Monday, November 15, 2010

Clint Hurdle: Your New Pittsburgh Pirates Manager

The Pirates officially announced today that Clint Hurdle will become the 39th manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hurdle, the former Colorado Rockies Manager who was replaced in Denver by John Russell's predecessor, Jim Tracy (got all that?), has a career record of 534-625 (.461) as a manager (most wins in Rockies history), including 1 World Series appearance. Last year, he was the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers in their AL winning season.

The fact that he has experience as a hitting coach will help develop our young talent more so than John Russell was able to do, as apart from various minor league managerial positions, he was the 3rd base coach for the Pirates from 2003-05. At least, that's the hope at this point. As all Pirates fans know, anything can and will happen during the course of the season.

Early indications are that Hurdle will have control over his coaches, although he didn't demand the right to hire an entirely new staff. Hopefully this means the end of Tony Beasley as the 3rd base coach.

Better Know a Manager: Clint Hurdle

Clint is originally from Big Rapids, Michigan, but moved to Florida when he was just 4 years old. He was selected by Kansas City 9th overall in 1975. Touted as a power hitter, he never was able to live up to his hype, and he played just parts of his 10 seasons in the majors, with only 2 years of more than 100 games played. His career batting average is .259 and has a career .745 OPS. In high school, Hurdle played baseball, basketball, and football, and signed a letter of intent with the University of Miami to play football before changing his mind after being picked by KC in the 1975 draft.

In his 7.25 seasons as the manager of the Rockies, he was over .500 in just one season, when the Rockies won the NL Penant for the first time in team history after making the playoffs on a wildcard. Other than that, he has placed higher than 4th place in the NL West exactly once, so while he will definitely be an upgrade over Russell, don't expect him to be the answer, at least not immediately. However, Hurdle will show more emotion on the bench than the block of wood that was John Russell and could be the spark that the young Pirates need to truly become a competitive team again.

He was named the NL coach for the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. He finished 3rd in voting for Manager of the Year in 2007.

Hurdle is named for his father, Clinton Sr. He is married to his wife, Karla, and he has 3 children: daughter Madison (8), son Christian (6, whose birthday is today!), and a daughter, Ashley (24), from a previous marriage. His daughter Madison has a rare disease, Prader-Willi Syndrome, and Clint is the Prader-Willi National Spokesperson.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Offseason thoughts

I realize I never posted a recap for the last game of the season. It was pretty awful. The Pirates lost 5-2, there were some of defensive blunders (looking at you, Doumit), and the only real highlight was Ronny Cedeno hitting a home run.

Lots of things were happening around that time that kept me away from the blog. First and foremost, school started up in late August, and this being my last year (woo!), my major classes are taking up most of my time, not to mention all the things I have to do for graduation and looking for a job, etc, etc. Second, the Pirates were playing really awful. It felt like a chore watching the games every night, and I really didn't feel like writing about it the next morning.

But that's the beauty of the offseason; after having your hopes dashed yet again, all it takes is a post like this one by Charlie from Bucs Dugout to get you pumped for next season.  You start to think that if the Bucs did those things he outlined they could be like the 2007 Rays. That pitching wouldn't matter as much because the defense would be solid. I'm all for it. If it doesn't work, what's the worst that could happen? Another losing season? Been there, done that.

Like Charlie says, we focus on pitching every year, and look how well that's worked out so far. There has to be a reason why guys like Oliver Perez and Josh Fogg were able to have bounce-back seasons the year after playing so poorly with the Pirates. The 2007 Mets with Perez weren't a run scoring machine. They were +54 and scored 804 runs, putting them in the high middle for runs that year. But they had a solid defensive team, with Carlos Delgado, Luis Castillo and Jose Reyes all having under 12 errors for the year. Josh Fogg was in a similar situation in 2006 with Colorado as behind him he had Todd Helten, Jamey Carroll, Matt Holliday, Cory Sullivan, and Brad Hawpe, all of whom had less than 6 errors on the year. While that team was only +1 with 813 runs scored and a losing record, they made a few tweaks and in 2007 they skyrocketed to 90-73, +102 with 860 runs scored, not that much more than they had scored the year before. That team made an appearance in the World Series.

I'm not saying the Pirates will make the World Series if they make these changes, but it's time to do something different than we've been doing for the past 18 years.

So now I feel excited about next season. I have hope that if these defensive changes happen, the Pirates will be at least somewhat competitive by August. After all, as Pirate fans, we have to be eternal optimists.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Congratulations Freddy

Way to go, Freddy. Unfortunately, this is probably as close as the Pirates will get to the World Series for quite a while.

Always good to see a former Bucco get a taste of glory, regardless of the team. Unless we hate said Bucco. Suck it, Barry.

A new season begins today.

Let's Go Bucs.