And before the 2016 season, when they had that strong three-year stretch, there were negatives and positives you could have pointed out. The negatives tend to be magnified and repeated for years, while the positives have a short shelf-life, and are minimized with the idea that those are expected moves. When no credit is given to the positive, and endless criticism is given to the negative, you get a system where even the best General Manager or Manager would look bad.

I don’t know if Huntington is the best General Manager in the game, but I’d rank him up there among the top in the industry. That seems to be an opinion shared outside of Pittsburgh as well. Whether you want to blame Bob Nutting, or blame MLB’s small market inefficiencies, Huntington has been working with a budget in the bottom half of the league, and probably in the bottom third, while putting the Pirates in striking distance of contending for each of the last five years.

Or maybe there’s a better way to show Huntington’s achievements. Any questions about his abilities going forward are entirely based on the last two losing seasons. The Pirates won’t make the playoffs for two years in a row, and fans want Huntington fired. That might be the biggest accomplishment for Huntington in his time in Pittsburgh.

Before Huntington arrived, the feeling was that the Pirates would never see a winning season again. If they did, it would be a “by the skin of their teeth” deal where they went 82-80 by winning game number 162 of the season. The playoffs? That was a long-shot. That was “sell your soul” territory, and almost unimaginable.

And now we’re in a time where missing the playoffs and having a losing season for two years in a row leads to fans questioning whether a General Manager and Manager should continue. That’s a massive difference in where things were ten years ago. The playoffs used to be a dream. Now they’re a requirement, and almost the minimum for expectations.

But the concerns about Huntington aren’t solely on any mistakes he made the last two seasons, or on the fact that it will be two losing seasons in a row. The concerns are about whether the Pirates can get back to being contenders.

In one way, it seems silly to question whether Huntington and Hurdle can lead the Pirates to being contenders, whether that’s Huntington in the front office or Hurdle in the clubhouse. We’ve seen them do it. It wasn’t that long ago. And they haven’t really been far off the last two years either.

But this is also a different challenge than they had in 2013. The organization had one clear direction prior to 2013, and that was to build up from nothing. They had started making minor trades the previous two years at the deadline, but the focus was on keeping all of their important prospects, adding value in any way they could, focusing on buying low and finding inefficiencies in the marketplace, and hoping that would all come together at the big league level. It did in a big way starting in 2013, although it’s fair to say that it started coming together before that.

The Pirates now have a different challenge. They have guys like Andrew McCutchen under control for one more year, and Gerrit Cole under control for two more years. They have top prospects on the way, although injuries have led to questions about the future of the outfield, and pitchers are never a guarantee.

This isn’t an organization with one obvious direction. It’s an organization that could either go for a rebuild, or go all-in and win with the veterans they have now. There is some middle ground to those two approaches, although the passive middle ground the Pirates have currently found isn’t the best approach, in my opinion.

Back in 2012, I had questions about whether the Pirates could get over the hump and become strong contenders on an annual basis. I felt Huntington and company deserved a chance to prove they could make that leap, considering everything they had done up to that point.

They have a different challenge now, and once again they have to do something they haven’t done before. Once again, I feel they deserve the opportunity to show they can get the organization where it needs to be. This offseason will be a big one for them, and a big indication of the direction going forward.

As far as the extensions go, those were deserved. Huntington and Hurdle have put the Pirates in good position the last five years, whether in terms of front office moves or on-field moves. They’ve made some mistakes, but that’s something you can say about literally every General Manager and Manager. In the end, they earned these extensions. Their performance over the next few years, and their ability to get the Pirates back to being a strong contender again, will determine if they will earn the next extensions.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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mannymota

I can’t agree on Huntington. He did virtually nothing to help meet the challenges that losing Kang and Marte posed even though he saved roughly $9 million in salary that he should have used. And his trade deadline response of Sean Rodriguez and Joaquin Benoit would be laughable if it didn’t hurt so much. Only this particular village idiot could make his roster worse and claim it was the best he could do. I won’t even start on Nicasio. He just made the Phillies look smart. Enough said.
If anyone of us in here posted results like that in our jobs, we’d get fired, not rewarded.
On the plus side, there should be lots of good seats available again next year as people stay away in droves and Nutting complains about lack of fan support.

