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Sunday column: The one who didn’t get extended

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Sunday column on the Pirates’ extensions for Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle looks instead at Frank Coonelly, the man who made the offers.

News coverage of the extensions, by beat man Rob Biertempfel.

Bob Nutting cites stability, by Travis Sawchik.

Videos of all concerned …

Francisco Liriano’s slow start buried the Pirates last night vs. St. Louis, by Biertempfel.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Pirates page and our Bucco Blog.

Here’s Cardinals news from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Here are official game highlights on

>> I’ll join Alan Robinson, Chris Adamski and host Alby Oxenreiter on WPXI-TV Subway Final Word tonight at 11:35 p.m., a live edition to account for the Penguins playing in Denver.

>> Thank you, as always, for reading.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    DK – Nice column….But in regards to the Coonelly quotes….I haven’t laughed so hard since the “destroyed printer” scene in Office Space.
    That Frank Coonelly really knows how to get it on…..

  2. Endison Volquez pitched two good innings against the Cubs last Thursday. And now, we’ll see if that can continue against the Cardinals this afternoon, weather permitting.

  3. JD says:

    DK – nice column today. It does seem that the Pirates have a good leadership team in place.

  4. bpn8pitt says:

    I’ve been one of Neal’s biggest critics in the blog world and on twitter. He has made some bad trades, questionable picks in the draft, and more misses than hits in free agency.

    All that being said, none of his predecessors came close to 94 wins. None of them amassed the talent that’s on the roster now. Went to the playoffs.

    They have a young GM who rebuilt a farm system and has embraced the new school thinking in baseball. They are on national TV, playing to pack crowds at home. I’ll take it.

    What I would like to see, is Neal giving the assets to add to this team AND keep it together.

    Your up Bob and Frank. Time to start swinging.

  5. 21sthebest says:

    0% chance of rain/phantom rain.

  6. ziv34 says:

    Can you, can anyone… shed some light on whats up with Vance Worley? Is he on the 25 Man? It doesnt sound like it? Whats his exemption? Whats the plan with him going forward? Also did Vinny Maz clear waivers?

  7. bpn8pitt says:

    I’m going to the Pitt game today. Wont be on “Volquez Watch”.

    I do hope he pitches well. Just wouldn’t put money on it.

    Be good Jandy. You, too, Plan.

  8. ziv34 says:

    Also whats up with our Rule 5 guy we lost?

  9. Eric Bowser says:

    No need to worry about cloak & dagger, criticism of fans and media, or DUI arrests…

    Hoka Hey

  10. JoeyBats says:

    Hoka Hey!

    If you see Frank C @ the game ….. ” have an Ahrn with him!” ;-)

  11. Thundercrack says:

    The Brewers have kept that Rule 5 guy. He’s in their bullpen – but hasn’t seen any action yet this year.

  12. macchamp74 says:

    Sun is out, going to be a nice day.

  13. NMR says:

    Good man, bpn. Let’s go PITT.

  14. NMR says:

    Worley is on a minor league deal that does not require him to be added to the 40-man roster.

    The team is supposed to be working him out in extended spring training before sending him to AAA(as a starter).

  15. NMR says:

    Won’t even try to lie and say my mind wasn’t already racing before starting to read DK’s column, but kudos to him for the ability to write a piece that was pertinent and disarming all at the same time. Certainly broadened my perspective.

  16. Mizery says:

    Wow. The Pirates and Penguins both play and can only muster one run/goal between them. Depressing sports day. I hope Sunday works out better.

  17. Patrick(ri) says:

    First off, I am not a fan of FC. But, I have never been a critic of his job performance because it was never terribly clear to me what it was. I, like most fans have a decent comprehension of a Gm’s duties, but only a vague idea of the job description a Team President might have. How much delegation, lines of communication, etc. Of course, the low hanging fruit of a DUI is not among them, but it is pretty clear that the owner was willing to overlook that (who knows what kind of mandates were issued thereafter?).

    In short, for all we know, Seal-like training looked good from an upper mid-level business perspective as a partial cure for the worst sorts franchise in history. Maybe his primary duty is simply to not lose money. It is even possible the ultimate boss was relieved to get that tv contract?

    Finally, how many people can name the Cardinals president, without resorting to Google? I’ll bet it is only a BFD in Pittsburgh.

  18. NMR says:

    Upon second read, something that was all throughout the column really stood stands out…

    When did I miss Frank Coonelly being elevated ABOVE the rest of the Best Management Team In Baseball?

