GW wishes he were with the Buccos at Bradenton - 45 may be a wintry blast in Florida, but it ain't nothin' like the real thing - and like you, he's here wondering if he's gonna have to auction off his first born when the gas bill comes to roost in the mailbox next month.
But the surest harbinger of spring has arrived, warming the cockles of GW's hardball heart. The Pirates got together for a little game of catch, the prelude to camp. Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette covered it pretty well in the PBC Blog (apparently the Trib can't afford air fare or decided it's still football season, probably both), and between DK and a few other web stories, these points stuck out:
* The guys are in shape, never a given in the past - except for Pedro Alvarez *sigh*. Go figure;
* Donnie Veal can bring it;
* Tyler Yates decided to impress the brass by staying home in Hawaii and filing for arbitration (the other no-shows were the injured Phil Dumatrait, Romulo Sanchez & Ronald Uviedo, still pitching in the winter leagues, and Craig Hansen, who had a family matter to attend to, along with infield coach Perry Hill, who was sick);
* Andrew McCutchen is packing some muscle this year and hasn't given up on breaking with the team after camp;
* Brandon Moss is recovered from whatever mysterious procedure they did to his knee;
* Andy LaRoche and Steve Pearce were pounding BP;
* and Joe Kerrigan is an energizer bunny with a yap that never quits (not to mention the fourth pitching coach in five seasons for the Pirates - no wonder the guys are confused!)
The other news of the day:
* All six arbitration eligible Pirates - Nate McLouth, Paul Maholm, Adam LaRoche, John Grabow, Zach Duke, and Yates - filed for arbitration, as expected. The other arb eligible players, Ryan Doumit and Denny Bautista, inked deals, while Raul Chavez (now with Toronto) and Jason Davis (a free agent) were non-tendered. The hearings will be scheduled beginning February 1st if the team can't come to terms with the guys.
* The Bucs signed another special assistant to Neal Huntington's posse, long-time Tiger scout and GM Bill Lajoie. He joins Chuck Tanner as a senior advisor for player evaluation. Lajoie is 74, and Tanner is 79 - when the Pirates name someone a senior advisor, they ain't kidding!
Lajoie also worked in Boston, where he was said to enjoy matching sabermetric ratings with the old seat-of-the-pants eyeball model, a great mix for this era. While with the Tigers, he said the goal was to amass power arms and power bats, so he'll fit right in here.
* Jake at Bucco Blog has an interesting piece on the Buc's plan for the future - he calls it restructuring, not rebuilding.
* The Bucs are still keeping an eye on Pedro Martinez. We wonder if they're gonna have any eyes on Mark Mulder when he throws for the scouts in a couple of weeks? And we're curious just how affordable the 30-year old Ben Sheets may end up in a market that's not showing him much love?