Clint Hurdle was formally announced as Pirates Manager on Monday afternoon during a news conference. He is the 39th in the rich history of the Bucs and the fifth in part of the 18 consecutive losing seasons. It’s no shocker that Hurdle has a lot work to do, but he seems to generally believe in the organization, players and the future moving forward.
“This wasn’t about taking a job because it was a sure thing,” Hurdle emphasized. “This was about taking an opportunity that felt sure. And it fit right. I felt comfortable with the people that I was going to be getting after the job with. “There is not a doubt in my mind that this is eventually going to turn. I wanted to get on board now, because I believe this is the time it’s going to start turning.”
“I’m not going to shy away from talking about a championship,” Hurdle said. “I really don’t care what people think. You have a young nucleus of good players that grow up together, they learn together, they stumble together, they fight together, and through it all, they emerge as champions together.
“We’re headed in the right direction. It’s not about taking our time to get there. There’s some urgency.”
The Pirates finished the season with 105 losses as well as last in both pitching and fielding. The organization has discussed adding to the payroll for the 2011 season and that they would be attacking the free agent market.
General Manager confirmed on Monday that after firing John Russell, Hurdle was the guy they had their eye on. He asked around approximately 30 different people on Hurdle’s philosophy and credentials.
“We had been told that he was going to be a remarkable interviewee just because of the presence and the intelligence and the passion,” Huntington said. “But the alignment of where he is philosophically and where we are philosophically was a terrific fit right away.
“He has the ability to help young men grow up and mature and be ready to take the next step, yet he’s also a person that can relate to veteran players and help them get better. He believes in being unified. He believes in cohesion. He believes in a lot of the same things we believe in.”
Hurdle may have gotten fans to like him already. He was in attendance at the Steelers game on Sunday night (where he met Pirates players Neil Walker and Joel Harahan) as well as the Pens game on Monday night.
“I’m going to be upfront. I’m proud to be a Pirate,” Hurdle said. “We’re not going to back down from anybody. We’re going to show up and we’re going to play. Our focus is going to be on a commitment of excellence that is unique and that is real. We’re going to hold ourselves to a very high degree of accountability and responsibility.
“I’m all in.”
The Pirates new skipper Clint Hurdle chatted with the Analysis’s of MLB Network on Monday evening. Here are the things they discussed:
On his thoughts on being officially announced as Pirates manager: “I am humbled with another opportunity to manage in the major leagues with the traditional rich Pittsburgh Pirates. We all know the state here. We are well aware of the 18 consecutive seasons of sub .500 play. We have work to do, no doubt about it. But this opportunity to be a part of leadership with this group and turn this thing around. And reignite the fan base.”
On what the conversations (back-and-forth) between Hurdle and the Pirates ownership is like during interviews/what they discuss: “Well the questions I was asked was ‘why the interest level?’ I wanted to understand a little bit more about the situation, is there continuity from top to bottom. Is the mentality all mentality. I understand the skepticism of the fan base, the raw emotion that it has. It’s understandable, its factual.”
On pitching and payroll. “The payroll is one of the questions we talked about internally. There is money available to spend. Just because you have it, doesn’t mean you should spend it all. We want to spend it wisely. I think there are some keys to the pitching puzzle out there this winter that we will actively peruse. There is money available for Neal [Huntington] to go searching and to find the right fit. And probably extend themselves more than they have in the past.”
MLB Network analyst Barry Larkin brought up the question, “How do you change the mindset of losing every single year? They lost 105 games this year.”
Billy Ripken discussed his opinion: “I think that’s the first thing that Clint Hurdle is going to address is the mind set of the club. And let’s face it, I think that what Clint Hurdle brings to this mix is a positive attitude, he’s going to have some attention to detail and he’s going to be more of a front guy. But that only takes you so far. They’ve got some position players but until somebody gets out there on the bump, Clint Hurdle is going to be in a tough situation. His attitude is going to be key. I think that’s going to be good but you got to find someone on the bump that’s going to get people out.”
