A Hurdle to overcome

It's appropriate that the new manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates is named Hurdle, because there's quite a jump that needs to be made to make his new team respectable again.

The Pirates have gone through 18 straight losing seasons, the longest such streak in major league history, and they brought in Clint Hurdle to skipper the team. Hurdle had only one winning season in eight years running the Colorado Rockies, though that one was quite memorable, resulting in a World Series trip in 2007.

Most Consecutive Losing Seasons

MLB History

Hurdle's .461 winning percentage rates second-worst among current managers who have managed at least 1,000 games. The only one worse is Nationals manager Jim Riggleman, whose winning percentage stands at .442 entering the 2011 season.

But one reason for Hurdle's hiring would be that he might find a way to add some punch to the Pirates inept offense. Last season, Hurdle was the hitting coach for a Texas Rangers team that was one of baseball's best offensive squads. The Pirates fall on the other end of the spectrum. They finished last in the National League in runs and batting average, and next-to-last with a .678 OPS.

The good thing for Hurdle. It would be hard for him to do any worse than that Pirates team did. Pittsburgh finished with 105 losses, its most since losing 112 times in 1952, the third-most losses in a season in team history.

He'll be the sixth manager to take a shot at ending the Pirates losing ways, hoping to succeed where Jim Leyland, Gene Lamont, Lloyd McClendon, Jim Tracy, and John Russell all failed.