Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes that Pirates president Frank Coonelly doesn’t expect the club to deviate from their current plan, even as general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell enter the final year of their respective contracts:
1. Lame-duck years will not be regarded any differently by the
Pirates than any other years, and allowing someone to enter a lame-duck
year without an extension will not be seen as a lack of faith.
2. Coonelly would prefer that those under him never go into survival
mode and attempt short-term solutions that deviate from the team’s
overall plan. By not focusing on contract terms or arbitrary lame-duck
precedents, the concept goes, those involved are less inclined to
single out any year as one in which it would be OK to abandon the plan.
3. Coonelly displays a strong, genuine and unwavering confidence in Huntington and Russell.
It used to be that the top dog in a team’s baseball operations department was the general manager. That has changed over the past several years with some combination of title inflation, a genuine addition of supervisory layers and, on some level, employe poaching insurance leading to the top dog now being called, usually, a “president of baseball operations.”
Brewers’ general manager David Stearns is the latest to assume that tile, as the club just announced that he has been promoted to Milwaukee’s president of baseball operations. He has also received a contract extension of unknown length.
Not a big shock given how well the Brewers did in 2018, winning the NL Central title and playing in the NLCS. It’s also worth noting — with a nod to that “employee poaching insurance” item above — that Stearns has drawn some interest from other organizations. It’s thus not unfair to see the promotion is both a thanks for a job well done and a means of keeping other teams’ hands off of him, as employees are generally not given permission to interview for lateral moves, but are given permission to interview for promotions.
The Mudville Nine may have wanted to steal him from Milwaukee, but for Stearns to get a promotion from where he is now would require the creation of some other lofty title.