Just a few quick thoughts, while I have a minute. Here is Neal Huntington’s statement, via Dejan Kovacevic at the PBC Blog:
I have a tremendous amount of respect for JR, both personally and professionally. He took on a difficult challenge, overseeing a major overhaul in the makeup of our team. JR is a quality baseball man and a good friend. He put his heart and soul into this difficult challenge and was tremendously committed to the organization and the plan we implemented three years ago. JR provided a positive environment for our young players, all of whom have grown as men and baseball players under his stewardship. But, in the end, we decided that new leadership in the clubhouse would give us the best opportunity to move this major league team forward. Our search for that new leadership will begin immediately.
Emphasis is mine. I wrote the following in late August:
Russell is not a great manager, by any means. If/when the Pirates accumulate enough talent to compete, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in a smoother in-game strategist. I think Pat Lackey of WHYGAVS even speculated the Pirates would do just that, way back when Russell was originally hired (couldn’t find it in the archives, though). But Russell is capable of leading a 100-loss team without losing his mind. He does not publicly throw his players under the bus for mistakes, as his predecessor Jim Tracy often did. He absorbs criticism, rightfully so or not, and calmly brushes it off. Right now, as the Pirates struggle to crack the two-run mark on a nightly basis, as fans scramble for someone, anyone, to blame for this travesty, he might just be the right guy for the job.
Russell did what was necessary while he was here. He kept his cool during very difficult times, and there was little indication of his players quitting down the stretch of a disastrous season. Unfortunately, after three years of losing baseball, it was time for a fresh voice in the clubhouse. Happy trails, JR.