Neal Huntington

From BR Bullpen

Neal Huntington

Neal Huntington became General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 25, 2007, replacing Dave Littlefield.

Huntington was a second-team All-American first baseman for NCAA Division III as a senior. He spent six years in the baseball operations department of the Montréal Expos. In 1998, he was hired as assistant director of the Cleveland Indians minor league system and became director of player development later that year. In November of 2001, he was promoted to assistant GM of the Indians. He also worked as an advance scout.

On October 5, 2007, he fired manager Jim Tracy after two seasons at the helm, as part of a front office purge. Senior director of player development Brian Graham, who had been interim general manager, scouting director Ed Creech, Director of baseball operations Jon Mercurio, as well as Tracy's entire coaching staff also lost their jobs in a gesture meant to indicate that the Pirates were taking a new direction after 15 consecutive losing seasons. Huntington hired former Pirates coach John Russell as the new manager.

In his first year and a half, Huntington made a serious of moves that were unpopular with the fan base, trading away most of the team's starters - Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Xavier Nady, Nyjer Morgan, Jose Bautista, Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson - as well as pitchers Ian Snell, Sean Burnett, John Grabow, Tom Gorzelanny and Damaso Marte. In return, Huntington obtained a boatload of prospects: Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen, José Tabata, Andy LaRoche, Argenis Diaz, Hunter Strickland, Tim Alderson, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin, Nathan Adcock, Jeff Clement, Jeff Locke, Lastings Milledge, Joel Hanrahan, Robinzon Diaz, Craig Hansen, Brandon Moss, Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, Josh Harrison and Bryan Morris. In defense of his actions, Huntington explained "We don't feel like we've broken up the '27 Yankees" and said "If it doesn't turn around, I get fired." Given the barren state of the Pittsburgh farm system and lack of hope for the future when Huntington took over the GM job, many people argued that this was what the team had to do to rebuild, a project never undertaken by his predecessor.

As some of Huntington's prospect trade acquisitions (Morton, Tabata, Morris, Locke) were developing, the team's signees also were coming up (with Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole leading the way) and other trade and free agent pickups were panning out (A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Russell Martin, Jason Grilli). The combination sent the 2013 Pirates not only to a winning season but the playoffs. Huntington was a strong candidate for Executive of the Year but finished second to Ben Cherington.

Preceded by
Brian Graham
Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager
Succeeded by