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Morneau unlikely to re-sign, so now what? And why aren’t kids watching baseball?

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LEBO – While not shocking, Justin Morneau informed me today via email that the Pirates will not be offering him a contract extension during the exclusive negotiating window teams have with their own free agents until Monday.

 

“They have said they don’t expect to do anything before the window is closed but are still interested,” Morneau wrote. “My options are wide open. I just have to figure out what the best opportunity is for myself and my family and also the opportunity to win. I enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh and enjoyed my teammates and atmosphere there.”

 

Morneau and the Pirates haven’t ruled each other out, but my sense is the Pirates will be looking elsewhere for first base help . My sense is they are probably Plan Bs or Cs for each other.

Morneau batted .260 with 0 HRs and three RBIs as a Pirate in September after being acquired in a Aug. 31 trade with the

 

The Pirates’ first basemen finished 25th in baseball in home runs (17) and RBIs (71).

 

The Pirates might also cut ties with Garrett Jones who is entering his third year of arbitration and made $4.5 million last season. The Pirates must make a decision on whether to tender him a contract by early December.

 

First base and right field are the primary areas in need of offensive upgrades but unlike the outfield, where Jose Tabata is under contract and Gregory Polanco is an impact prospect and nearly ready there are no such internal options at first base unless you believe in Andrew Lambo or believe Gaby Sanchez is more than a platoon player. (Sanchez is entering his second year of arbitration but made just $1.75 million last year, below the MLB average salary of $3.2 million).

We’ve addressed how the free agent market for first baseman is weak earlier this month and made weaker by Cuban defector Jose Abreu agreeing to a deal earlier this month. The Pirates liked Abreu but apparently weren’t interested in matching the White Sox’ offer. James Loney  could be a cheap part of a platoon and Lance Berkman had his optioned declined Thursday if you believe he has anything left.

 

Perhaps a trade is the more realistic avenue to a acquiring an impact bat at first base.

 

And Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal (not the Diamond of Guns, Germs and Steel) threw out a speculative name Thursday:

 

 

Davis is entering his age 27 seasons and is coming of a really awful season, so it could be a good time to buy low on a young player who can take a walk and hit 32 home runs in 2012. Davis has some Adam LaRoche to his game. Perhaps he’d be a late bloomer. He’s entering his second year of arbitration and made $3.1 million last year.

 

WHY AREN’T KIDS WATCHING BASEBALL?

 

Some troubling numbers from the Wall Street Journal on the youth’s lack of interest in watching the World Series

 

The average World Series viewer this year is 54.4 years old, according to Nielsen, the media research firm. The trend line is heading north: The average age was 49.9 in 2009. Kids age 6 to 17 represented just 4.3% of the average audience for the American and National League Championship Series this year, compared with 7.4% a decade ago.

 

What’s behind this this? In our microwave, iPhone, want-in-now society perhaps the game needs to quicken its pace? I’ve always thought this rule should be in place:

 

Once batters step into the box, they shouldn’t be allowed to step out. Otherwise it’s a strike.

 

Whatever the reason, the game’s fanbase has become too gray:

 

Something has to give here. If baseball were a stock, analysts would applaud its earnings growth—roughly double the past 10 years to nearly $8 billion—but they would warn about the long-term prospects, especially since so much of its business relies on TV revenue.

– TS

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