Why the Pirates lose

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One of the only redeeming things about the Pirates’ abysmal season is that Dejan Kovacevic of the Post-Gazette has been on a roll lately. Rather than just trot out the tired old “the Pirates are really, really bad” columns, he’s been exploring why they’re bad, oftentimes in interesting ways.

Today is a good example. Kovacevic explains why the Pirates got rid of Jose Bautista. Seems that when they decided he was a platoon player — which may have been a defensible decision when it happened — they took his displeasure with that as disloyalty and a bad attitude. Kovacevic debunks that, however:

Athletes always see themselves as better than they are. That’s how a Don Kelly gets to the majors. That’s how a Jay Bell becomes a Gold Glover. That’s how a Doug Mientkiewicz carved out 400 at-bats here a couple years ago. That’s even how an Albert Pujols  goes from being someone who could be really good without trying to maybe the best hitter of his generation. Thinking big. Talking big. It’s part of sports.

When players say that they do not see themselves as bench guys or minor-league guys, even if it goes against the evaluation of management, it is not insubordination to express that. This is the major leagues. It is not the utopian order found in the minor leagues, where all the socks are pulled high and all the buzzcut coaches are barking out orders. Players here speak their minds.

Absolutely. There’s a difference between a clubhouse cancer and a competitive player. The good organizations understand that difference. The bad ones — the ones who worry about insubordination all the time — don’t.  Until the Pirates figure that kind of thing out, they’ll continue to make bad choices.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.