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Wakeup Call: The end of the cheapskates

.

Brief and to the Point …

>> Can we once and for all drop the tired, rarely accurate accusation that the Pirates are cheap?

Under this management team, they have been cheap on occasion. I’ve called them on it, as longtime readers can attest. I didn’t like their approach to free agency, where their mostly meaningless “internal values” kept having them miss on players they really wanted by a really small amount of money. It was a lousy stance, one that made little sense. And it never will look more costly than the loss of Miguel Sano. No need to go over that a millionth time, but suffice it to say that a simple fear of bargaining against themselves kept them from signing a superb prospect they desperately wanted at a still-great price.

But forget that, for now, and look at the Andrew McCutchen extension. That’s $51.5 million in real cash. You can by cynical and say it’s backloaded for the purpose of trading him. But the commitment is no less real. Put it this way: If McCutchen were to have some major injury that sapped him of one or more tools, it’s the Pirates on the hook.

It’s their risk, and that applies right now.

Then look at $50 million on the draft over four years. Anyone dismissing that total “the price of business” has no idea how Major League Baseball’s draft worked in those four years. It wasn’t just the first-rounders. It’s the long, long list of higher-end players taken in later rounds and lured away from college. The Pirates infuriated their peers with this practice to the dramatic extent that their actions were the primary target for change in the recent labor agreement.

That’s not routine business. That’s fighting the system.

I’ve been writing for a long time that I wanted to see the Pirates reach the point where they had players like this worth keeping. I was big-time critical when they pulled the chute on Nate McLouth primarily because the front office acted completely counter to something it had just stated, which was that McLouth, Paul Maholm and Ryan Doumit were to be the “core” of the team.

This situation isn’t comparable, so I’m only revisiting to point out that this was the time to sign a player to a very long-term contract, maybe the first time under this management. And they did.

Let’s turn the page already.

>> Deep appreciation for the heavy, thoughtful feedback regarding the Steelers-Ravens bounty column yesterday. There is no greater myth in sports than the one that paints all football fans as some sort of meatheads or whatever. Terrific stuff here, on Twitter and mostly by email.

>> Am I the only one who watched Marc-Andre Fleury shine brightest in that 36-save victory last night over the Coyotes and wondered if/when he’s ever going to get a break?

Over the next five days are games against the Leafs, Panthers and Bruins. The Leafs are nothing special, but they can score. I’d sit Fleury against the Panthers, and I don’t care who has to fill in, Brad Thiessen or a returning Brent Johnson. This team is in playoff position, and it needs to look at this last month at least partly in preparation for that.

A fresh No. 1 goaltender is a big part of that.

>> Two names you don’t hear much anymore: Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek.

That’s a good thing.

>> Pitt is tipping off in the Big East this afternoon. Who’s even noticing? Anyone?

Maybe that will work to the Panthers’ advantage. It’s not like there are any expectations, and it’s not like they haven’t already beaten at least some of the better teams in the tournament. Might actually be fun.

Comments

  1. aglebagel says:

    I don’t know, DK- our bench looks pretty darn cheap, and that’s putting it lightly. That said, I’m obviously more optimistic about the Pirates’ spending than two or three years ago.

  2. Leah Backus says:

    When you said “give Fleury a break” I was sure you were going to refer to all those who still refuse to include him among the NHL’s “elite” goalies.

    On the radio broadcast tonight, I heard both Martin and Michalek mentioned quite often and quite favorably. Martin especially has been on a tear lately. I just wish the tornado hadn’t knocked out my satellite so I could actually *see* it (although, believe me, I’m grateful that’s all that happened to us).

  3. aglebagel says:

    Just saw Fleury’s aggressive save as SportsCenter’s #1 top play tonight. Of course that was right after they skipped over the game recap that was listed in the sidebar… I know you care greatly about this, Dejan. :)

    DK: Deeply.

  4. CTapps says:

    @aglebagel Everybody’s bench is cheap.

