Since a short fourteen months ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates have made major changes. The team fired John Russell and hired Clint Hurdle. Somehow, the Pirates managed to captivate fans from across the country with an improbable, short-lived run atop the NL Central in Hurdle’s first season as manager.
A franchise well known for doing the opposite in the past nineteen years now has some highly regarded prospects in their system.
The team played winning baseball under Clint Hurdle. Argue the value of a manager all you want, but just listen to the podcast linked below, Hurdle has a coolness about him that few managers in the game possess. How can we not like a guy… how can we not be a fan of a guy that says it’s ‘way good’ to have some fun and do some photoshops of him?
Is there any wonder that Neil Walker rolled into the skipper’s office and told him he was buying into what Hurdle was throwing down after the team played so well with a lot of the same players from 2010?
Hurdle has been there. Go read his SI cover boy article. It’s eye-popping. The guy had the world in the palm of his hand when he was a teenager. He had a football scholarship to the U, (the University of Miami)for God sakes. You think Neil Walker didn’t think about why he didn’t go play football when he was struggling in the minors? We guarantee you Hurdle had those thoughts.
Hurdle can relate. He knows what the young Pirates are struggling to do. It’s hard to put a value on it. We can’t say that John Russell had that relationship with his players.
It’s interesting to hear Hurdle say the team learned some lessons from the humbling second half results. The team was “punched in the mouth and tasted our own blood,” Hurdle said.
It was obvious that Hurdle and Pedro Alvarez have a great relationship. The two men have some distinct correlation. Are you one of the people who clamor for Alvarez to be moved to first base? Listen to Hurdle describe what he felt like when the Royals moved the flip-flop wearing, cannon armed outfielder to first base. It’s a move that when you look at it on paper, might have made some sense, but when one looks at the results, it might have screwed Hurdle’s career.
So when Hurdle talks about the need for improvement in the Pirates, it’s not surprising to hear confidence in Hurdle’s voice.
He mentions the successful honeymoon of Charlie Morton—‘so the hip at least “has some movement.” He sounds confident that Pedro Alvarez, Garrett Jones, and Jose Tabata will get better.
The scouting department has undergone big changes. One new scout in particular seemed to be a questionable hire and we were the first site to break the background on Jamie Brewington. Hiring Brewington had to have been a very serious discussion by the Pirates brass.
The Pirates front office made changes. Changes were made in the Bucs minor league leadership as well.
The Pirates made changes to the training department after suffering a rash of injuries and questionable decisions such as Ryan Ludwick’s DL time last season.
One has to believe Clint Hurdle, although not taking any type of credit, was involved in each of these moves. It’s the foundation for success, how could he not be?
The 2012 Pirates roster also got a facelift with some veteran additions including Clint Barmes who Hurdle says we will like to watch play–‘he will bloody a nose for you.’ A new starting catcher Rod Barajas was signed this offseason. The team traded for Casey McGehee– a player who Hurdle says has a shot ‘at third, or at first’, that’s a pretty interesting quote isn’t it?
The club signed Nate McLouth, and left handed starter Erik Bedard. The signing of McLouth is odd for us, but the signing of Bedard is a smart one.
We probably missed a few changes over the fourteen months since Hurdle spurned the New York Mets and came to Pittsburgh, but just looking at this list it’s safe to say Clint Hurdle is making his imprint on this Pirates ballclub. Hell, at least the team will be able to finally see an increase in ticket revenue with the new pricing which although it isn’t enough, will allow the team to begin to close the gap from the competition.
Some seem to think Hurdle had a lot to do with the Pirates improved pitching last season. Heading into 2012, it’s safe to say that Hurdle will need to make the most important change to the club. He needs to oversee major improvements in the Buccos pathetic offense.
If the Pirates can continue the pitching improvements, some lumber and lightning from a Pittsburgh Pirates offense would be the missing link.
Hurdle said baseball is a game to him, not a business.
Hurdle said Bob Nutting has kept every promise he made to him in the 14 months since Hurdle has been in the ‘Burgh.
Hurdle said that watching Neal Huntington restructure the front office has been fun to watch–he’s out to get something done for the right reasons and the right way.
Hurdle said he just needs to do his part.
We can’t wait to see it.
Listen to the entire podcast including Hurdle talk about not being sold on bunting. It’s a cant miss episode, we trust you enjoy it:
Here is the link…
You can check out the final guest of 2011, Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker at the link below
- Click below:
Just after Pirates Fest and Christmas, and right before New Year, we hopped into the studio and spent some quality time with Pine-Richland’s Own™ Neil Walker !! “NFW” spends a goodly chunk of time talking ’bout his recent marriage and honeymoon, fishing, the Pirates’ system, and lets us in on a secret about another Pirate player that you won’t believe!
You can download Episode 14, as well as Episodes 1 thru 13 at the above link.
It’s timely. It’s free. It’s the best Pirates’ podcast you can find anywhere. How can you beat that?