October 14, 2010
In what may be the most drawn out and in many's eyes predictable, the Pittsburgh Pirates are still searching for their new manager. Here are the candidates as of Wednesday that are in the "race":
1. Eric Wedge: As an athlete, Wedge played in 697 total games, 39 of which were in the Major League level (Colorado Rockies). As manager of the Cleveland Indians from 2003-2009 he compiled a record of 561-573. His most successful team was in 2007 when his team lost in the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox four games to three.
2. Bo Porter: Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 40th round of the 1993 Draft. His career stats were a .214 average with two home runs and eight runs batting in. In 2005, he was the hitting coach for the Class A Greensboro Grasshopper. In 2006, he was the manager for the Class A-Advanced Jamestown Jammers. In 2007, Porter started as the Florida Marlins third base coach; a position he held until 2009. This season, Porter was the third base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks and moved to bench coach when Manager A.J. Hinch was fired. Porter himself was fired from the team after the season.
3. Ken Macha: Macha was an infielder for the Pirates, Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays for six seasons during the 1970's. As a manager for the Oakland A's and Milwaukee Brewers, Macha has compiled a record of 525-447. In his two seasons with the Brewers, Macha failed to lead the team to a playoff berth. With the A's, Macha led the team to a playoff berth twice, losing to the Boston Red Sox three games to two in 2003. In 2006, his final season with the A's, the team lost four games to three to the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS. He is a Monroeville, Pennsylvania native.
4. John Gibbons: Gibbons was selected by the New York Mets with the 24th pick of the 1980 Amateur Draft. His career stats include a batting average of .200, 11 hits and two runs batted in. In 2002, he was hired by then Blue Jays GM (and current Baseball Tonight analyst) J.P. Ricciardi as a bullpen catcher. In June of the same year, Gibbons was promoted to first base coach. Gibbons has a managerial record of 305-305. His best season was in 2007 when his team won 87 games and finished second in the AL East. Despite this Gibbons encountered a lot of controversies. In July 2006, Shea Hillenbrand challenged Gibbons to a fight. This was based on two factors. The first was that Hillenbrand complained that he didn't play enough and secondly that no one in the Blue Jays front office congratulated him on recently adopting a child. He faced more controversy on August 21st of the same year when pitcher Ted Lilly fought with Gibbons. This was due to the fact that Lilly had a very bad outing and was frustrated. His most notable controversy occurred in 2008, when Gibbons benched sure to be Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. Thomas is a notorious slow starter and was angered by the move considering the fact that he needed at least 364 at-bats that year to get his $10 million bonus.
5. Jeff Banister: For Jeff Banister, it has been a 25 year run in the Pirates organization. He has seen the team of some of its highest highs and for its recent lows. Banister's tenure with the Pirates began in 1986, when he was drafted by the team in the 25th round. He had one career at bat when then Manager Jim Leyland used him as a pinch hitter. He did get a single in the at bat. In 1994 he was the manager of the Welland Pirates of the New York-Penn League. In 1995, he coached the Augusta Green Jackets to the South Atlantic League Championship. In 1996, he was named the manager of the Lynchburg Hillcats. He held this job until midway through the 1997 season, when he was named manager of the Carolina Mudcats. He held this position until 1998. From 1999-2002, he was Pittsburgh's Major League Field Coordinator. From 2003-2010 he was the Minor League Field Coordinator. In 2008, he was the Pitching Coach for Lynchburg. His most recent job was when he was hired on August 8, 2010 to replace Gary Varsho as the Pirates bench coach.
6. Dale Sveum: Sveum was the 25th overall pick in the 1982 Amateur Draft. He was picked by the Milwaukee Brewers. In 1987, Sveum had his best season, hitting 25 home runs and batting in 95 runs. His greatest moment as a player occurred during the season as well, when on April 19. he hit a walk off home run at County Stadium to give the Brewers a 6-4 win over the Texas Rangers. The next season, Sveum got into a collision with teammate Darryl Hamilton and broke his leg. He was replaced on the roster by Gary Sheffield, paving the way for what would ultimately be a 500 home run career. Sveum never was the same player after the injury. In his career, Sveum hit .236 with 69 home runs and 340 runs batted in. His playing career ended in 1999 with the Pirates. Sveum started his coaching career in 2001-2003 managing the Pirates Double-A affiliate. His record was 213-211. Baseball America named him Top Managerial Prospect in the Eastern League by in 2003. From 2004-2005, Sveum served as third base coach for the Boston Red Sox. After that, he left the team to join the Brewers as their bench coach. On October 30th, 2007, Sveum became the third base coach for the Brewers. On September 15, 2008, Sveum became the interim manager of the team after Manager Ned Yost was fired. Under his reign, the team finished the season with a record of 7-5, making the playoffs as the NL wildcard. The team lost in the NLDS three games to one to the Philadelphia Phillies. In 2009, Macha became manager and Sveum stayed on the team as the hitting coach.
So who will become the Pirates new manager? Will it be one of these six, or a candidate we don't know about yet? My money (albeit it's not that much money) is on Wedge. GM Neal Huntington had a past in Cleveland working under Mark Shapiro and thus has experienced an unfortunate love affair with the city. This leads me to believe that Wedge will ultimately be the choice. While Pirates fans may be happy with the change, many in Cleveland complain that Wedge does not show enough passion when the game is played. This would be d?j? vu all over for Pirates fan because they already had one of those managers. I just hope that Huntington doesn't have the final decision on this matter, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Zac Weiss is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.