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Wakeup Call: Selig, Boras, All-Stars talk Pirates

PHOENIX – Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

Andrew McCutchen flips a ball during the National League's workout last night. -- AP

>> I interviewed Bud Selig yesterday at a charity event north of the city. Thanks to the commissioner for taking the time out for one guy from Pittsburgh on a day in which he had three community stops, plus a fan chat, plus attending all the actual All-Star stuff at Chase Field. I hope I’m half that functional when I get to be his age. Also, thanks to Major League Baseball for arranging our meeting.

I will be interested to hear your feedback on the piece, which also includes stuff from Scott Boras and several All-Star players.

>> My premise that Pittsburgh is important to MLB has its roots elsewhere: About a decade ago, I would regularly write that the NHL needs Pittsburgh more than Pittsburgh needs the NHL. Being that the Penguins were coming out of bankruptcy, playing in a decrepit building and ranking among the bottom-feeders of the standings and in attendance, the premise sounded ridiculous to some. And I took my share of snark for it.

Not as much snark on that topic now.

>> No, Boras had nothing to say when I asked about the Pirates’ top two draft picks, Gerrit Cole and Josh Bell. In fact, he made it clear he wouldn’t be discussing it at all.

>> If the DUI arrest report on Hines Ward is even half-accurate, he’s in as much trouble as he deserves. I know he’s a terrific guy, and he’s done some wonderful things in the community and for Koreans. But when I read that report, honestly, I don’t find care all that much.

A drunk driver is the equivalent of a brandished weapon, except that it can be pointed at the heads of whole families and children.

>> We will have a special All-Star chat at noon. As always, you can begin submitting entries right away.

58 Comments

  1. Does it seem a little odd that after Josh Bell was drafted that he never came out and reiterated his stance on attending school?

  2. I was watching the Sunday night game and Bobby Valentine complimented the Pirates and said that he wanted to cover a game at PNC Park sometime. Not sure if it’s possible this year. I think the ESPN Sunday Night slate is set until mid-August at least but maybe a weeknight game is a possibility.

    Good perspective from a lot of different people. I don’t doubt that they’re sincere in being happy for the Pirates success. But I do sense that there is still that feeling of “is this team for real?” They’ll be a lot more eyes watching over the next few weeks coming out of this All-Star Break.

    As far as Hines, he should know better. Hard to believe a guy with such a good head on his shoulders could make a stupid mistake like this, but then again, who hasn’t made a mistake? Or done something or said something they wish they could take back?

    Hines seems like he was always a good kid. Followed the rules. Clean reputation and record for 35 years. And then this.

    Some mistakes are worse than others, obviously, but in this case he was lucky that nobody got hurt. Deal with the consquences. Apologize, and don’t ever do it again.

  3. DK whats your take on all the love to Nutting now ?

  4. Another fan almost fell out of the stands.

    I agreed the other day when somebody else on here said that the Texas fan death caused some overreaction, but still there seems to be too much of this where people are hanging over the wall trying to retrieve the ball.

  5. MLBTradeRumors reports that the Angels and Pirates had serious discussions about a Garrett Jones for Jeff Mathis trade, but Pittsburgh took a step back at the offer from Anaheim. Possibly cause the Angels were short handing the Bucs in return.

    Have to admit that I am kind of sad that Legend is being shopped though. I really had hopes he would be part of the long term plan in Pittsburgh. I guess there is still hope, since this deal fell through, but still.

  6. Some By the Time I Get to Phoenix Morning Links

    Pirates Prospects

    Daily Prospect Profile: Jordy Mercer

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2011/07/daily-prospect-profile-jordy-mercer.html

    Prospect Trends — Early Short Season Returns

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2011/07/prospect-trends-early-short-season-returns.html

  7. No ?s for Bud about the debt ratio being big deal for the Pirates w A Ram, but fine for everyone else now?

  8. Patriot News

    Among All-Star center fielders Andrew McCutchen beats Shane Victorino

    http://blog.pennlive.com/western-pa-sports/2011/07/among_all-star_center_fielders.html

    Beckley Register Herald

    Benson to headline festivities at PL All-Star game

    http://www.register-herald.com/todayssportsfront/x614903539/Benson-to-headline-festivities-at-PL-All-Star-game

  9. Fangraphs

    Do Catchers Influence Pitcher Performance? The Story of Spanky and Sluggo

    http://www.fangraphs.com/community/index.php/do-catchers-influence-pitcher-performance-the-story-of-spanky-and-sluggo/

    Yahoo Sports

    Pirates offer fans something to sink their teeth into

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ycn-8742641

  10. Interesting story/quotes.

    Traveling today. Will watch the ASG from Chicago tonight, back tomorrow night.

