Posted on: August 16, 2010 8:49 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2010 8:59 pm

Reds pick gets major-league deal; No. 2 signs

According to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, the Reds are finalizing a deal with No. 12 overall pick Yasmani Grandal, and the University of Miami catcher would be the first signee this year to get a major-league deal. That means the Reds have to clear a spot for him on the 40-man roster. Grandal reportedly will get $2.99 million.

The deadline to sign June draft picks is midnight Eastern. As of this writing there are still 14 first-rounders who have not been reported to have signed, including the top seven.

UPDATE: The father of No. 2 overall pick Jameson Taillon told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Texas high school pitcher has signed. When word on the value of the deal comes out, that could help clear the logjam of unsigned picks near the top.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Tags: Pirates, Reds
Posted on: August 16, 2010 4:53 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 4:03 pm

This week in free stuff: Aug. 16-22

Monday, Aug. 16
Springfield Cardinals (Texas League) -- Stan Musial bobblehead. Bar none, the best giveaway this week. If you didn't read Joe Posnanski's article on Musial in Sports Illustrated a couple of weeks ago, stop what you're doing and read it now.

Tuesday, Aug. 17
Los Angeles Dodgers -- Matt Kemp bobblhead
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League) -- Kevin Youkilis bobblehead.
Reading Phillies (Eastern League) -- Mike Schmidt batting practice t-shirt

Wednesday, Aug. 18
Reading Phillies (Eastern League) -- Ryan Howard model wooden bat
Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League) -- notebook. Did you know some kids are back in school? Crazy, doesn't it seem early for that? Maybe because I went to a college that was on quarters, so I haven't been in school in August in 17 years.
Mahoning Valley Scrappers (New York-Penn League) -- Polk High T-shirt. It's Ed O'Neill night, and for now he'll be remembered as Al Bundy, but another year of Modern Family as good as the first and people will forget that.
State College Spikes (New York-Penn League) -- soup bowl. OK.

Thursday, Aug. 19
Pittsburgh Pirates -- t-shirt thursday. It's a good simple, baseball with logo. I like it.
Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League) -- Miles Austin bobblehead. Honoring Monmouth University's most famous football star -- it's odd for a Cowboy to be honored in Eagles country. Or maybe they'll cheer when they break the bobblehead's neck. For safety's sake, he'll be in a Monmouth uniform.

Friday, Aug. 20
Delmarva Shorebirds (South Atlantic League) -- Fernando Guerrero bobble boxing gloves. The NABO middleweight title holder not only has his own bobble (the head doesn't bobble, his gloves do), he'll also be there to sign autographs.
Sacramento River Cats (Pacific Coast League) -- California governor bobblehead. You can choose -- and make your vote known -- Meg Whitman or Jerry Brown.
San Antonio Missions (Texas League) -- koozie
St. Lucie Mets (Florida State League) -- banana phone.  A phone. Shaped like a banana. Kids, back in the old days we only had to have a cord for a phone and it was wired to our house. And if we were out of the house, nobody could answer it.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (South Atlantic League) -- Meterorologist bobblehead winner -- two WBTW Frank Johnson and WMBF's Rob Hatchell held an online vote and the winner got a bobblehead in their likeness and fans get a bobblehead of a weatherman.
Potomac Nationals (Carolina League) -- Drew Storen bobblehead.
West Michigan Whitecaps (Midwest League) -- Tiger Stadium replica. You know, that old place. That old, awesome place.
Vancouver Canadians (Northwest League) -- trucker cap
Missoula Osprey (Frontier League) -- 1910 Firefighter bobblehead

Saturday, Aug. 21
Pittsburgh Pirates -- Crawfords cap. I love when teams honor the Negro League teams from their city.
Kansas City Royals -- jersey cooler. You know, a cooler that looks like a Royals jersey.
Minnesota Twins -- lunch box. Always a favorite.
Arizona Diamondbacks -- spring training replica stadium. The new one, not the old one.
Las Vegas 51s (Pacific Coast League) -- Frank Caliendo bobblehead. The latest in the team's series of unfunny comedians.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) -- Snuggie-type blanket
Corpus Christi Hooks (Texas League) -- aluminum bottle
Asheville Tourists (South Atlantic League) -- Roy Williams bobblehead. Apparently there are no Duke fans in Asheville. Oddly enough, all four people I know from Asheville went to UNC. Go figure.
Hickory Crawdads (South Atlantic League) -- Crawdads jersey
Rome Braves (South Atlantic League) -- lunch box
South Bend Silver Hawks (Midwest League) -- koozie
Everett AquaSox (Northwest League) -- football. I'll forgive them going football because their new logo is so awesome -- it's an old-school M's trident design turned on its side to make an E.

