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Neal Huntington (born 1969) is the 12th person to serve as General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates Major League Baseball organization. He was named to the position on September 25, 2007 by new Pirates President Frank Coonelly.
A native of Amherst, New Hampshire, Huntington is a graduate of Milford A.R.E.A. Senior High and Amherst College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in psychology in 1991. At Amherst, Huntington played baseball for four years; he was named a Division III second-team All-American first baseman and first-team All New England first baseman after his senior season. He earned a Master's Degree in sport management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Montreal and ClevelandEdit
Huntington spent 16 seasons in professional baseball prior to joining the Pirates. He became assistant director of player development with the Montreal Expos in 1995. He later moved to the Cleveland Indians, for whom he was employed for 10 seasons, serving first as the assistant director of Minor League operations before becoming director of player development (in 1998), assistant general manager (2002-2004), and finally special assistant to the general manager (2006-2007).
Within two weeks of assuming the Pirates GM position, Huntington made several decisive moves on October 5, 2007: field manager Jim Tracy was fired; the remaining coaching staff was given notice that their contracts would likely not be renewed; and the senior director of player development, the scouting director, and the director of baseball operations were also let go. These moves cleared the decks to introduce a wholly fresh approach to scouting, player development, and field management in the Pirates organization.
On November 2, 2007, Huntington made clear that he was going to utilize some sabermetric techniques of player evaluation:
We are going to utilize several objective measures of player performance to evaluate and develop players. We'll rely on the more traditional objective evaluations: OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) , WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), Runs Created, ERC (Component ERA), GB/FB (ground ball to fly ball ratio), K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings), K/BB (strikeouts to walks ratio), BB%, etc., but we'll also look to rely on some of the more recent variations: VORP (value over replacement player), Relative Performance, EqAve (equivalent average), EqOBP (equivalent on base percentage), EqSLG (equivalent slugging percentage), BIP% (balls put into play percentage), wOBA (weighted on base average), Range Factor, PMR (probabilistic model of range) and Zone Rating.
That said, we will continue to stress the importance of our subjective evaluations. Succinctly stated, we believe that a combination of quality objective and subjective analysis will allow us to maximize our probability of success and to make the best possible decisions.
A few days later, on November 5, he named John Russell as the new field manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. On November 7 he announced Greg Smith as the new scouting director, Kyle Stark as director of player development, and Bryan Minniti as director of baseball operations.
The new management team did not move quickly to make personnel changes at the player level, however. One month before the opening of Spring training in 2008, all but seven of the players on their 40 man roster had been in the Pirates organization in 2007. Three major factors appear to have led to this situation. First, Huntington felt that so many players had not performed up to their potential in 2007 that the Pirates were likely to win more games in 2008 if the same players only improved on their 2007 performances. Second, the marketability of many of these players had been hampered in the off-season because of their 2007 performance, and Huntington did not want to trade players at a price that was lower than what he considered their true value. Third, although Huntington did seek an immediate improvement of the team's competitiveness, he did not want to give up players who could contribute to the team's performance over the next three or four years simply to achieve a one-year increase in wins.
- ↑ The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: Pirates hire Huntington as new GM
- ↑ Baseball America: Executive Database
- ↑ http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3050460.
- ↑ The Official Site of The Pittsburgh Pirates: News: Pirates cut ties with manager Tracy
- ↑ As if to back up this emphasis, in mid-April 2008 the Pirates hired sabermetrician Dan Fox, who as a writer for The Hardball Times and Baseball Prospectus had earned a reputation for his careful analyses of team defense, baserunning, and pitching. Fox took on the role of Director of Baseball Systems Development.
- ↑ The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: Q&A with Neal Huntington
- ↑ The Official Site of The Pittsburgh Pirates: News: Huntington fills out front-office staff
- ↑ John Perrotto, "Every Given Sunday: Reconstruction in Slow Motion," BaseballProspectus.com, January 20, 2008.
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