If a manager loses over 300 games in 3 years (178-292 and counting) no matter how depleted the roster may be, it's clear that he's not reaching the players. I'm not the first person to speak about firing John Russell and I won't be the last, but when that inevitability does take place, the Pirates need to act quick and jump on one of the top candidates since there could be as many as 13 open managerial positions this year.
I wonder what type of manager the Bucs should get. My opinion is that a retread would be a poor decision, they can't afford a Torre, Pinella or even a Larry Bowa, nor should they even want one, they need someone who is young, hungry and succeeding in the minor leagues right now. Some of you are going to say that Russell fit that requirement since he was the Minor League manager of the year back in 2002, but he had a record of 666-667 in the minors and didn't exactly set the world on fire when his hiring was named.
In my mind, there are three managers who would fit the bill and I believe would make perfect sense:
1. Ryne Sandberg - Name recognition, Manager of the year in Triple A. The Cubs aren't going to hire him, they want Torre or Girardi. The guy was a great player, he has immediate cache with players and fans and he has been a winner.
2. Tim Wallach - Since the Dodgers are going to hire Mattingly, all i hear here in L.A. is how the Dodgers are letting the next Scioscia go. Wallach was the PCL manager of the year in 2009 (Sandberg was in 2010) and he has the respect of everyone not named Mccourt.
3. Matt Walbeck - Already in the Pirate organization, manager of the year twice, already has a relationship with a lot of the players that are up or coming up. He will get calls to interview with some teams, maybe the Pirates should just nip that in the bud and pick up the home grown manager.
I'm sure there are others who would be successful. If I had to choose, I would pick Walbeck, but I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. However, you will go wrong if you maintain status quo and keep Russell.