Thomas H

I don’t see the comparison to 2012 at all. In 2012, despite the collapse the Pirates won more than they had the year before and their W-L record had improved three years in a row. They spent a considerable portion of that season in first place. They had an MVP candidate under team control for 5 years and a ton of highly regarded prospects in AAA.

This year they look to lose more games than last year, they haven’t spent a minute in first place for the entire season, there’s no one in the system that looks to be an an MVP candidate for the foreseeable future and all their prospects are playing or have played in the majors with less than spectacular results.

Huntington had an incredible 2015, but he hasn’t made a move in two years that made the major league team better. I don’t have a problem with extending either Huntington or Hurdle but I wouldn’t have had a problem cleaning house. Neither of them has looked good for two years. Moreover a 4 year contract seems unwarranted.

Hopefully they can turn it around. It is much more fun to root for a winner than to watch a lousy team take the field every night.

AttyMike

I was impressed a few years ago with management’s strategy concerning the draft. That resulted in some much-needed talent coming into the system. They’ve had some real success identifying and turning around starting pitchers — although most have resulted in short-term benefits for the team. I agree that the committment to latin america was made better — not sure that credit belongs to Huntingdon. So yes there is credit to be given. This group was clearly an improvement over its predecessor. I don’t really share the opinion that it merits a 4 year extension. The organization is really in no-man’s land right now; drafting and developing have not been what they need to be for this financially challenged team to succeed. They must be better than average in drafting and developing and they’ve been average overall at best. The decisions of the front office the last two years have been really bad. Attendance has really slipped — and according to NH’s own words this week, less revenue from attendance means less spent on the product on the field — so hope dims for the near future. This is the group that negotiated the current bad TV contract. Pet peeve — they spell pierogie with a y. I think this group has topped out on what it can do. I guess the next 4 years will reveal whether that’s correct. I predict that they won’t make the playoffs at least 3 of those years.

Dan P

Well deserved? 4 year extensions? After the garbage of the past two years?

Is this site officially affiliated with the PBC?

mike367

I hope that NH realizes that the time to trade Cole is this off-season. Probably missed the boat on getting a big haul for McCutchen as he has cooled off dramatically the past month and a half.

David N

So Tim, before I read any comments, are The Pirates still stuck in No Man’s Land, or not? You’ve reviewed past history, and told us there are a couple of different ways we could go. What is the plan? Why is what was working from 2013 to 2015 no longer working? Was it the “planning gap” between strategy and execution? Did the rest of the League and the Division adjust to us? Did something in our competitive environment change which we failed to adjust to? Does it all boil down to the constraints on a small market team? Was it just “bad luck”? Tell us why, and how, the Huntington and Hurdle of the past four years (two successful, two extremely frustrating) are going to justify their extensions.

David N

OK. Fair enough. You don’t have the answers and I certainly don’t have them either. But based on how the BMTIB has responded to success (2014-15) and failure (2016-17) over the past four years — by not deviating from their essential strategy and budget while their competitive environment changes around them — I see lots of potential for frustration. However, since this is Baseball, I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised. Like some time between Christmas and when Pitchers and Catchers report.

freddylang

I can’t help but put myself and my career as a brewer in this position and think that even if I had won awards for 2-3 years and then suddenly made shit beer for 2 straight years where I would be. Uh…fired. I will defer to the experts who say Hurdle and NH deserve this for now and try not to get any more poisoned by the inferior product they have been brewing for the last 2 years.

freddylang

Exactly after.

chethejet

They got extensions since Nutting simply won’t or can’t pay what top management requires. Plus quite frankly no one is beating down the door to work for Nutting. They are here on the cost side of the equation. No where did I hear or read NH needs to make changes in his staff. He is convinced he can win doing the same thing over and over. Really?

rjgrinde

“After Well Deserved Extensions, Huntington and Hurdle Face a New Challenge”

Being competent and not lying to fans on a continual basis? Those are the only challenges for these two I can think of at this moment.