  11. For those of us NOT on the Kdro train. Remember this little snippet:

    “consider this draft report on MiLB.com said “Alvarez entered the season as the top player talent-wise in the Draft, and even though he missed a chunk of the season after suffering a broken hamate bone, his status hasn’t suffered. About as safe a bet as there is…”

    Now I know why I am so upset at his flounderings. I thought we were getting Pujols-lite maybe. Instead we get Mark Reynolds-lite.
    :(

    …………

  12. Dejan…re: your comment on Bud lite:

    ‘I hope I’m half that functional when I get to be his age.’

    Are you saying that Bud IS functional? Half of nothing is nothing.
    :) :) :)

  13. DK-kuddos to you. Nice story and it certainly validates everything you have said throughout the years. Build a winner and they will come. When others have said Pittsburgh had lost a generation of baseball fans you never bought into this argument. You maintained that when this team won the fans would come. Well I think it has been proven beyond a doubt that you were correct.

    What has been even more amazing is the public reaction to both Neal H and Bob Nutting. Both have been much more visible and outspoken this year. Heck, Nutting actually gave a radio interview! It seems that people are now saying that these guys are doing it right. What a change from a year ago. Amazing what winning (even a half season of winning) will do for ones reputation.

  14. Good one, Foo.

  15. would be cool if mlb adopted a game scheduling revision like the nfl and replace what they thought was a great sunday matchup & give the bucs a national spotlight once….

    as far as hines and the like……these guys make millions – why not have a driver or assistant nearby. make a lot of sense but maybe money doesn’t buy smarts.

  16. Sorry. I don’t believe Bud one iota when he talks about how good it is for baseball to have Pittsburgh back.

    If Pittsburgh was so important as a market to MLB, then why has Bud sat on his hands during his entire time as commissioner and allowed financial rules to flourish that inhibit the professional baseball club in Pittsburgh?

    If Pittsburgh was so important a market, then why did Bud sit on his hands when the Pirates financial situation was so dire it had to give away its best young player to the Cubs, rather than intervene financially as they are doing with the Dodgers?

    If Pittsburgh was so important a market, then why did Bud sit on his hands during 18 years of losing and not force management change in the club?

    Bud is a liar.

    Bud did an interview with a Pittsburgh journalist and told the Pittsburgh journalist exactly what he — and his readers — wanted to hear. I’m surprised he didn’t make a comment about how much he loves Primanti sandwiches.

    He would have said the same thing to a journalist from Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit or Baltimore.

    Baseball has flourished economically under Selig. Czar Bud may be a dolt, but he’s a dolt that knows how to make money. And baseball has increased the value of the game over the past 18 years like no other 18 years in the history of the sport. And it did so with the Pirates being irrelevant.

    Bud knows this.

    Trust me, Bud knows this very well.

    Bud wants the New York teams to win. He wants Boston to win. He wants LA and San Francisco to win. He wants Chicago to win. He can even live with the Texas Rangers or Atlanta to win. If he is going to have a sentimental exception to his rule, he’ll root for Milwaukee.

    The Pirates are having a great season. And it probably bugs the heck out of Bud.

  17. FatJ…….agree with you.

    As for flourishing, I am wondering how these families are justifying the huge expense of going to a game. Me and a buddy are going to an O’s/Bo Sox game at Camden Yds and the infield tix for each of us are $47!!!!!!!!

    Holy Stub Hub, Batman!!!!!!

  18. I was just thinking how we’ll probably never get to see any of our current guys play in an All Star Game in the City of Pittsburgh since we have had two (1994, 2006) in a relatively short time.

    The 2012 game is in Kansas City and 2013 at Citi Field in Flushing Meadows, NY. I’d bet that the 2014 game will be in Miami at the Marlins’ futuristic new stadium.

  19. I don’t know. I’m no fan of the Budster, but i believe he does think what’s happening here is good for baseball. If even the Pirates can have some success in baseball’s current economic system, it just validates what he has been saying that “everyone” can compete and the system has some parity to it. Now if John Henry or Steinbrenner Jr. said something like that, get out the shovels.

