Pirates eyeing Rick Ankiel?

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According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pirates expect to be active in the free agent market, with potential targets including John Grabow, who they traded to the Cubs in July, and Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel.



This is a clear indicator that the
Pirates are beginning to shuffle their cards. Garrett Jones has
surprised with 19 home runs in 265 at-bats, however, he is 28 years
old, so there is little hope for further progression. Jones has played
69 games this season, but 20 of them have come at first base, so there
is a chance he could be used in more of a utility role in 2010, with
Jeff Clement getting his feet wet at first base and 20-year-old
top-prospect Jose Tabata potentially finding his way to the majors by
early June.




Ankiel is an interesting target who
may come on the cheap. Reason being, he is batting just .234/.286/.390
with 11 home runs and 37 RBI in 351 at-bats this season. With young
Colby Rasmus carving out an everyday role, the Cardinals have little
reason to bring him back. If Tabata proves himself to be a competent
corner outfielder — something that is still open to debate — the
Pirates could always trade Ankiel to a contender if he has a
bounceback season.

Alex Bregman shows how easy it is to manufacture “controversy” in baseball

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In most sports it takes legitimate trash talk to create off-day “controversy.” In baseball, it takes the weakest sauce. We saw how weak that sauce was yesterday.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros are going to face off against Nate Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS tonight. It’s worth noting that earlier this season, they hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Eovaldi when he was pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yesterday, in an act which was likely somewhat inspired by self-motivation, somewhat inspired by getting in Eovaldi’s head and somewhat inspired by a simple interest in having fun, Bregman took the video of those back-to-back-to-back homers off of Eovaldi and posted it to his Instagram:

Of course, since this is baseball, where even farting off-key can be construed as “showing up” the opposition or somehow disrespecting the game, it became a thing. Or at least people tried to make it become a thing.

Indeed, it took them a bit to find someone who would help them make it a thing, because Eovaldi himself didn’t care about it a bit, nor did Astros manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Eventually, however, they hit pay dirt. Here’s Sox infielder Steve Pearce talking to WEEI.com:

“Wow. I don’t know why he would do that. We do our talking on the field. If he wants to run his mouth now we’ll see who is talking at the end of the series.”

My guess is that almost no one on the planet, Steve Pearce included, would care about this in a vacuum or if they allowed themselves to think through it for more than a second. Baseball culture, though — and let’s be clear about it, baseball media culture — has conditioned most of its players and participants to think that stuff like this is supposed to be controversial, so it actually takes effort not to start dancing to this kind of tune on auto-pilot.

Kudos to Hinch, Cora and Eolvaldi for exerting that effort and not dancing to it. To the press that automatically sought out comment on this and Pearce who dutifully gave it: hey, I get it. It’s hard to resist one’s conditioning. Maybe you’ll be able to resist it next time.