It has been often described as “The Collapse II,” and that’s exactly what’s happened to Clint Hurdle’s Pittsburgh Pirates during the past six weeks.
However, despite watching his team go from 18 games over .500 to a mere one game over, Pirates management says that Hurdle is in no danger of losing his job.
The Bucs were 16 games over .500 on July 28 and have lost two out of every three games since. Along with that goes their once-prominent wild card chances as any shot of landing a playoff berth is fading by the day.
While Pirates owner Bob Nutting on Saturday called his team’s second-half collapse “incredibly, intensely frustrating,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington is not ready to make Hurdle a scapegoat, reports Rob Biertempfel and Karen Price of the Tribune Review. Huntington responded with a ”no” when asked whether Hurdle’s job is in jeopardy.
Some Pirates fans still back Hurdle, but the masses are becoming skeptical, especially after Sunday’s devastating 13-9 loss to the Cubs. After June and July, who could have anticipated the Pirates needing a late surge to avoid a 20th straight losing season?
How Hurdle’s job is safe is beyond me, considering he has finished as high as second place just once in 10 seasons as a major league manager. That was in 2007, when the Colorado Rockies went to the World Series as a wild card.
In two years as the Bucs skipper, his teams haven’t hit well, don’t run the bases well, have been lousy throwing out runners and don’t play good fundamental baseball for long stretches at a time. Not to mention back-to-back complete collapses by a team that should be much better than that.
Personally I am a fan of Hurdle, but someone has to be made accountable for two consecutive collapses and ultimately these have been his teams. But Pirates’ management doesn’t feel the need to put any of the blame on Hurdle. That’s fine, but the disturbing part is their unwillingness to blame anyone for what has gone on the past two years.
Nutting told Price:
“I don’t think it’s ever fair to speculate on people’s jobs … My approach has always been to fully support the team we have in place, and when it’s time to make a change, we make a change,”
That’s exactly the type of statement you would probably expect from Nutting, but it doesn’t make it any less disturbing that the front office doesn’t realize when they have problems to fix.
Hopefully Hurdle finds a way to fix things, either the final 17 games this season or by next season. I don’t wish for anyone to lose their job, but for the Pirates to say that Hurdle isn’t even a little bit part of the problem is preposterous. It’s his team and he’s the one calling the shots.
Eventually a decision needs to be made on whether or not Hurdle is the right man to lead this team. He’s had a very large sample size with much better talent than previous managers. Pretty soon he’s going to have to be judged by how many wins he produces.
If the Pirates don’t hold him to a high standard, then I’m afraid that things may never get better.