The Gray Lady gets in on the fun.
I wonder: would you rather see Adam LaRoche or Melky Cabrera in a Pirates uniform? I will put my answer as the first comment.
And drawing heavy interest, Dejan reports. DL could save a lot of face if he could flip Gonzo for some talent. With six teams supposedly interested in Gonzo now, DL should be able to snag a puzzle piece.
In other news, Bucs signed 8 players to minor-league contracts. Mostly all dross to fill the voids that poor drafting has created. Allan Simpson strikes out a lot of batters and is tough on RHs, so he could conceivably contribute in the future to some ML team. Mike Edwards, younger stepson, was also signed.
Rowdy let me monkey around with the template a bit. I added links for: new Pirates blogs A New Pirates Generation, Bucco Wire, Derek Bell Yacht Co., The Parrot, Pirates Roundtable, new Pittsburgh sports blogs The Confluence and Sportsocracy, and a new Steelers blog, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls. I added a few other links and deleted some inactive links. As always, let us know if you have any suggestions or complaints.
All hail one of my childhood heroes, the late Mike Webster, his family, and lawyers for winning their lawsuit against the NFL. The NFL's pension board had reclassified his brain damage disability to try to short him disability payments. Mike's life after football, detailed last year by Greg Garber at ESPN.com, was horrific to say the least. To escape the pain, Mike stunned himself to sleep with a Taser. We'll remember Iron Mike as a Champion, and the greatest center to have ever played.
The Pirates Roundtable #3 came out yesterday. This week the topic is wild speculation on the Bucs' minor leaguers. Please feel free to suggest better answers (which shouldn't be hard for my silly uninformed answers) or even to whine about the Roundtable's mere existence.
The worst hitting player and probably the worst starter in the majors will both return, Dejan reports. Chacon's 1.72 WHIP last year would've been the worst in MLB if he qualified. The worst five were Pineiro, Maholm, Trachsel, Redman, and Fogg. Pineiro, the worst pitcher by this measure, hasn't yet been affiliated with the Bucs. That could change though, as the Trib mentions that the recently non-tendered Joel might be targeted for the Bucs' fifth starter.
Dejan has news, and it's not pretty. DK confirms Perrotto's rumor of yesterday, that the Bucs are indeed talking to 38-year-old Masumi Kuwata. In 2005, Kuwata was Yomiuri's white flag: 12 games, 0-7, 7.24 ERA, 1.77 WHIP. In 2006, Kuwata was limited to 11.2 IP, but stunk those up with a 1.71 WHIP. Kuwata has nothing to offer the Bucs other than a PR mirage that the Bucs are actively scouting Japanese talent, and his appearance on the radar is as unexpected as it is absurd.
In other news, the Bucs are pretending to still be in the running for Suppan. On a related note, Chacon is now likely to be tendered. Worst news is that "the Pirates have made offers to two free-agent hitters. One player they are known to be pursuing is Trot Nixon". We already went over this terrible idea. The second I'd guess is Huff, but this could get real ugly. Lastly, the truth behind Eldred being sent home comes out: "Escogido cut him after losing all six games in which he played." Ouch.
John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times has two earthshaking rumors:
"The Pirates are close to filling their need for a veteran right-handed starter by signing long-time Japanese League pitcher Masumi Kuwata as a free agent, baseball sources from Japan told the Times on Monday.Huh? But wait, there's more:
Kuwata, 38, most recently pitched for the legendary Tokyo Giants and has 173 wins in his career."
"the potential is still there for a multi-player deal, including a possibility in which the Pirates would send left-handed closer Mike Gonzalez, catcher Humberto Cota, second baseman Jose Castillo and outfielder Nate McLouth to the Braves for right-hander Kyle Davies and LaRoche."I laughed out loud at that one. Is Perrotto just making stuff up today? I sure hope not.
What again was the knock on Church? He's older, yah, I think 28, but to me falls into that category of cock-blocked prospects--like our main man, Ryan Shealy. He's left-handed and plays center. Is it the strikeouts? I remember reading somewhere that the Pirates were only mildly interested. Or was it the asking price?
Here's the schedule for the seven-win teams in the AFC. Bengals host Raiders (1pm), Chiefs host Ravens (1pm), Jacksonville hosts Indy (1pm), Denver at San Diego (4pm), Jets host Buffalo (4pm). The Steelers' chance of getting a wild card at 9-7 are about zero, of course, but there's no harm in rooting against the gang of teams ahead of them.
It's not good news that nothing has happened, but it is good news to hear that the Pirates are negotiating from their most obvious position of strength. If you subscribe to the notion that closing is not as hard as, say, hitting for power, then naturally you deal from the top of your pile of talented young relievers.
If they stick to such an asking price, someone at some point will make that trade. But you may have to wait until some one or two of the league's closers are injured in March or April.
Dejan Kovacevic reports some stuff for the PG.
First baseman Brad Eldred is back home from the Dominican Republic after going 1 for 18 with 10 strikeouts. He is healthy, agent Gavin Kahn said, so the explanation for his early departure is unclear. The Pirates had hoped he would take 100-150 at-bats there.
Sent home after going 1 for 18 with 10 strikeouts--do we need an explanation?
Teams want Jose Castillo, who is playing well (with plate discipline) in Venezuela. And Jose Hernandez will be available for that "veteran utility infielder job" the Pirates describe as a burning need.