The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Saturday morning that they have made wholesale coaching changes for 2017. We already heard about Joey Cora taking over as the third base coach and they confirmed that report. Cora will also handle the infield coaching duties, which was the job of Nick Leyva this season. Leyva and Rick Sofield were relieved of their coaching duties last week, though Leyva will remain on with the Pirates as a Senior Advisor of Baseball Operations.
Kimera Bartee has been named the new first base coach. He will also handle the base running coaching and working with the outfielders on defense. Bartee has been the minor league base running and outfield coordinator for the Pirates for the last nine seasons. He also managed one season back in 2011 at State College. As a player, he spent parts of six seasons in the majors and was known for his base running and outfield defense.
A familiar face has taken over the bench coach job. Tom Prince will take that role over from Dave Jauss, who will remain on the Major League staff as a coach. Prince has spent 33 years in baseball, including 23 seasons in some capacity with the Pirates. In 2016, he served as the minor league field coordinator. He has also managed for 11 seasons with the Pirates in the minors. Prince played for the Pirates from 1987 until 1993, seeing action on all three NL East pennant winners during the 1990-92 seasons.
Brad Fischer, who served as a Major League coach in 2016, has been offered a job on the player development side. As of right now, he has not accepted a role, but he has time to consider his options.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.
Tom Prince was Bob Walk’s bull pen catcher during their Pirate playing days. He will be a successful addition to the Pirate bench.
Off topic, but wow – the Cleveland Indians are playing phenomenal baseball. Completely shutdown two very good lineups in Boston and Toronto, and now are looking to go up 3-1 on the Cubs. It just goes to who you how excellent pitching, especially starting pitching, and great defense can carry a team a long way. The SF Giants, KC Royals, and now the Indians are using that formula to excel in the post season.
Given the type and dimensions of PNC Park, that is how the Pirates should be built – emphasizing pitching, defense, and speed. But, NH doesn’t seem to have such a plan…if he has a plan or philosophy at all….if he does, can someone tell me what it is? When you draft players like Will Craig, keep guys like Stewart, and pick up guys like Jason Rogers, John Jaso, etc., it gives fans the impression you don’t have a plan other than reacting and overreacting……
I agree that this is how the Pirates should be built and when we were most successful that is what we were doing. Now the issue is that we have a player who is clearly done as a defensive player (although let’s get real he never was very good defensively anyways) manning a key spot up the middle (CF). We also have missed out on the SD revolution that has taken over MLB.
I expect we will continue to get good defensive work from Marte, Polanco, and when fully healthy Kang and Cervelli. Mercer and Harrison are what they are which is, unfortunately, not very good hitters who play average or just below defense for their positions. 1B has always been a huge problem for us and I don’t see how that changes going forward other than we might get some improvement bc Freese seems to be adequate there. Cutch can’t continue to be allowed to play CF. I don’t care that the arm doesn’t allow him to play any where else…he can’t play CF. No matter who you put in RF whether it is Cutch or the Big Boi you won’t get much defense but at least Bell does have a stronger arm.
The Pirates big problem is pitching. WE can hope for a rebound year from the bullpen by getting improvement from Bastardo and Watson and get Rivero and Nicasio to do their thing. Wish we had Joe Blanton. Hopefully Edgar Santana can make it up and play. But
the start in rotation is scary.
And since my phone decided to just submit that comment without me being finished I guess I’ll finish here. I think the Pirates are at a cross roads because of the pitching. Cutch is going into his most expensive seasons and clearly dealing with severely diminished skill sets. SURE he might come around and hit well again but the speed and athleticism are gone and that is really troubling. I would trade him. WE need to be able to reallocate limited resources to the pitching staff. I would bring back Nova. Sign Cashner or Buccholz once he’s released. Move on from Hughes. Build the pen around dominate arms that can go multiple innings…a poor-man’s Andrew Miller (I think we can have this is Nicasio and maybe Rivero and Santana if he can make it to MLB would have a similar profile). I would love to see Blanton back because he is another guy who as a reliever is quite strong and capable of multiple innings. Pitching IS what will make this team much more difficult to beat and also right now could be what will make them, again, a long, long, LONG shot to make the playoffs or compete there. THIS current pitching situation is quite scary and really needs major overhaul this offseason
” the speed and athleticism are gone”
Where did the speed and athleticism go?
