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November 15, 2010

Russell likely as next coaching hire (updated); Matusz finishes tied for fifth in A.L. ROY balloting

Former Pittsburgh Pirates manager John Russell hasn't worked out all the final details with Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, but he has been invited to join manager Buck Showalter's 2011 staff, according to club sources.

Russell still has to work out contract details with MacPhail, who is currently at baseball's general manager meetings in Orlando, Fla. And as we know from how the Juan Samuel situation worked out, nothing is final until all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed.

One source said that "things are moving in that direction" when asked about Russell's hiring, but he cautioned that it wasn't a fait accompli.

Russell would likely be the bench coach, but it's not impossible he will serve as Showalter's third base coach. That will depend largely on the final hiring for Showalter's staff.

That hiring will likely have an infield background as the Orioles don't currently have an infield coach on staff. The two front-runners are believed to be former New York Mets manager Willie Randolph and New York Yankees third base coach Rob Thomson.

Russell was in Baltimore last Friday to interview with Showalter and team officials at the warehouse.

A former big league catcher, Russell served three seasons as Pirates manager before he was fired at the end of this past season. He'll be asked to help mentor young catcher Matt Wieters.

He compiled a 186-299 record (.384 winning percentage) while at the helm of the Pirates.

Russell was a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies' in 1982 and played parts of 10 seasons in the majors, five with the Phillies, one with the Atlanta Braves and the final four with the Texas Rangers.

In other news, Orioles' left-hander Brian Matusz finished tied for fifth in American League Rookie of the Year voting. He got three third-place votes. Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz won the award, followed by Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson.

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 2:03 PM | | Comments (9)
        

Comments

Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers 122
Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers 98
Danny Valencia, Minnesota Twins 12
Wade Davis, Tampa Bay Rays 11
John Jaso, Tampa Bay Rays 3
Brennan Boesch, Detroit Tigers 3
Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles 3

I'm pretty sure that this means that Matusz finished TIED for fifth, not seventh.

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Jeff Z's reply: I'm pretty sure you are right.

Lisa, that was a brilliant post! Thank You!

Also, Jeff believe it or not I am very happy that your back! I was remiss with my last posting.

Anyway, have we ever seen Andy MacPhail and Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington in the same room together. They sound literally alike with their "Plan"


Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington announced today that John Russell has been relieved of his duties as the club's Manager.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for JR, both personally and professionally. He took on a difficult challenge, overseeing a major overhaul in the make-up of our team," Huntington said. "JR is a quality baseball man and a good friend. He put his heart and soul into this difficult challenge and was tremendously committed to the organization and the plan we implemented three years ago. JR provided a positive environment for our young players, all of whom have grown as men and baseball players under his stewardship. But, in the end, we decided that new leadership in the clubhouse would give us the best opportunity to move this major league team forward."

"Our search for that new leadership will begin immediately."

Now with that being said, who wanted Russell? Was MacPhail or Showalter?

The Orioles can do better then this!!!
It's very discouraging to wind up with another "Blue Light Special" after waiting for so long!

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Jeff Z's reply: Showalter is heading the coaching hirings. Andy is hammering out the contracts.

If it goes through, that all but dooms Allenson from sticking around. It seems they were determined not to keep him in Baltimore.

Maybe Randolph would work as the thrid base coach. But, if he wasn't good enough to hire as a bench coach, short of having no job alternatives, why would he take it? What other options are out there that have 3rd base coaching experience, coaches IFers and maybe speaks Spanish?

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Jeff Z's reply: Yes, I think adding a coach like Russell with a catcher's background means that Allenson is likely headed back to Triple-A or opt out of the organization. At this point, it appears that Russell will be the bench coach, but it's not impossible that he goes out to coach third. It depends on the Orioles' final hire. I think the only prerequisite for the final staff hire will be a coach with an infield background. All signs are that Randolph and Yankees first base coach Rob Thomson are the two frontrunners.

Jeff,

I know it's just rumor that Samuel didn't come back because of salary, but can you give us a "ballpark" figure what coaches make in a year. I doubt that was the reason Samuel didn't come back. His ties to Philly are much stronger than his ties to the Orioles. Wasn't he on the losing team in that great series back in '83?

