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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: It’s J-Day for Penguins

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> For those of you who usually see this thing right when it goes up after midnight, apologies for the delay. Some technical maintenance apparently going on overnight.

>> Today is J-Day for the Penguins. In my eyes, they did their part. They went to Jaromir Jagr with what, by all accounts, was a respectable offer. Or “respectful,” as Ray Shero called it. That sounds like it’s no lowball, no incentive-based deal that would insult a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Now, probably today, we’ll see if Jagr was sincere in wanting to return.

My inclination all along has been to believe that Jagr’s genuine motivation in all this was to return to this city and make things right, as well as having a chance to win another championship, and I still feel that way. Remember, Mario Lemieux got involved here. He spoke with Mario. He knows that, if he turns away from this for an extra bit of money on top of the nine figures he’s already earned in his career, he’ll be essentially slapping the face of the man he claims to respect more than anyone other than his own father.

I still think it will get done.

>> I loved what Alex Presley did, loved what Joel Hanrahan did, but Jose Veras won that game for the Pirates last night in T.O. Sure, there was some luck involved in that lineout double play. But the fact is, he entered an inning earlier than usual, got a quick double play, then pitched a perfect eighth.

That’s just outstanding. And he’s been doing it all season.

A tremendous find by Neal Huntington, who has consistently built good bullpens, even when he wasn’t doing much else right at the major-league level.

>> Come on, admit that you really wanted to see Hanrahan face Jose Bautista, the man on deck during Toronto’s final out.

How cool would that have been?

>> Reminder: We’ll have our weekly chat Thursday at noon.


  1. Fat Jimmy says:

    Things seem to be looking up for the Bucs. Some guys who haven’t contributed have started to heat up over the past week — Diaz is hitting well recently (though still singles), Overbay has had some big hits. This could be exciting!

  2. Fat Jimmy says:

    Dejan, the SABR crowd will drop their pants and relieve themselves on pitcher win totals, but I’d love your thoughts on Kevin Correia’s 10 wins. It seems to me that luck only goes so far, and at some point we have to give credit to a guy who is winning ballgames. Admittedly, his 10 wins may not be a predictor of success, but doesn’t he deserve a lot of praise for winning more games this quickly than any Pirate in the past 17 years?

  3. JAL says:

    A Few morning Links

    Pirates Prospects

    Interview with Jim Callis from Baseball America

  4. JAL says:

    Ohio Valley Athletics

    Alvarez Feels Good After Rehab Game

  5. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m with you 100% on your Correia post, Jimmy. 10 wins is 10 wins. (And it’s not all smoke and mirrors).

  6. Karen22 says:

    Dejan—I was perfectly content to leave Joey and his Bat impotently on deck and my heart in my chest! Had enough drama with Adrian Gonzalez and Big Papi, thank you very much!
    I cannot believe what is going on with this team…I’d completely forgotten why I love baseball!

  7. SeanE says:

    Sorry DK. NO Way I wanted to see JoeyBats in that situation…this year. Goal number one was to win that game. The best chance of winning the game was to avoid JoeyB. Now, if this were the typical Pirate team that was 15 games out it would have been a cool matchup. But not now. Not this year. Not being 3 games out of first. No way. I want to keep winning.

  8. AJS says:

    I’m with you Karen. For the past few years I would get excited for the start of the season and then wonder why I ever followed the game so closely when I was younger. With the Bucs playing exciting baseball, the memories all come flooding back.

  9. Drew71 says:

    Some thoughts/

    * Yes. Yes. Would have LOVED to see the Hammer vs Bats showdown. Would have loved it. LOVED it.

    * “We feel from the information we have and after seeing at world championships, that he’s a guy who might be able to help us this coming season,” a quote from Ray Shero that I pulled off Am I sensing some I-had-my-arm-twisted ambivalence? “MIGHT be able to help us”? “MIGHT”? I may be wrong but I’ll tell you this…I wasn’t LOOKING for it. It just jumped off the page at me.

    * Last time the Pirates were 2 games over .500 this late in the season: July 2, 1999, when the lost 5-2 to, ahem, the brewers (of course) to fall to 40-38, the 78th game of the season. So naturally that means that July 1, 1999 was the latest the Pirates were three games over .500.

    * And by posting that last tidbit, I feel like I’m turning into JAL.

    * I should be so lucky. Seriously.

