Several sources reported yesterday that Pirates president Frank Coonelly was “evaluating” Neal Huntington, who isn’t under contract beyond this year. There’s also an article in this morning’s Post-Gazette that notes in the lede that Coonelly is “out of patience.”
I do think the Pirates will have to improve on their dismal 2010 record for Huntington to keep his job, but for now, this seems like much ado about very little. The Post-Gazette and other sources quote Coonelly saying, “Our expectations are that Neal will be here for a long time.” It sounds like Coonelly is happy with Huntington’s work, but has to sound unhappy in the press because the Pirates’ record last year was so bad. I’m not sure he’ll be able to sustain that contradiction through a 105-loss season, but if it’s merely a 95-loss season (which I think honestly seems more likely), I think he’ll try.
Huntington has gotten mixed results in a series of trades of mostly mediocre veterans, but has rebuilt the Pirates’ player-development system, which is in far better shape than it was before he arrived.