Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bucco News

Troy Renck of the Denver Post has a couple of Bucco-related tidbits to offer while we wait out the World Series snow date:

First, he reports that Ken Macha has emerged as the favorite to land Milwaukee's skipper post, leaving old Met manager Willie Randolph as the odd man out. With Dale Sveum given the axe, there are a whole lot of guys with Pittsburgh ties that are players in the Brew Crew coaching drama.

Next, he says that Jayson Nix has signed with the White Sox. That's disappointing news to GW, who hoped the Pirates would have an interest in the 26-year old second sacker. He's an Olympian, was taken 44th in the 2001 draft pick, and isn't far removed from being the man at Colorado.

His bat failed him, but he came around to hit .303 in AAA. He's exactly the kind of affordable low-risk, high-return player that Pittsburgh should be after, especially considering Freddie Sanchez's lingering list of injuries over the past two seasons.

Jenifer Langosch has a couple of items of interest that she reported in her recent MLB.com articles:

She says that Pedro looked good in Bradenton, and that the No. 2 overall pick will be invited to the Pirates' camp in February, though he is expected to start the year at one of Pittsburgh's two Class A clubs. Alvarez's time working out in Florida didn't determine his minor league spot. That will be decided this spring.

Between now and February, he'll spend most of the winter at Vanderbilt, where Alvarez will work on his prescribed conditioning program.

Her timeline on Alvarez and Tabata moving through the system:

JL expects Alvarez to be in the majors by the end of the 2010 season. Tabata will be 20 most of next season, which he will likely spend at the Triple-A level.

By late next summer, there's a strong possibility of Alvarez and Tabata playing with each other in Indy. And while she thinks Alvarez will still make his major league debut before Tabata, she wouldn't be surprised to see Jose in Pittsburgh before the end of the 2010 season. If not then, it should be 2011 for sure.

It sure looks like some fast-tracking for the dynamic duo.

Langosch also says that GM Neal Huntington has identified two needs that he would like to address this offseason, finding a right-handed power bat and a veteran starter. The Pirates will look at both the trade and free-agent markets to address these needs. But, she cautions, the organization will not overpay. There's a shocker.

Other notes:

Joining the Pirates as a special assistant to GM Neal Huntington will be Jim Benedict, who most recently worked as a scout for Cleveland. Before that, he spent six seasons with the Yankees as a scout and special assistant of baseball operations. Benedict started as a bird dog for the Rangers in 1990.

The 47-year-old also spent seven seasons as a minor league pitching coordinator for the Dodgers and Expos.

He'll take over the special-assistant position vacated by Jesse Flores, who is now the Pirates' West Coast scouting supervisor.

Aramis Ramirez was picked as the NL Hank Aaron Award winner, presented annually by MLB for the most outstanding offensive performers in each league. This year, for the first time, fans voted on MLB's Web site after each team selected a nominee. Boston's Kevin Youkilis won the AL award, which is a testament to which teams have the most loyal fans, or at least the most computer-savvy.

And finally, something not in the least bit Pittsburgh. Did you know there was a "William Penn Curse" on Philly's teams, much like the Cubbies "Billy Goat Curse?"

ESPN's Jim Caple checked it out. Seems like the William Penn statue was the tallest structure in Philly for the longest time. But after the 1983 World Series win, the Liberty Tower and other skyscrapers shot up and dwarfed it. Ol' man Penn showed his displeasure at playing second banana by cursing the Philadelphia franchises.

But it's been exorcised, Philly fans hope. When they topped off the Comcast Center, the King Kong of Philadelphia's buildings, they attached a mini-statue of Penn to the last beam. He's again king of the hill, and that's why the Phillies are flying high again.

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