It was announced that Altoona Manager Matt Walbeck would not be brought back for the 2011 season, just weeks after leading the Curve to the Eastern League Championship. Walbeck also was voted Manager of the Year in the Eastern League, which makes the move surprising.
The Pirates haven't released all of the details on the move, but it is known that Walbeck was looking to be promoted to AAA or the MLB level after his successful run in AA. The Pirates weren't willing to create a spot for him, so they parted ways.
As far as a promotion, there is no way that Walbeck should be considered to manage at the MLB level right now. When they give current manager John Russell walking papers, he needs to be replaced by a quality big league manager. If they intend to replace Russell down the line with a manager that hasn't proven anything at the MLB level, then it makes no sense to make a change at all.
Moving Walbeck up to AAA, would have seemed like a better option. Current Indianapolis Indians manager Frank Kremblas has done nothing spectacular there, but to his defense, all of the Pirates talent is currently at AA.
The case you can make for Walbeck is that all of the players he's worked with at Altoona will soon be playing in Indianapolis.
In the end though, it really doesn't matter who manages in the minor leagues right now. The goal is to win at the major league level.
The problem here though is the horrible PR that the Pirates keep generating for themselves. A team that hasn't won in 18 seasons can't afford all the bad press.
All that casual fans will see is that the Pirates organization finally did something right by winning in AA and they immediately got rid of the guy responsible for leading the team to success.
This should hardly be news at all, but the Pirates just don't seem to care about negative fan reaction, which they should.
Why announce this at all? Why right now? It just doesn't make sense from a PR standpoint.
Believe me, no one would care two or three months from now when they announce a new manager. Most people wouldn't even remember what type of year the Curve even had in 2010. Instead, the Pirates announce that now when it's still fresh on most fans' mind.
Are they trying to anger their fanbase?
It just makes no sense. These are the same people that tried to hide the fact that they gave extensions to Russell and general manager Neal Huntington because of fear of negative press.
So, naturally they go out and give something negative for people to talk about.
This just goes to show that the Pirates don't just have to get better on the field. They have to get better in every aspect of the organization.