The Pirates and Team President Frank Coonelly have mutually agreed to part ways, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (The organization has since announced the move). Coonelly, 59, had been with the organization since 2007. The club will name Coonelly’s replacement next Monday, adds Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). While Coonelly was responsible for the hiring of General Manager Neal Huntington just a month after the former came on board, Heyman adds that Huntington’s job remains safe.
Mackey reports that Pirates owner Bob Nutting was, unsurprisingly, significantly involved in today’s move. Nutting has become increasingly dissatisfied with the Pirates’ attendance, Mackey adds, although he also notes it difficult to gauge how much blame Coonelly should shoulder given the team’s underwhelming performance in recent seasons. Nutting himself, of course, has come under fire at times for the club’s payrolls, which consistently sit among the bottom third of the league.
This season was an unmitigated disaster for the organization. Not only did the team fall flat on the field, limping to a 69-93 record, it dealt with significant issues off it. Clubhouse discord bubbled to the surface and was leaked to the public, to say nothing of the heinous criminal acts allegedly committed by one of the organization’s highest-profile players. Coonelly certainly doesn’t deserve blame for all of the franchise’s woes, but it did seem that something of a house cleaning was in order, and Coonelly follows fired manager Clint Hurdle out the door.
It’s not yet clear what ramifications, if any, this will have on the Bucs’ baseball operations. 2020 could certainly be a make-or-break year for Huntington, at least. The organization is making changes both above and below him in the pecking order, so questions about his future as GM figure to persist in the coming months.