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).

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.