  5. Captain of D11 says:

    You are totally spot on with your thoughts on Fleury needing to get a breather down the stretch. The statistics are staggering when showing that goalies who play 65+ games are infinitely less able to lead their teams to a Stanley Cup. Every game over his 60th that Fleury plays is chipping away at any chance the Pens have at a 4th Cup.

    That said, rest or no rest, the chances of hoisting the Cup without Sid and Letang are quite low. Your thoughts?

    DK: I’d rather let the room have its way with that one, Cap.

    Where are these 65+ numbers you cite? Would love to have a look at them.

  6. Doug Drabek's Mustache says:

    Fleury is a good goalie. He does need rest down the stretch.

    Pirates arent cheap?
    Then why do they have a bottom 3 payroll every year?
    Why do similar sized markets regularly outspend us by a lot?

    I will need a LOT more evidence to say the Pirates arent cheap.
    Until then I will not turn the page on this.
    No offense.

    DK: Welcome, DDM. Nice to have you aboard.

  7. Leah Backus says:

    Cap, I will withhold my opinion about that until I see how the Pens do against a potential playoff opponent. They’re doing fine right now, I’ll say that much. I am concerned about the power play. Aside from that, they have all the elements in place. Healthy roster (more or less), strong goaltending, secondary scoring has taken off in the last few games. I like their chances. Also, I’m certain than both will be back for some or all of the playoffs. Call it intuition. Did I say I was going to withhold my opinion? lol…guess I just gave it.

  8. Martin and Z have stepped it up big time since the d pairings were shuffled. This really shows that DB knows exactly what he is doing to get the most out of his players. Both dmen were really struggling and were probably at the low points in their careers and all I took was a simple shuffling. Normally you don’t see this clean of a turnaround, but boy are these two playing significantly better! Martin is making smarter plays, pinching at ideal times, and even putting up some points.

    Also, sorry again about the Twitter misunderstanding Dejan!

    DK: One struggling D playing with another is a formula for a sustained struggle for both. Dan Bylsma and Todd Reirden should have split them up sooner than they did.

  9. SteelcityB says:

    It’s official, The Pirates is on a 5 year plan with McClutchen so winning is very important especially for Clint Hurdle

    It’s clear Fleury’s new nickname is the ” Iron Flower ” since he can’t even get a break

    Last Season was magic for UConn’s Amazing run in the Big East &NCAA Tournament but I can’t see Pitt doing the same especially with that slow “small ” starting lineup.

  10. Black n Gold (not yellow) says:

    I still don’t understand the Bucco brand Haterade some people are drinking. The FO has been getting praise from around baseball for their restocking of the minor league system which is an ongoing need for every team. They have drafted and/or signed no less than three potential top-of-the-rotation starters (Heredia, Cole, Tailion). They signed the “unsignable” Josh Bell who most considered the best bat available in the draft. And they were able to unload losers from the previous regime and actually get some serviceable players in return. Charlie Morton turned it around thanks to Ray Searage. Joel Hanrahan, Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens, Josh Harrison, and James McDonald to name a few.

    They took a page from the Rays and Brewers (Friedman and Melvin respectively), rebuilt the organization from the ground up, and this is about the time (4-5 years in) that those other organizations started becoming competitive and locking up players. It’s a “PLAN” that has worked elsewhere and will work here, assuming that fans show up.

    Of course, MLB took away the one competitive advantage (when compared to other aspects of running a team) the Pirates had. The Pirates, under Nutting et al, were able to stock pile young, live arms with the understanding that pitching is the most prized commodity. When a team can give the ball to an army of homegrown pitchers throwing 95 mph, other teams will be wanting to talk deals.

    It was a concerted effort to create depth for the Major League team and chips to bargain with when needs arise. If you consider that the Pirates were in first place in late July in spite of losing more man-games to injury than any other team in the division, by far, then you see the proof of concept. I have had my doubts but they are convincing me.

    DK: Welcome to the forum, BnG!

