Pirates promote Jeff Branson to hitting coach

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Jay Bell left his position as Pirates hitting coach last week to become the Reds’ bench coach and Pittsburgh has replaced him by promoting assistant hitting coach Jeff Branson into the main gig.

Pittsburgh ranked ninth among NL teams in offense this season, which sounds not at all impressive–and it isn’t, really–but the last time the Pirates ranked higher than ninth in runs was 2003.

Seriously. Reggie Sanders led that team in RBIs. And it was one season after Branson retired as a player.

Report: Momentum in talks between Mariners, Jon Jay

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that there is some momentum in talks between the Mariners and free agent outfielder Jon Jay.

Jay, 32, hit .296/.374/.375 in 433 plate appearances with the Cubs last season, which is adequate. He’s heralded more for his defense and his ability to play all three outfield spots.

The Mariners are losing center fielder Jarrod Dyson to free agency and likely don’t want to rely on Guillermo Heredia next season, hence the interest in Jay. The free agent class for center fielders is otherwise relatively weak.