Scott K

Lie to fans? Is that code for not confirming what you “believe” to be true?

Did you read the part of the article stating their record in last 5 years is in top 5 of MLB?!!!!

rjgrinde

Lots of punctuation marks…you win.

Catch22

You have to be real careful here with proclaiming the last 5 years. The *realists* will point out you’re cherry picking as you’re not including the 1st 5 years. Meanwhile, those same *realist* refuse to acknowledge Huntington inherited the biggest mess in pro sports, with a barren farm system. Those first 5 years Huntington cleaned house building for 5 years later and that gave us 3 consecutive playoff years.

NMR

My favorite is when people only choose those three winning years, and then conveniently extend it to five when the three year window no longer fits the narrative.

dcbuccofan

That doesn’t even make sense. Five years just happens to be the last 5 years. Nothing convenient about it. Try the last 7 years if you want. Who cares!

NMR

Who cares? Clearly the people making this silly narrative.

rickmontgomery

Enough with the bellyaching. Huntington and Hurdle are here. Deal with it. Suppose the FO decides to win now. Obviously, that means NH needs to bring in some talent. Who? What established players or prospects do we deal to get the needed talent? Are there free agents we might pursue? Dream a little, guys, instead of beating a dead horse.

Should we try to bring Neil Walker back? Is there a veteran pitcher who might be the next A J Burnett to help school all the young, talented arms? What should we do with Cutch? There’s a lot to ponder and discuss. Gonna be an exciting off season.

piraddict

Can Walker still play 3rd? Then maybe.

Bucco99

Tim, usually agree with you much of the time, but not now. Clint has become above reproach in his attitude, and as for NH, well his failure to improve and take to the next level what was a playoff team, but instead to oversee its implosion, speaks volumes of his culpability.
Good news for you is that this site will be exciting over the next few years, as I’m sure controversy will abound, as we see more questionable moves (and lack thereof) from NH, and more dismissive arrogance from Clint whenever the media criticizes him.
Fun times ahead, and more years before we sniff the playoffs.

John W

The pirates are one of worst teams in MLB according to Baseruns this year but according to Tim they weren’t that far off?

Weren’t that far off from what?

Thomas H

They aren’t close to being “real contenders” by any definition.

freddylang

They weren’t far off even recently but while other teams were dealing to get better they were still getting high off their own supply and shuffled a few deck chairs around on the bullpen of the Titanic. Imagine what a JD Martinez could have done for them? Hell, even Rajai Davis would have gave them some speed and experience off the bench. I am a prospect lover and I love when teams keep them but sometimes I just ask myself “What are they saving them for?” I mean, this team is still a hot 15 days away from being in the race…but nothing. Not even a Glasnow start.

Bucco99

No disagreement here, that Marte and Kang hamstrung the team this year, and to a lesser degree JT’s cancer, although almost every team deals with a SP going down for a period.
However, with both Marte and Kung’s situations being long term, the GM had the obligation to add to a team that was still in the hunt, in what for a large part of the summer a very mediocre division.
NH sat on his hands, which while put him in good stead with ownership, belies his mantra of “competing” in said division.
So while he rightly expects his players to compete, shouldn’t the fan base expect the same from the GM?
By not being sellers at the deadline, we now go into the off season, needing upgrades at 3B, and possibly in one OF position. And no, we can’t assume Meadows will be a mid-season upgrade.
Tim, I have been wondering about something, and I apologize if it’s been addressed before. What do you think about Kuhl being groomed as the Nicosio replacement? Sort of a RH balance to Rivero? He hasn’t shown the ability to get beyond 5 or 6 innings, but with his stuff he might translate to the back end of the BP. That opens up a spot for TG or NK.

