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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: They’re spending … deal with it

Brief and to the Point …

>> My Monday column calls for the Steelers to show Hines Ward the respect he’s due.

I hereby predict this one will be unpopular, though I can’t be sure.

>> If the Pirates complete the trade for A.J. Burnett – still feel it’s going to get done but could take more haggling — they’ll push payroll above the $50 million mark, and there still probably will be some flexibility for midsummer moves if needed.

That’s not Milwaukee or Cincinnati, but it’s not bad given the Pirates’ development stage.

I’d rather see the bigger money spent once the arms arrive from the minors. And I’d rather see some of that bigger money go toward keeping the center fielder.

>> If you’re judging Burnett by his 5.26 or 5.15 ERAs the past two seasons in New York, then you …

A. Overvalue ERA.

B. Undervalue strikeouts, of which he had 173 that would have led the Pirates’ staff.

C. Undervalue innings, of which he had 190 that would have led the Pirates’ staff.

D. Have never seen a ball carry at the new Yankee Stadium, more of a bandbox than Cincinnati or Philadelphia.

E. Have no concept of the difference between facing hitters in the AL East and hitters in the NL Central, especially now that Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are gone. Even the lesser teams in the AL East have better-than-NL lineups.

Here is Burnett’s official page.

>> Odd man out of the rotation if Burnett is acquired almost always will be an injured guy. That’s just how it goes, though it doesn’t make for nearly as interesting a debate.

If everyone’s healthy, my prediction is Kevin Correia.

>> If Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz keep playing this way, the other team’s parents are going to complain.

And no, that line absolutely should not be broken up when Sidney Crosby returns. Crosby can play with Pascal Dupuis and … um, Rick Nash.

>> Don’t underestimate the broader impact of Jordan Staal’s return in the Penguins erupting for a dozen goals this weekend. He gives the Penguins two viable lines, and the Steve Sullivan-Cal O’Reilly-Dustin Jeffrey line has been as good as any. Everyone gets lifted up a notch.

>> Jamie Dixon’s 11 losses, the 11th coming yesterday at Seton Hall, represent his most in nine years at Pitt’s helm. They also represent, realistically, the end of the Panthers’ wildest dream for an NCAA at-large bid. Five Big East games remain, so the best possible conference record is 9-9. That’s not going to cut it.

It’s tournament win, or bust. And this Pitt team doesn’t have that look, especially without any semblance of an inside game. Took Nasir Robinson most of the game to get his first bucket. There’s still little from Dante Taylor. And Lamar Patterson, while promising, isn’t going to compensate for that.

>> This was my appearance on KDKA-TV’s Showdown last night. For those who already asked, the reason the Penguins weren’t discussed is that they were playing while we taped.

>> Weekly appearance on our online-only TribLIVE Radio is at 11:30 a.m.


  1. pgherinfl says:

    Morning Dejan!!! I read an article from isportsweb that had a story about the Pirates and their philosophy this off season. He says that maybe the MLB poobahs are starting to put a little pressure on the Pirates for their payroll. That maybe why after not showing any interest in adding to the club, they are making such a big effort to add an expensive, for them, pitcher. Just a thought. Do you think that could be a possiblity?

  2. pgherinfl says:

    Oh, here is the link to the article:

    I don’t really know him so I don’t know how reputiable he is.

  3. Eric Bowser says:

    Been pretty apparent through this Ward discussion that it had to be Tomlin, Colbert or Rooney as the source but if I’m a betting man, I’m guessing our resident columnist did a little research and that’s why his brilliant formula nails the “Y” factor – Mike Tomlin.

    At least that’s my interpretation.

    There’s no one, not even the best 5-man unit collected across the other hockey teams that could stop Malkin, Neal, Kunitz, Letang and Orpik. When Malkin is this healthy, happy, and motivated – he’s unstoppable, he’s in Lemieux territory and I hope it continues, with or without that kid from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.

