Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington announced Friday that Jim Tracy has been relieved of his duties as the club's manager. In addition, the Pirates announced that Senior Director of Player Development Brian Graham, Senior Director of Scouting Ed Creech and Director of Baseball Operations Jon Mercurio have also been relieved of their duties.
"Since my appointment as General Manager I have worked diligently to gather information about the inner-workings of the organization. After a systematic evaluation of that information, I have come to the difficult conclusion that to transform the culture and to chart the course for future success, these changes needed to be made," said Huntington. "These decisions have been difficult because I respect these individuals as family men, as good baseball people and as professionals. However, I felt that to successfully implement our philosophies, visions and systems there needed to be a change in focus, direction and leadership."
"Moving forward we will take the same diligent, systematic approach to finding the best person to fill each of these key leadership positions," added Huntington. "We will work exhaustively to put in place an outstanding leadership team to implement our vision and to evaluate, sign, develop and retain elite talent on and off the field."
The 51-year-old Tracy was named Pittsburgh's Manager on Oct. 21, 2005. Tracy posted a 135-189 record (.417 winning percentage) in his two seasons with the Pirates. He guided the Bucs to a 67-95 record in 2006 and a 68-94 record in 2007 as the team lost 13 of its last 15 games. In his seven years as a Major League manager, Jim Tracy has posted a 562-572 record (.496 winning percentage).
Graham, 47, spent the past six seasons overseeing Pittsburgh's Minor League system after being hired on Dec. 3, 2001. Mercurio, 42, completed his 20th season with the Pirates organization, his 12th as a member of the baseball operations staff. Creech, 55, spent the last six seasons with Pittsburgh after being named the club's Scouting Director on Nov. 20, 2001.
The Pirates also announced that Assistant General Manager Doug Strange will now serve the club as a Special Assistant to General Manager Neal Huntington.
"Doug's experience as a player, the type of player he was, the type of person he is and his experience as a respected talent evaluator on the amateur and professional levels makes him a quality complement to me and the other special assistants to the General Manager," said Huntington. "I am pleased Doug has chosen to accept this new challenge."
"I fully support Neal's decisions and share in his opinion that these changes were necessary to provide a new direction for the baseball operations department," said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. "We are now fully engaged in putting together a new leadership team that will implement our vision for the Club's future. I am confident that we will attract outstanding baseball professionals to these open positions who will institute the systems, principles and philosophies necessary for us to acquire, develop, retain and teach our young players. Although the challenges that we face to restore the pride of the Pirates are real, I firmly believe that we are well on our way to changing the culture of the organization."
"I want to thank Jim, Jon, Ed and Brian for their dedicated service to the Pirates and wish them well in their future endeavors in baseball," added Coonelly.
Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also a contributor to Baseball Prospectus contributed to the 2007 Pro Football Prospectus and is an available freelance writer.
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