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Wakeup Call: Dont’a pass up impact linebacker

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Brief and to the Point …

>> By the time the Steelers get to the 24th pick, they’ll probably have known which player they’ll take … for about five minutes. By all accounts, this isn’t one of those drafts where everything just falls into place. Kevin Colbert said there are about 10 guys who are sure first-rounders, and the rest are in the eye of the beholder. Seems to match most forecasts.

The two names that have come up most often with the Steelers are Alabama middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower and Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe. And a big reason for that, be sure, is that both line up with positional needs.

Assuming all things are equal in terms of talent between these two, I’d rather have this guy …

That’s Hightower.

Just looks like an impact linebacker, doesn’t he?

If that isn’t enough of a scouting report for you, here’s a lot more.

Stevenson Sylvester is going to get a look at taking James Farrior’s place, but it’s almost certain that Larry Foote will be the inside starter next to Lawrence Timmons. Neither Sylvester nor Foote is an impact type, not the way Timmons can be (when he performs better than he did last season). Give me two studs in the middle, match them with LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison on the outside, and you’re talking about one whale of a linebacking corps.

By comparison, the nose tackle isn’t even on the field more than 40 percent of the time in the modern NFL, with all the nickel defenses necessary for four-wide sets.

Then again, maybe the Steelers will surprise everyone and take … nah, won’t even say it.

>> Going to get a head start on repeating this all summer long: There is no earthly reason to speculate on the future of Jordan Staal until the NHL has a new labor agreement.

None.

If the cap were to rise, Staal can be signed, assuming he’s amenable. I believe he will. If the cap stays the same, what I hear from the Penguins is they can make it work. If the cap gets blown up — and remember, Don Fehr’s in charge of the players’ union now — then we’re in for a wholly new discussion.

>> James McDonald is the type of pitcher who torments almost as much as he tantalizes. He took that no-hitter into the seventh, but realistically he wouldn’t have had a crack at the no-hitter even if Troy Tulowitzki hadn’t gotten that infield hit. Not with his pitch count at 101 following the seventh.

It would take an act of God to get the Pirates to top 120 with anyone at any point in the season.

>> I have all kinds of stuff to say about Pedro Alvarez’s day, but I’m saving it for the Friday column.

>> Our weekly chat is today at noon, website willing.

Comments

  1. I hope the stuff on Pedro is all positive. I just rostered him in my fantasy league based on his last 20 ABs.

  2. Phil says:

    I’m really hoping they grab Hightower tomorrow (assuming someone doesn’t surprise and fall)… Love that kid

    DK: What do you like, Phil? Sounds like you’ve seen plenty of him.

  3. Tracy Dendy Brummett says:

    Hello Dejan, am still learn details of CBA. I understand the cap but if the cap is blown as you said, I’m kind of lost on that point. Could you give me a link to help me on that? One more question, is it ok to ask about something not addressed in your wake up column? Thanks a lot, Tracy

    DK: Yes, always! Any topic, anytime!

    There’s nothing to know about the CBA right now, Tracy, because it doesn’t yet exist. That’s the point. They haven’t even started negotiating. Once that gets settled, the Penguins and the other 29 teams will have a clear picture of how to proceed.

  4. Leah Backus says:

    A picture is about all the scouting report I would understand anyway. He looks tough. Is that important?

    About Staal, meh. I’ve already heard a dozen goofy rumors about everyone from Malkin to Coach B. to the guy who washes the towels. My bottom line is that next year is the year to get it done because after that, all bets are off. What I’ve seen this year has convinced me that it’s no longer possible to build a dynasty in the post-lockout NHL. You have to do what you have to do to win year by year. The Pens are remarkably lucky to be able to keep as much of their core together as they are going into next year.

  5. Dylan says:

    I would love to get Hightower at 24. However, if a top notch G falls that is where I’d like to see them go. My hope is that for some reason DeCastro falls but I don’t see that happening.

  6. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    Is there any way that the 5 pm SUN can bat clean-up for the Pirates the rest of the season. It was our best offense yesterday.

    DK: That’s a good line, but I’m sure you’d also recognize that Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez had just a little to do with it.

  7. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    @DK

    They were the perfect compliment to the 5pm SUN. I say bat the SUN 4th and have Jones and Alvarez bat 5th and 6th. (I kid, I kid)

  8. Brandon says:

    I would like the Steelers be a little aggressive and get DeCastro to help out the OL. If not, I would choose Hightower over Poe. However, the idea of more nickel D is not a lot of support for the pick of Hightower since he is more of a run stopper than coverage LB.

    I agree speculation about any of the big 3 is pointless until new CBA is in place. I believe there will be enough cap room to keep all 3 happy as well as surround with necessary support. I would also expect them to find a way to move P Martin salary out (Wade Redden-esque) if they can not find a suitor and free-up a healthy chunk of space as well.

    DK: But if the Steelers had felt better about stopping the run, maybe they wouldn’t have needed to bring the entire franchise up to the line of scrimmage on that last play in Denver.

