Ironpigs Still Squealing for a Manager


There’s the youth, with diamond dreams, untested moxy, and just-about-Major-league-ready talent, waiting for the right alignment of the stars or the perfect combination of horrific muscle tears in the Show to give them a chance in hell at catching a glimpse of MLB daylight.

There’s the grizzled veterans, bitter or beaten down about their downgrade (or continued stay) to a way of life they believe should have ended years ago; sick of having the same aspirations of guys 10 years younger, or happy to mentor the newest arrivals; or possibly pissed that a nagging injury, plummeting OBP, or endless line of defensive fuck-ups put them right back in the shark tank.

And there’s the MLB All-Star on a rehab assignment, selling out the normally half empty 8,000 capacity stadium, strutting past the ravenous youngbloods and inadvertently (or not) dropping hints of a lifestyle they’ve been starving for since they were swinging for the spotlight as Gulf Coast leaguers.

It’s a speeding locomotive, tearing through summer as guys jump on and off without waiting for a stop.  It’s Triple-A baseball.  And right now, ours doesn’t have a driver.

In three seasons, ex-manager Dave Huppert’s record with the Ironpigs was terrible (55-89), then crept up to almost average (71-73), and then took a nose-dive back to terrible (58-86).  Sick of this, the organization chucked him out, and is currently on the hunt for a new farmer to keep an eye on their ‘Pigs.  Huppert is the latest in a long line of guys to venture into the Philly farm system from no man’s land, suck, and leave.

Though this didn’t stop at least one of them (John Russell, 133-152 with Triple-A aphillieates–see what I did there) from being hired by the Pirates.  And then fired.

The Phillies’ high level minors is no place for the faint of heart right now, so leadership could be a key facet in harvesting the next batch of tykes we’re going to trade for some awesome pitcher somewhere.  But nobody’s talking replacements yet.

“I’m not going to comment on employee hiring or evaluations,” said assistant GM Chuck Lamar, clearly not realizing that without his comments, we can’t comment on them.

However, with the minors, the focus is always going to be on development rather than a shiny first place record.  Obviously, if the team is winning, then the coach has some finely-tuned players… which means the GM is going to come sniffing around, considering organizational shifts within and outside of the franchise.  So the position itself can be relatively thankless, requiring less of a strategic baseball genius and more of a guy who can handle crowd control, constant change, brash young ‘tudes, and situations that often are out of his control.

They need a drill sergeant, I guess.  And while ML issues with Jayson Werth, the bullpen, and the offense seem to take precedent, head coach of the Ironpigs is a critical cog for a team needing strong influences out of its high-level farm teams.

But there are clearly more important things to do with IronPigs, like go trick-or-treating with Ferrous, the most hideously-named mascot in sports history.

Speaking of the Pirates (I mean, five paragraphs ago, when I was speaking of the Pirates), still managerless Pittsburgh will once again be our opponents in the final two Spring Training games of 2011, making it officially a tradition.  So gulp that schedule like mouth wash and spit out the gingivitis of 2010′s finale.

Or continue to sit there and fester in your bitterness like the rest of us.  Seriously, click that link and look at the map.  Personally, I find it hilarious that there’s a small, discolored Pennsylvania staring across the country at a handful of giant, jubilant blue states.  It reminds me of an evil child staring at his parents who just ratted him out as he is carted off to therapy.

Also, Alaska hated the World Series for some reason.  Thanks for having our backs, AK.  But we’re still not opening a minor league franchise up there.

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Tags: Dave Huppert Irongpigs John Russell Pennsylvania Phillies Pirates Ruben Amaro World Series