It’s freezing outside, work restricts me from leaving my current confinements, and I’m currently in that stage between being tired and going stir crazy. Long story short, all I can think about is baseball.
I just finished watching “2010 Pittsburgh Pirates: Light at the End of the Tunnel” On FSN. It was a pretty decent watch, but all it did was make me want more baseball.
Enough boo-hooing, let’s get into this:
You know it, I know it, your grandmother knows it…2010 was a flat out let down for Pirates fans. Neal Huntington, Bob Nutting, and Frank Coonley got us all riled up and ready to watch the Pirates compete with all their talks of contention and a youth movement, and stocking up on talent for the future last winter and needless to say, we all got a big, 105 loss lump of coal in our stocking.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not your A-typical fan who is all hot and bothered and ready to burn them at the stake for the past three years. I didn’t really think they’d compete…did you? I didn’t expect to see one of the worst teams in Pirates history either though.
I think the management team has the right idea here, they refuse to spend wastefully in the free agent market and put faith and encouragement into their young players which is something special. Hitting the field knowing that your superiors believe in you brings a whole new level to your game. Unfortunately that’s not all you need in Major League Baseball.
John Russell is out, our starting rotation was a revolving door of 5+ ERA’s, our hitters swung at anything, and our defense couldn’t catch a cold, let alone a baseball, half the time. These are all things you know. I won’t bore you with specifics. Yet somehow there are still believers out there, still fans making their way to the North Shore to see their Buccos. There has to be something on the horizon, right? I believe there is. No one’s organizing walk outs, which would fail miserably anyway. (I mean really, if you pay $9 or more for seats, $10 for parking, and $20 on food you aren’t going to leave. That would be a poor investment. Stick it out, maybe you’ll catch a foul ball or witness a huge comeback. Who knows?)
John Russell signed on with the Pirates before the 2008 season. He posted a 186-299 record in three seasons as manager. He was promptly relieved of his duties after the end of the 2010 season.
From any angle, 2011 already looks like a better year for the Pirates. Most of the talent is here, and if it isn’t here chances are you’ll see this coming season. Here are my thoughts on next season’s coaching staff:
Manager – Clint Hurdle
Hurdle is expected to take the manage job. He’s done a pretty good job in his day as a hitting coach but was a pretty mediocre manager in Colorado. (He had a track record of 534-625 in 8 years with the Rockies. Still better than anything JR had.) He wouldn’t be the worst guy to get the job. Half of Pittsburgh is jaded because Tony Pena or Phil Garner, or Andy Van Slyke weren’t considered for the job, but last time I checked half of Pittsburgh doesn’t run a major league team. Besides, these are probably the same people who criticized the old management as “homers” when they drafted Neil Walker in ’04. Now Neil is in consideration for Rookie of the Year. I think they got over it.
Hurdle may make the team hit better, which is great. He’s considered by many to be loyal to the front office, which some people criticize but that’s neither here nor there at this point. I like to focus on the positives. He’s been around baseball his entire life and worked with the Rangers who are somewhat similar team. He’s been known to be passionate and outspoken with his team and will more than likely drive this team to do better. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Hurdle was manager of the Colorado Rockies from 2002 until 2009. He was replaced by former Pirates manager, Jim Tracy.
Bench Coach – Jeff Banister
Banister’s been with the organization since he was a player and he knows these guys really well. Banister’s a good guy who’s had his share of rough times and only lasted in the big leagues for one at-bat. He got a hit and you got to love a guy who’s hitting 1.000. Banister is also considered to be second in the running for the manager position. He’s young enough, passionate enough, and has the desire to win as much as anyone in the Pirates organization. I’m almost certain that he’ll stay on the bench coach if Hurdle gets the job as manager.
Jeff Banister (above left) has been with the Pirates organization for over 25 years, first as a player and later as a coach. Though he only had one at-bat at the Major League level, Banister has the experience to make a great coach.
Pitching Coach – Ray Searage
They’re crazy if they don’t. Plain and simple. Searage made progress with Charlie Morton who was just outright disastrous this season. The man is clearly a miracle worker and put in visible work with his staff. The rotation got better in Ray’s short time with them and he knows many of the pitchers from their time in AAA Indy. They should at least give him a shot at it. Some pitchers openly said that Joe Kerrigan tried to change their mechanics. Brad Lincoln seemed to suffer the most from it. Searage didn’t do too shabby at ironing out kinks that were allegedly left by Kerrigan, hence the reason he’s my pick for Pitching Coach.
Ray Searage replaced Joe Kerrigan as interim pitching coach for the big league club in Septemeber.
Hitting Coach – ???
This job is pretty much up for grabs. Whoever lands the manager job will probably get the say here, which will be interesting. Hurdle will probably pick somebody relatively good as he was a hitting coach himself and didn’t do too shabby. Banister would probably stick with Don Long, which may be a mistake. I like Don, he seems like a great guy, but he just isn’t getting the job done.
Third Base Coach – Anyone but Beasley
Remember when Andy LaRoche got caught up going after being told to round the bag and ended up getting himself and McCutchen out? Yeah, me too.
Both Andy LaRoche and Andrew McCutchen would be tagged out at third due to a slew of baserunning errors, partially on Tony Beasley’s behalf.
First Base Coach/Infield Instructor – ???
This position on the coaching staff is much like the hittign coach as it’s up for grabs. Unfortunately the Pirates have no shot at ever landing Perry Hill again as they would not let him negotiate with other teams after leaving Pittsbugh still under contract. Carlos Garcia hasn’t done very well here but would probably remain with Banister at the helm. Hurdle may try to mix things up a bit, but whoever he found would have to be a miracle worker with how woeful the defense was in 2010, especially in the infield.
The Pirates ranked in the bottom of the MLB for defense in 2010 after being number one in 2009. This team is in strong need of guidence for the future as the youthful core of the team shows promise, but needs polish.
That’s about it in this department. I don’t feel the need to examine bullpen coaches because I don’t think they have much impact on the game and the Pirates have a pretty successful outfield without the aid of an outfield instructor.
On-Deck: Coming Up Short – The Pirates Lack Impact An Shortstop in System