Russell’s gone; who might be next?

About ten minutes before John Russell was fired this morning, I started combing over possible replacements for him in my head and Twitter-sourcing (thanks to @UtesFan89 for some quick, helpful responses)people previously mentioned as candidates. I don’t have any inside information here and so I’ll admit that there are minor league coaches and bench coaches around the league that will almost certainly be interviewed that I’m missing, but I think we can come up with a least a few names as potential replacements for Russell pretty easily.

The first name that comes to mind for me is Eric Wedge. I know that Mark Shapiro and co. had a very high opinion of Wedge when he managed the Indians for him and they seemed to only fire him for the same reason Huntington just fired Russell: because at some point someone had to be fired. Connecting the Indians’ dots back here, I’d have to think Wedge will be a candidate (and as I type this, I see at the PBC Blog that Chuck Finder has already heard Wedge’s name).

Sticking with the Indians that means that Joel Skinnner and Torey Lovullo also might be candidates again. Skinner was supposed to be one of the leading candidates to replace Jim Tracy and the Pirates did give him an interview, but he wasn’t hired. Maybe he wanted to stay on Wedge’s staff, maybe the Pirates didn’t think he had enough managerial experience. He’s managed Cleveland’s Double-A affiliate for a couple of years now, though, and he didn’t get Wedge’s job when he was fired so maybe an interview with him would go differently this time around. Lovullo is, as he was in 2007, the Indians’ Triple-A manager. Depending on why he wasn’t hired in 2007, there’s a chance he may get another interview.

If we keep rehashing other guys Huntington interviewed, there’s also Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. Remember that Huntington seemed very interested in Farrell three years ago, but that Farrell decided to stay with the Red Sox. Huntington may come calling again, though it’s probable that Farrell’s answer won’t have changed.

In the immediate aftermath of the firing FanHouse’s Ed Price tweeted that he hoped the Pirates would consider interim bench coach Jeff Bannister for the job. Bannister’s name definitely crossed my mind last night; we already know the Pirates are considering keeping Ray Searage, who was promoted to pitching coach at the same time Bannister was moved up to bench coach. Perhaps the Pirates promoted both of them with the future in mind? If the Pirates do go for an internal option, I’d guess Bannister would be the guy given his extensive history with the team in the minor leagues and the slew of young players making their way to Pittsburgh.

In the same PBC link above, DK mentions not to waste time thinking about Ken Macha, and obviously I don’t know what he knows but I’d second that thought. Unless I’m misremembering the last search, Macha really wanted the Pirates’ job (it was part of why he tried to leave Oakland after the 2007 season), but Huntington didn’t even give him an interview. In fact, I’d rule out just about anyone with considerable big league managerial experience, Wedge excepted. I think part of the reason Huntington liked Russell so much was his willingness to try things like the outfield shift and the pitcher batting eighth, which seemed to me to come from the front office. Most guys with a long managerial history won’t listen to the front office like that.

Obviously there’s a good chance that whoever takes over for Russell isn’t named above and we’re going to learn a lot more in the next couple weeks. Nothing’s certain right now, but I absolutely would not expect the Pirates to consider a “big name” and unless they hire Wedge (which I’d say is a distinct possibility), I’m expecting whoever takes over to have a resume that’s pretty similar to the one that Russell had when he was hired after the 2007 season.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

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