The Pirates are scouting Hunter Pence

22 Comments

The bizarro theme of “Pittsburgh Pirates: trade deadline buyers” continues.  Building on their alleged contacts with the Oakland A’s regarding Josh Willingham, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports today that they’re aiming higher than that:  they’re scouring the Astros’ Hunter Pence.

It strikes me as unlikely that anything could come of that.  Not too long ago Ken Rosenthal reported that the Astros were unlikely to trade Pence unless Jim Crane took over the team before the deadline — which is unlikely — and ordered such a deal.  Add onto that the rumors that Ed Wade seems to be asking for way too much for Wandy Rodriguez, and you have to figure that he’d probably be asking too much for Pence too.  Assuming that his current position — sort of a lame duck GM, waiting for a new boss — even inspires him to make a deal.

So this is fun from a “hmm, what could help Pittsburgh continue to contend” perspective, but I’d be rather shocked to see anything real come of this.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

Scott Halleran/Getty Images
2 Comments

During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
8 Comments

Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.