Well the Pirates made some moves that had to be made one way or another by releasing these three.
With Duke, I remember the Opening Day 2009 start. It was his best outing in a Pirate uniform and he was really becoming a good pitcher until Joe Kerrigan messed up a good thing. Duke was great with the community as evidenc…ed with his Bowling With the Bucs event this past season. Duke leaving leaves Maholm and Doumit as the only two holdovers from the earlier rosters. I interviewed Duke during the 2009 season and he was very honest, candid and even funny during our brief time together. My other interviews were with Nate McLouth and Matt Capps, so obviously Duke was the last one standing. When I gave Duke a transcript of the interview during Bowling With the Bucs 2009, he quickly remembered me. I will always remember that and how nice he was to me.
While the Duke cut put a lot of money off of the table, the Andy LaRoche cut had to be the most painful for the Pirates. LaRoche was the main part of the Jason Bay trade. With Brandon Moss now on the Phillies, the release of LaRoche finally shows that management officially agreed with the public that the trade was a failed one. It probably took a lot for management to have to do that, and that makes me respect them. LaRoche had a lot of pressure as Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez were both ready to take his spot. Walker had a fast start to the season in Triple-A and Alvarez was showing the team his power as well. LaRoche had a couple of good weeks early in the season, however faded fairly fast after that. The team tried to move LaRoche to second base and first base, but it never worked out. LaRoche was a big part of the community as well winning the Pirates Roberto Clemente Award. I was frequently at PNC Park during LaRoche’s time with the Pirates, and almost every game he would sign autographs for fans. I first met him on the final game of the 2009 season when we were allowed to take pictures with the players. Our camera was out of memory and thus we had to boost it up, LaRoche was very patient about the entire situation. He may not be missed for his accomplishments on the field but he was a champion off of the field.
Delwyn Young was a big part of the teams’ bench over the past two seasons. He would play third base, second base and the outfield, making him a very useful option. His glovework at third base was not pretty, but it would be expected as he was trying to learn a new position. Under Perry Hill in 2009, Young tried his hand at second base and did a decent job, however he was a bit slow in terms of turning the double play. His outfield work was average at best as well, and he was not the fastest of runners and had trouble dealing with the right field of PNC Park. Young hit the first home run off of Stephen Strasburg. He also hit a bottom of the ninth game tying home run against San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson with two strikes and two outs. Young’s bat was great, however the team cut him, as he just was not getting the job done. He also did a great job in the community.
Just a short entry on the Pirates new manager. For those Pirates fans who may be living under a rock, the team has hired Clint Hurdle to be the new manager.
. Hurdle brings passion which previous managers (cough.. cough.. John Russell) did not bring. He is willing to defend his team and be an aggressor. Joel Hanrahan says on him, “It sounded to me like he’s not going to take any crap from anyone”.
. The young offense consisting of Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez can blossom under a manager who knows his offense and also was the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers who made the World Series this past season.
. Free agency may not be a bore any more, as according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, they will aggressively go after Jorge De La Rosa, Jeff Francis and Jeremy Bonderman. Any would be a welcome addition to a pitching staff that was decimated by injuries and inconsistencies last season.
. Despite being a hitting first coach, Hurdle does not overload his pitchers. In his time as manager of the Colorado Rockies, the average start was 93 pitches. This means that Hurdle does not give a quick hook to pitchers, but gives them a chance.
. Hurdle has already smiled more than John Russell, and it has only been one day in Pittsburgh for him thus far.
. Hurdle made the World Series managing the Colorado Rockies in 2007 and as previously mentioned when he served as the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers last season, so he is a proven winner; something the Pirates need.
. Since Hurdle possesses an offensive background, there is a chance for more batting practice which is great for a ballhawk such as myself.
. At the beginning of his tenure with the Rockies, Hurdle had an affinity for the bunt. He would bunt a lot with his first two hitters. Bunting with Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata will not further them as players.
. With the Rockies he had proven talent such as a Troy Tulowitzki and a Todd Helton. With the Rangers, he had Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Vladimir Guerrero; also proven talent. You do not have that type of talent with the Pirates and you can only go so far, a manager does not make the difference.
This is the early scouting report on the hiring of Clint Hurdle. It is a little tough to say whether it was the right hire, as it was only him and Jeff Banister as finalists for the job (at least as far as we know), but out of those two candidates, the Pirates made the right choice.