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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Free Isaac Redman?

Brief and to the Point …

>> The news that Rashard Mendenhall could miss all of 2012 with the knee injury appears to set the stage for Isaac Redman as the Steelers’ feature back.

That might sound scary. He’s a second-year man who went undrafted out of Bowie State, and he’s got one career start. He also isn’t seen as a pass-catching back, which limits his versatility and probably takes him off the field on third down. Check his official page for all the details.

But there’s also this: In his lone start, against a decent Cleveland defense, Redman rushed 19 times for 92 yards, including a 22-yarder and a touchdown. That’s obviously pretty good. In the playoff loss at Denver, he averaged 7.1 yards per carry. That’s really good. And even the weakness that most fans might remember — those two hideous late fumbles against the Browns — go very much against a sure-handed history.

Kevin Colbert strongly suggested the Steelers won’t necessarily go to the outside to replace Mendenhall, and there’s good reason for that.

>> A related question: Will Mendenhall rehab around his teammates this time?

Last time he was out an extended period, you’ll remember he rubbed a lot of Steelers the wrong way by rarely being seen on the South Side.

>> Dmitri Young’s tryout with the Pirates was yesterday in Bradenton, and it sure sounds from Clint Hurdle’s assessment as if … well, Young can still breathe.

>> Speaking of breathing, I mentioned to everyone here late last week not to hold their breath with this A.J. Burnett trade. These types of deals generally don’t get done quickly. Each side thinks that the longer it waits, the more the money needle moves in one direction or the other.

I can add this: The two reports out of New York yesterday that the Yankees want more money and better prospects is highly plausible and equally laughable on the Yankees’ part. This is all about money.

>> Max Talbot’s fine season with the Flyers is chronicled by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

>> Q for the puckheads today: Impressions of Cal O’Reilly?

I’ll wait for yours first, then share my own in comment responses.


  1. Greg says:

    I like O’Reilly. You notice when he is out there and not for any bad reasons. Plays hard and has had some chances just hasn’t cashed in. He should be fine until, hopefully, Crosby comes back and if needed for longer I think he’ll be fine.

  2. BladedWedge says:

    The Steelers will need to pick up a veteran FA RB like a Ronnie Brown. Not necessarily a starter but a guy that has been around the block. Redman, Clay, Moore, Dwyer and Batch just don’t instill confidence in a fanbase itching for a deeper playoff run.

  3. Clint says:

    O Reilly strikes me as a Chris Bourque type.. someone the Pens pick up on waivers.. they take a look at for 10-20 games at a cheap price, and realize that he is not going to be part of the long term plan, and will be sent along on his way

  4. JAL says:

    JAL’s “Take the A Train” 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

    Six Pirates Rank in Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects

    A.J. Burnett Trade Likely to Get Done

  5. JAL says:


    Kevin Goldstein’s Top 101

    7 Rumbunter

    2012 Pirates Rotation: The Best Since…

    Pittsburgh Pirates: The Bench & the Farm / The Rumbunter Podcast

    8 Bucs Dugout

    A.J. Burnett Trade: Yankees Reportedly Want More From Pirates

  6. JAL says:


    9 Wall Street Journal

    Where Burnett Places In the Pantheon of Busts

    10 New Jersey Star Ledger

    Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates deadlocked over A.J. Burnett trade

    11 Chicago Tribune

    Rounding Third: Linsanity would never happen in MLB,0,184077.story

    12 Centre Daily Times

    Spike-Tacular Afternoon‎

    13 San Francisco Chronicle

    A’s sign Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes

  7. JAL says:

    14 Korea Times

    Match rigging spreads to baseball


    15 PBC Site

    Ex-big leaguer Young works out for Pirates

    16 Seedlings to Stars

    The Finished Product

    17 Bleacher Report

    10 MLB Cities That Don’t Deserve Their Teams

  8. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    18 Behind the Steel Curtain

    With the 24th Overall Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers Select…A Wide Receiver

    Steelers GM Kevin Colbert Suggests Team May Use Franchise Tag on WR Mike Wallace

    19 Steelers Depot

    -Clarifying Comments by Kevin Colbert on Rashard Mendenhall in Regards to PUP

    20 Steelers Gab

    Steelers Deny They Have Decided Any Fate on WR Ward

  9. JAL says:

    WVU Blogs

    23 Metro News

    A Heated Huggins

    24 WV Illustrated

    Examining WVU’s NCAA Tournament Resume


    25 Pensburgh

    Peter Taglianetti takes your questions

    Trollin’ for goals: Malkin, Letang lead Pens past Lightning 4-2

  10. JAL says:

    Title song Take the A Train, Duke Ellington Orchestra, written in 1939, video from a 1943 film

  11. Dave J says:

    I think O’Reilly is weak. He will do anything to avoid a check, at the cost of not making a play. He is a nice skater who likes to pass the puck, but teamed with Sully, you can expect about 12 passes from the blue line in, with no shot on goal unless Jeffrey touches the puck. Barring other injuries, when Sid returns O’Reilly is the first to sit.