PieRat

The rumors that the players grown tired of Hurdle’s tactics are probably false. The league has adjusted to some of his strategies. As for NH he hasn’t had much to work with as far as budget goes. Based on leaks he should have 15-20 million more to work with. He ‘s had to be ingenious in build the team. He’s used the international market, reclamation projects, and has got good value on players. Many of his tactics are imitated now in MLB.

Dan D

So much negativity!

Mark H

Let the over-reactors do what they do best – overreact. Same old story. We live in an age of instant gratification and don’t realize a good thing until it has packed up and left. I’m OK with the extensions. I’m not always a Hurdle or Huntington fan, but I wasn’t always a Murtaugh, Tanner, Leyland, Joe Brown or Hardy Peterson fan either

PieRat

At least the uncertainty is out of the way. It’s good for the players to know what direction they are going. I don’t have a problem with NH, he’s done pretty good with hand he’s dealt.

Arrowreb

Can we at least get a new farm system director and scouts. The high draft picks should be knocking down doors. The drafts the past couple of years are what’s going to hurt this team for the next several years.

Oh and while their at it, a new hitting coach and possibly a new pitching coach. Why do too many of our AAA studs fail or underwhelm at the major league level? Possibly these coaches just can’t relate well to the younger players.

John W

I have to give you credit Tim. You trolled me good with the “well deserved”! LOL!!!

Could have said something like “justifiable” or “makes sense” but you went with “well deserved”. Haha

Kerry Writtenhouse

Why does it have to be you? Do you believe yourself to be relevant? That you’re the only voice on that side? I’d say in this instance, you’d be the troll! You did come to his site after all.

Kerry Writtenhouse

Exactly my point! Keep up the good work!

Catch22

Who exactly is trolling whom?

PikeBishop65

I have this sinking feeling that Huntington/Hurdle are basically the Pirates equivalent of Ron Everhart at Duquesne, someone else who took over a program that was on life support and rebuilt it to a certain level but no further. Everhart took over a Dukes program that had won 3 games a year prior and hadn’t been to the Big Dance in 30 years, and, despite having five players shot before he coached a game had the Dukes in the A 10 final and the NIT within three seasons. And he stalled there! The next three seasons saw no further advancement than an over .500 team and NIT level.
To me Huntington froze the last two years and was afraid to make the big move. A team that won 98 games all of a sudden started pinching pennies in 2016 (Morton and Walker-salary dump, plus putting all the eggs in the Glasnow/Taillon basket instead of signing a veteran pitcher like Ian Kennedy or J Happ) and this year’s trading deadline was a joke that I don’t even need to mention here.
Neil and Clint stopped the bleeding and the mockery and derision around baseball, but reached a certain level and are now going backwards at worst or just treading water.

Catch22

With the massive influx of talent that has come to the majors the past 2 seasons, it makes sense to extend Huntington. There’s some real legit talent here because of NH. His rotation has a chance to be really good, especially if Glasnow and Keller make it big….All that said, 4 years seems excessive to me. I would’ve gave him a year, maybe 2 to see if his grand plan will work and this wave of prospects can do what his 1st wave did by making 3 consecutive playoff runs.

John W

Massive influx of talent? Is that why this team is 6 games under 500 (and should be 5 games worse according to Baseruns)

Catch22

Bell, Frazier, Diaz, Moroff, Osuna, Luplow, Williams, Kuhl, Taillon, Neverauskas, Santana, Schugel have all come up in the past 2 years. You would be very hard pressed to find another team in baseball that has had this many impact rookies come up in the past 2 years. Next year you should see Glasnow, Meadows, Newman, Kingham and Holmes.

Shit, yesterday the Indianapolis Indians essentially beat the World Series champs 12-0.

John W

Not one of those guys is even a 2 WAR or average regular this year. Never ceases to amaze me how low the bar is for nh.

Catch22

They’re rookies with upside….Bell is a 1.8bWAR and Kuhl and Williams are 1.5bWAR.

Never ceases to amaze me the lengths you go to bash Huntington and the Pirates in general.

