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Wakeup Call: Kings, Kopitar in six

Brief and to the Point …

>> The Monday column measures the gap between the Pirates’ ability to evaluate and teach pitching and the same for the hitting. It took an extra-long stick.

If you haven’t seen the mindboggling quote Neal Huntington gave to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal yesterday, it’s in there, too.

>> The puck doesn’t drop until Wednesday, but I’ll take the Kings in six.

I love Jonathan Quick in goal, the great Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown up front, and the totality of a deep, diverse defense, especially Drew Doughty when his head is on right. It’s a talented team with enough toughness and chemistry that what they’ve done so far — knocking off the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the West convincingly — hasn’t looked remotely fluky.

Above all, though, I can’t help but factor in how fresh Los Angeles is, having played only three games above the minimum. Remember when Badger Bob Johnson was with the Penguins and famously said how that any team winning the Cup needs to have at least one easy series along the way? Just for the wear and tear.

Well, the Kings essentially had three easy series, while the Devils … haven’t exactly labored, but there’s no question they had to sweat and bruise more.

Big, big deal in an attrition tournament like this.

So is the big goal, which is why I’ll take Kopitar for Conn Smythe.

>> You’re going to hear a lot leading up to Wednesday about the “bandwagon” in L.A. for the Kings. There’s no doubt they’ll draw way more attention than usual. Every team in a championship does. But anyone who knows their Kings history knows that there have always been about 10,000 total diehards there, people who are pucks first, who know more about the team’s background than the Triple Crown line or the Miracle on Manchester. They’re real hockey fans.

For me, that’s going to make this final more fun than anything.

>> This was my appearance on KDKA-TV’s Showdown last night.

>> The weekly appearance on TribLIVE Radio was pushed back to Wednesday because of Memorial Day.

86 Comments

  1. “Why can’t now be now?”

    Reminds me of the “When is now?” question that many of us have been asking since this group took over.

    #All_In

    #Accountability

    #Dynasty

  2. Opie has two more years on his contract, plus an option, I think

    Hope, but expect

    Sign in bloggers, this place is a growing

    Dejan’s Lunatic Nation – at the Trib,
    Arizona – Tucson, Chandler, Phoenix
    Arkansas – Rogers
    Austrailia – Mackay
    California – Bakersfield, San Francisco, UNION CITY, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Hollywood, Huntington Beach, Yuba City
    Canada – Toronto
    Colorado – Ft Collins, Estes Park, Denver
    Connecticut – Cos Cob, Bridgeport, Wallingford
    Costa Rica
    Delaware – Newark
    District of Columbia
    Florida – Palm Harbor, Orlando, Valrico, Gainesville, Daytona Beach, Oviedo, Tampa, Jacksonville, Sarasota, Palm Beach Gardens, Cape Coral, Coco Beach (Major Nelson and Mary Ann)
    Georgia – Marietta, Atlanta
    Germany – Leverkusen/Cologne
    Hawaii – Honolulu
    Idaho – Mountain Home, Coer d’Aline
    Indiana – Indianapolis, Burns Harbor, South Bend
    Iowa – Bettendorf, Humboldt
    Illinois – La Salle, Peru, Payson, Chicago, Palatine (3 inmates there), Lincoln Park, Grayslake, Lincoln Park, Chicago
    Japan – Tokyo
    Kentucky – Louisville, Bowling Green
    Louisiana – Slidell
    Maine – Bangor
    Maryland – Arnold, Odenton, Severn, Baltimore, Waldorf
    Massachusetts – Boston
    Michigan – Kalamazoo, Eaton Rapids, Lansing
    Mississippi – Biloxi
    Nebraska – Omaha
    New Hampshire – Barrington
    New Jersey – Chesterfield, Princeton, Roxbury, Lebanon, Lincoln Park
    New York – New York, Smithtown
    North Carolina – Asheville, Hickory, Charlotte, Raleigh, Charleston, Wilmington, Chapel Hill
    North Dakota
    Ohio – Cincinnati, Columbiana, Westerville, Green, Hilliard, Toledo, Louisville, Columbus, Perrysburg, Pickerington, Youngstown, Cleveland, Olmsted Township, Liberty Township
    Pennsylvania – Downtown, Hopewell, Indiana, North Wales, Franklin Park, Forest Hills, Lansdale, Philadelphia, DuBois, Reading, Crafton, Arnold, Wexford, Mt Lebanon, Canonsburg, Lancaster, Huntington, York, Boiling Springs, Philly suburbs, Morningside, Harrisburg, Lawrenceville, Bradfordwoods, Norristown, Hanover, Clearfield, Sewickley, DuBois, Plum Boro, Slippery Rock, Wilks-Barre, Sharpsville, Bessemer, Greensburg, Washington, Imperial, South Side, Duncansville, Newville, Sheppton, Grove City, Butler, Allentown, Ross Township, Blairsville, Flood City (Johnstown), Overbrook, Danny’s Hoagies, Baldwin, Economy
    The Phillipines
    South Carolina – Duncan, Longs, Columbia
    South Korea – Seoul
    Tennessee – Smithville, Nashville
    Texas – Tyler, San Antonio, Belton
    Vermont – North Bennington
    Virginia – JAL, Hampton, Rescue, Richmond, Front Royal, Woodbridge, Suffolk, Warrenton, Springfield, Virginia Beach, Fairfax
    Washington – Seattle, Nine Mile Falls, Spokane, Sammamish
    West Virginia – Martinsburg, Morgantown
    Wisconsin – Madison, Oshkosh, Hortonville

    182 locations represented in the blog,
    8 countries
    36 states, plus the District of Columbia
    Two planets
    5/28/2012 12:23 AM

  3. Biz,

    You can add another country to your list of DLN members – Juan is now residing in Singapore (moved from Vegas this past January). And glad to have found you all (again)!

