The fact that the Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992 isn't stopping new manager Clint Hurdle from aiming high in 2011. Speaking to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Hurdle said that "people can laugh," but Pittsburgh will head into the season with the goal of winning the NL Central. Here are the latest updates on the Pirates and the rest of the division they hope to win:
- Hurdle was a major factor in Lyle Overbay's decision to sign with the Pirates, as Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explains.
- As ESPN's Buster Olney hinted yesterday on Twitter, Albert Pujols is serious about his Spring Training negotiating deadline. In Olney's Insider-only blog, he says that if the deadline passes without an extension in place, "all bets are off. Because the talks will shift from a nice one-on-one conversation between the Cardinals and their star player to being a straight bidding war."
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that trade rumors surrounding Colby Rasmus were blown out of proportion. According to Mozelieak, most of the calls he received on Rasmus were from teams who were "bottom-fishing," thinking the Cards might part with the 24-year-old at a reduced price.
- The Astros will face a tough decision this year regarding the future of Wandy Rodriguez, writes Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle. Justice expects the team to try to extend the left-hander, a possibility the Astros and Rodriguez have already discussed, but cautions that "the money can't get crazy."