    Finally, AJ Burnett pitched in 21 games against non-AL East teams giving up 60 runs and 13 of his 31 HR given up were on the road, which isn’t bad. If the Pirates can get Burnett for $14-16 million of his $33 million owed without giving up a top 10 prospect, I’ll be happy. Frankly, what isn’t to like about this deal. They get a legitimate major league starter, who could possibly anchor this rotation and it addresses a complaint many have had this winter – spend the money.

  4. PetroSteel says:

    No Brainer!!! Get it done Neal. Burnett makes the Bucs legit and a contender in this weak division.

    DK, Does Lee look again at the Bucs if this deal goes down? Would the Bucs still do the deal for Lee or would the Burnett deal put them in a place where they wont spend anymore right now.

    DK: Lee is not coming back.

  5. Scott says:

    Burnett makes the Bucs a contender? Good grief.

    If Hines Ward is willing to play for $1 million, the Steelers absolutely have to bring him back. I saw nothing last year to indicate that he can’t play anymore. Yes, his playing time dropped, but when he was out there, he did just fine. It’s not like he was dropping balls or missing blocks.

    Plus, when Cotchery leaves, this team will desperately need a #4 receiver (or a #3, if Sanders doesn’t come back healthy or somebody gets hurt.) You’re just not going to find a better #4 on the open market for that price than Hines Ward.

  6. pghboyinca says:

    Is there even any reason top speculate hwo “the odd man out” is in that rotatation. Outside of the 1/2 season of brilliance flashed by Morton not a lot of majhor league caliber arms starting forhte Buc. ( Karstens showed well last year , let’s see if he holds up).

    What do the Steelers owe Hines Ward? HE was a great player and was paid accirdingly. He always had a game breaker on the other side (Santonio or Plax, then Wallace) His intangibles and desire were off the charts but he is no longer even passable as a 4th or 5th wodeout. I 4th or 5th wideout has to be a special teams player of return man as well. Make him a coach or give him a front office spot but take the uniform away. They had to throw him flanker screens to get him his 1000th catch.

  7. Curt says:

    I see things differently. I feel like this is the F.O. way of saying see we are spending money and pushing the team’s total salary up before the season starts. It has that feel.
    Here is my prediction: A.J. Burnett = Matt Morris
    That’s how I feel. If I am wrong, I will apologize later. Have a great Monday everyone!

  8. JAL says:

    JAL’s Crashing The Sky Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Yahoo Free Agent Tracker;_ylt=AvN8KLXkNW0TcRjzSCagLIMBbgM6?slug=jp-passan_ultimate_free_agent_tracker_baseball_110211

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training Tracker


    5—Pirates Prospects

    A.J. Burnett Rumors: Saturday

  9. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    18 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Even if Hines Ward Finishes His Career with Another Team, it Won’t Tarnish His Legacy with the Steelers

    Ward: ‘I Want To Be Here, I Want To Play’

    Salary Cap Issues: What Decisions Are The Steelers Faced With in 2012, Part 2

    Salary Cap Issues: What Decisions Are The Steelers Faced With in 2012, Part 3

    19 Steelers Depot

    -Understanding Contract Restructures in Relation to Steelers Salary Cap

    20 Steelers Gab

    Steelers Deny They Have Decided Any Fate on WR Ward

  10. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    21 Pitt Blather

    Expansiopocolypse: Still Waiting for WVU to Leave

    22 Cardiac Hill

    How the Other Half Lives: Q&A With Seton Hall Blog, South Orange Juice

    WVU Blogs

    23 Metro News

    Facing An Uphill Battle

    24 WV Illustrated

    WVU Women’s Basketball Upsets No. 2 Notre Dame

    Da’Sean Butler Making Most of D-League Opportunity


    25 Pensburgh

    Seven may be heaven, but eight is great. Pens blast past Jets 8-5

  11. JAL says:

    Title song Crashing the Sky by Dark Ocean Colors, 2011. Couple of guys from Toledo, Ohio.