  12. Chuck Snow says:

    Why do I get the feeling we are going to be the bridesmaid in whoever gets AJ Burnett.

  13. Jandy says:

    Puckhead here! The O’Reilly Factor isn’t complete…yet. He’s still learning the system, and isn’t comfortable. Give him a few more games before throwing him out. His past experience with the Preds was that on a line with Sully they had good chemistry and scored a decent amount of goals between them. Then they both got hurt. I do wish he’d shoot the puck more. On this team tho, we have plenty of third and fourth liners when everyone is healthy. So, puck is in his court to put it in higher gear to earn a permanent spot.

  14. Captain of D11 says:

    From what we’ve seen thus far, O’Reilly might be ok if he was on a line with 2 players who would go to the net and shoot. He’s a perimeter player who only wants to pass, and is unwilling to make plays in the dirty areas. I don’t know that he’s a long term fit on this team in a 3rd or 4th line role, considering who his linemates would be…

  15. JT says:

    Not impressed with O’Reilly at all so far. Typically the Pens like to have guys in their bottom six forwards that are grinders. They forecheck hard, hit, grind in the corners, block shots, and play a good two way game. O’Reilly has shown none of that. I get it the Pens were looking for a little offense on the cheap, but I’m not sure how they could think O’Reilly would provide that.
    So far he’s shown the only thing he knows how to do it take the puck and without looking just throw it to the slot, even if there aren’t any penguins there (did it 4 or 5 times against tampa alone). If your Evgeni Malkin, you can get away with that sometimes, Cal O’Reilly, not so much. He’s repeatedly just taken the puck and immediately turned it over doing that in the offensive zone. He looks like he’s scared to have the puck!!!!
    To me, he has the look of a guy that will spend a lot of time in the press box if Sid, Asham and/or Kennedy come back. The Pens bottom 6 forwards consists of 4 other guys that can play center. Park, Adams, Vitale and Jeffrey. I’d like for anyone to come up with a good argument that O’Reilly is a better option to center the 3rd line than any of those guys.

  16. IC Heavy says:

    I am all about Redman getting his shot as the starter. I personally was never really impressed with Mendenhall and never really felt he put all of the effort into the game. That is just what I see/saw over the last couple of years. Plus he does get hurt allot. Redman seems like a runner who has a chip on his shoulder and will continue to try and prove he is/was more than an undrafted free agent special teams player.

    As of O’Reilly, I think he has been serviceable in the positions that they have put him in. I also think for what the Pens are paying for him that he has more upside than downside. I think the Pens and the fans need to give him a chance, I mean he just got here and was almost put in the lineup immediately.

  17. NMR says:

    Only two paragraphs devoted to the AJ Burnett trade?

    DK should really stick to soccer.

  18. JAL says:

    Wrong link on #5 in post 4, Here is correct link

    5—Pirates Prospects

    Six Pirates Rank in Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects

  19. Milo Hamilton says:

    Cal O’Reilly ? Stinks.

  20. Mike says:

    O’Reilly so far is a zero in my opinion but he was a stop gap low risk gamble worth taking. Granted he needs more time to get comfortable with the system, but to me he has a top 6 skill set and the talent of a 4th liner if that makes any sense. Tangradi is similar in that sense…granted one is a wing and the other a center. I’m not ready to give up on the guy, but when you are a bottom 6 player it always helps to bring a bit more to the table (kill penalties/win faceoffs) and I haven’t seen that out of him yet. If everyone is healthy this team needs another top 9 winger, not a pass first center lacking any grit. On another note, Dustin Jeffrey might be better when his knee heals up more but I don’t think he’s deserved his ice time most nights. Lines in a dream world where Sid plays hockey again and TK is healthy:
    Kunitz – Malkin – Neal
    Dupuis – Crosby – Sullivan
    Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
    Asham – Vitale – Adams
    I’d hate to see Park get scratched but that’s how good this team COULD be. Thoughts DK?

  21. Mark says:

    I think Cal O’Reilly is playing similar to how Mike Comrie did while healthy. He is seemingly always in the right position at the right time but is unable to finish off plays. I enjoy watching him play and maybe once he finds his groove, he’ll be able to put up some decent numbers.