    “Based on what I know, Coonelly’s voice was the only one that mattered once Nutting came to him for discussions that determined the future of the franchise.”

    It is a bit unnerving that Coonelly somehow apparently managed to escape any and all scrutiny after 2012, at least when it comes to keeping his job. No wonder the guy isn’t worried about having a contract.

  19. Thundercrack says:

    Great Sunday morning chuckle when I read this paragraph. It is from a column by John McGrath in a Seattle newspaper. He thinks the A’s should have to forfeit the game from the other night against the Mariners when the field was not ready for play. But this paragraph really caught my eye
    For that matter, the Mariners’ front office still can’t rid itself of a reputation sports-radio talkers still rail about in Seattle — cheapskates, more concerned with the bottom line of budgets than contending for championships. Rewarding ace Felix Hernandez with a seven-year, $175 million contract didn’t count, apparently, and paying $240 million to free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano was just a smoke screen to conceal a latent obsession for counting pennies.

    Read more here:

  20. Thundercrack says:

    By the looks of the photo above it looks like everything is cool between Hurdle and FC. Groat had given us that scouting report from ST that FC took Hurdle’s spot on the field and CH may have given him the stink-eye.


  21. jeffinplano says:

    Good to see both NH and CH extended. I think they are both deserving. One thing about “at-will” Frank is that another team can come in at any time and take him away if he doesn’t have a contract… I don’t know much about him, but under his stewardship the Pirates have gotten to a good place and seem to have things in place for that to continue. So wouldn’t FC be attractive to run another organization that might not have the fiscal constraints of the Pirates (the Mets immediately come to mind)? So wouldn’t it be prudent to lock him up with a contract? Just wondering aloud from afar…

  22. Andrew says:

    Interesting facts about Frank Coonelly;

    He help craft the original draft slotting rules, while head of MLB labor negotiations, slotting rules that the Pirates routinely flouted and have since been tightened.

    He was with the league offices, when revenue sharing was expanded and the luxury tax instituted, but is on the record as favoring a salary cap and floor during his time with the Pirates.

    Lifelong Phillies fan.

    NMR, I do not think his job was in jeopardy because the “crisis” was on the baseball side of the operations, the business side was fine. I am not sure what the organization flow chart looks like for the Pirates but I view Coonelly as the first lieutenant of Bob Nutting, thus above the fray, but who really knows how the Regime is run.

  23. theplanisworking says:

    DK, nice column.
    Frank has been a buffoon at times, and has deserved every bit of criticism that he has received. It is hard to qualify what he does, so it is hard to qualify how much he is responsible for the Pirates success. I can only directly connect the Bowtie Bar to him, maybe some of the ticket pricing/season ticket sales, but that’s all I can come up with.

    As to whether or not another team would want to come after his services, I think the gaffes he has made during his tenure here would make other teams nervous. Could you imagine how some of that would have played out in the NY/LA markets?

    That being said, aside from his many gaffes, and strange statements, and that DUI, the Pirates are trending the right direction. Lets just hope Mr. Nutting has him in a dedicated AA program, so he can do the Pirates good. Still say they should invest in a PR man/woman for Frank, but ……… here is hoping Frank speaks little, and stays out of the way — not being an impediment to success.

  24. theplanisworking says:

    Condolances to Oshie’s Badgers.
    To get beat on a last second shot……… that’s rough.

    Now I root for Connecticut.

  25. NMR says:


  26. NMR says:

    Judging by the column, I don’t think there is any doubt at all that Coonelly is above the fray.

    And I’m not sure I can believe that there is a clean cut between the business side and baseball side of operations. If Nutting was doing a top-down review of the organization, I don’t see any reason for Coonelly not to be included.

    But this is all more theory and generality than anything. Coonelly has seemingly made the correct call, and should be – dare I say – lauded for it.

  27. Andrew says:

    In an interview about the business side of baseball at a Rockies blog I found this gem.

    “There is a perception here that the Broncos do their spending sprees for big free agents and all that, but the Rockies only get a Justin Morneau or a Boone Logan. That makes Rockies fans wonder if the owners are just not willing to spend.”

  28. Thundercrack says:

    Nice…but it doesn’t really roll off the tongue.

  29. NMR says:

    The common denominator is clear: Salary Cap.

  30. Thundercrack says:

    ‘but that’s all I can come up with’
    —I am sure that your investigation was exhaustive.

