Quick Hits: Hurdle, Friedman, Braves, Gardenhire

Josh Booty has won a non-roster invitation to the Diamondbacks' Spring Training camp by emerging as the victor on The Next Knuckler, an MLB Network reality show.  Booty, 37, was drafted fifth overall by the Marlins in the 1994 and accumulated just 30 Major League plate appearances with the Fish from 1996-98.  Booty played third base originally but is now trying to make it back as a knuckleball pitcher.

Here's the latest from around the majors…

  • Clint Hurdle is a favorite of Pirates owner Robert Nutting and has a better chance of staying with the team than GM Neal Huntington and president Frank Coonelly do if the Bucs struggle again, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes.  Hurdle's contract was recently extended through the 2014 season.
  • "It has always been hard to sustain success as a small-market team and the new CBA does not impact that very much," Andrew Friedman tells Erik Hahmann of the DRaysBay blog.  "There are some interesting ideas within the new system but the overarching structure still tips the scales heavily in favor of the large markets (especially with growing revenue disparity).  The key to changing that will be moving to a system that doesn't penalize small-market clubs-in the draft order, in the competitive balance lottery, in the international arena–for being successful."  The Rays executive VP of baseball operations also addresses other league, management and roster topics during the interview.
  • The Braves spent much more to sign B.J. Upton than the Indians did to sign Michael Bourn, but Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution feels the Braves' offseason was better served overall by moving on from their former center fielder.
  • The Twins are known for their loyalty towards managers but MLB.com's Marty Noble writes that Ron Gardenhire's future with the team could be in question if Minnesota struggles again.  The Twins are coming off back-to-back last place finishes in the AL Central, though these were only the second and third losing seasons of Gardenhire's 11-year tenure as skipper.
  • The Royals' pitching acquisitions have left Aaron Crow with no immediate future as a starting pitcher, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes.  Crow was drafted (12th overall in 2009) as a starter but has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in the majors and performed well.  Crow made the 2011 All-Star team and has posted a 3.13 ERA, a 9.2 K/9 rate and a 2.45 K/BB ratio over 126 2/3 relief innings in 2011-12.
  • Mark DeRosa and Henry Blanco may have limited on-field value at this stage of their careers but Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi that good chemistry is a crucial part of a winning team and that the Jays will benefit from the two veterans' clubhouse leadership.   
  • Baseball America's Ben Badler recaps each team's significant international signings from 2012.


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