Now that the market has turned soft, Wilson's pricey contract has become an albatross around the suit's necks, especially as the team philosophy is to not pick up any of a player's salary in a deal. So don't expect much back for Jack Splat.
Since that's the case, and with no obvious replacement in the system unless Altoona's Brian Friday has really zoomed up the charts, we're a little surprised they haven't talked to him about renegotiating his deal to get a little breathing room. (Yah, GW admits that we ranted about dumping the achy Wilson, yesterday in fact, but not until they find an everyday player to replace him.)
Forget Brian Bixler, even as a stopgap - he's hitting .243 at Indy, and has struck out 48 times in 140 at-bats, a 34% whiff rate. Luis Cruz is batting .241, and walks even less than Freddy Sanchez. And speaking of Sanchez, his heir apparent, Shelby Ford, is hitting .160. The Bucs are between a rock and a hard place as far as MLB-ready middle infielders are concerned right now.
-- Bryan Morris pitched for the first time this season at Lynchburg. The oft-injured RHP had toe surgery in the offseason and went on the DL with a shoulder impingement during camp.
To make room for him, last year's fifth round pick, LHP Justin Wilson of Fresno State, was sent to State College. He was 3-3 with a 7.19 ERA in eleven starts for the Hillcats.
-- Lynchburg has two reps in the Carolina League All-Star game. Kris Watts, Pittsburgh's 16th round selection in the 2006 draft, will start at catcher. The former Santa Clara University standout is tied for fifth in the league in batting with a .309 average and has three home runs and 22 RBI.
Miles Durham, Pittsburgh's 22nd round selection in the 2006 draft, was chosen as a utility outfielder. He's batting .289 with six home runs and 33 RBI. Durham ranks second in the league in triples (4), third in hits (58) and third in extra-base hits (25). He was recently named the Carolina League's Topps Player-of-the-Month for May after hitting .333 with six home runs and 21 RBI.
Pitching coach Wally Whitehurst will serve on the All-Star staff. His Hillcat staff has compiled a 3.80 ERA, which ranks second in the Carolina League.
-- Hey, Nate McLouth must have felt right at home in Atlanta - they were shut out the first two games he played. But he was a key figure in yesterday's win, doubling home the tying run in the eighth and then scoring the game-winner against Pirate nemesis Milwaukee.
-- Neal Huntington told MLB.com about choosing players in the draft and how their potential signing costs affect their spot:
We place an internal value on each player in the Draft, and when our internal value is within a realistic range of the player's legitimate signing-bonus expectations, we will be aggressive in our selection of that player. There will be other times where the player's bonus demands are significantly higher than our internal value, and in those cases we may either wait to select the player until later in the Draft (thus reducing the opportunity cost of not signing the player) or choose to not select the player at all. We believe that, when the signing deadline passes, we will have committed dollars to the Draft that will again rank among the top-10 of all Major League clubs and added a deep and talented class to our system.The draft begins tomorrow, and the Bucs have the fourth selection. Three rounds will be chosen then, with the first shown live on the MLB network.
Though there's no consensus choice, recent mock drafts have Pittsburgh picking former Missouri RHP Aaron Crow, who passed on the Nat's last year and has been pitching in an indy league, unless North Carolina 1B Dustin Ackley falls in their lap.
Huntington told Jen Langosch of MLB.com that "The top end is not nearly as strong as it was last year. That said, though, we do think it's a deeper draft than last year, especially with college and high school arms. (Steven) Strasburg, obviously, is head and shoulders above anyone else, and Dustin Ackley has established himself as the best college hitter available. From there it turns into a group of arms pretty quickly. There are some arms we're doing work on."
-- No one from the Pirates' last three draft classes has made it to the show yet. And only a pair have been in the bigs from 2005's group, Andrew McCutchen and Steve Pearce.