OK, now we know. Clint Hurdle says the Bucs have to be "all in." Frank Coonelly says this is a "doing league." Bob Nutting says that the organization is committed to building a championship team; at least that's what he expects.
We don't see much that the FO did to improve this team enough to meet any of those stated goals except to shore up RF a bit. They needed a short-term first baseman, long term shortstop and top end starter, and got none of the above.
Their on-field players should be better, with lots of ifs. Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Jose Tabata will play their first full season; they could adapt well, ala Andrew McCutchen, or battle with the adjustments they'll see, like Garrett Jones. Ronny Cedeno could settle down or continue his yo-yo play, and Lyle Overbay can bounce back or keep rolling down the ol' hill.
Their performance will go a long way to determining the kind of year the Pirates have in 2011; it sure doesn't appear that the pitching got noticeably better.
-- Nutting told the beat guys yesterday that financial considerations will not affect the Pirates draft choice this year. They hold the #1 spot, and money has become a popular question as Scott Boras is Anthony Rendon's advisor.
-- Pedro Alvarez sat out of the team's workout on Monday due to a muscle spasm in his neck. The soreness is expected to be a minor issue, and he's listed as day-to-day. For those who enjoy reading tea leaves, Garrett Atkins took his place at third base yesterday.
-- Scott Olsen and Kevin Hart are throwing, but off a flat mound.
-- The Cubs already announced that Ryan Dempster will get the call on Opening Day against the Buccos at Wrigley on April 1st. The Pirates? Still TBA, and likely to be for awhile. Clint Hurdle hasn't announced who's starting the Grapefruit League opener this weekend, much less Opening Day.
-- Former Pirates shortstop Dick Groat is one of seven athletes and coaches who will be inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame on July 3rd. Not only was he a linchpin for Pirate and Cardinal championships, but one heck of a college guard at Duke.
Also to be inducted is Terry Francona of New Brighton HS, who coached the Red Sox and Phils after a ten-year MLB career.