>Matt Capps should rejoin the Pirates today in Milwaukee and be activated from the DL on Saturday. The much-anticipated bullpen meltdown after his injury and the later departure of Damaso Marte didn't happen, though, thanks to a DFA deal and a couple of guys thriving under game-on-the-line pressure.
Five different pitchers recorded saves after Capps went down. Before he was hurt, the Pirates relievers had a 4.64 ERA. Since July 2, when Capps went on the DL, the bullpen has posted a 3.83 ERA.
Sean Burnett, TJ Beam, and Denny Bautista (thank you, Tigers) stepped up to fill the gap, along with the lone remaining late inning guy, John Grabow. And the starting pitchers getting on the far side of the sixth inning helped the cause, too.
It looks like one of the team's biggest question marks heading into 2008 should be a squad strength in 2009. Every cloud...
> The Pirates will have to move two guys back to Indy tomorrow when Gorzo and Capps rejoin the roster. Our guess is that it'll be Romulo Sanchez and Jason Davis, although Nyjer Morgan could go, too.
> Nate McLouth is still under the weather - Morgan will make another start in center tonight. He has an unidentified virus, and may be out for a while longer.
>Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors writes on Jack Splat:
Pirates GM Neal Huntington was diplomatic when asked about Jack Wilson's future with the Pirates. But it seems pretty clear the 30 year-old shortstop will be shopped this winter.And you wonder why, as Dejan reported today, Jack Splat is feeling the heat.
Wilson makes a fine trade chip for the Bucs, especially given the free agent market for shortstops. Orlando Cabrera may require three or four years, and he'll be 34 in November. Rafael Furcal wants to stay with the Dodgers. All the other free agents are question marks. Teams such as the Blue Jays, Tigers, Twins, Reds, Cardinals, and Giants may be looking for a shortstop. The Jays would probably only enter the mix for Wilson if J.P. Ricciardi is fired.
Wilson will earn $7.25MM in '09 and may see his $8.4MM option for '10 exercised. He can block trades to six teams. He's hitting .279/.322/.355 this year in 288 plate appearances, down from last year but near his career marks. His defense is highly regarded.
> The Oakland A's, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, had a chance to make a big splash before the trade deadline with a swap for Jason Bay. Pittsburgh wanted a package that included RHP Vin Mazzaro, the 21-year-old who went 12-3 with a 1.90 ERA in Double-A this year, and Oakland wouldn't part with him.
> The Padre's Jody Gerut has emerged as a candidate for comeback player of the year, according to MLB.com:
Gerut, 30, did not play in the majors in 2006 or '07 while recovering from a series of surgeries on his right knee. But in 328 plate appearances with the Padres, his batting/on-base/slugging line is .299-.357-.492, and general manager Kevin Towers says Gerut is playing above-average in center field.
"If there's a bright spot on our club this year, it's that Jody Gerut's back," Towers says. "We'll be very comfortable if he is our center fielder next year."
The Padres signed Gerut as a minor-league free agent last winter after he batted .390 in the Venezuelan winter league.
On July 31, 2005, the Pittsburgh Pirates got him and cash from the Cubs for Matt Lawton. Gerut batted 18 times for the Bucs before his knee, and seemingly his career, folded. They released him in March of 2007 after nearly two years of inactivity, and never seemed convinced that his injury was as bad as it apparently was.