How safe are the Pirates coaches?


August 24, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Rod Barajas (26) is greeted by Pirates third base coach Nick Leyva (right) as Barajas rounds third base after hitting a solo homerun against the Milwaukee Brewers during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Milwaukee Brewers won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The Pirates collapse is complete and often times it will be the coaches that are blamed for a team’s failures. Earlier this season the Milwaukee Brewers fired bullpen coach Stan Kyles, who was well liked by his players.

The bullpen was not getting the job done and Kyles had to go. He was replaced by Lee Tunnel and all of a sudden the Brewers got themselves back in the playoff hunt and rallied to finish 83-79, third place in the NL Central.

Then there are the rebuilding wholesale changes such as the Minnesota Twins. Yesterday the Twins fired everyone besides manager Ron Gardenhire and their pitching coach and bullpen catcher.

I believe the Pirates should be between these two teams and already hitting coach Gregg Ritchie is expected to officially become the George Washington University head coach and thus step down.

Let’s assess the other coaches:

Mark Strittmatter [Coach] – Strittmatter should stay but there definitely is a case for him to go as well. Strittmatter’s experience was nine seasons in the minor leagues as a catcher. He saw very limited time in the majors but there may not have been a more frustrating position than catcher. As everyone knows, the Pirates could not throw out a runner to save their lives. Strittmatter had to have plenty of responsibility given his background and he easily could be made a scapegoat.

Heberto Andrade [Bullpen Catcher] – Andrade should stay, however he does make adjustments upon catching bullpen sessions before games. Pirates pitchers as a whole were much less successful in the second half of the season and as one of the guys catching the most pitches, how much input does he have and how did that change how they pitched?

Luis Silverio [First Base Coach] – Silverio is not a terrible first base coach and he has the additional responsibilities as the team’s outfield and baserunning coach. The outfield played well defensively and often season ticket holders would see Silverio hit balls into the outfield for the players to field.

The issue I have is with the baserunning and this is where Silverio is on thin ice. While third base coach Nick Leyva sends runners it seems as though Silverio is the true mastermind and it is a fact that in recent years fans have been disappointed in the amount of runners that fail to score.

Nick Leyva [Third Base Coach] – Leyva may be the most hated Pirates coach and even worse there is no indication he is leaving. He is the club’s infield coach and Pedro Alvarez had a more respectable defensive season; however, the baserunning judgement calls he consistently makes are frustrating as a Pirates fan. As far as I am concerned he needs to go.

Ray Searage [Pitching Coach] – I could see him getting fired but I believe he is safe. The pitchers are familiar with him and love him. Do these young pitchers really need another coach to confuse them some more? We’ve been through that song and dance before. Searage will have to be able to prove himself for a full season, though.

Euclides Rojas [Bullpen Coach] – I could see Rojas being blamed for the pitchers. I like Euclides a lot as a person and his story is wonderful but I for some reason think he will be the one blamed for the pitchers’ inabilities. Joel Hanrahan did not see a save situation for nearly a month and many other relievers, Jared Hughes and Jason Grilli, among others, saw regressions.

Jeff Banister [Bench Coach] – This could go either way, but Banister is a lifer and I believe he stays. Still the bench coach always seems to be vulnerable when a team does not perform and perhaps the Pirates collapse will claim him.

Clint Hurdle [Manager] – Finally the moment you all have been waiting for. I am truly on the fence for this one. He has brought a city together and over two million fans filled the PNC Park seats this year. His attitude has fans excited and he is a great starter. Still, you need to finish what you start and Hurdle has only one winning season on his resume.

He may be the worst in-game strategist in the majors and he definitely lost the team in 2011 if you ask me. 2012 was much of the same as he ran out of ideas to stop the losing, whose fault that is could be up to interpretation but the players can only meet so much to figure things out.

The microscope will be bigger now as Gregg Ritchie is gone. The bottom line is this: the Pirates will not find anyone better than Hurdle right now, and he is passionate to build and maintain a winner in Pittsburgh. For that reason, he will stay.

Should be fired:

Nick Leyva

May be fired:

Euclides Rojas, Luis Silverio, Mark Strittmatter

Safe… for now:

Ray Searage, Jeff Banister


Clint Hurdle, Heberto Andrade