Life After Littlefield: Pirates head to Chicago, Huntington & Hurdle extended, Taillon surgery


This past weekend we saw the Pirates take 2 of 3 from a very good St. Louis Cardinals team, with the Pirates getting quality starting pitching performances from Gerrit Cole and newcomer Edinson Volquez in games 1 and 3 of the series.  The Pirates will now begin a 9-game road trip tonight in Chicago before making stops in Milwaukee and Cincinnati.  The Pirates were also hit with some good news and some bad news this weekend.

First the good news.  On Saturday, the Pirates officially announced that they extended the contracts of GM Neal Huntington and skipper Clint Hurdle for 3 years, with team options for the 2018 season.  For those that don’t know what “team options” mean, it means that the president and owner have the choice to exercise those options, retaining the both of them for the 2018.  This is extremely good news for the team, players, fans, and city.  Huntington inherited an absolute mess of an organization back in 2007 and has not only rebuilt the major league roster into a playoff team, but also the farm system as it is ranked #1 according to Baseball America.  As for Hurdle, he has done exactly what was expected of him; win baseball games.  In his 4 seasons as Pirates manager he has went 248-242, the same can’t be said for many of his predecessors.  Both of these moves are huge for the Pirates as we are just beginning to see the talent that these guys have drafted and developed over the past few seasons.

Now for the worst news you’ve heard since your professor said he’d be taking attendance this semester.  Around 1 PM Sunday, many of us got the ESPN ScoreCenter update or Twitter notification stating that Pirates’ top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon will be forced to have Tommy John surgery on his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.  This is just gut-wrenching news for the Pirates and their fans.  While the injury does not have a direct impact on the major league roster at this moment, it does effect how Huntington and Hurdle will approach the second half of the season as Taillon was expected to pitch for the Pirates at some point this season.  Instead, the 22-year-old will be on the shelf for the next 12 to 18 months, and will likely miss all of the 2015 season; potentially missing some of the 2016 season as well depending on how quickly he recovers.  The bright side of this is that Taillon won’t turn 23 until November, meaning he is still very young and could take the mound at some point during his age-24-season at the earliest.  Taillon’s career is far from over; it just hit a slight bump in the road.

Charlie Morton will face off against Edwin Jackson and the Cubs for the second time already this season tonight at 8:05 PM in Chicago.  As always, it will be important for Morton to use his sinker to keep the ball on the ground and out of the crazy jet streams of Wrigley Field.