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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Pirates’ gift to Rays could haunt


Brief and to the Point …

>> Remember Drew Sutton?

He’s the infielder the Pirates acquired in a trade Sunday for cash considerations from the Braves, then immediately assigned to Class AAA Indianapolis. Later that evening, around 11, he was told he was going right to the big leagues, that the Pirates had just traded him to the Rays for a player to be named later.

And then, of course, Sutton has gone 4 for 8 for Tampa Bay with two doubles (one pictured above), a walk and three RBIs. Out of the cleanup spot, no less. The guy was more productive all by his lonesome than the Pirates were as a team in bowing meekly to the Mets at the same time.

That is just so Pirates.

There has been no quote on the reasoning for this from Neal Huntington, but a team official told reporters Monday at PNC Park — shortly after the trade to the Rays was announced — that it was done to give Sutton a chance in the majors.

Sounds unnecessarily generous, but hold on.

It’s actually more common in baseball than most know. GMs are aware of doing right by minor-league veterans and not blocking them, so long as they feel that player won’t have an impact for their own major-league team. They’ll simply arrange deals that let the player go somewhere else. They feel it sends a good message through the industry when trying to sign those types in the future — Garrett Jones fell into that category — if those players know they won’t get stuck behind a logjam.

Now, I understand even as I type this that there will be a strong reaction among some. And maybe I’ll see that as warranted down the road. But speaking only for myself and only for now, I’d criticize the Pirates primarily if they again failed to identify someone who could have helped their offense.

Especially now.

Check this article in the Tampa Bay Times right after Sutton’s arrival. Look at manager Joe Maddon’s quote down below about how he and the Rays’ scouts liked Sutton “for a while.”

I’d trust the Rays’ evaluators more than the Pirates, to put it kindly.

But again, let’s see how it plays out. Sutton is 28, hasn’t had great numbers in the minors, and it’s been three or four years since anyone  saw him as having impact potential. And there is the matter of the player to be named.

>> Columnist Joe Starkey gives the Pirates’ offense his own perspective.

>> Mike LaValliere had to negotiate with the enemy regarding that Sid Bream slide bobblehead, as he told The X Morning Show.

>> Having little use for watching the Pirates’ offense myself, I left PNC Park yesterday morning after some interviews with players and Clint Hurdle and headed over to the South Side to spend time with the Steelers.

Glad I did, if only to catch James Harrison sweating oceans coming off the field …


>> Really liked hearing from Isaac Redman that the Steelers will pass more to their running backs. Goes along nicely with what Emmanuel Sanders revealed two days ago about more play-action.

After two days over there, it doesn’t sound as if Todd Haley is going to revolutionize the offense. And no, for all those who keep falling for the mythology, he’s not going 2 yards and a cloud of dust. What he’s going for, from what I can gather, is less predictability. Not just in formations (that was Bruce Arians’ thing), but in terms of what happens right at the line of scrimmage.

>> Snapped this yesterday morning at PNC …


As I did, Joel Hanrahan walked by and said, “You’re taking a picture of Karstens running?”

You had to be there.

>> We’ll have our weekly chat today at noon, where we’ll undoubtedly discuss … oh, you know.

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