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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Add some bats already

CLEVELAND – Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My column this morning calls for the Pirates’ front office to step up. No more selloffs, no more standing on the sideline. This team has done its part by exceeding expectations. The same needs to happen from the top.

I am interested, as always, in your views in the comments. I know there is hardly a universal consensus on the topic.

>> Paul Maholm pitched better than his line, got no support, and on and on and on. Apparently, Maholm wasn’t all that happy with his work.

>> Want to know why Joel Hanrahan is one of the game’s best closers?

Click this video I shot yesterday afternoon.

By the way, we’re also working on getting these videos embedded right on the blog. For now, I hope you’ll bear with me and do the extra click. The Hanrahan one is certainly worth it.

>> Why would the Indians invite Donnie Iris to perform in a postgame concert, and the Pirates haven’t done that?

Don’t get me wrong: I was delighted to see and hear the audience really getting into the show. But it seemed like it should have been happening in Pittsburgh.

>> Going to keep it a bit brief tonight. Quick turnaround in the morning.


  1. FormerSoxFan says:


    I agree with the general premise of your column. However, the Pirates did take on salary in the Chris Snyder deal last year.

    Snyder was owed $8.18M at the time of the trade (assuming his option for next year is bought out). Carrasco, Crosby, and Church had about $1.2M remaining on their deals. Arizona sent $3M to the Pirates, but that still means they took on about $4M in salary. I know they didn’t take on a huge amount or anything, but they did take on salary in that deal.

  2. FormerSoxFan says:

    And personally, I really would rather not see the Pirates give up much of consequence for a two-three month rental. Taking another team’s salary dump is fine, but if there are legitimate assets being traded, I’d rather see someone signed through at least 2012 coming to Pittsburgh.

    This is unless the Pirates somehow remain in the race through July, which I’m not too optimistic about. The problem is that they need several bats, not just one piece to fix the offense.

  3. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    I agree about not giving up a prospect for a rental. Snyder’s acquisition, although it took on salary, hardly could be characterized as a move aimed at getting the team into contention. If memory serves, the Pirates were 163 games out at that point!

  4. FormerSoxFan says:

    Well, in that case, no, they’ve never made a move aimed at getting the team into contention. But that’s because from 2008-2010, trading for Pujols, Pujols’s long lost twin, a genetically engineered Pujols clone, and Zombie Pujols wouldn’t have been enough to get them into contention.

  5. Baywatch says:

    Someone mentioned – I think it was Rob in the game story tonight – mentioned that Jorge Cantu is available and I note he was DFAd by the Padres on June 15. He plays first base but then again Cantu’s well seems to have dried up a bit. Hurdle had him in Texas last year, after the trade deadline but he didn’t hit a home run in his first 83 plate appearances – and of course it looks like he was unproductive for the Pads.

    I’m wondering how Pearce is coming along.

  6. FormerSoxFan says:

    Cantu only “plays” first base in that he stands where the first baseman normally stands during play. He’s really bad in the field. Doumit is Keith Hernandez compared to Cantu. Plus he hasn’t really hit in two years.

  7. FormerSoxFan says:

    At what point do you think the Pirates cut bait on Overbay? He hasn’t been Aki bad, but that kind of production at 1B is unacceptable.

    Failing a deal for an impact bat, which is unlikely, I’d rather see Overbay let go, Jones moved to first, and Presley called up to play RF. It’s worth a shot, anyway.

  8. Playoffs by 2012 says:


    I applaud you for writing exactly what we all have been both thinking and saying recently. The bigger question I believe is who exactly is out there? One thing to think of is that if the Pirates decline the options on both Doumit and Snyder as well as let Overbay go, thats a good 15 – 16 million that comes off the books for next year. So they could easily augment the lineup and not have to worry about a major spike in payroll for 2012. Anyone you hear of that’s available at a reasonable price??

  9. MrB says:

    “Go for it, but proceed with caution.”

    Great advice…just what are you prepared to give up for a rental bat? Any deal will probably cost you young talent. Is one new bat going to make a difference, or do they need two or more?

