As part of a mailbag covering the floundering Pirates, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic (subscription link) focuses on team higher-ups whose jobs could be in jeopardy. Biertempfel writes it’s “more likely” the club will fire pitching coach Ray Searage and maybe bullpen coach Euclides Rojas than either GM Neal Huntington or manager Clint Hurdle, at least during the season. Searage’s ouster would mark the end of what has been an oft-praised Pirates stint, but this season has been a rough go for their pitching staff. How much blame he should take for that is up for debate. As for Huntington and Hurdle, their jobs for 2020 aren’t etched in stone, suggests Biertempfel, who reports owner Bob Nutting would be willing to eat their salaries and fire them “if he is convinced that there is no hope of improvement in 2020.” With that in mind, the onus could be on Huntington and Hurdle to explain why they should keep their positions.
- More from Biertempfel, who dismisses the possibility of outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall playing for the Pirates this season. Chisenhall remains at home in Bradenton, Fla., mending from left calf troubles, and there won’t be enough time for him to return to the majors this year. It seems the $2.75MM the Pirates gave Chisenhall last offseason will go down as a wasted investment. By the time this season ends, injuries will have kept the former Indian out of 375 of a possible 486 regular-season games dating back to 2017.
- After missing the first four-plus months of the season with a flexor strain, Padres left-handed reliever Jose Castillo finally made his 2019 debut on Thursday. It didn’t go well, however. Castillo exited with an injury to the middle finger on his throwing hand, per AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. It’s fortunate that it isn’t another elbow problem for Castillo, though he still could end up heading back to the injured list because of this issue. The 23-year-old hasn’t gotten a chance to build on a superb rookie campaign in 2018, when he fired 38 1/3 innings of 3.29 ERA/2.64 FIP ball with 12.21 K/9 against 2.82 BB/9.
- Rehabbing Mariners righty Felix Hernandez threw two innings at the Single-A level Thursday, after which he told Julian A. Lopez of the Modesto Bee he feels ready to return to the majors. The Mariners have other plans, though – they want Hernandez to make two rehab appearances with Triple-A Tacoma before he finally goes back to the Seattle. Shoulder woes have kept the pending free agent from the M’s staff since May 11 in what could be the final season of his storied tenure with the franchise.
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There has to be something else going on with Lonnie Chisenhall.
They did not need him until Dickerson was traded but with Polanco on the IL they need him now.
That money could have been spent on a decent reliever.
I really have to wonder whether he wants to play and whether anyone will ever give him a ML contract again.
Yep no need for Freddy Galvis or a pitcher, when u can sign a bust with a bad leg.
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They signed him to fill in for Polanco for two months.I must admit that I thought it a good signing.There is either something else going on though or he has a terrible body to be a world class athlete.
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The Pirates need more than a coaches change.
Clint has to go.
He is a nice guy,but they will never win with him as the manager as they will never have the clear cut best team on the field.
He does not use the relievers well and is too listless showing no enthusiasm.
They need a whole new group to determine how best for each of the players to move forward.
You know Hurdle is a coach, right?
Baseball managers usually if not always are referred to as managers not coaches.
That doesn’t mean they’re not coaches
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Tharrie-Not sure what your point is and whatever it is why you are making it.
I am not sure Hurdle should go just yet. I think it is time for NH and Searage to go. I also think the franchise should be sold, but that is only my opinion.
Reason why I think Hurdle should stay:
1) He proved he can win with the right quality of players on the field. Currently, the quality of players are not that great. You have Moran at 3B for starters. Offensively, he is the worst 3B in the NL.
2) Due to NH and Bob Nutting inability to help the club, Hurdle has been left with utility type players. This not giving Hurdle your routine everyday position player. Frazier, Moran, Osuna, Newman, and others, are utility and bench role players. Nothing more or nothing less.
3) Due to Searage philosophy of pitching to contact, their pitching hasn’t been that well for a few years. I think with a new approach and pitching coach, Hurdle can guide the pitching stuff better.
4) Hurdle is only as good as his players offensively and defensively. Other than Marte, there is no other player worth mentioning that offers offense and defense. Polanco has been hurt this year, but he would be a option if he finally proved he put it together this year. Bell has fizzled and not sure if he is the corner stone player like Marte. Better scouting and analysis of players traded, drafted, and/or signed, would help a lot with a small market club. The scouting and analysis department have hurt the Pirates over the years in terms of consistent winning. Not Hurdles fault.
5) Give Hurdle 2 years with a new office and coaching staff. If no improvement after 2 years, then move on. And I don’t think Bannister is the answer to manager in Pittsburgh.
