Here is a statement from Pirates president Frank Coonelly addressing the status of general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell. He confirms that, during the offseason, the Pirates extended both Huntington and Russell through 2011:
As you know, we have respectfully declined to discuss publically the contract status of our non-player personnel. While I continue to believe that internal understandings regarding goals, expectations, standards, performance and progress towards meeting those goals are far more productive than public votes of confidence or public discussions about the years remaining on an employee’s contract, it is clear that the desire to ascertain the number of years that remain on our manager’s contract has become and will remain a distraction, precisely the result we sought to avoid by declining to discuss such matters.
As a result, while we have demonstrated in the past that a contract will not prevent us from making a change if one is appropriate and thus contract status truly is irrelevant, we will confirm that during the off-season we exercised the Club’s 2011 option on JR’s contract and added a fourth year (2011) to Neal’s contract. We did so because we believed that they were successfully implementing the organization’s vision of building a baseball organization that could compete for championships on a consistent basis. We understood that returning this once-proud organization to championship baseball would not happen overnight and that the progress that we were making towards reaching our goal made such extensions appropriate. Despite our very disappointing play at the Major League level thus far this year, we remain convinced that we are making progress towards our goal. We demand performance at all levels of the organization and will continue to hold each and every person in the organization accountable for that performance.
All of us are extremely disappointed and frustrated by the Club’s results on the field thus far this year. While we have made tremendous progress towards executing our long-term vision of building an organization that acquires and develops talented players who will form a core that can consistently compete for championships, we have, collectively, fallen far short of our shorter term goal of playing winning baseball at the Major League level in 2010. We expected that this Club would perform much better than it has to date. With the significant changes that have been made to the roster recently, we still expect that the Club will perform much better during the rest of the season. While it has been painfully obvious that several players have not performed up to expectations, we have been and continue on a daily basis to analyze all of the reasons that we have performed so poorly and how we can get the Club turned around immediately.
We understand the very difficult job that we have given JR as we have completely revamped an underachieving veteran roster and invested heavily in the acquisition and development of young players who can return the Pirates to winning baseball. While dismissing the manager when the Club is performing poorly is common in this industry, it is not the appropriate response in this case. JR’s contract status has played no role in this determination.