Big Lead Sports Bar


Phil Garner Sounds Interested in Managing the Pirates

Could this former Pirate someday challenge Dave Wannstedt for the title of Best Mustache among Pittsburgh coaches? If it were up to him, the answer sounds like it would be a resounding "yes".

Phil "Scrap Iron" Garner, a member of the Pirates from 1977-1981 and three-time MLB manager, had this to say to Sirius XM radio about the vacant job:

"I'd like to sit down with the owner and the GM and say, 'OK, boys, how's that [current approach] working for us? Let's do something totally different. And I mean different training.' I've got some ideas I don't even want to talk about, because I don't want anybody else to hear them."

I have absolutely no idea what Garner's talking about, but I can tell you that I'd love to be a fly on the wall at a meeting where a candidate hoping to get hired outlines all the things his prospective bosses are doing wrong.

Garner certainly has experience, with 2,041 career games managed and two trips to the postseason in parts of 15 seasons on the bench. He holds a lifetime record of 985-1,054 (.483), eventually fired in all three managerial jobs he held, including Milwaukee (1992-1999), Detroit (2000-2002), and Houston (2004-2007). He managed the NL squad in the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh and went to the World Series with the 2005 Astros.

Let's face reality: Garner knows there are only 30 of these jobs on the planet, and very few of them come up from year to year. Three seasons have passed since he's managed at the MLB level, and he could be very close to becoming an afterthought in conversations like these down the road. If he can do it in a place that he's familiar with, despite the difficult circumstances, it sounds like he's ready to pounce on the job if it's offered.

The PG's Chuck Finder also identified a few other candidates for the job outside of the previously mentioned Eric Wedge, Juan Samuel, and Garner. Murrysville's Ken Macha is sitting out there after being let go by Milwaukee, but the Pirates already passed on chances to hire him in 2005 and 2007. He would seem like a longshot. Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell's name has been dropped, but leaving that organization for this one, even for a promotion, might not be in the cards either. 

San Diego bench coach Ted Simmons, the Pirates' GM in 1992 and 1993, also threw his hat in the ring, but I can't see bringing back the man who transitioned the team from their last winning era into whatever era we've been in for the last 18 seasons. Other names in the rumor mill include former Pirates Dave Clark, Tony Pena, Dale Sveum, and Willie Randolph, implying that being a member of the organization in the past holds some weight.

Wedge would seem to be the favorite considering his Huntingtonian ties, but he's already interviewed with several other teams and could force the Pirates to make a quick decision. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, and for what it's worth I think that Wedge sounds like a reasonable choice to replace John Russell. The interview process seems like it will continue, but I just have a feeling that this will get done sooner rather than later.

Mondesi's House: The Director's Cut (more links, commentary, etc):


Unknown said...

Does it really matter? How many more games does a good manager give you over a bad manager? 5 games? The Pirates would have only lost a 100 game rather than a 105?

The Pirates area a rotten organization. It starts at the top. The incompetence bleeds down. Every person was hired for incorrect reasons. By random chance, some are probably good, but most are probably not ideal. Even if a good owner bought them, it would take years to clean out the mold infestation that is the Pirates.

This manager hiring is just one change on a corporate tree that needs many changes.

Steve said...

Yeah...Simmons and Garner, two guys who actually have an idea and a plan as how to do things. That'll fit right into the Pirates "rigid framework". I would love to see it though, just so I can enjoy watching Huntington trying to explain his black eye as an unfortunate run in with a door knob.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

Opie is FAR too much of a narcissist to put himself in a position where could possibly end up with a blackeye.

Which is ironic because fans have been taking it in the brown eye for nearly 20 years.

AJ said...

If you look at all of the bonehead moves that Russell pulled over the course of just this past season alone, I truly believe that the Pirates would have been a better team without him. Not saying they would have been above .500 or even finished much higher than they did, but fundamentally Russell did very little to make them a better ball club or put them in a position to win games every night.

The reason he was kept around as long as he was is because he is a yes man to the front office. I imagine that whoever the Pirates hire will most likely be another yes man. Doesn't matter if they win, just don't make waves.

I think this hire may be our chance to take a peek into the looking glass and see if the organization is at all serious about turning things around. If they just put another brainless shill in the dugout, I think it could be an indicator of how they'll handle the future contracts of some of these prospects.

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

I love ole scrap iron's interview approach though. I'm gonna try that on my next interview!

With Russell this team is epically bad. Anyone HAS to be an upgrade. Hopefully the front office has more of a plan than "anyone would be better", but i wouldn't be surprised either.


@AJ - yeah, that will be real interesting to peek in on their thoughts/plans! Hopefully we like what we see (or at least what we think we're seeing).

Spatula said...

A player from my late-teens managing this team? Yeah, I could get into this.

Nate said...

Andy Van Slyke was at an event at PNC Park not too long ago and gave a reporter who asked if he was there for a managerial interview the old "no comment." Purely speculation right now, but I suppose that makes him someone to add to the rumor mill.

Steve said...

I like Slick, but I don't think he's great manager material as he might be one card short of a full deck. He's another one that would be fun to see in the dugout, but I don't think it would necessarily translate into wins.

If we're going to go former Pirates, I like Pena. He at least has some managerial experience and 1 winning season with a bad club on his resume, even though they did go belly up the very next season.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

@Steve, I remebering reading a Yahoo Sports Interview with AVS and thinking "That guy might actually be certifiably insane".

I don't he is exactly the type of guy we're looking for. Then again, crazy-as-hell dysfunctional might just fit right in.

Steve said...

Yup, not only would he steal first base, he might eat it as well. I change my mind, Andy's the answer!

Nate said...

I'd love to see Van Slyke get a chance to manage a team, whether it's us or not. The guy loves baseball and he seems like a really fun dude. I think a team of young players like ours would be a great fit for him, he could keep the young guys loose.

As far as baseball strategy is concerned, though, I like Pena.

Anonymous said...

Let's get this out of the way first. The Pirates suck. They're an absolute joke, and are destined to suck for another 10-20 yrs.

However, if old Scrap Iron were to come back and manage the Buccos, I may pay 1% more attention to the team next year.

Considering I don't live in PGH anymore and didn't watch a single game this year (and haven't seen one since 2007), that's not saying much.