The Pittsburgh Pirates are no strangers to finding talent in unique places. They were the first team to sign a player out of India, which the upcoming movie “Million Dollar Arm” will detail. They were the first team to sign a black player out of South Africa in Gift Ngoepe. They’ve signed players out of Australia, Lithuania, Belarus, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and more. So obviously the next avenue of talent would be finding the first female baseball player to reach the Major Leagues.
Tonight I saw an article in the incoming links of the site, posted on the Huffington Post. The article was written by Lee-En Chung, who was part of a “Baseball Basics for Women” camp at Spring Training this year. Apparently this is the fifth year that the Pirates have done this, educating a group of 50 women on the precision of pitching, the biomechanics of batting, and the structure of pro ball.
If you didn’t pick up on it, I was being sarcastic when talking about this being the next avenue of talent for the Pirates. It’s not that I don’t think a woman can eventually one day make it to the majors. I mean, Yuniesky Betancourt spent nine years in the majors. If he can do it, then someone lacking a Y chromosome certainly can make it. Also, no MLB player lacking a Y chromosome has ever had Tommy John surgery. That’s just science.
I don’t honestly think the Pirates are looking for a new avenue of talent with this program. I just wanted to share the article because I thought it was a good read, and it was an interesting subject that you don’t see too often when you’re caught up in the never-ending loop of “which out-of-options reliever will be traded, which top prospects will be playing where, and who will be in the first base platoon” analysis. If anything, it’s good to see the Pirates doing something to educate fans to the inner-workings of the game, to the point where it sounds like the camp might have given the participants more knowledge of the game than the casual fan who just watches on TV. So check out the article in the link above.
On a related note, for most of the off-season, I’ve cut “First Pitch” down to four days per week. That’s because there aren’t many topics to discuss during the off-season, and I wanted to avoid burnout. I increased that to five articles during Spring Training, and I’m aiming at going back to a nightly article this week. However, in an attempt to avoid burnout by the end of the year (which happened last September), I’m planning on doing a “Links” article like this on Friday. This will allow me to share an interesting article or two that I read during the week, while not having to think about an extra article topic to cover. Hopefully you’ll like the change of pace. If not, there will always be the links and notes at the bottom of the post, as well as about 30-50 articles on the site each week discussing the usual topics.
Links and Notes
**The 2014 Prospect Guide is in stock on the products page of the site. The book features profiles, scouting reports, and grades on every player in the minor league system, including our top 50 prospects. The Prospect Guide has been mentioned as a resource several times on the Pirates’ broadcast, and has been purchased as a source of reference by opposing MLB front office members, opposing scouts, and media members. If it’s a good resource for them, it’s a good resource for you. You can order your Prospect Guide on the products page of the site.
**Bryan Morris Will Make the Pirates 25-Man Roster. My guess is that Vin Mazzaro will be the odd man out in the bullpen. The Pirates have until 3 PM EST on Sunday to finalize their roster.
**Barry Bonds and Jim Leyland Will Present Andrew McCutchen and Clint Hurdle With Awards. I hope this doesn’t end up with Bonds getting booed. He becomes the villain because he left Pittsburgh, or because he did steroids. I don’t really punish him much for the steroid aspect, since a ton of people were doing steroids at the time, and MLB didn’t really care to do much about it. In fact, I find the whole crusade against steroids now to be ridiculous. Even with the new “harsher” suspensions that were passed today, there’s still a benefit to doing steroids: you get to keep all of the money you previously earned, and you still get big contract offers after you’re caught and suspended.
The reality here is that it is fitting to have Bonds presenting the award to McCutchen. Prior to McCutchen, the Pirates didn’t have a star player for a long time, and the last guy they had was Bonds. I don’t think Bonds needs to be celebrated. I just think all of the focus should be on the moment where two former Pirates who won MVP awards (Bonds and Dick Groat) present a current Pirate with his MVP award.
**The Pirates Rotation Has Some Red Flags, But Still Projects to Carry the Team. One of five season previews, looking at every position group on the team. Tomorrow I’ll have the outfield in the morning, and the infield in the afternoon. Sunday will conclude with the bullpen and the bench. I’m holding off on those, since those are the two positions I could see impacted by potential trades.