    This team is suffering from injuries to its offensive potential (Doumit, Alvarez, Pearce) and the free agent “weapons” (Overbay, Diaz) are presently duds. I don’t think you can quick-fix this with a deadline trade. Other contending teams are going to out-deal you unless you’re willing to give up much more future talent than you really want to part with.

    If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have my cake and eat it too.

  10. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Sox: Again, I agree. That’s why I go all the way back to 1997 in the description.

  11. CDBrewer says:

    Okay…agree with most of it, have one problem, and one serious question…

    The comparison to the Pens is way off base. I get that acquiring a bat would demonstrate the FO had the team’s back, but the Pens HAD WON SOMETHING (and also lost in the Finals – so they were no fluke). None of these players are necessarily going to be here when we win. We think Cutch and Walker will be here, but not if we get the right price. The Pens were proven winners.

    Agree with just about every other word.

    Now the question…We had to sell off Aramis because of our financial problems. Where is Bud now that the Dodgers, Cubs, and Mets ALL are in financial trouble? This makes me mad. I want to trade G. Jones and X. Paul and maybe D. McCutchen for Starlin Castro – force the CUBS into a sell off.

    Look, if we got leveraged into a bad deal, Bud better help us get our pound of flesh back. He was part of unbalancing our competition – now he can right that wrong.

    So far as where we can get somebody, Nutting should place the call to Bud to remind him of the debt ratios and ask who Frank and Neal should be calling after Bud places an initial call to the franchise. Bud can make sure some franchise is “open-minded.”

    This is one issue that makes me too mad to be rational about.

  12. FormerSoxFan says:

    CD Brewer,

    It goes beyond a lack of accountability. MLB gave the Mets a secret $25M loan back in November.

  13. CDBrewer says:

    That just makes me sick…
    Forget the idea of a salary cap, how about just the same rules – no matter your tv ratings.
    Ya know, if the big city teams don’t have little city teams to play, there is no league…

    And the Mets…I hate the Mets. Grew up in Jersey at completely the wrong time…Hate to take pleasure in others tragedy, but was not displeased with Doc and Darryl’s troubles. Old enough now to know that was wrong…mostly (lol)

  14. Fred says:

    DK: I find it hard to understand why the Pirates continue to deny Alex Presley the opportunity to show his abilities. If you looking for a pair of socks, you open the drawyer, not drive to WalMart.

  15. dwh0401 says:

    Would love to see an “actual bat” added. Just not so sure NH would bring in the right one.

  16. Dan says:

    Good column. I would agree that acquiring someone by taking on salary is the best bet because we do NOT want to give up a legitimate prospect. 1B and RF for that matter are open. One note of optimism… Pedro will be back at some point. I know he didn’t do anything earlier, but that could change in a hurry.

  17. JAL says:

    Since I can’t do morning links yet will just put up one fitting the theme

    Pirates Prospects

    Two Promotions the Pirates Need to Make

  18. hooco01 says:

    DK, with all due respect, the last thing I want to see is Donny Iris perform here, Cleveland, or anywhere else for that matter. I had Cleveland buddies texting me from that post game concert last night making fun of Pittsburgh because of Donny Iris. I do 100% agree with you that we need a bat or two and we need one now.

    I wish that guy that wears his hat over his ears and hits balls a mile in batting practice would step up and contribbute. What’s his name again? Oh yeah… Pedro.

  19. Drew71 says:

    I agree with all except, as with Brewski, I would nitpick that the Pens comparison is not a great one because of the Pens recent history of winning as well as the financial bonanza of making and going deeper in the (broader) hockey playoffs.

    So consider yourself nitted and picked.

    That aside, YES, a salary absorbing 1B would be perfect. If just a one year deal, I’d RF, C, even, yes, 3B. For a 1 year deal. But let’s focus on 1B initially.

    – Must be a situation where the other team is looking to unload a salary rather than gain a huge bounty
    – Should be a guy who is performing THIS year, not a Diaz or Overbay guy who 2 or 3 years ago, could really hit

    So who?