Roberrto21

Impact rookies? Aside from Bell and Taillon, no. Some of the others, maybe if they get any playing time.

Catch22

Williams and Kuhl? Neverauskas?

John W

WTF? Diaz WRC+ of 64
Moroff WRC+ of 58 with 31% K ratio
Luplow small sample but 68 WRC+
Osuna WRC+ of 91 and below replacement level

If these are examples of a “massive influx” of talent I understand why you support a NH extension.

Catch22

Small sample on those guys as they all struggled initially, except Diaz. I’m talking about 3 above average starting pitchers in the rotation from the last 2 years. What looks to be a beast of a 1bmen to go with nice complimentary pieces like Frazier.

The keys here are going to be Keller and Glasnow.

leefoo

Off topic, but tonight’s game is something special! For the first time ALL year, we will be starting a LH pitcher!

Welcome to the Starter’s club Mr Brault!

rjgrinde

Why does everyone think this is Brault’s first major league start? It’s as if they forgot he sucked as a ML starter a lot last year. He is not a good pitcher. Jeff Locke had better stuff which is sickening to think about.

Thomas H

Exactly

PikeBishop65

Wow didn’t realize that

leefoo

Personally, I am ‘meh’ about these extensions. Because, as long as Nutting is owner, we will be ‘living on the cheap’ and ‘dumping salary’. So, it really won’t matter who is at the helm or in the GM’s chair.

Everything has to go right for us to succeed. Look at small market KC and Cleveland. They actually went out and (gasp) spent money. We’re outdrawing Cleveland and their payroll is $20 to $30 mil higher than ours.

rjgrinde

Have you seen the awesome new scoreboard and LED lights yet? I bet the Dominican facility is pristine too….man what an organization…Facilities over players

TonyV

The Cleveland attendance is a good reason not to spend more. Demographics and attendance patterns are very similar. Why go out on a limb financially with that? They have a superior TV contract. Ours also expires in 2020 and looks to get considerably less valuable at that time.

PikeBishop65

to play Devils Advocate, also take a look at Oakland who went all in with Smardjia and Lester three years ago, wrecked their farm system and are still trying to rebuild

NMR

“Wrecked” their farm system?

Lester was for Cespedes – a Major Leaguer – and Samardijza/Hammel was for one good prospect.

One prospect.

#wrecked

leefoo

I’d rather we ‘go for the ring’ than sit back and keep trying to be competitive.

But, as you say, there are two sides to both of those plans.

John W

What wrecked them was idiotic trade of josh Donaldson

PikeBishop65

you don’t think they would like Addison Russel back from the Samarja deal?

NMR

Missing from the article is the part that’s most arguable.

This was like announcing that Cutch has been extended (great!) without mentioning the extension came with *four* guaranteed years.

Huntington took six years to field a winning club, at which point he enjoyed three years of success before turning a 98-win club into back-to-back losing teams. Those are the indisputable facts.

I have no problem with a modest extension that allows him to prove whether or not he’s learned from his massive errors these past two years and can lead the organization in adapting to the realities of the current era of Major League Baseball.

But *four* years? At this stage in the franchise? You may as well just say he’s got an indefinite contract.

Four years gives him another year or two to tool around with his indefinite windows before tearing down the team he himself built, at which point we’re back to 2008-2012 when it was “too early to judge”. Buys himself another five years to rebuild from that.

Four years implies zero accountability.

capirate

The money for NH and CH might be guaranteed, but their stay in Pittsburgh is not. They can be fired. I think the extensions buy them 2 years, then we will see.

Thomas H

No way this owner is firing anyone and still being on the hook to pay their salary for two years. Just saying

TonyV

I doubt he signs a shorter extension and expect that he would have gotten at least 5 on the open market.

NMR

The “open market”? Which owner is firing his GM for Huntington this winter? Which one?

slackboss

It is also an indisputable fact that the Pirates rank in the top 5 teams in baseball for the last five years. By your logic, the entire Cubs FO should be fired for turning in such a miserable record this year compared to last year in terms of wins. They have turned a 103 win team into maybe a 90 win team.
Take a deep breath and figure it out.

rjgrinde

I hate that argument….”lets take a chunk of time where no actual success was attained and try to point at something positive”. I guess I am just a cynic though.

