Longtime Shorebird player and manager Ryan Minor was promoted to manage the AA Fredrick Keys leaving an opening at the manager position for the Delmarva Shorebirds. Replacing a crowd favorite like Minor is a difficult task, but look no further, your Delmarva Shorebirds manager for 2013 is... Luis Pujols?
When I first read the story I said to myself, "who in the heck is Luis Pujols?"
Many of you are probably thinking the same, so I did some research to find out who this guy is. You're welcome.
Luis Pujols first entered the league in 1973 when he was just 17 years old. He was signed as an amateur free agent catcher by the Houston Astros. Pujols spent the next 4 years bouncing around in the minor league's not making his major league debut until 1977. He then continued to play in the minors and majors until he spent his first full season in the majors in 1980. That season he played in 78 games for the Astros hitting just .199, but his expertise wasn't in the batter's box, it was behind it. That year the Stro's would go on to face the Phillies in the NLCS. Despite getting the majority of the playing time behind the plate Pujols and his Astros went home after losing the series 4-1 to the Phillies.
The following season it was rumored that Pujols was going to be shipped to Boston to replace the departed Carlton Fisk, but nothing ever happened and in Houston he stayed. Pujols continued being a run of the mill player for the rest of his career making his name as a great backup catcher for his defensive abilities. After a few more seasons with the Astros and short stints with the Royals and Rangers he turned in his catchers gear and exchanged it for coaching attire.
After his playing career Pujols went on to coaching where he started out under Felipe Alou as the Expos' first base coach from 1993-1999. He then became the Expos' bench coach for a season but was then fired. He then went on to manage the Detroit Tigers AA affiliate, the Erie Seawolves and helped them achieve a record of 84-58. A year later he was promoted to the major league levels again as the Tigers bench coach in 2002. That was until current manager Phil Garner was fired 6 games into the season propelling Pujols to his first major league manager job. Under Pujols the Tigers did anything but succeed, ending the season with a 55-106 record. Needless to say, Pujols was not brought back the following season.
He returned to his former role as a first base coach with San Francisco Giants from 2003-2006. In 2008 he managed the Astros minor league team, the Corpus Christi Seahooks to a 55-85 record. The following year he was back and their record improved to 61-79. In 2009 he also helped coached the Dominican Republic's World Baseball Classic team.
In recent years he has been managing winter baseball as he has been on somewhat of a coaching hiatus. But, it appears that Pujols is ready to return to the bench and he will be taking over the manager position for the Delmarva Shorebirds.
So what does Pujols bring to Delmarva? Experience for one, someone that has been around major and minor league baseball since 1973 has to know a thing or two about the game played on the diamond. He also brings communication. Pujols is bilingual and is able to speak both English and Spanish so he'll be able to communicate with most of the players coming through the Orioles farm system for years to come.
It's hard to say whether or not Pujols will bring wins to the Shorebirds as he has had mixed success in terms of wins and losses, but are wins really important in the minor leagues? The answer is no. What's important is that young players get the experience they need, the teaching they need, and the attention they need to prepare them for the big show. Pujols brings all of that and more to the table, so will he be a good fit for the Shorebirds? I think so.
Oh, and while reading this you are probably wondering, "man, I wonder if this guy is related to that Albert Pujols guy. You know, the one that hits all the home runs?"