Owner is killing the organization but not helping the team and “penny pinching” each year. I really hope MLB cracks down on the Pirates. Because it is very disappointing to see the Pirates struggle to keep fans in the seats each year. It’s due to their “bargain” pricing of players and poor evaluations of signings of FA. We can’t have a Oakland A’s type of GM, but it’s time to use technology for evaluation of players. Billy Beane has it figured out and other GM across the league has grown to Beane style. Unless drastic changes happen, Pirates will never see a playoff game and will be a mediocre team at best.
Pitching Cole the final game of the year with a 1% chance of winning the pennant.
Starting SRod in wildcard game over Pedro. As if an upgrade at 1B is a good choice over a home run in a make or break game.
Jeez were talking about things from 5 years ago.. might be time to move on, but Bob wont eat the contract
Every manager has done things that have been questioned. Tony LaRussa was known to make questionable decisions. He was 50-50 on his decisions and some of them cost him a World Series. And Tony is one of the greatest managers of all time. Joe Torre was another one who made questionable decisions. Every manager makes decisions and has to live with them win or lose.
Hurdle is just being a typical manager and thinking out side the box. The Pirates have won with him and lost with him. The losses have been mostly poor decisions being made by the front office. Archer and Cole trades have to be the worst trades in this century.
Hurdle deserves a front office and ownership who will extend the right players and also add talent when needed. Do you think that if they added talented SP this year, the Pirates could have been contenders? I seriously think with SP and a few RP, would have made it easier to see the playoffs this year. At the trade deadline, they could’ve added a 3B with some pop if they desired it. Pitching has hurt the Pirates this year.
Has Hurdle lost the confidence of the players? Would keen observers of the Pirates please respond….both of you, or maybe even all three of you?
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I don’t know about confidence but the listless approach to me brings everybody down as there is no sense of urgency to win.
In terms of this season, I think the team has lost their confidence in themselves, rather than the confidence in their coaches. Since the all-star break, they’re putting little effort into defense, Josh Bell forgot how to hit with power, and not much good has come out of our pitchers. Hurdle should be blamed a little for allowing this collapse to happen, especially for a team that had been right in the middle of the playoff hunt, but the fault doesn’t all fall on him.
Nothing like having your middle finger in a split for Castillo
Look out for Doug Mientkiewicz (currently Toledo AAA manager) to be the next manager of the Pirates. Here is a sneak preview of what we’d get from Mientk^@*(&#(*@&
“Doug Mientkiewicz, fresh off kicking an equipment box in the aftermath of the Pirates’ flat-lined 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers last night at PNC Park, went for a brief walk beyond the clubhouse walls, tried to clear his head, then returned to sit at his stall.
The one constant: He never stopped shaking his head.
“I’m probably not the guy to ask right now because I probably won’t say … it’s just embarrassing. It really is. You’ve got three guys who run balls out right now. It’s frustrating. Just frustrating. The whole thing is frustrating.”
He motioned with his right arm to the rest of the clubhouse, no players left and only a vacuum humming in the opposite corner.
“I mean, look at this place. It’s a ghost town.”
Another shake of the head.
“I don’t know. What are you going to do? Nothing you can do. Just pick up and try again tomorrow, I guess.”
no shame in Hurdle becoming bench coach to “mentor” the next Manager
Are you sure that his mentoring would he appreciated? That set-up could be very awkward. Isn’t it better to change the whole dynamic?
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BMC-Jeff Bannister would probably be the next manager and he was the bench coach for Clint before he became the Rangers’ manager in 2015.
Correct. He is also savvy with statistics and is already familiar with most of the upper management.
didn’t he already fail in Texas?
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He was in Texas for almost four years and won Manager of the Year award his first year.
Almost all managers”fail”.
Not too many Connie Macks,John MacGraws,Earl Weavers,and Danny Murtaughs left.
It would be a horrible move to make Bannister manager. Bannister did nothing in Texas after his “rookie” season. Bannister is not even better than Dusty Baker at managing. Or even Lloyd McClendon!
Banister managed his way out of winning the 2015 ALDS. Andrus’ carrying a frying pan to shortstop for an inning and Odor back peddling on a routine flare aside, Banister fell asleep at the wheel.
Bless you for including Murtaugh. That Irishman should be in the HOF, no doubt.
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Gone too soon in 1976 at age 58.
Could have been elected Mayor of Pittsburgh.
I moved to the Philadelphia area from the Pittsburgh area in 1978 and got to meet his son and work in the town that he worked in.
