Tuesday brought the latest ignominious development of 2019 for Pittsburgh, a team that has gone from playoff hopeful to laughingstock in the span of a couple months. The Pirates announced that reliever Kyle Crick underwent season-ending surgery for an injury to his right index finger, which came as a result of a fight with teammate and fellow late-game hurler Felipe Vazquez. While it’s unclear how the fight began or who was truly at fault, it doesn’t really matter – the bottom line is that it’s no way for a pair of teammates to act toward one another.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, the Crick-Vazquez dust-up wasn’t the first instance of in-fighting for the club this year. There have been multiple examples in which members of the organization haven’t been able to coexist. Crick, Vazquez and fellow reliever Keone Kela have been among the sources of conflict. Vazquez and Kela each drew interest leading up to the July 31 deadline, but general manager Neal Huntington didn’t move either (more understandable in the case of Vazquez than Kela, as the former’s an elite closer).
Speaking of Huntington, the roster he has built is well on its way to a fourth straight season without a playoff berth. The Pirates were in the NL wild-card race when the second half of the season commenced, even though they were an unimpressive 43-46 at the time. They’ve gone an abysmal 20-36 since then and now own a 63-82 record that’s good for the eighth-worst mark in baseball. That’s not all Huntington’s fault – it would help if owner Bob Nutting would actually spend some money – but he and-or manager Clint Hurdle could nonetheless be in danger of losing their jobs in the wake of what has turned into an awful season.
While Huntington and Hurdle helped the Pirates to three straight playoff berths from 2013-15, the partnership’s on its way to its third sub-.500 season out of four since then. Between the lack of on-field results in recent years and the behind-the-scenes issues the Pirates have endured this season, perhaps Nutting will decide to move on from one or both of the Huntington-Hurdle tandem when the campaign concludes. Huntington has been in place since 2007, and Hurdle has been at the helm dating back to 2011, but it could be time for a regime change in Pittsburgh. What do you think?
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