  12. IC Heavy says:

    DK, I do not disagree with you that the Steelers should let Hines know one way or the other as soon as possible, but I also think that this is a tough decision for the Steelers as well and just may take some time. Look, the league isn’t the same as it was when Coach Noll and Coach Cowher were in the league, they really didn’t have to deal with the multitude of media and social media that coaches today have to deal with, so one wrong slip of the tongue could travel cross country in a nanosecond. I have to give the Steelers the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing and working the decisions in an honest and forthright manner they always have. Additionally, yes Hines has been a great player for the Steelers and a role model off the field, but you cannot cry for Hines, he has made his paychecks and he will move on a very wealthy man no matter how this turns out. These guys not only get paid millions for their work on the field, they also get it because their futures can be foggy, just like this situation. Hines, isn’t hurt, but he has lost a step or two, I want to see him retire a Steeler, but if it doesn’t happen I will not blame the Steelers. Ward may be emotionally hurt if it happens this way, but the money he has recieved from the Steelers to this point should help cushion the blow. Remember, he had no poblem holding out of trining camp when he thought he deserved more money, he wasn’t taking the Steelers feelings into account then was he?

    DK: I’ve heard a lot about Ward’s past outspokenness. Doesn’t really apply here. This is the end of the line, a far more significant matter than the odd contract negotiation.

  13. bman says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head, DK. I completely understand that the NFL is a business and that the Steelers owe Ward nothing in terms of keeping him around just because he’s done so much for them. However, if they no longer want him, be “a man” about it and tell him face to face.

  14. Jandy says:

    Ahhh…head colds suck. Anyone miss me? No? ::dirt kick: Darn!

    WHEN (not if) Sid comes back, the Pens will be a terror to play against. That is, so long as Kunitz/Malkin/Neal are still rolling. Gotta love those guys. And with Staal back, so much more is HAPPENING.

  15. Don says:

    Let’s deal in facts, the Yankees have wanted to deal Burnett for several years now. He had the 3rd highest ERA in the AL last year. They are willing to eat a good portion of his salary for good reason. Now opinion, he will be no better than a right handed version of Paul Maholm, and possibly worse.

  16. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    I love Hines Ward. One of my favorite Steelers ever.

    Hines Ward has the power to retire a Pittsburgh Steeler if he opts to do so right now. His legacy is in his own hands.

    And nobody is forcing Hines to retire. If he chooses to play one more season for another team, that’s on him as well.

    The Steelers are obligated to address their roster according to their needs. If they feel they are stronger by using that roster spot for someone who can produce more than Hines, then sobeit.

    I can’t fault the Steelers for trying to assemble the best group of receivers possible because it gives them their best chance of winning, even if Hines isn’t included.

    I’d feel the same about any other roster spot on the team.

    My solution would be to offer Hines a coaching/assistant position instead of a player contract.

  17. Jandy says:

    OK I’m doing my best Groat2Mazz2Strangeglove impersonation:

    5 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training!

    ::holding breath::

  18. NMR says:

    I can’t believe none of yinz has made the comparison to Matt Morris yet. This is just like a Dave Littlefield move all over again…

    Seriously, though, I might scream if I read this comment one more time.

    There is literally zero common ground on which these two trades can be compared. It’s a lazy man’s argument.

  19. JAL says:

    Link 6 in post 9 addresses the Morris-Burnett comparison and points out the differences.

  20. 21sthebest says:

    “If you’re judging Burnett by his 5.26 or 5.15 ERAs the past two seasons in New York, then you …Have never seen a ball carry at the new Yankee Stadium, more of a bandbox than Cincinnati or Philadelphia.”

    2011 ERA at new Yankee Stadium – 4.41.
    2011 ERA on the road – 6.28.

    2010 ERA at new Yankee Stadium – 4.59.
    2010 ERA on the road – 5.76.

    DK: This is good info, 21. Hadn’t looked at splits. I can counter, though, that pitchers adjust their games to ballparks, to an extent. They can be bolstered (San Diego) or brought down (Cincy) by those.

    Or would you disagree with that?

  21. John Lease says:

    True, Matt Morris had some better past seasons than Burnett. Burnett has led the league in wild pitches 3 times, Morris sure didn’t. If this is an ‘upgrade’, doesn’t that show how pathetic the Pirates starters are?

  22. NMR says:

    Wild pitches?