  20. @FJ,

    Jimmy, great reply to the Bud quotes. I tend to agree with you 100%.

  21. DK,

    Since no one else in 23 posts has acknowledged it, that was a great piece of reporting this morning. Well done

  22. Arriba, I have no doubt that the Pirates winning makes Bud sweat less when doing competitive balance interviews. But he isn’t paid to stay dry on camera. He’s paid to increase the value of the owners’ investments. And a winning team in Pittsburgh doesn’t really help the owners make more money, as evidenced by the rapid valuation growth of franchises (and revenue growth and profitability) in the last 18 years.

  23. Great piece DK.
    I tend to agree with FJ on the Bud Selig comments.
    I will say that the Pirates are being talked about. Seems like MLB Network and ESPN have taken notice. Thought it was cool that Cutch was interviewed during the HR Derby. Just last week I was at Fenway for a Sox game and two guys behind me were talking about surprises in baseball and mostly the Pirates. I didn’t chime in at all, but it was nice to have people talking about our Buccos even in Boston.

  24. Dejan, did you check to make sure you still had your wallet after the budmeister interview ;-)

  25. As reported on MLB Rumors this morn, I am SOOOOOO glad we passed on this deal.

    “The Pirates and Angels had serious discussions about a trade that would have sent Garrett Jones to Anaheim for Jeff Mathis, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, the Pirates decided to keep Jones instead of pursuing talks further.”

  26. “A lot of (fans) were probably sitting at home cussing us out on their TVs. Now, they’re coming out to the ballpark. But they still cared even back then.”–Joel Hanrahan

    YEP! I resemble that remark. Fantastic article, Dejan. My cynicism toward Bud continues, however, as it fades toward the Buccos. I had forgotten why I love baseball so. I actually resent the All-Star break this year—it’s in the way of our fun!

  27. RWShelton, agreed. Getting an interview with Bud during this time of the year is a nice accomplishment.

  28. Yup. Kudos to Dejan for landing the interview.

    (and if he didn’t get his wallet stolen, all the better. — good one Biz)

    • @Jimmy: I didn’t get my wallet stolen, but one of the housekeepers at this hotel stole my Starbucks mug. I’m dead serious about this.

  29. Once again I agree with Fat J (on both points).

    Amazing how funny Biz can be w/o his pizza boy ‘nemesis’ around. :)

  30. @Curt

    It’s just too bad Berman and all clearly had no idea what to ask Cutch. They asked him a couple questions about the Pirates, then went to their old standby: “Gee, that’s a nice ballpark you guys play in.” Then they asked him if he had looked up to Big Papi for a number of years. Gee, what interviewing skills, Boomer.

    Sorry. Just as many have kept their cynicism about Bud, I’m keeping my cynicism about ESPN.

  31. Now I know why I am so upset at his flounderings. I thought we were getting Pujols-lite maybe. Instead we get Mark Reynolds-lite.
    ==========================================

    @ Leefoo

    When Pedro gets going and that train leaves the station….you ARE NOT allowed on. Do I make myself clear? ;-)

    But seriously, a 24 year old in his 3rd season of pro ball, 1st full season of MLB has to be allowed some leniency. And what his draft bonus was has nothing to do with it.

    As Clint said, “The league punched back.” They’re is a bit of a book now on young Petey that he’s going to have to ‘re-write’ so to speak.

    I think it’s safe to say that Pedro isn’t the first high-profile young player to have to go back and work out some things in the minors, and he won’t be the last.

    It’s time to lay off young Petey. He’s back in AAA doing what he needs to do. And I think it’s imperative that you (maybe in private at first since you’ve been killing the kid publicly) root for him if you want the Buccos to take the next step soon.

    Otherwise, I’m not sure where the power is going to come from this season.

  32. Nice piece, DK… not just getting Selig, but Tulo and Fielder as well. Good read.

    July 15 – August 28: 42 games… 1/4 of the season… against some formidable competition… got to win 18 or more of those games to stay in the hunt.

    If Cutch gets an at bat… he’s getting a hit. If Hanny gets an inning, he’s registering two K’s.

    Looking forward to it…

    Remember Parker and his white shoes when he played in the ASG…? The only time he was allowed to wear them… always looked forward to his all star appearances.

  33. Lots of examples of big bats making a splah in the show then getting sent down. Biggest in my 40 years was Carlos Delgado hitting bombs left and right for the Jays and then being sent down cause he couldn’t hit a breaking pitch. It’s now up to Pedro to learn to go to left center like Delgado did.