  11. pghboyinca says:

    D.K., I am a huge fan of yours and a diehard Pittsburgh sports fan through and through. I want the Pirates baseball expenditures to match the Reds, Brewers, etc.. before we proclaim them “spenders”. Has the bar sunk that low when we have one guy on the entire team with deal longer than 2 years for above 5 million a year that it is cause for celebration? It is a baby step in the right direction and we were miles behind before that step. When this team has an 80 million payroll they can shed the tightwad label. And that is very doable in this market.

  12. Black n Gold (not yellow) says:

    Thanks DK

  13. Chico says:

    I agree that the Pirate FO is shedding the image of cheap. From the draft signings to signing Bedard and Barmes, trading for AJ and now the McCutchen extension. Heck, they offered $30 for EJax and tried to get Lee back.

    But there is still work to be done. From the FO and players themselves. Who is left to offer an extension? Hanrahan seems logical. McDonald? Morton? Walker? Sorry but they need to take a big step forward before committing big bucks.

  14. radio wave says:

    An $80m payroll is good, but it doesn’t garuntee a winner.
    It does raise the price of admission.
    Are we ok with that?

  15. Curt says:

    I for one think it is a positive step forward. It shows some commitment to the future. I also agree with DK, the draft proves they are going to spend to build this team.
    SInce I am in Oriole Land, I got to watch the game last night on MASN.

    Presley looks like he is ready to start right where he left off before he got hurt.

    Starling Marte looks like a legit hitter, had some great AB’s last night.

    Navarro also looks like an option. Didn’t know we had him from Red Sox, but he looks like he could be an option for us. Had some hits last night and he’s a big dude.
    Can he be my sleeper pick to make the ball club?

  16. Thundercrack says:

    DK,
    I agree with a lot of your points regarding the Pirates. They haven’t been cheap in certain areas over the years.

    But I also think a lot of fans will look at the total payroll number for the major league team and will still consider the Pirates to cheap on a consistent basis. And I’m not sure that the argument that it is a ‘rarely accurate accusation’ would be a good defense against it.

  17. Hooco01 says:

    Let’s not throw a parade for Nutting because he locked in their 1 star with a back loaded contract. Come on DK. This is a chump change contract in the world of baseball with not a whole lot of risk. Any other owner in baseball would have done this.

    I hope the Bucs are turning the corner but let’s not gush over the fact that Nutting is spending a piece of the revenue sharing money that the Yankees and Red Sox hand to him every year. He is still cheap and always will be.

  18. JAL says:

    JAL’s One Day Morning Links

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Yahoo Free Agent Tracker

    http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AvN8KLXkNW0TcRjzSCagLIMBbgM6?slug=jp-passan_ultimate_free_agent_tracker_baseball_110211

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/st2012

    5 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Broadcast Schedule

    http://blogs.piratesprospects.com/williams/2012-pittsburgh-pirates-spring-training-broadcast-schedule/

  19. JAL says:

    7 Rumbunter

    Josh Harrison Sees Early Playing Time at Shortstop

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/03/04/josh-harrison-sees-early-playing-time-at-shortstop/

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Spring Training and The Rumbunter Podcast

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/03/06/pittsburgh-pirates-spring-training-and-the-rumbunter-podcast/

    8 Bucs Dugout

    Blue Jays 8, Pirates 5

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/3/4/2844687/blue-jays-8-pirates-5

    Andrew McCutchen, Pirates Reportedly Agree To Long-Term Deal

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/3/5/2845589/andrew-mccutchen-pirates-reportedly-agree-to-long-term-deal

    9 WHY GAVS

    Signing Andrew McCutchen to an extension is the most important thing the Pirates have done in a long time

    http://whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/march-2012/signing-andrew-mccutchen-to-an-extension-is-the-most-important-thing-the-pirates-have-done-in-a-long-time.html

  20. Jandy says:

    @ Leah ~ I’m also surprised the Pens have been doing as well as they have without Letang. Here again, you have to give credit to Ban Bylsma for getting the most out of his players. And of course, to the players themselves for stepping up. You have to see M & M to believe how much better they are playing, especially Martin. Hope your satellite is up again soon and glad you weren’t hurt! Darn tornadoes!

