The last time the Pirates had an organizational overhaul like this was in 2007. They hired Neal Huntington to replace Dave Littlefield, and then fired former manager Jim Tracy at the end of the season.
It took exactly one month to find their replacement, getting John Russell in the mix. After that, things started to pick up at a quicker pace with some of the additions below Russell.
The Pirates are currently looking for their next manager. The search started under Neal Huntington, after he fired Clint Hurdle, and continues under Ben Cherington. So far, we know of three people who have received interviews with the new GM.
Belief is Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro is still in Pirates mix. So it seems to be Shelton, Quatraro and Kotsay in the lead group, though there could be others.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 22, 2019
Derek Shelton, the Twins bench coach, has been a popular name, and was the first one we heard. Mark Kotsay is currently the “quality control coach” in Oakland, and was their bench coach prior to that. And now there’s Matt Quatraro, the Rays bench coach, who is in the mix.
I did find Kotsay’s position interesting. Here was the description from Oakland’s MLB.com site when he received the new position:
“In this role, Mark will assist Bob Melvin and the ML coaching staff in all areas and will also consult with the front office in other facets of the organization. “
It sounds like an interesting position, and could make Kotsay qualified to be the next type of successful manager in baseball. That manager not only knows the ins and outs of the game in order to make the calls, but also is in the loop with the front office and the development team, and is part of an overall system, rather than the traditional route where the manager has control of the team.
This doesn’t mean Kotsay is the only guy in this group who could be a new-age manager. It just shows he’s got some experience working between the clubhouse and the front office in a more modern role.
The Pirates could hire their manager soon, with some speculating it could happen next week. How fast might things move after that hire?
Looking back to Russell, things moved pretty quickly. He hired his third base coach, Tony Beasley, almost two weeks after he was hired. Other people who were hired on the same day include bullpen coach Luis Dorante, and bench coach Gary Varsho. Hitting coach Don Long was added a week after these guys.
The minor league coaches started joining the system a few weeks after the MLB coaches were in place.
Not every coach who made a difference in Pittsburgh was added in that first wave. Jim Benedict joined the organization a year later. Ray Searage was still in the minors and didn’t join the MLB staff until 2009. So not everyone added this year will make an important impact with the club.
As for that first wave, if a manager is hired this week, then we might find out who his staff is before the winter meetings come around.
SONG OF THE DAY
My wife’s team accounts for three answers. My team only takes up two answers.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
By John Dreker
Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including one of the all-time great pitchers not in the Hall of Fame.
Luis Tiant, pitcher for the 1981 Pirates. He made nine starts for the Pirates, going 2-5, 3.92 in 57.1 innings. Tiant won 229 games during his career, including four season with 20+ victories. He led the AL with a 1.60 ERA in 1968 and a 1.91 ERA in 1972. He ranks 21st all-time with 49 shutouts and 47th all-time with 2,416 strikeouts.
Jose Gonzalez, outfielder for the 1991 Pirates. He played just 16 games in Pittsburgh, joining them in a July 3rd trade with the Dodgers, before being lost on waivers on August 15th to the Indians. In eight big league seasons, he hit .213 in 461 games.
Dale Sveum, infielder for the 1996-97 and 1999 Pirates. In three seasons with the Pirates, he hit .260 with 16 homers over 187 games. On August 18, 1999, he homered from both sides of the plate, then managed to hit just one more career home run. In 12 seasons in the majors, Sveum was a .236 hitter with 69 homers, including 25 in one season.
Rich Sauveur, pitcher for the 1986 Pirates. He has something in common with a player lower on this list, seeing MLB action over six seasons, but only one set of back-to-back seasons. He pitched 34 games in the majors between 1986 and 2000. He made three starts for the 1986 Pirates, posting a 6.00 ERA in 12 innings, with no decisions. Those three starts turned out to be the only three starts of his career.
Grady Wilson, shortstop for the 1948 Pirates. His entire big league experience was 12 mid-season games for the Pirates. He went 1-for-10 at the plate, collecting a double as his only hit. Wilson played a total of 12 seasons in the minors.
Bubber Jonnard, catcher for the 1922 Pirates. He played just ten games with the Pirates, hitting .238 with a triple and two RBIs. Jonnard played a total of six seasons in the majors from 1920 until 1935, only once playing in back-to-back seasons. He is one of ten pairs of twins to play in the majors. His brother Claude was a pitcher, who also played a total of six seasons.
Jesse Petty, pitcher for the 1929-30 Pirates. He had an 11-10, 3.71 record in 184.1 innings for the 1929 Pirates. He went 1-6, 8.27 in 41.1 innings in 1930 before being sold to the Chicago Cubs. The Pirates gave up star shortstop Glenn Wright to acquire him from the Brooklyn Dodgers (then called “Robins”).
Chief Zimmer, catcher for the 1900-02 Pirates. In three seasons in Pittsburgh, he was a .262 hitter over 193 games, with 73 RBIs. He began his career in 1884 and was one of the games caught leaders early in his career, ranking as high as third all-time well after he retired. He’s second all-time in throwing out runners, with 1,208 caught stealing to his credit.