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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Hanrahan’s 2 1/3 innings per week

PHILADELPHIA – Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Monday column analyzes the trades, what went into them, what came out.

I didn’t find myself feeling a whole lot of absolutes on the topic, as you’ll see, so I pretty much just picked it all apart and went from there.

>> The Pirates pitched 66 1/3 innings on this very trying seven-day trip, and the best reliever in baseball was summoned to pitch just 2 1/3.

I don’t feel absolutes when it comes to “Moneyball” principles, unlike many in that small but amazingly vocal segment of society, but I subscribe to quite a few. Chief among them is a manager’s misuse of a closer strictly for ninth innings as opposed to, oh, you know, when the game is on the line. Joel Hanrahan just sits in the bullpen while the rest of the relievers try and try and try to get him the ball for a save.

The idea is to win. The best chance to win is with your closer in other roles sometimes. The Braves did that this week, as did the Phillies here yesterday. Clint Hurdle just won’t budget on this one.

I understand Hanrahan could be fresher down the road. I also understand a lot of what goes into the mindset of assigning an individual the responsibility of pitching the ninth inning. Players are human. Some can handle it. Some can’t. But I don’t understand managing strategically in line with a statistic. I’d rather see Hanrahan pitch when needed rather than with a three-run lead in the ninth against the Astros.

>> If Lyle Overbay isn’t released today, I’ll be surprised. Makes absolutely no sense to keep him, given that he plans only one position.

If I had to guess the other roster move, it would be sending out Steve Pearce.

The bigger question is what happens when Alex Presley comes back in a week.

>> I am really looking forward to getting into some football the next few days. Details to come in the Call tomorrow, but suffice it to say I need to set my Mapquest to find my way to Latrobe. Been a while.


  1. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    No more Phillies. Regular season that is.

    We’ll be a comin’ back. :D

  2. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Steelers training camp is going be crazy in terms of competition.

    They already have a great team obviously coming off a Super Bowl appearance. They re-signed several veterans, but I also think they had a strong draft and picked up some interesting undrafted free agents.

    At running back, for example, Baron Batch from Texas Tech has a chance to be a steal. Great hands and skill set for that third-down back role. But they also re-signed Mewelde Moore.

    Cornerback is another spot where there will be some difficult decisions made.

  3. Bunch of fair weather fans... says:

    The trades were mild upgrades but not what far-reaching people would have liked. I’m sure some would say they were a waste of time cause the Pirates didn’t get people who wouldn’t come. Regardless, I think they did well to improve the team without giving up much.

    As far as Ludwick’s stats, the NL West should get some of the credit (or blame) for that. There are some big stadiums for right handed hitters specifically out there. 3 of the 5 lowest scoring teams in MLB come from San Diego, San Francisco, and LA. Combined they have the lowest scoring division in baseball. Only Colorado (known for it’s offensive benefits) and Arizona with a dome have scored more than 400 runs.

    While Ludwick doesn’t get any favors in PNC Park, the rest of the NL Central stadiums aren’t bad and he’s familiar with the division. He certainly won’t hurt the team. The latter statements about the Park and the division are true about Lee as well.

  4. Bunch of fair weather fans... says:

    Good night

  5. MrB says:

    The way those ROAD games played out, I have no issue with Hanrahan’s seemingly lack of utilization. You want to use him…then get to the bottom of the 9th inning or beyond with a lead.

    If the Pirates had managed to hold on and beat Philly yesterday, I would have declared this road trip at 3-4 a success. This was the toughest stretch of the season playing on the road against two top teams (starting some of the top pitchers) while the two teams ahead of you are hosting the cupcakes in your division.

    The Pirates are by no means out of it. They’ve made moves to improve the club. Hopefully, injured players are returning soon. Presley sparks the offense and pressures the opposing defense and is sorely missed. Lets see what the new guys can do.

    It’s crunch time now. Play good baseball heads-up against your divisional opponents and they can win this thing. It comes down to pitching effectively.

  6. Bunch of fair weather fans... says:

    I want to propose the lineup as I think we would see tomorrow (mostly because Alvarez needs protection and Lee would give him some).

    Paul LF
    Walker 2B
    McCutchen CF
    Ludwick RF
    Alvarez 3B
    Lee 1B
    McKenry C
    Cedeno SS

  7. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Another way to look at it…

    If the Pirates are ever going to win the division, make the playoffs and those kinds of things they’re going to have to play good ball from August 1st on.

    Why not now? It’s still in front of them.

    Good clubhouse. Good pitching. The offense was not good enough up until this point but it’s going to have a new look. We’ll see what these players can bring.

  8. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    The stats tell a lot but not everything.

