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.