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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Maholm snub a lousy start

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> The Pirates told Paul Maholm that his $9.75 million option for 2010 will not be picked up, in news broken by our Rob Biertempfel yesterday.

This is a lousy way for the team to start the offseason.

Don’t misunderstand: I think it’s going to prove to be a great development for Maholm. He gets to test the open market, and we’ve seen in recent years that he’ll make his cash many times over. Starters are the second-hottest commodity in the industry, right behind durable starters.

From the Pirates’ angle, though, I don’t get this. Management went out on the open market last winter and made what they described as a competitive offer for another free agent, Jorge De La Rosa, who ended up getting a guaranteed $21.5 million over the first two seasons, plus two club options for additional money. (De La Rosa got hurt right away, but that’s neither here nor there.)

That’s the price. It involves not only money but also term. It’s multiple years. And the reason that many teams, including the Pirates don’t like that price, is that they — rightly — don’t feel it’s worth the risk to give a starter multiple years, only to see him hurt.

Well, with Maholm, they had him locked in for one year. That’s it. And they would have had a solid pitcher, a good guy and, on top of all that, a highly motivated athlete going into a free-agent year.

If you can think of a more compelling explanation for this than the Pirates being cheap, I’m all ears. I know that’s the easy route here, but I’d rather scratch off the rest first.

>> The Pirates signed a multiyear radio rights deal with The Fan, a.k.a. KDKA-FM, a move that’s been in the works for months. The team wanted to be in all-sports environment as opposed to the mostly political programming that was on NewsTalk 104.7. Not that much more to it, though I heard money had become something of an issue in the closing weeks.

Not to be caustic, but most of the radio I hear is music on XM. My life will remain the same.

>> Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin, the Penguins and Capitals, will be side by side on the issue of the Lokomotiv tragedy tonight at the arena.

Columnist Joe Starkey offers his perspective.

>> Ben Roethlisberger, on Rashard Mendenhall: “If Rashard stays patient, he’ll get his time.”

Translation: “I really liked those other guys.”

This is great. I’ll repeat that I’m a believer in Mendenhall’s talent, but I’m all too happy to go with want-to when a team isn’t going well. I saw lots of want-to in Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer on Sunday, and it would be nuts to take the ball from them.

So, why is it that Mendenhall looks set to start?

>> Our weekly chat will take place at the usual time, noon today.


  1. dcpinpgh says:

    What do you think that will do the fan’s on air line up? They started two February ago, so are contracts up. If I were the fan I would bring in Rocco Demaro to handle the post game show(and even the pre). In his last year at 104.7 his post game show was rating higher then the actual baseball game.

    DK: The Pirates have a postgame host in David Todd. I don’t know if the ratings have changed since that switch was made, though I’d assume all ratings went up in 2011 because the team was better for four months.

    I’ve heard from absolutely no one that any change is in the offing.

    And if you came here to lobby for someone to remove Todd, you came to the wrong place. We’ve had our share of baseball debates, but the man does a lively, fair show.

  2. Jim says:

    I agree 100%… First off, why tip your hat and ALREADY announce you’re not going to pick up his option for 2012? Secondly, why in the world would they make that offer to, IMO, a lesser of a talent in JDR, and then let a pitcher under your terms walk? This smells of another CHEAP out on the Pirates parts and they wonder why we are at 19, and counting.

  3. Jim says:

    Please… someone call me when we get this horrible ownership out of Pittsburgh… this is just ridiculous!! I am so frustrated with the way they continue to handle the team. When do us fans get a say in any of this ridiculous BS? WE have got to boycott every game next year, and stop going to see a AAAA team, and not even sure we could beat MOST AAA teams for the full year? This is pitiful to say the least!! Sorry, was griping but enough is enough!

  4. Cajun Thunder says:

    The 2011 Pirates were a 90 loss club. One of our starters will not be retained (2 if you count Ohlendorf). Another will likely not be ready as a starter on Opening Day (Morton, may be available in relief but not stretched out). Morton and McDonald’s peripherals argue for higher ERAs than what they ended up with. Correia was just plain poor. One or both catchers will not be retained. No first baseman available. Free agent market is weak. We have no assets that will bring back high level talent. AAA talent is weak at best.

    Someone please show me how the Pirates are going to be much improved in 2012. And please don’t use Pedro Alvarez suddenly becoming Albert Pujols v2.0 as a possible improvement.

  5. Jandy says:

    Maybe it’s time for the fans to make a statement. Stop going to games and stop supporting the team. Let ownership feel how it feels to be ignored.

