-P- New Pirate David Freese talks to Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown about this winter, in which he lingered on the free agent market for months before agreeing to a one-year deal for a modest $3 million.
"You’re in the opportunity you’re presented with," Freese said. "I think if you can play, you can play and you’re going to find a job. The parameters of what you agree to is up to you. You can sit here and take minor-league deals and go to work. But you view yourself a certain way. The game’s definitely getting younger. Me personally, that felt like that this offseason. You sit back and, ‘Wow, this game got young.’ And I get it. I understand, they’re pushing prospects.
"But what can you do? The game’s changing and you have to deal with it. You have to be good enough to push guys out of a position if teams want you or find a position that fits."
Freese, who will be 33 next month, is right that the game is getting younger. General managers are now in possession of much better tools than they used to be to evaluate defense, and younger players are generally much better defenders than older ones. Also, the crackdown on PEDs has prevented older players from prolonging their careers with chemicals. And, as FanGraphs' Jeff Zimmermann points out, the development of prospects is more sophisticated than it used to be, so younger players are arriving in the majors better prepared. That means teams increasingly don't mind using their own young talent rather than turning to the free agent market. Those changes don't appear to have had a massive negative effect on top-tier free agents, but they certainly have affected players like Freese.
-P- The Mariners have released Gaby Sanchez, who was trying to return to the majors this season after a year spent with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan. Sanchez hit .229/.293/.385 with the Bucs in 2014. Obviously, the Pirates are overloaded with right-handed first base options in Freese, Michael Morse and Jason Rogers, so it seems very unlikely that the Bucs will pick Sanchez up again.
-P- Travis Sawchik writes about Jeff Locke's new delivery, which looked good on Saturday.
"(Ray Searage) said …’Just make sure you’re getting back there because you’re trying to rush through it a little bit.’ That’s the only big problem I’ve really had is making sure that I really get back on my back side before I execute the pitch," Locke said. "It’s really helped me out so much picking up my target sooner. All my pitches have a little bit of extra life on them. So far, that’s great news."
But it’s not just the over-the-top motion, they’ve also worked on Locke consistently releasing all his pitches from the same arm slot.
"The other thing we have tried to do is make everything look like the fastball," Locke said. "I’m getting a lot more swings on pitches that in years past I’m not getting swings at."
On Saturday, Locke pitched four innings and allowed two runs while striking out five and walking one in a 3-0 loss to the Tigers. We'll see if the new delivery turns out to accomplish anything. In Spring Training, it's easy to imagine it might.
-P- There are a bunch of quotes from Neal Huntington in Richard Justice's new article for MLB.com, although none are particularly revelatory.