It’s often not a good thing when a team enters a season with a “lame-duck” manager serving out the final year of his contract, but that’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Pirates have right now with Clint Hurdle.
We’ve seen it too many times around sports where players stop giving effort for the manager that they know will be soon out the door.
That alone begs the question of if Hurdle should get an extension before the season begins?
The popular belief would be no, especially after a second consecutive late season collapse, but there are other circumstances involved in the Pirates’ struggles other than the manager.
Hurdle definitely played a part in things as nothing he tried worked. His in-game decisions turned out to be brutal, his juggling of the starting rotation on a daily basis was similar to throwing darts blindfolded and he overused his bullpen.
But are the Pirates in better shape right now after two years of Hurdle than they have been in any time during the past 20 years? Certainly.
And if you buy that thinking then it would make sense to extend Hurdle before the season.
Personally though, I don’t think the Pirates can do that, even if it means playing out the season with Hurdle on the final year of his deal.
What does extending Hurdle before the season say?
You simply can’t reward him right now for back-to-back collapses. That would send an awful message.
Management not only has to make sure Hurdle gets off to a good start this season, but is able to sustain it the entire way. If they offer him an extension halfway through the season and the Pirates tank it again down the stretch, then that’s also a bad message.
There’s a lot I like about Hurdle but it is mostly from a character and motivational standpoint. I have not been crazy about him as a manager as the Bucs are fundamentally flawed in plenty of areas.
Hurdle has produced a winning season in only one of his 10 big league seasons. No one knows if he is capable of winning in Pittsburgh, but I always say that is mostly about the players anyway. However the manager can’t cost teams games and Hurdle has done some of that the past couple seasons.
It’s easy to say go out and get a winner, but whom? Those managers with winning records are employed. The ones that aren’t don’t have jobs because they aren’t much better than Hurdle to begin with.
I like Hurdle and would like to see him eventually be the guy to win in Pittsburgh, but the pressure is on to do so now.
He has to be on a short leash coming out of the gate in 2013 and an extension should be out of the question.
This team has made strides under his tutelage, but they have also collapsed twice and that simply is something the organization can not reward at this time.