Ryan Christenson, former outfielder and current bench coach for the Oakland A's, will interview for the open position as Pirates manager some time next week.
This feels very natural for Pittsburgh to go looking through the coaching ranks of successful small market teams. The Oakland Athletics, like the Pirates, are always towards the bottom in terms of payroll.
Over the last two seasons, the A's were 28th and 25th (respectively) in terms of payroll, but 4th and 5th in the league in wins. Christenson has had a front row seat, as A's bench coach, to Bob Melvin managing the A's to 97-wins in both of those seasons.
This is not to say that we should expect someone like Christenson to come to Pittsburgh and instantly replicate what the Athletics have been able to do. It would take improvements throughout the organization in terms of player development and acquisition to accomplish that. But, the A's have clearly figured out how to develop young players, and it's not unreasonable to think that someone like Ryan Christenson could bring some of Oakland's expertise to Pittsburgh.
This is all assuming that Christenson's interest in the Pirates job is anything more than exploratory. According to a report out from the San Francisco Chronicle, Christenson has been identified within the A's organization as a future major league manager. If that feeling exists outside of Oakland, Christenson may pass on a job in Pittsburgh in favor of waiting for a role with an organization that has shown more of a commitment to win. This will no doubt be the struggle Neil Huntington will have throughout the managerial search. Pittsburgh is simply not near the top of the list in terms of desirable jobs. So, it is likely the Pirates will lose out on some of the top candidates. Christenson could fall into that category.
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