Sunday, Aug. 22
New York Yankees -- Yankees banner
Oakland A's -- Alteticos T-Shirt day. A yellow baseball shirt with the team's Spanish name.
Florida Marlins -- Billy the Marlin lunch cooler
Philadelphia Phillies -- Cole Hamels lunch bag cooler. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
St. Louis Cardinals -- Chris Carpenter bobblehead. It fights like a man, no bobblelegs here.
Corpus Christi (Texas League) -- metal lunch boxes.
Wilmington Blue Rocks (South Atlantic League) -- Harry Kalas bobblehead. A couple of years ago, I was in front of Kalas at the soda dispenser at the ballpark and kind of fumbled my cup. Kalas said something to me, and I said, "well, now I can tell everyone I've had Harry Kalas do play-by-play of my error." He laughed and I got a good story out of it.
Tri-City ValleyCats (New York-Penn League) -- Bracket Busters bobblehead. I have no idea what this means, but the team's website says it has something to do with the NFL.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: August 16, 2010 12:59 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2010 1:10 pm

Former Pirates GM passes away at 91

Longtime Pirates general manger Joe L. Brown passed away at the age of 91 on Sunday.

Brown served as the Pirates' GM from 1955 to 1976 and was in charge for two World Series titles, in 1960 and 1971. He succeeded Branch Rickey, who retired following the 1955 season.

Current Pirates team president Frank Coonelly issued this statement.
"The news of Joe's passing yesterday afternoon at the age of 91 was met with great sadness by everyone within the Pirates organization."

"As the architect behind the 1960 and 1971 World Series teams, we were honored that Joe was able to return to Pittsburgh in June to help us celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1960 team. The ovation he received from the crowd prior to the game was a special moment for Joe and his family, as was his company the entire weekend for all of us."

"Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to his daughter, Cynthia, his son, Don, and his family and friends. He was a great man and true Pittsburgh Pirate. He will be missed by everyone within the Pirates family."
-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 14, 2010 9:26 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2010 2:04 pm

Pirates helpless against Astros' Norris

Bud Norris
Astros pitcher Bud Norris is a popular target for practical jokes, like parking his car in the outfield during batting practice. It's probably safe to say the only thing Norris was targeted for by teammates Saturday night was pats on the back.

Norris absolutely mowed down the Pirates, with 14 strikeouts in seven innings of work. If he had reached 15, he'd have been the first man to strike out that many Pirates since Randy Johnson in 2001. As it was, he recorded the most strikeouts by a pitcher at Minute Maid Park.

Norris, who features a 94-mph fastball and good slider, gave up a triple and a two-run homer to the first two batters of the game, then struck out the side. He struck out one in the second and two each in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. He left with a 3-2 lead and won as that was the final. The Pirates struck out three more times against the bullpen to end the night with 17.

Norris, in his second major-league season, entered Saturday with a 4-7 record and 5.63 ERA in 17 starts. He has averaged 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings and has a 2.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 14, 2010 3:26 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2010 3:53 pm

Korean sets world homer record

Lee Dae-ho
A home run record held jointly by three major-league players was toppled Saturday, half a world away.

Lee Dae-ho, a third baseman for the Lotte Giants in the Korea Baseball Organization, homered for the ninth consecutive game, breaking the world professional record. The previous record of eight had been held by three U.S. players: Dale Long (Pirates, 1956), Don Mattingly (Yankees, 1987) and Ken Griffey Jr. (Mariners, 1993).

Lee leads the league with a .356 batting average, 106 RBI and 38 home runs.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 9, 2010 2:58 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2010 2:59 pm

Pirates fire two coaches for disloyalty

John Russell When pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and bench coach Gary Varsho were fired Sunday, manager John Russell was emphatic that it was his decision.

