Tag: John Russell

Pittsburgh Pirates: Year-End Awards Edition

I know everyone has been on the edge of their seats anxiously awaiting to see who would be so lucky to be honored by achieving my year-end Pirates awards.

On a team that lost 105 games, awards aren’t likely for many of these guys. Or deserved for that matter. What fun would that be though?

Let’s dive right in and see who receives the dubious honors to conclude the 2010 season.

Feel free to comment and add your own opinions on each award.

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Pittsburgh Pirates and the Potential End of the John Russell Era

In one of the worst seasons in Pittsburgh Pirates history, it was almost fitting that the season ended with a loss—a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Florida Marlins Sunday afternoon.

Along with the loss come the rumors of the possible firing of manager John Russell and that General manager Neal Huntington will be retained.

For a change, I agree with both decisions if they were to happen.

First, Huntington.  He’s done a quality job bringing talent into the organization.  Look at the whole organization now, from the time he took over for Dave Littlefield. For the average players he had to deal, he’s done a fine job of trying to rebuild the Pirates.

The Pirates went from having no prospects four years ago to having the organization flooded with “real prospects.”  He’s drafted great.  He’s gotten involved in international free agents.  he’s doing an overall good job.  When you criticize Huntington, don’t forget he’s got a cheap owner backing him.  The sky isn’t exactly the limit for him.

Sure Huntington has made a couple of mistakes, but his overall track record has been solid.  he deserves the chance to see his guys reach the majors.

Now onto Russell.  The fact is, someone has to be held accountable.  You can make whatever excuses you want for Russell, but the facts are that he didn’t get the job done.  You can say that they traded away all of his players in 2009, but he didn’t win when they were here to begin with either.

Sure, he hasn’t had great talent, but he had to do better then he did.  In three seasons, Russell compiled a record of 186-289.  His .383 winning percentage is ninth worse of all-time.  The names ahead of him?  You don’t know any of them.  All of them managed in the early 1900s or late 1800s.

Other than Roy Hartsfield (.343 winning percentage), who managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977-79, Russell is statistically the worst manager in baseball over the past 100 years.  He has to be held accountable for that.

Aside from the wins and losses, there is the lazy demeanor.  I firmly believe that teams take on the personality of their manager.  That is evident in this team, because the Pirates are lazy on the field.  Sure they hustle, but they don’t have the fire to them.

Many people want Russell fired because he doesn’t come out and rant and rave like Lou Piniella would.  I could care less about that. I don’t need a guy that draws attention to himself. 

What I do need, though, is a guy who will stick up for his players, which Russell doesn’t.  How many times do the Pirates pitchers not get the call a couple inches off the plate, but have it go against them when they are batting?  A good manager doesn’t let that happen for 162 games.

Russell, and his staff, also must be held accountable for the lack of fundamentals this team shows.  Sure they are young, but they make far too many fundamental mistakes.  Way too often: the Pirates don’t throw to the right base, miss the cut off man, fail to lay down bunts, can’t hit behind the runner, etc.

Little things win games and the Pirates don’t do them under Russell.

Also, has there ever been a worse base running team then this current Pirates club?  The players didn’t ever get held accountable, so they continued to make the same mistakes over and over again.

The facts are that with all of the promising young talent the Pirates have now and the ones that will be called up in the future, you don’t want them playing for Russell.  There are just too many bad, lazy habits to be learned under Russell and his staff.

Who should replace him?  It’s way too early to tell.  I’ve often dropped names like Phil garner, Willie Randolph, and Bobby Valentine, but none of those guys will want to work for the cheap Bob Nutting.

You have to hire a manager that has won before though.  You need someone who will gain the respect of the players from the first day he’s on the job.  They need a guy to come in and say, “This isn’t the way we play here anymore.”

One name I would like to see here is Freddie Gonzalez.  He has experience managing young players and definitely showed he is a no nonsense type of manager.  he’s also a candidate for both the Cubs and the Braves openings, so the Pirates likely have no chance at him.

Another name to keep an eye on is former Indians manager Eric Wedge.  Sure, things didn’t end well for him in Cleveland, but many people forget that Wedge had a young Indians team only one win away from the World Series.