    You might look at Lee and Ludwick’s individual stats and not be overwhelmed but maybe Lee comes up with a big hit one night, then McCutchen the next game, Walker the next game and so on. The sum of all parts. More capable players add up to a stronger team. Look at the Phillies. Even if you hold Howard, Rollins, Utley in check it might be the game that Ibanez tears it up.

  9. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    The first initials of Ludwick, Alvarez and Lee are LAL.

    Let’s hope it’s not LOL at their many swings and misses.

  10. Brian Ferber says:

    “That’s nice” is about right, but I see more. Beyond the fact that the PBC were buyers for the first time since 1997, what’s exciting is the possibility that the PBC FO knew they needed to change the team’s makeup to put the core of this young team in a position to succeed. Did they do that? Only time will tell. Could they have gotten more? I don’t know.
    What I do know is that many of us were questioning if Hurdle was trying to lose with some of the lineups trotted out over the last few weeks, as we watched battling pitchers, repeatedly displaying “bad to the bone” efforts time and time again and receiving the L.
    I shared a similar lineup with DK as BOFWF did above, other than flip-flopping Cutch to 2 and Walker to 3. It may be impossible for Hurdle to change philosophy, but this team should play speed ball, not small ball. No at-bats to give up! It will be fun to pull for these guys and care about baseball in August, even if deep down I know it may be next year before we make it to October. It’s a start.

  11. Brian Ferber says:

    and yes DK, use the Hammer if it’s in your toolbox!

  12. Link Mendoza says:

    That’s nice is a good way to put. It was far from spectacular, but after seeing the trades that other teams were making (and will be regretting in a couple of years), I think the Pirates came out ahead of the other buyers. Honestly, if a team needs to add 4 or 5 players at the deadline then maybe they should reconsider whether they are a buyer or not. Even if the market was more suitable for the buyers, there is no way the Pirates were going to be able to fill even half of their holes.

    Overbay should be gone tomorrow, but if Cedeno is ready to play then Ciriaco will be the other one to go (Wood can back up at SS).

    Early in the season, Hurdle didn’t seem to mind using Hanrahan in less conventional ways. More recently, he has stuck to the “only in a save situation” mindset. This bullpen has been its most effective whenever any reliever could be used at anytime. Hurdle should definitely loosen the reins a little with this particular philosophy.

  13. Ron J says:

    DK why would the bucs keep Jones up he has looked as bad as any player I have ever seen ? And I think the bucs did well not to give up prospects and only cash to get Overbay and Jones out of the lineup and improve !

  14. Jared says:


    I completely agree with your assessment of Hanrahan’s innings pitched. However, I don’t believe that we can accurately compare Hurdle’s use of his closer with the way the Braves’ and Phillies’ closers were used in the extra-innings games. Once those games got to the ninth inning, the home team did not have a chance at getting a save, so it made sense to get their closer in there in the ninth, get an inning out of them and hope for the best. The visiting team (us) still had a chance for a save, so Hanrahan was saved for it. Had the games been played in PNC, I’m pretty sure Hurdle would have pitch Hanrahan in the ninth and the Braves/Phillies would have held on to their closer until they had a lead. I don’t agree with the practice, but I’m sure this is what was going through Clint’s head and most other managers’ heads here in the age of the Closer.

  15. pghboyinca says:

    How about pitching to Ibanez with first base open and one out? Thir were two reserves up next and a double play would have been set up. Ibanez was killing them and should not have been pitched to. I like the moves nd it shows at least we are trying. I love what I have seen form this team but there is no chance fo this team winning the division. The gap in talent is too wide and our pitching is coming down to earth. I just wantt o end the 18 year curse and go from there. If Morton is not turned aorund this could get ugly, when he is bad he is realy bad and it destroys the bullpen as well. I think Correia willl be asub .500 pitcher from here on out , his getting over 5 runs a game fromthis offense will end. I like the way Karstens and Maholm are throwing and expect them to stay sharp. JMac up and Down. Charlie is the key, we need him to rebound.

    Pressly is kaya s well, with some more power we need him as a table setter.

  16. buccos since '04 says:

    I guess I am too. #nextyear

  17. Tomorrow’s Line-up
    What it will be: What it should be:
    Paul LF Paul LF
    Cedeno SS Walker 2B
    McCutchen CF McCutchen CF
    Walker 2B Lee 1B
    Lee 1B Ludwick RF
    Ludwick RF Alvarez 3B
    Alvarez 3B Cedeno SS
    McKenry C McKenry C

    Overbay DFA Ciriaco to Indy

  18. Turner Ward says:

    DK – I agree that Hanrahan was drastically and almost embarrassingly underused this week, but comparing him to how the Braves and Phillies used their closers is mischaracterizing the situations. Neither of their closers were brought into the game before the 9th inning, and each of the 3 non-save situations in which they were used were late in games where the home team was not eligible for a save.

