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John Russell Dumped by Pirates, but No Sign of Real Change in Pittsburgh

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John Russell Dumped by Pirates, but No Sign of Real Change in Pittsburgh
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As expected, the Pittsburgh Pirates showed manager John Russell the door late Monday morning.

No matter the reasons or excuses, you just cannot lose 300 games in three seasons and expect to keep your dugout job in any level of baseball.

General manager Neil Huntington says that the search for a replacement for Russell has already begun in organizational meetings in Bradenton, Florida.

Huntington, who was approved for another season on the job by team president Frank Coonelly late Sunday night, will head the search.

So the guy who thought that Jose Bautista could never hit in the major leagues, Aki Iwamura could, and Matt Capps couldn't get anyone out now gets to decide who is going to lead this team out of wilderness it has wandered in for the last 18 years.

Not that you need any reason to be pessimistic, but here are a couple: The last manager to leave Pittsburgh with a winning record was Chuck Tanner. That was 1985. The last time the Pirates hired a manager who led them to the postseason was 1986 with Jim Leyland. Yeah, that was last century—24 years ago to be exact.

The Pirates will find someone to hand over the lineup card on April Fool's Day in Wrigley Field, but with as many as 10 other clubs looking for a skipper, the odds that the Bucs find their man given the present backdrop are not ones that you would take in Vegas.

What can the Pirates offer the next manager? Four really good young position players, no shortstop, no real right fielder, and a pitching staff that woeful does not fully describe.

Add to that no financial ability or willingness to find fixes to any of the above outside of the organization.

We can also tell the next guy that the last manager in the system to win, AA Altoona skipper Matt Walbeck, was shown the door after winning the Eastern League title. Lots of excuses here, but no real reasons.

Oh, and whoever takes the job will be hired by a guy in the last year of his contact who has yet to produce anything that even resembles a winning team in four years. 

Good luck with all of that.

If the madness is ever going to end on Federal Street, if the Pirates are ever going to see the bright side of .500, Huntington is going to have to do something draconian, like hire someone outside of his Pittsburgh-Cleveland orbit with a backbone. He's going to have to hire someone who challenges decisions, has other ideas, and has a say in the process going forward.

It wouldn't hurt if he could find someone who actually showed some passion for the game and the organization.

At some point the madness will end at PNC Park. Just don't count on that being any time soon.

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