Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hurdle brings good attitude to team

By Jeff

New Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle made an excellent first impression when he spoke to the media yesterday. He said he wanted to tackle this challenge and bring winning baseball back to Pittsburgh. He said a priority was to get the pitching situation straightened out and make the team better in the field. He said a lot of good things.
Hurdle will also provide a left-handed bat off the bench.

The man legitimately seemed excited to have the opportunity to manage the team. At first, that might seem shocking. Who really wants to manage a team that has 18 consecutive losing seasons, is made the laughing stock of the national media and has an owner who has a reputation for not spending money on major-league talent? Sounds like hell, right? Not really.

There are only 30 major league baseball manager jobs out there. You'd think having one, any one, would be a major achievement for any baseball coach. Hurdle realizes this and I think his positive attitude is sincere. He knows he has a lot of work to do. If he's not completely aware of the challenge in front of him, all he has to do is ask Jim Tracy. The Colorado Rockies manager was fired by the Pirates in 2007 and was assistant under Hurdle until Hurdle was canned by the Rockies.

How odd is that? Tracy, who was fired by the Buccos, replaces Hurdle and immediately helps the Rockies improve. Then a few years later, the Pirates hire Hurdle. It really means nothing. Just because Hurdle only had one good season (and a World Series appearance) with the Rockies, doesn't mean he is a bad signing for the Pirates. Tracy led the Los Angeles Dodgers to an NL West crown before failing in Pittsburgh. Let's be honest, a manager is only as good as the team, and the Pirates are bad.

So what can we expect from Hurdle? Well, he can't turn a 105-loss team into a contender overnight. It's unfair to expect him to do so. There is no quick fix to the Pirates. Their pitching is atrocious and their lineup lacks proven consistency.

Hurdle needs to get back to the basics with this team. That would be a start. Too often were the young players making terrible baserunning decisions. That needs to be hammered into their brains. If they keep making the mistakes, sit them down.

Hurdle can also gain the support of fans if he shows some life. While I think arguing in baseball is kind of silly. You do it to show your team you have their backs. That you won't stand for an ump making a bad call. They won't reverse the call just because a manager yells at them, but that's not the point of arguing in baseball. The Pirates last manager, John Russell was torn apart by fans and the media for showing no emotion. If Hurdle shows just a little, he'll be an improvement in the eyes of many.

So was Hurdle the right choice? Is anyone excited about him?

Bruce Springsteen - The Promise 

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