    * My thoughts on Correia’s 10: Both sides of the argument will overstate it, as it is their wont to do. He has been good and at times very good. Generally not great. Some will try to justify 10 as great. Some will try to stat-geek him into just lucky. If so, i think they are both overstatements. Very glad he’s on the team, and to date, the best (relatively) high profile pickup of the Huntington era, and one of the best in MLB of the season.

    * I have been beating on Diaz unmercifully. I’ve said it before. My prognostication powers are uncanny. Uncannily bad.

    * Any thoughts about at which gate they’ll place the Presley statue? (See, i wrote that snarky-like, to confuse the reverse-drew-prediction powers. They just won’t know which way to go with that one.)

  10. CFJohnsn says:


    I think that Correia’s wins are legit just based on his 3.79 ERA.

    If he’d be over 4.00 and still winning games, then it’d be pretty easy to dismiss based on run support or luck. But the guy’s been pretty steady except for a couple of starts at home only giving up more than 4 runs twice all year.

    Also have to remember that no Pirates pitcher reached 10 wins all of last year!

  11. Curt says:

    I want to bring up a guy is has been unreal. That would be Mr. Joel Hanrahan. He has been awesome. I have zero doubt in mind when the Hammer comes in. You know its going to be over quickly and you know he’s going to hit 98 on the gun when he needs that last out. I think he deserves to be in Arizona for the All Star Game.
    Pirates will get at least 2 guys this year. What does everyone think over or under?

  12. Drew71 says:

    Hanny is practically a given…when he enters the game as well as for the All Star Game. Another ASG rep? THAT is the big question. So I guess I’d put the over-under at 1.5. JUST Hammer? Or Hammer Plus?

    My guess…because the Pirates’ success story is just barely starting to make news and therefore most are unaware…Just Hammer.

    Which, while disappointing, will give us plenty of conspiracy stuff to talk about. You know. Nutting but Hammer.

    Freaking Nutting.

  13. Buckeyehba says:

    OK, I have not watched Toronto since Bautista left the Pirates. Like others in the past (Bonds?), the Bautista of today physically looks nothing like he did when he left here. Granted, it can be age and maturity, but going from 15 HR to 54 and look like he does…..well, how stupid is MLB. How do you spell “juice”

  14. FormerSoxFan says:

    Does Bautista really look all that different?

    With the Bucs:

    With the Blue Jays:

    I don’t really notice much difference.

  15. PGH_Fan_in_NH says:


    I think Correia’s win total is impressive because he is winning the games for a team that is not scoring that many runs per game. Its one thing to pitch for a high offense team and pile up wins, and a whole other to pitch well enough to win when you can usually only count on a couple runs.

  16. JAL says:

    Last season no Pirate pitcher won 10 games. This season they have one before the half way point.

  17. JMB says:

    Are we a bona fide contender?

    Beltran would approve a trade to a contender.

  18. Drew71 says:

    i got my decades mixed up. that was NOT the last time PBC was 2 games over.

    old age.

  19. Comet Littlefield says:

    I would have liked to see Hanny v. Bats more IF the Pirates were up 2 with no one on base…OR at worst Bats representing the tying run. Not sure I could have handled it if Bats hits a 2 Run Walk off homer….although, Hanny striking out Bautista with 2 outs and 2 men on would have been unreal. Talking about the highest of highs v. the lowest of lows? Risk-reward? Ugh…

  20. Mason says:

    Dejean, any updates on Meek?

  21. CDBrewer says:

    @ JMB
    I don’t want Beltran. He is timid in the field, plays when he wants to, and is really breakable.
    That Mets team has been toxic for a couple years (notice they are moving the crew who drove out Randolph, who wasn’t great but deserved better) – Beltran isn’t worth the chemistry risk anymore. LoDuca might have lost his mind, but much of his rantings in NY were about Beltran and Reyes in accountability and effort.

    I would rather let the kids play and wait for our own injured to return unless it is a slam dunk (Pence, Ethier or another gift from the league’s debt ratio department).

  22. Reading says:

    The Mets are only a half game behind us in the Wild Card Standings. I know they are 9.5 or so behind the Phils, but are they really going to dismantle and get rid of Beltran or Reyes? I doubt it.

  23. FormerSoxFan says:

    The Pirates as a team haven’t scored a bunch of runs, but individually, Correia’s had plenty of run support.

    The Pirates have averaged 6.73 runs in his starts, or about three runs more than they’ve scored in Maholm’s starts.

