Report: Russell to be named manager
Skipper of Phils' Triple-A club spent three years in Pittsburgh
With a final announcement expected to come on Monday, it appears that the Pirates have decided who will succeed Jim Tracy and become the organization's 38th manager.
According to a report published on ESPN.com on Saturday night, John Russell, a former third-base coach for the Pirates and current manager for Phillies' Triple-A Lehigh Valley affiliate, will be named Pittsburgh's manager on Monday.
The Pirates have not confirmed Russell's hire, though CEO Frank Coonelly strongly suggested late last week that the team will hold a press conference on Monday to announce the move.
Russell, a former player in the Phillies organization, served as the Pirates' third-base coach and catching instructor under former manager Lloyd McClendon from 2003 to 2005.
Soon after, he was named manager of the Phillies' Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre club, which played this year in Ottawa and will play in Allentown beginning next season. Last season, Russell managed his club to a 55-88 record.
In 2006, he led Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to a 84-58 record and the International League North title. On the heels of that successful campaign, Russell was named International League Manager of the Year.
Touted in the past as one of baseball's best managerial prospects, Russell earned Minor League Manager of the Year honors in 2002 after guiding the Triple-A Edmonton Trappers to a Pacific Coast League championship that season.
Russell's hire will end a near month-long search by general manager Neal Huntington. Though he had one year left on a three-year contract, Tracy was dismissed on Oct. 5 following the club's last-place finish in the National League Central.
After being hired as McClendon's replacement following the 2005 season, Tracy posted a 135-189 overall record (.417 winning percentage) in two seasons, finishing with 67 wins in 2006 before winning 68 this year.
The Pirates are believed to have interviewed four other candidates for the position: White Sox bench coach Joey Cora, Triple-A Indianapolis manager Trent Jewett, Cleveland third base coach Joel Skinner and Dodgers bench coach Dave Jauss. Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell was also among those the Pirates were said to have be interested in, though Farrell released a statement on Friday taking his name out of consideration.
Following Monday's expected announcement, Huntington will focus his efforts on continuing to fill out his front-office staff. His priorities now lie in naming a farm director, scouting director and assistant general manager.
With interviews already under way for those vacant positions, Huntington may be ready to make further announcements next week. He will be in Florida for the annual GM meetings, but said last week that he wouldn't be opposed to making the announcements while out of town.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.