    Juan

  4. Thanks, Juan, added to the roster

    What are you doing over there?

  5. Good piece DK.

    I have to say, I liked the plan’s premise, and I was on board through last season’s predictably sad return to earth.
    Drew Sutton might have done it though.

    To be a pass through for a middle infielder who steps into the middle of a FAR superior lineup, when we have such a need for offense at SS, and almost anywhere else…

    I think I have lost faith.

    When do we get the next plan? At least the next guy has a strong staff to start with.

    DK: Thanks, CD. With all due respect, I think you might be way overreacting to the Sutton thing. Speaking only for myself, the main reason I did the blog item last week was to underscore the insignificance of the Pirates simply letting a player walk because he had a better chance elsewhere. I also shared your concern to an extent, but nowhere near that far.

  6. I don’t know what Dejan has written till I read it in the paper.

    DK: One of many reasons I’m a Biz Lunatic.

  7. Thanks for posting the link to the Cochran Sports show. Us out of towners don’t get great stuff like that often. Great piece again, DK. And really great arguments on the sports show.

    DK: Glad you liked the column, Evan!

  8. I’m not surprised to see that Neal Huntington quotation at all. It has seemed to me for quite awhile that Huntington prides himself more on getting “value” than “wins.” Or, to be fair, that value brings wins. Unfortunately, there’s no trophy for getting the most bang for your buck. The Red Sox can be paying an .800 OPS guy 20 million a year, and the Pirates paying a .750 OPS guy 2 million a year, and Neal would feel great that he’s getting “value.” Meanwhile, what the Sox are getting is still the better player.

    Biz-
    Thanks for keeping tabs. Very cool. However, the location New York, NY just has to be broken up. I’m sure we could break it down to neighborhood, but I’ll just list my borough (Manhattan.)

  9. With respect to Kopitar, if the Kings win it’s Johnny Quick barring a total nosedive.

    He currently is tied with two others for the best single-season playoff percentage of all time for any goalie with more than 10 starts.

    The only other of that three that made the cup finals was J.S. Giguere, and he won it when the Ducks lost. Quick could do the same if the Kings lose…if he continues his great play.

    But if the Kings win…its almost a slam dunk, and I’d even bet he could win the series in not-so-dominant fashion and still take home the Smythe.

    DK: You’re probably right, Devon. Maybe I’m just a little wishful here that an offensive player could do something explosive on either side, whether Kopitar or Kovalchuk.

  10. I wonder if Dejan is off Neal H’s Christmas card list now.

    DK: Never gotten a single Christmas card from anyone I’ve ever covered, actually.

  11. And by the way, as a typical Pittsburgher who enjoys Pitt basketball and college hoops in general, but has a harder time getting into the NBA, this Spurs-Thunder series has caught my interest, and was greatly rewarded last night for watching Game 1. The Spurs play as close to a collegiate-style game as anyone in the pros, and it’s a treat to watch. To throw a bit of a Pittsburgh connection into it, I’ve long thought of the Spurs as the Steelers of the NBA. I was about to classify the Thunder as the Penguins of the NBA, but the more I think of it, it may be the Heat. What do you think???

  12. Mountain Home AFB, ID, signing in! Haven’t posted much, I’m on the other side of the world at the moment. Go Bucs!

    DK: On this day, above all, thank you for your service!

  13. Biz,

    I’m doing the same thing I was doing in Vegas (and working for the same Casino operator, except I am working at our property in Singapore). I am responsible for managing the design and construction of all new projects here.

    And apologies to all for the personal comments – it will be “all baseball” from now on! Go Bucs!

    Juan

  14. What was Huntington trying to accomplish by making a comment that foolish? The offense is one of the worst of all time and he makes that comment? I am going to make a comment that sounds crazy but I think it has merit. You have 2 choices if you are the Bucs and you are seriously trying to be competitve both now and in the future.

    You either go out and get the hitting necessary to compete or yho go the opposit eway and trade the starting pitching you have for young hitters to compliment Cole, Taoillon etc… when they arrive. Those pitchers have no counterparts inthe system position wise and you could end up in the same situation. If you do nothng and let this team finish 10 games under and end up getting nothing for Bedard, Hnarahan, Burnett, Grilli, etc….it would be a complete jike. So either add to the mix and compete or start stockpiling some hitting talent to compliment the young pitching schedule to start arriving in mid 2014. The Cubs coming to town was the worst thing that ever happened, that traveling collection of horse manure may actually have some beleive this team is close to .500.

  15. JAL’s The South’s Gonna do It Again 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

    Pirates Notebook: Bats Break Out for Season-High 10 Runs

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/pirates-notebook-bats-break-out-for-season-high-10-runs.html

    Prospect Notebook: Hanson Over-Shadowing Polanco, Kingham Rebounding

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/prospect-notebook-hanson-over-shadowing-polanco-kingham-rebounding.html

    Jared Hughes Thriving in Reliever Role

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/jared-hughes-thriving-in-reliever-role.html

  16. 6 Rumbunter

    The Pirates Need to Get Creative

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/05/24/the-pirates-need-to-get-creative/

    7 McEffect

    5/27 Recap | Pirates 10 Cubs 4

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/05/527-recap-pirates-10-cubs-4.html

    More about Gregg Ritchie

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/05/more-about-gregg-ritchie.html

    8 Change for a Nickel

    McLouth love-affair never had chance to bloom

    http://tomsinger.mlblogs.com/2012/05/25/mclouth-love-affair-never-had-chance-to-bloom/

    9 Green Weenie

    Cubs Clubbed 10-4

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/05/cubs-clubbed-10-4.html

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Bucs break out bats, crush Cubs

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2012/05/bucs-break-out-bats-crush-cubs/

