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Pirates fire team president Frank Coonelly

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The Pittsburgh Pirates, in what they are calling a “leadership transition,” have fired team president Frank Coonelly. It is being cast as a mutual parting, with both the team and Coonelly issuing statements about how it’s all good, it’s just time for a change, etc. etc.

Coonelly, who used to serve as Major League Baseball’s chief labor lawyer, had been with the Pirates since 2007, and the Pirates experienced a brief run of success during his tenure, making the post season in 2013, 2014, and 2015. On either side of that run, however, came some bad baseball from a team with a reputation for not wanting to spend money on talent and which always stood willing to make trades that seemed more geared toward shedding payroll — or even potential future payroll — than it was in acquiring talent.

There is a strong sense of alienation in the Pirates fan base as a result. This postseason, which has featured numerous former Pirates players such as Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, Charlie Morton, Austin Meadows, Daniel Hudson, Russell Martin, Francisco Cervelli and David Freese, has only served to rub salt in the wounds.

The Pirates say they will be announcing Coonelly’s replacement within the week. Whoever it is will first be tasked with finding a new manager to replace the departed Clint Hurdle. His second task will be determining whether longtime general manager Neal Huntington, who is under contract for two more years, is the man to steer the Pirates’ ship into the future.

Oh, and developing and/or acquiring some good baseball players and convincing the fans to care again would be good too.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.