  9. pattonbb says:

    First of all, I am an Alabama fan. My family relocated from western Pa to south Alabama when I was a kid. Alabama became my team.

    I would never label a college player as a “can’t miss” or “future all-pro”, but Dont’a Hightower will be a stud at the next level. As someone who has watched him many times over the last few years in person, I can say he’s everything that’s been advertised and more. I’ve been reading on a few sites that his sideline to sideline speed is questionable. I’ve never noticed. What I noticed was a monster of an athlete that started on an incredibly deep Alabama defense as a true freshman. What I noticed was a violent tackler that can change the game on any given play. What I noticed was a 6 ft 2 in 275 pound linebacker that was NEVER out of position for the most complex defense in college football. Dont’a Hightower doesn’t just stop the run, he hurts the run.

    The guy just seems to always be around the ball. Dont’a Hightower would look great in a black and gold uniform. Nothing would make me happier during the draft. I just don’t know if that can happen. Reports out of Tuscaloosa have New England and Baltimore in love with him. Guess we’ll find out in a few hours.

    DK: Any difference after the knee surgery?

  10. pattonbb says:

    DK, He didn’t look slow, but some people thought he looked hesitant after return from surgery. Can’t say I disagree, but I think there was a little more to it. After he returned, they moved him from the Will spot to the Mike. Position change coupled with the surgery just didn’t allow him to play as instinctually. Saban and Co. moved him back to the Will spot and he blew up. Started his Junior year in the middle and was a force all year long. Seemed like the bigger the game, the better he played.

    I know it might be hard to tell, but I’m a big fan of this guy.

    DK: Ha! Yeah, it is. Thanks.

  11. Naje says:

    @ DK -

    Trying to find your blog on the revamped website has been fruitless. I got here through your facebook post, but would like to know how to get here from the web site.

    With all of the changes, it would have been nice to see a notice that says something like: DEJAN’S BLOG HERE

    Thanks…

    DK: DEJAN’S BLOG HERE.

    No, really, they’re working on it. The concerns right now are bigger and broader than that. It WILL get taken care of.

    Best thing I can say for now: Go to top of this page, click blog header. THAT’S the page to bookmark.

  12. mayhay22 says:

    DK- don’t you go getting all worked up because Pedro ran into a couple that landed in the seats. I’m guessing that the column will be something like…we need him to be the .260/30/100 guy to stand a chance in the Central…his numbers are improving…BUT, if you watch all his at-bats you’ll notice that something’s not right.

  13. JAL says:

    JAL’s Heartbreak Hotel 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 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

    PIRATE BLOGS

    4—Pirates Prospects

    McDonald Pitches One-Hit Gem in Game One of Doubleheader

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/04/mcdonald-pitches-one-hit-gem-in-game-one-of-doubleheader.html

    Indians’ Fox Rocks His Homecoming

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/04/indians-fox-rocks-his-homecoming.html

  14. JAL says:

    15 Kansas City Star

    Ya gotta start somewhere

    http://royals.kansascity.com/games/362/

    16 Charleston Gazette

    Power’s Bell sidelined with knee injury

    http://wvgazette.com/Sports/201204250386

    Fuesser makes quick work of Sand Gnats

    http://wvgazette.com/Sports/201204250383

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    17 PBC Site

    Bucs enjoy brighter day in nightcap victory

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_04_25_colmlb_pitmlb_2&mode=recap&c_id=pit

    McDonald flirts with no-no, Bucs drop opener

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_04_25_colmlb_pitmlb_1&mode=recap&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Burnett serving as McDonald’s pitching mentor

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120425&content_id=29618834&notebook_id=29639510&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    18 Fangraphs

    Five Minutes with Ralph Branca

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/five-minutes-with-ralph-branca/

    19 Bleacher Report

    MLB Trade Speculation: Will the Pirates Deal Erik Bedard at the Trade Deadline?

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1159419-mlb-trade-speculation-will-the-pirates-deal-eric-bedard-at-the-trade-deadline

  15. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Is Baltimore Looking to Move to 23 to Take LB Dont’a Hightower?

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/25/2973683/is-baltimore-looking-to-move-to-23-to-take-lb-donta-hightower

    Final 2012 NFL Seven Round Mock Draft

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/25/2972080/final-7-round-mock-draft

    21 Steelers Depot

    - The Terrible Podcast – Steelers Mock Draft Discussion & Final Pre Draft Talk Episode

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/04/the-terrible-podcast-steelers-mock-draft-discussion-final-pre-draft-talk-episode/

    22 Nice Pick Cower

    The True Story of Trumaine Johnson: A Pittsburgh Steeler In The Making?

