Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pirates must kick John Russell to the curb

By Jeff

Pittsburgh Pirates manager John Russell has very little talent to work with. While his young lineup has potential to do well, his pitching staff is years away from maybe being serviceable. I doubt many, if any, managers could get a winning team out of the 2010 Buccos. But John Russell still needs to go.

How can players follow a man who didn't have the power to make his own lineup early in the season? Management dictated to him that he had to start certain players, like Jeff Clement, even though Clement did nothing to earn a roster spot.

Russell, right, is asking the ump
for coaching advice.
Then there were the moves that Russell did make. Pirates fans are well aware of the outfield shift he commonly used the first half of the season. Russell inexplicably had his left fielder play closer to center field against right-handed hitters. The results were numerous doubles to left field that would have been singles had the left fielder not shifted.

Russell and his base coaches were no better when the team was batting. I lost count of the baserunning errors back in May. Some of these mistakes are definitely on the players, but it makes you wonder how much the manager was coaching this season.

At some point, you have to figure he lost the team and the players just zone him out. And why wouldn't they? The man has been at the helm for three years and his record is 178-292. His team has finished last in a bad division all three years (yes, I'm counting 2010) he has been in charge. The talent is not there, but at some point ownership and GM Neal Huntington have to figure that a new leader is needed.

Get Russell out of here before he hurts the future of promising youngsters like Jose Tabata, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez. Look at Andrew McCutchen. He showed tremendous promise last year and has been pretty good this year, but I haven't seen any growth. If anything, he has taken a small step back this season. I put a lot of that on Russell and his staff for not maximizing McCutchen's undeniable abilities.

The Pirates must make a new manager their priority in the offseason. Find a man with a history of developing and motivating young talent. I don't know enough about the managers who will be available, but I do know that Russell has to go.

Big Country - Heart and Souls

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