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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: And Plax was courted … why?

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Monday column is about the pending breakout of Antonio Brown. And yeah, it looks very pending. The kid’s been getting wows from the first day of camp, and he clearly has won the confidence of Ben Roethlisberger, no small matter for a receiver.

There’s kind of a by-the-way line in there about the courtship of Plaxico Burress, which now looks pretty peculiar. So let me ask here: What were the Steelers thinking with that? Aren’t they the stay-in-house-at-all-costs types? Aren’t they the shrewd talent evaluators who should have realized what they had? Or could they really just be setting this up to go five wides with Jerricho Cotchery?

I wouldn’t laugh off the last possibility. Bruce Arians has gone five wides before. And if he could script an opening drive in which David Johnson is the primary receiver the whole way down the field, I wouldn’t dismiss anything, actually.

>> If you’re a Steelers fan and you haven’t seen our Mark Kaboly do postgame video reviews, you’re missing out. Here’s the link.

>> It’s neat that Pedro Alvarez hit a 10th-inning home run last night after being taunted much of the evening by the crowd in Toledo.

It’s neat, too, that he had this perspective afterward: “It’s just a matter of trying to string together some good at bats and stick with my approach. I was trying to get a pitch I could handle, put a good swing on and make some solid contact. I got a 1-1 fastball over the plate, put a good swing on it and, once it left the bat, it felt pretty good. You know, everything we’ve been working on came to fruition. I’ve got to take that into tomorrow and build off of that.”

Exactly. Let him build off it. Since being optioned back by the Pirates, Alvarez was 5 for 39 with 15 strikeouts before that swing.

>> Jeff Karstens isn’t so much falling back to reality as he is wearing out. You could see the lack of life on the breaking ball yesterday, the lack of zip on the fastball. When he was going well, he had good enough stuff to get more than his share of swings and misses. Not anymore.

We can analyze that to death, or we can just look at Karstens as one seriously skinny dude who is well over his 2010 innings count.

>> If you read Rob Biertempfel’s coverage from St. Louis about whether or not the Pirates want Ronny Cedeno back, you’ll see what I meant in the chat earlier this week about Cedeno’s option being no lock to be picked up. Kind of easy to read between the lines of those quotes: They’ll happily look elsewhere.

>> My appearance on KDKA-TV’s “Showdown” last night will be podcast (podcasted?) right here.


  1. Skip says:

    Until I see a quote from Alvarez saying he’s trying to hit the ball hard the other way, trying to stay inside the ball, or something to that effect, it will remain clear to me that he still just doesn’t get it. The fact that he hit a home run yesterday (to right field, of course) is nice, but it doesn’t indicate that he’s figured anything out.

    Dejan, as far as Karstens is concerned, what do you suggest the Pirates do with him? Rest him? Shut him down?

    If he’s uninjured, I think he needs to push through it so he can develop more stamina. Pitchers need to throw. They’re babied way too much these days.

    DK: I’d give Karstens a breather. He just had nothing yesterday. He’s already well over his inning count from last year, and I don’t know that having him slog through September is going to build up anything other than frustration.

  2. pghboyinca says:

    Pitchers need to build up gradually year over year when they reach career highs in innings. Karstens took a major step forward don’t ruin it by getting him hammered if he is running out fo gas. Remember how much pressure was on these starters for most of the year, if they gve up 2 runs they were pretty much going to lose. Has to be a hard ya to pitch.

    I think Hines Ward needs to become a part time player, how do you keep Brown and Sanders off the field when healthy? Hines should be on the field for 50% of the snaps.

  3. MrB says:

    The Steelers courted Plax because he is a tall target and a player with whom they (and the starting QB) were familiar. If the price the Steelers were willing to pay would have been right for the talent, I’m sure he would be on the roster. This seems obvious.

    Brown looks great and I wish him well. I’m sure he’ll have some success. Then again, the league is full of pro-bowlers in the pre-season. Lets not get over-hyped.

  4. MrB says:

    Regarding Alvarez, Matt Hague got the key hit in that inning, while Pedro’s shot was just mopping up. So, no real pressure in that AB. Perhaps the “Post-Game Quotes” should have featured Hague?

