Winter blahs for Bucs?


NASHVILLE — At last year’s Winter Meetings, there was a sense the Pirates were going to do something — most likely a deal for Adam LaRoche — sooner or later. The trade did not go down during the confab in Orlando, Fla., but it did happen a few weeks later.

This year, with a completely new management team in place, it’s hard to get feel for how the Pirates will tweak their roster — or even if they’ll do anything at all.

Jason Bay will be traded. It is inevitable. He has tons of talent and a low-budget contract, which should net the Pirates two or three top-notch prospects. That’s the rebuilding route president Frank Coonelly and GM Neal Huntington want to take.

But Bay was awful for much of last season, and continued to be hampered by a gimpy knee. His trade value is at a low ebb. The Pirates are willing to wait and see if he can rebound, then swing a deal in July or next offseason.

Who could the Pirates trade now? Jack Wilson and Matt Morris could go, but their contracts are roadblocks. The New York Yankees are eyeing Damaso Marte, but the Pirates would be wise to make sure John Grabow is fully healthy before dealing their other lefty bullpen weapon. Salomon Torres had a bumpy ’07 season and has a lot of miles on his arm, but is experienced and could be a fine righty setup man in someone’s ‘pen.

Nate McLouth and Xavier Nady are drawing interest from several clubs. One rumor has the two outfielders packaged in a deal with San Diego in exchange for third baseman Chase Headley, who batted .330 with 20 homers last year in Class AA.

The meetings officially kicked off 2 1/2 hours ago. As usual, it’s a slow start. Stay tuned …

— The only thing that surprised me about Barney Dreyfuss’ election to the Hall of Fame was that it hadn’t happened sooner. Dreyfuss quickly molded the Pirates into a winner, was a tireless promoter of the game and helped create the World Series.

Dreyfuss also was the kind of owner the Pirates have lacked for a long, long time. He knew ways to draw fans to the ballpark. His colorful, outgoing personality rubbed off on the franchise. And he did not hesitate to open his wallet to reward the players and keep his top talent in Pittsburgh.

Must have been nice.