    Thats the stat you’re gonna use?

  23. NMR says:

    Heck, call off the dogs. He lead the league in WILD PITCHES. Guy is a bum!

  24. aglebagel says:

    @ DK-
    Totally agree with the basic premise that the Steelers should show respect to Ward, but I’m not ready to indict the team for that NFL Network report. Some reporters want to break the news so badly that they’ll run with anything.

    @Dave G-
    I also agree with you. Usually, retiring with the team you want means retiring while the needle is just hovering above empty. Chris Hoke also wanted to retire a Steeler, so he went ahead and did it. I’m certainly not going to hold it against Hines if he wants to prove himself on another team next year, but if he truly values retiring as a Steeler, he has every opportunity.

  25. CWalton_67 says:

    Agree on Ward. He ranks among the greatest Steelers ever and deserves better treatment.

    Burnett could go either way, but I think he’ll help the Bucs. Appears to be a good move as long as the give up no more than the legendary Garrett Jones….

    Pens are still a player away from being a true contender with or without 87. The defense is simply not good enough. Martin is an absolute liability, and unfortunately, is not going anywhere soon. And they need more from Matt Cooke–he’s still tiptoeing around on most nights.

    Wondering if you might give us a column on the clear change in philosophy in the NHL on obstruction, Dejan? It’s very clear, despite the denials, that there is an attempt to slow the game down. At least two egregious obstruction penalties were not called by the #GarageLeague officials yesterday. We’re headed back to pre-lockout type hockey, which nearly ruined the game.

    DK: Our Josh Yohe just wrote a fine feature on that topic. Check our Penguins page.

  26. Corey says:

    I don’t think Burnett is gong to come in win 20 games, but I don’t get why so many people are so opposed to this trade. You are basically replacing Maholm’s innings with a veteran who has multiple years of playoff experience. If nothing else, he’s a guy you can rely on to eat a decent amount of innings and the younger starters can hopefully learn a thing or two from him.

  27. David says:

    Of all the SP with at least 100 IP (roughly half a season of starting) last season Burnett placed 67th of 137 in xFIP. That makes him a very solid #3 guy add to the fact he will be able to pitch a lot of innings there by saving the bullpen makes him a good pickup for the Pirates.

    If the trade does get done for Burnett this Pirates rotation will be the best they have had in quite a while. Now that is a little bit of faint praise but I digress. WIth a rotation headed by Burnett and Bedard and if Alvarez actually shows up this season I see this team having a legit shot at 500. This does not mean I see Burnett making them a threat to win the NL central, he doesn’t do that by any stretch of the imagination but I do see his acquistion combined with a hopefully slugging Alvarez putting this club in 75-83 win range.

  28. Cajun Thunder says:

    Why do people have the idea that Burnett’s bad numbers in 2010-11 have anything to do with Yankee Stadium? Has anyone actually looked at his home/away splits as a Yankee? His numbers all 3 of his Yankee seasons are MUCH worse on the road than they are at home. If he pitched on the road like he did at Yankee Stadium, I doubt the Yankees would be trying to ditch him.

  29. Milo Hamilton says:


    Good research. People seem to forget that Yankee Stadium has a centerfield & a leftfield also. Here’s some more that supports the theory about pitching in the AL East:

    vs. AL East 72.1 IP 50 ER 6.22 ERA
    vs everyone else 118 IP 59 ER 4.50 ERA

    AJ is a lunkhead, but he’s worth a look.

  30. Bizrow says:

    I just don’t want to see a lot or much talent headed to NY, for once it would be nice to be on the receiving end of a salary dump.

  31. Milo Hamilton says:

    People seemed surprised that the Pirates aren’t on AJ’s no-trade list. He’d obviously researched the number of tattoo parlors per capita in Allegheny County.

  32. JAL says:

    Pirates not his list because his wife fears flying, She is from Baltimore and want to live in cities she cab travel to Baltimore from without flying. The teams on his list are primarily west coast and mid west.

  33. Curt says:

    NMR and others:
    Check out my post this morning before all of JAL’s links.

