We don’t know much about the Pirates’ manager search yet, outside of a few names and one reported interview. I’m going to assume that there’s more behind the scenes, and that a Pirates manager search will take place similar to their other transactions, where rumors are sparse until a move is made.
What we do know so far is encouraging if you’re looking for the Pirates to take a step forward in catching up to other small market teams. The guys they’ve been linked to all share a trend of working for current successful small markets, and being open to new ideas in today’s analytically driven game.
The first guy to get an interview, that we know of, is Ryan Christenson, who is the current bench coach for the Athletics. He also spent his coaching career moving up through the Athletics system, so he could bring some good outside views to the Pirates.
They’ve also been linked to Mike Bell of the Diamondbacks, Sam Fuld (who has refused an interview with three teams, including the Pirates), Mark Kotsay, and Derek Shelton.
Fuld has been a target for a lot of teams looking for a new age manager, and while he won’t be coming to Pittsburgh, he gives some insight into what type of guy they are looking at. Kotsay can shed light on Oakland’s success, while Shelton can provide the same from the Twins and Rays standpoints. In fact, here’s a great article from Shelton on how he’d manage.
These guys also all come from organizations that have had better results at getting the most out of their prospects once they reach the majors. That has been a problem for the Pirates, and it has become more glaring in recent years.
The Pirates need to solve the upper level development issues, but also find a way to catch up to teams like the Twins, Athletics, and Rays on the analytics side. We don’t have much info on the manager search, but the limited info we do have is encouraging if you’re looking for big changes from that role.
SONG OF THE DAY
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
By John Dreker
On this date in 1925 the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Washington Senators by a 9-7 score at Forbes Field in game seven of the World Series to win their second championship. To win the series they had to defeat the great Walter Johnson, who had already won games one and four of the series. The lineups for this game included seven total future Hall of Famers. The Senators had Johnson, Goose Goslin, Sam Rice and Bucky Harris while the Pirates had Kiki Cuyler, Pie Traynor and Max Carey.
A total of 11 former Pirates have been born on this date. Here’s a quick summary of each one (including two with the nickname “Mule”) starting with the oldest player first:
Bob Harmon, pitcher for the 1914-16 and 1918 Pirates. Despite a 2.60 ERA in Pittsburgh, he had a 39-52 record during his four seasons with the club. He walked 181 batters during the 1911 season in St Louis, yet still won 23 games. He came to the Pirates as part of an eight-player deal after the 1913 season.
Mule Watson, pitcher for the 1920 Pirates. His time in Pittsburgh consisted of 11.1 innings over five relief appearances. He won a total of 50 games over a seven-year big league career.
Mule Haas, outfielder for the 1925 Pirates. He played a bit part on the Pirates second World Series winning club, going 0-for-3 with a run scored in four late season games. Haas spent the next two years in the minors, then played 11 more seasons in the majors, helping the Philadelphia A’s to three straight World Series appearances (1929-31). He was a .292 career hitter in 1,168 games.
Don Carlsen, pitcher for the 1951-52 Pirates. He had a 5.43 ERA in 53 innings for Pittsburgh. His only other big league experience was one inning for the 1948 Chicago Cubs. He played a total of eight seasons in pro ball.
Bill Henry, pitcher for the 1968 Pirates. He spent ten games in Pittsburgh, posting an 8.10 ERA in 16.2 innings. Henry played a total of 16 seasons in the majors, going 46-50, 3.26 with 90 saves in 913 innings.
Gail Henley, outfielder for the 1954 Pirates. His big league career consisted of 14 games and 30 at-bats for the Pirates. He batted .300 and homered in his first big league start. Henley played 14 seasons in the minors. He turns 91 years old today.
Red Swanson, pitcher for the 1955-57 Pirates. He was done with his big league career by age 20, after debuting at 18 years old with the 1953 Pirates. Swanson played another six years in the minors after his final big league game. He had a 4.90 ERA in the majors, making 34 relief appearances and eight starts. He turns 83 years old today.
Mitchell Page, pinch-hitter for the 1984 Pirates. He went 4-for-12 with three walks in 16 games for the Pirates. That was his final season in the majors, after spending seven years with the Oakland A’s. He was originally with the Pirates, but was part of a nine-player deal with the A’s prior to the 1977 season.
Carlos Garcia, infielder for the 1990-96 Pirates. While he was a member of three straight playoff teams to start his career, a large majority of his time with the Pirates came during the following four seasons. In fact, he was still eligible for the Rookie of the Year in 1993, and then he was an All-Star during the 1994 season. The Pirates traded him to the Blue Jays in a nine-player deal and then he played with three teams over his final three seasons in the majors. Garcia was a .278 hitter in 482 games with the Pirates.
Mendy Lopez, infielder for the 2001-02 Pirates. He batted .217 in 25 games with the Pirates, as part of a seven-year career that saw him play just 190 big league games, spent mostly with the Kansas City Royals.
Juan Cruz, relief pitcher for the 2012 Pirates. He had a 2.78 ERA in 43 games, yet it still ended up being the final season of his 12-year career. He had a 4.05 ERA in 447 games, seeing time with seven different teams.