  34. @DK,

    GREAT CALL ON HINES!

    Drunk driving is a serious crime that should be anathema to this country, but unfortunately is glossed over as a mistake.

    Drunk driving kills unsuspecting people, people that had no idea what was coming.
    We have come a long way from the days of cops telling people to get home and sleep it off, but we still don’t treat it as it should be treated – 1 ton weapon brandishing.

    As for Bud, all you need to know is one of the owners is the commish…it is less transparent in baseball than the other sports, where the owners at least approve a lackey to do their bidding.
    Maybe it is easier to push for change being one of the old boys, but the progress towards economic equity in baseball says otherwise.

  35. If Jones for Mathis was a serious discussion, I’m not sure I want NH to go forward with more trade talks. :D

  36. @Dave

    lol…
    But seriously, YEAH.
    I like what we got now and next year.

  37. Yikes on that trade rumor. Mathis is currently hitting .195 and appears to be playing every third day. That would of been similar to trading for Robinzon Diaz. Lol.

  38. Looking at the cynicism against Bud Selig and his comments…

    Honestly, how many of us DISAGREE with the statement that the Pirates are a great story and that this is good for MLB? Probably nobody. So I can’t say Selig is a liar from that aspect.

    We need to step back and just enjoy our fortunes. From our little corner of the baseball world, things are rockin’.

    Remember, MLB isn’t ‘all about us’ EXCEPT to us. We are PBC fans. Stay proud. Be humble. Half a season to go…

  39. Dave, just because I think Bud is a liar doesn’t prohibit me from loving what’s going on with the Pirates this year. It is an awesome story and it’s even more awesome for me as a fan.

    But Bud is being disingenuous. Despite his ability to help, he has taken no action to rectify the Pirates problems of the last 18 years. And his sport has flourished during that time. Bud may be “happy” for the Pirates … but in the same way you might be happy if you’re neighbor gets a long deserved promotion at work. The Pirates’ success is not on the Budmeister’s list of yearly objectives.

    And as far as “is this good for MLB”? I’ll disagree with you. And, look, don’t take this as me dumping on Pittsburgh or somehow not loving the Pirates, but Pittsburgh is in no way a strategic market for MLB. The city proper is the 59th largest city in America. And the metro area is #22 — with only 4 MLB cities below it. The metro area is one of only 4 metro areas in the country in the top 50 to experience a population decline in the past 10 years — with one experiencing the complete collapse of its primary industry (Detroit), another being nearly wiped off the face of the Earth by an act of God (New Orleans) and the other being Buffalo. Pittsburgh is one of the oldest populations in the country, an unattractive fact for advertisers. The area also has as many as 5 other MLB teams within 5 hours of the city center — which is a lot closer than many other markets.

    That’s my long way of saying that Pittsburgh (despite all of our civic pride) is not a strategic market for MLB.

    MLB doesn’t want to move franchises, period. Tampa is a great example of that. The Pirates, in particular, has a long history and a great stadium situation, so MLB doesn’t HATE Pittsburgh.

    But it’s simply false that MLB “cares” about Pittsburgh. Or that it “needs” Pittsburgh.

  40. I wonder if the Red Sox would trade Jed Lowrie.

    He’s been behind other players and has been hurt quite a bit, so he hasn’t really been able to play for a long stretch and show what he can do. Now he’s 27 years old so not quite the up-and-comer as they once hoped.

    He still plays all four infield positions, including first base, and his numbers suggest he could be a good hitter even with some power.

    In 171 ABs last year, he hit .287 with 9 HRs, 14 doubles, 24 RBI, with a .907 OPS.

  41. @DaveDigs

    Pretty interesting thought….make Lowrie the RH part of a Jones platoon at 1B and let Presley man RF on a FT basis.

    His splits against LH pitchers this year are:

    .386 BA .397/.629/1.026 in 70 ABs with 3 HRs and 18 RBIs and a BB:K ratio of 2:6

    For his career:

    .342 BA .401/.567/.968 in 240 ABs with 10 HRs and 54 RBIs and a BB:K ratio of 26:35

    That could prove to be a very interesting platoon considering Jones’ splits against RH pitchers this year:

    .265 BA .361/.460/.821 in 189 AB with 8 HRs and 29 RBIs and a BB:K ratio of 29:42

    And for his career:

    .278 BA .360/.487/.847 in 844 AB with 40 HRs and 125 RBIs and a BB:K ratio of 111:174

  42. Wasn’t there a big deal made about Latino players possibly protesting this all star game due to the immigration law that was passed in Arizona? I thought of that last night as I heard all 4 of the AL derby participants huddled together speaking to each other only in spanish. i guess time heals all wounds?