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES

    11 CBS Sports

    Reds vs Pirates Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20120528_CIN@PIT/redspirates-preview

  17. Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Schedule Preview: at Denver Broncos

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/27/3044736/pittsburgh-steelers-2012-schedule-week-1-matchup-preview-denver-broncos

    Former Steelers Linebacker James Farrior’s Agent Says ‘Waiting For a Championship Opportunity’

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/27/3044738/former-steelers-linebacker-james-farriors-agent-says-waiting-for-a

    Former Colts K Mike Vanderjagt Still Hearing About 2005 AFC Divisional Playoff Game

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/27/3046296/indianapolis-colts-k-mike-vanderjagt-incident-2005-afc-divisional-playoffs-pittsburgh-steelers

    21 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers Figure to Have David DeCastro Under Contract Soon

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/05/steelers-figure-to-have-david-decastro-under-contract-soon/

    22 Nice Pick Cowher

    Using Backs More in Passing Game is Good Move for Steelers

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/05/27/using-backs-more-in-passing-game-is-good-move-for-steelers/

  18. Soccer(football)

    27 Sky Sports

    Duo wait on Chelsea decision

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11095/7781106/Duo-wait-on-Chelsea-decision

    28 Daily Telegraph

    Germans, Dutch lose Euro12 warm-ups

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/soccer/germans-dutch-lose-euro12-warmups/story-e6frey4r-1226368565870

    29 World Soccer Daily

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

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

    PENGUIN BLOGS

    30 Pensburgh

    NHL 13 Cover Vote: Evgeni Malkin Vs. Claude Giroux In Final Four

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/5/24/3041641/nhl-13-cover-vote-evgeni-malkin-vs-claude-giroux-in-final-four

  19. With the tour of the 20th century over this week’s theme is southern rock. Although many of the early rock acts were from the south, critics consider southern rock to be a genre started in the late 1960s as a reaction to the city oriented sounds of the 1960s.

    The South’s Gonna Do It Again Charlie Daniels Band, 1975. Charlie Daniels was well known in music circles before he had general popularity. He wrote songs, played on albums by Dylan and others, and produced albums. He formed his own band in 1975 and had an immediate hit with this song, which is a southern rock anthem. His biggest hit was The Devil Went Down to Georgia in 1979.

  20. JAL,

    Your links, as always, have started my day off well.

    I mumble ‘Thanks’ to you most days when I arrived here.

    Being a Yankee who went to Duke in North Carolina and graduate school in Richmond, your ‘Southern Rock’ theme has me smiling. Sweet Home Alabama! The South’s Gonna Do It Again! Allmans! Lynard!

  21. @Groat:

    «If heaven aint alot like Dixie, I don’t wanna go….hell and New York City, it’s all the same to me.»

    I second your thoughts about JAL.

  22. The way I see it is when you are trying to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together. You can rub those sticks until fire happens. That is organic. What most people do is add kindling to the sticks and then blow on it at the right time. That is artificial. You can do it the organic way and have fire in an hour or you can do it the artificial way and have fire in 10 minutes. It is a real fire and no less legitimate unless you are absolutely consumed by the process of fire starting. Then yeah, keep rubbing two sticks together. But what happens if it rains and you have to start all over?

    I think it is foolish to think that you can sit back and watch the Pirates become a good team organically. You could be waiting forever for that to happen. The way you win is when the conditions are right you come in and make the moves to make it happen. I think that is where they are right now. They have the rotation, the bullpen, depth of pitching, and an offensive superstar. Walker, Tabata, Alvarez, Jones can be average. Add Justin Morneau to hit cleanup and the Pirates can win the division.

  23. Loved your appearance with Pompeani. What on earth is up with Ron Cook?

  24. That was a great article. Every bit of that has driven me nuts for the last 2 years. Where is the accountability of anyone in this organization? I don’t need a Boss and the Yankees situation but I would love some of that. The point about the total lack of success in the draft, with all that money spent, is spot on.Tampa and the Cardinals seem to continually bring up stud pitchers AND hitters. When was the last time we brought up either? (and the Pirates haven’t drafted beyond 4th in like 7 years). This is year 5 and Pedro is the only draftee in MLB? Totally unacceptable. This management team stressed accountability 5 years ago. The only time is see that is with younger players getting benched or demoted. I haven’t seen the accountability for NH or his scouts. Step up Nutting. You are losing more money this way.

    If

  25. 21-10 when they score 2 runs.

  26. JL—I was going to ask DK if he stuck some burrs on Cook’s seat. He was cranky even for Ron Cook, and also tried to talk over everyone, until the end. Zeise hardly got a word in. I liked how Pomp kind of put him in his place at the end.

  27. To get something you have to give up something.

    I am still a proponent of Lars Anderson, the blocked 24 year old 1st baseman of the Red Sox. He’s a good defense, developing power lefty bat who is blocked by Adrian Gonzalez. He could grow along with Pedro.

    Pirates believe in trading a player at his upside. Grilli will NEVER have a higher upside than right now. I would trade Jason Grilli or Garrett Jones (Sox need outfield help) for Anderson, or Grilli and Garrett Jones for Anderson, or Grilli and Rudy Owens for Anderson.

    If I can’t have Justin Smoak, I want Lars Anderson as a young, good fielding, lefty bat at first to grow with Cutch, Pedro, Walker, and eventually Marte.

  28. Great stuff Dejan!

    I don’t find the comment by Huntington mind-boggling, just poor choice of words. I think he meant to say, “We need offense, but we won’t make a desperation trade. It will have to be a good fit that makes sense for the chemistry of the team and also be a good value for us in years to come.”

    ….at least I like to hope that’s what he’s thinking.

    Keep up the good work!