    Fleury is indeed the “Iron Flower” as Steelcity B says, That aggressive play last night took my breath away! But man does he need some R & R.

  21. JAL says:

    15 Detroit Free Press

    Baseball notes: Mets owe up to $83 million

    http://www.freep.com/article/20120306/SPORTS02/203060383/Baseball-notes-Mets-owe-up-to-36-83-million

    16 Tribune Review

    Presley, Pirates finally break out the offense in rout of Orioles

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/pirates/s_785070.html

    CF McCutchen’s deal with Pirates finally falls into place

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/pirates/s_785014.html

  22. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    19 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Amid Veteran Departures, Who Steps Up to Fill Leadership Void?

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/3/5/2842552/steelers-release-hines-ward-james-farrior-aaron-smith

    Steelers Should Be Aggressive in the Event of Wallace’s Departure

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/3/5/2844668/2012-nfl-draft-mike-wallace-steelers-49ers-mock-draft

    Resource Management

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/3/5/2847141/resource-management

    20 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers GM Kevin Colbert Says Another Move Could Come Depending On Cap Number

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/03/steelers-gm-kevin-colbert-says-another-move-could-come-depending-on-cap-number/

    21 Steelers Gab

    Steeler Games to Cost More

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2012/03/04/steelers-games-to-cost-more/

  23. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    22 Pitt Blather

    Temple, Big East and ACC

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/03/05/temple-big-east-and-acc/

    23 Cardiac Hill

    Pitt Basketball: Ashton Gibbs’ Disappointing Season Ends With All-Big East Honorable Mention

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/3/5/2844852/all-big-east-teams-ashton-gibbs-kevin-jones-jae-crowder-pitt-basketball-marquette

    WVU Blogs

    24 Metro News

    VIDEO: Dana Holgorsen Monday Press Conference

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=51368

    25 WV Illustrated

    WVU Men’s Basketball Interviews Prior to Big East Tournament

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/17082433/wvu-mens-basketball-interviews-prior-to-big-east-tournament

  24. JAL says:

    PENGUIN BLOGS

    26 Pensburgh

    The end of the “BUT YOU HAVE MATT COOKE” argumentative crutch

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/3/5/2846712/the-end-of-the-but-you-have-matt-cooke-argumentative-crutch

    Soccer(football)

    27 Sky Sports

    Any Mour doubt?

    http://www.skysports.com/opinion/story/0,25212,12086_7570568,00.html

    28 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 5th March, 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-5th-march-2012

  25. JAL says:

    Title song One Day, Sharon Van Etten, 2012, US singer songwriter with 3 albums.

  26. John Lease says:

    The Pirates did what made sense. Having McCutchen play out THIS contract as a Pirate will convince me they’ve changed. Especially if they pick up the option. Until then, I’ve had enough years in to MAKE them convince me. I wasn’t the one that ruined my team and made them a laughing stock. That hurts, and they are the ones who are going to have to prove it to me.

    Just sayin’.

  27. Jandy says:

    @Captain of D11 ~ I read that information Fleury and how much he is playing (and the stats that it chips away at playoff performances) but I don’t remember where I read it. I’m simply amazed at how well he is doing. That said, he does need a game off here and there so he can stay “fresh” for the long haul.

    As far as playoff hopes without Sid and Tanger. I’ve said before with Neal and Malkin and Kunitz stepping up, I wasn’t so worried about Sid not making it back. I was deeply worried about Tanger being out, however. Even tho Martin, Michalek, and Niskanen (Orpik I never worry about) have stepped up, and Lovejoy and Strait played solid last night, I want to see how it goes against say the Bruins before I can say I think we’re ok without Letang. (Engelland has been a consistent surprise for us, he’s solid as well.)

  28. NMR says:

    I wouldn’t mind keeping the goal empty against the Panthers if it meant the two points made it that much harder for the Caps to make the playoffs.
    __________________________________________________________________

    The poster child for the “same size market, bigger payroll” argument seems to be Milwaukee. People forget what their payroll vs. attendance figures were before their young stars took off and started winning.

