Sunday, March 29, 2009

Between The Raindrops

-- The Evil Empire scored the go-ahead run in the eighth off Jason Davis and held off the Pirates 9-8 this afternoon. Zach Duke and AJ Burnett hit the showers early; it was 8-8 after the top of the fifth.

Yesterday the bubble players showed their stuff; today the regular lineup was penciled in. Nyjer Morgan, Freddy Sanchez, Ryan Doumit, Adam LaRoche and Brandon Moss each had a pair of hits. Doumit, LaRoche, and DH Eric Hinske homered.

Brian Bixler had a tough day subbing for Jack Wilson. He threw a pair of balls away and struck out, though he did have another hit. Backup catcher Jason Jaramillo threw out another base-stealer, and late inning replacement Andrew McCutchen banged out a hit in his only at-bat; he's unconscious at the plate right now.

For the ex-Pirate Pinstripes, it was a mixed day. The X-Man, Xavier Nady, was 2-for-3 with a double and run scored, but Damaso Marte gave up a run on a couple of hits in 2/3 of an inning.

Phil Coke, one of the names originally mentioned in last year's deadline deal, got the win. He threw two shut-out innings, giving up a hit and striking out four. The lefty is 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA this spring.

-- The Pirate beat reporters are writing that Jack Splat's agent Page Odle has approached the suits about a contract extension. Wilson is in the last season of a three-year deal, with an $8.4M team option ($600K buyout) for 2010.

That figure doesn't work, and was a major hangup in the efforts to deal Wilson. While the talks haven't reached a point where specifics are being discussed, GM Neal Huntington said he'd be willing to carry the discussion into the season, a scenario usually avoided by Pittsburgh.

The 31-year old Wilson has stated publicly that he'd like like one more contract before hanging them up, and we assume that he's looking for a two or three-year deal with salary concessions and limited trade protection; Wilson would probably be OK with a West Coast or contender deal.

That would work for both sides. Wilson would have a little security and a chance to finish his career with one team, and the Bucs wouldn't have to rush anyone through the system or deal outside the organization to replace him.

There's no heir apparent outside of Ramon Vazquez or Brian Bixler, and neither is thought to be an everyday player.

Splat's bruised knee is OK; he should be back in the lineup tomorrow.

-- Charlie Wilmoth of the Bucs Dugout has his Five Questions: Pittsburgh Pirates on the Hardball Times.

-- Jen Langosch of has a piece on Pirate righty Brad Lincoln and his future in the organization. He'll start the season at AA Altoona, but could be fast tracked.

According to head scout Kyle Stark: "The reality is that if he is in Double-A, he's close. The way we develop players is if the player accomplishes what we want him to accomplish in Double-A, theoretically, he is ready for the big leagues."

That's interesting, especially considering that Jose Tabata will start with the Curve and Pedro Alvarez should be in Altoona sooner rather than later this season.

-- The Tigers returned Rule 5 pick Kyle Bloom to the Pirates. The Bucs are expected to ship the lefty to AA Altoona.

-- Dirt Dog Doug has opened some eyes in Dodgertown this spring, and has a shot at breaking camp with the team. If not, he still wants to play for at least another season in the bigs before he calls it a career, reports Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:

Mientkiewicz said he "absolutely" believes that he can still play in the majors and that he will become a free agent if he isn't added to the 25-man roster by April 6, as his contract allows.

With five more months in the majors, the 34-year-old utilityman will have 10 years of service time, which would improve his retirement benefits. Mientkiewicz has already assured himself of receiving healthcare for the rest of his life; reaching 10 years will ensure that his wife, Jodi, is also covered.
Jodi, as you may recall, had a serious heart procedure last season.

-- Kris Benson, old Pirate righty, is still hanging around the Ranger camp, and has a shot at earning the fifth spot in the rotation. He'll pitch tomorrow against the Giants, and it could be a make or break game for him according to's TR Sullivan.

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