2:30pm: MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch passes on a statement from Coonelly which confirms the extensions and says dismissing Russell "is not the appropriate response" to the team's struggles. Coonelly sounds confident in the team's progress, but says "a contract will not prevent us from making a change if one is appropriate and thus contract status truly is irrelevant."
2:22pm: The Pirates extended Russell and Huntington last offseason, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Twitter).
10:53am: The Pirates have extended GM Neal Huntington’s contract through 2011 and may have picked up manager John Russell's option for next season, according to a major league source who spoke to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Pirates president Frank Coonelly chose not to comment on the contracts of Russell and Huntington.
The timing of the extensions would be odd, but not unprecedented. The 23-42 Pirates appear headed for an 18th consecutive losing season and Russell’s job security appears anything but certain. Rosenthal reports that Huntington, whose contract was set to expire after the season, believes in Russell and shoulders much of the blame for the team’s disappointing play.
Huntington has drafted aggressively (Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, Pedro Alvarez) and pursued international free agents with gusto since taking over. He has acquired some promising youngsters (Jose Tabata, Tim Alderson, Bryan Morris) in deals for proven players, though he has given up many valuable players along the way (Jason Bay, Tom Gorzelanny). Like any GM who has been around for a few years, there are commendable moves and regrettable ones in Huntington's history.
The Royals, who might be the American League’s answer to the Pirates, made a similar move last summer. They extended GM Dayton Moore in the midst of a largely disappointing 2009 season.