    The Brewers may not have had a team President dumb enough to say it in public, but they absolutely waited for attendance to increase before doing the same to payroll. Selling 3m tickets @ $30 average is a lot different than 1.9m @ $19.

    I still believe the Pirates could be around the $60m mark, although I have absolutely no proof. Calling them “cheap” just sounds more whiny than intelligient to me, but I guess it’s a matter of preference at that point.

  29. Jandy says:

    NMR ~ lol I’m with you on the Caps sentiment. I relish it when they are struggling ;)

  30. Sean says:

    Voting in the Best Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament Championship between Behind the Steel Curtain & Pitt Script is underway at http://seanramblings.blogspot.com/2012/03/2012-pittsburgh-sports-blog.html

    DK – I agree with you that the Pens should give Fleury some rest leading up to the playoffs.

  31. David Rider says:

    Sign Walker, spend money to get better hitting coach, and then I’ll believe.

  32. MPM says:

    There does seem to be a minor correlation between a high number of games played by a goaltender and not winning the Stanley Cup based on looking at some simple stats. Marc-Andre Fleury is the last goaltender to play in more than 60 games and win the Stanely Cup. You then have to go back to Martin Brodeur in 2002-2003 with his 73 games played. None of the league leaders in goaltenders games played have won the Stanley Cup since Brodeur.

    However, this correlation is more of a recent trend. Starting with Brodeur’s 2002-2003 season, and going back to the 1997-1998 Red Wings, all Stanley Cup winning goaltenders played in at least 60 games.

    My take on this is if you are a great goaltender like a Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, and dare I say Fleury, you can have a heavy regular season workload and still have success in the playoffs. However, if you are an average to above average goaltender such as a Miika Kiprusoff, Evgeni Nabakov, or a Robert Luongo, your regular season games played may have an impact on your teams ability to win the Stanely Cup.

  33. JMB says:

    Most of the articles I have read say this is a tremendous deal for the Pirates. Sure there is some risk for the FO, but the Pirates got a guy who could have used Crawford’s deal for his future FA template.

    Cutch also could have held out for the CarGo 7/$80m, and if the Pirates dont make that deal, are they then “cheap” again?

    If anything, Cutch ignored 2 years of baseball inflation on the Upton/Bruce deals, and he generously gave the team the 20% hometown discount.

    Cutch should be applauded and cheered for sacrificing some $.

    If the Rays can sign Longoria and the Brewers can sign Braun, the Pirates HAD to make this deal with Cutch.

  34. pattonbb says:

    Nice choice for today’s song JAL.

  35. Tim says:

    Pirates aren’t cheap? A love-a-thon for the front office? I guess people are just tired of piling on. That starting line-up? Come on, man. If, if, if, if, if, they could, could, could, have a chance, chance, chance. I’m all in. Go Pens. Give Fleury a blow now and then.

  36. DE Randy says:

    The 3 most important players to be healthy and playing well for the Pens to have a long playoff run are:

    1. Flower
    2. Malkin
    3. Letang

    We have guys that can score. Doesn’t defense and power play become even more important during the playoffs?

  37. Jandy says:

    @ DE Randy ~ Aboslutely defense and power play are very important during the playoffs. That is why I am more concerned with Letang out than I am with Sid out at this point. Malkin and Neal and Kunitz have stepped up and secondary scoring is coming in. The power play will suffer without Letang. So will the defense. We need Tanger back.

  38. Bizrow says:

    Hey, JMB, how have you been?

    The McCutchen signing is a very positive move by the BMTIB. Now its time to sign PRNW and add some talent via the FA route.

    For the first time in a while, my “hoping” is a bit higher on the scale than my “expecting” from this club.

  39. DE Randy says:

    Thanks Jandy. At least I know I’m not crazy. When Sid and Tanger were out with concussions, all we heard was when’s Sid coming back? Don’t people realize how good Letang is and what a difference he makes? Notice when Martin’s improved play started?
    When he was paired with Letang.