What a great team he and Joe Brown made.If it wasn’t for his heart problems he would have probably managed that continuous stretch between 1957 and 1976.
His time and the decades of the 1900’s and 20’s were the best historic times for the Pirates.
Rawlings will likely get Ray Searage fired.
There is no team in MLB that has been hurt more by the new baseball than the Pirates.
After watching the Giants and Royals win, the Pirates moved towards a station to station contact oriented approach (with little power) on top of their long established pitch to contact method. Neither technique works with the new ball.
But…any talk of firing someone needs to be accompanied by who will you get that is better?
For a couple years, I’ve been lukewarm on Hurdle but thought they’d just hire Tom Prince. With Jeff Bannister right there….it’s time for a change.
Take any other GM in the league, give him Huntingdon’s budget and the staff you get at that budget, how many would do a better job? Not many. I’d love to see that experiment.
Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff could and would, but they most likely will be remaining with the Indians. They do a remarkable job for the Tribe.
Neil did a good job with the Indians too. That is where the Pirates hired him from.
I am surprised the superboy genius GM’s (Theo, Friedman, etc..) aren’t interested in this “challenge”
That, though taken with a grain of salt, because I am also baffled as to why a league MVP hitter wouldn’t be interested in taking up pitching. Or gold glove outfielder wouldn’t be interested in catching
Vandals Took The Handles
Friedman won in a small market. Theo’s “success” resides in his working for large-market / big-budget teams. If he made a small fraction of the mistakes he makes in signing name free agents and taking on salary in trade working for a small-market team, it would sink the teams budget to a point that they would have to trade their marketable better players that are due for large salaries. He’d fail big time.
I’d suggest that Huntington’s screwball trade for Chris Archer should be the last straw. Archer was at best a #3 starter in decline after a few decent years, but nothing great. Huntington and his staff must have though they were looking at a young Greg Maddox. All of the 3 players they gave up for Archer are better then him. And Huntington’s free agent, waiver, and low-level trade transactions are pedestrian at best.
A tight budget is a reality with all small-market teams. The fans say all the owners are making obscene profits. Sure. In the meantime, the owners seldom can find new minority investors, and no one is standing in line to purchase a small-market MLB team.
– – –
Chaim Bloom of the Rays FO was one of the 2 finalists for the Mets job. The owners didn’t want to rebuild. Mr. Bloom would make a wonderful President of Baseball Ops for the Pirates next year. That Front Office is simply over their heads.
The folks in the Tampa are waving to get your attention. Their budget should be in line with Pittsburgh’s, and their team plays in a terrible facility in front of nobody.
In spite of all of that, the team is competitive in a division much more challenging than the NL Central.
And I write all of that as someone who is not a Rays fan.
You can’t compare any AL team with any NL team. The DH affects not just the hitters who can get a day off & still hit, but it greatly affects pitching change strategy.
Yep. NL is a different animal. Players like Nelson Cruz who can hit 40 bombs and be signed for relatively affordable contract can’t play in the NL. Sure makes a difference in composing a competitive hitting lineup.
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Geo-not sure what your point is
I said “not many” rather than “none” because of Friedman, Neander, Beane, etc.
I disagree. If Tampa and Oakland can win so can the Pirates. Get off the market size and limited budget. The development of their draft picks is awful. Check out the top prospects. Just a few years ago the Pirates has one of the top farm systems and nothing transitioned to the majors. Cole and Walker might be the two best players to come up.
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Ews-I think you are overdoing it some with the Pirates.They have Taillon,Polanco,Bell,Newman,and then Keller and Kramer coming up soon.Not great,maybe not even average,but not too far below that level.
Tampa and Oakland have reasonably good teams now but what have they really won recently?Small market teams have no chance against the wealthy teams.
I do think that the Pirates use it as a partial excuse,but inasmuch as the Royals are the only real small market team to win the WS since 1991,it is a real one.
Unfortunately for Pirate fans, you can’t fire ownership[.
wasn’t the pitching coach well-known for his ability to fix up struggling pitchers? if so, why is he going to be canned?
Because he was well-known for fixing veterans who had struggled elsewhere, but some people are noticing that he’s not doing as well in developing their young pitchers.
Coony….not saying to keep Ray, but I’m not sure anyone could make this group of pitchers into a solid pitching staff.