  29. Well. A sweep. To misquote from yesterday, Good JuJu.

    And forget the initials “DK” (which I never use anyway because he has a, you know, name.) Your new initials are “BL”. (Don’t make me say why.)

    By the way, that BL thingee was pretty cool.

    So was the article, you big lunky unicorn. (And now we know why you don’t comb your hair. Covers the, um, horn.)

    Pretty cool article. I am with you 91.3% of the way, but well thought out and written. I liked the premise of the paradox. There are a lot of flux capacitor time loop paradoxes with this team’s management. Pitching v. hitting. Courage to cut bait v. acquiring spoiled bait. Accountability (at times) v. lack of accountability (at times).

    I disagree re: the scratch-head nature of the quote. GMs are SUPPOSED to lie. Leverage, or lack thereof. “We are desperate for hitting” might FEEL good but be kinda, well, counterproductive. I have mixed feelings about hitting coaches too. You raise good points, but I also worry about issue deflection – fire the coach so no one notices the lousy talent that was given to the coaches. But I see your point. And I think we notice. So I’m coming around on that one.

    But I’m kinda weird this way. (And a few other ways. Ask Thunder.) I don’t have to agree with everything about an article to respect it, BL. And you got me with that paradox, Dejan Tiberius Kovacevic.

  30. At some point, Huntington needs to learn to use his words wisely. It just illustrates how bad of a hire this has been for the Pirates. They have a GM who is still learning on the job, especially the public relations aspect of it.

    Pirates need a leadoff hitter, first baseman, and at least one corner outfielder.

    Even if Starling Marte makes it to the bigs and produces, they still lack power on the corner and Jose Tabata appears to be falling further and further into the abyss. Marte won’t be a leadoff hitter with his strikezone judgement and Tabata never really was that type of player. Robbie Grossman could be that leadoff guy but he probably isn’t making it to the majors until 2014.

    Maybe ask Huntington that specific question, why has he tried to build the major league roster with a square peg in a round hole. Did he think a tweener like Alex Presley was a lock?

    Presley should be in the majors right now because he presents a better option batting first than any other player not named Andrew McCutchen. If he fails, then Huntington has to be prepared to acquire a player for at least two years to cover the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

    A good GM shouldn’t slot in top prospects but that’s exactly what this franchise has done since 1993.

    Need to find that GM manual and burn it before the next GM comes here.

  31. This may surprise some of you but I love to cook.

    So here’s my Memorial Day menu, all fresh made:

    - Two-day-simmering spaghetti sauce, slow cooked with bones (better than meat), fresh picked sweet basil, fresh garlic, a whole vidalia onion (held together with toothpicks, then removed, along with the bones and basil leaves, before serving) and a secret ingredient
    - The vidalia onion and a portobello mushroom are sauteed on the side
    - Spinach-artichoke-garlic dip coated with a four-cheese topping slightly burned on the top
    - Zucchini pizza (the Z replaces the bread crust). The Z is slow cooked for hours to soften like dough then coated with my own sauce and covered with garlic and four cheeses. Anchovies on the side.
    - Mango salsa (I didn’t make the chips)
    - Twice baked potato casserole with four cheeses, garlic, butter and herbs
    - Potato skins, deep baked, with aforementioned cheeses, garlic, butter and herbs
    - 28 day aged steaks, absorbing for 8 hours in my own marinade with aforementioned secret ingredient, then grilled and smoked
    - Stuffed hot peppers, also grilled and smoked. Probably just a cheese and garlic stuffing today

    For four people.

    SONNY: (after entering the kitchen) “Why don’t you cut out the crap. I got more important things for you to do. (pause) How’s Paulie?”

    Enjoy the game. And the food. And always remember the service.

  32. Juan Cruz placed on restricted list due to personal reasons, has to go back to Dominican Republic.

    Pirates recalled Doug Slaten to take his place on 25-man roster.

  33. @Drew – that sound delicious!!!

    Well, kids are ready to rock-n-roll outside. Everyone enjoy your day.

    Thank you to the men and women who have served this country.

  34. If I were in the Corleone Family, first, i would be Antony (not anDrew) and second, i would be called Antony Four Cheese

  35. Mountain Home AFB and Manhattan logged into the Asylum.

    Excellent article by Dejan today, as per usual, it will be interesting to see how the FO handles the upcoming draft, sticks or more high school right handers? You gotta take the best player available with No. 8, but as you get deeper in the draft, I’m hoping they take more sticks

    God Bless all of you folks out there that keep us safe at night

  36. Okay, maybe I’m flawed in my own interpretation of Huntington’s quotes and maybe I give him too much credit at times but I feel many do the opposite and try to portray him as a bumbling fool when he’s obviously a pretty intelligent guy.

    I took the quote to mean that he feels the offense is going to get better and rise closer to league average (gleaned from information in Rob B’s blog) so therefore he’s willing to make an impact deal but not out of desperation to add to an offense he feels will improve on its own.

    Does anyone honestly feel that he doesn’t recognize the fact that the team is struggling to score? I get the fact that he needs to use words wisely. Any executive should. But the incessant parsing of everything out of his or Coonelly’s or Nutting’s mouth is mind boggling to me.

  37. Drew,

    That sounds excellent and healthy. You sound like my oldest son. Have to yell at him to turn off the Food Network. Have a great one!

  38. Biz, no foolin. Barbara Eden used to be the spokesperson for my new company.

    Explains my move.

  39. LuckNStein – it WOULD be healthy. if i didn’t load everything up with the aforementioned four cheeses.

  40. Dejan,

    Interesting column. Question though – do teams typically conduct “searches” for hitting coaches?

    I seem to remember the Angels just promoting their triple-A hitting coach the next day after firing Mickey Hatcher. Truthfully, I can’t think of any team that conducted a “search” for a hitting coach. Aren’t there like 7 in every organization?