John W

I’ve seen some poor logic- but this post might take the cake.

Scott K

If there’s one thing you’re an expert on, it’s poor logic.

NMR

Clearly back to back Division championships are equivalent.

NMR

That’s cute.

I’m old enough to remember when the narrative was that the Pirates had the second most wins over a *three* year span, when those three years were conveniently chosen as ’13-’15.

Why five years now? Why aren’t we still using three years? I’ll hang up and listen.

John W

A 4 year deal is indefensible. And make no mistake- NH did many things to turn a 92 true talent win team into a 73-75 true talent win team since 2015. This isn’t all about “but Marte and Kang!!”

Scott K

You’re right it’s also about Cutch, Cole, Polanco, Meadows and Glasnow, too.

Unless you blame him for poor performance and injuries, too.

NMR

This is the game where the GM gets credit when players are good and players get credit when they’re bad, right?

NMR

2017 has been bad enough, and then you realize they’ve *overperformed* by three wins per pythag and five wins per BaseRuns. Yuck.

jedeweese

Tim, It feels like you and I need to meet up next time you go to Bristol…we are in the minority liking these “losers” in the upper management! I also feel like the extensions were warranted. (Hurdle much more iffy though).
2017 was the year I had circled ‘way back in 2013, and some missing pieces (thank you Messers *Marte, Kang, and a couple other suspects) derailed that hope.
I like the starting point for 2018; it will be interesting to see this team evolve over the winter. I hope Huntington has his Superman underoos on, it is going to be an interesting off-season.

PikeBishop65

He better move some of that backlog of AAA arms and maybe a Tucker or Newman or two for more Major League talent in the off season or I will be losing interest fast. I really think Huntington choked the last two seasons. Froze up whatever!

rjgrinde

Tucker is no doubt the SS of the future….Newman should be moved. Selling Tucker would be the dumbest move Huntington could make and this blog would be lit up two years from now pointing to that idiotic idea…I feel you on the Newman move though.

jedeweese

I would actually see what Cole/Nova over the winter and/or Cutch in July would bring, there are arms that can pitch on the farm, and get bats with established arms.

clemo83

Its just that many of Huntington’s decisions or lack of decisions the last two years have either made little sense or have clearly been salary dumping. It was just such a stark contrast from the previous three years that its hard not to be concerned. I went from a Huntington fan to a Huntington critic. I don’t believe he should be extended – there is no clear plan moving forward. What is the plan – rely on a staggered supply of prospects who will need varying levels of mlb seasoning before they can reliably contribute? That has not worked. You have to make some moves to strengthen the mlb roster with seasoned players. Build a contending roster or sell for a rebuild and get elite level prospects, who can all arrive ready to perform at the mlb level at the same time.

leefoo

Salary dumping mean that the blame is Nutting’s and not NH?

clemo83

Is it that clear cut? What changed from 13-15?

Robert W

Almost everything clicked – 16 and 17 had alot of hope but just had unexpected things happen – don’t forget, this is NH first time as GM… not too bad for a rookie on a tight leash

beaverjp

Altoona and WV began the year without a lot of big name pitching. Lots of improvement to the point that next year all 4 full season teams will have strong staffs and the short season are loaded with prep arms. Glasnow’s struggles sapped enthusiasm in pitching I think the high upside guys including Glasnow will eventually emerge it will be awhile though. Nice to see Williams pitch well and Kuhl develop but he has further to go. The mlb lineup needs help from outside but some exciting players in short season and a sprinkling in higher levels.

rjgrinde

They have Keller on the fast track (fast for the Pirates anyway). I would be surprised if Cole is still on this team by the trading deadline next year and Keller isn’t brought up. What and who I can’t stand is Jordy Mercer and him playing every game. I can’t wait for Cole Tucker to show him how to actually play the position while being able to hit and steal bases.

