BREAKING NEWS: It appears that the Pittsburgh Pirates and manager Clint Hurdle have agreed to a new four-year contract extension.
Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle looked like a lame duck manager for awhile. He had a club option for the 2018 season, however, it had not been picked up. We now know why it had not been picked up.
The reason for this is that the Pirates and Hurdle have agreed to a new four-year contract extension. This is according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
This extension will be effective at the end of the season, replace his 2018 option, and keep him under contract through the 2021 season. While Clint Hurdle returning next season is not a huge shocker, the extension is a surprise to me.
Hurdle has played a huge role in the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise resurgence. However, over the last few years, the team has been a letdown. Many find it hard to blame Neal Huntington due to his financial handcuffs, along with players simply not producing. If GM is not to blame, then by default it falls on the manager.
Many have questioned Clint Hurdle’s managerial strategy this year. Some questions revolve around his bullpen usage, either pulling starters too soon or leaving them in to long, or lineup decisions. The biggest irritation Hurdle has caused fans is when he continued to trot John Jaso in the outfield despite playing poor defense and slumping big time through July and August. Meanwhile, young players like Jose Osuna and Jordan Luplow found seats on the bench.
This also goes back to the beginning of the season when he continued to pull Josh Bell mid game for “defensive purposes”. Why not let Bell stay in the game and continue to get reps at first base? In the end, Bell has proven that he is an adequate first baseman.
However, for all the questionable moves that Hurdle has made this season, he also has had some positive notes.
First and foremost he helped Andrew McCutchen get back to being a really good player. Whether it was moving him down in the lineup, individually working with him on his swing or both, Hurdle obviously played a big role in fixing the super star. Also, for finally recognizing that Josh Bell is the team’s future #4 hitter and allowing him to bat there for the whole second half of the season.
Furthermore, Hurdle has kept this team relatively competitive. Yes, they are not where many fans would like to see them, but this team could have really fallen off the track early in the season. The Pittsburgh Pirates faced a lot of adversity from Jung-Ho Kang situation to Marte’s abrupt in-season suspension, and the number of times Polanco and Cervelli have hit the disabled list. I do not care who the manager is, this was a tough season on the personnel side of things.
All in all Clint Hurdle has been the team’s best manager since Jim Leyland. He has compiled a record of 575 and 534 for a winning percentage of .518. He also took a team who had missed the playoffs for 20 consecutive seasons back to October baseball. He was also named 2013 National League Manager of the Year. Also, his willingness to embrace shifting, sabermetric, and analytics has played a large role in the Pirate turn around.
At the end of the day, the man deserves a lot of credit. Yes, the last two seasons have been hard, but he also is coaching a team that has one of the tight wallet owners in all of the sports. Also, keep in mind he can be fired at any time. So if two years from now the Bucs continue to trend downward this is a decision that will be revisited.
*General Neal Huntington has an option for the 2018 season; if he is to sign an extension it could come out within the next few days.