While the team isn't flirting with first any longer (in fact, they currently sit 18.5 games back of the Brewers, fourth in the NL Central), it's better than dead last, where theyâ€™re normally perched. Apparently, ownership has seen enough that they feel that maybe, possibly, could be, the Pirates are heading in the right direction after so many losing seasons.
The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced the signing of Senior Vice President, General Manager Neal Huntington to a three-year contract extension through 2014 with a club option for 2015. Financial terms were not released. In the full seasons under Huntingtonâ€™s tenure, the Pirates have finished .414, .358, and .352. As of Sunday they were 66-80 (.452).
"Neal was hired to take on the difficult task of building an organization that can compete on a consistent basis," said Bob Nutting, Pirates Chairman of the Board. "While there is still much work to be done, Neal and his staff have done an exceptional job of overhauling the scouting and development systems while building a strong foundation by aggressively acquiring talent through all possible avenues. We have begun to see that positive impact on the Major League level this season and expect that improvement to continue as we execute our plan in building a winning organization."
The 42-year-old Huntington was named to his current position on September 25, 2007, thus becoming the 12th G.M. in the history of the club.
"Neal has rebuilt the baseball operations department into a cohesive and focused unit that is acquiring and developing winning players who are now making a positive impact in Pittsburgh," said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. "Our Club's improvement this summer was just the beginning. While our goals have not yet been reached and there is much hard work left to do, I am confident that Neal and his talented and dedicated team, including Greg Smith and Kyle Stark, will finish the job of bringing championships back to Pittsburgh."
"I am humbled by the opportunity to continue as the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates," said Huntington. "I am extremely appreciative of the resources provided by Bob Nutting, the guidance and support provided by Frank Coonelly and the outstanding work done by our baseball operations staff. We collectively look forward to building upon the progress experienced to date and achieving our goal of returning the Pirates to a championship caliber organization."
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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