The Pirates' minor league managers next year will mostly remain the same, the Post-Gazette reports. The only change comes at State College, where Turner Ward will be replaced by Brad Fischer. This may not seem like an interesting story, but follow me here.
Fischer was announced as the Pirates' catching coordinator last month, but I missed that announcement. I just Googled him for the first time and got confused because the guy Google turned out was this guy, who's way overqualified to coach a rookie-league team. Well, it turns out that he's our guy. This will be Fischer's 12th season as a minor league manager, and three of those were in Class AAA. He managed a bunch of guys who had good, or at least useful, big-league careers, including Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Terry Steinbach, Tony Phillips, Eric Plunk, Curt Young and Tim Belcher (although Belcher, a top draft pick, struggled with control issues until he left the A's, then battled them intermittently later in his career). Fischer also had an above-.500 record as a minor league manager, and his teams reached the minor-league postseason seven times.
He was an assistant director of player development for the A's in 1994 and 1995, then began coaching at the major league level in 1996. He's been either a bullpen coach or a first base coach for the A's ever since.
This offseason, the A's dismissed Fischer (along with two other coaches) after 29 years with the organization. I can't find any good reason he was dismissed - sometimes these things just happen - and to the extent that anyone noticed, all I can find about it on the internet is anger from fans (see the comment thread here, for example).
So, to summarize, Fischer has eleven years of minor-league managerial experience, two years working in player development, and over ten years of coaching at the big league level for one of the smartest and most successful organizations in baseball. He's also only 51 (he started managing while he was still in his early 20s), so he's way too young to be past his prime as a coach. To put this hiring into perspective, Fischer's resume is probably more impressive than John Russell's. And the Pirates just hired him to manage one of their rookie-league teams. I'm confused - this hiring looks so ridiculously good, it's suspicious.