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/04/25/the-true-story-of-trumaine-johnson/

  16. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    23 Pitt Blather

    Divining Dixon’s Intent

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/04/24/divining-dixons-intent/

    24 Cardiac Hill

    Jeff Long Makes Mess Of Things In Arkansas

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/4/25/2973208/jeff-long-john-smith-pitt-football-todd-graham-arkansas-coaching-job-pittsburgh-panthers

    WVU Blogs

    25 Metro News

    Williamson To Transfer, Fairmont State Likely Destination

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=52352

    26 WV Illustrated

    Campbell, Myers Ready to Crack WVU Receiver Rotation

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/17738756/campbell-myers-ready-to-crack-wvu-receiver-rotation

  17. JAL says:

    PENGUIN BLOGS

    27 Pensburgh

    PensBurgh Awards finalists

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/4/25/2973177/pensburgh-awards-finalists

    Soccer(football)

    28 Sky Sports

    Real pay the penalty

    http://www.skysports.com/football/match_report/0,19764,11065_3504878,00.html

    29 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: Stories you need to read, April 25th 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-25th-april-2012

    29 Daily Telegraph

    Bayern Munich to play Chelsea in Champions League final after shootout win over Real Madrid

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/soccer/bayern-munich-to-play-chelsea-in-champions-league-final-after-shootout-win-over-real-madrid/story-e6frey4r-1226338499141

  18. JAL says:

    Title Song Heartbreak Hotel Elvis 1956 On May 3, 1956 Heartbreak Hotel took the number 1 spot from Lex Baxter’s Poor People of Paris. It was the first number 1 by Elvis and stayed at top until replaced by Gogi Grant’s Wayward Wind on June 16. It was the biggest selling song of the year even though Elvis hit number 1 with two more songs that year. The song was written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton. Showing the blurring of lines that would increase in the future, the song also hit number 1 on the C&W chart and number 5 on the R&B chart. The song has been covered by many, including Bruce Springsteen, Neil Diamond, Van Halen, Guns and Roses, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

  19. Jandy says:

    I’d like to stretch my babeball wings a bit…bear with me…please :)
    When JMac had his no-hitter going…and the Buccos tied the game…and his pitch count was getting high…why wasn’t he replaced? You want to win the game, right? Or am I being too simplistic? As I said, I’m learning guys, and I’d like input please.

    Nice to see Pedro get a couple big ones yesterday. I look forward to your column tomorrow, DK.

    I’ve been reading a lot about Hightower and I like what I’ve read. Looks like a no-brainer pick, if he’s available.

    Regarding Staal, and the Pens, no use speculating until the CBA is decided. Why drive yourself insane? I will say that I hope to see Gronk in a Pens uniform for a long time tho, he does so many things, and does them well. And he’s STILL IMPROVING. He’s just a great player and a great fit for the system.

  20. NMR says:

    You’re now seeing the beauty of the game, Jandy.

    Hurdle had justification for leaving Jmac in the game…as do you for wanting to pull him.

    I read two articles this morning talking about how Pedro has been taking better at-bats which have led to improved results, yet mayhay22 claims he simply lucked into those homeruns and his at-bats are still not right.

    Milo claimed last night that Pedro doesn’t have the bat speed to catch up to a major league fastball, yet if you asked any MLB hitting coach whats the biggest key to hitting for power, guess what every one of them would say? Yep, I think you get the point.

    And you thought hockey was madness?

  21. Jandy says:

    NMR ~ lol madness indeed. So, what was the reason Hurdle had for keeping him in? Just curious here.

    I get all your points on Pedro. Thing is, Pedro himself will prove who is correct within the next few weeks. :)

  22. JAL says:

    Jandy

    Pitchers are looked at from how they are pitching. As the season goes on pitch count doesn’t mean anything until it goes over 100. MCDonald ended up throwing 101 pitches, which is in the are a starting pitcher should be at this point in season. That said, they did not keep him in after they tied the game–McDonald’s last inning was the top of the 7th where he gave up 1 run. Pirates tied it in bottom of 7th and Resop came on to start the top of the 8th

  23. Jandy says:

    JAL, ahhh ok..thanks for the info. I wasn’t watching, just following the game blog a bit at work. So then Resop was the problem.

  24. NMR says:

    Sorry, Jandy. Didn’t realize we were talking about different times with Jmac.

    I had friends telling me Hurdle should’ve pulled him during the inning, after the walk and hit batsmen. I thought thats the time frame you were referencing.

  25. JAL says:

    Jandy

    Yes, Resop was charged with the run that gave the game to the Rockies

    Resop struck out Nelson, hit Young, Scutaro singled and Young went to 3rd, Watson came in and Colvin hit a sac fly.

    Game showed why you don’t give hitters first base–first run was a walk that scored, 2nd was the hit batter–neither run earned his way on base.

  26. Jandy says:

    Well, NMR, actually, Hurdle should have better judgement in either case. When a game is that close, and the tendencies are there…pull him! it’s not like there isn’t someone we can put in, right? Here I am, already an armchair basaball manager!

  27. Jandy says:

    Thanks guys, with teachers like you, I’ll learn in no time ;)

  28. JAL says:

    Jandy

    Baseball is more complex game than many think it is.

