It's at the point of the season where it's getting difficult for me to write about every game. It's frustrating seeing the same mistakes every night. Then again, if the cheap bastards at FSN would travel to LA and cover the games, it would be nice. Instead, I'm just gonna start touching on issues with the Bucco's, so expect a different post about every 2-3 days until the Winter Meetings begin.
I've been asked a lot lately about my opinions of John Russell. After NH said that Russell would be back for 2010, many fans have been in an uproar. I just don't see why. He was already signed anyways. it's not like NH offered him a new deal for a job well done. I still don't know what kind of manager JR really is. Talented players always make a manger look better than he is and bad players always make a manager look worse than he is. Exhibit A- Jim Tracy. With talented teams in LA & now Colorado, Tracy is the best thing since sliced bread. With a horrible Pirates team, Tracy couldn't be run out of town fast enough. fact is, good players win more games then good managers. That's not to say a good manager isn't important, but given the choice, I'd rather have great players. I never like a manager getting fired because of bad players.
On the topic of should he manage the Bucs next season? I say Who cares? Really. The Pirates won't compete next season, so i have no problem with JR being the transition manager for this team. What I mean by that, is JR will take his lumps with a young team next season and as the Pirates begin to become competitive, hopefully in 2011 or 2012, the team will make the transition to a more experienced manager with a track record. At least I would hope so. I don't think it makes much sense to make a change before 2011. In reality, Joe Torre won't win with this young group next season, so let a new manager begin a season later with a chance at hope.
JR has a record of 122-182 with the Pirates. It's not the bad record that bothers me as some of the stuff he says and does at time. One thing I'm tired of hearing is "We are going to start holding players accountable." Really? No your not. Accountable for what exactly? I haven't seen anyone held accountable for swinging at the first pitch all season and bouncing into double plays. I haven't seen Matt Capps or anyone else held accountable for lousy seasons. Other than a 2 game benching of Ryan Doumit, what has JR held anyone accountable for? The answer is nothing, so please quit feeding the public that line of crap.
This team has gotten a little better fundamentally over his 2 seasons, but have regressed mentally. In all sports, I always say that a team usually take on the personality of it's manager (or coach). In this case, the Bucs have zero personality. For 2011, I'd like them to bring in someone that's more of a leader. A guy that that a ball club would run through a wall for.
Now, that's not to say you have to get a fiery, crazy type of manager. Just a good leader. I disagree with people that need to see the manager on the field kicking and screaming at every close call. This is baseball, not football. For every fiery, Lou Pinella, Earl Weaver, Bobby Valentine and Bobby Cox, there is also a calm Joe Torre, Tony Larussa, Mike Scoscia, etc.. Fiery isn't always the answer. Exhibit B- Llyod McClendon. However, it's another thing all together to sit in the dugout while your players take the heat with the umpires. That's being lazy and that's the personality of the Pirates right now.
Is JR the guy to lead the Pirates? I say no, but I also don't see a problem with him at the helm next season. No good up and coming young manger would have any interest in this job. No qualified big league winner would have any interest in this job. The guy I've had my eye on for years now is Bobby Valentine. In 2011, NH should overpay for a Valentine type manager, but in the meantime, we can get used to JR falling asleep in the dugout.