Is Neal Huntington a dead man walking in Pittsburgh?

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The Pirates are disintegrating as the season ends. Generically speaking that sort of thing is not necessarily on the GM. Usually that sort of thing gets a manager fired, whereas long-term ineptitude and a crappy roster get the GM fired.  But two data points suggest that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is on the outs.

First: That story about the SEAL training stuff from last week.  That reflects poorly on Huntington and his assistant Kyle Stark, and given that the story itself makes the point that neither the team owner or team president knew about the program suggests that, perhaps, someone close to them was putting that story out there.

Second: Over the weekend Huntington defended himself and the job he’s done, but made a conspicuous plea for the jobs of his underlings:

“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.”

Kind of gives one the vibe of a captain going down with the ship. Which has its own nobility to it, of course. But it does sorta seem like Huntington thinks he’s on the way out.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).