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Report: Pirates will fire Russell, keep Huntington

The Pirates are ready for change. Again.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette heard from “several internal sources” this weekend that the Bucs will cut ties with manager John Russell soon after the offseason hits. GM Neal Huntington, though, is thought to be safe.

Russell’s contract runs through 2011, but the Pirates have 104 losses this season and could wind up with 105 if things don’t go well in Sunday’s regular season finale against the Marlins. Barely any of the poor play can be blamed on Russell, but this is professional sports. Major League Baseball is a what have you done for me lately kind of place. The captain must go down with the ship. Pick your cliche.

Russell offered some words of optimism after Saturday’s game when asked to review the 2010 season, highlighting the play of youngsters like Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen. It won’t be enough to save his job, apparently, but Russell is right -- there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the Pirates.

“The thing I look at most is how we developed our young players,” Russell replied. “I can’t remember since I’ve been here where we’ve had four-plus guys who can drive in runs for us. We’ve always had one or two, but you look at Walker, Pedro, Jones, McCutchen ... it’s exciting to see. I think our offense is starting to get some type of identity where we can score runs now and, if we get good pitching, we’ve got a pretty good chance to win.”

Russell currently stands 186-298 as a manager and will probably struggle to find a head job in the near future.