    Hanrahan was held (I assume) in case the Pirates actually could hand him a lead in extra innings, ensuring that the game wouldn’t go any longer if the Pirates actually could have scratched out a run. The Braves and Phillies did not have that scenario to consider. Score a run and they win (as they did 3 times in extras).

  19. JAL says:

    Some Philadelphia Freedom Morning Links


    MLB Transactions

    MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    Pirates Prospects

    Draft Picks Signing Tracker

  20. JAL says:

    Pirates Prospects

    2011 Trade Deadline Recap: Pirates Get Lee, Ludwick

    1902 Pirates: Best Ever?

    Lincoln and Indians Chopped By Braves

  21. JAL says:


    Grading the Pirates’ Trade Deadline Moves

    Philadelphis Inquirer

    Raul Rallies Phils

    Murfreesboro Post

    Former Blue Raider stands out in Pittsburgh

  22. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Seems like a lot of emotion was drained from this team on this road trip. Kinda like returning home with a hangover.

    I think I’ll take a pass on any judgement re: Lee and Ludwick until I’ve seen them in action in a Pirate uniform for a little while. Hopefully they will inject some much-needed adrenaline back into the line-up.

    Feeling very queasy right now whenever Veras enters a game.

    Drawing a line on my calendar at the end of July. The Bucs are 0-0 as the new guys step onto the field… and up to the plate…

  23. JAL says:

    Centre Daily Times

    Kingham’s crown:Pitcher has another solid night to give Spikes modest two-game win streak

    ISSports Fox Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Fans Frustrated with Hurdle, Huntington

    SB Nation

    Clint Hurdle Muzzles Joel Hanrahan On Pirates’ Rough Road Trip

  24. leefoo says:

    I blame that loss solely on Clint.

    Master Motivator, lousy game tactician.

    No way should Veres have been pitching to Ibanez. NO WAY!!

    Thx Clint!

  25. JMB says:

    Looking at link #23 “Fans Frustrated with Hurdle, Huntington” has definitely tempered my enthusiasm.

    All the talk about DLee’s heating up in the last week is countered by Ludwick’s ice cold bat. ” [Ludwick].510 OPS since the mid-summer classic. .674 OPS season total is terrible. PETCO Park isn’t the problem either, as the righty has a .689 OPS on the road.

    As always, only time will tell.

    Will Tabby play again this season, or is he officially a gimpy dude with bad wheels?

    Can Presley be more than a 20 games played / 20 games missed due to DL guy based on his size?

    It will be hopefully fun (& not frustrating) to watch this all play out over the next two months!

  26. RI Bucco says:

    DK, good summation of the trade deadline moves that Neil was able to complete. It is quite certain that he was feeling the heat to not leave the trade game completely empty handed. Whether these two guys with a history of success can bring some to the Pirates remains to be seen.
    Alarming is the fact that the bullpen is slowly turning into a shambles after the 19 inning marathon. I think Hurdle needs to make sure that game doesn’t become the benchmark for this season, which at this point is a real concern.
    I think it’s imperative that NH pulls off some waiver wire acquisition of a reliever.

    As an afterthought…what exactly does “not close” mean in terms of Evan Meek’s return….a month? more?

  27. Bucco_Jax says:

    So we now have the following in the OF

    Cutch – lock, duh!
    Jones – staying in RF? better bat, also “plays” 1B (I really like the guy, but I can’t see him being anything more than a fill-in anymore, unless he starts crushing the ball.)
    Ludwick – figures to start in LF until PresleyTabata returns, then RF?
    Paul – bumping Jones? better arm, glove
    Pearce – guess he gets to focus on 1B for once…as the backup to Lee
    Diaz – nice having you around…you gave good interviews.
    Presley – DL
    Tabata – DL

    Whose getting left out in all of this?

  28. Karen22 says:

    At season’s beginning, did I ever envision awakening on August 1st to find the Pirates two games over .500 and 4 and 1/2 games out of first? No way…no one did.

    At last week’s beginning did I envision the first place Pirates ONLY two games over .500 and a whopping 4 and 1/2 games out of first? No again. I really thought (and would have been content) we could come away with a 3-4 record while holding our own on the road against the two toughest NL teams—and we SHOULD HAVE.

    It is still all relative, but expectations have been raised and I find myself massively disappointed over yesterday’s game. FURIOUS that Veras was trotted out late to blow yet another game that, in my opinion, we had to have. I, too, was looking for Hanrahan with two outs in the 8th. I love the energy that Clint Hurdle has brought, but his late-game mis-managing has lost us some games recently that we can’t afford to lose. I thought the object was to WIN at all costs.

