Clint Hurdle Fired as Pirates Manager After 9 Seasons

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2019

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 21: Clint Hurdle #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 21, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced Sunday they fired manager Clint Hurdle

"This has been a challenging season on many levels," general manager Neal Huntington said of the move. "We are committed to assessing and improving upon our operations on all levels in order to return Postseason baseball to Pittsburgh."

This represents an apparent reversal from the team.

The Athletic's Stephen J. Nesbitt reported Wednesday the Pirates were "expected to make changes to their front office and coaching staff" in the offseason but that Hurdle had "received assurance from the organization" he'd be back for 2020.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale noted Hurdle had two years left on his deal with the team.

Nesbitt's report aside, his departure doesn't come as a surprise.

Heading into the final day of the regular season, the Pirates are last in the National League Central at 69-92, a year after having finished 82-79.

Hurdle helped guide Pittsburgh to three straight playoff appearances from 2013 to 2015 and he leaves with a winning record (735-720-1). However, the team's stagnation following its last postseason trip raised questions as to his continued suitability as manager.

Fans will likely be more perplexed to hear team owner Bob Nutting signal a commitment to Huntington and the front office:

Failing to recoup adequate value for Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole is one reason for the Pirates' bleak outlook. Bryan Reynolds is at least helping the team salvage something from the McCutchen trade.

Still, Neither McCutchen nor Cole returned the kind of elite prospect haul to lay the foundation for the team's rebuild. Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter ranked Pittsburgh's farm system 18th in MLB in August.

Using Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows to acquire Chris Archer has backfired spectacularly as well.

One could argue Huntington is more responsible for the Pirates' current state than Hurdle.

Fans have begun voting with their feet. The Pirates rank 27th in attendance, averaging 18,347 per game at PNC Park, which is down from 18,786 in 2018 and 23,696 in 2017.

Pittsburgh doesn't have the pieces to contend next season, nor does it have the young talent that points to a brighter future in a few years. That combination is likely to limit the pool of candidates the front office and ownership can target as it replaces Hurdle.

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