beaverjp

Cole Cutch JHay could be gone at the next deadline if they don’t turn things around. I like the idea of Mercer as a lhp hitter and Cole Tucker can hit as a lefty but not sure if that’s his dominant split. 3b doesn’t have any tangible options.

jedeweese

Still not sure why Mercer gets all the hate? He is a very adequate ML shortstop, and will begin his transition to Barmes-2 next year. I am veryinterested to see Tucker as the SS of the future, but i suspect he will be blocked for 1.5 years… http://www.rotowire.com/baseball/player_stats.htm?league=0&pos=SS&filter=Q

beaverjp

No hate here can’t hate a guy going out and doing his best. I’m not against resigning but I feel there needs to a backup/platoon who hits well against rhp.

NC_Bob

What has the FO done over the last 2 years to deserve extensions, outside of the Rivero trade?

brilemon

thank you for proving tims point

NC_Bob

How did we prove Tim’s point of well-deserved extensions? NH has been quite passive over the last 2 seasons. No doubt “Thanks for Nutting” has tied his hands with the budget – we don’t know the budget and what he could do. But the Nicasio on waivers move was just plain stupid. The Kontos move was good, but could they have gotten Pat Neshek or Joe Smith or some other bullpen help at the deadline for a pittance?

John W

Traded a nearly 4 WAR year of Walker for Jon Niese
Signed Ryan Vogelsong
Signed Daniel Hudson for a 2 year deal
Did not add any cheap help 2017 at deadline

Geez, what more do you want?

IC Bob

They did trade for Bastardo and Rodriguez ( players they had and chose not to sign for the amount of money they received). Bastardo had a negative WAR and I am guessing Rodriguez will by the end of his time here be replacement level so don’t forget those great late season moves.

PikeBishop65

agree with you except you were too nice about 2017 deadline. Acquired one over the hill, washed up 40 year old reliever and two lottery tickets, when he had all this tradeable minor league talent and could have made a run at this weak division this year. That lack of any serious move really, really soured me on NH

Hoptown

I’m not a fan of firing coaches and GMs. If you feel you have a good one, you keep them–through good years and bad. The Steelers have been a model in this area. Conversely, if you feel you have a bad one, or that perhaps a good person/situation has turned bad, you should change.
.
I’m at the point where I feel Hurdle needed to go. I think he still manages people and personalities well, though I do wonder sometimes if his messages have grown stale with the players. He certainly does not manage games well. His lineups and in-game decisions are awful.
.
Huntington I’m less sure about. He seemed a bit non-committal these past 12 months. But I suppose he’s earned the right to continue on.

PikeBishop65

Me too on Hrudle , Every time Chris Stewart and his 3 RBI starts a game this September or we see John Jaso starting in right field, it feels like a personal slap in the fact to me as a knowlegable fan! I mean a literal slap in the face!

Robert J

Has either started a game in September?

SufferinBuccotash

They both started on 9/1. 🙂

Roberrto21

Still not sure how the extensions are “deserved:”. Horrible trades: Broxton and Supak for Rogers; Liriano, McGuire and Ramirez for “salary relief”; Nicasio for nothing; starting 2016 with a lousy rotation with Niese and Vogelsong; thin rotation and poor bullpen in 2017; not building on 98 win season in 2015. As for Hurdle, lifeless, passive play on the field and refusal to play young talent like Diaz. So there should be more years of this? Don’t really get it. They look to be headed downward, so why extend?

Scott K

You’re still thinking the Liriano trade was a bad one? Puh-leaze!!

NMR

Funny how the Reese McGuire updates stopped being posted by certain folks on this board *after* he took off with a +.200 ISO and 134 wRC+.

nate h

While the trades you list are losses, none of them are catastrophic. Look at Liriano now! He’s terrible. Supak might be a good pitcher but no way broxton is anything like a 4th outfielder. This farm system has amazing depth as seen by the prospects we bring up from AAA. Huntington is a great GM and Hurdle is a great manager. Baseball is relevant in Pittsburgh, hallejuah!