    He’s still pitched well, and done what has been needed to get the W, but he has been fortunate in that the Pirates’ offense has done its job during his starts.

  24. JAL says:


    Meek in extended spring training and not throwing off the mound yet as of Monday

  25. aglebagel says:

    I’m gonna go OVER the 1.5 All-Stars. Hanrahan is a shoo-in (every year there’s like 5 or 6 closers on each league’s roster), and McCutchen was 8th on Tom Verducci’s NL MVP list yesterday in his mid-season awards. Not that he’s the one making the roster, but I think it’s a good indicator of the widespread respect that Cutch is getting across the league.

  26. matmoksik says:

    Jim Bowden at ESPN picks Cutch AND Hanrahan for his all-star and lists Morton and Walker as “snubs,” which I gather means deserving but not enough room. I imagine there are a billion of these predictions floating around out there, but that’s a pretty good indicator.

  27. Fat Jimmy says:

    I think Hanrahan and McCutchen are locks.

    The other guy with an outside chance is Correia. Sounds silly, but I think there are people in baseball who are still old school stats guys … and Correia could have 12 wins by the break.

  28. Arriba Wilver says:

    Hanny can’t be left off the AS team. Buckeyehba–you need some new glasses, dude.

  29. PokeyReese says:

    I hope some of DK’s skill rubs off on some of these other bloggers. The article submitted today about the 5 Worst Trades is a joke. We are in the hunt and this jerk decides to write an outdated and overdone article. It has been done 1000 times and absolutely stinks and is irrelevant. Those of us coming over to this site from the other expect better stuff than that.

  30. Rick in LA says:

    Hola DK, I am now tuned into your blog and chat. Thanks for the note.


  31. Sec.143RowMSeat24 says:

    The knock on wins for pitchers has to do with all other factors that lead to wins. Yes Correia has 10 wins, but Maholm only has three. Why? Well the offense hasn’t scored for Maholm, so it doesn’t matter how well he pitched, without offense you can’t win. What about last nights game? The Pirates scored 7 runs. Correia gave up 4. Good deal, right? Well what about Watson giving up the two bombs? Wihout Cutch hitting the homerun, it becomes a no decision and not a 10th win. What about the luck involved with the DP off veras in the 7th? Ball gets past Overbay and Toronto score at least 2 runs there. The bottom line with pitcher wins is during the course of one season it’s not a good way to evaluate pitchers. A pitcher on the Yankees and the Pirates pitching the exact same way would have differnt win totals due to the difference in the respective teams construction. Same with RBIs and Runs scored. Cutch surrounded by a lineup of Teixeira, Cano, Rodriguez, would probably score more runs than he would in this lineup. Too many outdies factors (manager’s decisions, defense, offense, luck) all have to work together to get a picher a win. Pitcher wins are a better way to determine the value of a team, more so than a value of a pitcher, unless a pitcher throws a perfect game with 27 strikeouts every game.

  32. Fat Jimmy says:

    Pokey, I agree. Beyond the poor timing of the post, his assertion that the Zane Smith/Moises Alou trade is the worst Pirates trade of all time is laughable.

    Smith one 61 games for the Pirates and was a critical member of the rotation for all three division champions. He even finished with a winning record in 1994 when the Pirates went 53-61.

    This is where journalists and fans lose all logic. People will clamour for the Pirates to make trades at the deadline. Well, guess what? There are two teams in every trade. And the other team will want quality back. Just because you give up a good young player, doesn’t make the trade bad. You’re trading present performance for future potential. If the guy you get delivers — and Zane Smith did — then the trade is a success, even if the guy you gave up goes on to a great career.

    Yes, Boston once traded Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen, but Andersen had a 1.23 ERA for Boston and was critical in helping the team win the 1990 pennant.

    Yes, Detroit once traded John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander, but Alexander went 9-0 with a sub-2 ERA in helping Detroit win the AL East in 1987 by only 2 games.

    You have to take chances to win. Some times you have to give up a lot.

  33. Fat Jimmy says:

    143 said:

    The knock on wins for pitchers has to do with all other factors that lead to wins. Yes Correia has 10 wins, but Maholm only has three. Why? Well the offense hasn’t scored for Maholm, so it doesn’t matter how well he pitched, without offense you can’t win.

