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Shhh … top secret

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ST. LOUIS — Astros owner Drayton McLane this week gave reporters in Houston an update on the team’s search for a new general manager. McLane freely identified who he’s interviewed so far — Muzzy Jackson, Ed Wade and Jim Beattie.

McLane said he divulged the names because Astros fans deserved to be kept in the loop of the process.

Contrast that to the Pirates’ standard operating procedure, which treats every scrap of information — no matter how insignificant — as a state secret.

Many industry insiders are saying they haven’t heard a peep about which way owner Bob Nutting is leaning in the search for the Pirates’ new CEO. The choice will be an important one and will affect the course of the franchise for years. Will it be a “baseball guy” or a bean-counter? The already disgruntled fan base is looking for clues — any signs of hope — but so far have heard nothing but silence.

The day before rosters were permitted to expand, Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry chatted on the air with WGN-TV broadcasters about which players the team might promote from the minors. Hendry tossed about a half-dozen or so names and gave a quick scouting report — pros and cons — of each.

A few hours later in the press box at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, general manager Dave Littlefield was repeatedly asked who the Pirates might call up from the minors. Littlefield wouldn’t even confirm that anyone would get the call. He said naming names would negatively affect those not promoted, who, after all, still had games to play in the minors.

Huh?

Is it really that important not to hurt Jose Hernandez’s feelings? Should we worry that Josh Sharpless wouldn’t throw his fastball with as much oomph on the final, meaningless day of Indianapolis’ season?

It’s not like all this secrecy gives the Pirates any kind of competitive advantage. The Astros were in the World Series a couple of years ago. The Cubs could be headed there this year.

But the Iron Curtain around the Pirates is kind of an insult to the folks who fork over the cash for tickets, T-shirts and five-dollar beers.

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