Team president Frank Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington each affirmed, in unambiguous terms, that they want Russell and his staff back. Within the past week, each simply answered, “No,” when asked if there had been any change in how they feel. Neither elaborated because neither sees Russell or the staff as an issue and, moreover, they like what they have seen of the team’s motivation and instruction over the full season.
This probably makes sense. I’m no Russell fan, but there’s no question that he’s finishing the season with a radically different team than the one he started with. To the extent there was clubhouse dissent this summer it was understandable, albeit misguided dissent in the fallout of necessary, albeit depressing trades. That stuff happens.
The Pirates have been losing all year and are in a death spiral at the moment, but there’s not a poisonous atmosphere surrounding this team like there was around the Cecil Cooper Astros, and there’s not the stink of massively squandered potential like that wafting off of the Eric Wedge Indians.
Firing Russell would be temporarily cathartic, but ultimately pointless. The Pirates aren’t going to win with a better manager. They’re going to win with better players. And at present, there’s no reason to believe that John Russell isn’t the guy to lead them if those better players ever happen along.