NMR

Russian Nutting bot.

rjgrinde

Let’s not get carried away here. Hurdle being a “great manager” is one of the larger overstatements I have heard in a while. I am just waiting for the day when Hurdle is forced to play a young team and the look of confusion and disgust on his face. They are both semi-competent (that is being pretty generous) which I guess is a step up from what we have been experiencing as Pirates fans.

freddylang

Broxton the last 2 years with 581: 29 HR and 43 SB. Marte last 2 years 14/63. Polanco 32/25. Both way more AB than Broxton. He is at least a very good 4th OF right now. Baseball reference isn’t the most accurate source for WAR but they have Broxton at 2.7 last 2 years. Cutch is at 1.3. The Pirates have struggled to produce HR hitters but Broxton hits HR….albeit with alarming K numbers which could catch up to him down the road. But he has improved slightly as year has gone on with strikeouts.

rjgrinde

Broxton also spends most of his times hitting in a diorama

Robert J

And spent time in the minors this season.

freddylang

I don’t have a problem with deals that go wrong if they make some semblance of sense but they dealt two useful pieces for a guy that they really didn’t need and then didn’t really use. The Liriano deal they saved money. They saved money in several other spots in the past year. Let’s see what they do in the offseason. They were 2-3 games out a few weeks back and didn’t really make much effort to get a real hitter or another pitcher or anything that could change their dynamic in any way and spark them. Show me that you actually are trying to win.

Scott K

They needed Rogers until the were able to sign Freese. For some reason, some conveniently forget this fact.

Y2JGQ2

Rogers was at no point a viable MLB starter………so its not conveniently forgetting as much as it is looking at the reality of the situation

Thomas H

So what? Rogers was awful and wouldn’t have made the roster. It was a horrible trade whether it was meant to address a need or not. The fact that they signed Freese 2-3 weeks later means they knew Rogers wasn’t good enough from the moment they overpaid for him.

TNBucs

You’re not going to win every trade. Dealing Broxton looks bad. Dealing McGuire may end up looking bad. Acquiring Rivero looks brilliant. Acquiring Williams looks very good.

With Littlefield I used to dread the trade deadline and Winter Meetings. With Huntington I don’t worry, even if I’m not always happy with the results. But he seems to win more than he loses, which when you’re dealing with other smart GM’s seems good enough.

Robert W

Broxton…are you serious?

Y2JGQ2

Have you seen Broxton play this year? …against us? Yeah- he’s serious

TNBucs

He’s not a big loss, but would have been a good 4th OF this year.

juniorkrz

He would have been a good 4th OFer this year and for years to come. Rogers flamed out in a hurry.

Robert W

really I think NH dealt him so he would have a chance at a starting job. He was locked out of the PP outfield.

rjgrinde

They “acquired” Williams by virtue of losing Benedict. In this case I would argue I would have liked to have kept an amazing coach in Benedict as opposed to adding another right handed pitcher with upside.

jimmyz

Still had to scout the Marlins farm, which was thin at the time and thinner now, to get a guy in Williams who is a viable if unspectacular MLB pitcher and not someone who flames out in the upper minors.

TonyV

And let’s not forget the deals for Melancon, Hanrahan, Burnett, Cervelli, Morton/Locke, Harrison, Sean Rodriguez, Happ, Nova, Marlon Byrd, Derek Lee, Grilli.

rjgrinde

Why is Jeff Locke in there?

Robert W

We got locke from Atlanta

rjgrinde

Yea but he sucked.

John W

Holy Fu*&ing Hell. Can you set the bar any lower?

“The Pirates won’t make the playoffs for two years in a row, and fans want Huntington fired. That might be the biggest accomplishment for Huntington in his time in Pittsburgh.”

wtm1613

Try reading the article in it’s entirety first ….

TonyV

Pretty tough to do when his vocabulary requires vulgarity to make a point.

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