Pirates and General Manager Neal Huntington Agree to Contract Extension

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Neal Huntington is now signed on as the general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates through 2021

Pittsburgh Pirate fans are getting four more years of Neal Huntington rather they like it or not. On Tuesday, the Pirates announced that they have signed their general manager to a four-year contract extension. This will keep Huntington in Pittsburgh through 2021.

Neal Huntington was hired as Pirate general manager in September of 2007. At the time the job of Pirates’ general manager was viewed as career suicide as the Pirates were the worst franchise in all of sports. However, after taking their lumps for five more years, Huntington and his staff turned the Pirates around.

It was the team that Neal Huntington constructed that led the Pirates to their first winning season and playoff appearance in 20 years in 2013. The Pirates would then make the postseason in 2014 and 2015 as well. This included the 2015 Pirates winning 98 games and being one of the best teams in franchise history. To be quite honest, in 2015 the Pittsburgh Pirates were the best team in baseball.

Speaking of 2015, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Neal Huntington were named the best organization in baseball that year. Since the start of the 2013 season there are only four teams – the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Washington Nationals – have won more games than the Pirates have.

Despite all of this, many Pirate fans dislike Neal Huntington. Maybe it’s due to people being forever burnt over 20 consecutive losing seasons, maybe it’s people being so insanely angry over disappointing 2016 and 2017 seasons, or maybe it’s because far too many Pittsburghers fail to understand how the economics of baseball works. Whatever the reason, Neal Huntington is much better general manager than most of Pittsburgh gives him credit for.

Yes, 2016 and 2017 have been disappointing. However, it has not been all Huntington’s fault either. In 2016 the Pirates entered September a half a game out of a playoff spot. Then in September Josh Harrison, Gerrit Cole, Neftali Feliz, and Starling Marte all got injured derailing things.

The 2017 club would be light years different if not for a variety of off the field issues that bit them. Jung Ho Kang‘s visa issues, Starling Marte’s suspension, Jameson Taillon‘s cancer diagnosis, and multiple disabled list trips for Francisco Cervelli and Gregory Polanco are all major reasons the Pirates are currently 66-72.

Also, back-to-back losing seasons should not be viewed as the death nail for any sports franchise. Why it’s viewed that way by so many Pirate things is something I will never understand.

Moving forward, things will not be easy for Huntington. The Pirates are about to finish with a losing record for a second consecutive season and as a result many fans have completely given up on the franchise. Turning the Pirates back into a winner won’t be the hard part, getting some of the new fans who have jumped on board since 2013 to care again will be.

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Neal Huntington will be the Pirate general manager for the foreseeable future and that is a good thing for the Pirates. Due to a lack of a salary cap and revenue sharing issues, it is very difficult for small market baseball teams to win consistently. Mix in the Pirates having poor ownership and things become that much more difficult.

Despite all of this, Neal Huntington has constructed teams that have won a lot of baseball games in Pittsburgh. When a team plays 162 games in a season what a team accomplishes in those 162 games is a much better indicator of what type of team they were than what happens over the course of 10 or so games over one month.

The team with the fifth-most wins in all of Major League Baseball the past five seasons extended their general manager today. Most of that fan base is irate over this month. Sports, man.