Pirates opt to retain GM Neal Huntington

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The Pirates’ season has derailed, but the engineer will be returning. Pirates president Frank Coonelly released a statement Wednesday saying that GM Neal Huntington would be back in 2013.

Manager Clint Hurdle and assistant GMs Kyle Stark and Greg Smith are also expected back.

“As soon as we finish this season as well as we possibly can, we will turn our full and total attention to evaluating why were unable to finish the job and what we must do differently to take the next step to becoming a championship team,” Coonelly’s statement read. “There will unquestionably be changes made to the way in which we operate as a result of this thorough critical self-evaluation, but we will not be making personnel changes at the very top of our baseball operations department. Neal, Kyle, Greg and Clint are dedicated and intelligent baseball men in whom I have great confidence.”

If the Pirates’ season had unfolded differently and the team had achieved its current 76-78 record through more typical means, Huntington probably wouldn’t have been on the hot seat in the first place. That several of the most important players on the roster (Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, James McDonald, Starling Marte) have had such encouraging seasons is really the most important thing here. The only real key disappointment is Jose Tabata, and he has played better since returning from the minors. Retaining Huntington is certainly the right move. The Pirates’ probably haven’t been in this good of shape in 20 years.

Marlins unveil what they’re putting in the space where the home run sculpture used to be

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Not long after the new ownership group bought the Miami Marlins, face of the franchise Derek Jeter made it clear that he wanted the home runs sculpture beyond the outfield fence gone. In October they announced that it would, in fact, be moving out to a plaza or the parking lot or someplace you’re unlikely to ever see it because who goes to Marlins games?

Today we got a tease of what the Marlins are doing with the space the sculpture is vacating:

It was only a matter of time before that green wall went away. There are a lot of things I like about the overall aesthetic of Marlins Park, but almost all of them are because of their novelty. Jeff Loria was bad for a lot of reasons, but one of the few good things he did was eschew nostalgia and traditionalism with the ballpark. Nostalgia and traditionalism, unfortunately, is the straw that stirs baseball’s drink, so any “weird” colors or flourishes were gonna be beat out of that place as the years went on. It was inevitable.

As for the “three-tier social space,” here’s hoping that tickets for it are cheap or the Marlins start winning ballgames soon, because the Marlins can’t really fill their existing spectator spaces now.