Monday, February 14, 2011

Notice Anything Fishy About Pirates Relief Corps?

Considering that only five sixths of the city of Bradenton, Fla., is on dry land, perhaps it's no surprise that something fishy is in the air at the Pirates spring camp, but it has nothing to do with the water.

Though it's speculative, there's the scent of a story that maybe, just maybe, one of the Bucs outstanding closer candidates may be on the block, either Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek.

Hanrahan, 30, 4-1 last year with a 3.62 ERA, six saves and 100 strikeouts in fewer than 70 innings, and Meek, 28, with a 2.14 ERA, four saves and 70 strikeouts in 80 innings, have admitted they both want to save games for Pirates this year, and are willing to compete for the job.

The problem is, according to General Manager Neal Huntington, there will be "no open competition" in spring camp, indicating one of the two already has the job, but he won't say which. Let's repeat that: "no open competition."

So if Huntington won't say whom and won't say why, can it be that either Hanrahan or Meek is on the block? All anyone knows is that the Pirates have one too many closers, and that the rotation needs another starter or two, especially after the Pirates lost out to Kansas City in an attempt to sign former Colorado Rockies starter Jeff Francis. The Pirates are also looking for left-handed bullpen help.

"We continue to monitor the market and we have an open dialogue on multiple fronts," Huntington said in recent published reports. Until he clarifies, fans are left to connect the dots. But a more plausable explanation may be that Huntington simply has yet to make up his mind, but has decided that either one or the other will be the full-time closer, thus no closer committees.

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