    * Carlos Beltran, Mets? Free Agent 2012, with an $18.5MM contract this last year. But that means he’d have about $10MM or less left to pay by the acquiring club by the time he’s acquired. This fits the criteria EXACTLY. And not a $10MM Matt Morris over the hill thing. (But if nothing else, Morris at least provides financial precedent.) Beltran is hitting .286 (.282 career), has 10 HRs (290 career) and a team leading 21 doubles. All those numbers indicate that he is in fact STILL A HITTER. Ok. He’s NOT a first baseman. But he’d slip in nicely to RF, wouldn’t he? If Jones, who has been hitting over .400 for two weeks, continues to hit well, slide him to 1B. Then an offensive upgrade to two positions. I would guess that the Mets would probably take a young ok – just ok – arm if PBC accepts all the salary.

    * Michael Cuddyer, Twins. Free agent 2012. Mainly 1B but also plays other positions. Not exactly a gold glover. Ok, not even close. But a decent hitter with power who is exceeding his career numbers. Career: .271 BA and 131 HRs. Hitting .282 THIS year with 10 HRs so if anything he is exceeding his career #s. And he is not fading in recent years: 2009: .276; 2010: .271; 2011: .282, all at or above his career average. He has a limited no trade, just listing 3 teams which A) may not list PBC and B) he’s said he is willing to waive. Twins are said to be willing to pick up part of his salary to get a better return – SO THAT MAY KILL THIS. Pirates should seek a salary dump. (Isn’t it WEIRD to see that written in REVERSE, with the Pirates being the Dumpee rather than the Dumper??)

    * Another right fielder, Andre Ethier, Dodgers…the DODGERS who are in disarray and cash strapped. Free agent 2012 and having a good year: .315 BA, 6 HRs, 18 doubles. Had 74 HRs in the most recent 3 year span of 2008-2010. $9.25MM contract, meaning less than $5MM to acquire now.

    * Forget Hunter Pence and Matt Kemp, who have been said to be available. Stro’s and Dodgers would want too much bounty. Even for Reyes, a one year contract, the Mets are said to want a ransom. And David Wright, rumored to be available, is having a lousy year. Both average (.226) and X base hits are WAY down.

    Of the three I listed, Carlos Beltran most obviously fits the financial type – would primarily just take MONEY not a ton of prospect value – and would be gone in a year. Ok. He’s a RFer. Whatever. The guy can hit, the guy IS hitting. I’d take either of the other two but my guess is it would take more talent to get them.

    Who am I missing?? And what do you all think??

  20. Drew71 says:

    How about KISS performing?

    They could help this team.

    They’re pretty Offensive.

  21. Drew71 says:

    Clarence Clemons died.

    I hope the Big Man is playing in heaven.

  22. JMB says:

    @CDB & @ Drew…Nice posts!

    I’ll throw my favorite Carlos Pena into the mix for 1B.

    CP is having a .6 fWAR season to date; LO is having a – (minus) .6 fWAR season so far.

    Another positive, Pena isnt having a good enough year to force the Pirates to have to give up much for a 3 month rental.

  23. Drew71 says:

    JiMBo – then why get him? Pena doesn’t seem to be much of an upgrade compared to Ovebay.

    Pena is hitting .220. Overbay .226. Granted Pena looks good next to his .196 average in 2010. But really. The guy has no consistency, and it’s been that way for awhile. Pena has 11 HRs, clearly his strength. Yes, that stands out over Overbay’s 5. But Overbay is a better fielder. And Pena has 6 doubles and no triples. Overbay has 13 doubles and, somehow, one triple. Add up the total bases, 84 for Overbay, and 80 for Pena. And better D for Overbay too. To be fair, 16 more walks for Pena.

    Just not seeing enough there, especially on a team like PBC where Pena could be pitched around

  24. BobbyToledo says:

    I know this sounds crazy, but why not go for it and trade for Jose Reyes. Obviously, there would need to be some prospects in this deal, but that’s what they are for – and it’s Jose Reyes!

