The Pittsburgh Pirates have started their search for a new manager today, interviewing former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge. According to Rob Biertempfel, Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington flew from Florida to Pittsburgh to interview Wedge, and will stay in town the rest of the week to interview at least one more candidate.
There’s a lot of speculation that Wedge could be the favorite, and this only adds to that speculation. Wedge was the manager of the Cleveland Indians from 2003-2009. Neal Huntington was working with the Cleveland front office from 2003-2007, so the two obviously have a connection with their prior experience working together.
Wedge seemingly has the advantage of working with Huntington prior to Huntington joining the Pirates. He’s also the first to be interviewed, which might say something, especially since Huntington returned from Florida to conduct the interview. It’s hard to think that he wouldn’t be the favorite right now.
The Pirates don’t necessarily have their choice of the management candidates available though. Ken Rosenthal detailed the open management spots around the majors, as well as the candidates. There could be eight to ten jobs available, and Wedge is listed in a group of six people who is drawing significant interest. Wedge has already interviewed with the Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays. Both teams have also interviewed Bob Melvin, former manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners.
One interesting name to watch is John Farrell. The Pirates tried to interview Farrell in their last managerial search, but he turned them down. Farrell is the pitching coach of the Boston Red Sox, holding the position since 2007. He had a clause in his contract preventing him from interviewing for other positions, but that expired after the 2010 season. Farrell’s son, Jeremy Farrell, is in the Pirates’ farm system, playing in Bradenton in 2010, which might give the Pirates some sort of advantage.
Normally I think the value of a manager is over-stated, but Farrell could be different. Hiring Farrell would be like adding a pitching coach to the staff. He’s been the coach with Boston for four seasons, so hiring him as the manager would essentially be like stealing Boston’s pitching coach. I wrote yesterday about Ray Searage and whether he was a good option as the pitching coach going in to the 2011 season. With Farrell as the manager, it really wouldn’t matter who the pitching coach was, as Farrell would probably be the guy calling the shots in that area.
Farrell is currently considered a favorite for the Toronto position, and will be interviewing with Toronto and Seattle this week. He would be my personal preference, due to the assistance he could provide to the pitching staff, but I can’t help but think that Wedge could end up being the guy.