    I get that. But I think you oversimplify how that happens. A pitcher doesn’t have to always get guys out — last night being a perfect example. Correia had a big lead, and he focused on throwing strikes and — as such — gave up a couple extra runs. But he could afford to do that and still win the game. His advanced stats won’t look as pretty for it, but he pitched the way he needed to in order to win the game.

    Conversely, Maholm has incidents where he has surrendered big hits in critical moments, costing his team the game.

    Look, I’m not debating that it’s easier to have a lot of wins if your team scores a lot of runs. But I do think there is a QUALITY in a pitcher to make the pitch he needs to make when he needs to make it. In my book, wins are still a viable stat to demonstrate this.

  34. PokeyReese says:

    I completely agree Jimmy

  35. Kibab1979 says:

    I see the Pirates getting Cutch and Hanrahan named to the team, with Walker being on the Fan Vote list for the final spot.

  36. Sec.143RowMSeat24 says:

    @ Fat Jimmy

    I get what you’re saying, but if like I said Veras doesn’t get that out with the bases loaded and Correia gets the No Decision instead of the win, it doesn’t make Correia any worse of a pitcher. He’d still be having a pretty good season with 9 instead of 10 wins. Conversely the same can be said of Maholm. If the Pirates had scored any runs for him earlier in the season and he had 7 wins instead of 4, would that make him a better pitcher? No, same guy pitching the same way. Just think there are more factors going into a win that pitchers performance only. Not saying wins aren’t important, that’s what it’s all about, just that wins aren’t the best way to determine a pitchers value since there are so many other factors that go into whether a pitcher wins or not.

  37. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Rick: Hello, and glad to see you found your way safely.

  38. pattonbb says:

    RE: All Stars

    As much as I think Cutch deserves it. He’s not going to Phoenix this year. Look at the NL outfielders: Bruce, Eithier, Cryin Ryan, Kemp, Berkman, Holliday, and Upton all have big numbers. Plus you have Hunter Pence in Houston, who will probably be the lone rep for them. Bochy also said he’s bringing some of his guys to fill out the roster. I think Andrew, although very deserving, has no chance…… unfortunately.

    I’ll take the under. The lone Bucco will be Hammer, but we’re getting closer.

  39. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Patton: Hanrahan and McCutchen. Not one or the other. Both.

  40. sidelinespensfan says:

    *Just a few thoughts I wanted to share…

    *I allowed myself to fantasize this morning that Jagr did come back to the Pens. While it would be folly to suggest that he could dominate games like he did a decade ago, I do think he could fill a valuable void on this team of secondary scoring. What made me pause for a second was thinking about going to opening night and hearing his name called. It won’t be the same without John Barbaro belting out a “JAROMIR ……JJJJJJJJJJJJAGRRRRRRRRRRR”. To all who have been to the Civic Arena and have heard his voice, I’m sure you all got a little smile out of that (I know you just heard his voice in your head :) ).

    *Have the Pirates ever had this much speed on their team? They could conceivably start this line-up: LF-Presley, CF-Cutch, RF-Paul, 3B-Harrison, SS-D’Awesome, 2B-Walker, 1B-Jones, C-Fort McKenry. If you can’t hit the ball out of the park consistently, go with speed. I would love to see this lineup run out there for a couple of days to watch Cutch, Walker, and Jones be surrounded by proto-type 1 and 2 hole hitters (except for the C).

    *These Pirate games have been fun to watch this season! I am happily back on the bandwagon and can’t wait to finally break my streak of not attending games. (The last game I went to, Josh Fogg got beat up by the Cubs and we were down 9-0 going to the bottom of the 1st. I then told my wife that I would not be attending another game until they were at or over .500 in July.) Of course, I have never been able to stop watching games or following the Pirates no matter how hard I tried.

  41. pattonbb says:

    @DK, I hope you’re right. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t take any of the names I listed over McCutchen. Just not sure if it will happen.

  42. JoeBucco says:

    I agree with pattonbb, would love to see it, but I don’t think Cutch gets it this year. I think NW has as much of a chance, with those RBI on a poor offensive team, and more importantly, less competition at the position. It is so hard to make it as an OF. Wish Charlie hadn’t slipped a little the last couple of weeks or he’d be in too. Karstens probably deserves is more than any of those guys, but most people outside of Pittsburgh still don’t know who he is. They’re finding out now though.