  25. JMB says:

    Sorry Drew, but Overbay is far from a better fielder.

    This season Pena has a -.4 UZR, and LO has a -5.2 UZR.

    Pena is 1.2 fWAR better than Overbay this year. Pena would be a HUGE upgrade over LO at the plate and in the field.

    OBP – Pena .353 / Overbay .306
    SLG – Pena .410 / Overbay .354
    OPS – Pena ..763 / Overbay .660

  26. Drew71 says:

    Yep. I agree with the gist that there is not much in the way of PBC trading pieces…if you count PLAYERS.

    Neal’s real trading piece, if he can find the right match, is PBC’s willingness to absorb a big contract for a half season. Assuming they ARE willing, which is a big honking assumption. Then the lack of tradeable players (that make sense to trade) is not that important.

  27. Drew71 says:

    I don’t disagree with those stats, JiMBo. I just disagree with them.

    What i mean is that they may be a bit misleading, both O and D. (I’m not saying that YOU are not misleading. Just saying sometimes stats without the whole picture can misdirect.)

    Here’s why:

    1. Overbay statistically is having, for him, an abnormally bad defensive year. Might it mean he’s TOTALLY washed up? Sure. But I’m betting not. His offensive stats have declined for three consecutive years before 2011, so it was predictable. But not D, which was solid every year but this one.

    2. The OPS “win” by Pena is being driven solely and only by his 16 more walks. They count, i get that, but it is not being driven by his power, as we would otherwise think. 84 total bases by Overbay vs 80 for Pena. Even leaving out singles and just looking at power driven extra base hits, it’s close. 49 total bases from just doubles-triples-HRs for Overbay. 52 total bases from just doubles-triples-HRs for Pena. The OPS difference is being driven by the walk differential. Yes that counts. But it is not as overpowering a win as it looks on paper.

    And yes, i also get that Pena’s 11 HRs vs Overbay’s 5 is of value. Just not sure it is worth absorbing the remaining part of his $10MM salary for that upgrade when there may be a better option or two out there.

    I would pass on both Pena AND Overbay, get a gettable Beltran for RF, put Jones at 1B and move on. Yes, Cuddyer is a better fit as a 1Bman. But Twins will likely want too much. (If not, grab him.) Mets mainly would be willing to salary dump Beltran. At least I think so. And Beltran’s .867 OPS is driven almost solely by power (10 HR, 21 Doubles, 1 Triple, and actually not ENOUGH walks, considering, at 31.)

  28. Drew71 says:

    remove the extra not. ‘I am NOT saying that you are misleading’ was what I intended.

  29. JMB says:

    I’m w. you on Beltran 100%, but according to Cot’s he has a “full no-trade clause.”

    Also, “club agreed to not offer arbitration after 2011 season.” So contract only, the Pirates shouldnt offer much of anything for Beltran. Diaz and the contract –heck even paying the rest of Diaz’s contract, but no prospects of note.

    On the positive Boras is his agent too, as well as Pena’s. (Plus Cole & Bell) NH might as well get used to talking with Boras, a lot!

  30. meglasdad says:

    Why are we looking for one year rentals? Your good or great free agents aren’t signing with the Pirates anyway unless you just throw millions more than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to trade prospects. How many of the can’t miss,superstar prospects that the Braves,Yankees, and Red Sox have traded over the years have become even average major leaguers? Prospects are great for getting general manager fired and little else. If I can get a good proven major league hitter for a Pressely, Lincoln and someone else, why not. If it is a rental type player, try to reach an extension before the trade and lower the bounty if one can’t be reached. Lets face it, the Pirates have been drafting in the top 10 or higher of the draft for 18 years and have produced how many stars? Most prospects are good only for getting proven major leaguers or as average players at best. Just remember, Chad Hermanson was a can’t miss superstar.

  31. CDBrewer says:

    Okay, dog fed and feeling more civil…
    Why didn’t we look at Ethier more closely?
    I think he is the best of the bunch, and might even be worth keeping.
    From everything I have read he is an absolute grinder (trains with best friend Pedroia).

