Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Slow Manager Search

The Manager search for the Pirates is going no where fast, and that is actually a good thing. Many candidates like Dave Sevum have removed their names. Others like Eric Wedge have gotten other jobs. Their are still a few names out there, and hopefully a few more from the teams in the playoffs soon to be added.

What this means is that the Pirates are taking their time and making sure they get the right fit. The Pirate job is one of endless potential, but will require some real work. Managers may not make a whole lot of difference normally, but I think with real young teams, they do have a higher impact. The younger the team, the greater the impact of the manager. I think that showed in John Russel. He was really laid back, no emotion, no urgency. He was also apparently not a great communicator, and failed in teaching to his rather young squad. There was no improvement in defensive liabilities like Milledge and Cedano at all, nor was their any improvement in McCutchen and Jones who showed great promise last year. McCutchen is still great, but showed no maturity in his route running in the field, and Jones's defense was not any better and he still cannot hit the outside pitch.

What the Pirates need is a manager who is going to force the team to focus on the details, like rules about base running, how to approach a fly ball and relay throws. The manager will also need to do a lot of coaching for the young guys. Making sure they shake off bad games, stay away from bad habits, and keeping their progress going. This is not a job for just any manager.

The more time the Pirates take, the more I think they are taking it seriously. I am glad they see the value the manager has on a young team. Now I hope they go interview Tony Pena.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wedge out but maybe Tony Pena

There is a nice article about the Pirate manager slot. I had not thought about Tony Pena before. That would be perfect. I hope that the Pirates are holding out for some more manager interviews. With Wedge out of the conversation since being hired by the Mariners, I have two favorites. Ron Wotus (as I mentioned in the last post), and Tony Pena. I think Art Howe is a distant third with Ken Macha behind that.
I have already sung the praises of Ron Wotus, and I think the playoffs are showing what a great coaching staff the Giants have. Now let me wax on about Tony Pena. If memory serves me right, he was the head guy with Kansas City in the past. Not altogether successful, but experience nonetheless. Pena has for some time now sat at the feet of Joe Girradi, a great manager, and been bench coach in New York. There is no place to learn what it is like to win than with the Yankees. Pena also has connections to the Pirate past, which I think is a plus, but I do not think that current management cares as much as I do. I also think he would show more emotion than

I have to admit a coaching staff of Pena with Andy Van Slyke as a third base coach is a dream I can only dare hopes come true.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Managerial Search

Jennifer Langosh is reporting the Pirates have interviewed Ron Wotus, the bench coach for the San Fransico Giants. Eric Wedge has been interviewed as Bo Porter and today Ken Macha and Jeff Banister. There has been talk about Andy Van Slyke in Pittsburgh, and maybe he is interviewing for a lower position. The Double A manager slot is open, and perhaps so are some base coach slots probably. So that makes me get three guys right, or at least two.

Although I have to say that I think Ron Wotus is a great idea. The Giants are beautifully coached. Their pitchers do not wear down, they don't beat themselves, and they win with really a very untalented line up outside of their pitching staff. Wotus has some connections to the Pirates since they drafted him in 79 and he did play here. Wotus is sitting under one of the best coaches in the league today, so he has learned from the best. This might be a good hire. Wedge has suitors, and thus would be expensive. Taking a chance on the cheper Wotus is something, I like.

Monday, October 4, 2010

John Russell gone - let the healing begin

It is official, John Russell is out It is no secret I have been calling for his firing for some time. I think there were just in excusable mistakes all year. Base running, outfield defense, infield defense, and frankly use of players. Even if we cut him slack for his late use of Ryan Doumit and his use of Ryan Church to try and get trade value, there are still several other things that demand a firing. His misuse of pitchers was an all season long thing. Look no further than sticking with Morton, short use of D. McCutchen, and inability to figure out how long Karstens could throw in a game. He over played Garrett Jones driving his stats into the ground. McCutchen too was over used after apparent injuries. Also he overplayed Alvarez having a visible deterimental effect on his play. I could go on, but why bother, the Pirates did the obvious thing. On to who will replace him.

Frankly the list ought to be short. Eric Wedge should be the manager of the Pirates next year. Wedge has all of the attributes the Pirates are looking for: communication, experience, wins. Wedge has it all. He even did it in a small market by training up young guys. I think he should be the top candidate.

However here are some other names that I would like to see considered.

Ken Macha. Macha has great experience coaching small market young teams with loads of talent. He did this with the A's both as a bench coach and head coach. He won a lot of games there and saw the post season. He talked to the Pirates in the past, but maybe this time he will join us. He is not returning to be the 3rd base coach of the Brewers so he is available.

Art Howe. Howe gives you a connection to the successful 70's for the Pirates. Howe has also shown a decent ability to manage at the big league level with a lot of success coming in Oakland. He has a .468 winning percentage, which is not great, but better than the Pirates have now. Howe was recently with the Rangers as a bench coach, but I believe has not done anything since 08.

Tony Gwynn. Okay a long shot. Gwynn manages San Diego St University and has no major league managing experiece, but is a Hall of Famer.

Ryan Sandberg. Sandberg is an outside possibility. He has been managing in the Cubs minor league system and has shown success with the Iowa Cubs this year. He appears to be a front runner for the Cubs opening, but if for some reason they pass him up, I think he might be willing to jump at another Major League offer. Sandberg is ready for the Big leagues, has openly expressed his desire for the big leagues, and is not going to be doing anything other than be the head coach.

Andy Van Slyke. Probably not a great choice, but it would be a popular one. Van Slyke has been a 1st base coach for the Tigers, but was not picked up for the 2010 season, so is currently available. In Dertoit, he learned from the great Jim Leyland, what more do you need. He was in charge of baserunning and outfielders as well in Detriot, which are areas that the Pirates particularly stunk in this year. Pittsburgh fans have great memories of this guy. He would spark some community support right out of the gate.

A whimper (36-62)

The season is mercifully over. Burress lost as he could not hold it, and the offense was gone. Daniel McCutchen showed why he still deserves a shot at pitching going 4 strong before they turned the game over to Chan Ho Park so he could set a pointless record of most wins by an Asian born pitcher. But over all it was just an ugly season. Over 100 losses and heads are going to roll. More thoughts later.