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Sean Burnett to Try the Bullpen

The Pirates have informed Sean Burnett that he'll be competing for a bullpen job. I don't think Burnett's especially likely to do anything interesting out of the bullpen, but I see no harm in trying it; he's absolutely hopeless as a starter. Even if he doesn't make the big league team (and I seriously doubt he will), it would behoove the Pirates to keep using him as a reliever in Class AAA rather than putting him in the rotation there. Also, Phil Dumatrait will make the first four-inning start of the Spring; I'm not sure what that means, but the Post-Gazette thinks he may challenge for a big-league rotation job. Like Burnett, he's had Tommy John surgery and doesn't have very interesting stuff, so it's doubtful he can help as a starter.

Also from the Post-Gazette, this article (and be careful opening the link; the photo actually scared me a little) summarizes the various factors that might affect the composition of the Pirates' bench. There isn't much new information there, but if you don't remember the string of factors that affect, say, Kevin Thompson's chances of making the team, the article is useful.

Speaking of the Post-Gazette, Vlad got Dejan Kovacevic to clarify Frank Coonelly's comments in the Philly Inquirer on Tuesday about draft slotting. Kovacevic thinks that Coonelly's comment that the Pirates would draft "the best available player that we believe we have a chance to sign" is not inconsistent with his previous unequivocal statements about drafting the best player, and is only meant to cover very rare circumstances, like the J.D. Drew fiasco a decade or so ago in Philadelphia. We'll see, but I find this odd, since it is no longer possible for a J.D. Drew to really mess with an organization, since the draft rules have changed. Now if you have a J.D. Drew who won't sign, you get a similar pick in the next year's draft. So it seems odd that Coonelly would qualify his original statement so strangely - now teams have few reasons to worry much about a player they can't sign, and J.D. Drew situations were relatively rare to begin with. All the first round picks in the 2007 draft signed. So I'm still not really sure what Coonelly was talking about, if not simply refusing to pony up for good players. We'll have to wait for the draft to see what he actually meant, I guess.