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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: The Pirates’ real All-Star

CLEVELAND – Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My column this morning gives so much of the credit for the Pirates’ surprising season to Ray Searage that I do everything except buy the guy a plane ticket for Phoenix, site of this year’s All-Star Game.

He’s been that good, and I hope this sheds some light on that.

>> I’ve made some lousy predictions over the years in this business, but I’ll gladly step up this morning and take credit for having long criticized the Pirates for not using Jeff Karstens in the rotation, notably last summer.

The guy has a starter’s makeup and mindset, if not necessarily the overwhelming arsenal. And the results right now are just … staggering, really. He has a 2.54 ERA, seventh-best in all of baseball, and two ticks better than that of Roy Halladay. That, plus he’s finally getting left-handed batters out on a consistent basis.

Everything the Pirates have suggested he can’t do, he goes out and does.

>> We all need to get past these Karstens/Josh Fogg comparisons. Fogg never had any offspeed pitch to compare to Karstens’ curve, which was really effective yesterday in part because he was changing speeds on it from 67-75 mph, like pulling a string.

>> I’m off Monday, but the Wakeup Call, like the cockroach in nuclear winter, will march on. See you tomorrow morning.


  1. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Nice column. Great lead.

    Searage has been remarkable. Hope they don’t lose him.

    Could Scott Kazmir be his next project? That was an interesting rumor circulating earlier today.

    Kazmir has been an above average starter and he’s always been in the American League. Going to the NL and working with Searage sounds like a good situation to me.

  2. DAn M. says:

    Dejan, congrats on having a day off and not going insane satisfying the asylum! I hope this works for you & your family!

  3. Naje says:

    Cook’s article has some disturbing, if not outright immature comments from McCutchen. “I don’t have to hit for our team to win.” And: “I hate DH-ing”…

    Both quotes reek of immaturity… the quotes may be honest, but the negative and defensive attitude about his own play is very close to finger-pointing.

    Not cool… I don’t care where he lives in downtown. That’s some seriously warped thinking from the guy who is supposed to be leading a team on the field (clubhouse leader seems to be Walker, but that’s for another post).

    “I don’t have to hit for this team to win….. I hate DH-ing.” You ever hear quotes like that from another team’s star player? And Mr. McCutchen, how do you think that type of attitude will play out in contract negotiations, especially with the timing of those comments coming after a miserable, hitless weekend when your team really needed you?

    Not cool. Not cool at all.

  4. SeanE says:

    Naje…couldn’t disagree more. I viewed those comments 180 degrees opposite from you. Cutch, IMO, was not throwing his teammates under the bus with the I don’t have to hit for us to win comment. In my view a very mature way of handling things. As for the DH comment, what is so immature about that? Many people who follow the game “hate” the DH. Many others have come out and said so. I see nothing immature at all about that comment. To me it just shows the guy wants to play. If you were looking for reasons to hate on Cutch you found two pretty shabby ones.

  5. Karen22 says:

    I just read Cook’s article and, to parrot Cookie’s favorite phrase, “I can’t agree with you more.” I’m not sure what’s going on with Cutch, but an attitude problem is NOT what we need right now from our best (only??) offensive weapon. I happen to agree with him on Hurdle DH-ing him and needing to “give him a break,” but the Pirates CANNOT win if he doesn’t hit if our offensive “offense” continues to offend. So, Andrew, SHUT UP AND HIT!!

    And, Dejan, do you think out there in Fairyland there’s a “Ray Searage” hitting coach awaiting a call-down from the skies?? It’s TIME!

  6. SeanE says:

    Nice read DK. Just have to love what Searage has done this year. It is refreshing to see a coach who is not a “it’s my way or the highway” type of guy. He tailors his instruction to the talent.

    I don’t drop names (and won’t) but I was recently with an ex Pirate who is still VERY close to the organization. When I asked him the reason for the turnaround in the pitching this year his answer was quick…Joe Kerrigan is gone. According to this ex Bucco Kerrigan was the “worst coach” he has ever seen in baseball. He would demand pitchers do things his way. If he had success the pitcher was told to say he had worked with Kerrigan before the start or appearance. Frankly, I was surprised by the response. I think the pitchers this year feel like the shackles have been removed….and it shows.

  7. Karen22 says:

    My agreement is with Naje (Cutch sounded whiny and immature), but also with McCutchen (shouldn’t have DH-d and he doesn’t need a break) — I wasn’t very clear in what I wrote.

  8. Naje says:

    @Sean E–

    It is the negativity and the negative attitude inherent in those statements that is completely immature and devoid of his own performance. I understand a guy trying not to make too much of it, but have you read any player in the NL of Cutch’s pedigree say, “I hate DH-ing” after they went 0-fer in the game they DH’ed and 0-fer the entire series? You wrote that people who follow the game say that… and that’s fine. I do, too. But I’ve never read a player quoted as saying that, particularly after an 0-fer performance in that role.

    It’s whining… get over it, Cutch, and play.

    I never wrote that trivial, trite, “…threw teammates under the bus” line… never made mention of it. If he’s a leader on the field and one of the leaders of this team, then he shouldn’t make reactionary, negative, emotional quotes like that after he’s stunk at the plate for three straight games.

    Of course he wants to play… but I don’t see how those negative comments reinforce his desire to play (notice I didn’t use “I don’t like to sit”). All I read here was some reactionary, emotional b.s. The team and the fans deserve better.

  9. SeanE says:

    @Naje-I guess we can agree to disagree. I didn’t see anything that negative in those comments. Was there a bit of frustration? Sure. Was that understandable? Sure. Just didn’t see those comments as being significant enough to casue a reaction. Frankly, I would rather see some emotion and frustration after a loss and a bad series. After what we have heard from many players over the last 18 years it is actually refreshing. Cutch was pissed and it showed. I have no problem with that.

  10. JMB says:

    I hope Searage can get his hands on the Altoona Four and work some magic.

    They are going to heck in a hand-basket!

  11. JAL says:

    A few morning links for the day

    North Side Notch

    Stetson Allie set to make professional debut

  12. JAL says:


    Pirates GM Neal Huntington Show Notes; Joe Sheehan Conspiracy Plot Repost

  13. JAL says:

    Knoxville News

    ’Something big’ indeed for McKenry

  14. Parrothead01 says:

    naje, I think you need to grow up and get over it. I did not read the comment as McCutchen complaining or whining. I read the comment as McCutchen supporting his teammates. McCutchen is a smart enough ballplayer to know that he needs to hit on a consistent basis for the Pirates to be successful, but he also knows that they have won and will win games when he does not hit and if he takes on the attitude that he is the only player on the Pirates and the only way the Pirates will win is when he hits, then it is going to be a long season. Albert Pujols is one of the best hitters in the game and the pressure of being the only hitter on the team would even get to him.

    As for the DH comment. Heck even David Ortiz says that DHing stinks and he has been one of the best DH’s in the game the last ten years.

  15. Rooster11 says:

    June 20th, 2011 – 10:36 am naje, I think you need to grow up and get over it.

    That was a little harsh, huh? I don’t agree with Naje’s opinion either, but he’s entitled to his opinion.

  16. Parrothead01 says:

    Rooster, you don’t think what he said about McCutchen was harsh?

  17. Bertie says:

    Only someone with their own agenda could construe Cutch’s remarks as, in any way, negative.

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