Aki Iwamura has signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles on Friday. The 32-year-old had a disappointing 2010 season batting just 173 in 229 plate appearances between the Pirates and Athletics’.
Catcher Erik Kratz will not be back with the Pirates Triple-A affiliate Indians next season as he signed a minor-league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday.
Kratz, 30, made his major league debut during the 2010 season –which was televised and was even interviewed by MLB Network.
Kratz, 30, hit .118 (4-for-34) with one RBI for the Pirates in nine games.
After a month and a half of interviews (eight) and waiting, the Pirates finally have a new manager. Former Texas Rangers hitting coach Clint Hurdle will become the next skipper for the Bucs replacing John Russell.
The deal is for three years and the Pirates will formally announce him during a press conference on Monday at 11 AM ET.
Hurdle –most notably known for his time spent in Colorado as the Rockies Manager– has a career record of 534-625. Hurdle has had experience with a young team and the Pirates hope that he can be the guy to lead the Bucs to not only a winning season, but also to a World Series.
According to John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times, he has other reasons to want to move to the Steel City. Hurdle’s eight-year-old Daughter suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome. The Children’s hospital that’s located in Pittsburgh’s neighbor hood of Shadyside is the nation’s best for children with Prader-Willi.
“We thought it was only fitting to premiere this here in Pittsburgh.” Bob Costas said during his opening remarks. Fitting it was. Over 1,000 people were in attendance at the Byham Theatre in Downtown Pittsburgh on Saturday night to witness history. Never before has game seven of the 1960 World Series been seen since it’s original broadcast.
Former players who were at the event were: Joe Christopher, Elroy Face, Bob Friend, Dick Groat, Vernon Law, Bob Oldis, Hal Smith and Bill Virdon. Vera Clemente was also in attendance as well as Members of Bing Crosby’s family, Michael Keaton, Pirates broadcaster John Wehner, President Frank Coonelly and Owner Bob Nutting. Bill Mazeroski was unable to attend, he was in the hospital with Kidney stones.
The copy of game seven was found in the late Bing Crosby’s wine cellar earlier this year. Crosby was very superstitious and was in Paris the night of the game and had someone record the game for him (Not until the 1970′s were historic games filmed and saved).The film was recorded in Black and white and had very little use of graphics. There was also no commercials. There were no advertisement’s being shown or even discussed. It was a pure, beautiful game –called by Bob Prince and Mel Allen. The game lasted just over two hours. “The good part of this game, Bob Costas said. “You don’t have guys stepping out of the box every two seconds.”
The host –Bob Costas– recalls game seven of the world series and even said “That was the first time I remember being heartbroken. Costas –who grew up in New York– missed school to watch the game at home. His Mother told him to get to the bus stop and he told her, “I’ll go to the bus stop, but then I’m coming right back home.” His parents finally allowed him to miss school, his dad saying that he will remember this game a lot longer than that one day in class. (I’d say he did just fine).
The film was shown and periodically was stopped for Costas to ask the players questions and reactions to what had just happened.
“I don’t have a clue”, Bill Virdon said to Costas on if he remembered exactly the pitch by pitch of his two-RBI double in the second inning.
Vernon law was asked how he pitched to Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle: “Inside. Don’t throw a strike. In on their hands.”
Dick Groat said, Mantle’s grounder up the middle that he missed “still haunts him to this day.”
Michael Keaton –who grew up in Pittsburgh– flew across country to be at the event. “This to me is art. Watching him run. It’s just something, man.” On watching Roberto Clemente play.
Hal Smith’s three-run home run in the eighth inning (which during the film, Mel Allen says is one of the most historic home runs in World series history and will never be forgotten –ironic?) happened so fast he didn’t know what happened. “I didn’t realize what happened until I was rounding second. I thought, ‘What have I done?” He remembers Clemente picking him up on his shoulders and was, “absolutely overwhelmed”.
