Derek Shelton Will Return as Pirates Manager for 2023

Derek Shelton

Derek Shelton’s job is safe. Despite October baseball not being in the cards for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Shelton will be the skipper for a fourth year. It surprised many around baseball who expected the front office to shop for a new manager after the season ended. However, general manager Ben Cherington confirmed that Shelton is under contract for 2023. While it may be good news for Shelton, it’s certainly not welcoming news to a frustrated fan base. They have exhausted themselves watching this organization stagger toward what will likely be another 100-loss season.

Evaluating Derek Shelton

How much of this is Shelton’s fault is hard to evaluate. Cherington has mentioned that improving the team’s farm system certainly justifies Shelton’s return to lead this collection of new talent they have drafted and have been developing in the farm system. And to be fair, development does take time, usually at least three years. Shelton has been involved with these players’ decisions— another reason to bring him back.

Shelton has been tasked with overseeing the team through an extensive rebuilding time. However, he is well-liked by his players, and they have continued to support their manager publicly. His players continue to play hard for him despite the unfavorable results.

Although his record does not show much progress, he is an excellent communicator and has allowed open communication with all his players. The staff cares a lot about getting this right and better. Losses are hard on them, too.

Not Much Progress to Show For 

In three seasons as the Pirates manager, Shelton is 127-214, and some notable incidents have occurred. There was Will Craig’s rundown, Ke’Bryan Hayes missing first on a home run. It reflected poorly on Shelton, along with his coaching staff. Pittsburgh continues to be a work in progress with little to show. 

 However people look at it, this organization has not been good for a long time. The Pirates had a run of regular season success in the early 1990s, then struggled over the next two decades. They managed to have 20 straight losing seasons from 1993-2012. But, it all ended with a return to the playoffs in 2013, returning in 2014 and 2015. Pittsburgh had only one winning season since 2015. Since then, they have produced a farm system lacking the talent that this organization needs to be competitive. But that appears to be turning around. 

The Young and Established Players 

The organization has been better since Cherington and Shelton took over. Pittsburgh has pieces to serve as a building block of a contender, from Hayes to Bryan Reynolds, Oneil Cruz and David Bednar. However, the team continues to be in the rebuilding phase. Cheriginton has acknowledged that rebuilding is ongoing, a first in his three-year tenure he’s mentioned publicly. 

Beyond that, the Pirates have used over 60 players this season. That number is due to injuries, but it’s also a sign of how many players haven’t panned out. There’s an element of youth within the organization as 14 players are 24 years old or younger, the most in baseball. The Pirates roster features eight rookies who are going through growing pains.

The Future For the Pirates

The playoffs seem like a long shot for the Pirates, as there is excitement with these young players gaining experience. The front office needs to continue making smart moves with their prospects. If they can do that, this team could make 2023 more exciting for their fans sooner than later. Cherrington and the Pirates have plenty of unfinished business. 

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Players/ managers mentioned:

Derek Shelton, Will Craig, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds, Oneil CruzDavid Bednar