And on the first day...
> Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has a couple of tidbits of interest to Pirate fans. First he reports that 33-year old David Eckstein has five suitors, and one is our PBC. He plays both middle infield positions, and hit .265 for Arizona and Toronto last year; he's a .284 lifetime batter. Eckstein made $4.5M in 2008 and the same in 2007.
He also adds that the Tigers have signed Adam Everett for one year, $1M and incentives pending his physical, as does ESPN.com. So you can lay to rest any dreams of a lefty thunderstick from Motown for Jack Splat. The field continues to dwindle.
> The LA wheelin' and dealin' for Jack Wilson looks to be on hold, at least temporarily, as the Dodgers are scheduled to sit down with Rafael Furcal, the dude they really want, during the meetings.
> Al "Scoops" Oliver didn't get into the Hall of Fame. Neither did Ron Santo, Joe Torre, Gil Hodges, Dick Allen, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Vada Pinson, Luis Tiant or Maury Wills, as for the fourth bi-annual election in a row, no one garnered the 75% of the vote needed for entry into Cooperstown for modern era vets.
Joe Gordon, old Yankee/Indian 2B with a great glove and a booming bat was the only guy elected, and he was from the pre-1943 class.
> Greg Maddux announced his retirement Monday morning at the Bellagio Hotel, the winter meeting headquarters. The 42-year old had a career mark of 355-227 with a 3.16 ERA, a full run lower than the league average. Maddux ran off a string of 19 consecutive 15+ win seasons in his 23 year career.
> Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette reports that "No contract offers are known to have been made to (Nate) McLouth or (Ryan) Doumit, the two players management began to discuss as possibilities for long-term extensions last summer. The same is true of (Paul) Maholm."
We suppose that Adam LaRoche and John Grabow are out of the mix, too, and they're both in their final arbitration year, meaning they'll be free agents in 2010. It appears as if that pair aren't very prominent in future Pirate plans and are gonna be shopped around pretty heavily in Vegas this week and over the winter.
It seems kinda odd to us that they wouldn't tie up the younger guys, though, unless they're waiting to see how their efforts to retool affect the Nutting purse strings and the $54M budget cap they're operating under for 2009. For a team that claims to be in the financial pink, there's a lot of penny-pinching going on.
DK also adds that the Marlins have some interest in C Ronny Paulino, whose mid year demotion has drastically reduced his trade value, and that there are still some irons in the fire for Jack Wilson's services, now including the Twins. The Bucs are apparently kicking the tires of Mark Loretta and Kevin Millar, too.
> The Tribune Review's Rob Biertempfel writes "Scratch another free agent off the list. Matt Clement's agent, Barry Axelrod, said he has not spoken with the Pirates 'in a long time' and has moved on. 'We've made significant progress with other clubs,' Axelrod said.
The Pirates sniffed around Clement last year, too, but were unwilling to offer a major league contract."
This contradicts a Sunday report in the Beaver County Times saying that the Pirates had entered into talks with the Butler resident.
> Jennifer Langosch of MLB.com notes that the Pirates signed RHP Brian Slocum and OF Yohan Silva to minor league contracts today.
The 27-year-old Slocum spent most of the 2008 season with Cleveland's AAA affiliate, Buffalo. He pitched in 30 games, including 11 starts, and went 3-7 with a 4.85 ERA the New York nine. Slocum made a quick summer pit stop with the Indians, allowing six runs in two innings of relief. He also is invited to camp.
Silva, 23, spent last season in Atlanta's lower farm system, where the switch-hitting CF combined to hit .205 with 11 doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs in 53 games.
We're not sure how these two guys help the system, based on recent performance. We'll have to trust the scouts on this one.