What was rumored last week, has become reality today.
The Pittsburgh Pirates today officially announced that Neal Huntington has been hired as the team's new General Manager. The anticipated announcement was made by Pirates President Frank Coonelly.
"Neal's hiring is the result of a comprehensive search for a baseball executive who could restore the culture of success within the Pirates organization," said Coonelly. "Neal is extremely intelligent, analytical and driven to succeed. He shares my vision on how to transform the Pirates into an organization that can consistently compete. Equally important, Neal knows how to implement the changes, systems and philosophies required to accomplish that goal. He is absolutely the right choice to lead our baseball operations department and to build a winning organization of which all Pirate fans can be proud."
Huntington has spent 16 seasons in professional baseball. The past 10 seasons, he has served as a key member of the Cleveland Indians' management team that rebuilt the Indians into a consistent winner by aggressively acquiring young talent through the Draft, the international market and trades, and developing that talent through a committed and focused Minor League system.
"Neal is highly regarded throughout the game as both an outstanding evaluator of talent and as one of the young executives who understands and utilizes the most sophisticated statistical and analytical tools," said Coonelly. "Neal comes from a strong baseball operations department in a winning organization that has built the culture of success similar to the one that we intend to build. His strong leadership skills, character, intelligence, commitment and broad experience convinced me that Neal is the right person to build and lead an outstanding baseball operations staff and to implement the systems necessary to succeed."
Huntington, who becomes the 12th general manager in Pirates history, has a strong desire for the position because of the opportunity for success.
"Pittsburgh is a proud sports city and the Pirates have a long and storied tradition. It is a tremendous honor to be named general manager of this great franchise. We will systematically work to change the culture of this organization and to return it to a consistent winner for the city of Pittsburgh," said Huntington. "To achieve our goal, we will thoroughly evaluate and aggressively seek to acquire elite talent internationally and domestically. We will diligently cultivate that talent on and off the field in a process-oriented player development system that demands accountability and excellence from all staff and players. Lastly, we will utilize that talent to build our Major League roster and put our team in the best possible position to succeed."
The 38-year-old native of Amherst, N.H., began his association with Cleveland prior to the 1998 season as the assistant director of Minor League operations before taking over in November 1998 as the organization's director of player development. In this role, Huntington oversaw the Indians' player development system, including Latin American field operations. He served as assistant general manager for three years (2002-2004) before moving into his role as special assistant to the general manager, where Neal served as a trusted advisor to Mark Shapiro. In addition to scouting and evaluating Major and Minor League players, Neal participated in the club's strategic planning and personnel decision-making, both at the Major League and Minor League levels.
During his tenure with Cleveland, Huntington was a key member of an executive team that drafted 2007 Cy Young candidate C.C. Sabathia and signed international free agents Fausto Carmona, who has won 18 games this year; catcher Victor Martinez; and infielder Jhonny Peralta. Cleveland also acquired outfielder Grady Sizemore and infielder Travis Hafner through trades during Huntington's tenure.
Huntington spent his first six seasons of his career in the baseball operations department of the Montreal Expos. He joined the Expos in June 1992. He served as a video advance scout before being promoted to assistant director of player development following the 1994 season. In this role he assisted in all aspects of the Expos' player development system.
The hiring of Huntington is another step in the transition process of the Pirates, according to Chairman of the Board Bob Nutting.
"I could not be more pleased with Frank's selection of Neal," said Nutting. "This has been an extremely important year of transition for the Pirates. From the change of control in January, to the hiring of Frank as our new president, and now the hiring of Neal as our general manager, all have been orderly steps to building a culture of success and restoring a culture of pride. I believe with Frank and Neal now in place, we will implement that vision of excellence and build an exciting ballclub that will make Pirates fans proud."
Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also a contributor to Baseball Prospectus contributed to the 2007 Pro Football Prospectus and is an available freelance writer.
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