The Guardians have hired former Pirates general manager Neal Huntington as special assistant, baseball projects, reports Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic.
This is something of a homecoming for Huntington, as he spent about a decade working for the club, then known as the Indians, as part of his ascent to becoming a GM. He got his feet wet with the Expos, working as assistant director of player development in 1995, jumping to Cleveland in 1998, becoming assistant director of minor league operations, then director of player development, assistant general manager and special assistant to the general manager.
In 2007, the Pirates hired him to be their general manager, at a time when the club hadn’t made the playoffs since 1992. With Huntington at the helm, the club eventually managed to break that streak, finishing second in the NL Central and qualifying for the Wild Card game in three straight years, beginning in 2013. Unfortunately, that was the peak of the team’s success during Huntington’s time, as they faded in subsequent seasons, which included his most infamous transaction, sending Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Shane Baz to the Rays in exchange for Chris Archer. The club went on a firing spree in 2019, with Huntington being one of the casualties, along with the team’s president, manager and a few coaches, as the franchise underwent a massive overhaul. Ben Cherington was hired as the club’s new GM to undertake a total rebuild that is still ongoing, with the club finishing in the basement of the division the past three years.
Huntington now returns to an organization where he got his first sizable taste of front office work, though surely in a role that will be less forward-facing than his job in Pittsburgh.
Excellent move. Great eye for talent. Just couldn’t put together a development staff.
Hardly. Take it from a Pirates fan.
This man had some of the lowest WAR yields from draft picks in his tenure. Can’t count WAR from guys that left either.
Genuinely awful GM, poor development for minors to majors too.
@Macbeth Sorry but I refuse to take anything from someone who can’t read and comprehend.
What are you having trouble understanding? I thought I was fairly succinct.
I think you are being a bit hard on him saying he has no eye for talent. In his first draft as a GM every player he drafted from the first 6 rounds made it to MLB. Some of them are still playing today, 14 years later. It could be a lot worse. Look at the Yankees drafting the last 20 years. They lucked into Aaron Judge because most GMs thought he was going to be injury prone. If he didn’t have the health risk he would have been a top 5 pick. Other than that they are lucky if they get a home grown mid rotation pitcher every few years.
Also it wasn’t long ago when Pittsburgh was the place pitchers went to fix their careers. He obviously had a good eye for coaches and development staff. Guys like Burnett, Liriano and Happ became really good pitchers in Pittsburgh. It’s not his fault other teams were willing to pay his staff members like Ray Searage far more money. Plus, it seemed like every couple of years he would bring in a Yankees catcher and turn them into a star. I bet if he brought in Gary Sanchez he would be an MVP candidate. The blame for the Pirates organization belongs solely with ownership. He had to trade away stars for next to nothing because the rest of baseball knew the Pirates would not be signing them in FA. He did crap the bed on the Archer trade but honestly Glasnow and Meadows were nothing special in Pittsburgh and at first it was CoS for all of the players. Where he screwed up was including Baz in the deal a couple of weeks later. Everyone knew that was a bad move.
But he knows how to work cheap
How can you or anyone know whether he has a great eye for talent if it doesn’t eventually manifest on the field?
It manifested in Tampa Bay
Correct me if I’m wrong here but didn’t this guy play commissioner Gordon on Batman? Ahahahaha!
Not sure anyone who orchestrated the Baz, Meadows, Glasnow for Archer trade can ever be considered a “great eye of talent’. Seems to me that trade alone should disqualify this guy from any glowing reviews.
You know, it’s funny. Over the course of his first few years here, he was lauded for assembling a contending team. But even Nutting seemed to be somewhat all-in at that point
When that team never advanced very far, you almost sensed a paradigm shift with ownership that certainly trickled down to the GM’s office. No doubt in my mind he had his marching orders and equally got rid of big salaries -and- top prospects.
Not Huntington per se, as he seemed to fail where scouting and development of younger talent was concerned
* Not a fan of….
@ thecoffinnail & tiredolddude;
MLB FO’s processes have advanced a lot the past 5 years, so it’s easy for me to write this in hindsight, however……..
The fact is that Huntington did come in there and improve that franchise – FO, scouting, farm system, coaching, and the ML roster. However at some point the Pirates hit a wall. The pipeline of young prospects coming up seemed to be dwindling, and guys at the ML level were plateauing at lower levels than projected.
