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Link Roundup: 3/4/07

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-P- The big news today is that Xavier Nady simply had a viral infection, not Crohn's Disease. That's wonderful news. Jose Castillo, who sprained his right foot yesterday, is fine as well.

-P- The Pirates lost to the Reds today, 10-4. Masumi Kuwata pitched a perfect inning. Speaking of Kuwata, one beat reporter had an interesting encounter with some members of the Japanese press who are following him around.

-P- Baseball America on Andrew McCutchen:

Skip from Miami asks:
Sure - the Top 100 is all of 2 hours old, but your best guess as to 2008's Top 5?

Jim Callis: Jay Bruce, Cameron Maybin, Justin Upton, Andrew Miller, Andrew McCutchen. Got to love that 2005 crop of high school outfielders.

-P- The Post-Gazette has an article that suggests the Pirates' defense should be better than last year's. Given how bad last year's defense was, that's not necessarily saying a whole lot. Also, I'd like to know how good it's going to be if things don't work out according to plan. Two of the players in the Pirates' opening-day lineup didn't end the year with the team, while two others wound up buried on the bench and a fifth, Chris Duffy, skipped most of the year with personal issues.

What happens if Duffy quits the team again? If that happens, the Pirates' defense in center is likely to be very bad (unless Luis Matos is playing there, in which case the offense will take a hit. I'm no Duffy fan, but even he is better than Matos with the stick). What happens if other players get injured? The Pirates have so little depth that if things don't work out the way they plan, the defense could be terrible again or the offense could be even worse.

I do like what Dave Littlefield has to say in the article about having pitchers cut down on walks. As important as an improved defense is, trimming the walks is probably even more important. Only three teams allowed more walks than the Pirates last year.