    Seriously disillusioned this morning, despite the acquisitions (“that’s nice” and ho-hum). And if Overbay isn’t released, I’ll just curl up in the fetal position and mutter, “Why, why…?”

  29. Arriba Wilver says:

    Turner Ward—good point about comparing use of closers by the home teams and the visiting teams. Different situations. I’m not saying maybe Clint shouldn’t be more flexible, but to point to what Atlanta and Philly did in this road trip is not a good comparison to what Clint did with Hanny.

  30. Drew71 says:

    Some sorted assorted stuff…

    – Those CONSISTENTLY declining numbers from Ludwick since 2008, THAT’S what I call a downward plane. Just like Overbay’s before LO arrived. Ok, Ludwick didn’t cost as much and there are other outfield options (post injury rehab) if he, you know, sucks like Overbay. But that said, I see no reason to celebrate The Incredible Shrinking Ludwick.

    – Mild celebration for Lee. Biggest need + obvious upgrade + heating up over last month. Ok, so even if Ludwick flops, they didn’t give up talent for either of these guys. Really, just money. That earns an attaboy. Overall, while I’m not EXCITED, I think the Pirates are a bit better today than on Saturday. A bit. And hey, Overbay will probably never play for them again. There’s something to that.

    – What’s going on with the Steelers? A week ago, many “experts” predicted that the North Siders would only sign Ike-n-Tina Taylor. Then lose out on every one of their other free agents because of cap limits. Really??

    – That said…I’m waiting for the other shoe to be released, or something like that. I gotta think: these unexpected signings when the Steelers are over cap probably someone fairly unexpected has to be released.

    – Inca, above, has it about right. I think much of the Pirates’ chances come down to Charlie Morton. And how does THAT level of pressure on THAT young man make you feel?

    – So to recap: Happy about Lee. Blase about Ludwick. Which with my prognostication skills probably means Lee will go right to the 60 Day DL and Ludwick will hit like DiMaggio.

  31. bdubb says:

    I am not excited about either trade but both players are an upgrade over what we have at those positions currently. I am really glad we got Ludwick for virtually nothing…atleast player wise. Atleast now, name wise, the lineup looks better than Diaz, Overbay and Paul.

    I think there is more to Ludwicks decline than Petco. How about no Albert around him.

    I have been saying for weeks it is time for McCutchen to handle 8th inning duties and I can’t agree more about Hanranhan not being used. He is was up warming up yesterday. Bring him in. Give us another chance to win in the 11th. Or 10th. Or maybe he should have come in to close it out in the 8th.

  32. Fat Jimmy says:

    Everyone disagreeing with Dejan about Hanrahan is missing the point. Your arguments about the Braves/Phillies being the home team is irrelevant. You’re still basing strategy on statistic.

    A closer is (typically) your best reliever.

    Therefore, you use him in the most critical and difficult parts of the ballgame.

    Because in the 9th inning teams are willing to throw everything but kitchen sink in order to tie the game (emptying the bench, taking out defense, etc.), the 9th inning is traditionally the most difficult 3 outs to get.

    But here’s the thing: that is not always the case!

    Often in games there are high leverage, critical situations well before the 9th inning (or “last” inning for these extra inning games). In those games where the outcome is obviously going to be decided in the last inning, it is prudent to use your best reliever — your closer.

    The way Hurdle is managing Hanrahan is apples-to-apples with a football head coach who reserves his timeouts for the last two minutes the game. Yeah, usually having timeouts available in the last two minutes is a great strategy, but if you miss a critical 3rd and 6 in the 3rd quarter because you weren’t willing ot use a timeout to set up the right play, then the last two minutes the game may be meaningless and you’ll be stuck holding your timeouts.

    Timeouts and closers are like money at your death, you can’t take them with you.

  33. Chuck Snow says:

    I think the trades are better then doing nothing. Both are free agents and That should motivate them if nothing else does. They will be rewarded with fat contracts if they help the Pirates win the division. Last didn’t people question some of hurdles moves when he managed the Rockies…You take the good with the bad. Overall I think he is great even though not using Hanrahan is a head scratcher.

  34. Arriba Wilver says:

    And I think you are missing my point, Jimmy. The home team doesn’t need a “closer” in extra innings since if they are ahead they win. I agree on the idea that there are points in the game that are critical situations (other than the 9th) and maybe Clint is too inflexible on that at times–(I hedge a little because many times he goes against “the book” in situations to make an extra effort to win–just not with Hanny so much). But unless I’m mistaken, the situations in which the Braves and Phillies used their closers were not out of the norm for the home team in an extra inning game.

