Busy day ahead


NASHVILLE — An early start to what promises to be a busy day.

Unless you’ve been busy shoveling the driveway all morning, you already know the Jason Bay-to-Cleveland rumors caught fire again in the pre-dawn hours. This latest version would send Bay and catcher Ronny Paulino to the Indians for outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, catcher Kelly Shoppach and a third player — either lefty Cliff Lee or a minor league pitching prospect, depending upon what time of day you hear the rumor.

I’d be surprised if Pirates fans turn cartwheels if the deal goes down like that.

The Indians seem to believe Gutierrez has star potential, and Pirates GM Neal Huntington may think so too, since he previously was part of the Indians’ front office. Yet, many outside observers rate Gutierrez a bit lower on the stud scale. “Id be real disappointed if Gutierrez was the centerpiece of this deal for the Pirates,” one industry source told me today.

Gutierrez, 24, has more career homers against right-handers (nine) than against left-handers (five), but the rest of his splits are not encouraging. He mashes against lefties (.309 batting average, .845 on-base plus slugging percentage), but is more human against righties (.246, .692). It could someday turn out that the closest Gutierrez’s comes to being a star is sharing a birthday (Feb. 21) with Jennifer Love Hewitt.

The Pirates and Indians are still swapping cell minutes on the top floor of the Gaylord Opryland. But I would not be surprised if the San Diego Padres eventually work themselves into the mix.