|Andrew McCutchen (via Athlete Promotions)|
- Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review is pushing an Andrew McCutchen extension sidebar. There's nothing to indicate that there's any smoke rising from that fire, as Cutch is still under team control through 2018, his 31 year-old season. Rob is tossing around $20-25M per year, and to us, $25M would be about the right range today, although the price of doing business will go up the longer the FO waits.
- Jung-Ho Kang, the Pirates are quick to point out, was signed to be an everyday player. Unless something unanticipated happens, that won't happen this year. But he provides a lot of infield flexibility, along with Josh Harrison, for the future as both Neil Walker and Pedro are under team control just through 2016. Josh and Jung, if they prove to be keepers, allow the Pirates a lot of different configurations for the future, and takes the pressure off prospect Alen Hansen's development pace.
- As in many camps, the battle for the last spot in the rotation is the most heated. Vance Worley seems to have a leg up on Jeff Locke, with Stolmy Pimentel and Rahamades Liz as bullpen Plan B's. Jameson Taillon will be back in the saddle this year, Nick Kingham is knocking on the door, Brandon Cumpton has 15 MLB starts under his belt and Clayton Richard is visiting the Ray Searage/Jim Benedict Rehab Center. That depth sure beats the days when Jonathan Sanchez was given the ball every fifth day through default.
- Two guys who could quietly make a difference if they can stay healthy: Francisco Cervelli and Corey Hart. The year's two biggest wildcards: Pedro Alvarez and Gregory Polanco. Biggest question: Can Gerrit Cole take the next step and become the Pirates long-sought ace?
- Charlie Morton, AJ Burnett and Taillon are all on schedule for their rehab assignments. Charlie and AJ should, without any unforeseen hurdles, be ready to break camp and Jameson is on track to return to Indy early on and be big-league ready - at least physically - by the All Star break.
- New commissioner Rob Manfred appointed Bucco CEO Bob Nutting to the MLB executive council last month. That gives Nutting a bully pulpit to help address the growing imbalance between the haves and have-nots fostered during the tenure of Bud Selig.
- The Bucs get it on next week with an intrasquad contest Monday, March 2nd at noon. The first Grapefruit action is scheduled against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, March 4th at McKechnie Field, with the first pitch slated for 1:07.
- No more wands at PNC Park. MLB has directed the clubs to use full metal detectors for security at the entrances beginning this season.
|Gregory Polance (photo Mike James/Baseball America)|