Daily Archives: January 13, 2008

January 13, 2008

Pirates to Build Academy in Dominican Republic

What a surprise to see the Pirates spending money on something. I mean, this specific project is great, and I’m excited to think that the Pirates facility could attract some up-and-coming talent, but just in general it is such a breath of fresh air to see the Pirates spending money on anything at all. This could herald good things for the organization.

Here’s the press release:

Pittsburgh Pirates Chairman of the Board Bob Nutting announced today that the ballclub will officially break ground on a new Latin American headquarters and baseball training academy in the Dominican Republic on January 22. The Pirates recently purchased a 46 acre property located in the municipality of El Toro in the Dominican Republic that will be the site of the new complex.

The new academy will serve as the headquarters for the Pirates Latin American Baseball Operations, as well as a housing and training complex for the players on the ballclub’s Dominican Summer League roster and other players invited to train at the academy.

Shortly after taking control of the ballclub less than a year ago, Nutting made his first trip to the Dominican Republic to assess its Latin American operations. Following the trip Nutting believed it was critical that the ballclub improve its current operations in the Dominican Republic and has been working toward that goal since.

“Latin America needs to be an even greater priority for our ballclub,” said Nutting. “The Pirates have had a great history of Latino ballplayers making a significant impact at the major league level, including the great Roberto Clemente. Today, no team has more opportunity or, frankly, a greater need to acquire and develop quality players from this region than we do.”

The Dominican Republic continues to be a growing hotbed for finding major league talent, with more than 40 percent of all foreign born players on 2007 Opening Day rosters born in the Dominican Republic, according to Major League Baseball. The new facility will provide the Pirates with a competitive advantage in the region and illustrates the Club’s long-term commitment to building a ballclub that can consistently compete.

“This facility will help our baseball operations staff attract, retain and teach the best players, coaches and scouts in the region,” said Nutting. “I am committed to providing our Baseball Operations staff with the tools necessary to sign and develop the best talent not only in Latin America, but domestically and in other international markets as well. This new facility and our renewed commitment to the international markets are critically important to achieving our goal of building a ballclub that can compete on a regular basis.”

The Pirates are well into the final design stages for the new complex and plan to unveil those designs to the Pittsburgh media on Monday, January 21 and again at the official groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, January 22 in the Dominican Republic.

“Once completed this facility will have a significant and immediate impact on our scouting and player development operations in Latin America,” said Neal Huntington, Pirates General Manager. “This complex will provide us with an advantage in recruiting players, while providing an optimal setting to teach our young players not only baseball skills, but life skills. It is a tangible demonstration of the organization’s commitment to provide us with the tools needed to build and sustain a consistently competitive major league team.”

January 13, 2008

Guardado, Cameron Reportedly Signed

Fox Sports is reporting that former Reds OF Mike Cameron and the Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to a one-year, $7 million contract that includes performance bonuses as well as a club option for 2009.

Which I find hilarious, considering that Cameron will start the season on a 25-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, and considering that the Brewers were already getting numbers similar to the .242/.328/.431 Cameron put up for the Padres last season from their own Gabe Gross (.235/.329/.437) for a fraction of that money.

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers added another former Red to their own collection, signing “Everyday” Eddie Guardado to a one-year contract featuring a $2 million base salary with another $4 million available in incentives.

That move at least makes some sense to me. If the season started today, the Rangers’ closer would probably be C.J. Wilson, the guy who inherited the role last season after Texas traded Eric Gagne. Wilson, however, was not a closer before that, and has only been in the majors for three years. He’d have to be considered closer to Travis Wilson than Don Wilson at this point. If Guardado’s arm is healthy, the Rangers at least have some relatively cheap (bearing in mind that they were paying Gagne $6 million last year) insurance, just in case Wilson ducks into a phone booth and turns into R.A. Dickey.