Matt Walbeck Out of a Job

This news isn’t Tigers-related per se, but former Tigers catcher and minor league manager Matt Walbeck was relieved of his duties by the Pittsburgh Pirates organization yesterday. This according to Tom Smith of RumBunter, who gives his thoughts on the situation.

Walbeck’s Altoona Curve won the Eastern League title this year, his second season as a skipper for the Pirates AA club. In six seasons as a minor league manager, Walbeck has collected four Manager of the Year awards and three league championships.

Evidently, Walbeck’s desire to progress in his career beyond the AA level, at least in part, lead to this decision. Speaking to the Altoona Mirror, Walbeck had this to say:

“I just spoke with (Pirates Farm Director Kyle Stark), and basically he felt I wasn’t a good fit for what I wanted to accomplish,” Walbeck said.

He was given no reason for the decision.

“No, not really,” Walbeck said. “Just that it wasn’t going to be a good fit. There were some things about how I have some aspirations and [am] highly driven and words like that, but apparently it wasn’t going to work out.”

From 2004-2007, Walbeck managed in the Tigers organization, first with the low-A West Michigan Whitecaps and then with the AA Erie Seawolves. In those four seasons, Walbeck’s teams won three championships (2 with West Michigan, one with Erie). In 2008, he served as third base coach for the Texas Rangers.

There is no doubt in my mind that Walbeck, now 41, will find success as a major league manager someday. That the Pirates would be so quick to let him go after having success in their system, along with the rest of his resume, shows you just what kind of a mess the Pirates truly are.

Maybe managers don’t matter all that much, but if you are the Pirates, and you haven’t had a winning season in 18 years, why on earth would you fire one of the top managerial prospects in baseball? Makes no sense to me.

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Tags: Altoona Curve Detroit Tigers Erie SeaWolves Matt Walbeck Pittsburgh Pirates West Michigan Whitecaps

  • Ian Casselberry

    Appreciate the update, John. I think the Pirates may have done Walbeck a favor. Can he really accomplish much more by continuing to manage in the minors?

    Leaving the Tigers organization for a major league coaching job seemed like the right move for his career. If anything, the Pirates should’ve add him to the major league coaching staff. He’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

    • John Parent

      Always happy to help, Ian. I see your point and Walbeck said the same (sort of) in the interview he gave. He said he wanted to manage at AAA or get back to the majors as a coach. I just think it’s unfortunate that the Bucs decided he didn’t have a future with them. They could use all the help they can get, especially from a guy as highly regarded as Walbeck.

      I actually had been expecting that Walbeck would be the guy to replace John Russell sometime within the next year. Guess not.

  • Zac Snyder

    All you need to know is that it is the Pirates organization. I just hope they let the Tigers know when they are ready to give away Andrew McCutchen.

  • w.k. kortas

    The word out of Pittsburgh seems to be that he wasn’t on-board with how the Pirates wanted things done on the player development end–and if that’s the case, and he put winning a AA championship over the interests of the parent club, then he should go.

    • Zac Snyder

      …because the parent club has such a great track record…

    • John Parent

      That could very well be the case, but neither Huntington nor Stark are talking. I know there were never such complaints about him while he was with the Tigers organization, at least not publicly. I’m not saying that those things didn’t happen in Altoona, but we haven’t heard confirmation from the Pirates on any reason for the firing.

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