  43. Dan says:

    DK or anyone who can answer this… If the Pirates don’t trade Maholm and don’t pick up his option, will they get compensation and what will that be? If we get a sandwich pick between the 1st and 2nd round… well, that is obviously a variable, but hardly letting him walk for nothing either.

  44. JoeBucco says:

    Tonight is halfway to .500 night. A ‘W’ gets them to 41 wins, which is officially over halfway to 81 and a .500 record. I really get the feeling that these guys have bigger things in mind than an 81-81 record though. 3 games out and in 3rd place now, with a Pujols-less Cardinal team only 1 game ahead for second, the longer they hang in there with key pieces getting healthy, I think they may start to feel like “why not us” in the divisional race.

    Every team has it’s obstacles to overcome, and for us, it’s been the Brewers. Would be an awesome rivalry if these teams are in 1st and 2nd when they meet again.

    I like that. A lot.

    Let’s Go Buccos.

  45. Bizrow says:

    So I think we welcome LA into the inmate population, cool beans

    Re – Trades

    No way is Zane Smith on that list, we needed someone to beat the Mets and he did that for us.

    Ramirez trade yup, Chris Young trade, yup

    How about the Bay trade for nothing in return?

  46. JoeBucco says:

    Woulda been better off letting Bay walk (yes, I know that horse has been dead for years now). The drafts picks the Red Sox got by doing so are pretty decent prospects now. He was the one single chip we could not whiff on, and we did.

  47. Bizrow says:


    In order to get a sandwich pick, you have to offer the player arbitration. I don’t know if we can decline Maholm’s option year but still offer arbitration,as we are buying out his contract.

    But with baseball rules, who knows for sure?

  48. PGH_Fan_in_NH says:

    Jimmy:Yes, Boston once traded Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen, but Andersen had a 1.23 ERA for Boston and was critical in helping the team win the 1990 pennant.

    Just a correction, I agree with your point, but the Sox did not win the 1990 pennant. They won the AL East on the last game of the 1990 season, and then were swept by the A’s in the ALCS.

    Won pennant in 1986 and next was 2004

  49. Bizrow says:

    I agree JoeBucco and its still hard to see how that deal went down, as far as the condition of the horse, heck, the article was all about dead horses.

    The Ramirez trade still fries me every time we play the Cubbies ; }

  50. JoeBucco says:

    You can offer arbitration to a player after declining their option.

  51. Bizrow says:

    Joe Bucco, I did not know that, even with a buyout?

  52. aglebagel says:

    @patton- I still see McCutchen making the team, but your point about Pence is well taken. Even as a Pirates fan, I’ve never been a fan of an automatic representative. I’m pretty sure that most people if you’re a bad team your team’s rep must not be a “real” all-star, and while that’s certainly been true of the Pirates sometimes, it takes away from the times when we do have a legitimate all-star.

    If Cutch doesn’t make the team, it will just be further proof of how ridiculous it is that the All-Star game lumps center fielders in with the corner outfielders. Why don’t they just consider all the infield positions the same, too? Not to many second basemen making it in that scenario…

  53. Curt says:

    Don’t know if this is news to everybody or not, but I read that one of the Carlos Pena suitors is our very own Pittsburgh Pirates. That was news to me. I would like to see him in the lineup even with the homerun or strikeout type of hitter he is.

  54. pattonbb says:

    @aglebagel – I agree the automatic representation is flawed. I don’t think the fans shouldn’t have a vote, but the fan voting should be weighed with actual voting from players, coaches, front office people, etc. Heck, filling out a ballot is fun. It’s a good way to keep fans involved. But the voting is nothing more than a popularity contest.

    Of course, I probably would change my tune if my name was Hunter Pence.

  55. FormerSoxFan says:

    As far as the worst trades . . . the Matt Morris deal has to be up there, right? At least with the Bay trade, you understood the strategy behind it; the execution was what made the trade a bad one. But for a team that is out of the race to trade for a mediocre pitcher making a ton of money, take on his salary even though the Giants were willing to take on most/all of it, AND give up a decent 4th/5th OF in return is beyond lunacy.

    For a contending team, the Morris deal would have made little sense. For a losing team that was out of the race, it made no sense whatsoever. In fact, it was a cheap cynical ploy by Littlefield to try to save his job, rather than truly help the franchise.

  56. JoeBucco says:

    @Biz – yea, I had to look that one up. I guess the Brewers did that with Mike Cameron I believe, bought out his deal and offered arb for the sole purpose of compensation.

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