Todd Wright of Sporting News Radio got on the horn and talked to Nate McLouth just before the Super Bowl (hey, better late than never, right?) Here's what McLouth had to say:
* He's not nervous about repeating his All-Star season, even though he admits that hitting is a case of overcoming failure. McLouth said he's excited because he knows he can "improve a lot," specifically citing consistency at the plate.
* He had this to say about the Steelers (and we suspect it carries over to baseball): McLouth likes them because they're "not flashy, but hard-nosed." And he gave the 'Burghers their props - "Steeler fans are crazy," he admitted, adding that they're bonkers supporting all the sports teams in the City, even the Bucco faithful.
* Finally, he said this about the newly discarded red unis - he's glad they tossed them in the garbage. McLouth claimed that he felt like he was "working in the drive-through at McDonalds" every time he pulled the reds on.
He's a big fan of the black & gold scheme shared by the City teams. "Those colors are always associated with the City, and people are proud of them."
Frank Coonelly had his periodic chat with the fans yesterday, and here's a few things he said:
* About the 2009 season - "I would never want to make predictions as to the number of games that we will win, but I am confident that we will play better than we did in 2008 and surprise a lot of people with our performance."
He says improved pitching and having Andy LaRoche and Brandon Moss start the year with the Pirates are big reasons for his optimism.
* Why the lack of big free agent interest - "As we have said, we need to build our team from a core of premiere players signed and developed here in Pittsburgh. Secondly, because we value our high Draft choices so highly, it would be very difficult for us to lose a first- or second-round Draft choice as compensation for signing a Type-A free agent."
But there is someone out there he has some love for, although all reports say he wants to go to LA if Manny overplays his hand - "(Adam) Dunn is an interesting free agent because he would not cost us a Draft pick. Right now, the salaries that he is expecting do not fit within our budget. If other moves were made and Dunn fit within our budget, he is someone who we would consider."
* And finally, the plan as he sees it - "We are building this team in the same manner as the Minnesota Twins have built their clubs over the last several years and as the Tampa Bay Rays built their World Series team...We are aggressively spending money on the Draft and in the international markets, and in the Dominican Republic in particular. We have also acquired premiere players via trade. In short, we need to sign and/or develop our own premiere players and then retain them in the system for as long as possible."
And he made a point of adding that the suits are not looking at a window that's down the road: "We expect to win in 2009 and would not find it acceptable to attempt to build a team that will not win until 2010 or 2012."
We'll see about that one.