Huntington will not make changes if retained
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HOUSTON -- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday that he plans to retain his leadership team this offseason despite a disappointing finish to the season. And if he is fired, he hopes whoever replaces him would keep his team around.
"If [owner] Bob [Nutting] or [team president] Frank [Coonelly] decide to make a change and they bring in a new general manager, that's their call," Huntington said. "I sure hope they don't because I believe in the people we're working with. I believe in what we're doing, and I believe in how we're doing it."
If Huntington is fired, it is likely a new general manager would make changes in the front office.
Huntington said the team is still trying to come to terms with the team's second consecutive late-season collapse. He has attributed the slide from a year ago on a lack of team depth that caught up with the Pirates when injuries arose. This year, the Pirates have managed to stay relatively healthy; they just haven't performed well.
"I came out in the middle of the season and talked about we weren't going to have the same second half because we had better depth," he said. "We had better players. We had better leadership. Unfortunately, we had the same slide. We've got to take a long look at ourselves."
The Pirates and Astros marked the end of an era Sunday, playing their final game as National League opponents after 50 years in the same league and 18 in the same division.
The Astros will begin play in the American League West Division next season as a part of Major League Baseball's realignment that will create balanced leagues. But for some, it will be strange to no longer have the Astros in the NL.
"It's definitely going to be weird," said Clint Barmes, who played for the Astros in 2011. "That's all I've known, for as long as I've been in the big leagues. It's going to be different, for sure."
Infielder Brock Holt said it would be "different" to have the Astros play in the AL, but it has its benefits. He grew up a Texas Rangers fan in north Texas, though he played at Rice University in Houston. He said a divisional rivalry within the state could be a good thing for baseball in Texas.
"In interleague play, when the Astros and Rangers meet, it's pretty heated," Holt said. "The guys take it pretty seriously."
The Pirates are 361-339 all time against the Astros.
With the Astros moving to the AL, every major league division will contain five teams. The NL Central currently has six teams while the AL West has four, meaning it is statistically more difficult to make the postseason out of the NL Central. That will change with this move.
"It sets up our division in a better way, a five-team division vs. a six-team division," Hurdle said.
It also creates a balanced schedule, where the Pirates play the same number of games against each division opponent.
To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Astros have worn throwback jerseys on select occasions to honor certain eras.
The Pirates got a condensed version this weekend. The Astros wore throwback uniforms every game this weekend. On Friday, it was the Colt .45 jerseys from the early 1960s. On Saturday, it was the shooting stars jerseys of the late '60s. The Astros wore their rainbow stripes jerseys they made famous for more than a decade -- among the most beloved, and criticized, looks in major league sports.
"They might be the biggest fashionists of any team around," Hurdle said. "They can throw some stuff at you, and they have. ... They have thrown some colors and styles that are unique and creative over the years."
First Published September 24, 2012 12:00 am