Lee— I don’t disagree with you. My observation about Searage is more what the pundits are saying. I don’t think Searage should be the only fall guy for this second half debacle, but i do think that the Pirates have had a lot of the same voices for a lot of years now including Hurdle, Searage, and Huntington, and this may simply be a case of the message growing stale and the players starting to tune it out. There simply have to be some changes after this season barring a complete turnaround; if not, we as fans are being told that mediocrity or less is the best we can hope for, and that isn’t acceptable.
Getting rid of Searage would be a step in the right direction.
As far as the Pirates go, save the hitting coaches, but make everyone else from team president down to the scouting department walk the plank.
What Biertempfel said is what every media person in Pittsburgh has been saying for the last 3-4 years. Need to fire everyone and need to trade everyone. They all have been saying (fill in the bland) needs to be fired and will be fired (fill in the blank with a date) over that same time frame. They all have been saying the same thing about Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert since the last Super Bowl plus Mike Sullivan and Jim Rutherford since the Pens did not Threepeat. Constant drum beat to fire all of them. Not ever one suggestion on who they would hire to replace but yet keep whining that all must go!
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The hitting coaches have done a fine job-agreed.
As for managers and head coaches,Sullivan is fine,Tomlin is so so,but Clint must go if only just to make a change.
He may even like retirement.They could keep him as a consultant.
This team needs a new leader.He may even uncork some of Marte’s and Polanco’s excess talent.
First, get rid of Keone Kela l. He’s a clubhouse cancer.
Second, It seems a little unfair to blame injuries and regression on Ray Searage but it seems like every pitcher is struggling. I think he goes.
Third, Hurdle might be ok for now,but I haven’t liked his management style lately. He’s constantly relying on Lefty-Righty matchups and it seems as though the only person he trusts out of the bullpen is Vasquez. This is the 5th year the Pirates have had a mid- late season collapse under his watch so I think he should go. I expect Hurdle is let go and Jeff Bannister becomes manager since he’s been familiar with Huntington for years..
The Pirates have tried to cut costs by cutting corners this past offseason but it didn’t work. I would expect Huntington to have an excuse that this was supposed to be a bridge season and replenish the farm system after last year’s trades.
I heard Kela was a guy who sticks up for his teamate and also throws darts in relief
Would any Texas Rangers fan like to weigh-in on the idea of Banister taking over the manager roll in Pittsburgh? With all due respect Hurdle has to be better than Banister. Watched enough Texas games to know Banister isn’t that good.
You could assemble a dream team of Theo Epstein, Tony LaRussa and Jim Leyland—in various roles—and they would have the same results as this regime if Nutting is the owner
Look, the guy is making fabulous profits even if the team loses consistently and if attendance is lacking, so why spend money on personnel?
The most logical thing to do is to get rid of all overpriced, vet players who have no future here and insert the kids into the lineup and bring up more. They won’t even do that.
Sorry, this transcends firing the pitching and bullpen coaches, or even Hurdle
Does it seem odd that Nutting has no problem giving his GM and manager a multi year contract even after a disappointing season but he would not do that with a player?
If a player is having a bad season he is quick to send him packing i.e. Liriano and will even send a couple of top prospects to get rid of him..
Has any other team done something like this? I can’t think of any.
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The PIrates tend to pay their in house players the going rate.This has happened with David Freese,Ivan Nova,Liriano,and Cervelli.The only one that they did not dump was Cervelli and that is because he was untradeable last off season and this season because of the concussions.
I do not blame them for trying to dump high contracts.Every team does it.The Pirates are good at not overpaying players.Many teams are not.
They are also smart in trading players a year or two before free agency when they know that they will not be re signed.
My problem this year was that NH did not augment the team with low priced players,especially pitchers,who could have helped.He actually pooh poohed signing free agents which leads me to believe that he would not be very good at it.Lyles is a good example.
Pirate fans need to see that the team is trying,and that has not been the case for several years.
Anyone that has watched baseball for years knows that Hurdle needs to go. He is too comfortable in his job and Wednesday night when he pitched the closer in a 8-3 game to give him work but didn’t pitch him the night before in a 3-2 game.
Anyone with any baseball knowledge would have done the reverse. Players don’t listen to him anymore, he has gotten stale.Time to move on.
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There is a lot of truth to what you say 1090.
He saves Vasquez for situations that do not occur.
He is too comfortable with the historic use of the closer,and does not use his best pitcher in a sort of Andrew Miller role.
One can say that he would then not have a closer,and with almost all the current knuckleheads in the bullpen,that is true.But I think Rodriguez has come back after a terrible first month and a half to be able to fit the role.
They really missed Kela in this role this year.They need to keep him as he is a talented pitcher.He just has a ten cent head,