Clint Hurdle looks like a good hire for the Pirates for the simple reason that he's not Jeff Banister.
As the Buccos narrowed their managerial search, it began to appear more and more like Banister would be the choice. Now, Banister is a good baseball man and a very nice guy, but picking him would have been a PR disaster.
Banister has been in the Pirate organization for 25 years, and by hiring him, it would have sent a terrible message to the fans. That message would have been that all the Bucs' management wanted was another "yes man" that they could control and who wouldn't ruffle feathers or challenge his bosses.
Another John Russell.
Instead of going that route, the Pirates bypassed their internal candidate and went out and got the best manager they could find.
Best is a relative term here.
The Bucs didn't get the best guy available. They got the best guy available who also wanted to come to Pittsburgh, a franchise that has lost for 18 consecutive seasons and probably has at least two more lean years ahead after this season's 57-105 debacle.
No great manager would take the Pirates job. They can't afford someone like that, and if the guy is that good to begin with, a better team would hire him.
So, is Clint Hurdle a savior who will turn things around in a hurry?
But he's not Russell, an awful manager who didn't seem to care win or lose. Russell was a lousy fit in a town that is passionate about its teams and deserves a manager who could argue with umpires or at least bother to look upset when everything is going wrong.
Hurdle won't have any problem with that. He was ejected 14 times between 2004 and '09 - ranking him in the top 10 in the majors - and is known as a fiery, passionate manager.
Hurdle also has a strong reputation for working with and developing young players, which of course are the cornerstone of the Pirates.
It will be up to him to get the most out of Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and others, letting them reach their potential with their own skill sets instead of foolishly trying to change them immediately like previous coaches did with Zach Duke, Chris Duffy and Brad Lincoln.
There's a good chance Hurdle will be overmatched by this challenge, like so many others before him.
Yes, he guided the Rockies to the World Series in 2007, so he knows what it's like to be around a winning team. But he knows much more about losing, which is what he did every other year during his Colorado tenure (2002-09) while compiling a 534-625 record.
It doesn't bode well for Hurdle that he was fired in 2009 after an 18-28 start, only to have Jim Tracy take over and lead the Rockies to the playoffs that year. The same Jim Tracy, mind you, who was abysmal as the Pirates' manager in 2006 (67-95) and 2007 (68-94) before getting fired.
The Tracy tenure proved something that many Bucco fans don't want to hear but probably already realize.
Tracy was considered a good manager and had a lot of success with the Dodgers before he came to Pittsburgh. Then he endured massive struggles with the Pirates. Then he enjoyed more success somewhere else. He either developed a bad case of stupidity here for two years, or ...
It's possible that no manager can win with the Pirates, given the financial restraints and everything they've had going against them for so long. Not Joe Torre, not Tony LaRussa, not Bobby Cox or any number of great managers.
Clint Hurdle is not a great manager, and there's no way to know how he will handle all the losing or if he can end it.
But at least he's not an internal "yes man" or, even worse, John Russell, so Hurdle undoubtedly will be a big improvement over recent years.
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or email@example.com.