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.