Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kerrigan, Varsho Axed

As first reported by Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette, the Pirates have fired pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and bench coach Gary Varsho.

The young pitching the Pirates counted on so heavily this season failed to improve, and actually regressed, under Kerrigan's tutelage, and Varsho had long been a lightning rod for criticism of his exotic defensive schemes.

Ray Searage, the assistant pitching coach, will take Kerrigan's place, while Jeff Banister, who had been the minor-league field coordinator, will be the new bench coach. Both were hired on an interim basis.

Kerrigan was widely expected to leave Pittsburgh after the season, and Searage was called up from Indy at the start of the year to get some OJT as his heir apparent.

Varsho was more of a surprise, and we won't speculate as to why he was let go. The reasoning behind the move will eventually spill.

"Both Gary and Joe are quality baseball men who have worked hard during their time with the organization," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in his statement. "However, [manager John Russell] felt strongly, and I agreed, that they were no longer the right fit for our staff and a change at this time was in the best interests of the club."

Searage has spent the past seven years as a pitching coach at various levels with the Pirates. He also coached in the Cardinals, Marlins and Rays organizations.

Banister has been the Bucs' minor league field coordinator for eight seasons. He also spent four years in the same capacity at the Major League level for the Pirates, so he's a Bucco lifer, a rarity in the organization.

The Pirates have turned the page with their lineup; and though the timing is somewhat odd, they're apparently turning a new page with their coaching, too. It's probably overdue.

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