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News Roundup: Relief Shuffle

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Thanks to everyone for keeping up with things in the diaries. I spent the weekend in DC where I didn't use a computer for almost three days, so that was wonderful. But updates should be regular this week.

-P- As poorboywilly recently noted, the Pirates have placed Donnie Veal on the DL with a "groin strain" that will surely take the maximum amount of minor league time to rehabilitate. The Post-Gazette reports that new acquisition Steven Jackson will likely join the roster today, and that someone else, perhaps Chris Bootcheck, will join the roster later in the week so that Tom Gorzelanny can be sent back down to continue starting. Neal Huntington describes the Veal move as "admittedly an aggressive placement on the DL," which is unusually honest for him, and unusually brazen. He's pretty much admitting he's flaunting the rules that allow the Bucs to keep Veal in the minors to "rehab" his injury, despite Veal's being a Rule 5 pick. Not that I mind; this is exactly what Huntington should do. I'm just not sure why he's admitting it.

-P- The same article notes quotes Huntington saying that "Some of our defensive metrics right now have Nyjer Morgan as the best outfielder in baseball." I'm not sure what internal defensive metrics the Pirates have, but it's not just them. Morgan actually has the highest UZR of any player--not outfielder, but player--in baseball right now. UZR has him at +11.8 runs, which pretty much cancels out any offensive shortcomings you'd care to name. (Say what you want about his sparkpluginess, but a .702 OPS generally doesn't get it done for a corner outfielder.) The best defensive corner outfielder by UZR last year was Carl Crawford, who finished at 19.6 runs.

I know speed is an extremely important factor in good outfield defense, and Morgan has always had plenty of that. But I've been very pleasantly surprised at the way he's become more than just a burner out there. He's played left very intelligently this year, and it's hard to remember instances in which he looked raw. Last year, it seemed like there was one of those every game. Morgan deserves some major credit for really learning things at a relatively late baseball age.

-P- I got to listen the Friday and Sunday games this weekend on satellite radio, and while they were mostly pretty dreary (you can add Edwin Maysonet to the list of anono-bots sent by evil forces to kill the Pirates), it was interesting to hear that Andy LaRoche was batting second. Based on what he's done so far--he had a .379 OBP before today--that's a really good spot for him. Craig Monroe batting cleanup, though?

-P- Jim Tracy is the Rockies' interim manager now