  35. Fat Jimmy says:

    Arriba, if you’re only argument with Dejan is his one sentence in which he cites the Phillies use of their closer — okay, fine. I do understand and maybe he shouldn’t have used that as an example.

    But the main point is that Hurdle is sitting on his closer waiting for a “save situation” rather than using him in the most high leverage situation. And Hurdle is wrong for doing that.

    The Pirates lost 4 games this week in which an appearance by Hanrahan could have been the difference.

  36. Thundercrack says:

    Could it be that Hurdle doesn’t have the confidence that any other reliever in the pen will be able to get the last three outs if they go the lead?

  37. Drew71 says:

    “That’s nice.”

    I just remembered.

    When I told my parents I was gonna marry my girlfriend, they said, “Well. She’s nice.”


    We all know what that means when a parent says that.

    And evidently, a columnist too.

  38. ExileInDC says:

    Freudian typo: The Washington Post print edition (the “paper” thing) today lists the Pirates in 3rd place 48 games out. I do think they mean 4-1/2 out, but I got a weird chill when I read it — Did I miss THAT much bad baseball last week? (Or maybe they pre-printed this before Opening Day.)

  39. scott says:

    Dejan, could not agree more about Hurdle’s failure to use Hanrahan. This nonsense about saving your closer for the save doesn’t always apply – especially not when your closer is the best reliever in baseball and the game is in extra innings and you’re in critical games against playoff-caliber opponents. There is no excuse for Hanrahan pitching only 2 1/3 innings in these two series. None.

  40. CWalton_67 says:

    Fat Jimmy is on the money regarding Hanrahan. For all the reasons he stated and this one–the rest of the players on the field. Like us, they all had to watch Leroux blow that game the other day with the knowledge that the best available guy was watching from the bullpen. While none would admit it, every one of us who has ever played the game/been on a team knows that the rest of the players on the field were unhappy with the decision to keep the Hammer in the pen.

    Re: Lee and Ludwick. Better than what we had, no prospects given away–Neal did okay as long as Ludwick doesn’t block Presley or Tabata from quality playing time.

    Next issue is this–how long can the Pirates tolerate Pedro Alvarez in the lineup? He is clearly not ready to be a big league player at this point. He’s emotionally fragile, lacking confidence, and affecting the rest of the team. Without him in the lineup, Bucs were contending. With him, they have faded back to mediocrity. He needs to be on the first bus to Indy. Please heal quickly, Alex Presley.

  41. dcpinpgh says:

    The Pirates play 14 games against the Cards and the Brew Crew this month. Pirates fate is in their own hands.

  42. pipecock says:

    I just don’t see the point of using the closer in a non-save situation in extra innings. Let’s look at the 19 inning game in which there were multiple situations late in the game in which Hanrahan could have been used. When the Bucs got out of them anyway, what difference does it make? At most Hanny would be good for 2 innings max, and I’m not really a fan of that either. A closer comes in on a high emotional note and blows guys away. So had Hanny come in during the 19th and gotten out of the inning, what happens after that? If it goes to 21 and we get a lead, who comes in to slam it down? Hanny for his third inning?

    Things like this can be second guessed, but in general I’m not a fan of using a closer in non-save situations. You have to have other relievers to rely on. The fact that we almost never had the lead against Philly means I’m not surprised we didn’t see Hanrahan. That’s as it should be.

  43. JMB says:

    One last link on Bourn for old times sake.

    Rob Neyer

    “The simple truth is that if you do consider defense and baserunning with any sort of rigor, you’re going to conclude that Michael Bourn is, in fact, better than Hunter Pence. In fact, if you believe fWAR, Bourn has actually been the second-best outfielder in the National League since 2009.”

  44. AshevilleJeff says:


    “And if Overbay isn’t released, I’ll just curl up in the fetal position and mutter, ‘Why, why…?'” That’s my favorite quote of the morning. I was going to post something similar but not as good. I’m so happy we don’t have to look at that lazy swing again. Go Bucs!

  45. Bizrow says:

    @JAL – you were right, I was wrong, Neal actually made some moves, anything has to be an improvement with the way this offense has been, well so “offensive” to the lunatics in here.

    @Drew – re Stillers – Look for some restucturing of contracts, for example I think Woodley has a franchise tag of 10 million, we might see Aaron Smith get his contract restructured, if we re-up Troy, we can cut his cap hit this year, same as Big Ben. And others.

    @dcpinpgh – exactly, the head to head vs cards and hated brewers will tell the tale. That being said, a 5-2 homestand would help make up for last week.

  46. Absolute59 says:

    I guess I generally agree with the idea that they shouldn’t give up the future. That being said we all know maybe 3 of the top 10 prospect will make it as very good ML like a “Pence” and maybe 2 or 3 of the next 20 even make it to the majors.

