The Pirates won’t be bringing back pitching coach Ray Searage or bench coach Tom Prince in 2020, as per a team announcement. No other coaching changes were announced, as such decisions will be made in conjunction with the hiring of the team’s new manager. After the Pirates fired former skipper Clint Hurdle, it seemed a foregone conclusion that a larger shake-up was coming to the team’s staff, with Searage saying earlier this week that he wasn’t expecting to return next season.
Both Searage and Prince were longtime fixtures in the Pittsburgh organization, with Searage boasting 17 years of experience as a minor league pitching and (since 2010) the Major League pitching coach. Prince has an even longer track record in the Steel City, spending parts of seven seasons with the Bucs as a player and then working as a minor league manager and coordinator from 2005-16 before assuming bench coach duties prior to the 2017 season.
It wasn’t long ago that Searage was considered arguably the best pitching coach in all of baseball, as several veteran pitchers found their careers rejuvenated after coming to Pittsburgh. Names like A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ all enjoyed renewed success under Searage’s tutelage, and the Bucs’ ability to unearth hidden pitching gems was a big part of the team’s three consecutive postseason appearances from 2013-15.
Searage shared his thoughts on his dismissal, his hesitant embrace of the analytics movement, and the Pirates’ disappointing 2019 season as a whole in a wide-ranging interview with Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic (subscription required). Searage initially believed that he would continue to work as pitching coach in 2020 and “then I would fade off into the baseball clouds as a special assistant and that would be it.” That said, Searage has “no regrets and I’m not angry. It’s part of baseball.”
It’s hard to necessarily project what the Pirates could be looking for in a new bench coach or pitching coach until a new manager is hired. Based on Searage’s comments, it could be that the Bucs hire a pitching coach more specifically attuned to analytics, though it isn’t clear if that was necessarily the reason for why Pirates pitching struggled — as Biertempfel points out, the 2019 Pirates were hampered by injuries and poor defense. As for the bench coach role, that position is usually filled by a close confidant of the manager, or an up-and-coming-manager type of coach that the organization wants to deploy in a more high-profile position.
Lets gooooo. Should uld have happened a LONG time ago
Doesn’t matter! Nutting won’t spend to bring in talent. Ops department can’t develop, Huntington stinks at his job!
They won big without spending in 2013, 2014, 2015.
Why should Nutting spend when his team plays in possibly the worst market for baseball in the major leagues?
In 2015, the Pirates reached the playoffs for the third straight season and had the second most wins in MLB. Their attendance was 9th in the 15 team National League. The Brewers were 7th with a 68-94 record.
Keep in mind that the Pirates play in a smaller park. It’s better to look at percentage, where the Pirates were tied with the Yankees in 9th in the MLB.
The size of the park would matter if the Pirates were selling out every game. They weren’t even close.
Far from the worst market in baseball. Fans have been through a lot, certainly showed up big when we started winning again in 13. Saying the Pirates shouldn’t try because the fans aren’t good enough is asinine.
The fans did NOT show up big when the team started winning. As I stated above, they were 9th in the NL in attendance in 2015, a year in which they went to the playoffs for the third straight season and had the second most wins in MLB.
Pittsburgh has always been a bad market for baseball. The Pirates were one of the best teams in MLB for the entire decade of the 1970s and attendance was awful. They won their division in 1990, 1991, and 1992 and couldn’t sell out playoff games.
When the fans don’t show up even when the team is winning, the ownership should not spend. They’re not in business to lose money.
Worse than Tampa Bay? At least the Bucs have a beautiful stadium. We have a warehouse with cat walks.
Goku the Knowledgable One
They didn’t win anything in 13-15..
Made a handful of wildcard appearances, and got exactly zero division titles.
Not what I’d call “winning big” in any fashion of the term.
Goku the Knowledgable One
Also forgot to add that they didn’t win a single playoff series.
And didn’t even show up to 2/3 wildcard games.
…so saying that not spending money worked out is dead wrong..
Drafting McCutchen worked out, never got a good enough team around him tho.
Buzz off Richard
Phillies need to grab Searage ASAP. In his case, older is better than Young.
Check out the job he did with Chris Archer, Tyler Glasnow, and Charlie Morton.
Do you really want a pitching coach who forces players with a 96 mph fastball to throw a two-seamer?
Archer wasn’t that much better in Tampa. Guy has been the most overhyped pitcher the past 6 or 7 years. He’s a reliever masquerading as a starter.
Goku the Knowledgable One
I agree. Archer is all about K’s.
He completely unravels when things go wrong.
He’s either dominant or terrible; no middle ground; and is only dominant 1/8th of the time.
He never even averaged that many.
Show Me Your Tatis
K’s are overrated. Look at Dean Manaea in the AL Wild Card game yesterday.
The problem in Pittsburgh was the teams pitching philosophy. I have a hard time seeing Ray not wanting these kids to mow guys down. He was able to make mediocre to bad pitchers look competent (Jeff Locke, Brandon Cumpton, Vance Worley, Edinson Volquez, etc…) But having “power arm” type talent and making them pitch to contact was never gonna work.
If I had to guess, the price tag on pitchers goes up when they K over 200 a year. So keep them pitching to contact and maybe they’ll be more affordable during arbitration.
,,,and look at what he didn’t do with Cole, who had to go to Houston before he harnessed his talent.
Goku the Knowledgable One
Much like anyone whos left the pirates lately, I expect big things out of Searage
This sabr garbage is laughable. A couple of years ago Searage was considered one of the best pitching coaches in MLB, now he’s disposable for some mathlete? Just like Kapler with the Phillies? Lolol Or Matt Blood with the Rangers? You know, the egghead they hired to be the Head of player development and then realized he knew nothing about player development so they put him in a copy room? Smh.
It’s not even sabermetrics that is ushering Searage out the door. It’s the simple fact that the guy has seen talented pitchers have to get AWAY from him, to be successful.
When 3 players leave your team, and become Cy Young candidates, and most of your pitchers aren’t performing, that’s how you get fired.
Sounds like a case where the gm should lose his job for letting such affordable and talented players go.
Searage lost his magic when Benedict left for Miami. Those 2 together where great, apart not so much
I figured Prince would get a shot at mgr.. whoa
I thought so as well.
I thought for sure he would at least get an interview, but I’m glad this happened instead. No offense to Prince it Searage, but after the way the team and clubhouse fell apart over the second half of those season, they should be cleaning house.
I suppose after all the in-clubhouse fighting this season, this was expected. I wouldn’t be surprised if Crick and Kela are moved during the offseason (even though Vasquez will likely be suspended).
It’s sad because for a while, Ray Searage was a regarded of as a “fixer upper” for pitchers with his helping AJ Burnett, Francisco Liriano, J.A. Happ, Mark Melancon, Jason Grilli, even Jordan Lyles. How far the star has fallen…
Well, maybe not. With Vasquez gone, he seemed to be in the center of the other 2 fighting. Crick and Kela may be ok without Vasquez in the room. Don’t know for sure as was not present for any of the mess.
Vazquez will be more than suspended.
Vasquez more likey in prison than suspended
Can all but guarantee now, Jeff Banister will be the man.
Dray, mom cleaned your bedsheets after your accident
It’s not funny when you do it everywhere
Ok. We are making these changes, but it does not mean anything. The reds just stated that their payroll will increase next year to build a winning team. They have a good core of veterans. Unless bob spends money on free agents, I don’t see the pirates being any better. Last place again. It’s same story, just need a owner who is willing to invest money.