The Pirates lineup of the moment

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Already having picked up Rod Barajas to catcher, the Pirates are reportedly in the process of adding a second OBP-challenged regular to their lineup in shortstop Clint Barmes. That gives them a lineup that could look something like this:

RF Jose Tabata
LF Alex Presley
CF Andrew McCutchen
2B Neil Walker
1B Garrett Jones
3B Pedro Alvarez
SS Clint Barmes
C Rod Barajas

Obviously, that’s not a very potent group. The Pirates still want to re-sign Derrek Lee to play first, and if they can do that, Jones would battle Presley for a starting job in the outfield.

Third base is another problem, as Alvarez scarcely resembled a major leaguer last year. In-house alternatives Pedro Ciriaco, Josh Harrison and Chase d’Arnaud aren’t very attractive, so a stopgap third baseman would be nice. Unfortunately, there’s very little available at the position. If Wilson Betemit is out of their price range, they’ll probably have to gamble on someone like Kevin Kouzmanoff or Jose Lopez.

On-base percentage seems likely to be a major issue regardless of what the Pirates do the rest of the winter. Just one player in their current lineup had a .350 OBP last year (McCutchen at .364) and only one more cleared .340 (Tabata). The team is certainly better now at catcher and shortstop than it was last season, but that’s simply not saying much.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.