Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Mistake of Not Promoting Joel Hanrahan

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 22: Joel Hanrahan #52 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates after the game against the Miami Marlins at PNC Park on July 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pirates won 3-0. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 22: Joel Hanrahan #52 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates after the game against the Miami Marlins at PNC Park on July 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pirates won 3-0. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Joel Hanarhan made a surprising decision to leave the Pittsburgh Pirates. But should the team have put him on the major league coaching staff?

In somewhat abrupt news Pittsburgh Pirates Triple-A pitching coach Joel Hanrahan has decided to move on from his job with the Pirates. It was a surprising decision for the former two-time All-Star closer given that he was named the organization’s minor league coach of the year. Hanrahan cited a desire to work as a major league coach as the main reason for moving on. But could the Pirates have offered him just that?

Hanrahan re-joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017. He started out his career in coaching at short-season A-Ball and steadily made his way through the Pirate minor league system. He ended up as the team’s Triple-A pitching coach at Indianapolis in 2021. He was also named the organization’s minor league coach of the year.

Currently, the incumbent pitching coach at the major league level is Oscar Marin. Marin was brought in with Derek Shelton when the Pirates began their teardown in the 2019-2020 offseason. On the surface, Marin’s work with the major league staff hasn’t produced much results, however, I can see why the Pirates are willing to give him another shot.

This is technically Marin’s third season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, however, it’s his second full season. With the 2020 season being shortened to 60-games, I wouldn’t weigh the stats from the season with anything more than a small sample size mentality. It’s not very fair to fully judge what Marin did with the pitching staff when zero pitches in the major leagues even reached 100 innings pitched.

I’ll also give Marin the benefit of the doubt he hasn’t had a whole bunch to work with. The only real prospects, both former and current, he’s been given to work with for more than 60 games are Mitch Keller and JT Brubaker. While Keller hasn’t performed consistently and JT Brubaker struggled down the line last season, they’re also only two players. He seemingly did well with the relievers, but no 100% definitive proof that his impact has been a net-positive or net-negative.

Finally, this season could be a very telling campaign for Marin long term. While Brubaker and Keller have been the only prospects of note that Marin has worked with so far, that should change in 2022. Roansy Contreras and Miguel Yajure, two of the Pirates’ most notable pitching prospects, could each make 20+ starts. Carmen Mlodzinski has a very good chance at a mid-season call-up. He’ll get a full season to work with former consensus top-100 prospect Bryse Wilson. Other notable names that will have a chance to prove themselves with more playing time include Omar Cruz, Max Kranick, and Cody Bolton.

However, I still think the Pittsburgh Pirates should have found some way to add Hanrahan to the major league coaching staff. Hanrahan likely had the major league job had Marin struggled to help the pitching prospects take that next step in 2022. I do understand why he wanted a guaranteed major league job, but this is something the Pirates could have made room for.

Hanrahan has worked with many of the young Pirate arms. Had he stayed around, he probably would have gotten to see a bit more of Roansy Contreras and would have been there for much of Carmen Mlodiznski’s time at Triple-A.

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Hanrahan stated that he did have another gig lined up, but didn’t go into detail as to what the job would be. So he likely will get a major league job elsewhere. Next season will be telling for Marin and possibly the long-term outlook for the rest of the Pirate coaching staff.

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