-- Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports writes "The Pirates are comfortable with their internal options at closer, Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan. But one source suggested that Pittsburgh could deal one of the two and sign a replacement."
Hanrahan is up for arbitration this year and Meek after next season. We'd expect for their age, performance, and years of remaining team control that their value is about as high as it's going to get.
Neal Huntington already has said that the pair are being evaluated; he doesn't want a "spring competition" for the closer's job. So the team will go into 2011 with one or the other as the anointed ninth inning man.
We'd prefer to see Meek and Hanrahan battle it out until there was a clear-cut winner to finish games, but the brass think a bullpen is easy to pull together and trading players when their perceived value is high, so if someone would like to overpay...
-- Clint Hurdle will be the fifth skipper for the Pirates in seven (2005-11) seasons. The others were Lloyd McClendon (2005), Pete Mackanin (2005), Jim Tracy (2006-07) and JR (2008-10).
Ryan Doumit, Zach Duke and Paul Maholm, if they make it to Opening Day, will have played for all five. None of the players on the Pirates' 40-man roster has been coached at any level by Hurdle.
-- Former prospect news: The Twins signed LHP Phil Dumatrait to a minor-league deal and the Royals resigned OF Jamie Romak, 25, once the Pirates' top farm slugger, to a minor league contract.
-- Roy Halladay won the NL Cy Young after going 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA and 219 strikeouts, and "King" Felix Hernandez earned the AL Cy Young Award by putting up a modest 13-12 record, but with a 2.27 ERA and 232 K's.
-- Baseball officials will meet during the December 6-9th winter meetings to consider expanding the playoffs. A move from eight playoff teams to 10 could happen next year but is more likely to occur in 2012. The biggest issue seems to be whether to have the wild cards play a single game or best-of-three series to advance.