SOUTH HILLS – Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw signed the richest per-year deal in baseball history on Wednesday, agreeing to a seven-year, $215 million extension with the Dodgers. Small-market owners cringed. Scott Boras rejoiced.
SOUTH HILLS – Six Pirates filed for arbitration on Tuesday – Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Mark Melancon, Gaby Sanchez Travis Snider and Vin Mazzaro – with players like Walker, Alvarez and Melancon in for a relatively significant spike in earnings. The Pirates eliminated a couple other arbitration cases by agreeing to terms with Charlie Morton and Chris Stewart earlier this winter.
CLARK BUILDING – I was in Natrona Heights last night for a Clint Hurdle speaking/fundraising event at the local VFW. Hurdle captivated the room for 40 minutes and then took several questions from the audience, which numbered 150 or so, an audience that had greeted Hurdle with a standing ovation. Some grown men wore Hurdle T-shirts. Hurdle lingered for 30 minutes signing autographs and posing for pictures. He’s become a popular man in town. If this whole managing thing doesn’t work out maybe he could run for mayor of Hampton Township.
SOUTH HILLS – Some analysts believe the Alex Rodriguez decision could be precursor of labor strife to come. Some see the case as the sign of a weakened union, which has had a change in leadership, and foresee owners trying to take advantage writes FOX”s Ken Rosenthal:
SOUTH HILLS – You probably caught Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage telling 93.7 FM The Fan the other day that it is his opinion AJ Burnett will retire. And that’s likely a consensus opinion as Burnett said he might retire, and no one has heard much of anything from Burnett all offseason. Again, this is what Searage had to say:
CLARK BUILDING – Last June, I watched Gerrit Cole‘s final Triple-A start while sitting with several scouts behind home-plate at Victory Field in Indianapolis. On that day scouts continued to wonder why minor league hitters were able to square up Cole’s 98 mph fastball. They wondered why his slider had gone on hiatus and why he was favoring a early-breaking, loopy, curveball. They wondered why he wasn’t more dominant.
Remember, Cole struck out just 6.7 batters per nine innings last year at Triple-A. One of the scouts said something interesting to me that day. He said he’d rather have Jameson Taillon.
By Joe Rutter
As I was filling out my Hall of Fame ballot — voters can choose up to 10 candidates — I decided it was difficult to check the names of four holdover candidates and three newcomers without giving serious consideration to arguably the greatest left fielder of all time and right-handed power pitcher of several generations.
Which is how I came to reverse course and vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
SOUTH HILLS – You can argue the Pirates’ lack of activity this offseason has been damaging because fellow NL contenders like the Cardinals, Nationals, Dodgers and Diamondbacks have been more aggressive in the free agent and trade markets. But we learned the Pirates will earn something more important from a long-term perspective Monday: they will be named Baseball America’s No. 1 farm system next month when the 2014 Prospect Handbook is published.
BRADENTON, Fla. — Chris Dickerson made his big league debut with the Reds in August 2008 and played for them two more years until he was traded to the Brewers straight-up for Jim Edmonds. He’s aware of the intense rivalry that has developed between the Pirates and Reds. Dickerson, who on Monday agreed to a minor league deal with the Pirates, said it would be “interesting” to be part of the battle from the other dugout this summer.
SOUTH HILLS – You might notice a common characteristic among the big-ticket remaining free agents: nearly all of them have been tagged with the qualifying offer, the dreaded Scarlet Q.