Pirates extend GM Neal Huntington through 2015

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Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have signed GM Neal Huntington to a three-year contract extension with a club option for 2015. As is often the case with front-office deals, no financial details were disclosed.

Huntington was hired as the 12th general manager in franchise history on September 25, 2007, and has done a fine job of revamping the organization since taking over. The Pirates are improving their success rate on high draft picks, they’re more active on the international market, and they’ve begun putting a better product on the field at the major league level.

Huntington has misfired on a couple of trades, namely the Jason Bay swap, but the 42-year-old executive has also pumped $48 million into the draft over the past four years — by far the highest total in the major leagues. With a continued commitment to finding and cultivating young talent, the Pirates should be able to snap their streak of consecutive losing seasons by the time Huntington’s freshly inked deal expires.

The Pirates are also expected to retain director of player development Kyle Stark, director of scouting Greg Smith and director of baseball operations Tyrone Brooks. Bucs manager Clint Hurdle is signed through 2014.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.