The Pirates narrow down their list of potential managers

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With Eric Wedge gone and Bo Porter likely to be soon, the Pirates have narrowed down their list of potential managers to five: Dale Sveum, Jeff Banister, Ken Macha, John Gibbons and Carlos Tosca.

Gut reaction: Gibbons stands out on that list. Sveum is a career coach and minor league manager who, for whatever reason, didn’t seem to be taken at all seriously by the Brewers after his short stint as interim manager at the end of the 2008 season. Macha was far more interesting to them, but they just canned him. Banister is a longtime organizational solider with the Pirates, but if anyone thought of him as serious managerial timbre, wouldn’t he have gotten a look sometime in the last decade or so? Tosca was just hired by the Braves to be Fredi Gonzalez’s bench coach.

I always got the sense that Gibbons was a decent manager — he led the Blue Jays to a rare second place finish in the AL East one year — but there is the question about the multiple run-ins he had with players. On the one hand, that’s not very cool and it speaks to a difficult personality. On the other hand, each of the guys with whom Gibbons locked horns — Ted Lilly, Frank Thomas, Shea Hillenbrand — have had other difficulties and are thought of by at least some folks as difficult guys. Who knows. The team seemed to side with Gibbons on each of those occasions, but then again, the guy in charge of the team at the time — J.P. Ricciardi — has a reputation for being something less than a people person himself.

At the end of the day I keep coming back to the notion that the last thing the Pirates need is yet another amiable organizational guy, so maybe it’s worth taking a gamble on Gibbons. Maybe he can shake some people up. Maybe he’ll do much better setting a disciplined tone for young players like the Pirates have than he did with veterans on the Jays.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.