    One note on Sutton, as well. People keep talking about him as a SS replacement. It was his worst position, and only spent 12 games there in the last 3 years in the minors. His main spot is 3B. We already have a franchise 3B there, who will not be giving up many AB’s to anyone, .200 BA be damned. (I still disagree with moving PA to cleanup so fast, but what do I know).

  41. Drew,

    I’m a low-carb guy, so cheese is a mainstay for me. Bring it on, any style, accept bleu cheese. Zero carbs.

  42. Drew

    That is a good menu, hope all enjoy.

  43. Hope things are going well, Drew

    From the spread you are making for today, I’d say the next move is to the Food Network ;-)

    @Lucky, Chopped is one of my favorite shows

  44. …or Carmine Cholesterol

  45. Hi Folks.

    Reporting in from Richmond, VA.

    Happy Memorial Day to all and thank you to all who sacrificed for us.

    Regarding the Stanley Cup final, when the Kings were starting the WC Final, I picked them to win the Cup in 6 and I’ll stick with it. They really look good top to bottom. From the net on out. It should be an interesting one and I’ll tune in for sure. Plus, they have “the Piece” on defense, so how could they lose?

    Regarding the Buccos and their offensive offense. Well, I have been a casual fan at best and don’t have the answers, but I hope that there is some sort of trade made to bring in some help. Through the wonders of SiriusXM and their internet radio package, I listened to the game yesterday while working in the garage and enjoyed it. And yeah, the Cubs are really bad. I’ll probably tune in again today to see what happens against the Reds.

    The whole thing has really become absurd, in my opinion. That’s the 20 years of futility, the comments from the front office, the lack of offsensive punch in the lineup on most days. Can’t believe that it was the Pirates first 3 run homer this year when Alvarez went yard. Geez.

    I’ll be in town the weekend post July 4th and I am planning to take my son to his first game at PNC along with my Dad. Got the Giants in town. Should be fun.

    Take care,
    R.

    PS. Drew, what time is dinner? I’ll be over. Menu looks awesome!

  46. @Better Days Coming

    Well said. NH is intelligent, and all the snide comments in the world trying to paint it his comments in a bad light, doesn’t make him stupid.

    The fact is, having the fan base scream bloody murder for a desperation trade, and having columnists write, “doomsday is here” makes his job that much tougher – finding a hitter that fits, at good value.

    Umm, didn’t he add a very good hitter last year? Why does that never get acknowledged? D-Lee was a great addition, but injuries happen. I sure heard a lot of “we need D-Lee” early this season. NH brought him in through a trade.

  47. I’d make a primo “button”. Can take ANYone out.

    Only it takes 40 years and two bypass operations.

  48. Biz,

    My son’s, too, therefore we all watch it. Just those cupcake shows I can’t stand–and Sweet Genius.

  49. Vette, there is no “time”; there is only a day. ALL day.

    I just put the heavy garlic spinach artichoke (say it with me) four cheeses dip out.

    For breakfast.

    Oh. And the anchovies.

    I wish you could see it. Cheeses browned on top. It’s a beautiful thing.

    You can probably smell it from there.

  50. Thanks Biz.

    I don’t think the FN would work out for me. The FN has gone all health food.

    The giamopes.

  51. Roberto,

    Thanks but let me clarify. While I tire of the parsing I’m not necessarily a fan of Huntington. Nor am I a defender. I’m a huge fan of the Pirates. Often times against my better judgment.

    If this team regresses this year I would expect him to be fired and justifiably so. He’s been quite a mixed bag of results in my eyes. It’s a make or break year for him.

    I hope he steps up for the sake of the franchise but also to prove wrong many who think him incapable.

  52. With respect to the hitting, it will probably shock most people that the Pirates have hit 11 or more hits in 20% of their game #truestory

    Yesterday’s 1- runs was a new season high (vs previous high of 9 runs). But it was not a season high in hits. 13 hits is the season high, acheived 3 times.

  53. @BDC

    I am not a fan of NH either. I am never a fan of an owner (except Mario), a Team President, or a GM. If the team lost 95 games again, I would think a firing would be justified.

    But I also follow several other low-revenue teams, like KC, Minny, Cle and Oak. And the truth is that its a tough job being the GM in one of those cities. And the expectations shouted in a blog like this are very far from the expectations of the owner, team president, or even most baseball people. It is probably very similar to being the athletic director at Purdue or Indiana. In the league with the big boys, but very little opportunity to truly compete with the Ohio State, Nebraska or Penn State teams.

  54. NH and the FO bring it on themselves

    There are straight talking FOs out there

    Then there is the PBC’s BMTIB

    I’m a diehard PBC fanatic, but obviously not a fan of the FO, I do wish them nutting but the best though, for purely personal reasons

    Cruz is on the “restricted list” to go home to the DR and get something straighted out there. Slaton is up

  55. Dejan……just like with Ben’s comments, I think you’ve taken an innocuous, “nothing to see, move along folks” comments and made it mean something else.

    When NH said ” “We are open to an impact trade if it is the right deal, not because we need offense.” ” he was clearly not showing his hand.

    What the heck did you want him to say “We need some bats fast….I sure hope someone will give us someone good.”

    I share your frustration on our offense, but now is not the time to make a trade unless someone is downright stupid or desperate (see McLouth:Braves).

    Foo

    /

    DK: More than any other, I’ve gotten a kick out of the not-showing-his-hand explanation the past 24 hours. As if the 29 other GMs don’t have any idea — unless Huntington says so — that the Pirates should be positively desperate for a bat.

  56. Groat………Lars and Laporta and any other names of former failed prospects are persona non grata to me. If we can get them for a Resop or DMac, I’d give it a shot, but I am tired of us racking up AAAA hitters (see Pearce, Moss, Laroche, etc).

