The Pirates coaches were fired for loyalty issues

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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).

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.