The crowd cheered and booed at the appropriate times and even started chants throughout the film. The crowd also gave Vera Clemente a standing ovation after she was introduced. Still to this day, Vera feels his presence. She talked about how much Roberto meant to her and how much he truly loved Pittsburgh. “He told me that if the Pirates traded him he would quit [baseball].”
“It was really something we all wanted to see,” Bob Friend said. “It’s one of the greatest games ever played in the history of baseball.”
And now, everyone at home will get the opportunity to witness it as well. The film will be aired on MLBNetwork, December 15th at 8 PM ET (Maz –who was sick– will be interviewed at a later time and worked into the film). The post game interviews by Mel Allen (which were absolutely hilarious) will also be included during the event along with 60 minutes of additional footage. MLBNetowk will also release a two-DVD set on December 14th by MLB Productions.
Dick Groat said it perfectly. “The 1960 Pirates’ were a team of destiny.”
I asked Elroy Face why he wasn’t smiling and was acting so serious. He said, “I didn’t see you standing there. I am now!”
Pirates Players of the 1960 Bucs take pictures on the red carpet.
The view from my seat in the beatuiful Byham Theatre in Downtown Pittsburgh.
My ticket from attending the event.
My media pass from MLB Network. It was a remarkable night.
Andrew McCutchen was named 2011′s Biggest Breakout star by Sports Illustrated.
“When searching for baseball’s next breakout star, it’s best to begin by looking for someone with a unique blend of speed, power and athleticism, a rare five-tool player.”
Sports Illustrated calls Andrew McCutchen “a dark horse candidate for National League MVP honors.”
In 262 career games played he has a .286 AVG with 29 home runs, 110 RBI and 55 stolen bases.
“I grew up watching Ken Griffey Jr.,” says McCutchen. “He was a guy that I really loved to watch because of all the things that he could do — he was a very exciting player. I believe that I can be, and I believe I am, that exciting player just like he is that can bring a lot to the table.”
Although he has a long way to go to reach Griffey stats, the article points on the similarities: both were first-round picks, and have similar stats in their second year of major league baseball. (McCutchen: 154 games, .286 AVG, 16 home runs, 55 RBI, 33 stolen bases and 94 runs scored. Griffey: 155 games, .300 AVG, 22 home runs, 80 RBI, 16 stolen bases and 91 runs scored)
“I’m just gonna keep preparing to get myself to be an elite player,” says McCutchen. “With me, anything is possible.
Former Pirates Manager John Russell interviewed with the Baltimore Orioles on Friday by Buck Showalter for two vacant positions: first base coach or third base coach. Showalter is also looking for the position to serve as a catching instructor. (Russell is a former major-league catcher).
John Russell was fired by the Pirates on October 4th after compiling a 186-299 record.
In honor of JR (The picture was taken on the last home game of the 2009 season):
The Rule 5 draft deadline is almost here. The Pirates have until Midnight ET on November 19th to move players they want to protect to the 40-man roster. The roster is currently at 38 (as of Thursday evening) and will have to remove several guys off in order to save some good prospects.
According to Jenifer Langosch, Pirates Beat Reporter these are the players that are likely/unlikely to be protected.
Near certain Additions: Rudy Owens, Jeff Locke, Diego Moreno
Up for debate: Daniel Moskos, Nathan Adcock, Brian Friday, Tony Watson
Notable ’07 Draft picks likely to be left off: Duke Welker, Andrew Walker
Unlikely to be protected … again: Michael Crotta, Michael Dubee, Jim Negrych, and Miles Durham
Steven Jackson and Brandon Moss have declared free-agency. Both Jackson and Moss were taken off the 40-man roster last week.
Jackson was awful in the majors for the Pirates. In 11.1 innings he allowed 11 runs (four home runs) and six walks.
Moss batted just .154 with two RBI in 17 games with the Pirates this season.