    JMHO

    Foo

    .

  57. Roberto,

    Fair enough. Good analogy with the Big Ten, or however many there are these days.

    If NH gets axed it will be interesting to see what route they take in his replacement. Do they grab an up and comer from a successful organization or a more proven guy who is maybe more qualified to take them to the next level. Not intending to shovel dirt on Neal’s not yet dead corpse but it’s tough not to speculate in that event.

    Enjoy the holiday.

  58. John Lease@27, regarding your question “what on earth is up with Ron Cook?” He is the reason I didn’t watch the show. Not knowing exactly to what you refer, I can’t give you an answer and DK wouldn’t be able either. Your question is no surprise to this observer. He is the reason I can’t watch Pompeani on Tues. or Thurs. at 10:35 PM

    In general, he tends to dominate the conversation with his opinion and usually gets over-bearing, and never will there be an agreeable conclusion of any discussion, as the end result from him.

    @Eric Bowser #34, brother do I agree with you.

    How proud was this group to listen to those four young lads sing in yesterday’s seventh inning, while that brave, strong and courageous American soldier, clad in dress fatigues, stood saluting the entire time – whereas we should be saluting him – and I know we do.

  59. Better Days and Roberto Forever……..

    I’m with you guys 100%.

    Besides, does Dejan even know if NH has approached other GMs.

    NH (to opposing GM) – I’ve got tons of relief here and some good minor league arms.What would you give me for a couple of them?

    Opposing GM – Uhhhh, not much right now. Our fans would shoot me if I traded Player A, because they still think we can contend.

    NH – Understood.

    Repeat ad nauseum with other GMs.

    We don’t operate in a vacuum here, folks.

    Foo
    .

  60. Dejan – But they (mostly) all do it. Lie or understate. It’s in the handbook.

    So it may be a silly waste of time, but then to be fair, you gotta lambaste 2/3rds of the GMs for the same silly waste of time.

    That is NOT a justification of the poor offseason(s) work by Huntington and his band of renown for putting the team in this position. Again.

    And thus the 91.3% agreement.

    - Four Cheeses

  61. Good win yesterday and WGN carried the game, so I got to actually see more than the highlights. Tuned in early and watched the whole thing. And yes, wins against the Cubs count the same as wins against the Cards, or the Yankees for that matter, or any club. And with the Astros loss, it’s back to third place.

    Just a quick poll — the Reds are coming to town. Is it an opportune time or a bad break? Pressure’s on two ways: they’re the league leaders and we’re one game under .500 (which wouldn’t be a big deal except for the way the last 19 seasons have played out.) I’m of the opinion that the players should be rubbing their hands together in anticipation. If they’re not, well they probably shouldn’t be out there at all. The fan and strategist in me would like another soft opponent to maybe get the hitting going a little more. I would normally have said “back on track”, but you have to have been on track in order to get back on it.

    An observation. I know there are many more would-be GMs in this group than would-be coaches. But Brenly and I forgot the other guy’s name were comparing Gorky’s swing to McCutcheon’s. Maybe the mechanics are somehow similar, but I thought Gorky’s front foot was a little too far down the third base line at the start of the pitch so that he has to step into his stance. Not a big thing if he has it down to an exact movement from years of doing it, but my little league coach back in the ’50′s (who was a Phillie’s scout) wouldn’t have approved. It looked to me like it could be a way to put some inconsistency into the swing and lose some fine bat control. Still it was good to see him get that first hit.

    Then again I’ve always wondered if a modern coaches would have corrected Cobb’s stance or Walter Johnson’s delivery.

    -30-

  62. GMs talk that way. I live in South Jersey so I get to hear Rueben Amaro spout this nonsense. He says that they’re up against the luxury tax (self imposed salary cap by ownership) and have no money to really go out and make a deal or sign someone. Then in the next instance, Roy Oswalt is throwing a bullpen for Philadelphia. Will they sign him, who knows (although with Halladay’s shoulder all wonky’d out, they may jump into the pole position)? But it’s clearly a case of a GM talking one way in the media and then acting a different way in house.

    Personally, I would’ve liked Huntington to say something to the effect of: “We’re always looking to get better.” It’s a factual statement, and yet doesn’t show any of his “hand” to the rest of the league. Saying something like he did to Rosentahl does make him look kind of foolish….even if he sounds like the 29 other guys at his position.

    We have to remember, he’s GM of the Pirates, the other 29 jobs aren’t really like this one. He’s still got to choose his words wisely, something I don’t think he has learned yet.

  63. Have not seen one person claim Neal Huntington is stupid. I have seen him say some stupid stuff, like the 27 Yankees comment. (no fair pointing to Smizik’s blog). I like to refer to it as Nealspeak, and I think he’s very bright.

    DK–agree with you 100% on the not-showing-his-hand explanation. Make that 200%.

  64. I think I fell off the planet.. Olmsted Twp., OH (Formerly New Kensington, PA)

  65. Drew,

    Well stated. It’s all a big Kabuki dance and it’s part of the process. I would suspect, fairly or not, that many who are incredulous at what they perceive to be Neal’s lack of comprehension of his offense (or lack thereof) would be the first to wail at him for reducing his leverage in a trade scenario by admitting he was in need of offensive help.

    My take is that it’s all theater as you say and at the end of the day has no impact either way.

    By the way, we’ll also be serving a lovely mango salsa later today but as a side to a perfectly grilled teriyaki london broil. Enjoy the day.

  66. IF

    If a pitcher Neal can always find
    Then why can’t he get bats?
    The runs will never show; that we’ve come to know
    If the Rays can launch a thousand hits
    Then where am I to go?
    There’s no one Neal can draft, he’s all but left me flat

    Ok. Enough of that.

