It really makes no sense that I've been so quiet during the one time of year when it's okay to be loud and optimistic about the Pirates. But now I will make amends, which includes cramming every small piece of information down your throat.
So I kind of took Sunday as a put-me-together day, red up the house and do some laundry from a long trip kind of day. But it was a gorgeous day in Pittsburgh, probably the nicest day we've had in months. So I opened up the blinds all over the house to let the sun engulf the indoors, walked around naked, and turned on the Pirates/Twins game on 104.7 fm both downstairs and upstairs (I didn't really walk around naked, at least not all the time). It actually felt like Spring. It also helped that the Pirates finally started hitting the ball with authority.
There's been plenty of great fluff peices coming out from the Post-Gazette, including the very good reports on Tony Sanchez and his impressive home run (this guy seems like one of the nicest guys in baseball, the media is going to love him), Bryan Morris who could really turn the Jason Bay trade around by turning himself around (here's some good words about him and some other observations from a fan who went to a few games), and today's piece about Steve Pearce (who I think would be an excellent choice to play consistently against lefties).
Most of these stories really won't mean shit. As Charlie from BucsDugout pointed out about the Nate McClouth eye-test comments, nine times out of ten, these guys will probably play exactly as we expect them to. They make for a good read and it's nice to hear about Pedro Alvarez locking himself in a gym all winter and losing ten pounds, but it come's down to how they play when the games count.
But until the games actually do count, Pat at WHYGAVS has some things to keep an eye on during Spring Training. Also, if you want a good laugh, here was his delayed live-blog to the Pirates first game against the Yankees that was on MLB Network last week (I actually didn't think the YES announcers were as bad as most people thought).
Here's a good link to a Joe Posnanski post about the rule 5 draft and it's history (which includes some great stuff about Branch Rickey and his use of the rule 5 in the '50s). The Pirates rule 5 pick this year was John Raynor. It seemed like an odd pick; I thought the Bucs would go for a pitcher as they have done with Donnie Veal and Evan Meek in the past two years (you can hide a pitcher on the 25-man roster easier than you can do so with a position player), and since the Pirates actually have some options in the OF at the high minors and the majors, it didn't seem right that they would pick a guy who hit .258/.328/.363 last season as a 24-year old in AAA. But he actually hit much better as the season went on and made the adjustments scouts like to see, and I'm pretty sure the Pirates really like his defense, which translates into a pretty nice fifth outfielder and late game defensive replacement. It also helps that he's been 5-11 with a couple extra base hits so far this spring.
Matt Bandi over at Pittsburgh Lumber Co. has a bunch of really good posts about the upcoming season, which includes a post most of us can relate to, 25 years as a Pirates fan. There's some other really good stuff on there, including the McCutchen extension, plate discipline, and the '09 vs. '10 lineup.
BUCCOFans has your latest Pirate draft prospect roundup. And as always, the best place to go is ESPN's draft blog run by Jason Churchill and Keith Law. It seems like Jameson Taillon is definitely the second best prospect, but the Pirates seem to have a good draft strategy of going safe with a college positional player in the first round, and then piling up on high-school pitchers later in the draft. I'll talk more about this later, as we get closer to the draft.
Titletahn has a good look at some of Neal Huntington's transactions: death matches.
And that's it! Pirates play the Yankees today at 1:05 p.m. I think it is on the YES network, so anybody with DirecTV can probably watch it. But if you really want it to feel like Spring, turn on the radio to 104.7 and walk around the house naked.