Can’t Wait for Spring Training!

Monday, November 5th, 2007, 11:31 am

The Pirates will introduce John Russell as their new manager today. And I for one welcome Russell back to the ‘Burgh, where he once served as third-base coach under Lloyd McClendon…before the entire coaching staff was sacked after a number of awful seasons. Two awful seasons under Jim Tracy soon followed, and it looks like everyone, including the new Pirate management, seems to understand that more awful seasons are on the way. Want to know why Russell was chosen as the Bucs’ new skipper?

It didn’t hurt Russell’s chances that when Huntington, formerly a special assistant with Cleveland, did some scouting of the Ottawa team in August, Russell’s club still showed energy and took infield before games.

Arbuckle also noted that when he watched Ottawa in August.

"We knew going into last season that our strength in the minor leagues was going to be from [high Class A] down," Arbuckle said, "and that our weakest team was going to be at [Class AAA] — and it certainly was.

"But when I was there in August, John still had his team getting after it and competing with nothing to play for. You’ve got to be a pretty good manager to get a team to do that. John did a great job with a team that was extremely thin talent-wise."

To put this another way–Russell managed the worst team in the International League, but despite their lack of talent and production he still managed to coax these professionals into taking infield practice. Kudos to John Russell. Kudos.

Of course it’s certain that our new manager’s motivational tactics will be tested during his tenure in Pittsburgh. The Pirates are one of the worst teams in the majors, and they’re only going to get worse. Matt Morris’ absurd contract will prevent the Bucs from making ANY improvements via free agency, and almost certainly players like Jason Bay, Tom Gorzelanny, Adam LaRoche, and anyone else who shows even a glimmer of actual major-league ability will be traded in the next year or so as the Pirates once again start from rock-bottom as they try to climb the mountain toward mediocrity. By the time the Pirates purge their roster and hopefully pick up a handful of legitimate prospects the team will look so much like a Triple AAA team that Russell will feel right at home.

But by that time, of course, Russell will doubtless be gone, fired after two or three 100-loss seasons. And another manager will be hired, perhaps the third-base coach for a team that managed to win 84 games and stay in the wild-card race until the final three weeks of the season. A hire like that would show just how ambitious the Pirate management is about fielding a winner.

You also have to applaud the timing of the Pirates’ announcement–on the same day that the Steelers are playing their most hated rivals on Monday Night Football, and when the team has spent the weekend celebrating it’s 75th season with a gathering of the team’s all-time greatest players. The Pirates could’ve waited a few days and made their new manager the big story in town for a day or two.. Their decision to hire Russell today makes it obvious that the Pirates wanted their selection to receive as little attention as possible. Pirate Fever…catch it!

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3 Responses to “Can’t Wait for Spring Training!”

  1. BG Says:

    I expect this kind of negativity from the blogger who suggested – nay, demanded – that it was time to fire Joe Paterno.

    What now?

    Nevermind.

  2. Gene Says:

    Tsk, I guess I should’ve expected this sort of deception from a Michigan State Spartan. I suggested that JAY Paterno be fired, not Saint Joe. Rather a big difference, there, especially if you ask Nittany Lion fans.

    So far as calling my wholly realistic and clear-headed analysis of the Bucs’ situation “negativity”, you’re one of the fortunate many who isn’t a Pirate fan.

  3. Gydyon Says:

    My position on the Pirates is simple. Fire everyone. Everyone. Every player, every coach, everyone who makes the coffee. Scorched earth.

    I know this can’t actually be done, but if the team is going to suck anyway, might as well root out the cancer and start all over. How could it really hurt revenue or the future, if one of the biggest slaps at this franchise is its criminal misuse of the farm system?

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