    Listen. I think we are ALL in danger of being deflected by 20% of the column and burying the lead of the other 80%. The main issue, in my view, is NOT the quote. It is the paradoxi:
    - Why so good at acquiring pitching? Why so bad at acquiring hitting?
    - Why so much accountability with SOME things, and not with others?

  67. Arriba,

    Yes, Smizik’s blog deserves and gets its own cataegory. That said, the Neal is dumb narrative permeates just about any blog I peruse from time to time.

    Nealspeak is a good way to put it. However, I think it’s also more of a generic “GMspeak” to which Neal from time to time adds his own personal flair like a waiter at Chotchkie’s.

  68. @BDC

    Good question. I also do not want to make it seem like its a foregone conclusion that NH is gone (because I think he has a more than 50/50) chance of being here next year.

    But your question is a good one. I would think as long as FC is the team president, he would not bring in a “veteran” who has been successful. Just doesn’t seem to match the org structure. Plus, I can’t think of any GM’s out there who have been successful in a small revenue market and are available, can you? I would think, at this far away view, that it will be an up and comer with small revenue market experience.

  69. “That is NOT a justification of the poor offseason(s) work by Huntington and his band of renown for putting the team in this position. Again.”

    Re: offseason

    While it certainly can be said that the GM didn’t do nearly enough to get better hitters in here, I take a different stance.

    NH looked at what happened last year. He had a light hitting, good pitching team that collapsed (from what I think was just reaching innings levels never seen by most of them in their careers). So, he went out and supported that team with Bedard and Burnett. Two veteran arms that could certainly provide a stabilizing presence (Burnett more so than Bedard due to injury history).

    He brought in Barmes to replace Cedeno (wash in terms of production) & Barajas to replace Doumit (wash, Doumit will hit for more average, power numbers will probably be the same, and Barajas should give you more behind the dish). He traded Jose Veras for Casey McGehee, at the time, looked like it was a god trade (and now it’s just bad for both teams).

    I think he then looked at guys like Presley and Tabata to continue to play well. He looked at Alvarez to have a bounce back season, etc. Simply put, I don’t think he thought these guys would perform THIS bad. What about their track records suggested they would be MLB historically bad? If they were performing at say MLB average or maybe just under it, I think we’d have seem a few more wins out of this group, agreed?

    Basically, what does this tell us….

    Performance trumps statistics, every time.

  70. Foo Man Chewing,

    Lars Anderson is not AAAA.

    And I am not proposing trading a Jason Bay/Pedro Alvarez/Neil Walker/ Andrew McCutchen for an unproven commodity. I propose one or multiple 2nd line players in areas of need to the other team, not just getting rid of our failures.

    I do NOT believe in a trade just for a trade . . . or a “desperation trade.”

    Yet I do believe in adding another piece toward building a respectable nee winning team, and why not TRY NOW?! Pirates need a good fielding player who possibly can become a bopper at 1st. I’d rather try a young guy who’s blocked by Gonzalez than a retread like McGeheeheehee. I do give Huntington credit for trying with McGeheeheehee, but after 30% of the season it hasn’t worked.

    Someone has to make the FIRST trade of the June trading season——why can’t it be the Bucs? Anderson is just as blocked by Gonzalez in a month as he is now. The Sox need outfielders with some pop and relievers NOW. They just brought Anderson up in the last week to try him in the outfield.

    I think Lars Anderson is more Justin Smoak than LaPorta.

  71. Every thing that Huntington says is ultimately spinnable.

    I would hate to think where we’d be without the good pitching. I would love to see it accompanied by at least mediocre hitting.

    I think letting Nate go was an acknowledgement of the problem. Obviously there is more to be done.

    I think when you hire and fire people you tend to stick with them a little longer when they’re not performing well because you have something invested in them, you made a commitment to them, you hope that it’s a phase they’re going through, and it takes a while to re-organize your plans and find a replacement.

    Coaching requires a lot more than knowing the techniques of the sport, especially when you’re working with elite athletes. You have to be able to convince the player that what you’re doing for him will actually work better that what got him to the big leagues. That’s made more difficult because new techniques require time to master and and the results are rarely immediate. There has to be that trust between player and coach and manager. We have no way of knowing what is being done and what isn’t. Nothing is ever going to happen fast enough for the fanbase when things are going wrong.

    Having said all that, I think DK is on the money — five years is a fair period of assessment for a GM, and the pitching is great, but the hitting is not there and has been getting worse as time goes by. The weakness is somewhere in scouting or in instruction throughout the whole system. These guys are not coming to the majors ready to hit.

    For now the buck stops with the GM, but eventually it has to stop with the president and finally with the owner.

  72. Iowa Hadar,

    “For now the buck stops with the GM, but eventually it has to stop with the president and finally with the owner.”

    There is no buck with the Bucs.

    Or, maybe the buck ($) is the buck!

    To paraphrase Bobby McGee: “Accountability’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.”

  73. @Drew71

    You asked (by way of Dejan’s column) why this FO has been good at pitching and not as good at hitting.

    First, I take issue with the not good at all. This season’s team BA has been historically low, but… I will give some background after I talk about the overall view.

    It seems to be a well-accepted fact (except in Pittsburgh blogs), that small-revenue teams have to invest in pitching first. Its the approach that Minny, KC, Cle, Oak and TB have done. This FO has done it as well.

    So if someone in their job is VERY successful in the part of the job that counts for 60% of the grade, that’s pretty good. However a 100% on the 60% part and a 0 on the 40% part still is a failing grade.

    Now to the hitting part.

    Why is no one bringing up the successes? Why, I ask? Its maddening, truthfully. Bringing up only the worst and NONE of the successes? It is transparently biased. Why the bias? That I cannot figure out.