  29. Jandy says:

    JAL ~ I see that…it may look slow, but it’s not stagnant.

  30. JAL says:

    Jandy

    Not stagnant at all–fielders will move on every batter, couple of steps up, back, left or right–sometime on each pitch. Pitchers will throw different pitches depending on both the hitter and the situation. Often what looks like something that just happened was actually the result of a plan, such as the ground ball double play. In the 2nd game yesterday Morton only had 3 fly outs, it was ground out after ground out–that is due to the type and location of his pitches. Always something to watch.

  31. Milo Hamilton says:

    @NMR

    By the way, I don’t buy into that Pedro is struggling to hit the fastball because he’s out of shape. I give you Willie Stargell at age 37 or 38. I think your bat slows down when your indecisive. Look what he did to that 96 mph fastball against the lefthander in his last at bat. No indecision in that approach. I think this is less about mechanics & more about letting his natural talent come out. Kinda reminds me of Tiger Woods.

  32. CWalton_67 says:

    Great baseball convo, too bad the Pirates aren’t really worth watching, outside of Cutch.

    Jandy-
    pulling JMAC in that situation is not as simple as it may seem. Hurdle has to consider the human perspective as well. Not for the moment, but for the long haul. JMAC is throwing a no-hitter thru 6+…he has earned a little benefit of the doubt and a chance to win the game. His history suggests this is a rare performance for him, but Hurdle also has to look at building and maintaining his confidence over the course of the season.

    And yes, you are going to get quite a baseball education from these guys here on the blog, they are very knowledgeable in the intricacies of the game. As Jandy said, the game can be very complex, and at MLB level, the differences between failure and success can be as minute as 1mph or .1 of a second. How interesting is it that a hitter who is unsuccessful in 70% of his opportunities is considered a superstar?

  33. Vette60 says:

    Hi.

    Just a few “Pens” related comments…

    1) Staal – completely understand the need for CBA issues to be worked out, but I really hope that GMRS and Co. can figure out how to keep him in a Pens sweater. He is still improving, IMO, and can be a force. I believe at his scoring rate, if not for the knee injury, he would have been close to 40? That’s not too bad for a guy not getting a ton of PP time and also as your “3rd” center.

    2) Caps V. Bruins – well, any thoughts on the OT goal? I think it if was Chris Kunitz in the crease instead of Mike Knuble, it would have been waved off. But, that’s just my Pens bias showing. It looked like there was just a bit of contact – T. Thomas didn’t protest too much. That was a surprising end there and continues to show how tough the Stanley Cup is to win. Both finalists from last year out in the first round.

    As Mike Lange says, the Turkey is on the Table in the East. Really further frustrates me about the Pens performance or lack there of against the Flyers…

    Tonights Game 7 predictions – Florida over NJ and Rangers take out the Sens.

    Have a good day.

    Randy in Richmond.

  34. CWalton_67 says:

    As JAL said, even…

  35. Jandy says:

    Thanks again, guys, for the input and the patience. I gotta get hubby to let me watch it on TV lol.

    In my opinion, it seems that Pedro is starting to get a bit of confidence. As I said, time will tell, and in the next few weeks, it should be more telling, where his head is in regards to his bat.

  36. Evilpens says:

    Why do you Staal Kool-Aid Drinkers CONTINUE to delude yourself into thinking That Staal will be resigned ?

  37. Jandy says:

    Vette60, I’m with you 100% on keeping Staal. He is very under rated. And oh so young yet and getting even better. I’m bummed out that Washington advances Grrrr! I’d going to root for the underdog and root for the Panthers to pull it out. As much as I hate to say it, I hope the Rangers win, because they CAN take out Philly.

  38. Jandy says:

    Evilpens, are you calling us blog-trolling, Stall Kool Aid drinking sock puppets????

  39. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Jandy,

    Baseball, like hockey, is a game you can watch and listen to and not know everything about it, but, the more you know, the more interesting it is. Seems slow sometimes, but the wheels are always turning. JAL was right. Bob Prince used to use the term “by a gnat’s eyelash” quite frequently and that small amount makes a big difference many times over the course of a 162-game season, whether it’s a close pitch, a ball hitting the chalk or the top of the wall or whatever.

    There are some unwritten rules in baseball, too, like all sports, and you usually let a pitcher with a no-hitter stay in there until he blows it, unless, like JAL said, his pitch count is too high, like with JMac yesterday.

