The Pirates’ firings of pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and bench coach Gary Varsho yesterday was not a garden variety “we suck and need to shake things up” move. According Dejan Kovacevic of the Post-Gazette, it was a move initiated by manager John Russel as a direct result of those guys having some chain-of-command issues:
According to multiple accounts Sunday, Russell’s call was motivated by a
perceived lack of loyalty, though Russell declined to discuss any
specifics. Several players and others inside the team described scenes
on recent road trips to Texas, Oakland and St. Louis where Kerrigan and
Varsho either were openly critical of Russell or having mini-meetings
with some coaches or players away from Russell.
Not that recently, as the road trips to Texas and Oakland took place between June 22nd and 27th, but the point is clear. As is the point that Russell — being given the OK from Neal Huntington and top brass to carry out the move — has no small amount of job security in Pittsburgh. Which is interesting. I can’t remember the last time a Pirates manager seemed like anything other than a cipher. Probably Leyland.
Anyway, be sure to click through to Kovacevic’s piece, as it has a long discussion of not only the firings, but of Kerrigan and Varsho’s perceived problems in the clubhouse, as well as a look at their replacements, Ray Searage (pitching coach) and Jeff Banister (bench).
Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.
Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.
Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.
Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.
On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.
Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.
Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.
Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.
The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.