Pirates interested in Rick Ankiel, Hank Blalock

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Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have “made contact with” free agents Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock, both of whom would fit the team’s apparent plan to pursue players looking to “revive their careers.”
Kovacevic notes that the Pirates could bring in a free agent like Ankiel or Blalock on a short-term contract and then, depending on whether or not the team is in contention, either hang onto the player or use him as trade bait while clearing room for a prospect like Jose Tabata.
Garrett Jones will start somewhere after his huge rookie season. He’d likely play right field if Blalock is brought in to play first base, but could also play first base is Ankiel is signed to play right field. The latter strikes me as a far more intriguing option, because Jones’ glove is lacking and an outfield with Lastings Milledge in left, Andrew McCutchen in center, and Ankiel in right would be among baseball’s best defensively.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. named ALCS MVP

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Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series after his club punched its ticket to the World Series on Thursday night against the Astros.

Coincidentally, the Astros’ Game 5 starter Justin Verlander was ALCS MVP last year en route to a championship.

Bradley went 0-for-3 with a walk in Thursday’s Game 5, but he hit a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3, and a go-ahead two-run home run in Game 4. That’s nine RBI and three extra-base hits across five games. He also drew four walks.

Though Bradley had a solid regular season, he was not near the top of the list most people would’ve expected to win ALCS MVP heading into the series. During the season, he hit .234/.314/.403 with 13 home runs, 59 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases in 535 plate appearances.