  6. JAL says:

    JAL’s Dream a Little Dream Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3- 2011-12 Pirates Prospects Off-Season Calendar

  7. JAL says:

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Huntington: Free-Agent Market Stinks, And Paul Maholm’s Option Isn’t Expensive, But We Still Won’t Pay It

    6 Rumbunter

    Ouch! Morton Recovering from Hip Surgery

    7 Green Weenie

    Buc News: The Fan In, Maholm Out

    8 Why Gavs

    Ex-Pirate managers

  8. JAL says:

    13 Fort Worth Star Telegram

    Cruz, Napoli deliver as Rangers close in on return to World Series

    Galloway: Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli are clutch in this swing game for Rangers

    On scale of faith and great baseball, rate this Rangers win an 11

  9. JAL says:


    14 PBC Site

    Bucs still mulling options with Maholm’s option

  10. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Power Play of the Week — Cameron Heyward Earns His Varsity Letter

    Antonio Brown Quietly Giving Steelers Solid Boost on Special Teams

    -Steeler Depot

    Breaking Down the Woodley Hood Sack

    -Steelers Gab

    Thumbs Up to Tomlin for Shunning the Goof Reporters in Jacksonville

  11. JAL says:

    WVU Blogs

    Gold and Blue Blog

    WVU Looks to Build on Miramar Pipeline

    WV Illustrated

    WVU Student Section Should Be Full



    Without Crosby and Malkin, the Pens lean on the Penalty Kill…Again

  12. tim cypher says:

    I don’t see why the Pirates don’t pick up his option. At the very least you pick it up and trade him for a solid prospect. Even if you pick up part of the money (which wouldn’t even make sense since other teams will pay equal or more on the open market) you could get a legit prospect for a few million. This has Matt Capps written all over it. Overall I love this management but this is an awful decision. We’re losing a durable quality starter and getting nothing in return.

  13. leefoo says:

    #14……..Langosch says “That was the statement provided by general manager Neal Huntington on Wednesday, when he noted that keeping the option in play allows the Pirates to retain some leverage in case a trade partner emerges this month.”

    Now THAT makes sense. Otherwise, I agree with Dejan…….to get NOTHING for Maholm is stupid, stupid, stupid.


    If Rashard doesn’t hit the holes hard on Sunday, bench him and let him sign up for ‘Dancing with the Stars’.


    JAL…….for some reason, I’ve been singing “In the Early Morning Rain”, by Gordon Mendenhall, er ah, Lightfoot. :)



  14. Turner Ward says:

    The Pirates are not cheap. They are clearly moving some money to make a run at CC Sabathia.

    In all seriousness, the Pirates do not necessarily deserve the benefit out the doubt here, but don’t act like Paul Maholm is Cliff Lee. Let’s see where that $10 million ends up before we flip out completely. If their solutioun is moderate raises for Walker and McCutchen, with Lincoln and Ohlendorf filling out the rotation, then we have every reason to flip out. But calm down for now….let’s see how it shakes out.

  15. SeanE says:

    DK-I think I would wait before I pounce on the Pirates for this one. Let’s see what they do with the money first. Ten Million dollars is a lot to pay for a pitcher who has not exactly lit the world on fire. You could get two Correia’s for that money and to me they are pretty much the same type of (pitch to contact) pitchers.

    Don’t think the comparison to De La Rosa is valid either. De La Rosa has a lot more upside than Maholm. He has averaged nearly a strikeout an inning since 08. He also has solid WHIP numbers since 08. No question, at least in my mind, that De La Rosa gets more on the open market than Maholm.

    DK: I am waiting for it to play out, Sean.

  16. Bizrow says:

    The worst part, to me anyways, is that this past season we saw a GLIMMER of hope. Now as folks have pointed out here, we have more holes in the lineup than we did at this time last year.

    It just never ends with this BMTIB

  17. leefoo says:

    Turner/Sean E

    To get NOTHING for Maholm is stupid. That’s my whole point.

    As for what they’ll do with that $9.75 mil, they’ll probably sign 4 Lyle Overbay/Kevin Correia like players. In other words, they’ll waste it.



  18. Chuck Snow says:

    Maholm may not be Cliff Lee but I bet he ends up in New York with a big fat raise. And with decent offensive support will win more then he loses.

  19. Milo Hamilton says:

    This is just another misstep in a long line of missteps by Neal Huntington. If your intention was to find a trade partner, exercise the option and trade Maholm, the last thing you do is tell the player about it before he has to know. Do you think he’s just going to keep quiet and allow himself to get traded somewhere he doesn’t want to go ? Any agent worth his salt is going to leak the information, like in this case.

    And why would a team trade a player(s) for someone that will be a free agent in 3 weeks when the guy can’t help you until next spring ?

    And we get three more years of this ?

  20. SeanE says:

    I would also state that the simple question to be asked is this: Is Paul Maholm a $10 million dollar a year Pitcher? The answer to this question is easy. He is not. Cliff Lee makes $11 million for goodness sake. Lee and Maholm should not even be talked about in the same sentence.