From afar it seems that Pirate fans wanted Nutting to up the budget to keep guys about to hit FA as well as sign name FA’s; but from Nutting’s standpoint the revenues coming in wouldn’t allow it. I believe at that point he soured on Huntington. In turn, Huntington overreached on ‘The Trade’ in a last chance effort to somehow get the momentum going again.
And here we are.
When Huntington left Cleveland his rep was that he was more of a scouting / fundamental evaluation guy, while the other Assistant GM – Antonetti – was a guy more into statistical analysis that was learning fundamental evaluations (something both he and Mark Shapiro were weak doing at the time). In retrospect, Shapiro and Antonetti did pick up the fundamental skills over time, but Huntington never did pick up the analytical skills. Both have become necessary to run successful FO’ in the highly competitive MLB today.
I’m not as fan of Mr. Nutting; but I also don’t begrudge him for protecting his downside – he did take control of the Pirates in Bankruptcy Court, and the man and his family can be ruined for life if the Pirates end up there again.
I am a big fan of Ben Cherington – who got the shaft in Boston and was blamed for doing what he was instructed by superiors to do. He took the arrows. Shapiro hired him in Toronto, and he was a big part of building that sensational farm system. He is both analytically and fundamentally savvy, and from my viewpoint has done a wonderful job in Pittsburgh building a strong infrastructure of FO and coaching people that are pulling together and using state-of-the-art techniques to build an upper level baseball organization. I’m excited by what is going on there, and believe they will be a sustainable power in the NL within 2-4 years.
I wish Mr. Huntington well and hope he can resurrect his ML career – as Mr. Cherington did his. It would be nice if both Cleveland and Pittsburgh baseball fans have pennant contending teams for years.
Where Nutting is concerned, sure, any businessman must look to continue a profitable venture. But you’re confusing the idea of protecting the franchise versus ensuring a continued windfall of profits. Unless I’m mistaken, Nutting has been the recipient of a great deal of wealth via the franchise alone over the past seven or eight years
I would submit that somewhere after he surmised that the Pirates most recent “glory era” couldn’t migrate beyond the first round of the playoffs, he understood that there is more to be gained by simply slashing salaries. After all, wins and losses, and attendance don’t dictate the bottom line. Thanks to the structure of MLB, here is an owner who understands that the obligation to provide a contending team pales in comparison to lots of revenue
Yes, Cherington has done remarkably well in restocking the minors and bringing in player development professionals. The question becomes, how will this play out in five years, when the kids get here, have some success and want substantial raises? Will the window again only be slightly open? I think Huntington’s time here provided a blueprint. No way the guy suddenly became comatose where trades and salaries were concerned
Isn’t he the same guy that drafted Baz, Meadows, and Glasnow?
Seems like the guy that did that, would have a decent eye for talent.
Nah that trade is so bad it pretty much over shadows everything else he did. I mean there’s bad and there is “DAMN that was bad!!!
@yourDreamGM. Agree. Huntington could put together good bullpens on a tight budget. Poor player development especially with drafted pitchers. Pirates rigidly held to pitch to contact for every pitcher.
The bullpen was his only true strength. He definitely strung together some solid pens scraped together with some nee scenery type guys like Hammer and Mark. The rest is sub par across the board.
Yeah, he’ll help you. *eye roll emoji*
Oscar the Grouch
Terrible move. Horrible management of talent. Just couldn’t help getting fleeced.
Sorry GM, that was fun though
Guardians president of baseball ops, Chris Antonetti, indicated in an article on cleveland.com today that Neal Huntington has rejoined the Guardians and will help with the refurbishing of Progressive Field. Huntington played a big role in the design of Cleveland’s Goodyear spring training center.
Oscar the Grouch
Home improvement? Well I guess as long as he doesn’t have any input on personnel decisions. Trading his dunce cap for a hard hat, best trade that he’s made!
Well, they are getting someone who knows how to NOT spend money. 🙂
Tribe putting the rest of baseball on notice with this move.
This is sarcasm right?
To quote Macbeth:
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”
It is perhaps a bit foreboding
I chuckle every time I see you post…
The good ol’ “guardians” hell of a ball club
Lol is that dood who hits the drums in the bleachers gonna stay or nah?
Lol haha. He’ll probably be up there knocking away on his drum in a guardians sweater lol .. most likely in a empty stadium. Lmao.
For some reason I’ve always enjoyed visiting that ballpark. People in that city are nice too. A great place by the lake.
If you’re obese tho it’s not a good place to live because the food is tremendous.
