No extension for Zach Duke this winter

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The Pirates got all extension-happy last offseason, but according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, don’t look for it to happen again this winter:



Do not expect
any multiyear extensions this offseason. Unlike last year, when the
Pirates went long term with Paul Maholm, Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit,
management has no plan to try that with anyone this winter. That
includes Zach Duke, who can become a free agent after the 2011 season.




After being a disappointment for
three years running, the 26-year-old Duke took a step forward in
2009, posting a 4.06 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 32 starts, his best totals
since his fantastic showing as a rookie (1.81 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 14
starts) in 2005. It looked like Delwyn Young would be the starter at
second base going in to 2010, but fortunately for the young southpaw,
he’ll have Akinori Iwamura to pick up his frequent worm-killers.

Noah Syndergaard scratched with a “tired arm”

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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.

Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.

The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.