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Playing Catch-Up

Thanks for your patience with the sporadic updates. Updates should be more regular through Christmas, after which I'm going on tour. (If you're curious, I'm doing a couple shows before that in the Pittsburgh area - one on Saturday at Yesterday's in Wheeling and one in Pittsburgh on Sunday. We'll also be in Morgantown on January 4. Here are the details.)

-P- If you didn't check out the comments in the previous thread, frequent Bucs Dugout diarist Vlad has a new blog. It'll surely be an important addition to the Pirates blogosphere if he keeps it up, and if not, Vlad, you're always welcome to post your thoughts back here.

-P- The Pirates have been trying to find a catcher, which is more evidence that new GM Neal Huntington isn't as happy with his starting eight as he's claimed. Personally, I can't help but react with glee to any move that displaces Ronny Paulino, but maybe it's time to put my hatred in perspective a little bit. Yes, Paulino looked worse on defense this year than just about any catcher I can think of offhand (although I remember Phil Nevin catching a few games for the Padres toward the end of his career... that may have been worse), and yes, he can't really hit. But now the Pirates are pursuing Johnny Estrada, who hit just as badly last year and threw out only 11 of 84 batters attempting to steal. Still, given that any contract with Estrada would be for one year and probably around $4 or $5 million, the price is right, and it would be worth the chance just to see if he could catch fire and relegate Paulino to bench duty.

-P- The Cubs have hired Dave Littlefield. Note to the Cubs: he won't help you get good players anymore unless he works for another team. Anyway, Littlefield will be a scout, which seems like an enormous demotion. Still, I'm not really sure what to make of this - probably there's some good-old-boy-network stuff going on here. Littlefield hadn't shown any indication in the last six years that he can evaluate talent, but hey, he's given the Cubs some nice players for free, and he needed a job... well, anyway, here's hoping the Cubs listen to his advice.

-P- I've been thinking some more about that massive Dan Haren trade, and the more I thought about it, the stranger it seemed. The truth is that it's probably more of a reflection on the incredible weakness of the NL relative to the AL than with anything particular to the Diamondbacks' needs. The A's got an awful lot of good stuff in that trade, more than you'd think, so it seems like a real go-for-broke move by Arizona.

At first that seems odd, because they're not a particularly old team, and it will probably be two years before franchise talent Justin Upton starts going nuts on the league the way he's expected to. But in two years, the balance of power between the AL and NL may well have shifted. Well, probably not, but the Dodgers, Rockies, Brewers and Marlins, in particular, could all have pretty good teams, and after that, who knows?

So by adding Haren to a team that's already pretty decent, Arizona aims to to take advantage of the window that's open and try to make it to the World Series while it's still relatively easy to do. If they get there, they'll hope for a 2006-Cardinals situation where they win the series despite not being the best team. It's not a bad strategy.