  40. Evilpens says:

    Randy in Richmond. You are the typical StaalBot ! Staal Is NEVER Going To be anything more than a 3rdLine C in Pgh. I love all the morons like you who say But But But he gets more TOI than a lot of 2nd Line C in the league ! & He is 3rd In Pens Forwards in TOI YEP! Who is 1st & 2nd ?? Sid & Geno who are ??? C’s So that would Make him a 3rd line C

  41. Milo Hamilton says:

    On the draft. My 1st choice would be Luke Kuechly the linebacker from Boston College. He has this knack of always running into the guy with the ball. But he’ll probably be gone, so that takes us to Dont’a Hightower. Two year captain for Alabama in a system that’s very similar to what the Steelers run. Sounds like a perfect fit. There are rumblings that the Ravens love him too & may move ahead of Pittsburgh to get him. If he’s gone, I’d look to Kevin Zeitler, the guard from Wisconsin. He could probably step right in and solidify one side of the offensive line.

    I’m not a fan of Dontari Poe because I don’t think he’s a very good football player. Everyone fell in love with him at the combine but last I checked, they don’t play any football games at the combine.

  42. Jandy says:

    Lucky! hey, I missed seeing you. Thanks for the input, friend.

    Evilpens, who wizzed in your Cheerios this morning?

  43. Milo Hamilton says:

    Dejan said it best, no decisions are going to be made by Jordan Staal or about Jordan Staal until the CBA is settled. Period.

  44. Jandy says:

    Milo, yeah, but us blog-trolling, Staal Kool-Aid drinking sock puppets are still hashing it out! :p

  45. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Lucky

    Brad Lincoln throwing 96 out of the pen yesterday. Niche found ?

  46. Black n Gold (not yellow) says:

    I think my screams from the soapbox have been heard. LOL

    In his last 6 games, Pedro is 6-21 with 3 HR and 5 RBI. Pedro’s at-bats haven’t looked better in a year and there’s a functional difference, not a coincidental one.

    The baseball coach in me sees him keeping his front foot closed when he attacks the baseball, like he did in college, which is preventing him from clearing his hips too early. And it’s also allowing him to hit the outside pitch for line drives like the two HR’s he hit yesterday. More importantly, he hit two oppo balls (one for a double and one for an out) to the warning track yesterday that would have been HR’s in a lot of other ballparks. Power hitters hit the ball a long way. It’s going to happen. That’s not so much of a big deal. However, when he starts hitting outside breaking balls for line drives and fastballs to left center then it’s obvious that he’s getting it figured out. The guy will strike out, most power hitters do now. The guy won’t hit .300, most power hitters don’t. Days like yesterday are why he’s so valuable to the Pirates.

  47. Black n Gold (not yellow) says:

    Brad Lincoln was born to be a two-inning setup man. I’ve been saying that for two years. His BAA rises pretty sharply the second and third time through a lineup.

  48. LuckyNKentucky says:

    J.

    Been in training. KY is going paperless on all files. Something other states probably did 10 years ago. No time for anything but work. (Imagine that). Only time to do anything is at home and no time there. Barely get to read all ya’all’s comments, let alone post anything myself.

    Milo, I’m with you. No football played at the combine.

  49. Jandy says:

    Lucky, well that just stinks, I’ll keep an eye out for you whereever you find time to post.

  50. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Milo,

    Didn’t see that he hit 96. Just saw how effective he was for 2 innings. Noticed he didn’t walk anybody, which is significant for him. Maybe he can be what Daniel McCutchen was last year, only a step above that. Niche found, I believe.

  51. Naterosboro says:

    I’m interested to see what Stevenson Sylvester can do in the middle of that defense. I know the Steelers like his potential, and he has been part of good special teams play for them recently.

    That being said, I wouldn’t mind the pick of Hightower, as I completely respect this franchise’s track record in drafting at that position.

    Peter King in his mock draft has the Steelers taking Kevin Zeitler, 6’4” 315lb G from the University of Wisconsin. King says he can step in right next to Pouncey and be a good starter next year (obviously he’s trying to project, so nothing is written in stone).

    If this were to happen, I wouldn’t be opposed because the Steelers do need to address the guys that are “protecting” their $102mil investment.

    So, I’d like them to go OL or a defensive position (LB, CB, NT are all areas where they’ll need help) in the draft.

    Perhaps a RB somewhere along the way might not be a bad idea. A lot of question marks at that position going into this season. Will Mendenhall feature at all (basically what’s the time table for his return)? Can Redman be a feature back? Can Dwyer, Batch, Moore be reliable backups? Don’t think 1 of the big name RBs will fall all the way to them, but they might be able to find value at the position in later rounds.

    Anyways….

    Good split by the Bucs yesterday, although it kind of stings as they really should’ve swept. Either way, hopefully, this series got Barmes going. And, hopefully, with his recent good ABs (for the most part), Pedro starts to see more “regular” playing time. I want him in the lineup everyday to get his 550-600 ABs. It’s the only way the Pirates can evaluate for the future.

  52. JAL says:

    @CWalton_67

    Disagree that Mccutchen is the only player the Pirates have worth watching. Drove up for the game last Saturday and after the 1st 3 batters AJ Burnett was masterful. I was right behind the plate and it was well worth watching him carve up the Cards. In out up down fast slow–a clinic on how to pitch.

