-P- Larry Dobrow's lengthy analysis of the Pirates' situation is gratuitous (they "suck"; we get it), but still worth reading. One interesting suggestion:
Embrace the head case: The gonzo maneuverings of Nationals GM Jim Bowden usually appear in this space under the heading of "cautionary tales," but he stumbled onto something last winter when he dealt for a hothead (Elijah Dukes) and a supposed won't-respect-thy-elders loon (Lastings Milledge). These are precisely the types of high-upside plays that the Pirates ought to be making, especially since such players can be pried away for a price far less than their talent would demand.
Listen, every team would love to win with a bunch of happy rainbow huggyhearts who do good deeds within the community and, whenever possible, refrain from urinating in public fountains. But the reality is that in any group of 25 people in most lines of work, you're going to find a loner, a shrew, an eccentric. That's just the law of averages.
Unfortunately, the Nats appear to have a monopoly on that sort of player, with Dukes, Milledge and now Scott Olsen. (And for what it's worth, Milledge isn't really in the same category with the other two, and Dukes is really in a class by himself.) Besides Milton Bradley, who has probably rehabbed his reputation to a degree with a productive and incident-free season, I'm not really sure who's on the market who fits the bill.
I agree that the Pirates should consider acquiring players with attitude problems (although I think someone like Dukes should be avoided), but I can't square that with Dobrow's next suggestion, which is to acquire a starting pitcher who can mentor young pitchers and fit in with Joe Kerrigan's program. Most of our young pitchers are not really that young and shouldn't need a mentor, and anyway it seems like the Pirates acquire someone like this every year, whether it's Matt Morris, or Jose Mesa (who the Bucs said would mentor Mike Gonzalez), or whomever. These players never seem to have any positive impact. If the Pirates want to acquire a veteran starter to eat innings, that's fine with me, but acquiring them for any reason other than their pitching ability is probably a mistake.
Thanks to Primer for the link.
-P- Mike Mussina will retire, Ken Rosenthal reports. He finishes with 270 career wins. Congrats to him for going out strong--I thought he was done after a miserable 2007 season, but he was excellent in 2008.
-P- The Red Sox have traded Coco Crisp to the Royals for reliever Ramon Ramirez. For the Sox, it's pretty simple; they get a useful player in return for one they didn't need much. They can find someone else to be their fourth outfielder for less than the $6 million they would have had to pay Crisp, though they will miss his defense.
As for the Royals, who knows where they're going with this. They want to use David DeJesus as a corner outfielder, and this helps them do that. DeJesus is maybe a shade worse than Nate McLouth and is a similar player in that he does a lot of things decently but nothing brilliantly, and in that his bat suddenly seems a lot less exciting if you have to move him to a corner. This trade makes it likely that either DeJesus or Mark Teahen will be moved this offseason, but swapping out DeJesus for Crisp is a downgrade, and who knows why anyone would give up something nice for Teahen. As with the Mike Jacobs deal a couple weeks ago, you have to wonder what this means for Billy Butler--now, if the Royals don't trade DeJesus or Teahen, it's possible there will be less playing time for Butler to DH.