While it is unclear whether Russell’s firing is imminent, the timing would make sense. The Pirates are in the middle of a transition in which they are promoting several of their top prospects to the major leagues.
Right-hander Brad Lincoln and outfielder Jose Tabata joined the team last week. Third baseman Pedro Alvarez, the team’s top young talent, will join the team Wednesday, according to a team news release.
Pirates team president Frank Coonelly, when reached for comment, denied that the Pirates were discussing Russell’s future.
The timing of this actually doesn't make any sense at all to me. Why would the Pirates want to interrupt the good news of the arrival of all these prospects with the firing of their manager? Maybe they really are discussing it, but I'd bet it won't happen anytime soon.
I won't shed any tears for Russell, who's prone to bizarre decisions about in-game tactics and about his lineups, but I don't think he's a major part of the Pirates' problem. No one could win consistently with the players Russell has been given. It may be that they let him go later in the season so that the Pirates'' new core of players congeals under someone else's guidance.
UPDATE: Buster Olney writes that there's "absolutely nothing" to the reports that Russell will be fired. Thanks to MarkInDallas.