In May, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports columnist Ron Cook took what he called a hard look at the Pirates and their GM in his article "Pirates are being steered in a familiar direction."
Cook was very negative about the Pirates and Neal Huntington in particular. He wrote, "There's no way this GM will be back next season."
He sited several reasons:
Lyle Overbay signing
"He has been a bust so far," wrote Cook. At the time Overbay was batting .230 with three home runs and 14 RBI. He ended his stint with the Pirates batting .227 with eight home runs and 37 RBI in 103 games.
But, offense was not the reason the Pirates went after Overbay. It was his defense that Pirates coach Nick Leyva was excited about. He believed the addition of Overbay would make the entire Pirates infield better defensively. Overbay filled that bill with mixed results.
Matt Diaz signing
"Bust," wrote Cook. This signing is difficult to understand. Right field was not the Pirates' biggest need. Garret Jones led the Pirates in home runs each of the last two seasons, and Diaz offered no upgrade. In 100 games Diaz hit .259 no home runs and 19 RBI.
Chris Snyder Trade
"Bust," wrote Cook. Unfortunately, injuries kept Snyder out most of the season, but when he did play, he performed well. He hit .271 with three home runs and 19 RBI in 96 at-bats. Bust, I don't think so.
Cook did give Huntington some credit, and I believe built a very good case for keeping him.
"Started fast, although he lost his past two starts," wrote Cook. Correia did lead the Pirates in wins with 12, but struggled as the season went on, going 0-3 with an ERA of 8.41 and a 1.89 WHIP in August.
"Has done a great job of resurrecting his career from the dead after going 2-12 with a 7.57 earned-eun average last season," wrote Cook. Morton seemed to show some of his potential winning 10 games and posting a 3.83 ERA.
"Looks like a heck of a minor league free agent pickup," wrote Cook. Veras performed well, posting a 3.80 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 71 innings.
"He came from Washington in a 2009 trade, perhaps, Huntington's finest," Cook wrote. Needless to say Hanrahan was a 2011 all-star posting 40 saves to go along with a 1.05 WHIP and 1.83 ERA
In conclusion, I believe Huntington has done well with a limited budget and has the Pirates heading in the right direction.