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 's Dejan Kovacevic reports , it was indeed Russell's decision, fully backed by GM Neal Huntington.

The firings happened because of disloyalty to the manager, although Russell would not confirm specifics. Players reported that Kerrigan and Varsho were at times openly critical of the skipper or held meetings that excluded Russell.

"It was a very gut-wrenching decision," Russell said. "There are some issues I've been working through for quite some time now that could not be resolved in a way I felt would be for the betterment of this organization. I respect both men greatly. I lost two friends today. That's tough to deal with. But my main focus is this team, and I felt moving forward that this was the time to do this."

At least one of the firings in Kerrigan was also performance related. The Pirates rotation has a 5.38 ERA on the season, second-worst behind the Orioles. Pitchers have regressed under his watch, and when Brad Lincoln was demoted to Triple-A after a loss of velocity, Huntington cited "mechanical changes at the major-league level," quite an indictment of Kerrigan and in hindsight, a harbinger of things to come.

To replace Kerrigan, Ray Searage has taken his place. Searage had been the assistant pitching coach and has 33 years experience in professional baseball. Unlike Kerrigan, who emphasizes numbers and batter-pitcher matchups over mechanics, Searage terms himself old-school.

"I go by my instincts, by my relationships that I develop with the pitchers," the seven-year veteran from 1981-1990 said. "I get their feedback, and it's not my way or the highway. It's our way."

Jeff Banister, the minor-league field coordinator, replaces bench coach Varsho who had developed a reputation as being the bad cop of the coaching staff, dispensing punishments and engaging in arguments. Banister is in his 25th season with the Pirates and has served as player, minor-league manager, big-league coach and is well-liked.

"The leadership he has shown as field coordinator, the leadership he's shown in our system, the dedication, the drive, the commitment to the Pirates as a whole, it's a great addition," Russell said of the two coaches who will get a chance to become permanent members of the staff.

Russell himself is on the hot seat after presiding over a Bucs squad that was supposed to take the next step in 2010. Instead, Pittsburgh is 39-72, just behind Baltimore for the worst record in the majors.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 6, 2010 12:23 am
Edited on: August 6, 2010 12:23 am

Cardinals interested in Pirates' LaRoche

Andy LaRoche With rookie David Freese out for the rest of the season, the Cardinals are looking at the Pirates' Andy LaRoche.

Assuming LaRoche clears waivers, the Cardinals could trade for the third baseman, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review .

LaRoche is hitting .223/.290/.299 with three homers and 14 RBI. He will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason.

With Pittsburgh's top prospect, Pedro Alvarez, playing in the big leagues, LaRoche has been relegated to a pinch-hitter role. He's only started one game since the All-Star break.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: August 5, 2010 9:06 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2010 9:10 pm

Pirates manager likes Cards in NL Central race

John Russell The Pittsburgh Pirates have played back-to-back to the top two teams in the National League Central, getting swept in St. Louis and winning one of three against the Reds in Pittsburgh.

After seeing both teams up close, Pirates manager John Russell says he likes the Cardinals down the stretch. From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 's Rob Biertempfel :
"Because of the experience,” Russell said. “They’ve got a lot of guys who’ve been there and who’ve been through it. They know what to expect. They’ve got two horses in their rotation who’ve been to the playoffs and know what those games are like.”

Russell rated the teams’ bullpens as even. When it comes to bats, he gave Cards sluggers Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday an edge over the Reds’ Joey Votto and Scott Rolen. “Those two (Pujols and Holliday) have consistently shown they can put up great numbers,” Russell said.

Even with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright anchoring the St. Louis rotation, Russell said Cincy’s group could be the better of the two.

“The five guys they run out there are pretty good,” Russell said. “The potential downfall is the two young guys — (Mike) Leake and (Travis) Wood. As they get close, how those guys react when it’s time to make a push for a playoff spot.
Maybe the best reason to like the Cardinals -- St. Louis has nine games remaining against Russell's Pirates to Cincinnati's three. Six of the remaining games between the Pirates and Cardinals are in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh travels to Cincinnati the second week of September.

The Reds are 8-5 this season against the Pirates and the Cardinals are 5-1.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com