Yesterday the Pirates fired Double-A manager Matt Walbeck after he won the Eastern League championship and manager of the year award, which had many people scratching their heads.
It still seems like an odd move given how successful Walbeck has been–winning four manager of the year awards and three championships in six seasons in the minors–but Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette talked to sources who revealed some of the behind-the-scenes reasoning.
Apparently last season the Pirates were upset with the “lack of extra work, pregame work, and other preparations involving the players” at Double-A “compared to other affiliates.” They talked to Walbeck about addressing those issues this season, but still weren’t happy with the results.
Of course, when asked about those issues Walbeck told Kovacevic that he didn’t view it as a problem:
It was great. One of my main objectives this season was to follow the guidelines within the minor-league system. Early ground balls. Bunting. PFP. I felt like I became a better teacher because of it. Look at the innings pitched. Look at the games played. You can go up and down the roster and see the number of players who were healthy and realize, within that, that it was a successful season.
It’s tough to argue with Walbeck’s on-field results, but then again on-field results aren’t really the primary purpose of a team’s minor league system. Clearly the Pirates felt that he wasn’t developing prospects in the way they want prospects to be developed. Whether or not the Pirates’ way of doing things is particularly effective in the first place is another issue, clearly.
They also believed that he wanted to move up the organizational ladder–which is something that Walbeck has since confirmed–and obviously weren’t interested in promoting him to Triple-A or the majors. Despite that, I suspect Walbeck will have no trouble landing another managing gig at Double-A or Triple-A, and may even find a coaching job in the majors next season.
The Cardinals dropped Thursday afternoon’s series finale to the Mets in heartbreaking fashion. With the game tied 2-2 in the ninth inning, closer Trevor Rosenthal was trying to see his way out of a jam. The Mets had runners on the corners with two outs.
Jose Reyes swung at the first pitch he saw from Rosenthal, grounding it down the first base line. Matt Carpenter snagged the ball and it looked like it’d be an inning-ending 3-1 putout, but Rosenthal didn’t cover first base. By the time he made his way to the bag, it was too late. Yoenis Cespedes touched home and Reyes stepped on the bag safely, walking the Mets off 3-2 winners.
The Cardinals, now 46-49, have dropped both series since the All-Star break.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh has post-game quotes from Rosenthal and Carpenter:
FiveThirtyEight commissioned a survey through SurveyMonkey, polling 989 self-described baseball fans about their baseball fandom. They were asked which teams were their favorites both overall and by census region, which teams they found favorable among 10 randomly assigned teams, and which teams were their least favorite.
The good news for Yankees fans: the Yankees had the highest share of respondents who selected them as their favorite team. They came in at 10 percent, followed by the Red Sox, Cubs, and Braves at eight percent. The Yankees (28 percent) and Red Sox (23 percent) also made up more than half of the favorites in the northeast census region. The Yankees were third in the south (nine percent), 10th in the midwest (three percent), and sixth in the west (six percent).
The Yankees, however, were the only team with a higher unfavorable rating than favorable. 44 percent of respondents had a favorable view of the Yankees while 48 percent were unfavorable. The Phillies were next at 33 percent favorable and 29 percent unfavorable. The Yankees’ unfavorable rating was by far the highest; the Mets came in second at 35 percent.
A whopping 27 percent of respondents selected the Yankees as their most hated team. The Red Sox came in second at 10 percent followed by the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks (what?) at five percent. The Yankees were also selected as the most hated team in all four census regions: 34 percent in the northeast, 25 percent in the south, 28 percent in the midwest, and 26 percent in the west.
There has been some thought that the Derek Jeter-less Yankees, replete with up-and-coming players like Aaron Judge, may actually be likable. But this survey shows that, at least right now, they’re still the bane of many baseball fans’ existence.