    Maholm is clearly a good guy and a great teammate. But baseball for a team like the Pirates means maximizing your dollars. Signing Maholm would not do that.

  21. SeanE says:

    Maholm is not tradeable IMO with that option. No one is going to pay him that money for one year. Pirates are better off letting him test free agency and see if they can get him resigned to a reasonable long term deal.

  22. Thundercrack says:

    If I am a MLB GM, I may like Paul Maholm as a pitcher and think he would be a nice (not great) addition to my staff. But I don’t like him at $9.5 million. So I am not going to trade for him. If I do trade for him what do you really think the Pirates are going to get back in return? If it is anything above a middle-of-the-pack prospect then the Pirates would have to kick in some cash back to me. If I am the GM I probably take my chances when Paul hits the free agent market….and hope someone doesn’t overpay him (which is certainly likely)

    As I Pirate fan, getting a middle prospect or utility guy or middle reliever doesn’t really make me feel that much better.

  23. Turner Ward says:

    @Chuck/Milo –
    My point is simple: they have not yet done anything regarding Paul Maholm. He is still their proprty; he is still tradeable; he can still sign a multi-year extension; they can still cut him loose for nothing; or they can completely flip-flop and still pick up that option.

    Wait until they screw this thing up (which history shows they will) and then NH is fair game. But until then, this is a non-story.

    @Sean – Lee is making $11 million this year, but that is the 1st year of a 5-year $120 million contract.

  24. Justin says:

    Well, if Maholm is gone, they’d better be making runs at guys with decent K rates. Harden and Bedard are both injury prone, but both post about a K per inning in their careers.

    But a good pitcher who isn’t injury prone would be welcome as well…

    Beat ‘em Bucs

  25. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Turner Ward

    Any lasting effects from crashing through that wall ?

    They have already told Maholm that they will not pay him that option. And Maholm has made that public. They have already screwed this up by jumping the gun & telling the player their intentions before they had to.

  26. FlizR6 says:

    Although I am fine with not picking up the option for Maholm, NH is basically pulling a CYA move already by saying how free agents and trades will be horrible this year. That way he puts no pressure on himself when we get to spring training with our 3 starters and open tryouts for the rest.

    Seriously ask yourself this question…every 5th day when Maholm was pitching, were you ever excited and expected us to win???

  27. Vinqtin says:

    Is it smart management to continue to run a pitcher to the mound that has consistently demonstrated the ability to be good for 1/3 of the games he pitches? And, give him a sizable raise to boot? Sure, he’s had some good moments but its pretty clear that he’s not a difference maker for this team and this team needs difference makers. Its time to look elsewhere.
    To those that think that he’s being lost without getting something in return consider that if he was worth anything, he would have been traded in July. The Bucs will find 2 pitchers for the $9M saved that will pitch as well as Maholm or maybe, just maybe they’ll use it for a real impact player. I know…dare to dream.

  28. radio wave says:

    Pirates radio move to a sports oriented station is a welcome move. Now if they can eliminate the practice of broadcasting the games on a 30 second delay, and broadcast in real time, it would be appreciated by fans with disabilities who care about this matter. Not important to most, but necessary for some.
    I can’t disagree with many opinions that the Bucs 2012 looks bleak, but it’s sure disapointing to feel that way before the Ws even starts.

  29. Drew71 says:

    It is so, so, so very tiring being a Pirates fan.

    And i AM a fan.

    A tired one.

  30. Milo Hamilton says:


    They couldn’t trade him in July. They were in 1st place.

  31. bdubb says:

    The only reason that will make sense to me around PM is maybe he is more hurt than we know? I saw a short list of available starters this off season and I don’t see any better (Buerle maybe but he won’t come here). So that Pirates are left without a workhorse in this rotation.

    I was never a big fan of PM but on this team he seems to be a bargain.

  32. Vinqtin says:


    Yeah but everyone on these blogs knew the team would fall off so I’m sure Neal did too.

    Seriously though if there was a good enough offer, he would be gone regardless of what place they were in.

  33. Drew71 says:

    Great news about Crosby. Couldn’t care less if they work him in slowly and/or not yet. This is a good team without him. They don’t NEED him in the next game. They need him over the long haul to go from good to great.

  34. Milo Hamilton says:

    Brent Johnson in goal tonight. Fleury is sickly.

  35. Jandy says:

    Milo, where did that come from. YOu get your info fast ;) (RE: Fleury sickly).

  36. Milo Hamilton says:


    Josh Yohe.

  37. Jandy says:

    Thanks Milo!

  38. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Here’s the transcript to today’s chat:

    Thanks to all of you who participated.

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