Pittsburgh Pirate General Manager
Neal Huntington (born 1969) is the 12th person to serve as General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates Major League Baseball organization. He was named to the position on September 25, 2007 by new Pirates President Frank Coonelly.
A native of Amherst, New Hampshire, Huntington is a graduate of Milford Area Senior High and Amherst College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in psychology in 1991. At Amherst, Huntington played baseball for four years; he was named a Division III second-team All-American first baseman and first-team All New England first baseman after his senior season. He earned a Master's Degree in sport management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Montreal and Cleveland
Huntington spent 16 seasons in professional baseball prior to joining the Pirates. He became assistant director of player development with the Montreal Expos in 1995. He later moved to the Cleveland Indians, by whom he was employed for 10 seasons, serving first as the assistant director of Minor League operations before becoming director of player development (in 1998), assistant general manager (2002–2004), and finally special assistant to the general manager (2006–2007).
Within two weeks of assuming the Pirates GM position, Huntington made several decisive moves on October 5, 2007: field manager Jim Tracy was fired; the remaining coaching staff was given notice that their contracts would likely not be renewed; and the senior director of player development, the scouting director, and the director of baseball operations were also let go. These moves cleared the decks to introduce a wholly fresh approach to scouting, player development, and field management in the Pirates organization.
On November 2, 2007, Huntington made clear that he was going to utilize some sabermetric techniques of player evaluation:
We are going to utilize several objective measures of player performance to evaluate and develop players. We'll rely on the more traditional objective evaluations: OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage), WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), Runs Created, ERC (Component ERA), GB/FB (ground ball to fly ball ratio), K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings), K/BB (strikeouts to walks ratio), BB%, etc., but we'll also look to rely on some of the more recent variations: VORP (value over replacement player), Relative Performance, EqAve (equivalent average), EqOBP (equivalent on base percentage), EqSLG (equivalent slugging percentage), BIP% (balls put into play percentage), wOBA (weighted on base average), Range Factor, PMR (probabilistic model of range) and Zone Rating.
That said, we will continue to stress the importance of our subjective evaluations. Succinctly stated, we believe that a combination of quality objective and subjective analysis will allow us to maximize our probability of success and to make the best possible decisions.
A few days later, on November 5, he named John Russell as the new field manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. On November 7 he announced Greg Smith as the new scouting director, Kyle Stark as director of player development, and Bryan Minniti as director of baseball operations.
The new management team did not move quickly to make personnel changes at the player level, however. One month before the opening of Spring training in 2008, all but seven of the players on their 40 man roster had been in the Pirates organization in 2007. Three major factors appear to have led to this situation. First, Huntington felt that so many players had not performed up to their potential in 2007 that the Pirates were likely to win more games in 2008 if the same players only improved on their 2007 performances. Second, the marketability of many of these players had been hampered in the off-season because of their 2007 performance, and Huntington did not want to trade players at a price that was lower than what he considered their true value. Third, although Huntington did seek an immediate improvement of the team's competitiveness, he did not want to give up players who could contribute to the team's performance over the next three or four years simply to achieve a one-year increase in wins.
During his first season, Huntington made two major trades leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. The first deal sent Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the New York Yankees in exchange for minor leaguers Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, and Dan McCutchen. In the second deal, Huntington shipped Jason Bay to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Brandon Moss, Andy LaRoche, Craig Hansen, and minor leaguer Bryan Morris.
Huntington continued the rebuilding during the 2009 season by trading all-star center fielder Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves on June 3 for outfielder Gorkys Hernández, and pitchers Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton. Another big trade came on June 30, when Huntington acquired enigmatic, yet talented outfielder Lastings Milledge and pitcher Joel Hanrahan from the Washington Nationals in exchange for outfielder Nyjer Morgan and pitcher Sean Burnett. Huntington made yet another move on July 22 by trading starting first baseman Adam LaRoche to the Red Sox for minor leaguers Argenis Diaz and Hunter Strickland. On July 29, Huntington swung a seven player deal with the Seattle Mariners that sent shortstop Jack Wilson, the Pirates' most tenured player, and pitcher Ian Snell to the Mariners for first baseman Jeff Clement, shortstop Ronny Cedeno and three minor league pitching prospects. Later that day, Huntington sent all-star second baseman Freddy Sanchez to the San Francisco Giants for highly regarded pitching prospect Tim Alderson. After the season ended, Huntington acquired second baseman Akinori Iwamura from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for pitcher Jesse Chavez.
The 2010 season saw Pedro Alvarez, the club's top prospect and Huntington's 2008 first round draft pick, make his MLB debut, along with the emergence of other young talents, including José Tábata, Neil Walker, and Evan Meek. On July 31, Huntington continued to reshape the Pirates roster by acquiring catcher Chris Snyder and shortstop prospect Pedro Ciriaco from the Diamondbacks in exchange for back-up veterans Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby, and reliever D. J. Carrasco. Even more young players were added to the Pirates system, also on July 31, when Huntington shipped veteran reliever Javier López to the Giants for outfielder John Bowker and pitcher Joe Martinez, and closer Octavio Dotel to Dodgers for pitcher James McDonald and outfielder Andrew Lambo. Following the 105-loss season, Huntington hired Clint Hurdle as the new manager of the Pirates.By WIKI
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