    I made that point, glad many of you see it that way as well.

  34. jackdeloplane says:

    AJ Burnett’s upside is much higher than Maholm’s. Just looking at the strikeout totals can tell you that. He has had major confidence issues, but if he gets straightened out, he could be a legit #1 starter, especially in the NL Central. The key will be not giving up much except money, no prospects. i like it. Of course, it could be Morris circa 2012 as well. High risk, High reward. Just the sort of move that could really payoff. If it doesn’t, well we werern’t supposed to win anyway

  35. Thundercrack says:

    I enjoyed your appearance on the Sports Showdown last night. You set those guys straight regarding baseball, the Pirates, and Burnett. ( I know Zeise may not know much about baseball, but Bob Pomp surprises me sometimes…with the stuff he gets wrong, ie Tampa signs all of their players).

    But I must also admit that I enjoyed them ganging up on you regarding talking about the NBA. :-)

    DK: When did that actually air, like 1 a.m.?

  36. JAL says:

    Enjoyed the Sports Showdown too, after a calm discussion on Hines Ward discussion heated up on Burnett and on the NBA

  37. Kevin says:

    Nice column today DK, I have to agree with the fact that the “Steeler Way” seems to have gotten a bit fuzzy recently (Arians/Ward). I still have faith that it will work out the right way for both sides (regardless of the result).

    @ Don
    If Burnett pitches as well as Maholm then its a good deal. Maholm got ZERO run support for most – if not all – of the season. Still think the Bucs should have resigned him. So I agree with Corey on this front.

    And for those of you blessed enough to actually WATCH the Pens – I cannot because I live in Central PA with satellite meaning the games are blacked out 99% ofr the time – please savor every moment! At least keep those of us who are just listening in your thoughts and realize how lucky you are!!
    That being said, I do get the privilege of listening to a legend on game nights!

    “Get in the fast lane Grandma…!!!

  38. Kevin says:

    DK –

    One more thing….should I get my Rick Nash #61 Pens jersey ordered??

    DK: You know, I probably need to easy on the running gag. Some are starting to take me seriously.

  39. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:


    DK says ‘Rick Nash’ would be a good addition, but he secretly covets R.J. Umberger…


  40. Josh says:

    Great article this morning. Was shocked this weekend to see the news on ESPN and Hines having to respond on Facebook. All we’re hearing from the Steelers are crickets chirping.

    As far as Ward being “done”…could we really do better for a 5th receiver if he agrees to the minimum salary? It’s a roster spot that we could use to keep a late rounder, but I think Ward has earned this.

  41. Matty G says:

    Burnette in no way makes this team a “contender”, an even though you can view the NL Central a “weak” division, especially considering it no longer includes Pujols or Fielder, and will not see Braun for so many games to start the season, the Pirates are still one of the weakest teams in this weak division, so its a wash. They have a severe lack of power, their defense is poor to average at best, and even WITH Burnette their pitching is questionable and highly variable. He helps make a bad team better, let’s not get carried away with this and start buying postseason gear just yet.

    And the Pens are playing some brand of hockey right now, unbelievable. They had their lapses last night (some of their north-south passing from out of their own zone was way too predicable and was getting picked off by the aggresive Tampa forwards), but when they were on you could really feel it. The skill guys are doing their thing (here’s looking at you, Geno), the role players are playing their role, and the all-around guys are really stepping it up (Kunitz. Wow. Hands McGee). Excited to see what, if anything, Shero adds to this team. Even without Crosby, I am excited for the postseason for the ‘Guins team.

  42. Jandy says:

    OK, so no one appreciated me filling in for Groat on the Pirates Spring Training thing…hey, he kinda called me out on it :p

    Kevin, I am a huge Pens fan, and trust me, I savor every minute of every game I watch, including the losses. I feel for you! And let me tell you, I miss Mike Lange on television! Steigy makes me want to lurch!

  43. SeanAY says:


    Those fourth and fifth receiver spots are usually held for guys that can also play special teams in some capacity. I doubt the Steelers would ask him to be a gunner on punt coverage or anything of the sort. And honestly, I doubt at this stage in his career that Ward would want to play special teams.

