Clint Hurdle is Out after Nine Years of Managing the Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates have officially parted ways with Clint Hurdle after nine years of leading the Pirates. The team also announced that General Manager Neal Huntington will return for the 2020 season.
With one game remaining in the regular season, the Pittsburgh Pirates have parted ways with long-time manager Clint Hurdle. The official statement released by the team is below:
Many people speculated that Hurdle would not stay with the Pirates post-2019 after a truly disastrous season. The 2019 Pirates created a variety of headlines, all under Hurdle’s tenure, including a complete collapse post all-star break, multiple 5+ game losing streaks, three separate clubhouse altercations resulting in injuries and suspensions, a 69-92 record (good for last place in the NL Central), and the arrest of closer and all star Felipe Vazquez, just to name a few.
While it may not be fair to blame all of these events on Hurdle, the season taken as a whole paints the picture of a manager that lost control and respect of the clubhouse. With Hurdle’s release, the Pirates will eat the remaining salary on Hurdle’s most recent 4-year contract extension that runs through 2021.
While General Manager Neal Huntington has also been speculated as having a hot seat, the Pirates have ended the speculation and are sticking with the GM for the 2020 season. It does seem obvious, however, that unless the 2020 Pirates perform well Huntington will follow Clint out the door. The club he assembled for 2019 performed terribly with a 5.19 ERA (5th worst in the League), 120 errors (2nd worst in the League), and only 163 home runs (4th worst in the League).
The Hurdle news comes as a surprise, sadness, and relief to Pirates fans.
Just a few days ago, Stephen Nesbitt reported that Hurdle would stay with the Pirates through 2020 (subscription link). However, after the article was released, the front office never confirmed Hurdle’s statement to Nesbitt, and Hurdle became eerily quiet. Regardless, it is surprising that four days after Hurdle stated that he was staying through 2020, he gets fired. Additionally surprising is the fact that the team released Hurdle on a day where the organization is celebrating one of the few positive story lines of the 2019 season. Steve Blass is retiring from being a Pirate after 60 seasons, both as a player and color commentator. It is a shame that the team will tarnish Blass’s last day with this news.
I am sure many fans are also sad to see Hurdle go. While Hurdle has struggled as a manager of late, he was integral in pulling a struggling organization back into playoff contention. From 2013-2015, Hurdle led the Pirates to three straight playoff appearances and certainly got the highest level of play out of many of his players. Pittsburgh rallied around the coach and the team – creating some magical moments that will never be forgotten. Thank you Clint for those memories.
Sadly, fans will most likely feel relief with the news of Hurdle’s firing. As mentioned above, the Pirates have had an awful season, and there is just no way around that fact. 2019 will mark the fourth straight year without a playoff appearance and the worst record for the Pirates since the 2010 – 105 loss team. Fans want change and deserve change. Today the division rival Cubs released Joe Maddon, who managed the Cubs for five years, four of which resulted in playoff appearances and one World Series. If Hurdle stayed, the difference in expectations for the Pirates compared to teams like the Cubs, would be overwhelmingly maddening and obvious for fans and completely unacceptable at the Big League level.
Best wishes Clint, we will remember you for the good times and for your part in reviving baseball in Pittsburgh.