Sunday, November 4, 2007

Russell to the Bucs

John Russell will apparently be named the Pirates' new manager tomorrow.

Pete Toms -- ShysterBall's most frequent commenter, arguably its most loyal reader, and a blogger in his own right -- pointed out to me that Russell may be best-suited of all of the potential candidates to manage the Pirates given his experience managing the Ottawa Lynx during its dead-man-walking 2007 season. Say what you want about the Pirates, but we are all fairly confident that they will still be playing next season, so maybe the inherent hopelessness of managing in Pittsburgh won't affect him as badly as it would others. Other interesting things about Russell:

He was the Pirates third base coach from 2003-2005, but was fired along with Lloyd McClendon. This means that the Pirates made the decision that he wasn't good enough to be a coach on their team, but two years later decided that he was good enough to be placed in charge of it. Granted there is a new GM in town in Neal Huntington, but one has to wonder if, organizationally-speaking, the Pirates were wrong about Russell now or if they were wrong then, because it has to be one or the other.

According to this article, Russell was unpopular among some Pirates fans during his tenure as third base coach because of the frequency of runners he waved home that were thrown out at the plate. The same article notes that among the other finalists was Joel Skinner who, you may recall, represents the opposite extreme. I'll be charitable to the Pirates and commend them for being aggressive with the Russell hire.

I don't know much else about Russell. As a former catcher and then minor league manager he has followed the tried and true path to the bigs. He has had some success at earlier stops. Numerous creative Google searches were unable to reveal any indication that he's either a wacko loose cannon or a calculating demi-genius, so he's probably somewhere in between.

Not that it matters too much given the fact that no one has ever suggested that the only thing standing between failure and success in Pittsburgh is the right manager.

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