  44. NMR says:

    I’m with you Jandy. Keep it up!

  45. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    I’m ok with the Burnett deal. As long as they don’t give up too much, which they shouldn’t have too.

    He could be a good fill in strike out guy, which is a big difference between him and Maholm. Need that true veteran presence before the babies come up at a reasonable cost. I’d prefer Oswalt, but he obviously does not.

    I am surprised that the Pirates aren’t on his “no-trade” list.

    He should do well here.

  46. Kevin says:


    Biggest mistake made was putting Steigy on tv (along with Errey) and taking Lange away…well, sort of cause now I get Lange and the ol’ “29’er”!!

    And I am smilin’ like a butcher’s dog

  47. chris says:

    I’m a little bit excited to see if the change of scenery (lack of pressure) will help Burnett regain some confidence. Also, after seeing searage bring out the best in maholm, karstens, and correia (for a month or two!) I am hopeful he can likewise help burnett and bedard.

  48. Jandy says:

    @NMR ~ thanks friend =)

    Kevin, well scratch my back with a hacksaw ;)

  49. Dan1283 says:

    Great column, Dejan. It needed to be said. What a weird couple of weeks it’s been. The Steelers need to get over themselves and stop being more tight-lipped than the CIA, because apparently they’re shutting the players out as much as they are the fans.

  50. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Dan- I don’t think the Steelers need to let the fans know what they are doing. Since we’re all Monday Morning QB’s. Its a business….plain and simple. They may not have decided on what to do with Hines. Tough decisions.

  51. Justin says:


    “Let’s deal in facts, the Yankees have wanted to deal Burnett for several years now.”

    If we’re dealing in facts, then deal in facts. The Yankees signed Burnett in 2009. He pitched effectively in 2009.

    2010 he started slipping in terms of ERA. Did they want to trade their investment after one sub-par season? probably not, but maybe.

    the earliest they probably wanted to trade him was 2011.

    I don’t think 1 or 2 years constitutes constitutes “several years.”

    Just like we shouldn’t pretend he’s going to take the NL central by storm and guide the bucs to a championship, we shouldn’t be pretending that he’s 5 years removed from a good year.

    But maybe it does.

  52. MrB says:

    I don’t know about unpopular, but it’s certainly a very fair column today.

  53. Smitty55 says:

    Maybe, being a valued member of the Bucs rotation, rather than an afterthought in the Yankees plans will have a rejuvinating effect on Burnett. If the price is right, I fully support the gamble.

  54. scapper says:

    When did the Pens get Nash? That’s awesome! And for two minor league defensemen? And he has agreed to structure a deal that will allow the Pens to remain under the cap? I love it!

    (Just trying to help, DK.)

  55. Absolute59 says:

    The excuse for his ERA that he gave up a lot of home runs because of Yankee stadium is not accurate. His HR/AB percentage at Yankee Stadium was 4.4% and on the road it was 4.3%.

  56. Arriba Wilver says:

    DK–I agree partly with Thunder on your appearance last night. I also enjoyed your Pirate talk, but I enjoyed your take on the NBA, too. Looked like a fun time all around. Pomp and Paul are so jaded on the Pirates they don’t seem to be able to look at any move they make in a positive sense (and I like both of them). Oh, it aired something like 12:15 or so.

    I still think a lot of the problem many posters have about the Burnett potential is that they are looking at him not being a $16.5 mil pitcher. I don’t think anyone other than maybe, MAYBE, him and his agent think he is. One of the comments above was he would be a right handed Paul Maholm. Thing is, he would cost pretty close to what Paul is making this year if many of the reports are right. And he obviously brings some things Paul didn’t, such as strikeout ability. (This is, of course, premised on the idea that they don’t give up any very good prospect[s]). He is NOT a Matt Morris clone–Morris cost twice as much as is being talked about and had some serious injury related side effects (he coudn’t pitch anymore).

