Veteran Justin Morneau was in Minnesota for his entire career before the summer trade that shipped him to the Pirates, but the adjustment wasn't too difficult for him thanks to a familiar element, writes Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun. “[Manager Clint Hurdle] speaks the same language as Ron Gardenhire,” said Morneau. “He’ll come up and say ‘[I'm] going to give you a blow tomorrow.’ I know I’m getting the day off. Gardenhire used to say it.” Elliott spoke with several Pirates players about their respect for Hurdle and their appreciation for him as a motivator. Here's a look at more from the NL Central..
- Win or lose, Pirates GM Neal Huntington hopes to keep his team together for 2014, writes Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. That means keeping veteran pitcher A.J. Burnett and midseason acquisitions Marlon Byrd and Morneau. Byrd figures to see a significant raise over his $700K salary while Morneau ($15MM) and Burnett ($16.5MM) will obviously earn less in 2014.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) says that there's a decent chance that the Reds will re-sign reliever Manny Parra. The soon-to-be 31-year-old pitched to a 3.33 ERA with 11.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.
- John Erardi of the Cincinnati Enquirer believes that Mets minor league skipper Wally Backman would be a good fit for the Reds' managerial vacancy.
- The Cardinals' 2009 draft class is a huge reason for their success in 2013, writes MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. That draft saw St. Louis tap Shelby Miller (first round), Joe Kelly (third), Matt Carpenter (13th), Trevor Rosenthal (21st) and Matt Adams (23rd).
- Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the host of Pirates first-round picks that didn't work out but notes that the trend began to change with Neil Walker in 2004. Since that time, the Bucs have also selected Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Gerrit Cole in the first round.