    Ethier is the one who should be forced to be moved too – Kemp is really much too much for Bud to move, but Ethier, yep – it fits all criteria.

    I don’t want Beltran. He was part of the Mets quit factor over the past couple years. Yeah, he was hurt too, but he, like Reyes has earned a soft, timid, and not driven rep. I don’t want that around the young core.

    Pena fits, and would fit the Alvarez profile – lots of pop, not a lot of average. Pena also is recovering from an abysmal start. He would be number 2…

    And lookie here, one is a Met and the other a Dodger.
    I’m telling you, Nutting should start with the call to Bud to get it rolling.

  32. Drew71 says:

    I think you’re right re Boras.

    And I also don’t want to overstate my point…always a risk with a baseball discussion.

    Pena would be an upgrade. Just don’t think it is worth the cost. That said, I would mildly support the move. I would greatly support any of the other three that i listed, to a much greater extent.

    The remaining half of Pena’s contract is worth $5MM. More if obtained soon. All of Overbay’s is worth $5MM. If they obtain Pena, it costs them (btwn the two players) $10MM or a bit more. Same as if they had obtained Pena in the offseason.

    And when the Cubs payed 10MM for Pena, i thought and posted that they had overpaid. So to get Pena now means the received less value (since Overbay played first 10+ weeks) and paid same or a bit more than what I thought was a bad deal.

    That said, again, I would mildly support the move if it is the only one they can pull off.

    Out for a bit. This was fun. But then again, you and I are geeks.

  33. JuniataKid says:

    No rent-a-player. The temptation is there since we’re in the hunt, but it’s only June and we need way more than one bat. Then next year, we’re in the exact same predicament. Now if you can pull a reverse Ramirez trade, by all means do so, especially if the bat is under contract for a couple of years. Otherwise, you kick the can down the road to next year and you’ve still got gaping offensive holes all around the infield.

  34. JMB says:

    Drew, def fun! I wanted Pena in the off-season (made more sense then esp. if we cant dump Overbay’s contract onto someone else), or I wanted to trade Meek & Moskos for Mark Reynolds [$5M] (and install him @1B). Neither Pena or Reynolds is having a dream season, but they would both be, relative, improvements over LO (Pena much more that Reynolds @ 1B – Reynolds is a terrible fielder).

    I like Ethier a lot too @CDB, but I get a sense that Bud wants to remove McCourt without punishing the Dodger fan-base that can hit 4M attendance a year in a great season.

    Bud wanted McClatchey out (and Nutting in), and he didnt care how it affected the Pirate fan-base w. the A-Ram deal. I think Bud is more scared of alienating the $$$ of the Dodger fans.

  35. JMB says:,0,3440032.story

    Of course, the Dodgers ARE in a free fall, so anything is possible!

  36. CDBrewer says:


    Not being snarky, but did Bud really hate McClatchey more than he hates what the McCourt fiasco has been?

    Between the divorce and the financials, I would think that blackeye was bad enough. You are closer to LA, and I haven’t been to Dodger Stadium the past 2 seasons, but I’ve heard security is a HUGE issue – like driving away fans (to say nothing of the isolated, but tragic, Stow case we in SF hear about daily).
    Seems like driving out McCourt might save the fanbase.

    Funny though…I don’t like the big K guys – like Reynolds…and his comment about them not mattering didn’t help me with him…but he would be pop. No doubt.

  37. goose127 says:

    For so many years the Bucs have traded players at their nadir. With Maholm, and Correia here are two guys who are pitching well above their career norms. With such little coming in terms of a bat in the minors they ought to seek trades while they are at this all time high value. I think you have to throw Hanrahan in the mix as well. The Pirates have demonstrated that you can find closers in a variety of places, closers careers are an enigma, Hanrahan could have significant value.

    At this point i am not sure if Diaz or Overbay could fetch a pale of water in the trade market. Regardless both of those guys should either be moved or sit the bench after the trade deadline. Guys like Pressley and Jones ought to play everyday instead of the overpriced GM signings getting in the way of others to get real playing time.

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