Found September 30, 2013 on Steel City Sports Report:
Clint Hurdle has made a major impact on the Pittsburgh Pirates since choosing to manage them at the start of the 2011 season.He's created a new atmosphere in the clubhouse, replacing the mundane, defeatist spirit left behind by John Russell, with a loud, energetic voice of optimism. With a group as young as the Pirates, that type of message can go a long way. Especially if the team starts winning.As a motivator, Hurdle is one of the best in baseball. As a strategist, he's, at times, horrible.During this season, the Pirates have been at the mercy of Clint Hurdle's decision to roll with a starter for far too long, resulting in games that go from bad to ugly. Too many times this season, the Pirates have held a lead or tie game late, only to see Bryan Morris give up a run resulting in a loss. And don't get me started on the match ups at the plate. Yes, the Pirates have 94 wins, so maybe this is nitpicking a tad. But at the same time, these decisions have cost the Pirates. In fact, one would have to wonder how many wins the Pirates would have if Hurdle was a bench coach with a better strategist at the helm. Three? Four? Would it be enough to win the division and forego this do-or-die Wild Card game? It's tough to say; but one thing is certain: he better not play around Tuesday night.The Pirates will have nine pitchers, including seven relievers, on their roster for tomorrow night's game against the Cincinnati Reds. By deductive reasoning, that roster will include sixteen position players as well. That means the Pirates will have ample right handed and left handed bats on the bench. In other words, Justin Morneau should not see a single pitch from a left-handed pitcher, where he has a putrid .525 OPS, especially with Gaby Sanchez on the bench who has hit lefties at a .333/.463/.569 clip this year. If the Reds decide to go back to a right hander to face Sanchez, Hurdle has Garret Jones at his disposal. While Bryan Morris and Vin Mazzaro are two of the relievers on the roster, there is no reason to have either one of them pitching if the game is within four runs. This is a win or go home game and there is zero room for error. The players will have a tough enough time figuring out Cueto while shutting down one of the best offenses in the game. It's on Hurdle to put his team in the best position to accomplish both tasks. Play the match ups.Clint Hurdle will likely win Manager of the Year for what he has done to turn around this franchise and while everyone the fans may be happy just to see their team in the playoffs, the Pirates certainly have enough talent to do some damage in October. It wont be an easy task and the game tomorrow is likely to take a few years off our lives with all the drama and pulse-pounding moments. But this team really does have the chance to add a few more memories to what has already been a special season.Photo courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews
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