The problem is that there will likely be over ten managerial openings this upcoming offseason.  None of the qualified candidates are going to want to work for a cheap owner, no matter how promising the young talent on the field is.

Either way, Russell must go and the Pirates absolutely can not make a mistake hiring his replacement.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Pittsburgh Pirates Part Ways With Altoona Manager Matt Walbeck

It was announced that Altoona Manager Matt Walbeck would not be brought back for the 2011 season, just weeks after leading the Curve to the Eastern League Championship.  Walbeck also was voted Manager of the Year in the Eastern League, which makes the move surprising.

The Pirates haven’t released all of the details on the move, but it is known that Walbeck was looking to be promoted to AAA or the MLB level after his successful run in AA.  The Pirates weren’t willing to create a spot for him, so they parted ways.

As far as a promotion, there is no way that Walbeck should be considered to manage at the MLB level right now.  When they give current manager John Russell walking papers, he needs to be replaced by a quality big league manager.  If they intend to replace Russell down the line with a manager that hasn’t proven anything at the MLB level, then it makes no sense to make a change at all.

Moving Walbeck up to AAA, would have seemed like a better option.  Current Indianapolis Indians manager Frank Kremblas has done nothing spectacular there, but to his defense, all of the Pirates talent is currently at AA.

The case you can make for Walbeck is that all of the players he’s worked with at Altoona will soon be playing in Indianapolis.

In the end though, it really doesn’t matter who manages in the minor leagues right now.  The goal is to win at the major league level.

The problem here though is the horrible PR that the Pirates keep generating for themselves.  A team that hasn’t won in 18 seasons can’t afford all the bad press.

All that casual fans will see is that the Pirates organization finally did something right by winning in AA and they immediately got rid of the guy responsible for leading the team to success.

This should hardly be news at all, but the Pirates just don’t seem to care about negative fan reaction, which they should.

Why announce this at all?  Why right now?  It just doesn’t make sense from a PR standpoint.

Believe me, no one would care two or three months from now when they announce a new manager.  Most people wouldn’t even remember what type of year the Curve even had in 2010.  Instead, the Pirates announce that now when it’s still fresh on most fans’ mind.

Are they trying to anger their fanbase?

It just makes no sense.  These are the same people that tried to hide the fact that they gave extensions to Russell and general manager Neal Huntington because of fear of negative press. 

So, naturally they go out and give something negative for people to talk about.

This just goes to show that the Pirates don’t just have to get better on the field.  They have to get better in every aspect of the organization.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Out With the Old, In With the New: 10 Likely Offseason MLB Managerial Changes

The 2010 MLB offseason definitely will be known as one of the busiest in terms of managerial moves and firings. Some the of the games best might call it quits and it will certainly be the end of an era in baseball. 

We’ve already had a pair of managers who seem very much safe in the Royals’ Ned Yost and Orioles’ Buck Showalter.

Come Opening Day 2011, we will have seen a 60 percent of the managers from the 2010 Opening Day, an amazing and shocking drop from 40 percent. 

The offseason will feature many moves and hirings that will be the start of new eras in ball clubs around baseball and here are those managers on the fringe:

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MLB Rumors: Cliff Lee Coming Back to Phillies, Pedro Martinez, and More

Hey guys, and welcome to today’s rumor mill for Major League Baseball!

We’ll be discussing some pretty good rumors around the MLB, so you may want to stick around to catch the excitement.

Will Cliff Lee be traded back to his old team, the Philadelphia Phillies?

Will Pedro Martinez join him? Or will he go to a different team?

All of these rumors and a lot more on today’s MLB Rumor Mill!

So check out the rumors.

Hope you enjoy them.

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Trey Hillman Fired: Who’s the Next Manager on the Chopping Block?

The struggling Kansas City Royals have dumped Trey Hillman and replaced him with former Brewers skipper Ned Yost. But don’t expect Hillman to be the only MLB manager to be sent packing. There are plenty of other managers who also find themselves standing on thin ice. And so without adieu, here are the managers who I think will be gone before season’s end.

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