Huntington, Hurdle back for 2018?

A last place ball club and a group with bad fundamentals in key areas, the futures of manager Clint Hurdle and GM Neal Huntington were going to come to the forefront at somepoint this summer with both men in the last guaranteed year of their contracts.

An extension for GM Neal Huntington through at least the 2019 season was always Bob Nutting’s intention prior to the season and one will happen.

Huntington who could have went to Atlanta and ran their organization after the 2015 season, has always been a loyal soldier. He toes the company line, and does what ownership and Frank Coonelly want when it comes to controversial moves like the Francisco Liriano trade. He’s bought into how the Pirates operate without any push back that will pretty much let him decide how long he wants to stick around or go pursue another opportunity elsewhere down the road.

The more dicey situation has always been Clint Hurdle.

Hurdle now looks safe.

Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal reports in his latest Full Count video that Huntington and Hurdle are both expected to sign extensions “before the end of the season.”

How will the pending extensions for both be received?

A lot will probably depend where this season goes.

What the Pirates are finding out is that making the playoffs three straight seasons (2013-2015) which is an impressive feat in baseball, has only made it a tougher PR game for the franchise moving forward.

Since the three year playoff run, the expectation game has changed where ‘why haven’t the Pirates been able to take that next step’ or most contentious, ‘why haven’t they done enough to build off of those winning seasons.’

The fan base isn’t content.

Arguments are there for the Pirates to move on from Hurdle after the season.

Coaches and managers in all sports have expiration dates.

Hurdle’s over-coaching ways has started to rub players the wrong way and how bad the team is in the field and little things like running the base paths has to fall on someone.

There’s been suspicion a new voice could be needed

Huntington is always tough to evaluate because his hands are tied with ownership and he has a Team President that is so involved with the personnel decisions.

Huntington’s proven his worth with the buildup of the franchise to no longer being a laughing stock.

The perception, though, of Huntington from a year ago has changed as all pro sports are a what have you done for me lately business.

Among the criticism towards Huntington:

Selling off prospects in the Francisco Liriano trade to move money was driven by Coonelly not Huntington. Huntington gets a pass there.

For a team that builds through the draft, the Pirates lack of Major League talent through the draft with complementary players has not been good enough and the Pirates are heading down the road where some of their top prospects are not actually top prospects, case in point, Tyler Glasnow.

Huntington recently has not been smart in managing the budget towards the Major League roster.

Over $12 million committed to relievers Daniel Hudson and Antonio Bastardo is a big chunk for this payroll and a club that breeds itself on value contracts.

The bench was totally overlooked with the Pirates starting the season with 3 true outfielders.

With extensions coming for Hurdle and Huntington, the focus will only intensify on them.

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