Blog Entry

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

Posted on: August 9, 2010 2:58 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2010 2:59 pm
John Russell When pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and bench coach Gary Varsho were fired Sunday, manager John Russell was emphatic that it was his decision.

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 's Dejan Kovacevic reports , it was indeed Russell's decision, fully backed by GM Neal Huntington.

The firings happened because of disloyalty to the manager, although Russell would not confirm specifics. Players reported that Kerrigan and Varsho were at times openly critical of the skipper or held meetings that excluded Russell.

"It was a very gut-wrenching decision," Russell said. "There are some issues I've been working through for quite some time now that could not be resolved in a way I felt would be for the betterment of this organization. I respect both men greatly. I lost two friends today. That's tough to deal with. But my main focus is this team, and I felt moving forward that this was the time to do this."

At least one of the firings in Kerrigan was also performance related. The Pirates rotation has a 5.38 ERA on the season, second-worst behind the Orioles. Pitchers have regressed under his watch, and when Brad Lincoln was demoted to Triple-A after a loss of velocity, Huntington cited "mechanical changes at the major-league level," quite an indictment of Kerrigan and in hindsight, a harbinger of things to come.

To replace Kerrigan, Ray Searage has taken his place. Searage had been the assistant pitching coach and has 33 years experience in professional baseball. Unlike Kerrigan, who emphasizes numbers and batter-pitcher matchups over mechanics, Searage terms himself old-school.

"I go by my instincts, by my relationships that I develop with the pitchers," the seven-year veteran from 1981-1990 said. "I get their feedback, and it's not my way or the highway. It's our way."

Jeff Banister, the minor-league field coordinator, replaces bench coach Varsho who had developed a reputation as being the bad cop of the coaching staff, dispensing punishments and engaging in arguments. Banister is in his 25th season with the Pirates and has served as player, minor-league manager, big-league coach and is well-liked.

"The leadership he has shown as field coordinator, the leadership he's shown in our system, the dedication, the drive, the commitment to the Pirates as a whole, it's a great addition," Russell said of the two coaches who will get a chance to become permanent members of the staff.

Russell himself is on the hot seat after presiding over a Bucs squad that was supposed to take the next step in 2010. Instead, Pittsburgh is 39-72, just behind Baltimore for the worst record in the majors.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB

Since: Aug 11, 2010
Posted on: August 11, 2010 12:40 pm

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

Sad situation for a great old franchise with one of baseball's most beautiful playing venues.  The Pirates need an owner who really wants to win.  The Steelers carry the day in Pittsburgh and the Pirates just sort of hang back.  Cincinnati is an example where they have an owner who wants to win and he's brought in a  winning GM in Walt Jocketty and they have the Reds on the upward track.  The Pirates can do the same but they need to clean house.

Since: Jul 22, 2010
Posted on: August 10, 2010 1:03 am

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

Why the need to fire good baseball people.  I think the "good fans" in Pittsburgh, realize by now, that it wasn't there fault.  Not falling for the "scape goat" crap.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with trading away your good players, before you have to pay them.  I understand that times are tough, but don't take it out on people who are doing there job. enogh said.

Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: August 9, 2010 10:39 pm

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

ive been a pirate fan all my life 44 yrs and counting,ive seen great baseball in pittsburgh and very bad baseball in the last years,but i do think the pirates as a whole are turning the corner not very fast but there is hope;i look at indys roster and your right the talent level is pretty slim but you also got to look just to altoona and youll see some of the real talent comeing to indy,the look further down the line and it gets better.but talent allon cant make the pirates better its the leadership and untill the owners get the manager and such that can leed these young players we will see the same bad baseball in the burgh.baltimore got smart and look what a manager that has been a winner has done for them.after 18 yrs of loseing its time for the fans off the pirates to make a statement and demand a better product or lose the very fans that support the once proud team.ok im off the soapbox now  .but hey we always have the steelers to take our minds off of the loseing,lol.

Since: Mar 8, 2007
Posted on: August 9, 2010 9:37 pm

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

I'm not sure I fully understand this.....Maybe the coaches were let go as a cost savings move. Kerrigan and Varsho were making about 10K more a year then the new guys.

Since: Dec 22, 2008
Posted on: August 9, 2010 7:37 pm

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

I have seen countless remarks thru the season saying the Pirates are headed in the right direction. Somebody that feels this way please explain that sentiment. The Pirates are horrific and there minor league club is here in Indy and believe me when I say the talent pool is not very deep at all. In fact, I would say if you dived into it you would hit the bottom before you would ever get wet. As long as the Pirates have that joke of an owner you can guarantee this team is going nowhere.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: August 9, 2010 6:45 pm

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

If there were meetings going on without John Russell being there then they should be fired. However, I think in the long run they will find out they fired the wrong man. The GM should have been fired for putting this slop on the field. The manager can only play the hand he's dealt. The Pirates have been imploding their teams for years. As soon as a player looks like he's good, he's going to want to be paid like it. Therefore sealing his fate in Pirateville. How can you put a good team together if you keep trading all the good players away? The owner or owners whoever they are cheap skates. They suck every dime out of the franchise and put it in their own pockets instead of improving their team. This is where Bud Selig needs to spend some time looking into. Why teams stink for so long. He will find out winning and greed don't mix. I personally am a Philles fan. The Phillies have been accused in the past of being cheap too. Obviously you need some people at the top of the organization who can make good decisions and are thrifty at the same time. So unless things change at the top, the Pirates will stay on the bottom. Sorry Bucs fans.    

Since: Aug 9, 2010
Posted on: August 9, 2010 6:39 pm

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

For crying out loud!! Why not fire all 3?? Spend the money, go knock on the door at ESPN and tell Bobby Valentine to report to Pittsburgh ASAP. Playing with 9 rookies on the field is one thing but you can't have a rookie manager as well. Russell was in over his head from the beginning.

Since: Jun 26, 2008
Posted on: August 9, 2010 5:58 pm

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

Things are heading in the right direction for the Pirates and coaches not showing loyalty to a manager won't help this young team. The core young players are finally up in the big leagues and things are starting to look good. Still need to work big time on getting some ace pitchers, but things are going the right way.

Also, the fall of charlie morton and brad lincoln (who were highly regarded prospects) are said to be due to Kerrigan's changes. May be true or not, but another reason he may have been fired.

Since: Jun 18, 2007
Posted on: August 9, 2010 5:48 pm

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

Frankly, I'm surprised the Pirates didn't fire Russell a long time ago. Why was he even managing this year? Kerrigan is a good baseball man and I'm sure he felt Russell was simply incompetent to criticize him and have meetings without him.  The Pirates need a storm trooper to get these kids lathered up and play like major league players. I've always liked and admired the Pirates, even though I'm a lifetime Dodger fan, and it's sad to see a very proud and time honored franchise play like a high school team year in and year out. So, why not keep Kerrigan and company and fire Russell. Then the new manager can come in with his own staff and maybe start turning things around, assuming the front office cooperates and goes out and gets proven major league players....especially pitchers.

Since: Feb 21, 2010
Posted on: August 9, 2010 5:02 pm

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

Here's a crazy idea.   Fire the owner, president and GM for being disloyal (to the fans).   They are the ones who put the crap product on the field.   They can tout the young talent all they want but the bottom line is the Pirates have no pitching and very little in the way of quality arms even close to major league ready.

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