Friday, February 13, 2009

Spring training cliches

Here's a good post from the folks at Every sport has their cliches and baseball is not immune, especially with spring training beginning today.

Enjoy the post and watch for these cliches over the coming weeks.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

No settlement in sight in McLouth case

It appears as if the Pirates and All-Star, Gold Glove outfielder Nate McLouth are headed for an arbitration case.

The hearing is set for Tuesday, Feb. 17, the same day the first full-squad workout is scheduled in Bradenton, Fla. for spring training.

The gap between the two camps is quite large. McLouth asked for $3.8 million while the Pirates offered $2.75 million.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The names don't need to come out

It's been yet another bad week for baseball. First, Alex Rodriguez tells the world he used a "banned substance," and today Miguel Tejada will plead guilty to lying to Congress about his knowledge of steroid use.

The next step in this saga is the list of 104 anonymous names on the list with Rodriguez when they took anonymous tests earlier in the decade.

Yes, not only as a journalist but for my own curiosity, I would like to know the rest of the names on that list. A number of those players are probably retired by now, and the ones that aren't are getting close to retirement, but that doesn't make their names any less relevant in today's baseball. For they likely influenced a great number of today's players, be it directly or indirectly, with their actions.

But just because I, along with a lot of you I'm sure, would like to know the names, doesn't mean they need to be released nor should they be.

These tests were taken so that the results, and the players who took them, would remain "anonymous." That is probably the only reason so many players, including Rodriguez, agreed to take the test.

It was one thing for the Mitchell Report to be released, and the government has some right to question this matter, especially because steroids are still illegal. But leaking the names and creating more of an uproar isn't just unethical it's morally wrong.

These tests were taken under the agreed umbrella of anonymity and the results should remain that way. If the government continues to pursue this matter and leak more names, than it, not some baseball players, should be the ones investigated.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

T.J. beam gone, is Steely McBeam next?

The Toronto Blue Jays claimed pitcher T.J. Beam off waivers from the Pirates Thursday.

Beam was designated for assignment and placed on waivers when the Pirates signed outfielder Eric Hinske late last week.

Beam, 28, was 2-2 with a 4.14 ERA in 32 games with the Pirates last season. In 45 2/3 innings he struck out 24 and walked 20. He was signed as a free agent in January of last year.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Coonelly chats with fans

Pirates president Frank Coonelly chatted with fans online earlier today and had a few interesting things to say.

On trading shortstop Jack Wilson: "I do not see a scenario at this time in which we will trade him. I expect Jack to be our opening day shortstop this year."

On 2009 expectations: "I am confident that we will play better than we did in 2008 and surprise a lot of people with our performance."

On a long-term contract for outfielder Nate McLouth: "We have not had any discussions on a long-term contract with Nate's representative since we exchanged arbitration numbers. It looks like those discussions have ended for this year and we will likely have a one-year deal with Nate."

On Andrew McCutchen's chances of playing: "We will not rush Andrew to the majors before he is ready simply to 'gain experience.'

For a full transcript of the chat go to the link below.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Do Pirates have options with options?

There are six Pirates on the 40-man roster who are out of options and have less than five years experience.

They are pitchers Phil Dumatrait, Sean Burnett, Craig Hansen and Tyler Yates; infielder Andy LaRoche and outfielder Brandon Moss.

Being out of options means that if any of these players do not make the 25-man roster out of spring training, the Pirates must risk losing the player on waivers before sending them to the minors.

As the Pirates stand now heading into spring training in less than two weeks, Burnett, Hansen and Tyler Yates should be locks for the bullpen, LaRoche is a lock at third base and Moss (if healthy) is a lock to earn an outfield spot.

Dumatrait is an interesting case. He is in a group of at least four pitchers battling for the last two rotation spots, assuming that Paul Maholm, Ian Snell and Zach Duke are locks for spots. If Tom Gorzelanny returns to 2007 form, and he appears in great shape, then he will also likely have one of the five spots.

That leaves Dumatrait, Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Karstens fighting for the fifth spot with perhaps another name or two thrown into the mix. Add to that Dumatrait's health problems and he already appears to be an underdog for the last spot.

I know the organization was very happy with what Dumatrait gave them last season before he got hurt. For a time he and Maholm were the Pirates most consistent starters. If his injury persists, that would scare off any other team willing to take a chance and would likely keep Dumatrait in the system.

He could go for a spot in the bullpen as a long reliever, but he would have to be fully healthy to to accomplish that. His case will be one to watch as the spring wears on. He better be perfectly healthy if the Pirates are to give him a roster spot. If not, they would be better to take their chances putting him on waivers for the likelihood that he clears and he can build himself back up in Class AAA.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Pirates sign Maholm, Hinske

The Pirates officially signed pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Eric Hinske on Friday.

Maholm got a three-year deal with a club option for the 2012 season while Hinske singled a one-year deal.

Maholm reportedly will get $3.5 million in 2009, $4.5 million in 2010, $5.75 million in 2011 and a $9.75 million club option in 2012 with a $750,000 buyout. The option could be as much as $11.05 million based on performance.

Hinske's deal is for $1.5 million though he can earn another $1 million in performance bonuses.

Though the Pirates are behind the times in terms of signing young players to long-term deals, the fact that this administration is doing so is a good sign. The club has been very careful in picking and choosing who gets the long-term deals but so far, it seems like the money is going to the proper places.

When your top two starters (Maholm and Ian Snell), closer (Matt Capps), All-Star second baseman (Freddy Sanchez) and catcher (Ryan Doumit) have all received deals buying out most, if not all of their arbitration and some of their free-agent years, it is a step in the right direction.

The Hinske signing puzzles me a little bit because Huntington had said he was looking for a right-handed bat in the outfield but Hinske is left-handed. Still, a 31-year-old who hit 20 home runs last season and who could use the short porch in right field at PNC Park could spark the Pirates' offense.