Last week Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Pirates were interested in Rick Ankiel, and yesterday team president Frank Coonelly confirmed their interest in a chat with fans on MLB.com:
Rick certainly had an off-year at the plate for the Cardinals in 2009, but we believe that the Pirates could provide Rick with an opportunity to re-establish himself. We have let Rick’s representative know of our interest.
In his report last week Kovacevic noted that the Pirates were pursuing both Ankiel and Hank Blalock for what’s essentially one potential opening in the lineup. Garrett Jones will start somewhere, but his position isn’t set in stone yet. He could play first base if Ankiel is signed for right field or right field if Blalock is signed for first base.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch speculates that Ankiel is looking for a one-year deal that would give him a chance to put together a comeback season and then hit the open market again, which seemingly fits the Pirates’ plans as well with prospect Jose Tabata nearing the majors. Another option could be Xavier Nady, who played for the Pirates from 2006-2008 and like Ankiel is trying to re-establish his value following a forgettable year.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: