Pittsburgh Fires Tinnell After 11 Years

By John Perrotto
September 9, 2001

PITTSBURGH–Paul Tinnell always had a sunny disposition during his 11 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ front office. He was still that way Thursday, his first day as a former Pirate employee.

Though the club made no announcement, Tinnell confirmed Thursday that Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield fired him Wednesday night as player development director. The move occurred less than a week after scouting director Mickey White was reassigned to a special assignment scouting role and assistant general manager John Sirignano left the organization.

“I have no reason to be angry or bitter,” Tinnell said. “I’m very thankful to have had the chance to be a part of this organization for so long. It’s tough to leave, but I have nothing but good feelings about my time here. It was a lot of fun and very rewarding.”

Tinnell’s job status had been tenuous since June 11, when Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy fired Cam Bonifay as general manager. During the press conference, McClatchy made it clear he was not happy with the state of the Pirates’ farm system. Littlefield then took over July 13.

Five of the Pirates’ six farm clubs also had losing records this year, and the major league club is finishing its ninth straight losing season.

“It’s always possible to lose your job, especially when a new general manager comes in,” Tinnell said. “Dave wants to build the organization, and he wants to bring in other people to build it. I understand. That’s how it usually works in this game.

“It’s never about one person. It’s about the organization as a whole. Dave has to do what he needs to do to get this organization turned around. I believe he will. He is a good baseball man and a good person. He treated me in a first-class manner in every way right up until the end.”

Tinnell, 43, joined the Pirates’ organization in 1990 as a scout after one season in the same role with the Indians and nine years as a college baseball coach. He became scouting director in 1993 then moved to his player development director role in 1996.

Among the highlights of Tinnell’s time with the Pirates were drafting righthander Kris Benson with the first overall pick in 1996; developing third baseman Aramis Ramirez into a premier player; and signing such stalwarts as righthander Todd Ritchie and former closer Mike Williams as minor league free agents, then watching them blossom.

“There are no hard and fast ways to evaluate the performance in the front office,” Tinnell said. “It’s not like a player. If a hitter has a .300 batting average, you know he is pretty good. Like anyone else, I made some mistakes, but I always gave it my best effort to help the Pittsburgh Pirates.”

The Pirates also let four scouts go this week, including special assistant to the GM Chet Montgomery, who was the club’s farm director from 1991-95. Special assignment scouts Jack Bloomfield, Jim Guinn and George Swain were also jettisoned.