I don’t completely understand this decline
I don’t understand how you can say NH has no plan? Plans change depenending on the situation.
NH “lack of plan” has took us to 3 postseasons appearances after 20+ of losing. I don’t understand how you can continuously rip someone who has done fantastic job for what he has to work with.
I could not agree with you more, BigB2323. And furthermore, N.H. has stated countless times since he was hired as G.M. that his plan to make the Pirates contenders again was centered around rebuilding the farm system, which is a job that is never completed. That is an ongoing process that literally must be attended to 24/7/365, if an organization, especially a small market one, is going to attain and maintain long-term competitive staying power. Beyond that, given the limited budget that he has to work with, I really don’t know what many people expect him to do. Some of the posts that I read here and elsewhere are nothing short of ludicrous in their criticism of N.H. Is her perfect? No; show me anyone who is. I would just love to see what he could/would do with even half the budget that supposed genius Theo Epstein had in Boston and now has in Chicago. If you want to criticize someone, criticize Bob Nutting, not Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle.
You had me until you mentioned Clint Hurdle…one of the worst managers in MLB.
That is a matter of opinion, of course. I don’t share that opinion. I am not going to get into a discussion about who the manager and G.M. should be. Suffice it to say, I hope that more money is ponied up this off season (I won’t hold my breath) so that N.H. can make the necessary acquisitions to make the Bucs competitive again.
Bob Nutting alone is not responsible for all of the Orginization’s budget decisions.
Perhaps not, but he is the….C.E.O. (I don’t know what his official title is, and frankly I don’t care), and he is the “face” of the ownership group, hence he is the one who should be in line to field the criticism for the limited budget. If you would feel better about having the entire ownership group being criticized, then so be it. The bottom line is that Neal Huntington is expected, year in and year out, to do more with less operating capital and that just is not going to work. What do you think that the great Theo Epstein could/would do with Neal Huntington’s budget?
How do you find out who the rest of the
ownership group is?
If a media guide is still published, it might be in there. Beyond that, I have no idea. Why do you ask?
Because I have no idea who they are.
Well, happy searching!! Whether it is two names or twenty names, I don’t know what difference that could possibly make to an average fan, but, go for it!!
Only one postseason, the other two years they got embarrassed at the play in game by laying two goose eggs.
“Two goose eggs” to to of the top pitchers in MLB those 2 particular seasons. Get real
1. Greinke was better than Steroidetta in 2015
2. A good team would have been able to find a way to win.
Wow, with the turnover in coaching, might we see a turnover
of players as well?
What exactly does a bench coach do?
In Pittsburgh? MANAGE the team. Hurdle is a glorified motivational speaker.
I am not excited about Barter simply because the minor league prospects who have cone up in recent years don’t seem to run the bases well. What has he done to deserve promotion?
I expected that Branson, the hitting coach, would also be replaced.
I was expecting some off-season shakeups but was thinking more on the player front. I’m guessing we’ll see some of those as well.
Wonder if Hurdle had a say in any of this? Seems like he is the next to go, if they don’t win this year. Maybe these new coaches will produce improvements in fielding, base running and hitting.
Did they bring in a new hitting coach and/or assistant hitting coach? If not, I would not expect improvement in that aspect of the game.
We have some very good candidates already in the system. My choice would be Kevin Riggs (Altoona/AFL). Influenced by career years by Eric Wood and Barrett Barnes, and others who seemed to find their average and power strokes at AA this year (Meadows, Espinal). I think that’s what hitting coaches should do – make good hitters better hitters.
hey leefoo sorry but i had prince too
better take me to the casino
hurdle has a 600 pound canary on his neck for sure now.
That is a lot of changes. Hopefully for the bettet.