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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: A running back goes down

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> Baron Batch showed enough promise in the early stages of the Steelers’ camp that, even if his knee is hurt as seriously as it appears, he’s going to have bright days ahead of him. Still, it reminds you of the human factor in athletics when someone makes strikes like that as a rookie, gets set for a ton of carries in a preseason game just two nights away, begins feeling at home on a championship-level roster for an iconic franchise … and it all goes awry because of one misstep.

The blink of an eye, indeed.

Even someone in a special stratosphere like Sidney Crosby is only one misstep from having questions about it being all over.

>> Andrew McCutchen’s unusual day — reached base all five times, put one ball into play (deep into the left-center seats) — raises for me anew the question as to where he should bat in the lineup.

It’s a little strange that he’s been in the majors for more than two years now, and there remains no clear answer. He looks like he tries harder at OBP things out of leadoff, and it’s glaring that he’s more comfortable trying to steal there. But he also has 16 home runs right now, and that kind of power can be misplaced at the top with a team like the Pirates.

Myself, I still lean leadoff. Always have. If he homers, so be it. Jeff Karstens will draw a walk right before he comes up. Just like yesterday.

>> The thinly supported notion that the Blue Jays were systematically stealing signs at the Rogers Centre flies in the face of the fact that baseball people notice everything. And I mean everything. Per this report, the infamous man in the white shirt was seen at one game in late 2009, then again in early 2010, then never again.

Sorry, that doesn’t fit the baseball culture. If you or I tries to signal signs to the batter from the core of Neptune, these people will notice.

>> Oh, and let’s leave Jose Bautista out of this, too. A cursory glance at his numbers shows that he hit 21 of his home runs on the road last season. Double that, and 42 is still amazing. Unless, of course, the man in the white shirt was everywhere.

>> I’m headed up to Milwaukee later today, for what I see as a still-important series for the Pirates, even if just for the knowledge that they can beat the Brewers. Or can they?

I’ll have a handful of different things to file from up there.

>> Reminder: Our weekly chat is today at noon. You can post entries beginning at 6 a.m.


  1. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Bummer about Batch. He was probably the player I was most looking forward to seeing in game action.

  2. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I wonder if Tabata will be back for Friday’s game.

    Who goes? Pearce?

    I like Tabby in the leadoff spot.

  3. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Fantasy football league at Yahoo.

    League ID – 461395
    League name – AsylumLeagueChampionship
    Password – franco

    Live draft is Saturday, Sept 3 at 11 am ET (8 am PT)

  4. diehard says:

    I like Steve Pearce, I think he’s a great guy. Gives 100% effort, 100% of the time. But I think it’s more likely he’ll be a good manager at some point than a regular player in the majors. He goes down when Tabata is ready.

  5. diehard says:

    This series in Milwaukee is definitely an important one.
    1 – We have 46 games left. 40 of them are against the Brewers or Cardinals. Whether the team believes that they have a chance of winning the division or not they must KNOW that how they play in those 20 games will directly affect who does amke the playoffs.
    2 – If we win 2 of 3, it’s a lift. If we win 3 or 4 of the 6 games left at Miller Park this year, regradless of the final standings of this year, it will be a monkey of the back going into next year – Much like winning 82. The more monkeys we can ditch this year the better!

  6. Reading says:

    Not sure the Cardinals, who would be the major beneficiary of us sweeping the Brewers, deserve our help. They have done nothing against the Brewers lately and have accelerated our own fall. Nevertheless, would like nothing more than to see the Brewers frustrated and whining this weekend, especially on Saturday.

  7. JoeBucco says:

    @DK – I just got to Milwaukee myself. If you get in town and are headed out for a coffee somewhere in town on the off day, let me know.

    Definitely a big series. The Brewers are playing really well, but even 2 out of 3 wouldn’t really do a whole lot for us. All three of these are must win games. As are the 4 against them in PNC in a week or so. Of course, it depends on the goal. Is the Central still a goal, or does .500 become the goal?

    I guess we’ll probably have that answer by Sunday night.

  8. JoeBucco says:

    Oh, and if your Trib IT staff needs some help with getting those threaded comments working, I can get that done before you finish your coffee. :)

  9. JoeBucco says:

    Just curious, and knowing the city of Milwaukee pretty well now, does the team stay downtown when they play here? Or somewhere maybe a little more west of Miller Park?

  10. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Joe: I’ll be there all weekend. Not sure of plans. It’s a weird game schedule, and I have an unusual set of goals there.

    No idea where the team is, and I’d never give that out, anyway.

