Rule 5 blunder? Andrews is MIA

The Pirates announced they had filled three of the six coaching vacancies today. The most obvious guy missing was Indy pitching coach Jeff Andrews.

Tony Beasley and Gary Varsho were added to John Russell’s staff as had been speculated. Luis Dorante as bullpen coach is a bit of a surprise.

A friend of mine has a son in the Marlins organization and let’s just say Dorante is either deeply loved or deeply hated. He’ll probably be a good guy to get the most out of Castillo and Paulino and he’s probably a great guy to hand the clubhouse paddle to if the players get out of control. He’ll do fine as a bullpen coach but, again, this is a surprising hire.

Jeff Andrews wasn’t mentioned today. I assume that’s because the Pirates wanted to make some kind of an announcement before the holiday period and they had these three men already under contract. Perhaps we’ll hear more Wednesday or Friday.

In somewhat of a curious move, Neal Huntington set the Pirates 40-man at forty, meaning the Pirates won’t be eligible to pick in the Rule 5 draft in December.

Olivo Astacio, 23 RHRP, was added which was a no-brainer. Jimmy Barthmaier was claimed off waivers from the Astros and added. He’s been steadily declining since 2005 and was rocked last year in AA. Stats don’t always tell the whole story but he certainly looks like a candidate for elbow or shoulder surgery next year. And Ronald Belisario, of all people, was added who is less than marginal (80% combined strand rate in 2007 and still could only reach a 4.90 xERA). Brian Bixler was also added – another no-brainer.

Designated for assignment was Shane Youman (solid 2.20 – 4.05 xERA @ 70% strand rate last three in the farm) who, in my opinion, should have been kept over some of the other garbage on the roster but Huntington may prefer the trade bait, Josh Sharpless as expected, and Josh Phelps, who could sign back on with a split contract.

I had hoped that the Pirates would keep at least one or two slots open for the draft. A couple of interesting guys might have been John Jaso with the Rays or Fernando Hernandez with the White Sox.

Updated 2008 draft top ten prospects:

Rank Player Pos. B-T College
1 Pedro Alvarez 3B L-R Vanderbilt U.
2 Brian Matusz LHP L-L U. of San Diego
3 Eric Hosmer 1B L-L American Heritage HS
4 Gerrit Cole RHP R-R Orange Lutheran HS
5 Tim Melville RHP R-R Wentzville Holt HS
6 Tim Beckham SS R-R Griffin HS
7 Aaron Crow RHP R-R U. of Missouri
8 Justin Smoak 1B B-L U. of South Carolina
9 Kyle Skipworth C L-R Patriot HS
10 Ryan Perry RHP R-R U. of Arizona

I’ll be surprised if the Rays pass on Alvarez.

Dodger fans get to help build a float for the Rose Bowl Parade and then have a chance to ride in it during the event to boot.

Maybe the Pirates should offer a chance to load firework displays on the barge and then ride with them for the post-game display with Steve Blass singing Smoke on the Water? Ouch.