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Field of manager candidates shrinks

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The list of candidates for the Pirates’ open manager job is shrinking. Today, the Mariners hired Eric Wedge, who was the first person the Pirates interviewed the day after firing John Russell.

Also, media in Florida are reporting that Bo Porter seems to be the top contender to become the Marlins’ next skipper.

That would leave five candidates on the Pirates’ list (pending more interviews, if any): Dale Sveum, Jeff Banister, Ken Macha, John Gibbons and Carlos Tosca.

The day he was interviewed, something in my gut told me Gibbons will be the guy who’s eventually chosen. He seems to have many of the qualifications for the gig — a livelier personality than Russell, knowledge of what it takes to succeed in a so-called mid-market (Toronto), the ability to teach and motivate younger players, a bit of major league experience and a (I would presume) a reasonable price tag.

There was considerable speculation amid national media (and, I can tell you, from some industry sources with ties to the Pirates) that Wedge was the frontrunner here.

But would Wedge have been a great fit in Pittsburgh? I’m not sure.

As a manager, Wedge does not have a flashy personality. After he fired Wedge in 2009, Indians GM Mark Shapiro said the ex-skipper was “a blue-collar worker, a hard-nosed guy, extremely honest and consistent.”

However, Shapiro also said Wedge wasn’t “flamboyant” enough to endear himself to fans in Cleveland: “Fans want to feel the emotion and Eric, to protect the players, didn’t do that.”

Hmm … wasn’t Russell often criticized for not displaying enough emotion during games and press conferences?

In 2001, Pirates GM Neal Huntington, then an assistant GM under Shapiro, pushed for the Indians to acquire temperamental outfielder Milton Bradley. Wedge and Bradley had a sour relationship from the start.

Bradley was traded away during spring training 2004, just days after he had a heated argument with Wedge. Huntington later was demoted to special assistant/advance scout.

Would that previous turbulence have caused problems for Wedge and Huntington here? Perhaps. Either way, it’s now a moot point.

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Comments

  1. Rudy says:

    Ken Macha would be my choice but knowing the Nutting brain(less) trust, it will be the candidate that will work for the least amount of money with the least amount of talent. Green cards may be required to determine the final candidate. This organization gives Pittsburgh sports two black eyes! Does anyone really believe that the Nutting ownership team can produce a winner in the Burgh? Look at how badly Nutting has screwed up Seven Springs! The guy is a HACK!

  2. Mike Kuhn says:

    Try as I might to be optimistic, John Russell had to go. Not because he was a bad manager, but just because these were three of the worst consecutive years in the franchise history. Even if you could bring in Bobby Cox, or Joe Torre, would we see much improvement? Yes, they will bring in some other unproven manager, or some manager that hasn’t panned out elsewhere…But until the front office is inline with keeping the rising star players past their arbitration years, how will things change? Then, the free agents they sign are the guys desperate for work when training camp time comes around. That’s not exactly like the Yanks and Red Sox do things.

  3. Dave P. says:

    I would like to see the Pirates interview Ryne Sandberg now that the Cubs are done with him.

  4. Scott M. Reid says:

    Honestly, i think the the pirates should hire someone with ties to the team. I would like to see names like Tony Pena (who had some success with the royals), Phil Garner(who took the astros to the series in ’05), and Andy Van Slyke. All these names have a link to when the buccos were a good respectable major league franchise. I compare it to what the phillies did 10 years ago. They had core group of jimmy rollins, scott rolen, and then utility player chase utley. They brought in a Larry Bowa to change their losing culture. Bowa put an energy to the team that losing wasn’t acceptable. I feel a Van Slyke, Pena, or Garner would do the same. This team needs a bold hire that will that will change the losing. The pirates are looked at as an after thought in major league baseball. I see Alvarez, Walker, and Tabata as the pirates future. They need a leader to show them what pirates baseball is all about. If the GM doesn’t do this the losing will continue and walker, alvarez, tabata will become aris ramirez, jason bay, and freddy sanchez. This is the most important hire the gm will make, because it will determine if were a growing team on the rise or just the same old rebuilding pirates.

  5. Chuck says:

    Rudy: You are incredible. Bob Nutting has not screwed up 7 Springs. He’s remodeled every hotel room, added a high speed 6-seat chair lift, added world class sporting clays and a spa, first-class mountain biking, UTV course and upgraded the fishing tremendously. The new half pipe is receiving high national rankings, as has the resort. It’s becoming a year-round resort. Best summer there ever. His investments in a lousy economy has 7 Springs perfectly positioned for growth. They have sold almost 2,000 more season ski passes for this season. It that’s screwing uip 7 Springs, I don’t see it.

  6. joel says:

    Yeah right, the Nuttings are cheap and line their own pockets. If that is the case, how can anyone explain 30 million dollars spent on the last three drafts ??? Thats more money invested than the Yankees or any other team in baseball. I agree with the owners on the direction they took. If anyone doesn’t like it, go root for the Yankees as they have lots of money.

  7. robert washek says:

    They SHOULD hire Ryne Sandberg. Proven winner, obviously has the fire and desire to manage after recently competing for Cubs job, and a good face for the organization.

  8. Once A. Fan says:

    The Nuttings are running the Pirates organization with exactly the charter any business has: maximize profits. Winning baseball games simply isn’t a serious concern. With a form of revenue sharing, a free stadium, etc, the small market team can be profitable without ever fielding a viable team.

    The real problem is the structure of baseball at the league level. The league has figured out that expanding and making the small markets into psuedo-major league franchises peddling fireworks and bobbleheads, rather than making them high minor league clubs, maximizes profits. This then provides another training ground above AAA ball to further groom talent for large market teams.

    The best cure available to small markets is unfortunately also impractical to implement: a total and long-term boycott to embarrass the league. Second best, if you must, watch baseball the same way you view professional wrestling– to enjoy athletes perform but knowing the outcome is (essentially) pre-determined.

  9. DP says:

    The Pirates should go with someone the fans know such as Garner, Van Slyke, or Pena. The Nuttings are not to blame for all the years of Pirate woes. They have only been majority owners for the last few years and have invested heavily in the minor leagues.
    Baseball does not have a salary cap and the small market teams only way to compete is if they draft really well. It is reported that the Pirates made 14 million last year. 14 million does not even buy one good free agent pitcher. Do all these Nutting haters expect them to lose money to get a winning team?

 
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