  43. CFJ and Dave, I don’t follow the Red Sox at all. Is Lowrie really not in the picture anymore in Boston? I see that Scutaro has taken a lot of ABs, but Lowrie still has more than 200 PA. Is it just because of how bad his splits are against RHP?

    Is there a reason why we wouldn’t want to give him a shot at SS if they were open to a trade?

  44. Lowrie has been on the DL since mid-June. He’s still in the picture as a bench/utility player. But if we trade them something of value we could get him in return and he’ll fit in with the team over the next few years because of his position flexibility.

  45. @SouthSideBucsFan

    Cutch is just lucky Berman didn’t simply say, “You’re with me, Braids.”

  46. Nate

    Regarding Kdro (Paydro, El Busto, etc). As you suggest, I will give him leniency……..NOT! :)

    ==========
    DK……..I’m surprised you can still function w/o your Starbucks mug.
    Seriously, had a few things stolen in my years of traveling. Most egregious was an MP3 player.

    ========

    Nate…….one more thing…….that blurb I posted stated that Kdro was the only ’safe bet’ in the draft. It turns out he was right. (you know where I’m going with this, right? :) :) :) )

    He’s a ’safe bet’ to strikeout or groundout to 2b.

    Seriously, I am rooting for Kdro to turn it around. Its just soooooo much fun picking on him. :)

  47. DaveDigs…….you need to apply for a job as NH’s assistant. :)

  48. I keep checking the job postings. :D

    Nothing yet.

  49. The Dodgers designated Marcus Thames for assignment.

    He sucked this year, but historically he has sort of been the type of player the Pirates are looking for. Decent power off the bench.

    He is a right-handed bat and he can play a little first base.

    Only .197 batting average this year.

    But with the Yankees last year, he hit .288 with 12 HRs and a .841 OPS.

  50. @ Foo – no disrespect, but if it’s so much fun–and I understand the comedy–can we just leave it at that now…until he’s deserving again?

    Alvarez seems to have it in his mind that he’s great… that he’s destined for great things. He’s got to learn how to be a baseball player… a contributor… a teammate. He’s got a world of issues at the plate. I mean, really, how badly does he miss pitches when he swings? Some of his swings and misses are feet, not inches, away from contact.

    His head is out of whack, literally and figuratively. He doesn’t watch ball when he swings, he guesses at pitches and he’s not contributing…which puts him in a mental funk as well.

    Just go back to basics with him and work from there. Get a huge dose of humble pie (with respect to his talent and being a contributor to the team), and come back and rake… win-over the team with his effort, his talent and by actually making contact with the ball.

  51. Was there any doubt that Alvarez was a head case from teh start? Has everyone forgotten the deadline debacle? He says he signs, oh wait no he doesn’t, oh wait the deadline passed, did it count, didn’t it? He has always been a little kid doing whatever anyone else tells him to. That showed immaturity. And with immaturity a little bit of success at the big league level can go to your head, leading to laziness in the off season and not being focussed or working on your game when the season rolls back around. Alvarez is guilty of all of this.

    I think the skills are there. If he can get in the right place mentally and understand this is a job that he is going to have to actually work at to live up to his potential, he will be everything he was supposed to be. If he doesn’t he will be, well, Lastings Milledge.

  52. Naje……you make Kdro sound almost like a ‘hitting Charlie Morton’.

  53. Foo – he may well be…that’s a very fair comparison to Morton.

    Falling that far short of expectation is a way to lose a lot of confidence. Seems to be a disconnect between his talent and his perception of his talent. He may work hard, he may put forth effort, but he’s not producing… heck, he’s not even making solid contact.

    He’s way, way out of sync at the plate and so far gone that he’s got to do some remedial things to get it back. It’s weird that he seemed so set in his ways at the plate this year and that his way was so, so over-matched. This led to one bad at bat after another and instead of banging his head over and over, Hurdle said enough is enough. Even with the injury, it’s apparent that the guy needs to reconnect his talent with reality. Just go back to hitting the ball with nasty intent. Often.

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