Pirates announce Joel Hanrahan will begin season as closer

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Joel Hanrahan entered camp as the favorite to claim ninth-inning duties in Pittsburgh and the Pirates wasted little time making it official, announcing this afternoon that he’ll begin the season as closer.

While his 3.62 ERA last season may appear mediocre, Hanrahan had a breakout season with 100 strikeouts and a .221 opponents’ batting average in 70 innings. Among all pitchers with at least 50 innings last season only Carlos Marmol (16.0) and Billy Wagner (13.5) racked up more strikeouts per nine innings than Hanrahan (12.9)

He also cut down on his walks, handing out a career-low 3.4 free passes per nine innings, and served up just six homers in 294 plate appearances. Hanrahan lacks closer experience, but he certainly doesn’t lack closer stuff. Pittsburgh may not have a ton of late leads to protect, but with left-hander Evan Meek (2.14 ERA, 70/31 K/BB ratio in 80 innings) setting up Hanrahan the back of the bullpen should be one of their few strengths.

Yankees sign Adam Lind to a minor league deal. Again.

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The Yankees signed Adam Lind to a minor league deal this past offseason. Then they released him during spring training. Now they have signed him to another minor league deal. He’ll report to extended spring training where he’ll now try not to get extended released.

Lind is a platoon guy with little defensive value, but he hit .303/.362/.513 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI in 301 plate appearances for the Nationals last season, serving as a pinch-hitter and backup first baseman and outfielder. The injury to Greg Bird and the impending suspension of Tyler Austin — he’s currently on appeal — will likely give him at least some opportunity to show that he’s still a big leaguer.

Which, yeah, he probably still is. Or at least would be if teams didn’t have 13 and 14-man pitching staffs and actually had room for a couple of bench position players. Such is not the current game of baseball, however.