    Quote from my 9 year old son when we turned the game on last night ” Fleury again? Geez, Dad doesn’t he ever get a break”? From the mouths of children….

  40. Jandy says:

    DE Randy ~ no, you’re not crazy ;)
    A lot of fans see Tanger’s worth. It’s scary without him.
    Your son is bright too. Poor Flower needs a break! Maybe Friday against the Panthers.

  41. LuckyNKentucky says:

    I respectfully defer discussion of hockey personnel to Jandy, Leah, DK and the rest of you experts. I check the Pens’ scores, the box and that’s about it for me, but I think we have reason for real optimism as far as the Pirates are concerned for the near and not-too-distant future.

    Last night’s box looked great with 18 hits, not all singles and Hague was right on that dinger he hit. We have some sticks coming along and, although it’s way, way, way too early to consider anything in ST, some of those hits last night were off MLB pitchers, even if it was the Orioles. Looking forward to seeing what today’s lineup will do for a couple innings against CC.

  42. JMB says:

    Hey Biz!

    2013 is almost here. I’m still hopeful for 2014, 2012 will only be a good year if El Toro sees red all season.

  43. Dave says:

    I have been alarming buddies of mine for weeks about Fleury’s amount of playing time – that it’s not traditionally/historically sustainable if we have our minds on trying to win The Cup this spring. As Captain of D11 said earlier, goalies playing 65+ games have not fared too well in the playoffs. The following is personal research I put together about the topic going back to the lockout:

    2010-11 Goaltenders appearing in 65+ games: C. Price, C. Ward, M. Kiprusoff, K. Lehtonen, H. Lundqvist, I. Bryzgalov, R. Miller, MAF,

    None of those goalies made it past the Conference Quarterfinals

    2009-10 Goaltenders appearing in 65+ games: M. Brodeur, H. Lundqvist, M. Kiprusoff, J. Quick, C. Anderson, E. Nabokov, I. Bryzgalov, R. Miller, R. Luongo, MAF

    The one postseason where multiple 65+ game goalies achieved solid success. Nabokov was able to get SJ to the Conference Finals getting swept by Chicago and Luongo was able to get VAN to the semi’s before also getting beat by Chicago. MAF got our Pens to the semi’s before the brutal loss to Montreal. Otherwise, none of the goalies made it past the Quarterfinals.

    2008-09 Goaltenders appearing in 65+ games: M. Kiprusoff, M. Turco, N. Backstrom, H. Lundqvist, C. Ward, I. Bryzgalov,

    Ward was able to get Carolina to the Conference Finals before getting ousted by our Pens emphatically, otherwise no postseason success.

    2007-08: M. Brodeur, E. Nabokov, M. Kiprusoff, R. Miller, R. Luongo, H. Lundqvist, T. Vokoun, V. Toskala, M. Legace

    Nabokov and Lundqvist both got their teams to the Conference Semi’s, while the rest had no postseason success.

    2006-07: M. Brodeur, R. Luongo, M. Kiprusoff, A. Raycroft, H. Lundqvist, D. Roloson, K. Lehtonen, M. Turco, MAF, T. Thomas

    Lundqvist and Broduer reached the semi’s before getting ousted, otherwise no playoff success.

    2005-06: R. Luongo, M. Kiprusoff, M. Brodeur, M. Turco, A. Auld

    Broduer got the Devils to the 2nd round, otherwise no success.

    Obviously this is looking at small sample sizes…seeing pretty much the same teams year after year (NYR, NJ, Calgary, Dallas, etc.) but I do think there is some sort of relation. The fact that the Cup Finalists have all been under (mostly well under) the 65 game barrier (BOS/VAN had almost timeshares last year, CHI/PHI were constantly switching between hot goalies, MAF had the injury shortened 35 game season and a manageable 62 games for the Cup win while Detroit bounced Osgood around during both years, ANA/OTT rolled out goalies who played in less than 60, Cam Ward came from obscurity to win the Cup and Conn Smythe and EDM had about as much of a timeshare in goal as it gets). While I think/hope the Pens can “buck this trend” should all our pieces be in place (Sid…Letang…wink,wink) it is still a little concerning to me.

