Pirates extend Huntington

Neal Huntington did last year what no one had been able to do for 20 years.

The Amherst resident and Milford Area High School graduate put together a roster that got the Pittsburgh Pirates into the postseason for the first time since 1992. Huntington, the team’s general manager since 2007, was rewarded last week with a three-year contract extension, the team announced on Saturday.

Manager Clint Hurdle was also given three more years, and both contracts have a team option for 2018.

After coming close to a winning record the two pervious seasons, the Pirates finished with 94 wins in 2013 and took the St. Louis Cardinals to a fifth game in the National League division series.

“The hope is that we continue to grow this organization. Cohesiveness can be loud sometimes,” Huntington said to MLB.com. “The goal is to keep moving forward, and ultimately bring home a World Series championship – and wake up the next day and figure out how to do it again.”

When Huntington was hired in September of 2007, the Pirates had what was considered by many to be the worst farm system in baseball. The GM spent the first few years of his tenure trading away most of the team’s Major League talent to acquire prospects and add depth to the system.

After the Pirates lost 105 games in 2010, Huntington’s first hire as manager, John Russell, was let go and Hurdle was brought in. The win total increased from 70 games in 2011, to 79 the next year and to 94 last season, the most since going 96-66 in 1992, the team’s last winning season.

And of the 25 players on the Pirates’ 2014 opening day roster, 22 were acquired by Huntington, either through the draft, a trade or free agency.

“I think we have a very solid team in place and they deserve the recognition,” owner Bob Nutting said to The Associated Press. “I think great organizations are stable organizations. Again, never static and never on autopilot … (but) I’m proud of the culture and the tone that the current team has.”