    ‘Lets just hope Mr. Nutting has him in a dedicated AA program, so he can do the Pirates good.’
    –Sure. The guy was arrested 2 years ago, the judge ordered FC enter a program for first-time offenders, and his boss, BN, said at the time “These mistakes are not characteristic of the man that I know and I am confident he has learned from them.” , and he hasn’t been staggering around drunk in public – or had another DUI – but you think he should be in a dedicated AA program.

  31. theplanisworking says:

    I believe any person who gets a DUI should be in AA.
    That is just me. But if one doesn’t have the sense to NOT get a DUI, when police lay in wait outside of bars to nab people, well, clearly some help is needed. Or, when people go the wrong way down an interstate highway.

    Also, how do you know that Frank hasn’t had another DUI?
    He hid it for 4/5 months the last time, and only when a blurb came out in the Ross Twp. Police blotter did we find out about it. If that would have been you, I, or Joe the barber, it wouldn’t have been kept secret for over 4 months.

    Also, you, DK and I had a lengthy discussion on this here blog last year to name what FC does. Other than the Bowtie Bar, you were completely stumped, as were DK and myself. So, the investigation didn’t have to be very exhaustive at all. No one really knows what he does, or his accomplishments. You’re welcome.

  32. Thundercrack says:

    FC is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization.

    That comes from the Pirate web site. He’s the President of the team.
    It may not be that much different than what the Presidents of Range Resources, USX or Highmark are responsible for.

  33. theplanisworking says:

    ” —I am sure that your investigation was exhaustive. ”

    I at least listed 2 things, you brought the nebulous answer from the Pirates website, which really says nothing. But thanks for the shot. Typical of you.

    And, you didn’t bother to answer the question of whether or not you can 100% say he hasn’t had another DUI. You can’t say he hasn’t, I can’t say he has………….. but you came out with the definitive statement. You were too busy defending one of your heroes to do that.

    I know you don’t like any dissenting opinions when it comes to the FO, but people have dissenting opinions anyway. Doesn’t mean you have to lie in wait to go after those you don’t agree with. Wait, nevermind, that’s what you do.

    Enjoy the game today.

  34. Thundercrack says:

    I don’t know if FC has had another DUI or seven more DUI. You don’t know either but you seem to enjoy assuming that – – or jumping to conclusions about things you don’t know about.

    What definitive statement did I come out with? That the judge said that he was a first time offender? Sorry my crystal ball can’t tell me if he had more.


  35. theplanisworking says:

    ” I don’t know if FC has had another DUI or seven more DUI. You don’t know either but you seem to enjoy assuming that – – or jumping to conclusions about things you don’t know about.”

    You can’t say he hasn’t, I can’t say he has. It’s right there TC. I stated that I don’t know if he has, and I said as much. So where did I say he had another DUI? Or that I assumed it? I will wait.


    ” What definitive statement did I come out with?”

    Well, since you asked ………
    ” and he hasn’t been staggering around drunk in public – or had another DUI – ” There ya go. You definitely stated he hasnt been staggering drunk, or got another DUI. You and I don’t know that, now do we?

    And, you can shake your head all you want.
    I shake my head at you also.

    Again, enjoy the game.
    Say hi to Frank for me. Wish him well.
    Just don’t shake your head while you greet him…… he might find it a bit strange.

  36. cmat0829 says:

    There have been two articles as well in MLB TradeRumors this week about payroll and ownership…one is the Nationals…President made a comment that they are WAY over budget and that they run this ‘like a business’… there was another team too but I can’t remember it.

    To me, I will NEVER criticize a sports owner who wants to run it like a business and make money… I will of course criticize the owners/front office for not spending money that IS AVAILABLE, like the $12M that is obviously available RIGHT NOW for this team.

  37. Sisyphus says:

    “I believe any person who gets a DUI should be in AA.”
    I believe that it is proper to ignore the opinions of anyone who is using a gross generalization.

    “Also, how do you know that Frank hasn’t had another DUI?”
    I believe that it is also proper to ignore the opinions of people who are talking out of their behinds.

  38. Ghost says:

    Could not agree more, NMR.
    And given Frank’s slipperiness and previous history of deceiving us, I am not going to take at face value his representation of his status with the team. It may well be true. Or it may not be. Good move by him and Nutting extending the other two, though.

  39. theplanisworking says:

    Then you will always ignore yourself, huh?


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