Pirates also working on long-term contract with Neil Walker

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This morning Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported that the Pirates and Jose Tabata are close to agreeing to a six-year contract and now Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review says they’re also working on signing Neil Walker to a similar long-term deal.

According to Biertempfel the Tabata deal will cover six seasons and include three team options that would allow Pittsburgh to buy out his early free agent seasons, which makes the Pirates’ motivation a little easier to understand than this morning’s report.

They’re trying to get Walker locked up with a similar deal, but apparently aren’t quite as close to completing negotiations.

Also of note is that Biertempfel says attempts to engage Andrew McCutchen in long-term contract talks “have stalled” with “no movement for weeks. McCutchen is under team control through 2015, so there’s no big rush for the Pirates, but unlike with Tabata and Walker he’s already established himself as a star player.

Tabata has hit .285 with a .348 on-base percentage and .385 slugging percentage through 175 career games, while the 25-year-old Walker has hit .280 with a .338 on-base percentage and .420 slugging percentage in 247 games. Good, solid young players, but committing upfront money to players already under team control for many years to come is a risky strategy with non-stars.

Marlins, Giants get into heated beanball war

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You may have heard that Giants closer Hunter Strickland broke his hand punching a door in frustration after Monday night’s subpar performance. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result. Strickland came in to protect a 4-2 lead but ended up giving up three runs. The tying run was knocked in by Lewis Brinson on a single to right field. Brinson moved to third base on a go-ahead single by Miguel Rojas, which prompted manager Bruce Bochy to take Strickland out of the game.

On his way to the dugout, Strickland started chirping at Brinson. Much like Bryce Harper and Strickland, Brinson and Strickland have a bit of a history. Last Thursday, Brinson handed Strickland a blown save with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. Brinson was happy to help his team tie the game, pumping his fast and saying, “Let’s go” at no one in particular. That rubbed Strickland the wrong way. Everything seems to rub Strickland the wrong way.

During Tuesday night’s game, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez threw at Brinson with the first pitch, a 92 MPH fastball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher issued warnings to both benches. Manager Don Mattingly came out to argue, suggesting that his team hadn’t done anything wrong so it was unfair to essentially take the inside part of the plate away from his pitchers. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly could be seen saying, “You’re next” to catcher Buster Posey.

The Giants scored twice in the bottom of the second against Dan Straily to extend their lead to 3-0. Posey came to the plate with a runner on first base and one out. Straily hit Posey with a 91 MPH fastball on the first pitch, prompting ejections of both Straily and Mattingly. Posey was hit on the arm. If the pitch had come in a bit lower and hit Posey on the wrist or hand, Posey might have had to go on the disabled list for a couple months. Or if the pitch had hit Posey a couple of inches higher, in the head, then who knows what would have happened.

Things calmed down from there, thankfully. The two clubs have one more game against each other in San Francisco on Wednesday and that will be the final time they meet this season. If anything further is going to happen — and hopefully, nothing happens — then it will come tomorrow.

Straily will almost certainly be facing a suspension and a fine, as will Mattingly. It’s less clear if Rodriguez and/or Bochy will be reprimanded for throwing at Brinson, even though it was fairly obvious the pitch was intentional. Regardless, the punishments amount to just one missed start for the pitchers, which isn’t nearly enough of a detriment to deter beanball wars.