    Let me know if you’re at Miller Park. You remember where the press box is, right?

  11. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Dave: Yeah, me, too. Kid was fun to watch.

  12. buccos since '04 says:

    Shot n the dark, Limas “I got, I got it, wait, u get it” Sweed lives some what to his potential.

  13. dcpinpgh says:

    I am interested what B batch will do while on IR. While rehab takes tons of time, it doesn’t take the same amount as playing football. I am thinking that Batch who now has the title of steelers, and the back up of the steelers, can do good for some people who need it

  14. JAL says:

    JAL’s Sitting on the Dock of the Bay Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3-Pirates Prospects

    Draft Picks Signing Tracker

  15. JAL says:


    Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Robbie Grossman Nearing 100/100 Mark

    Ohio Valley Athletics

    Hart Undergoes Season-Ending Surgery


    Offense and Starting Pitching Update

    Jeff Karstens August 10 Pitch F/X

    Hyzdu Headquarters

    Out By the Bay

  16. JAL says:

    San Francisco Chronicle

    SF Giants end 3-7 home stand with 9-2 loss to Pitt

    Centre Daily Times

    Landing zone: Spikes’ precision helps end IronBirds’ winning streak-

    Westport News

    McCutchen, Karstens deliver for Bucs in series win

    San Jose Mercury News

    San Francisco Giants lose to Pittsburgh Pirates 9-2 as Jonathan Sanchez struggles

  17. JAL says:

    Behind the Steel Curtain

    BTSC Steelers Six Pack: A Fan Favorite Goes Down Before the Full Pads Go On Edition

    Five Players to Watch in Pittsbugh Steelers’ Friday Preseason Opener Against Washington Redskins

    Steelers Depot

    Steelers Unlikely to Sign Big name Running Back to Replace batch

  18. Smitty 50 says:

    That is terrible new concerning Baron Batch..Seems like a great kid. Hope he can make it back. DK… Do you think the Pirates can blow away their number 2 pick with an offer that will convince him to forego college?

  19. @suckmeter says:

    It sucks for Baron Batch that he tore his ACL, but for fans to think this is a big loss is silly. It hurts the Steelers practice squad.

  20. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Opens the door for John Clay to make some noise during preseason.

  21. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Imagine if the Pirates had stayed even like five games back. How big of a series would this be? Still can’t believe they lost 10 in a row.

  22. leefoo says:

    DEJAN……..I am trying to submit a chat question, but as I start to type, it goes into Standby Mode.

    If I can ask one here, then, my question is:

    If Tabata, Presley and Ohlendorf all come back in the next 7-10 days, who goes or stays? I’ve heard rumors about waiting until Sept 1 (esp for Ohlie who still has option) so they don’t have to lose anyone, but. “Easy” cuts might be Diaz, Grilli and/or Pearce, but what say ye?


    Chatty Foo


  23. JoeBucco says:

    @DK – Sure, makes sense. The locals tell me that visiting teams stay at this really old hotel downtown that has “haunted” claims against it. I don’t know if all teams typically stay at the same road hotels or not though, as it seems to me that I’d change it up a little and find a better option if it were me. That place doesn’t seem all that appealing to me.

    But yea, I remember where the press box is. I can only be there for the Friday night game this series as I have to get home for a wedding. So, not sure if I can work it out to get there earlier enough on Friday night nor not. If not, I will be there for the last three games of the season at Miller Park where hopefully #historywillbemade. :)

  24. CWalton_67 says:

    Have to respectfully disagree on Cutch. While I believe he would be a very successful leadoff hitter, as clearly evidenced by his performance in that spot this season, he’s a potential 30 HR player. That’s a three hole hitter on any planet. Further, he’s a possible 30/30 player even in the third spot in the batting order. I don’t think the Bucs can afford to limit the RBI production of the only player in the lineup with any demonstrated power.

    Now that I am past the disappointment of the losing streak, I am looking forward to this Milwaukee series. They are fun to hate, but in the end, aren’t they what we all hope the Bucs can be?

  25. Two weeks ago we were saying that Pirates shot at Central crown, unbelievable as that seemed, would all come down to 10 against Brewers and 10 against Cards.
    No one foresaw the 10 gamer, but the truth still holds: Central crown comes down to the 10 against Brewers and the 10 against Cards.

    I have not/CANNOT give up yet!

