Although nothing is imminent. Still, a must-read report over at the Post-Gazette:
Multiple sources indicated Friday that neither general manager Neal Huntington nor Russell is in immediate trouble, but those same sources expressed strong sentiment that the current 10-game homestand could be influential as it relates to Russell and his staff. No specific scenarios or timetables were offered, but the sentiment was that the instruction and execution of fundamentals must improve, not j ust for the present but also to illustrate that the Pirates’ young players are best prepared for the future.
Two sources suggested that some inside the clubhouse are turning against Russell, but others vehemently refuted that.
I don't have any intense feelings for Russell, positive or negative. Mostly I feel that a manager who's been given as little talent as he has is bound to look bad no matter what. I often don't agree with him tactically, but I'm not sure he gets enough credit for getting a lot of big things right - not abusing his arms, for example, and generally distributing playing time reasonably well (although it is frustrating to see a guy on the bench after he's had a huge night, or to see Ryan Church in the lineup over and over). And after a couple years of self-important blowhard Jim Tracy, Russell's stoicism has been a breath of fresh air (at least to me; I know a lot of you don't like it much).
It's also worth pointing out that other teams make fundamental mistakes too, and that the Pirates are likely to make more of them simply because they're not very good. However, when I see stuff like tonight - the ridiculous pickoff of Andy LaRoche, the struggles of Zach Duke and Ronny Cedeno to finish off a rundown, Ryan Doumit's inability to do anything right on defense - it's hard for me to muster much of a defense of Russell. Whatever.
UPDATE: We probably shouldn't get ahead of ourselves here, but if Russell is fired, that would probably mean that Neal Huntington has only another couple of years to show progress before he gets canned, too. That's the typical pattern. For example, Lloyd McClendon was fired near the end of the 2005 season; Dave Littlefield was gone less than two years later.