  5. JAL says:

    JAL’s You Really Got Me Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3-Pirates Prospects

    Draft Picks Signing Tracker


    4—Pirates Prospects

    Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 8/28/11

    Five Run 10th Inning Gives Indians A Win

    Bradenton Marauders Game Recap 8/28/11

    Pirates Look to Take the 1903 NL Pennant

    Projecting the 2012 Pirates Rotation

    A Glimpse of Jameson Taillon’s Potential

    Wes Freeman Promoted to West Virginia


    Jeff Karstens August 28 Pitch F/X

    An Early Look at 2012

    6 Three Rivers Burgh Blog

    Game 133 Recap – Cardinals 7, Pirates 4

    7 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Caffeine: Taillon, Allie, Heredia

    8 Bucs Dugout

    Cardinals 7, Pirates 4

    9 Green Weenie

    Cards Take Series 7-4

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Promising start, but…

  6. JAL says:


    12 Centre Daily Times

    OF Freeman earns promotion

    Cutters hammer Spikes

    13 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Cards beat Pirates for series win

    Motte earns a shot and gets save vs. Pirates

    14 The Olympian

    Rookies can’t hide from eyes


    15—PBC Site

    Karstens has rough end to August in loss

    Final month important for many Pirates

    Ohlendorf, Wandy square off in divisional battle

    16 Bleacher Report

    PNC Park: Some of the Highlights About MLB’s Best-Kept Secret

    17 Minor League Ball

    Taillon strikes out nine in quick outing

    18-CBS Sports

    Pirates-Astros Game Preview

  7. Jandy says:

    Mr, you’re right on Plax…Ben showed interest, so the team did too.
    I’m glad we passed, tho.
    Brown looked impressive Saturday.

  8. Dave says:

    I think with Karstens the team should start to really limit the innings he pitches because he hasn’t been a starting pitcher on a regular basis since I think 08 with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and they only play until Septemer. He’s had a great year, but if need be shut him down so you have him next year and beyond.

  9. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    I like the idea of maybe skipping a start for situations like Karstens’, as well as others. Let them rejuvenate every now and then.

  10. Scott says:


    Skinny dude? How big was Pedro Martinez???

    Just askin’.

    DK: Not just talking about height here. Martinez looks like he ate Karstens for breakfast. Karstens is one seriously skinny dude.

  11. DK:” I’d give Karstens a breather. He just had nothing yesterday. He’s already well over his inning count from last year”

    I heard Huntington in an interview over the weekend say that, although Karstens’ innings were up a significant jump, his actual pitches thrown were about the same as last year——because he has been so darn efficient. Submit for your approval: Karstens’ 74 pitch complete game!
    Huntington said that JMacDonald was the one to worry about/watch, not Karstens (his words).

    Remember how Walker’s and Tabata’s averages fell at the end of last season? Karstens has never had a significant role this late into the season. Maybe it’s just “mental fatigue!”

  12. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Karstens has had a great year, they shouldn’t spoil that with pitching him through September. He wasn’t even considered to start or be the 5th starter until Ross went down. So, build on this success and prep for next year. This is his breakout year as a starter and IMO he makes an excellant 3-5 starter.

    He could use some added weight for durability.

  13. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:


    COUNTDOWN TO RETURNING HOME…..T- 6 YEARS..yep, still a long time to go, but duty calls.

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

    Did everyone watch a different game yesterday than the one that was actually on?

    Jeff Karstens could just as easily given up 1 on 0 runs. He walks Berkman to set up the double play and proceeds to force 3 consecutive soft ground balls. Any one of which would’ve ended the inning had they not been hit in perfect locations.

    The Cardinals earned the run in 3rd inning with 3 hits.

    In the 4th, Kyle Lohse hits a weak groundball far enough into the hole that there’s no play. If that ball is hit a few feet to the right then Cedeno makes that play and Lohse isn’t standing on third for the sac fly.

    Forcing weak groundballs is what Jeff Karstens does. He did that and he only tossed 65 pitches (42 for strikes). I don’t consider that wearing down. It’s bad luck for him and good luck for the Cardinals. Nothing more.

  15. Fat Jimmy says:

    So Brown isn’t big, isn’t fast, and doesn’t run good routes, but we’re supposed to expect a breakout year from him?

    I suppose we should define “breakout” first, but then I’d like to keep track of that prediction.

    I still believe the Steelers wide receiving corps is thin and absent the type of impact player that Ben deserves.

    Hey, kudos to AB. He seems like a man who wants to be great, and that type of ambition is to be applauded. But for the Steelers offense to truly go into another gear, they need a difference-maker WR. Wallace may be that guy with his speed, but I think Plax could have brought a ton to this offense with his size.

    PGHBoyinCA and I are likeminded about Hines. He’s got very little left in the tank.

  16. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Hines is a great possesion receiver, he’ll get you that much needed 1st down and will go over the middle, take his licks and keep on ticking.

    The younger guys are about the speed…send them deep, hit em if open, otherwise check down to Hines or Heath.

    Hines is still a vital asset to the offense, don’t be too quick to discard him. He of course, is no longer a deep threat, but still important.

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