    If NH and the BMTIS is so good at evaluating young talent then shouldn’t they be able to pick which of the young prospects are less likely to blossom. And maybe there just was no interest by the other teams in any one other than those the Pirates fell the strongest about. And maybe that should give us some concern about just how much talent there really is in the system.

    But at some point if you want to win a division and play with the big boys you have to have the balls to move some of your prospects (albeit not for 2 month rentals).

    That said the Pirates are a better team with Derrik Lee in for Lyle Overbay and Ludwig in for Jones/Paul/Diaz. These guys are both solid professional hitters. But they would have been better with a Pence and Adams.

  47. Naje says:

    @ Drew – re: Ludwick… you forgetting that even in his declining, miserable performance of 2011 that he has 64 rbi on a Padres team devoid of anything resembling offensive prowess?

    By the way, those 64 rbi are tied for the lead on the PBC right now. Now. And now, again.

    Not a thrilling pickup, to be certain…. but don’t dismiss those 64 rbi… Walker has 64… Cutch has 63… that’s not a bad stat to look at when you put those three in a lineup together or near each other.

    Just offering a glimmer of sunshine on the Ludwick deal.

  48. Baywatch says:

    I thought about that, too, Naje, good point … I think we’re all seeing how important TIMELY HITTING is, not just batting average. And hopefully the change in scenery will help move him toward a semi-Lance Berkman Comeback Player of the Year. Well, why not call it the Lance Berkman Comeback Player for the Half Year Award?

  49. JaxBuc says:

    I can appreciate the whole body of work to this point and recognized that there is potential for two more months of meaningful baseball this season. If I want to drive myself crazy, I can overanalyze the underutilization of Hanrahan, or the relative OBP of Ryan Ludwick as compared to Matt Diaz, but there is potential for two more months of MEANINGFUL baseball this season. Can any of you honestly say you imagined that on August first we’d be two games over .500 and less than five games out of First Place in our division? Does anyone else feel the personal emotion that comes with MEANINGFUL BASEBALL IN PITTSBURGH in August?

  50. Keith says:

    While it’s obvious that Overbay and Diaz have been bad, somewhat lost in all this is that Jones has been awful, too. Perhaps his occasional HR has put people off complaining, but the Bucs’ outfield situation went from awesome to awful in a month. Ludwick was direly needed to stave off a plunge into oblivion without Tabata (still not great) and Presley (maybe great?). Paul has at least not been offensive and plays (usually) good D.

  51. Drew71 says:

    Naje – RBI is almost a discredited stat. He doesn’t control it. Ludwick is hitting only .238. So the guys in front of him have been coincidentally getting on base the few times Ludwick has hit. His consistently declining numbers over 3.5 years — those that HE totally controls such as HR and BA — have gone down, down, down and down over the recent four seasons. That’s the nearly identical Downward Plane that Overbay brought to the Pirates.

    But even with that, I don’t object to obtaining Ludwick since they gave up nothing for him. I just have little expectation that Ludwick will help.

    On the other hand, unless Derrek Lee goes immediately on the DL, how can Lee NOT help? If for nothing else than by getting Overbay out of the lineup.

  52. Drew71 says:

    Keith – Jones doesn’t get a pass, but the “outrage” is less severe because of, well, money.

    Jones makes $456K this year. Cheap bad. And PBC is getting exactly what they are paying.

    On the other hand, Overbay: $5MM; Diaz: TWO year commitment for $4.25MM.

    Jones has been just as bad. Just not a Burnitz-like signing that naturally strikes this fan base poorly. And we remember with delight – as we should – that remarkable Legend year.

    So I think the difference in levels of disdain is a matter of degrees. But from what I’ve read here and elsewhere, we generally get that Jones has been just as bad.

  53. Naje says:

    Is it just me or are there others who wonder about the production of players who play for LaRussa with suspicious eyes?

    Ludwick and Berkmann to name a couple… these guys rake with the Cards.

    Or is it the Pujols factor? Or is it something else?

    @ Drew – agree and understand the point about rbi, but you still got to hit with men on base… sounds a lot like Walker in regards to production with ducks on the pond.

  54. Fat Jimmy says:

    JMB, when a statistic tells you that Michael Bourn is the #2 OF in the NL, you know emphatically that you need a new statistic.

  55. Fat Jimmy says:

    Naje, keep in mind that Mark McGwire is the “hitting coach”.

    In a related story, the Pirates just acquired two guys who were better back in the days when guys like McGwire were regularly getting “coached”.

    Hopefully our next trade is for Barry Bonds’ trainer.

