Pirates notebook: GM Huntington not planning staff changes
HOUSTON — General manager Neal Huntington will not purge the front office, coaching staff or development staff in the wake of the Pirates' second consecutive late-season collapse.
“I don't see making a change at any leadership position at this point in time,” Huntington said Sunday. “I believe in the people I'm working with. I believe in what we're doing and how we're doing it.”
When it comes to his own job, Huntington is at the mercy of owner Bob Nutting and president Frank Coonelly.
“If Bob or Frank decide to make a change and bring in a new general manager, that's their call,” Huntington said. “I sure hope they don't.”
Huntington was emphatic in his support of assistant general manager Kyle Stark, who has been criticized for implementing a Navy SEALs-style training program for the club's minor league prospects.
“Kyle Stark is a tremendous front-office executive — intelligence, character, ability,” Huntington said. “When you're a leader and you're willing to have a tough conversation, you tend to have people who may not always like you. That's what we're dealing with right now.”
In an internal email obtained by the Tribune-Review, Stark urged his staff to get players to “dream like a hippie,” “prepare like a Boy Scout” and “trust like a Hells Angel.”
“When you take one email and try to paint the whole man or our development system, it's inaccurate,” Huntington said. “That terminology was used to connect with 18- to 25-year-olds. They don't want to hear about ‘cohesiveness' or ‘team-building' or ‘preparation.' We're not trying to create Boy Scouts, native American warriors, Hells Angels or hippies. We're trying to get (players) to think like that. We're using images and metaphors to connect a message.”
Huntington said there are “a multitude of reasons” for the Pirates' second-half funk. Some of it, he said, might be a matter of the team simply finding its level over the course of a 162-game season.
“As we've tried to evaluate metrically how we've gotten here, you look at the numbers, and we weren't supposed to be 16 games over .500 (on Aug. 1),” Huntington said. “We should have been closer to eight (games), which is still progress.
“Since Aug. 1, batting averages on balls in play have plummeted for our hitters and increased for our pitchers, especially with runners in scoring position. It doesn't mean it's bad luck, but ... yes, it means it's bad luck. We've done some things to not play well, and we've had some things go against us. Is the last six weeks the way we envisioned our season? Absolutely not. Every team has tough stretches. Ours, unfortunately, has been longer and late (in the season).”
Hurdle: ‘It's on me'
Manager Clint Hurdle was ejected in the second inning of Saturday's game when the score was tied at 1. After the game, someone jokingly asked if the loss should go on the record of bench coach Jeff Banister, who filled in after Hurdle was tossed.
“It goes on mine,” Hurdle said with a wry smile. “They all go on mine, and that's the accountability I've got to carry with this. We're just not finishing plays. We're not crisp, we're not performing at the execution level we need to, and that's on me. All of it falls back on the manager. I've got to find a way to get us performing better.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7811.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.