By Cory Giger
Ever since Matt Walbeck was fired after leading the Curve to the 2010 Eastern League title, it's been clear that the team's record would not necessarily be a major factor in the Pirates' evaluation of the Double-A manager's job performance.
P.J. Forbes just wrapped up his second season as Curve manager and would like to be back for a third in 2013. He deserves credit for helping the club rebound from several rough stretches to finish with a winning record, but it will be up to the Pirates to determine the criteria to judge Forbes' managerial success.
"Of course, I'd love to come back," Forbes said by phone following Monday's season finale at Erie. "I love the people of Altoona. The front office, the ownership have treated me so well.
"But I understand the organization makes decisions based on their criteria, and whatever happens it's been a great two years for me up there. I look at the guys that have come through there during our stay, and I'm very proud of what we've accomplished with those guys and where they're at and where they're headed."
Forbes led the Curve to a 72-70 record, a significant improvement over last year's 64-77 mark. This year's team was able to do something last year's couldn't, which was bounce back from a rough losing streak and put together prolonged stretches of success.
In 2011, the Curve had a nine-game losing streak that essentially destroyed the season. This year, the club overcame an eight-game losing streak and a 13-game road losing skid to finish above .500.
"P.J. Forbes does a solid job of creating a work environment and gets done what the organization needs to get done," Pirates assistant general manager Kyle Stark said by phone Monday.
Stark said the organization would like to have stability among its minor league coaches, so he does not expect tons of changes this offseason. He would not confirm if Forbes would return to Altoona or not but did say the Pirates like a lot of things the Curve accomplished this season.
"As you look for the most part guys got better," Stark said. "A couple guys obviously didn't progress the way we'd hoped, but that's baseball, that's life. ... As you look at the team, it played good baseball at different stretches, including finishing at the end of the season.
"When we look up at the end of the year, we feel like as a whole we took steps forward," Stark added.
On the Curve's substantial home-road differential, Stark said some of it was "a product of young players learning how to play on the road and a product of some fluke things."
Forbes was asked if the organization feels he accomplished most of the goals it set out for him and the team this year.
"I hope so," he said. "I don't think you're going to accomplish everything an organization wants you to accomplish in a year. I just don't think it works that way. I guess whatever happens, we'll know with what happens next year how pleased they'll be with the job I've done."