Ken Rosenthal reported last weekend that the Pirates have decided to grant extensions to general manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle, whose contracts are set to expire at the end of the season.
The Pirates haven’t announced it yet and it’s hard to tell when they will. They always seem to enjoy being secretive over such matters.
However, if Rosenthal reported it then it is sure to be true. There is no such thing as fake news when it comes to Fox Sports’ baseball guru.
The only question is why the Pirates just didn’t extend Huntington and Hurdle in the offseason or during spring training?
Owner Bob Nutting threw both men under the bus when he addressed the media at the beginning of spring training by saying the Pirates underachieved last season when they went 78-83 following three straight postseason appearances.
Anyone who knows anything about baseball realizes the Pirates didn’t underachieve in 2016. Their roster wasn’t talented enough to make a run to the postseason and it didn’t help that ace right-hander Gerrit Cole was never healthy and superstar center fielder Andrew McCutchen had the first average year of his career.
Of course, no one has ever accused Nutting of knowing anything about baseball. He knows how to make money off the sport but not anything about the actual competitive part of the game.
Nutting also doesn’t help Huntington and Hurdle by continuing to saddle them with one of the lowest payrolls in the major leagues then asking them to perform miracles.
The Pirates are 30-36 and, frankly, that is right in line with their talent level, especially missing outfielder Starling Marte and third baseman Jung Ho Kang. It is hard to envision them finishing the season over .500 after suffering such two big blows.
When the Pirates did not move to extend Huntington and Hurdle prior to opening day, the optics were bad. It made it appear both were in danger of being fired, which was totally unfair.
One bad season should have never put Huntington or Hurdle in position to be left hanging for this long.
Not all of Huntington’s moves have panned out but his overall body of work has been excellent in the nearly 10 years he has been on the job. He took a franchise devoid of talent in both the major and minor leagues and turned it in a winner following 20 consecutive losing seasons, which the record for futility among major North American professional sports.
Hurdle came on the scene in 2011 and changed the attitude of the organization and fanbase with his relentless positivity and refusal to believe the Pirates were sentenced to being a laughingstock into perpetuity.
Thirty years ago, former Pirates general manager Syd Thrift uttered the immortal line, “It ain’t easy raisin’ the dead.”
Huntington and Hurdle raised the dead. That shouldn’t soon be forgotten.