Perry Hill, the Pirates first base coach/infield instructor has rebuffed all attempts by the Buc's to get him to return next year.
The reason I used bold type for the second half of his title is, that while he may be a good first base coach, he is pure magic when it comes to infield instruction.
This year Perry took the Pirates infield to heights they've never reached before in their entire history. Under his tutelage the Pirates played 101 of their games without an error, a franchise record.
His influence doesn't end there. The Pirates also led all of baseball in fielding percentage at .988 and had the least errors of any team at 73.
Mr. Hill did all of this on a team that got rid of three quarter's of it's infield by the trading deadline, after which he took a hodgepodge of replacements into respectability.
He also developed Andy LaRoche, (a player in his first full season in the major's) into a gold glove caliber third baseman, a development that has the Buc's toying with the idea of moving him to second base next year, instead of just moving him, either to the bench or out of town.
He earned his salary on this last accomplishment alone.
Not being a fly on the wall during negotiations, I'm not sure why he doesn't want to return, but It may have something to do with the wholesale changes the Pirates made last year.
The saddest part of Perry Hill not returning is that with only incremental changes to the infield in the near future, highlighted by Pedro Alvarez's ascension, the Buc's need him now, more than ever.
It would seem that for the near future at least, the Pirates are only going to allow increased talent to displace current players from their positions, as apposed to trades for prospects being the reason for their removal.
This would actually be the optimum time for someone of his caliber to be instructing the Bucco stars of the future.
I'm not sure if the Pirates gave him any assurances about roster turnover when he came to Pittsburgh, but if he was, it may be that if Mr. Hill felt burned and he either doesn't want to start over or doesn't trust management to not do the same thing again.
The Pirates have said they are still open to Mr. Hill changing his mind, but chances for that seem small, considering he turned the down an initial offer to resign with the team way back in August and the front office has pursued him ever since, but to no avail.
His replacement will have to be very good to even come close to what his predecessor accomplished in the short time he was here.
Godspeed Perry Hill and thank you for the glimmer of light you gave Pirate fans, in an otherwise dark and dismal 2009.
On a side note, this is my 52nd birthday. Until I joined Bleacher Report several months ago, I'd never written anything much beyond my name. This has been a very interesting and pleasurable experience.
Thank you Zander and friends for the opportunity to write about my beloved Pirates.
Writing an article about them is my birthday present to myself.
To Frank a faithful commenter, I now consider you a friend, I hope the feeling is mutual.
Here's to the first year of improvement on the way out of the basement and eventually to the World Series.
P.S. I just got my first ever vanity license plate. it reads "GO BUCS". I feel like a proud new papa with it on the back of my car. This just goes to prove, that when it comes to our childhood heroes, some of us never grow up.
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