And the 39th Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates is…….Clint Hurdle? That’s right Pirates fans, Clint Hurdle is the man who gets to try to right this ship that has been sinking for the past 18 years. At a press conference Monday afternoon, General Manager Neil Huntington introduced Hurdle to the Media and the City. Will Hurdle be able to fix the debacle that is the Pirates?
Hurdle managed the Colorado Rockies from 2002-2009 with a 534-625 record including a World Series apperance in 2007, before being replaced by former Bucco’s manager Jim Tracy. The search for the Manager came down to Hurdle and long time organizational coach Jeff Bannister. The Pirates have gone through the organization in the past to fill the manager void (Lloyd McClendon, Gene Lamont, John Russell), which didn’t produce a winning club, so they decided to go outside the organization with the more expensive Hurdle. Hurdle is more of an expressive manager who shows his emotions, very different than the previous John Russell. McClendon was the same way and we see how that turned out however. The media has made a big deal saying that the Pirates out dueled the Mets for Hurdle’s services, which is a bit of a stretch seeing that Hurdle wasn’t high on the list of potential managers. I’ll give them credit for being willing to spend more on Hurdle, but seeing how much control over the team he’ll have is something that I look forward to seeing. On a local radio station, Hurdle said that “The control of the lineup is given to me, they have given me stat sheets with some tendencies, but i’ll set the lineup each day”. While that makes me feel good him saying those things, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Another interesting aspect will be to see how much control he will be given over the free agents that they bring in this summer. We know that Bob Nutting hasn’t always been willing to spend when it comes to free agency, but settle for overpriced veterans that use Pittsburgh as a retirement tour. Rumors had it that the Pirates expressed interest in Free Agent Third Baseman Adrian Beltre. The same Adrian Beltre who turned down his 10 million dollar contract in Boston because he wanted more money. Are the Pirates teasing us at the idea that they are looking to significantly improve this team or is it all a farce? More realistic options in the market will be veteran Pitchers who come at a small price. Players such as Chris Young, Aaron Harang or the oft injured Justin Duchscherer could step in an contribute to a rotation that needs major overhaul. One of those with a veteran bat such as Willie Bloomquist, Melvin Mora, Lyle Overbay or personally, I would love to see the Pirates acquire Willy Aybar, most recently with the Rays. Fans want the Pirates to spend on marquee players like Cliff Lee or Carl Pavano, the thing is, spending on them won’t help us now. We have the position players in place for the most part, for the future and with the drafting of Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie and the signing of 16 year old Mexican Pitching prospect, Luis Heredia, the future is what is important. They won’t be ready until 2013 or 2014 at the earliest, so in the meantime, the money needs to be used to tie up at least 3 of the 4 promising players, Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata, with some pitchers who can serve as formidable until the young guys are ready.
Do I expect Hurdle to win with this team? No. Is he a major upgrade from Russell? Yes. Will he be the man in charge when the Pirates finally turn it around? I have my doubts, but the main thing is that this is the best shot the Pirates have to turn it around and the best guy for the job. In a City that is crazy about the Pens and Steelers, they want nothing more than seeing the Pirates win. This is a town filled with baseball tradition and they would give anything to have it back again. Don’t expect anything this year, but in 2012, look for them to finally break the consecutive losing seasons streak. By 2013, fans may actually have another sport to tune into in October
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com