Pirates Notebook: Littlefield's price too high?
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PHOENIX -- Dave Littlefield has a reputation for seeking sky-high prices in trades and, as a result, turning off those with whom he is trying to deal.
The Pirates' general manager often has rejected the charge, but two recent events lend it some credence, each involving a potential move for shortstop Jack Wilson ...
First, Toronto expressed interest in upgrading over Royce Clayton, even if that meant waiting until after the season. The Pirates and Blue Jays spoke in July and, as multiple sources confirmed, Littlefield asked for third baseman Troy Glaus, Toronto's premier power hitter, in return.
One of those sources yesterday revealed that J.P. Ricciardi, the Blue Jays' general manager, was so taken aback by the proposal that he immediately tuned out regarding Wilson.
That might explain why Ricciardi, on July 23, took the unusual step of mentioning another team's player publicly when he told the Canadian Press, "We have absolutely no interest in Jack Wilson. None."
Clayton, by the way, was released yesterday.
Next came the Detroit Tigers, who, unlike Toronto, offered to take on all of Wilson's contract that has $14.25 million guaranteed beyond this season.
The deal on the table at the July 31 non-waiver deadline would have netted the Pirates one of two 21-year-old pitchers, Jair Jurrjens or Dallas Trahern, and another prospect in the Detroit system. Littlefield apparently asked for a major-league player on top of that -- outfielder Craig Monroe was mentioned -- and the Tigers pulled back.
Still, talks are not dead, as the teams are believed to have had contact yesterday morning.
Jurrjens, in the meantime, is fresh off his two finest outings of the season for Class AA Erie and yesterday was named Eastern League player of the week after striking out 10 in a complete-game shutout. Overall, he is 6-5 with a 3.32 ERA, 90 strikeouts and 30 walks in 106 innings.
Such production at that age is superior to any pitcher at any level of the Pirates' system.
Wilson has been hot, too: In the six games since the July 31 non-waiver deadline, he is 11 for 20 with two home runs and seven RBIs.
"You can look at it two ways," Wilson said yesterday. "If the Pirates are willing to trade me, then I'm going to go out there and show what I can do. If the Pirates aren't sure, I'm going to show why they should keep me."
Another national game?
The Pirates' Sept. 8 home game against the Chicago Cubs is being listed as a 3:55 p.m. nationally televised game for Fox on that network's Web site.
Officially, though, the first pitch remains set for 7:05 p.m., as no one has informed the Pirates of a switch.
Although Fox has the right to shift a limited number of games for its national broadcasts, the Pirates can be expected to resist this one because the University of Pittsburgh has a football game against Grambling at noon that day at Heinz Field. That could wreak havoc not only with traffic but also with staffing, as the two North Shore stadiums employ many of the same service workers.
Nady makes progress
Outfielder Xavier Nady finally showed progress with his strained left hamstring, but he still missed his fifth consecutive start.
He ran at Chase Field yesterday, and his sole limitation was some discomfort on the push-off. That, manager Jim Tracy said, was enough to keep him out because of the stadium's big gaps and fast turf that demands outfield speed.
"Over the next couple days, we could see him back in the lineup," Tracy said.
Chacon held out
Shawn Chacon did not appear as the eighth-inning setup man last night because of some minor stiffness in his neck. That problem flared early in the season, too, but it is not seen as serious.
The Pirates still are going with an eight-man bullpen, though Tracy allowed that could change before the team gets to San Francisco for the weekend.
Funny how these things blossom: Two offseasons ago, the Pirates lost out to Arizona in free-agent bidding for outfielder Eric Byrnes, the Diamondbacks signing him to a one-year deal worth $2.2 million. Yesterday, with Byrnes having established himself as one of Arizona's top performers, he signed a three-year extension worth $30 million.
John Wasdin, a starter with Class AAA Indianapolis who had two stints with the Pirates this season, has been placed on the minor-league disabled list because of an unspecified injury.
Utilityman Matt Kata, designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and joined Indianapolis.