Pittsburgh Pirates Coaching Staff News
According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune, the Pirates have fired Rick Sofield and have reassigned Nick Leyva to senior advisor of baseball operations.
Rick Sofield has been on Clint Hurdle’s staff since the beginning of the 2013 season. He oversaw the base running and out fielding of the club, and after two years as the first base coach, he has been the third base coach the last two seasons. This marks the end of Sofield’s second stint for the Pirates.
In Biertempfel’s report, he mentions:
"This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times."
Also mentioned, and extremely noteworthy, is the “The Pirates made 21 outs at the plate, which was tied for the third-highest figure in the NL.” Sofield’s extreme, and almost always, aggressive style did not pay off.
When looking at fangraphs BsR, the Pirates poor base running really shows up. With Sofield as the base running coach, the Pirates have had a BsR of 1.7, which ranks middle of the pack at 17. However, with Sofield as the Pirates third base coach, the base running took a dive. Since 2015, the Pirates rank 20th with a BsR of -4.2, and in 2016 alone, the team ranked 23rd, a mark of -7.0. This offseason, I would expect the Pirates to put more emphasis on base running.
Nick Leyva has been with the Pirates every year under Clint Hurdle. He has been the infield coach since 2011, and worked as the third base coach from 2011-14, and the first base coach since 2015. He’ll now be an advisor of baseball operations. Biertempfel reports that Leyva will rover around the minor leagues adviser.
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Leyva over the last two years has had the honor of transitioning three players over to first base from different positions. In 2016, David Freese and John Jaso transitioned over decently, posting 0 defensive runs saved and -3 defensive runs saved, with Jaso ranking 22nd of the 30 first baseman with at least 500 innings at the position. This all comes a year after Pedro Alvarez had 23 errors, -13 defensive runs saved, and a UZR/150 of -26.4.
This leaves two holes on the Pirates field staff that needs to be filled. The team will likely look at internal options in the minor leagues and probably fired managers to fill the gap.