MILWAUKEE -- Pittsburgh general manager Dave Littlefield had an Opening Day to remember long before the Bucs ever took the field.
On Monday morning, the Pirates announced that they have added a year to Littlefield's contract, extending it through the 2008 season.
Littlefield, 45, became Pittsburgh's 11th GM on July 13, 2001. The Pirates have posted a 286-360 record in his four full seasons with the club, including a 67-95 mark a year ago.
Although Littlefield has not been able to snap the team's run of consecutive losing seasons that began in 1993, he has successfully revamped a once-floundering farm system. By 2002, the Pirates had the second-highest Minor League win total, and they were named the Organization of the Year by Topps. Last season, four of the Pirates' six affiliates reached the postseason.
It was Littlefield's ability to rebuild the farm system and add veterans Sean Casey, Joe Randa, Jeromy Burnitz and Roberto Hernandez while maintaining a sub-$50 million payroll that were key factors in the organization's decision to extend his contract.
"Dave has done a good job for the Pirates organization, and he and his staff continue to improve our team," McClatchy said in a team release.
"In addition, he understands that our scouting and player development system is the lifeblood of this ballclub and the key to our sustained success."
The Pirates' 2006 Opening Day roster included 11 players -- Matt Capps, Zach Duke, Mike Gonzalez, John Grabow, Paul Maholm, Ian Snell, Humberto Cota, Ryan Doumit, Jose Castillo, Chris Duffy and Nate McLouth -- who came up through the Pirates farm system under Littlefield's watch.
"I'm very pleased [with the extension], and I feel confident that we're a much-improved team this year," said Littlefield. "We're turning the corner as an organization, and we have much better days ahead. Most of these players will be around for the next four or five years, and we have a new group knocking on the door.
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.