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.
“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.