John Steigerwald: Don’t blame Clint Hurdle for Pirates’ failures | TribLIVE.com
John Steigerwald, Columnist

John Steigerwald: Don’t blame Clint Hurdle for Pirates’ failures

John Steigerwald
1741142_web1_GTR-BucsEarly01-072419
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Clint Hurdle led the Pirates to only 69 wins this season, and he was fired Sunday.

Who’s the greatest manager in MLB history?

I don’t know. You pick.

Is it one of the three or four guys lucky enough to manage the New York Yankees when they were putting an All-Star team on the field every game?

Whoever it is, if he had been brought back from the dead to manage the Pittsburgh Pirates this season, how many more games would they have won?


They won 69 with Clint Hurdle managing them, and he was fired Sunday. Maybe the Pirates had a good reason not to wait until Monday instead of creating the uncomfortable situation of the manager having to walk out of the clubhouse after showing up for work.

It won’t make any difference next season.

If the Pirates win 10 more games next season and still finish below .500, who will get to say it was the new manager?

Joe Maddon was a genius until the Cubs fired him over the weekend, but he had a team that was expected to win. Hurdle’s team did what everybody expected it to do.

It stunk.

Maybe the consensus was 75-80 wins, but can you blame Hurdle for the five wins they didn’t get?

Think they might have won a few more games if Jameson Taillon’s elbow hadn’t blown up?

How about if Gregory Polanco’s injury hadn’t added to the growing speculation he is a major bust?

Think the Pirates would have been a little better with Gerrit Cole in the rotation?

How about Tyler Glasnow? And would Austin Meadows’ 33 home runs in the outfield have helped? Neal Huntington, the guy who fired Hurdle, traded them away.

The Pirates have had five full-time managers since Chuck Tanner managed them to a World Series win 40 years ago. Do you know how many of them finished with a winning record?

One. Hurdle.

Jim Leyland managed them to three division championships and four winning seasons in 10 years, but his general manager, Syd Thrift, made trades to bring in players such as Bobby Bonilla and Andy Van Slyke and a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, Doug Drabek. The opposite of what happened to Hurdle.

So was Hurdle fired because the team might have underachieved this year or because there were reports of players fighting in the clubhouse?

Would whoever you picked as the greatest manager in history have prevented the fighting?

The Pirates have had four winning seasons in the past 27 years. They haven’t won a postseason series in 40 years.

The manager’s not the problem, and a new one won’t be the solution. And it might not be the general manager. Huntington might look a lot smarter playing with the Chicago Cubs’ or the Boston Red Sox’s money.

Want to blame the owner?

Who’s looking smarter right now, Bob Nutting or Bob Castellini, the owner of the Cincinnati Reds? Castellini spent $128 million on players this season and finished fourth.

Nutting spent $72 million and finished fifth. That would seem to mean $56 million more in Nutting’s pocket.

The Reds drew about 350,000 more fans, but they have a much larger population to draw from in a 100-mile radius.

There have been five general managers since Thrift pulled off a miracle and put together the team that won three division titles from 1990-92. One has been in charge when the team had a winning season. That would be Huntington.

The Pirates are playing against a stacked deck because MLB’s economics are a joke. Some smaller-market teams succeed sometimes, but generally teams that spend the most win the most.

The Pirates’ best years are behind them.

Way behind.

Fans can only hope for another appearance of the lightning in the bottle that got them the three winning seasons from 2013-15.

What you’ve seen for most of the last 40 years is pretty much what you should expect from the Pirates for the next 40.

Who’s managing or general managing will have little or nothing to do with it.

John Steigerwald is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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.