A little bit of news:
> Nyjer Morgan did this week's Pirate chat. Besides loving the words "fun" and "energy" to describe his 2009 goals, he told the fan forum that he most compared himself to "Juan Pierre, but I have just a little more pop." Pretty good analogy.
> Nate McLouth got a 10th place vote from a writer in the MVP polling. He was one of 27 NL players that were penciled in for the honor. McLouth also made the All-Star team, earned a Gold Glove, and won Pittsburgh's Roberto Clemente award. Sweet season, hey?
> For those holding their breath waiting for Dirt Dog Doug to re-up with the Bucs, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com says she'd "set those odds at less than 50 percent" for his return.
Langosch also got a Solly Torres e-mail after his retirement, asking her to post his thank-you to Pittsburgh fans. The Brew Crew picked up his option anyway, freezing him on their roster just in case he has a change of heart.
> A quick cruise around Pirate blogdom finds the following names being floated as the veteran starting pitcher the Pirates should go after: Pedro Martinez, Brad Penny, Mike Hampton, Mark Prior, Freddie Garcia, and Ben Sheets. Geez, poor Paul Byrd just can't get any love.
> Gorzo is supposed to start throwing at the end of the month, and Phil Dumatrait is scheduled to crank it up at the end of December. Both are expected to be 100% for camp. Brandon Moss is said to be coming along, and they expect him to be nearly ready for spring training. GW doesn't like the sound of that.
We still think the Pirates should get after Juan Rivera, a RH bat that can platoon with Moss in RF, Nick Punto, who can step into either middle IF spot, and take a shot at one of the pitchers with some upside instead of looking at a Matty Mo clone.
> Jeff Branson, Lynchburg's manager the past two seasons, was kicked upstairs to Indy as the Tribes' hitting coach. Ray Searage will stay on as the pitching coach. The Pirates now have managing vacancies at Indy, Altoona, Lynchburg, and State College.
> And what would the news be if Neal Huntington didn't add another special assistant? Keith Champion signed up today to be another voice whispering in the GM's ear.
He spent the last two seasons as a scout for the Red Sox, after 12 seasons with the Cubs, where he served both as a special assistant to the GM (2000-06) and an advance scout (1995-99). Champion, 49, also has eight years of experience as a minor league manager and coach in the St. Louis and San Diego farm systems.
Huntington has now hired three new special assistants since the end of the season.