  53. CWalton_67 says:

    JAL,
    Granted. I didn’t see him pitch but hope he has a great season. I just continue to be disgusted at how low the bar of expectations has been set. And honestly, the starting pitching has been quite good at the beginning of this year–we’ll see if if can hold up. But watching this group of mediocre minor leaguers continue to flail away at the plate reminds me again that Bob Nutting is charging fans major league prices to watch AAA and in some cases AA talent players at PNC Park.

  54. Nate says:

    Remember DK, for the Pens to re-sign Staal, that means he has to sign. I don’t think he wants to be a 3rd line center anymore. In fact, I think he realizes his value is a lot higher than that, esp. come playoff time. At the minimum next year, he should be on one of the top two lines, a by-product of which will be getting better defensive play out of the those lines. (I’m shuddering at the thought of Neal and Malkin’s defense).

    By the way, the Caps won last night. Man. Makes the Pens failure look ever worse.

  55. Vette60 says:

    Geez EvilPens…ok. I’m a moron because and a Staal-bot because I’d like them to try to keep him…I am not sure I follow you disjointed reasoning there…

    Anyway.

    Steelers Draft. I haven’t been following too closely, but Hightower seems very promising and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s gone before the Steelers select. The G out of Wisconsin wouldn’t be a bad pick, IMO, as any help there on the line good.

    Anyway, back to work.

    R.

  56. Naterosboro says:

    I just posted this on another blog, but I’ll post here too…

    Just saw this tweet a little while ago from Ken Rosenthal:

    “@Ken_Rosenthal #Angels’ OBPs: Morales .291, Aybar, .286, Pujols .282, Kendrick .282, Abreu .259, Wells .250. Again, those are OBPs, not BAs.”

    While I agree the Pirates have been worse (actually much worse) than I expected offensively in the early going, as you can see, others with more established track records are struggling too.

    The Pirates will not remain this poor offensively all season (just as they won’t pitch as well as they are). What we need to happen is have the pitching stay mainly consistent, while the hitting comes around a bit.

    Hopefully, they can build on the 72 wins from last season.

    I know it sounds pathetic, but Rome wasn’t built in a day either. Tryn’ figure that one out, haha!

  57. Jandy says:

    Nate, I was so hoping The Caps would lose. Darn!

  58. NMR says:

    @Milo – I couldn’t agree more with the golf analogy.

    @B&G – I like the baseball talk, man. Great observation regarding Pedro’s front half. I’ve noticed the less movement in his approach, the better contact he’s had.

    I don’t know who’s idea was the step/toetap/twostep, but lord was that ugly.

    @JAL – I’m looking forward to seeing AJ in person as well. To me, theres nothing in sports more impressive in person than watching what a power pitcher can do with a baseball.

  59. Naterosboro says:

    Here’s a topic that some may want to weigh in on. DK, having covered athlete’s in Pittsburgh for a long time, I’d love your thoughts too (as this has become a taboo topic in pro sports).

    Saw this tweet from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick:

    “@jcrasnick Best of luck to #sfgiants Aubrey Huff in his struggles with anxiety issues.”

    We sometimes forget that these guys that go out there are human. Now, I don’t know what issues Huff is dealing with exactly. I also don’t know how long he’s tried to deal with them.

    What I do know is that depression and “anxiety issues” are becoming more common in today’s professional sports climate. Perhaps this is just down to the age of the internet and the “TMZ”-esque culture we’ve cultivated, where there’s a camera and mic around every corner, literally.

    A recent case in the world of soccer (google Gary Speed) has recently brought this issue to the forefront, and now leagues are taking steps to get players help that are dealing with these types of issues.

    What I’d like to know (here’s where you guys do your part) is how prevalent are these issues in our 4 major American sports leagues? What do the leagues do to help players cope with issues of anxiety and depression? Do they educate their young players on the potential dangers of concealing these issues, and how destructive that can be to themselves and others around them?

    I just feel like, sometimes, we forget that these are people just like you and I. They feel emotion just like you and I, and they have the same issues that you and I deal with everyday. Just because they make a few extra bucks than most of us doesn’t change those facts.

    Any thoughts are appreciated.

  60. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m offering a public service. Did you notice that Mike Knuble’s great drive to the net led to Washington’s winning goal in OT last night. That came one day after I proclaimed him washed up. Over & over.

    If anyone would like me to rip their favorite player or someone on their favorite team with a near guarantee of success to follow, just let me know.

    Great job by Dale Hunter to gain back control of that team.

  61. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Nate,

    I remember how bad I used to feel when I kicked a grounder or made an out in slow-pitch, church league softball or missed a tackle or a block in HS football, which, basically are meaningless and forgetful. Can’t imagine the pressure on these college and pro athletes. I don’t buy that 70% of the time you can fail as a hitter and still make millions. A guy can hit .300 and not be a clutch hitter for whatever reason. Like you stated very astutely, they are real people with real emotions and deal with the same issues we do every day. Well said.

