Pittsburgh Pirates News: Team Hires New Farm Director, John Baker
The Pittsburgh Pirates have made a lot of changes to their Front Office. They now have a hired new Farm Director to oversee the Minor League System.
One name that many Pittsburgh Pirates fans wanted to see gone last offseason was Farm Director Larry Broadway. Many speculated that he would be let go by the Bucs due to the lack of player development. If Neal Huntington was to blame, then so was Larry Broadway.
Ben Cherington decided to keep Broadway on his staff. However, he did this with several Front Office people, and at the beginning of the year, he mentioned that more Front Office moves were to come. He was simply using those people to help with the Front Office transition and Broadway was one of those members, obviously knowing the system better than anyone else in the organization.
Right after the 2020 season ended, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced that Broadway would be reassigned in the team’s Front Office. This meant that the Pittsburgh Pirates would be searching for a new Farm Director. This is a position that not a lot of people know a good deal about, but it is an important one, especially for small market teams like the Bucs.
To come up with a list of candidates would have been a tough task. One thing was obvious, the team would likely be looking for a younger, more forward thinking director. They apparently got one. According to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and later confirmed by Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the team will hire a former big league catcher:
"Jon Heyman confirming the Pittsburgh Pirates hire: Pirates hire John Baker, the former catcher, as farm director. Had been mental skills coach with Cubs. @JMackeyPG1st"
This may not grab a lot of headlines but it should. Baker is one of those classic new big league hires, a former catcher who played for multiple teams and didn’t necessarily standout on paper. Also, he is just 39 years of age, so he is set to join an already young coaching coaching staff and Front Office. Many believed the previous regime was old and out of date; the game of baseball is going in a younger direction and that includes in the Front Office.
Baker played across seven big league seasons for the Marlins, Padres, Dodgers, and finished with the Cubs. He did spend time with the Seattle Mariners organization in 2015 before being released. Since then, Baker has worked for the Chicago Cubs, one of the organizations that does a great job at identifying former players who could make coaches or scouts.
Baker was hired as a Special Baseball Assistant with his focus being a Mental Skills Coach. He really specializes in helping players gain confidence and teaches them strategies on how to process what they may be seeing in the game. This is one thing I mentioned in my article yesterday; the group of people that Ben Cherington has brought in are all positive teachers.
The new hires are always looking for reasons to applaud the players rather than criticize. If nothing else, one could see that Tyler Glasnow really struggled with the mental side of the game while here in Pittsburgh. A hire like Baker will hopefully help players reach their potential without having the mental side of the game tear them down. This is especially true for developing young prospects, who will have a lot of ups and downs. Baker himself has been through those ups and downs, but also understands how the game works (being a catcher). This is an excellent hire.