  56. RI Bucco says:

    I hope this team isn’t finished aquiring help just because of the waiver deadline. They need pitching help more than anything going forward if they are going to contend for the division.

    Looking the rotation:
    Correira: occasionally good, but mostly lucky with run support
    Morton: Good early, Bad lately
    Karstens: Excellent, but no precedent for this many innings
    Maholm: Very good, and his record is likely to correct itself
    JMac: very erratic..his continued inability to throw ground ball outs is a huge red flag. Has a tendency to get hit very hard and balls get caught (see Red Sox game and Atlanta game)…This is likely to correct itself in anfavorable result for our purposes.

    Bullpen: They need help Neil…start hitting the waiver wire.
    Resop, McCutchen a Hanrahan are strengths
    Beyond that, it is dicey..though Grilli hasn’t been torched yet.

  57. Baywatch says:

    DK, LOVED your column this morning, especially the Humphrey Bogart-toned quote:

    “Lyle Overbay lasered a home run yesterday, but his equipment bag should have been sent somewhere other than Pittsburgh.”

    Read more: Kovacevic: Not blown away by Bucs’ trades – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

    Reminds me of this old Bogart movie where he and another fellow are in one of those long WWI trenches. Guy next to him looks through his rifle scope, then turns to Bogey: “That guy looks likes he’s 16!” Bogey takes aim, fires, and looks at his buddy: “He won’t see 17!”

  58. Thundercrack says:

    “how long can the Pirates tolerate Pedro Alvarez in the lineup? He is clearly not ready to be a big league player at this point. He’s emotionally fragile, lacking confidence, and affecting the rest of the team”

    Now I would agree that Pedro hasn’t done that well and would probably benefit from more time in the minors. But how do you know he is emotionally fragile? And how exactly is he affecting the rest of the team….besides striking out or grounding out with men on base?

  59. cmat0829 says:

    As a few have already surmised, key point Dejan is missing in his plea for more Hanrahan pitching on this trip…. visiting teams save closers for save situations…i.e. if you are to win, you need to put up a late inning tie-breaking run and then hold the other team. So, it is one thing to opine that Hanny should’ve been used in a tie game (perhaps as part of a 2-inning stint – pitch and hold, then a Pirates run, then hold and win), especially perhaps the 2nd game after the marathon game, but it is another to use as a supporting point the Braves and Phils (home teams both) use of their closers. So, while DK is usually “on point” at all times, this one deserves a retraction.

    As to the lineup moves, I agree that one sure thing is Lyle is sent packing. Lee is now the veteran good D 1B and clubhouse presence and no need for one of 5 offensive bench players to be limited to one position. As to the other one, if RONNY C is healthy, then Ciriaco goes back down to Indy. If not, Ronny C to DL and Ciriaco stays.

    The interesting move is indeed when Presley comes back.. in my opinion, that can be one of three moves: Pearce optioned (he has options); Diaz traded or released (Ludwick is the righthanded veteran OF bat now); or XPaul DFA’d — though I doubt this one as he will remain the speed/Defense OF on the bench.. although when Tabby gets back, Paul DFA is probably a no-brainer.

  60. Bizrow says:

    If Pedro isn’t the real deal, this team is in big time trouble

  61. Comet Littlefield says:

    Clealry the asking price for Kubel/Upton/Willingham was unreasonably high or they would have been traded.

    And Lee/Ludwick have as a good a chance as the others to make a difference, if slightly less because of their age.

    Do you buy the 2012 Buick Enclave for $40K or do you buy the 2009 with 30,000 miles on it and the 6 year warranty for $20K?

    Both do they same thing and are pretty average…. one just costs less and won’t last as long

  62. Bucco_Jax says:

    Pedro wasis claimed to be “the messiah” of the Pirates. He was the home-grown big bat that would power this team out of mediocrity. He was fast-tracked to the Major League level after destroying the minors. Thus far, with the exception of alittle over a month last season, he has not delivered.

    Even this year, we constantly heard from the Pirates front office that “the best bat the Pirates could obtain was on the DL.” He’s up, and he’s hit 1 HR, and has over a dozen Ks.

    This team needs him to perform up to or at least close to the hype. Otherwise, the ride is over.

    Side Note: How long did it take McCutchen to get from his first minor league game to the majors? Compared to Pedro?

  63. Joseph in Huntington Beach CA says:

    Like everyone I would have loved to have seen Pedro come up and immediately have a game changing impact on the Pirates; but for those who think that he’s a wash-out let’s just keep in mind that he has 558 *career* plate appearances (

    There is absolutely a reason for concern, but let’s not overreact either.

  64. Bizrow says:

    About what time should we hear of the roster changes?

