Baseball Notes: Morales, Burnett, Raines, Clemente

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by John Toperzer

What if the Pirates sign unrestricted free agent Kendrys Morales and make a trade loosely connected to the signing for one of the Seattle Mariners’ prospects? With Robinson Cano set at second base for the next decade in Seattle, the team has no immediate need for second baseman Nick Franklin — who debuted as a 22-year-old in 2013.

Remember, the Pirates would forfeit their number one pick in the event they sign Morales. Knowing that, could the Bucs work out a deal in advance wherein Seattle sends a worthy prospect to Pittsburgh for a property that somehow evens out the loss of a number one draft choice?

Morales blows away the other offensive options on the market. He has plenty of liabilities — he can’t run very fast, he’s probably below average defensively on a team pitching philosophy depending on strong fielder and he’ll have a high price tag — but he can hit.

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First, AJ Burnett was supposed to make a decision about his 2014 by Thanksgiving, then it was by the week of Christmas. Here we are in the first week of 2014. Two-hundred strikeout arms don’t grow on trees. If Burnett agrees to an incentive laden deal with the Pirates, then his drawn-out offseason process suddenly becomes nothing more than a blip.

If Burnett retires or even if he goes to Baltimore, there will be no hard feelings around here. The man legitimized a starting rotation, giving it a reliable option every fifth day on the mound.

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I was reading Phil Musick’s “Reflections on Roberto” a couple nights ago without even thinking about the 41st anniversary of Roberto Clemente’s tragic plane crash. It wasn’t until former Pirate star, Al Oliver, sent out a series of tweets that I realized the important date.

As a seven-year-old boy, I’d already collected baseball cards for two years when Clemente passed. I still remember vividly my sister calling me from the top steps that Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash.

Yeah, I was sad. Believe it or not, it didn’t come anywhere near the other personal news I’d received a couple months before which changed my life forever, but it just piled on.

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My Hall of Fame ballot would include Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Craig Biggio.

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Tim Raines is on the HOF ballot and gets lots of support from the sabermetric community. Based purely on his statistics, it’s easy to see why. But if integrity is supposed to mean something for admittance to Cooperstown, his chances diminish. While watching Ken Burns’s “Baseball” goliath, the following statement was read.

I wonder how many Raines supporters understand that he even has a black mark next to his name. Also makes me wonder why Raines really wanted to be called “Rock” on his baseball cards.

http://marketplace.beckett.com/superiorsports_823/item/1991-topps-traded-tiffany-94t-tim-raines_50774574

Personally, I always thought Raines and Andre Dawson and Steve Rogers were underrated because they played in Montreal. But while Raines was much more than a basestealer, he was a poor man’s Rickey Henderson. Is that good enough to get into the HOF, drug-past notwithstanding? Perhaps, but I just don’t think he was an elite player. I’d rather see a player who dominated the game, like Dale Murphy or Dave Parker, get into Cooperstown — but that’s just me.

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So Masahiro Tanaka intends to make a “donation” to his Tohoku Rakuten Eagles whenever he signs with the Yankees. It almost makes one wonder what other kinds of back-door deals go down in the sports world.

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Happy New Year!
JT

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