Former Phillies catcher John Russell has rejoined the organization and will manage Triple-A Scranton next season.
Russell played with the Phils from 1984-1988 and was a first round draft pick (13th overall) in 1982.
If you remember, Russell was one of eight candidates considered for the manager’s job last season, representing the token “manager in the making” selection.
Baseball America had him on their list of top managerial prospects in 1998 after leading New Britain to an 81-58 record and first-place finish in the Eastern League. He has also spent eight years managing in the Twins' Minor League system, compiling a 527-521 record, including a Pacific Coast League championship in 2002.
The 44-year-old spent the last three seasons with the Pirates as a third base coach and catching instructor. Russell replaces Gene Lamont, who will become the third base coach for Jim Leyland in Detroit.
Link: John Russell wasn't a good hitter [Baseball Reference]
Boy, do managers shuffle from place to place or what. The Phils now have two “prospect” managers in elevated spots in Gary Varsho and John Russell. Russell has more experience, but both men have received high marks from the press and the organization. "I am very pleased to add John Russell to our development staff," said Phillies assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle to Ken Mendal of mlb.com. "He's a significant addition for us."
Should Charlie Manuel stumble and GM Pat Gillick makes a switch, Russell and Varsho both appear to be potential in-house choices.
Penn State’s most valuable players
In case you missed it, Dear Old State rolled to an impressive 35-14 win over 14th-ranked Wisconsin yesterday in State College.
Watching it at a friend’s house, I could feel the electricity through the television set, as the record crowds have absolutely smothered visitors into submission all season. With the win, the Lions clinched an undefeated campaign at home, in no small part due to some of the best crowds ever seen at Beaver Stadium. Yesterday, a senior day crowd of 109,865 was heard in full force to give a standing-O to quarterback Michael Robinson and the rest of the graduating seniors.
After a bye, Penn State can win at least a share of the Big Ten championship and an automatic BCS berth with a victory over Michigan State.
As for Joe Paterno, the 78-year-old is making his case for coach of the year for guiding the Lions on this historic run. Instead of hanging up his Nikes after 2005 and going out on a high note like many suggest, I'd like to see JoePa stick around and oversee the continued growth of one best crops of underclassmen in the country. JoePa's vindication and Penn State's return to college football's elite ranks high among my list of all-time special sports moments. A BCS bowl is likely at this point, matching up with ... Miami? Notre Dame? Priceless.