  22. JoeBucco says:

    Hmmm, 25 days after Ryan Braun’s PED / STD hearing, and still no decision. Why do I get the feeling he is going to be available to the Brewers the whole season? Buccos really would love for him to sit out those 50.

  23. JoeBucco says:

    Top 101 Prospects – not only do the Buccos have 6 in Top 101, but 5 in Top 55. Cole, Taillon, Marte, Heredia, and Bell all top 55, with Grossman coming in high 70’s I think. Flood of talent, anyone?

  24. Jandy says:

    4 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training!

    (Groat, I miss you! lol)

  25. radio wave says:

    Chuck Snow:
    i agree with you, I’m prepared to hear he got away.
    Thanks for the countdown.

  26. Milo Hamilton says:

    How many players do the Pirates have in the top 101 in the major leagues ? One ? That’s what I’m interested in.

  27. Jandy says:

    Radio ~ you’re welcome =)

  28. 21sthebest says:

    Hey Dejan. I just saw your note in the blog yesterday, so here’s a link the info that I was referring to with respect to A.J. Burnett and changes Rothschild made to his delievery in August/September 2011. It’s about halfway down the page (the SI link). I also included some other links.

    DK: Thanks, 21, for everything but the Verducci link.

  29. JohninOshkosh says:

    I’m with you, Chuck Snow and radio wave. I know DK is counseling patience but I can’t help think a more aggressive GM will pounce on the Yankees’ desire to salary dump. A lot of teams would want Burnett in their rotation. The old Neal and Bob fiddle while Pittsburgh burns. Hope I’m wrong.

    JAL-nice selection. Few have done it better than Duke.

    So I was at Target last night. The greeting card section was three deep with pathetic males like me trying to get a card from the ever increasingly dwindling card selection. Don’t forget your family and significant others today and Happy Valentine’s Day to all. I hope the PBC shows they care for me by signing AJ.

  30. Fillet_Mimnaw says:

    After witnessing the woes of James Neal last season performing in the Bylsma system and seeing the way he is thriving in it this year it is difficult to give O’Reilly anything but an incomplete after all of 5 games. I also realize that isn’t a great comparison because Neal was a three time 20+ goal scorer when the Pens acquired him. However, O’Reilly has shown some decent play making ability and has been better defensively than offensively so far. At this point having him in the line-up has not been detrimental.

    Not that we can go back in time but at this point Letestu > O’Reilly + the 4th round pick.

    It will be interesting to see if shaking up the D pairings will be enough to get Michalek and Martin out of their funks. At some point can you make a tough decision and have one of them watch a few games from up top and get Lovejoy or Depres in? I know they sent Depres back to WB but 4 & 7 aren’t playing well enough to stay in the lineup.

    One thing some people seem to be missing on the Burnett deal: the $13-15mil covers the remaining 2 years of the contract. Unless my math is fuzzy that is about the same as Maholm $$. Not sure Burnett will put up better numbers than Maholm, but at this point he looks like a much better alternative than other FA options or at AAA.

  31. Corey says:

    My concern wouldn’t necessarily be that Redman would be our primary back, but rather, what happens if he goes down? The guys behind him worry me a lot more than he does.

  32. Mike Adams says:

    O’Reilly has reminded he since his first game with the Pens of his predecessor in that number, Kris Beech. he’s a guy who supposedly has some offensive skill, but is rarely visible on the ice. He seems to lack the drive and determination to do the things you need to score goals, or even set them up. He’s basically an empty sweater, in other words. And he will be gone if Sid ever comes back. heck, he might be in the press box when Asham comes back.

  33. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    I’m going to side with Jandy on O’Reilly.

    He hasn’t been playing within the system long enough for me to make a judgment. I’d give him a couple of more weeks before I’d form any opinion.

    I mean: I know O’Reilly has a different skill set, but look at how long it took James Neal…

  34. Wallyworld says:

    Muck the Fountaineers.

    The Big 12. Does that reference how many teeth they have ?

    Good riddance to bad rubbish…

  35. NMR says:

    Cal for Nash.

    Make it happen, Ray.

  36. The Standard says:

    My understanding is that Baron Batch looked incredible in training camp before he tore his ACL last year. If he has recovered by summer, I would like to see him push for a more significant role.

    Mendenhall is not the answer for this team in the long or short term. He is not going to shake the fumble that cost his team the trophy last year. He consistency dances behind the line of scrimmage rather than hit a hole with authority. His tendency to fall down after initial contact is not a trait worth investing in as a franchise RB. I saw more promise in Redman’s two games than all season out of Mendenhall.

