Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bucs Extend Hurdle

Well, Clint Hurdle doesn't have to worry about being a lame duck this season. Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review reported yesterday that multiple sources confirmed to him that Hurdle will be re-signed through the 2014 season with an option for 2015. Biertempfel expects the official announcement tomorrow (EDIT - The Pirates announced that they exercised Hurdle's 2014 contract option today and added a club option for 2015) when Bob Nutting arrives in camp. Sure beats the days when the FO signed John Russell in 2010 without announcing it.

This was the third and final season of Hurdle's contract. He's put up a slate of 151-173 (.466), winning 72 games in 2011 and 79 last season. That was the Bucs' best back-to-back finish since 1996-7, when Jimmy Leyland in his last year, followed by Gene Lamont in his first, led Pittsburgh to 152 victories. The 79 wins last year matched the team high, joining Lamont's 1997 campaign, since the NLCS club of 1992.

Hurdle was selected after Russell's disastrous 2010 year, outlasting seven other candidates, including Eric Wedge, Dale Sveum and Ken Macha. While the final figures weren't released, the general parameters of that deal were that his pay was $1M+ annually and he was guaranteed through 2013.

Now all he's got to change are the post-deadline, dog day blues. The Pirates have gone 33-73 (.311) during August and September the last two seasons after playing 118-100 (.541) ball during the first four months with occasional stints as the Central's top dog.

We can't really blame Hurdle for those too much. In 2011, his overachievers had a couple of injuries and crashed; if you ever wondered what regression is, that season was its finest example. Last year, the FO fumbled the ball at the deadline more than the on-field product.

They brought in Wandy Rodriguez, but gutted the bullpen by losing Brad Lincoln and adding Chad Qualls & Hisanori Takahashi, watched the rotation crumble when Erik Bedard & James McDonald fell off the face of the earth and failed to land a bat of any impact. A manager is as good as his players, and Hurdle didn't exactly have an army of All-Stars on hand while chasing the Reds.

We have no problem with his extension; it's always easier for a manager to keep the clubhouse in order if the inmates know he'll be around for awhile. And it can't be denied that his clubs have generated interest and spun some turnstiles in Pittsburgh. Yah, tactically he has his maddening quirks, but he seems a good match for the club on and off the field. Let's just hope he finally figures out how to coach up the same results in the dog days as he does during the first four months of the season.

Because if he doesn't and the Bucs string of losing seasons stretches on, both he and Neal Huntington could be looking for new gigs in 2014.


WilliamJPellas said...

I blame both Hurdle and Huntington for the 2012 crash-and-burn. As you have bemoaned on several occasions, Ron, their acquisitions---even when supposedly in a "pennant race"---are more collecting than they are team-building. Well, I guess you can't say that about Ryan Ludwick and Whatsisface, the guys they brought in for the stretch run in 2011. But last year, and in general, definitely more collectors than builders. So, the pieces in last year's second half of the season did not fit together nearly the way they needed to in order to keep the momentum going. They just didn't seem to know who had what role in many cases. Along with that, they stuck with some guys for much too long (Bedard, Qualls, Harrison, Snider after he got hurt and should have been on the DL) and didn't give strong armed kids a chance at all (Wilson, Morris, and Locke). It was a real mess.

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, they made a mess, Will. Huntington didn't give Hurdle many tools, and Hurdle played the guys he had like they were on tryout instead of going for the gold.