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Jeff Z's reply: Yes, Samuel was a rookie on the 1983 Phillies, playing just 18 games and getting one at-bat in the WS. Coaching salaries really depend on the team and the caliber of coach. The Orioles paid Leo Mazzone $500,000 to be their pitching coach, but that's certainly not the norm. I can't speak of other organizations and coaches salaries aren't disclosed, but I think coaches here make between $200,000-$400,000. Most toward the low end of that.

Jeff -

I'm a bit surprised that there aren't any O's connections on the coaching staff. I thought Surhoff or Bordick would have been good. Nothing wrong with Randolph - I think most players would respect him fairly quickly, and I think Willie would want the team to do well so he might get back to a manager's job. But looking at how the Cubs treated Ryno, I guess team loyalty is overrated these days.

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Jeff Z's reply: Both guys you mentioned will have teaching roles in the organization in 2011. I can't speak for B.J. and Bordick specifically, but you can't assume that all these ex-Orioles that have been mentioned as potential candidates are interested in being on a big league staff either. Some of these guys have a ton going on and want to spend a lot of time around their families. Being on a big league staff isn't always conducive to that.

Is there any reason why there are no ex-Orioles seriously being considered? It would be nice to have a Murray, Dauer, or Baylor type on the team.


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Jeff Z's reply: Plenty of ex-Orioles were considered and several, like Bordick, Surhoff and Brady Anderson, will likely have some sort of teaching roles in the organization for the 2011 season.

If someone had told you that a catcher would be Rookie of the Year this season, would Buster Posey have been your guess as to which catcher?

Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction, I suppose.

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Jeff Z's reply: Yes, because Matt Wieters lost his rookie eligibility with how much he played in 2009 season.

Hey Jeff,

Last post for today I promise!

Anyway, I see Ryne Sandberg signed for the Triple AAA Manager job with the Sillies. So my idea of bringing him to the O's is out the window.

I searched high and low for the article that John Russell tried to save his own job with the Pirates by firing Kerrigan and Varsho. Maybe, I heard it on TV, I don't know, But something is sticking in the "Sqiurrel's" memory about it. Which leads me to ask why does Showalter want a guy like Russell? Especially, since he really hasn't produced anything in the Majors as a coach and/or manager.

Also, are the Orioles taking Matt Wieters opinion into consideration for the bench/catchers coach? I mean he's going to be 25 next season which is obviously not old. But next season is quite critical in his development as a player. I would like to think if the Orioles invested in him (5th Pick Overall in 2007) they better find a coach that is suited to the task of bringing him along!

Lastly, why no mention of Grady Little, Jimmy Key, and a name I have been clammoring for awhile Damon Berryhill as possible coaches for O's

Thanks Jeff!

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Jeff Z's: Team officials aren't commenting about the coaching staff until it's finalized, so I don't know what Buck's thoughts are. But before his managerial stint, Russell had a very good reputation as a coach and teacher. People like Tom Kelly and Terry Ryan speak very highly of him from his time in the Twins' organization. Wieters has been in professional baseball for 3 years. He doesn't know any of these candidates so no, they're not soliciting his opinion to my knowledge. As for Grady Little and Jimmy Key, a: I have no idea if they were interested in the job; and b: Buck's thoughts on them in particular. As I said, team officials aren't commenting about this process. I do know Buck has probably talked to about 100 people for these openings so I trust he's done his due diligence.

Jeff,

It seems like my most managers hire someone they know and trust to be the bench coach so I was curious what is the relationship (if any) between Buck and John Russell? I've heard that Russell is a good guy and works well with young talent so this is no disrespect to him, but it seems like all the guys on the staff have a link to Buck except JR.

In terms of the last job on the staff, I think Willie Randolph would be a great addition to the O's. Willie was a heck of a player and certainly would be an asset helping out the infield.

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Jeff Z's reply: To my knowledge, they don't have a previous relationship, but as I said earlier, a lot of people Buck knows and trusts in this game highly recommended Russell. Agree with you about Randolph.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

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Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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