    Let’s not confuse the issue…. Redman may not be a franchise back either, but he is better than Mendenhall. We have seen Mendenhall stall in big game situations, have one good season, and have two significant injuries in his youth….how is this going to get better hanging on to the notion that he is the answer? He’s not.

    DK: Batch was really good, but there just had to have been a reason the Steelers were cautioning all of us at Latrobe about going overboard with him. Projects as a third-down guy.

  37. Jandy says:

    Dave G ~ zactly! It took Neal a while to adjust too, and he has way more skill/drive than O’Reilly. Give the guy a chance…if he doesn’t pan out…nothing lost, really.

    NMR ~ Man, would that ever be sweet! Just sayin…

  38. Dan says:

    Hey DK,

    The Pirates shouldn’t give in to their reported offer right? I mean $10 mil and 2 border prospects sounds about right. And if the Yankees pull back, does it really matter? We don’t know how much better Burnett is than Correia or Karstens. And Burnett is not a gamechanger for this team. I watched Moneyball this weekend and the pirates are not even close to number of runs they would need to score to be relevant. If anything, the Burnett deal gives fans something to talk about. A reason to show up after the opening series.

    DK: These specific types of deals always take time and haggling and time and more haggling. I get where fans are eager to see it get done, but the team — neither team — can operate that way.

  39. Dave R says:

    Cal O’Reilly = Eric Christianson 2.0

    When fully healthy…he will get to intimately know the press box before being released.

  40. LuckyNKentucky says:

    ESPN now saying Yanks are “pushing back” on the Burnett deal. It is not emminent, but “50-50″. A Yankee source said 10 million won’t get it done, and the Pirates need to put in better prospects.

    They need to let the Indians have him. Neal should stick to the plan and keep the prospects we have and let the money be used where it’s needed. To echo a DK phrase “Free Brad Lincoln”. Forget the over-the-hill gang.

    DK: You’ll never see it more blatantly exposed how much the national media fawns over the Yankees than at times like this.

  41. JoeBucco says:

    @Milo – of course we all would. But you have to start somewhere.

    And I’ll bet we end this year with more than 1 of the top 101 in the bigs. Tabata is healthy, I think he has a breakout year this season.

  42. JoeBucco says:

    @Fillet – if the Pirates go with $13m over two years for Burnett, which is more than is being reported they are willing to go ($11m), that would be less than Maholm by a lot. Maholm was likely going to get over $10.5m this year alone after incentives. We might get two years of an arguably better pitcher for barely more than one year of Maholm. I’d take that in a heartbeat assuming the prospect is a marginal one.

  43. Kevin says:


    Image our collective surprise if the deal doesn’t get done!

  44. Dan says:


    I am eager to get it done. But if the Yanks won’t budge on their demand, then the Pirates should pull back right? The Pirates shouldn’t go over their own expectations for him to acquire him right?

  45. Dan says:

    Maybe I’m looking in to the negotiation too much. Just don’t want to see the pirates to get so far into it that they don’t wanna leave without him. And then offer something that shouldn’t have been offered.

  46. Bizrow says:


    This might be the last opportunity to try to improve the starting pitching depth for basically, and hopefully, only $$

    There are other trade candidates, but the other clubs are going to want real prospects for them

  47. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    It is astonishing to watch the Yankees attempt to extort more cash from the trash collectors to relinquish their trash.

  48. NMR says:

    Amen, Biz

    If Burnett is a bust, he’ll be a bust whether its at $10m or $13m.

    If he comes back to form and throws 180 innings w/ a sub 4 ERA, then it’ll be another missed opportunity.

    This deal really is closer to the Miguel Sano negotiation than the Matt Morris trade.

  49. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Biz and Dan,
    They want more than money. We need to let Lincoln and some of those young arms we’ve already paid for to pitch and get the OJT they need. Burnett’s a head case anyway.
    I was for the trade initially, but not for good prospects. Let them spend the dough and get him, fine, but stick to “the plan”.

  50. Milo Hamilton says:

    You would think this would be easy for Huntington, with Cashman in a weakened state and all. Come on Neal, that crazy woman got $6 million of his own money off of him. This shouldn’t be that hard.

  51. Milo Hamilton says:

    The more I think of it, Cashman is probably just trying to survive Valentine’s Day in one piece.

  52. chris says:

    I disagree, this isn’t really about more than money. The yankees want as close to 15mill as possible, but are willing to take less if they receive decent prospects.

    Basically, Huntington is offering them 10mill and 2 crappy prospects. The yankees are saying they need better prospects or more money because as part of the negotiation. The two sides will probably meet in the middle by Huntington offering a little more money. He’s not dumb enough to part with any useful prospects.