  65. Bucco_Jax says:

    From the sounds of it over on Bob’s blog, it appears that Pearce is likely to go down and Ciriaco (again), if Ronny is healthy enough to go today, not Overbay or Diaz.

  66. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @All: Anyone debating my view on Hanrahan, see Fat Jimmy’s post above. The object is to win the game, not record saves.

    Think of it another way: If Hanrahan enters in the eighth and puts out the fire Joe Beimel started by getting two outs, the Pirates enter the ninth with a two-run lead and the bottom of Philadelphia’s order due up. Even if you don’t want to extend Hanrahan another inning, I’ll take my chances with Chris Resop against the bottom of the order with a two-run lead.

    It’s simply a greater chance of victory.

  67. RI Bucco says:

    DK…yours is very unconventional approach for a manager to employ. Just like NH didn’t want to stick his neck out too far with the trades, Hurdle is not fearless, though he may have us believe he is. If he burns through Hanrahan and then trots Biemel out there in the ninth only to have an unexpected fireworks night, he will find himself on the hotseat before too long.

    It’s not a bad idea and it may in fact give the team a better chance of winning, but it would be going against the grain big time. Which leads me to my question of when do see Meek coming back? I know he’s “not close”.

  68. Karen22 says:

    YES YES YES!! Bye, Bye Overbay??!!

  69. Dave says:

    As far as pitching goes, one idea might be arranging something with the Astros for Wandy Rodriguez. He’s not terribly overpaid, and seeing as how we were willing to take Beltran’s salary anyways, this could make sense. Adding Rodriguez and extending Maholm would give us two veteran, solid left handers in the rotation for the next few seasons. We saw this year that the starting rotation is the foundation for winning, and a rotation of Rodriguez, Maholm, Macdonald, Correia, Karstens, and Morton/Lincoln is a good start, I think. Certainly a bit better than any straight offseason free agent pickup would be.

    The question would be what the Astros want for him. Maybe by offering some salary relief, we can get a better bargain. Raising payroll this way seems smarter and more sustainable than spending 13 million in arbitration for Hunter Pence to get on base at a league average clip.

  70. Drew71 says:

    It’s the right thing to do. Even if they get Cedeno back and could instead send Ciriaco. Even if they could make short term use of him as a backup or a lefty PH bat. It treats him like a man. Allow him to walk with his dignity (and your money) rather than sit and watch your replacements.

    And if there is risk of divisiveness, then it is better for the team.

    And it certainly is better for us cannibals.

  71. AJS says:

    @All: Anyone debating my view on Hanrahan, see Fat Jimmy’s post above. The object is to win the game, not record saves.

    Think of it another way: If Hanrahan enters in the eighth and puts out the fire Joe Beimel started by getting two outs, the Pirates enter the ninth with a two-run lead and the bottom of Philadelphia’s order due up. Even if you don’t want to extend Hanrahan another inning, I’ll take my chances with Chris Resop against the bottom of the order with a two-run lead.

    It’s simply a greater chance of victory.

    My thoughts exactly. Situational baseball. If your set up men are struggling and you have no where else to turn, go to the Hammer. Put the fire out. Keep the 2 run lead and let Resop/Veras go at the bottom of the order. Hammer didn’t ahve to go 5 outs here. Just get the next 2. So he doesn’t get a save. big deal. Win the game first. Worry about stat padding some other time.

  72. AJS says:

    @ Dejan

    My thoughts exactly. Situational baseball. If your set up men are struggling and you have no where else to turn, go to the Hammer. Put the fire out. Keep the 2 run lead and let Resop/Veras go at the bottom of the order. Hammer didn’t ahve to go 5 outs here. Just get the next 2. So he doesn’t get a save. big deal. Win the game first. Worry about stat padding some other time.

  73. Bizrow says:

    Per two Dejan tweets, Lyle is getting DFA’d

    No word on the other move yet

  74. Absolute59 says:

    DK: Same in Atlanta with one out and bases loaded and Chris LeCroux on mound you had to go to Hanrahan, because if you don’t get out of that inning the game is over.

    All this CH talk about he needed his long guy in case game extended blah blah….The only way that game was getting extended was to bring in Hanrahan to put out the fire.

    Should have gone and gotten Adams. He is a history proven bona fide 8th guy. Veras Resop et al are crap shots. Adams would have been a solid bridge to Hanny. We could have given up one of the AA arms and gotten him. Had to make that move in MHO

  75. MrB says:

    The 20-20 hindsight on this blog is amazing.

  76. Absolute59 says:

    No Mr. B. not hindsight I said it when the game was on that CH needed to go to Hanny to get the out of the bases loaded jam in Atlanta.

  77. Dave says:

    There is no way we could have given up a AA arm + to get Adams, based simply on what Texas gave up.

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