You get instant diabetes standing in line at one of them food vendors lol
Delicious Cleveland cuisine
Never been to the big league ballpark but the food at their spring training park is among the. The Philly cheesesteaks are enough to clog an artery but worth it.
Ducky Buckin Fent
Really underrated city.
Took my son there a few years ago to catch a Warriors/Cavs game. (He & his friends all loved the Warriors, man.) We went to the Rock & Roll hof & the Hall of Fame in Canton (about an hour away.) Food was great, hotel was nice, plenty of stuff to do for kids or adults.
I’d never been there before. We both had a great time though. Lake Erie is one of those waterfowling “destination hunts” or whatever too. Haven’t done it yet, myself. So I actually hope to get there again sometime.
John Adams has had health problem recently; not sure if he has commented publicly whether he will return under the circumstances. If not, he will be greatly missed. He was a fine ambassador for Tribe baseball.
He gonna eventually be sympathy fired
I mean this just makes sense
Great. They have money to pay one of their old cronies but not enough to put talent on the field. This “organization” sucks to the max.
What they are paying him wouldn’t buy them a minimum wage player for a month or two.
Really? Thanks for the economics lesson. Not being an idiot, I know that. But if you think he isn’t making six figures at a minimum your crazy. Taking his money plus the money they will waste on bringing in some past his prime player might get someone serviceable. But I guess you like the Punch and Judy OF we have.
Too big of a word? Yeah, crony. Definition: A close friend or companion. He used to work in the CLE organization before PIT hired him, so yeah, they brought back another Crony.
Good luck with that
I realize that execs are going to have hits and misses, but that Archer trade is cringeworthy.
Hopefully for his sake he learned from it.
Everyone seems to bring up his infamous failure trade. How about trading the face of the franchise (Andrew McCutchen) with 1 yr left on his contract to SFG for current fan favorite Bryan Reynolds. Cutch is an awesome guy and WAS a great player but the Pirates did what was best for the franchise.
Imagine if he had those 3 guys along with Bryan Reynolds instead of getting fleeced. That’s the problem. Trade is so bad it makes like the Bryan Reynolds one was dumb luck
Let’s not forget his terrible Cole trade with Houston. Not one high ceiling prospect in return.
I’ll never call them “the guardians” just to weird.. they’ll always be the Indians
The difference between “In” and “Guar” really tears you up that much?
Cool story, bro.
Actually, my team just won the World Series.
So, you are now a “winner”.
The Spiders have nothing to do with Guardians. The Guardians were never called the Spiders.. That was a totally different franchise in Cleveland!
Cool story, bro.
Not meant for you, Lookatme. Tried to reply to baseballdude and it replied to you for some reason.
I’m not going to get into the debate about his baseball acumen, but (in the small sample size of one conversation) he seems to be a genuinely nice guy.
When the SABR Conference was in Pittsburgh he and members of his staff spoke to us before the game, and did a Q & A. I had a question that I knew wasn’t of general interest, so I went up to him after it was over and and introduced myself.
I told him I’d been a Red Sox stat consultant and had done a lot of work trying to identify bad sleep patterns from game data. I was curious as to what degree teams were looking at sleep now, and specifically wanted to know if they tracked nightly sleep data of all the players.
He told me that they couldn’t do the latter because of privacy issues, which made good sense to me! But he said that, yes, there was a lot of attention being paid to players getting good sleep, and that most or all teams were doing it. He asked me when I’d done my work for the Sox (2005-2008; this was now 2018) and he totally surprised me by being impressed! He told me I was “a pioneer.” And said that again at the end of the conversation. Last thing I expected!
It’s really one of my favorite moments connected with that job. Just a completely down to earth guy, No ego apparent, just a love of the game.
. . .
Dude fleeced his rivals dozens of times, but sure judge him on one panic trade the owner forced him to make.
Guardians. This name sucks so bad they had to steal it from a roller derby team. Reminds me of that dodgeball movie. Cobras would’ve been a little better. Bang, bang .
Neil’s problem at Pittsburgh was he relied on his his general (i.e. – Greg Smith) too much. Smith was so bad as soon as Neil was out of Pittsburgh, he was fired, too, and is no longer in the game.
This is so huge. ALCS here we come. CLE is lucky that the city is waiting on Deshaun Watson to decide where he is going to play and not paying much attention to the Ivy League boys being the smartest guys in the room…smh
I was drunk opening day outside PNC. I callled out for him. He came over and we had about as good a talk as we could have. Nutting is as much to blame for that idiotic archer trade as him, maybe more