The Pirates have established a five man group of leaders for both the clubhouse, and on the field, according to Rob BierTempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. This group includes the following players: Andrew McCutchen, Russell Martin, Clint Barmes, A.J. Burnett and Jason Grilli. From what we’ve been hearing, it sounds as if the players were each voted into their positions by their teammates, and will act as captains for the team. Personally, I’m not a big fan of this move. While I’m certainly alright with baseball teams having a captain, and maybe a couple of alternates, having such a multiplicity of team leaders seems a bit of an odd decision. It’s not like they need someone to be on the playing surface at all times to discuss penalties like a captain in hockey would, so this seems a little bit strange to me.
All that being said, I think the players did a pretty solid job overall of their choices. A.J. is kind of a no doubt choice there, as he came in and just took over as the clubhouse leader as soon as he arrived in Pittsburgh last year. Jason Grilli is a seasoned veteran at this point in his career (he’s currently 36), so he’s certainly seen a thing or two around the league, and should be able to command a good presence. The same applies to Clint Barmes, who for all of the vitriolic hate spewed towards him by a lot of Pirates fans (and the Pirate Parrot parody account on Twitter) should be able to be a decent leader for the players, having age and years of experience under his belt. Cutch and Russell Martin seem like mildly odd choices to me though, even though McCutchen is a superstar, and arguably the best player in the game, he’s still very young, and it seems that assigning that kind of role at this point in his career might be just a bit premature (even though I’d expect he’ll rise to the challenge), so that one is just a bit of a head scratcher. The only real reason I can think of as to why Russell Martin is on that “leadership council” (seriously, what kind of name is that?) is because he’s a catcher. As a brand new addition to the team, I wouldn’t expect a guy like Martin to really be considered a leader in the clubhouse this quickly, guys don’t normally step into those roles that quickly (except for A.J., thank God).
As if five captains or “leadership council members” weren’t enough, it seems the Pirates also assigned co-captains at each position group (starting pitchers, relievers, infielders, outfielders, catchers). Because apparently having five out of your twenty-five players in leadership/captaincy positions isn’t enough, apparently. This whole thing is really quite weird, my primary hope is that it doesn’t do much to affect the chemistry in the clubhouse. Obviously you don’t want only one guy in the leadership role, but A.J. is clearly the primary or alpha leader in the group, so why not have it be just him, plus maybe one or two alternates? This whole situation seems very odd, and it’s a weird story to have coming up during the Pirates pathetic beginning to the season. Hopefully this move will help to turn things around quickly, but I don’t really expect it to. Let’s hope the Pirates get things fixed quickly though, I’m sick of watching great pitching performances get wasted right now.