OSIPOFF: One year at a time for RailCats manager Greg Tagert, staff
By Michael Osipoff email@example.com Twitter: @MichaelOsipoff April 30, 2014 11:18PM
Railcats Manager Greg Tagert watches the pitchers and catchers try out in the afternoon session at The Steelyard on April 30, 2014. | Jim Karczewsk/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 2, 2014 1:12PM
It’s not as if Greg Tagert hasn’t operated under a short-term contract during his tenure as manager of the RailCats. But it’s been a while.
When he was hired in 2005, his initial deal was for one season. But it didn’t take all that long for team brass to fully realize it had hired the right guy following the franchise’s record-setting (for futility) 2004 season; in mid-August of what would prove to be a stunning title-winning season for the RailCats, Tagert received an extension through 2006.
Just days after the RailCats lost to Fargo-Moorhead in the Northern League championship series in ’06, the parties agreed to a new contract through the 2008 season.
Before that deal expired, Tagert signed an extension in January 2008 — three months before current owner Pat Salvi purchased the RailCats — through the 2010 season. At that point, the manager and his family had set the wheels in motion to move from the Bay Area to Chesterton.
That deal wasn’t allowed to expire, either. In February 2010, at the team’s Fan Fest, an extension through the 2013 season was announced.
All of that background serves as a roundabout way to say that Tagert has “reached terms,” Salvi said, to manage the RailCats in 2014. But that’s all. After all of the consternation about the RailCats’ failure to make the playoffs in each of their first two seasons in the American Association, after what essentially was a postseason-or-else ultimatum ended with 2013’s breakthrough championship, Tagert has a deal for a 10th season in Gary. But nothing yet beyond.
“Not having anything to do with Greg, I’ve just generally decided to reevaluate all the employees, on and off the field, every year,” Salvi said.
“It’s a better business practice for the operations of minor league baseball. It’s just different, in my opinion, than major league baseball, where you want to get a very valuable player or manager locked up for five years, a long-term contract. You have to have more financial flexibility in minor league baseball. The RailCats compensate their employees on and off the field as competitively as anyone, so there’s not a high probability of people leaving, and that includes Greg.”
But what about the flip side, in terms of job security? There’s certainly an element of uncertainty inherent to independent baseball. But Tagert would seem like a known quantity at this stage of his career.
“For the foreseeable future, he’ll be managing the RailCats — he’s our manager,” Salvi said. “And we’re very happy about that.”
Tagert has consistently expressed his happiness about being the manager of the RailCats, his enjoyment of what he does and where he does it. And that hasn’t seemed to change. But he has seemed less than thrilled about his current contract status. In the past, including before and after last season, he was relatively willing to discuss his situation — not necessarily the specific terms, but at least generally. This time, he has been reluctant to engage in such conversation.
“I have to focus on this season,” Tagert said. “It’s full force for 2014.
“I’m really excited about this team, and trying to repeat.”