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News Roundup: Pirates Name Don Long Hitting Coach

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My apologies for the sporadic updates. I'm in the middle of five cross-country flights in three weeks. That may be mundane for some of you in the business world, but I'm not used to it, and now I'm sitting in a library in Palo Alto with a throbbing headache after being stranded at the San Jose airport at 2:00 AM. But enough about me.

-P- The big news is that the Pirates hired a new hitting coach, Don Long. Since 1999, Long had been the minor-league hitting coordinator for the Phillies, where he'd worked with John Russell. This strikes me as an odd pick - since 1999, the only hitters Philadelphia has drafted who've done anything in the majors have been Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. While those guys are certainly nothing to sneeze at - and while Howard's success, given the questions people had about him while he was in the minors, was a major coup - that's really all there is, in eight years of drafts, unless Adrian Cardenas makes good. Of course, it's possible that none of that was Long's fault, and the Phillies haven't drafted a lot of high profile hitters in that time.

-P- Dave Parker is on the Hall of Fame ballot, but can I get some love for Bert Blyleven and newcomer Tim Raines? Raines was an exceptional basestealer, but his best skill was actually his plate discipline, and I wonder if that might cause some voters to leave him off the ballot.

-P- The Cubs re-signed Kerry Wood to a one-year, $4.2 million contract.