  57. Kevin says:


    DK’s job just got even tougher now that he has to squash his own NHL fantasy publicly!! Nice one…

  58. 21sthebest says:

    “DK: This is good info, 21. Hadn’t looked at splits. I can counter, though, that pitchers adjust their games to ballparks, to an extent. They can be bolstered (San Diego) or brought down (Cincy) by those.

    Or would you disagree with that”

    Thanks DK. I can’t argue with that. Overall though, at where Burnett’s ERA has been, his age, and his declining velocity, the risk/reward proposition isn’t there for me. But I will say that I’d like to acquire him only if Lee would sign with us too.

    I should also add that I find the adjustments that he made in September 2011 which seemed to help his performance and his velocity, an intriguing development.

    DK: You have a link to that last item?

  59. 21sthebest says:

    For me, the Showdown showed up at lunchtime today, on my computer. Personally I loved the counter to Pompeani’s claim that the Rays sign everybody, which obviously is far from true. But when the Longoria contract gets brought up, I think it’s also fair to bring up that that contract has largely been reviewed as being team friendly pretty big time.

  60. Dave J says:

    What are the chances we tell the Yankees we’ll take Burnett if they throw in Rick Nash?

  61. pattonbb says:

    If the Steelers look at the roster and decide that every single WR they have are better than Hines, then make the hard decision and release him. However, if they cut him and hide behind the “well we needed cap room” excuse, there’s other areas on that roster they could cut some fat off of.

    My opinion (which means absolutely nothing) is; restructure his final 2 years so that he plays for the league minimum and let him play one more year (a la Bettis). If Rooney really wants to be a better running team, I can’t see how cutting their best blocking WR helps them do that.

  62. Don says:

    Google up news articles from the 2010 and 2011 trade deadlines. Brunette was horrible in the first-half of 2010 and the Yankees were shopping him to any willing trading partner but his salary was unmovable. Fast forward to 2012 and it is more palatable to eat maybe $17-$19 million of his contract. Three years (2010, 2011, 2012) = several.

    Regardless, one way to determine if you are getting something of value is by measuring demand and assessing whom and how many teams you are bidding against. By that measure I am far from overwhelmed.

    This reminds me of the hysteria when Brandon Wood was signed. Just because a guy was drafted high or has Yankees on his chest doesn’t mean he is any good.

  63. NMR says:

    Brandon Wood?!


  64. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    A Yankee???

  65. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Brandon Wood= Jose Bautista………

  66. Milo Hamilton says:

    The title of today’s blog is “They’re spending…deal with it.” If they pay AJ Burnett $7 million this year, that will take them from 30th to a tie for 28th in payroll. I’ve been dealing with that for years.

  67. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    28th is better than last, lol……..wasn’t that the norm?

  68. Thel M says:

    I love Hines and want him to be in a Steeler uniform next season, and will probably be disappointed in the Steelers if they cut him, but the theory that because the Steelers aren’t talking to Hines right now in this offseason is somehow disrespecting him is kind of a stretch. Put it in perspective. Are they talking to other veteran players such as James Farrior or Casey Hampton. Maybe, perhaps, who knows! If you listened to Kevin Colbert this morning, they are focusing on free agents right now, evaluating FAs out in the market and then talking to those with restructuring issues later. Of course you’ll probably won’t take Colbert at his word, but come on, you’ve been following the Steelers a long while I’m sure, you know how this organization works. They aren’t that big on disclosing how they do things to the public. I guess that’s why you have to speculate instead of share real answers. I’m tired of sports reporters stirring up drama when there isn’t any instead of report REAL news. It’s not just you, it’s a lot of other reporters with bogus sources or NO sources and website/newspaper space to fill. Maybe you can RESPECT both Hines and the Steelers by not writing sensationalized posts just to get readership or page views.

    DK: Welcome to the forum, Thel, and apologies for the delay in your first post going up. That’s how the system is set up. Everything else will go up right away.

    As I wrote in the column, I don’t care to guess who the leak came from or why it was generated. I respect your view as to the Steelers’ current priorities re free agency and the like. It’s a supportable opinion. Mine is that taking care of one of the best players in franchise history should come first, even if that means telling him he’s done.

