In 2012, after five seasons as Pirates general manager, Neal Huntington remained convinced the structure he had been building with homegrown players was solid — despite the team's struggles.
There had been 105 losses in 2010. A swoon in 2011 when a Pirates team that had stood first in late July staggered the rest of the way, losing 43 of its final 62 games.
Another flop in 2012, when the Pirates were first in late July and remained strong playoff contenders in mid-August before dropping 36 of their final 52 games for a 20th straight losing season, had a similarly unsettling effect.
"When we finished poorly, it undid a lot of the good from a fan basis and media basis...