Who Will Be the Next Captain of the Pittsburgh Pirate Ship?

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Who Will Be the Next Captain of the Pittsburgh Pirate Ship?
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The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently interviewing candidates to replace the recently fired John Russell. I thought I'd take some time to break down how I view the leading candidates.

Let's start with the candidates the Pirates have already interviewed. Their career win-loss record is in parentheses.


Eric Wedge (561-573)

Pro

Managed a young small market team to an ALCS appearance.

 

Con

Not able to overcome injuries and talent trades to meet expectations.

 

Overview

Wedge was the manager of the Tribe when our current GM, Neal Huntington, was working there. In 2007, Wedge led the Indians past the Yankees in four games in the ALDS, then lost in seven games to eventual champion Boston. He was named Manager of the Year. His later teams were derailed by both injury and then by trading their star talent elsewhere (C.C. Sabathia, Victor Martinez).

I actually think Wedge makes the most sense, not only because he has a history of success, but also because of his connection to Huntington. The main reason why he might not end up with an offer from the Pirates is because he is also linked to other available positions, including the Cubs and Mariners.  In fact according to ESPN.com, Sources say the Mariners have hired Wedge to be their manager.

Ken Macha (525-447)

Pro

Local guy with a winning record in multiple stops

Con

Not much success with fellow NL Central team Milwaukee.

Overview

A lot of Yinzers (local term for Pittsburgh fans) out there will say they'd love to see Macha come manage the Pirates since he's a local guy. You want to be careful not to get caught hiring a guy just because he's from around here. Just ask Pitt football fans how that Wannstadt hire is going for them.

Having said that, Macha did not have a single losing season in four years with Oakland, including an ALCS appearance when his Athletics lost to the eventual World Series Champion Detroit Tigers. He got fired following the A's sweep in that series.


John Gibbons (305-305)

 

Pro

Managed a .500 record in an ultra competitive AL East.

Con

Has a history of disputes with his players.

Overview

Managed to have an even record through three-plus years with the Toronto Blue Jays. Keep in mind that meant he had to face off against two of the biggest spending teams in baseball (Yankees and Red Sox). He also had to contend with up and coming Tampa Bay.

I think that should actually make his non-losing record stand out even more considering Toronto isn't exactly a prime free agency destination. You can't ignore his run-ins with players. You have to wonder why several players did not respect him all that well.

Jeff Banister (0-0)


Pro

Familiar with the Pirate Organization

Con

Familiar with the Pirate Organization

Overview

Jeff has zero big league managing experience, and hasn't managed a minor league team since 1998. How can such a great talent remain unknown? Let's be brutally honest here. If the Pirates do in fact name Banister as their next manager, they'll basically be giving the middle finger to any remaining Pirate fans out there. The Pirates really need this next hire to come from outside the organization.

Bo Porter (0-0)

Pro

Would come from outside the organization

Con

No big league managerial experience

Overview

Porter is a strong contender to get the Marlins position because of his past history with the organization. However, considering he's been fired as a position coach by both Florida and Arizona, I have a hard time considering him a strong hire for the Pirates.

 

Dale Sveum (7-5)

 

Pro

Has ties to the Pirates organization

Con

Very little MLB managerial experience

Overview

While he wouldn't be my first choice for manager, he does fit the "rising star" type of manager who could end up paying off for the Pirates.  He was named Top Managerial Prospect in the Eastern League by Baseball America in 2003.   



Other Candidates of Interest

Phil Garner (985-1054)

 

Pro

Most experienced candidate of the ones listed, and is also a former Pirate.

Con

Not all of that experience is good

Overview

Phil has contacted the Pirates expressing interest in the position, and has stated that he would bring some new ideas to the position of Pirates manager. The problem is that Pirates management might be looking for more of a “yes man,” and I’m not sure this kind of independent thinking would be appreciated here. After all, the Pirates did fire Altoona manager Matt Walbeck for thinking outside the box.

Getting back to Phil, His most recent tour of duty was with the Houston Astros. He took over mid-season in 2004 and led Houston all the way to the NLCS. He then guided them to a World Series appearance in 2005. Houston's core was already old by this point, and things went downhill from there.

Hiring Garner wouldn't be a HORRIBLE move, but I think that Wedge and Macha are just far better candidates.


Tony Pena (198-285)

 

Pro

Responsible for the only recent winning season in Kansas City in last 20 years.

Con

Followed that up with a 100-plus loss season.

Overview

I must start off by saying I may have a slight personal bias for Tony Pena, as he was my favorite player when I was a kid. He handed me a baseball at the first Pirate game I ever attended. I still have it. Tony has a passion and fire for baseball, and has served as bench coach for a very successful Yankees team. His last stop was with the pathetic Kansas City Royals. The fact he turned that bunch of losers into winners, if only for one season, is still an amazing feat.

The main drawback with considering Pena for the position is that the Pirates can't even interview him until the Yankee's playoff run is over. I think if the Pirates want their choice of the candidates above, they may need to make a choice long before they get the chance to interview Pena.

So there you have it. Of all the candidates I discussed, I have to say Wedge would be my first choice followed by Ken Macha. Gibbons or Pena would be tied for third choice for me. Feel free to discuss this in the comments below!

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