A couple of Pirates were rewarded for their play of last season, in different but equally satisfying ways.
In a surprise, Nate McLouth won one of the Rawling Golden Gloves, joining Carlos Beltran and Shane Victorino in the OF. It's a nice honor, being voted on by the managers and players.
Now if you look at run replacement, zone ranges, VORP's and all that other Billy Beane mumbo-jumbo, McLouth is near the bottom of the NL pack as far as snagging a baseball.
And while he did a nice job patrolling PNC (yah, Will, even I admit it), Nate won't be mistaken for Andy Van Slyke, Billy Virdon, or heck, maybe even Kenny Lofton, among Bucs that could fetch a ball like a dog chasing a frisbee.
Your eyes will tell you that McLouth has trouble with balls hit at him, and that he leaves his feet a little more often than a sensible CF should.
But ya know what? The kid came to camp and he had to earn the job. His motor ran at 100% all year, and for every ball that ricocheted past him, he ran down three. Nate was great enough to play the All-Star game, and his throw kept it interesting.
While he only made one error all year, we understand the honor went to him just as much for his bat as his mitt. We also understand that the reason the stat freaks don't give him any love is because of the terrible Pirate pitching. Willie Mays couldn't glove the shots that were roped like clockwork into center.
So we say great job, Nate, and we can't wait until you're in left field, where you'll be a gold glover without any caveats.
Happy Bucco camper #2 is Evan Meek. He made it from Pittsburgh's Rule 5 Wild Thing, a player whose original team wouldn't take back, to being slipped quietly onto the 40-man roster.
Will he end up as another in the long line of AAAA pitchers that the Pirate system methodically churns out of its minor-league factories? Maybe. But for now, he's a neat little success story for a squad that doesn't have all that many of them to tell.
There are 39 spots filled now, counting DL'd Phil Dumatrait and Tom Gorzelanny. Looks like the Pirate suits plan to milk all the drama they can out of the moves, which have to be made by November 20th.
Frank Coonelly said in his chat that "Our plan is to put ourselves in a position where we have roster slots available if we see the right player or players available in the (Rule 5) draft." Should make for a couple of interesting weeks on the roster watch.
Rich Kubatko of MASN On-Line has the latest Jack Wilson rumors from the GM's winter workshop.
An ex-Pirate that's angling for a tummy-rub is Jay Bay. His agents are letting it be known loud and clear that he's all for signing long-term with the BoSox, though Boston hasn't sat down with them yet.
Dave Cameron of Fan Graphs says that one guy definitely missing out on a pat on the head is Damaso Marte. He may be too solid a pitcher for his own good.
How's Jose Bautista's star been shining in Toronto? Patrick at NPB Tracker says that he's on the Japanese League Hanshin Tigers' radar now.