    The SEASON starts tomorrow night!! 8 of 10 from Brewers and 8 of 10 from Cardinals.
    Bucs will still need help, but the MO will give us help/hope! .500 is just a road-sign to pass along the way!!!!
    [adjustments to be made immediately after upcoming series]

  26. JoeBucco says:

    “but in the end, aren’t they what we all hope the Bucs can be”

    Except Ryan Braun. I don’t care about his numbers. I never want to see one of the Pirates be so whiny on the field. His slamming of helmets and complaining is a disgrace to any kid watching a baseball game and trying to learn the game.

    Speaking of bad attitudes, I can’t wait to see Tony Plush overslide a base once or twice this series. And we got the best closer in baseball for this guy?

    I love hating the Brewers.

  27. T.J. says:

    I agree with you Groat2Maz…

    Indeed, beginning tomorrow night 25 games in 27 days are against division foes. Yes, 10.5 is asking an awful lot, but 25 games in 27 days (!!) … anything can happen. Will it? Maybe, maybe not, but let’s just say crazier things have happened…

  28. pghboyinca says:

    Why is it always in vogue to hate and trash ex Pirates who are traded and actually preferred to stay here? Tony Plush would be a huge upgrade over anyone who was playing in our outfield this year outside of Cutch, have you looked at his numbers?

    Personally I am not offended by soemone with a litle flair. We have had Diaz, Pearce, and other swho can’t hit at all and guys like Jones who can’t seem to track a fly ball with a GPS system. Beleive me the Brewers have a lot less wins right now without Nyjer Morgan. I am thrilled we got Hanrahan but I wish Nyjer and and any other Pirate who played here well in whatever city they end up.

  29. JoeBucco says:

    I’m not going to like Nyjer just because he played with the Pirates. And I don’t dislike because he’s not longer here. I dislike him because he tends to cause issues any place he is, doesn’t seem to respect the game and doesn’t seem to be a great teammate from what I’ve seen and heard. His personality wears this on a team, and no, I don’t see him as an upgrade over a healthy Tabata or even Presley or Jones, especially if it means subtracting Hammer. His act wore thin here, it wore thin in Washington, and it will wear thin soon enough in Milwaukee, and whatever team he is playing for in two years.

  30. pghboyinca says:

    Reality tells you the race for the Central crown is over but reality also tells you that no matter how much stronger you get you are not legit until you stand up against the bully who kicks sand in your face.

    Pure and simple the Brewers took away the Pirates athletic “manhood”. The Pirates know it and so do the Brewers. The Pirates are eager to prove that those days are over and the Brewers want to keep the Pirates down. I’d venture a guess that the players in the Bucs dugout look at this as the seasons most important season to date. The schedule has been quirky and we play them early and late so they have not played the “new”Pirates yet. If we win this series and play solid baseball it is a giant step forward for this team.

  31. JoeBucco says:

    FYI – Nyjer Morgan has a 1.3 WAR level, so not sure the Brewers have a lot less wins without him. And the guy he pretty much replaced, Carlos Gomez, was a 1.2. So using the numbers, he’s good for 0.1 win more than the guy he replaced.

  32. JoeBucco says:

    I also like getting the Brewers after they play some big games against the St. Louis Roidenals. Maybe we catch them on a bit of a let down.

  33. CDBrewer says:


    Agreed on the bully…In all sports teams have the hurdle to jump, or not to jump – I hate the NBA, but the Bulls beat the Pistons, but the Knicks never beat the Bulls…In hockey the Oilers beat Edmonton, Calgary struggled to beat Edmonton. There definately is almost a rite of passage for some teams.
    You nailed it, we gotta stand up to the Brewers. We have with the Cards in more recent times after they owned us for quite a while.

    I do disagree with you on Morgan. I think many OF’s would thrive in that lineup – Presley and Tabata at the very least. Hitting with Weeks, Braun, Fielder, et al behind you certainly helps with what pitch you will see.
    Lots has been made about the Bucs needing a big bat, and it is just to this point – one hitter can slot everybody more appropriately and make their numbers better.
    I think Morgan is okay, but nothing all that special. The point JoeBucco made about Carlos Gomez is well taken – those players are not uncommon, but those lineups sure are.

  34. Double-D says:

    Agree with you DK on Cutch batting leadoff – for now. But if the PBC starting outfield is ever Tabata, Presley, and Cutch (which I think will be the case next year), then JT & AP bat 1st & 2nd in either order, and Cutch should bat 3rd, IMO.

  35. Happy G says:

    My dad called a sweep this weekend, let’s hope he’s right. I live in Northern Illinois and he’s visiting so we’re attending tomorrow nights game.

    I believe the only way to beat a bully is to punch him hard and quickly, before the bully has a chance to realize what’s happening. That said, we need at least 5 runs in the top of the first tomorrow. That will set the tone for the weekend.

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