TIOPS DAILY FIVE: WEEKEND EDITION
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. Josh Harrison during his rehab stint in Indianapolis has seen playing time at second base and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle believes Harrison’s best position is second base. The ideal scenario for the Pirates that has been obvious for weeks and maybe months is Neil Walker at first base, Harrison at second base, Jordy Mercer at shortstop and Jung Ho Kang at third base.
However, the friction between the Pirates and Neil Walker ever since the Pirates made a low-ball 6 year offer in the range of $18 million to Walker way back in 2011 has never been resolved and unless Walker has a new long-term contract in his hands, the Pirates are in the difficult position of asking Walker to move to first base.
Would they love to? Absolutely, especially in the off-season where it’s more ideal, but the Hendricks brothers who represent Walker will shut it down immediately with Walker a year away from free agency.
2. Clint Hurdle picked up his 400th career victory as Pirates manager Friday night. Hurdle is 400-361 (.526 win percentage) in his career as Bucs manager. Although just 58 years old, some in the organization close to Hurdle strongly believe this is going to be his last coaching job and that he doesn’t plan to be someone who tries to coach well into his 60’s.
3. One reason Antonio Brown has a shot to get a new contract or at least new money for the 2015 season? Strong indications are Mike Tomlin believes Brown is a special situation that trumps precedent and is pushing for it behind the scenes. Tomlin has the most power in the organization and often gets what he wants. Keep an eye on that.
4. The Penguins bringing Sergei Gonchar in on a PTO is zero risk as bringing in anyone else on a PTO is. However, the vibe surrounding Gonchar is the only way he’s not on the Penguins opening night roster is if he calls it quits himself and realizes he can’t do it anymore. Possible scenario but not likely.
Once Gonchar is here and in the room and with the infatuation from Penguins management of making Evgeni Malkin comfortable, the Penguins won’t have it in them to tell Gonchar that it’s not going to work out….. Bet on that….
5. I have no dog in the race but count me among those who have been drawn to what’s going on with the Toronto Blue Jays. Most exciting team in baseball and it’s good to see a General Manager go all-in like Alex Anthopoulos did and watch it totally transform the organization in a matter of weeks.