  69. JAL says:

    Pirates were 28 last season, Royals and Rays were lower.

  70. sanny manguillen says:

    I’d rather not see Burnett come here. Just in his last three years as a Yankee, he’s led the legaue in walks, HBP or wild pitches at least one season each. He’s committed 19 errors in the last four seasons, with a fielding average below .900 each season. If he’s at all fundamentally sound, a 35-year old ballplayer should have ironed all these issues out years ago. I doubt he could help our younger pitchers much.

    About the only thing you can say that favors Burnett is that he is still striking people out. I think that at least some of those K’s come because batters are willing to work the count against someone who has multiple ways of imploding. I think that, like Ollie Perez, Burnett is a sort of “Bizarro Rick Reuschel” who needs overwhelming stuff because he has no skills to get out of trouble once he’s in it. I doubt he still has that kind of stuff.

  71. radio wave says:

    Gllad to see so many posts here.
    Three other teams trying for Burnett too.

  72. BillySofis says:


    Your article this morning on Hines accuses the Steelers of leaking to Jason La Canfora the decision to release Ward, but it never discusses the possibility that this was just misinformation of one kind or another (e.g., someone in the organization who wasn’t fully informed of the situation gave La Canfora erroneous information). What makes you so sure that someone in the “upper hierarchy” of the Steelers leaked the story? Just the concept that La Canfora would never have posited the story as fact unless he was sufficiently confident in his source?


    DK: Hi, Billy, and thanks for coming over. Same apology I issue above to Thel, I’ll also extend to you, regarding the first post. Everything after this is automatic.

    My NOT questioning the veracity of the report, I felt, was a suitably strong suggestion that I don’t doubt that it came from a source with direct knowledge of the topic. So, the way you lay it out in your final question is the way I feel. Well, that coupled with some very strong feelings among those who have been very longtime observers of the Steelers and how this pipeline has worked before.

  73. Officer Mancuso says:

    I think DK’s Ward column is spot on. I also have long suspected that Art II is a shadier operator than his illustrious predecessors.

    DK: Hi, Mancuso. And thanks.

  74. aglebagel says:

    Just watched the Sports Showdown. Very enjoyable, right up until the time you mocked the thought of (oh, my!) an NBA topic. All I could think of was, “Wait, isn’t this the guy who is planning a SOCCER column???” :)

    DK: One of my favorite things about the pending soccer column is how it will be received by all those who regularly charge me with writing things just to raise readership or print views. And yes, it’s still coming. Some news has pushed it back of late.

  75. JAL says:

    Big East basketball is close to unwatchable at times, Louisville led Syracuse 24-22 at the half.

  76. radio wave says:

    It’ks so great to have a blog where the technology works all the time!

  77. Milo Hamilton says:

    It kills me that Rick Pitino wears white. I mean, come on. Everybody knows.

  78. JohninOshkosh says:


    Heard a lot of talk today (MLB on XM, Twitter, et al) that it would do Burnett well to get away from the scrutiny of the NY media. The implication, of course, is that the Pittsburgh media would be softer. I was wondering if, as a journalist, you find such remarks ridiculous. I follow some NY writers online. I don’t find them overly critical or mean spirited, and I certainly don’t find them to be anymore aggressive or unrelenting at issues requiring investigative skills than the Pittsburgh media. You know these folks-are they really the devil or is scapegoating the NY media just an easy out for commentators?

  79. Thel M says:


    Thanks for the response and dealing with my frustrations with these stories. The waiting game can be a little much. I understand your feeling about the Steelers dealing/non dealing with Hines. He’s a real Steeler in my book and should play his career out as a Steeler (I’m sure he’d be okay with being the 4/5th WR, and maybe doing special teams blocking for just ONE more year), but the Steeler brass never puts one player above another even if he is a Pro Bowl, SB MVP, sure to be Hall of Famer. They’ve been stubborn in that way for decades. Now with this talk of Cotchery wanting to come back, and Mendenhall’s ACL potentionally leaving him out this season, roster spots are even more tricky to figure out. Hopefully they can get everything sorted out in due time.

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