Pittsburgh, Pa., June 17, 2010 -- The Pittsburgh Pirates, riding the crest of a 10-game losing streak, today announced the organization extended the contracts of Neal Huntington, general manager, and John Russell, manager, through the 2011 season.
The Pirates actually extended the two contracts last off-season but neglected to tell anybody.
Coonelly announced the extensions one day following the team's 10th consecutive loss, in which the Pirates had more errors (six) than hits (five). The loss on Wednesday night dropped the team's record to 23-42, worst in the National League.
Explaining the curious timing of the announcement, Frank Coonelly, team president, said, "We're always out of contention by mid-June, so we figured this would be a good time to make this announcement and stir some interest in the team. The 10-game losing streak was a bonus. It reinforces what we're trying to do."
Coonelly added, "This move demonstrates our commitment to continuing the course we've been on for the past 17 years. The timing is good, too, because we wanted to deflect attention from the promotion of Pedro Alvarez, who is the most heralded prospect we've had here since Barry Bonds 24 years ago."
Regarding recent speculation about Huntington's job security, along with reports in the national media that Russell was on the verge of being fired, Coonelly said, "We are fully aware that a communications vacuum leads to rumors, so we wanted to have fun watching both Neal and John twist in the wind. That was nice."
Team owner Bob Nutting was unavailable for comment but reportedly stands by his assertion that Coonelly, Huntington and Russell comprise "the single best management team in all of baseball, maybe in all of sports."
Huntington hired Russell to start the 2008 season. Since then, the club has compiled a record of 152-236 for a winning percentage of .392. The Pirates are headed for a record 18th consecutive losing season, worst in the history of all four major professional sports in the United States.
The franchise this year is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its 1960 World Series championship over the New York Yankees, capped by Bill Mazeroski's historic ninth-inning home run to win game seven of the series.