  53. Milo Hamilton says:

    Neal should have his wife call Cashman. He’s probably so freaked right now, we could end up with Betances or Banuelos.

  54. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Are you sure about that last line?

  55. Arriba Wilver says:

    Maybe Neal should call Cashman’s wife?

  56. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m with Biz on AJ and with LuckyNK on that last sentence.

  57. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Maybe Neal should call Cashman’s wife and tell her we don’t need A.J. We already have players that can stick shaving cream pies in people’s faces and wiley vets like Correia and Karstens that can mentor young pitchers. Correia will be a pitching coach somewhere, soon, anyway. We have young guys almost ready and overly ready like Lincoln. Let ‘em pitch, Neal!

  58. chris says:

    Yep I’m sure. Has he traded any prospect other than aaron baker?

  59. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Do Nate Adcock and Brooks Pounders ring any bells? Baker was a power-hitting 1B, albeit in High-A. Adcock was a surprise to stick in Rule 5, but he has let some go that had promise.

  60. Milo Hamilton says:

    Please stick with “The Plan”. It’s been so successful up to this point.

  61. Arriba Wilver says:

    I love the “Plan.”

  62. LuckyNKentucky says:

    You’re sarcastically right, Milo, and these are the years “the plan” is supposed to begin to emerge, right? If it doesn’t, Neal will be gone and if it does he’ll be our hero, a part of TBMTIB. I forgot, he’s already that.

  63. Milo Hamilton says:


    Priceless. We’re all living on Fantasy Island. Did you notice that every single person on that episode with the possible exception of Carol Lynley is dead ? Mr. Rourke & Tattoo, both dead. Bill Bixby, Sandra Dee, Peter Lawford – dead. The question is – is AJ’s career dead ?

  64. chris says:

    Aaron baker is 23 and has had zero success at any level above high A.

    I guess my last sentence should have said “He’s not dumb enough to TRADE any useful prospects.” We lost Adcock in the rule 5 draft, so you can blame huntington for not protecting him but that was a pretty bold move by the royals taking an older A ball pitcher. Either way, adcock still isn’t pprojected to have much of an impact.

    I had forgotten about Pounders, but I think Navarro is a prospect of similar quality so its not like we lost pounders for 2 months of ryan ludwick.

    My main point is I doubt he would send off a top 20 prospect for burnett, an overpaid veteran who has struggled lately. He values our prospects too much.

  65. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Point taken. Hope you’re right. I think Carol Lynley is dead, too, isn’t she?

  66. Milo Hamilton says:

    OK, you made me look. According to Wikipedia, Carol Lynley is very much alive.

    Her career apparently died in 2006.

  67. JAL says:

    Hugh O’Brain is still with us too unless he died in the past couple of days.

  68. LuckyNKentucky says:

    I know that’s a Freudian slip, the O’Brain thing, since we’ve been talking about Neal this afternoon.

  69. The Standard says:

    If the Pirates acquire Burnett, they will actually have found someone who gives up more HRs than James McDonald, whose fly ball ratio is among the worst in the league.

  70. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sometimes a high fly ball ratio (I wasn’t aware such a stat existed) can be a plus in our ballpark.

  71. Don says:

    The Cubs signed Maholm for 2-years — first year $4.25 million with a club option for $6.5 million, and a buyout of $500,000. Is Burnett a better deal @ $13 million over 2-years? This is net neutral at best. Much ado about nothing.

  72. JAL says:


    It was in reference to the stars in the Fantasy Island show that was posted.

  73. Milo Hamilton says:


    Hugh O’Brain. A little Kornheiser in that one ?

  74. Dave J says:

    Hugh O’Brain, they called him the Irish Einstein.

  75. Dave J says:

    DK – When are you going to give us your take on Cal O’Reilly? All this Pirates talk is giving me a headache.

  76. LuckyNKentucky says:

    I got that. I thought it was Hugh O’Brian or some such spelling. I thought the brain of Neal H., like Dave J says, had given us all a headache.

  77. Arriba Wilver says:

    Korn-heiser? I thought it was corn-dogs. I must be on the wrong site.

  78. JohnnyMac says:

    Wow…the Penguins are a great story and the Steelers still have a ton of interesting things going on and yet there’s still all these remarks about the Pirates.

    How can so many still care about the Pirates? Even when baseball’s at it’s best, I can’t stay awake long enough to care…even the organization stopped caring years ago.

    And for what it’s worth, give Cal a few more weeks before making judgement. You guys sure seem patient with the Pitates.

  79. JAL says:

    Got it, transposed the letters–Hugh O’Brian –my error

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