  62. Jandy says:

    nate, agree with you. While their money make it easier in some ways, in other ways, the public pressure is horrific. This also ties in with the hockey suicides/ovedoses in the last season. Depression played a factor in them as well.
    I’m happy to see the perception of this is becoming more public, and that depression is being addressed by sports leagues. Help should be there if it’s needed.

  63. Evilpens says:

    Vette60 You are a Genius! you’d like to keep him, You can’t Keep everyone when there is a salary cap. & you already are forcing Sid to play with SulliTURD & Dupuis! Love Dupuis’ effort, Not his Offense & not on the Line with when right The Best Player on the Planet & SulliTURD is a Ghost even strength because of his lack of size

  64. NMR says:

    Great post, Nate.

    I’d like to believe as society becomes more accepting of mental issues, sports will follow.

    It’s easy to sit behind a computer and say, “Hell, if somebody paid me a million dollars I don’t care what they made me do”, but thats just not the case in reality.

    No amount of money can cure anxiety or depression, I don’t care what anyone says.

    Slightly along those lines…I could never bring myself to completely bash Pedro for not going to winter ball after last year. The man had to be mentally destroyed after completely failing at baseball for the first time in his life. On top of that, didn’t he just get married the previous off season?

    It’s something that fans rarely think about, but its crazy to treat the aspect of a players personal life as if it doesn’t affect them. Not a single personal reading this blog knows what Pedro was going through at home.

    I know, I know, he’s the Pirates #1 draft pick $6m man-child savior of the franchise…but the dude is still human.

  65. Jandy says:

    Evilpens, you have it for vette60, don’tcha? Go take your meds honey, and relax :)

  66. JRay3 says:

    @ DK – Really looking forward to your thoughts on Pedro in your column tomorrow. I know many have been quick to jump on him, myself included at times, but I will say this, when I say him in Arizona it did appear he was making strides and squaring the ball up a little better. He hit one that put Chris Young on the DL that was an absolute rocket and has even started hitting opposite field.

    His first 50 AB splits thus far have shown a lot more contact his last 25 AB’s and his demeanor, at least from my view point, appears that he is a little more relaxed.

    Yesterday was only one day I am well aware but if anybody needed that type of day it certainly was him.

  67. LuckyNKentucky says:

    JRay,

    Agree with you on Pedro. Without those 2 sun-aided doubles, his HR is the game winner. Seemed like a mental thing all along. The talent and desire is there.

  68. NMR says:

    @Milo – can we get a scathing indictment of Neil Walker’s power hitting ability.

    Nothing short of your magical powers may be enough to get little Neil an extra base hit.

  69. Evilpens says:

    No I have it for idiots who won’t deal with reality

  70. Karen22 says:

    Took in my first Bucco game yesterday (just the first game—chose the wrong one of the DH, except for JMac’s no-hitter drama thru six) and I STILL can’t get over my frustration at the Pirates’ offensive woes, particularly in the base-running GAFF department! They ran themselves into THREE outs at second with no outs and baserunners at a premium under the nail-biting circumstances!? WHO is responsible for this mess?? Silverio?? Or did Tabata and Barmes go on their own? Tabata’s huge booboo was most glaring— trying to stretch a screaming single to center with that play right in front of him?? As far as the attempted steals go, I can forgive Presley…but BARMES?? I wanted to just rip my hair out by the roots the entire game!! JMac deserved a BETTER fate than that! At least Petey took him off the hook, but this incompetence has been going on all season!

  71. Jandy says:

    Evilpens, I’ll step in here for Dejan. Around here, we don’t insult each other. We are ALL entitled to our own opinions. Calling someone an idiot or a moron only shows how small minded YOU truly are. Clean it up, mister. Grrrr!!

  72. Jandy says:

    Karen, hey I feel your pain! :(

  73. Milo Hamilton says:

    @NMR

    You talking about our fair haired boy who gets a pass just because he’s local ? People were saying he’s next in line for an extension, I frankly hope for his sake he’s renting. He’s lucky he’s not going back to Indianapolis and right now, I’m not convinced Clair Altemus would take him back. At least he can field – the balls that are hit right at him, that is. My grandmother has been dead almost 10 years and has better range than that.

    That ought to do it.

  74. JRay3 says:

    @ Lucky – That is what bothers me…are the people who do not believe the desire is there…because as you stated he does have talent.

    Consider this- The top 7 picks in the 2008 draft were;
    1- Tim Beckham – 2nd year in AAA and currently hitting .207 with a .278 SLG
    2- Pedro
    3- Eric Hosmer – hitting .225 with KC a .465 SLG 5 HR and 12 RBI
    4- Brian Matusz – 1-9 career record with Baltimore this year 0-3 with a 7.98 ERA
    5- Buster Posey – Missed most of last season with injury
    6- Kyle Skipsworth – in AA hitting .227 27K’s and 66 AB’s – if there was a bust he is closest to it.
    7- Alonso Yonder – Drafted by the Reds now with Padres hitting .217 0 HR 3 RBI 11K’s in 60 AB’s and corner infielder.

