Pirates Stick With Huntington

General manager retains his position





PITTSBURGH—The headline event the day after the Pirates' season ended was the firing of manager John Russell after three years and 299 losses, but the subtext was the retention of general manager Neal Huntington, who has been in his position for the same span.

It was a clear indicator that, even though team president Frank Coonelly expressed strong distaste for what he termed "our failure this season" in going 57-105, his allowing Huntington to return for 2011—Russell and Huntington each had contracts through next season—was an implicit endorsement of the team's improved minor league system.

"No general manager charged with completely overhauling an underperforming roster and building a competitive team as quickly as possible has ever completed that without some misses, and we have had some misses," Coonelly said in an apparent reference to the team's many veteran-for-prospect trades. "I remain convinced, however, that Neal is the right person to complete the job of returning the Pirates to a winning organization."

The Pirates have had three promising drafts, highlighted by the three first-rounders: third baseman Pedro Alvarez (No. 2 overall in 2008), catcher Tony Sanchez (No. 4 in 2009), and righthander Jameson Taillon (No. 2 in 2010).
Huntington recently met with his staff about possible change in the minor league system, though he did not specify.

"No system is perfect," Huntington said. "We've had a lot more guys exceed expectations than not meet expectations. It is all of our responsibilities, as we look at some of the shortcomings on the field. Some of it is bad decision-making. Some of it is bad evaluations. Some of it is bad teaching. But there also are a lot of good things going on. It just hasn't played out the way we expected at the major league level."

TREASURE TROVE

• Outfielder Alex Presley and lefthander Rudy Owens won the organization's awards for player and pitcher of the year, respectively.

• Another season of record losing clinched the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft for the Pirates, with Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon the early favorite for the pick. Coonelly said the team will do what it takes to sign whoever they take, just as they did with Alvarez ($6.355 million) and Taillon ($6.5 million).