  44. grandpagreg says:

    Love the ‘Cutch deal but it will take a lot more to convice me the Bucs aren’t cheap after all these years.

    No one is better than the Flower when he has a game like he had last night or the last one against the Lightning.

  45. Milo Hamilton says:

    I am happy they signed McCutchen. I think it was a necessary step. They’ve taken quite a few of those lately. It’s just so hard to be patient after all this time, but what choice do we have ?

    And speaking of patience, some of that has to be exercised in the Neil Walker case. It’s looking like he may be Super 2 arbitration eligible after this season. They can’t really do anything long term until they know for sure. That’s the difference between a salary of $500 K or $2 or $3 million. I don’t think you can move forward until you know. And what does it hurt to look at him for another year ?

  46. @tuckgergg says:

    What are the thoughts on James Neal’s play as of late? At the beginning of the year, this guy was lights out in terms of goals. 9 in October, followed by 7 in December, and with all of the other months added in, he’s at 30 overall. But, he only had 3 goals in February, with his most recent coming on February 18th, the day before he was signed to the 6 year deal…could there be a correlation?

    Now, something to keep in mind, while his goal scoring has dropped off, his assists (and thus points) are actually up from the beginning of the year. He only had 2 assists in October, where as in February he notched 10. He’s currently 12th in the league with 62 points.

    So, has he changed his style of play or is this just a goal scoring slump? If it’s his style of play, is that a good thing? Do we want him to be a goal scorer, or just a point generator? In my opinion, Malkin, while he has been tearing it up in terms of goals, recently, is more of a play maker. He feeds pucks to players, and it’s up to them to score the goal, which Neal hasn’t been doing as of late.

    Not to mention, anyone remember him from this point on last year? Not good, if that’s the trend…I’d hate to see him get into that over thinking mode again, where he can’t put a puck in the back of the net to save his life. So, thoughts? Anyone?

  47. Jandy says:

    LuckyNKentucky ~I bet if you’d watch some hockey, you’d be hooked in no time ;) I will say that the Buccos are showing some promise.

    Dave ~ nice bit of work you did there. I am with you tho, about MAF’s playing time. I’d like to see him get a few breaks down the stretch here.

    grandpagreg, the Flower was just totally amazing, what a show he put on!

  48. JAL says:

    McCutchen deal officially announced :)

  49. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Jandy,
    I do like hockey, but down here it’s tough to stay hooked with only the Preds close to us here. Believe me, my boys brought sticks, pucks and nets down here from PA when we moved here in 1998, so we all like it. But baseball has always been my top sport. I wasn’t much good at it and was better in football, even playing as a sophomore in HS, which was before you could even play as a freshman, but baseball has been it for me.

    Besides, I spend too much time in the evenings in the summer looking at the boxes of all the Pirates’ affiliates. My wife would hang me out to dry if we all started watching hockey again.

  50. Jandy says:

    @ Lucky ~ LOL your wife puts up with you huh? My hubby won’t even leet me turn baseball on, go figure! But he does love hockey, so I’m content :)

  51. Jandy says:

    Pens website is saying Sid is cleared for contact but there is no timetable set for his return yet. WOW!

  52. Jandy says:

    Oh and Beej is practicing with the team =)
    Now, if we could just get word on Letang…I’d be happy!

  53. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sid says he could return “in a matter of days”. But no sooner than Sunday. I can’t get excited this time. I do have tickets for later in the month, I could get excited then.

  54. Jandy says:

    @ Milo ~I AM excited, and I don’t have tickets ;)

  55. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Jandy

    I just hope the doctors know what they’re doing.

  56. Jandy says:

    @ Milo, good point. At this point, I think Sid knows just as much as they do, seriously.
    Here’s to Sid coming back and making a splash and NOT getting hurt again.

 
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