    I read yesterday in another paper (initials BS- how funny) Alvarez could be biggest waste of hitting talent in draft history….seriously he already it 16 HR’s his rookie campaign and had done more than 99% of all draftees. And one could argue outside of Posey maybe the next best in the bunch of the Top 7 picks in the ’08 class.

  75. LuckyNKentucky says:

    JRay,

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Saw Beckham in several games in low A the year he was drafted. High schooler or not, he may never make it. Many glaring reasons. One the Rays may have missed on. Posey, OK, but the rest are evidence for themselves. Pedro will make it. He has the stuff.

  76. Boise Bucco says:

    Wish I could’ve stayed up to watch the double-header last night…I’m overseas so it started at 9 pm last night…looks like I missed a couple of good games!

    Re: McDonald: Pitch count or not, I think Hurdle made the right choice leaving him in. Remember last year, that first game when JMac went 7 innings, and he was so happy about it? CH made the right choice leaving him in, and if all he gives up is one run, then so be it. We shouldn’t be asking our pitching staff to be Bob Gibson’s out there.

    And let’s give it up for Electric Stuff Charlie Morton! I read he forced approximately 8,534 ground-ball outs? He’s probably my favorite player right now. After watching him get torched a couple years ago, I’ve been in his corner and I’m glad he’s turning into the pitcher we all though he would be.

  77. Evilpens says:

    Well that is awfully White of You I can have my opinion as long as it doesn’t give you a BOO-BOO

    DK: Dude, this is the last one of the infantile-tone posts that will stay.

  78. NMR says:

    @Milo

    You know that awkward feeling when you laugh at a joke, yet deep down you know there’s some truth?

    Hehehe, you’re Walker ripping was so funny…

  79. Milo Hamilton says:

    @NMR

    Probably gave some ammo to people that really don’t like him. Oh well, hit a double & I’ll shut up.

  80. Vette60 says:

    Hi Evilpens.

    I completely understand you reasoning that the Pens would be bettter off getting better wings for Sid to have on his line. And your point of having a line of Sullivan / Side / Duper as an undersized line is a valid one. And, you can’t keep everyone in a cap era. Got that – ie Ryan Malone.

    But, what’s up with your approach? The names – SulliTURD? Calling me an idiot and a moron. How old are you? I’d expect that maybe from my 5 year old son…

    Really, I started to post here because it appeared that there was a pretty good group of folks exchanging their opinions in a rational manner.

    It’s kinda funny – would you take the same approach if we were sitting next to one another at the bar having a cold one? I really hope not, since it would be a real short conversation.

    Hope that this idiot and moron made your day!

    Looking forward to another one of your insipid posts.

    Randy

  81. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Randy,

    I wouldn’t worry about him. When DK is done buying coffee for everyone in Pittsburgh, he’ll take care of it. Jandy already did.

  82. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Sorry, he already did. Didn’t see that before.

  83. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sad part is, he wasn’t the least bit entertaining. At least I got a laugh out of “Blog Trolling Sock Puppet Guy”.

    DK: If you want ENTERTAINING, I’ve got you covered in the new post I just put up. Riveting stuff.

  84. Vette60 says:

    @ Milo & Lucky.

    Thanks! No worries on my end. I see that DK stopped by…

    Now back to the regularly scheduled program…

    R in RVA.

  85. NMR says:

    I’m pretty sure Evilpens is Milo incognito. He hates when this place turns into a love fest.

    I just read the chat transcript and had to laugh at the end. I promise I’m not the a-hole sending in questions bashing Neil Walker.

    Now, Milo on the other hand…

  86. Jandy says:

    Vette, gee I’m crushed, you totally ignored this moron over here ;)

  87. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Jandy

    I noticed you were doing all the heavy lifting.

  88. Vette60 says:

    @ Jandy & Milo…

    Well, I’ll have to get a badge made for Jandy as official blog enforcer! I didn’t even have a chance prior to Jandy cleaning up the drivel…

    Anyhoo…

    Take it easy.

    R in RVA.

  89. twentytwo22 says:

    24 is a good spot to get a 10 year starting OG or possibly a successor to Casey Hampton.

    My concern with Dont’a Hightower is he weighs 260 pounds. If he was good in pass coverage why would he be available at 24? Steelers haven’t had LB that can cover the middle of the field in a long time and I don’t think they should take one in the first round if he can’t play all three downs.

  90. pattonbb says:

    @22

    Hightower is probably closer to 275 than 260, but he wears it well. He has a huge frame. If memory serves me correctly, he was clocked at 4.8 in the 40 at the Alabama pro day. Not sure if he’ll be on the board at 24, but certainly hope he is.

  91. pattonbb says:

    *sigh*…oh well…..

    Would have loved to see Hightower’s name called, but DeCastro is a nice pick.

 
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