Being a coach or a manager in any sport or profession is an extremely difficult job. As a coach, you have to deal with upper management’s plan, the morale of your players, strategize everything, keep the fans entertained, and constantly worry about being replaced. This is in no way a blanket defense of Pirates’ manager Derek Shelton and all of his decisions, but we have to be fair. Shelton hasn’t exactly had the greatest of assets placed in front of him.
With a rather weak N.L. Central division and a penchant for stealing wins against teams at the top of the standings, the Pirates are just seven games under .500 and have a 1.5-game lead over the Cubs for third place. If you asked any fan where the Pirates would be 55 games into the season, I highly doubt many would’ve said third place.
“Our effort over the last two or so seasons, with very few exceptions, has reflected Shelton and our staff, and they’ve done a great job,” said general manager Ben Cherington. “Another great aspect is our decision making. We’re coming into games with a good idea of the kinds of matchups and the things we want to do to give us a chance to win.”
Cherington also mentioned that obviously, there are days that the Pirates come out on the losing end of things due to a dominant, opposing player or other factors, but in the games, they give themselves a chance to win; he’s impressed with Shelton’s in-game decisions.
Obviously, Cherington isn’t going to criticize his manager publicly, but there have been times when Shelton has made head-scratching moves. Inserting an unexpected bullpen arm when it should’ve been another guy or playing someone in the field where they shouldn’t.
Eventually, when a winning team is put forth, and if some of the young talent develops, Shelton will be tested. Until that day comes, fans should hold off on any rush to judgements of the Pirates manager.