    But let’s talk about successes, mild as they may be:

    What about Rod Barajas? He was killed in all of April, with gloom and doom predicted. Yet his average is headed right back to what was expected of him. He has been one of the hottest hitters on the Pirates this month, with very clutch hitting and some power. And what is said about him? ……………crickets. And considering that Ryan Doumit is on the DL and hitting about .250 and played mostly DH, seems like a very successful signing. And a good value (oops, there’s that dirty word that some people seem to hate)

    Did he not bring in Jones as a minor league FA blocked by Morneau. And people can rip Jones, but he is an average hitter for a RF. Some power, and when given everyday duties, has an OPS of .850. Right now hitting .680 OPS with getting half the AB’s of an everday starter.

    And people bring up Iwamura. He was NOT a free agent signing. He was a trade. Pirates got back an aging vet for a middling RP. Its not like he signed Iwamura as the answer to all of our lineup problems. It was a mistake not to request a physical. But this is held up as some colossal mistake. Its not. And if Iwamura was such a disaster why did Oakland sign him 3 days later and give him a try as a starter for 10 games? My answer – because he was worth the gamble.

    Did NH not draft the hit collector? The person that so many were crying to get a chance? Has he not presided over the Latin American signings? Dismiss credit there? Why, because it doesn’t support a conclusion.

    Also, I give credit to NH for negotiating a very good deal for the Pirates with Ryan Doumit early on. Had Doumit improved some of his weaknesses and maintained his health, the two club options would have looked pretty sweet right now. Instead NH negotiated a win-win for the club. Lock him up with club options if he is successful, or cut him if he struggles.

    Folks act like GM’s signings work out 90% of the time. If you looked at the opening day rosters of these small revenue clubs, they do not. Probably less than 50% of the teim.

    Minnesota alone has gone thru 25 internal and external candidates looking for a good 3B, SS, 2B to go along with Morneau and Mauer. They are STILL looking. They just demoted their big prospect 3B. If their GM had been successful at even one of those positions, they may have actually won a playoff game in the last 7 years with the M&M brothers and outstanding pitching, including Johan Santana and a myriad of others.

    IMHO, this FO has failed to be at least average in signing hitters. But they are not ‘historically’ bad at their signings like so many here imply without any proper comparison, especially when compared to their peers.

    Still waiting for ANYONE to do even a small comparison between another small revenue team and the Pirates FO.

    #MemorialDayRantOver

    Beat Em Bucs

    Thanks again, and again, and again for all of those who gave their lives because they knew that Freedom is not Free. Thanks Uncle Steve and Uncle Buck. Your sacrifices can never be repayed.

  74. Groat — I see it as incompetence, not malevolence. Doesn’t make it any easier to lose though.

    They’re so close, and so far away at the same time. It may difficult to acquire some hitting, but surely it’s not impossible.

  75. Roberto…I do that small revenue ALL THE TIME. Remember where I live. In TAMPA BAY.

    Not crickets on Barabbas…simply not impressed. I was opposed to the acquisition to begin with. So if I am going to be consistent, then raising to a lifetime .237 is not acceptable. Comparing to Doumit, who was obviously going to be gone, is a red herring.

    And calling the Doumit’s deal a good one because it MIGHT have worked but didn’t seems to me to be the polar opposite of Nate’s comment, in a post where he was taking a DIFFERENT stance than me, that “Performance trumps…”

    And I’m not sure the reasoning of the pass on Aki because it was a trade and not a draft. That’s why i use the word “acquisition”, over and over, rather than draft (or signing or trade). Maybe I’m missing a point, but same set of guys are responsible for all types of acquisition.

    This team can’t hit. No 20 paragraph, 736 word post (yes, i checked, and frankly was IMPRESSED by that) is going to change the obvious.

    This team CAN pitch. And I give Huntington a TON of credit for that. As I’ve SAID before. And before Neal’s extension, I called for him to be extended. But about that compliment and that opinion, I hear crickets from those who want to always always defend Huntington, and always always challenge someone who is trying to provide a balanced view of what Neal and his band have done WELL and also NOT so well.

  76. It seems to me that the one common theme is this organization’s woefully inept ability to scout and properly assess ML position players.

    There is a hue and cry to acquire a bat to help the offense but I have little confidence that the current staff can identify the right player(s).

  77. Pirates bats start off hot again today, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st with Pedro driving in Walker from 3rd on a 2-out double. Then Jones following up with an 0-2 single to bring home Pedro.

    J-Mac then with a 1-2-3 after a nifty double play erased J. Bruce’s single.

    Good Guys 2-0, entering bottom of 2nd.

  78. @Drew71

    how many batters do TB have that are batting under .250? Who do they have in the DH spot?

    The fact is, that the Rays are winning with pitching, and outside of Longoria (hurt) and Upton, they also have no players that would start on the Yankees, Sox, Phillies or Dodgers.

    Doesn’t seem that much different than this FO’s approach. Just results are less in hitting.

  79. DK – Very good and appropriate column today. You presented many facts that haven’t been discussed in the media to much extent. As a reader, I appreciate the piece.

    Just one question…do you think that AJ Burnett has had a role in McDonald’s fine season (which is continuing as I type) so far this year?

  80. DK, nice article. And I wish you would include that you have asked NH these same questions – and at least get his ‘No Comment’ in quotes.

    But you really aren’t letting go of this “the hitting stinks”, “why can’t they evaluate hitters”, and “what is the hitting coach doing?”. It seems to me that you are a bit of a broken record.

    You’re beginning to sound like those people that continue to yell “Storm Federal Street” or “Boycott PNC Park”.

    DK: It’s a column, TC, not a news article. Rhetorical questions often are used to raise issues amid laying out an argument.

    I could bore everyone to tears here by repeating the difference between columnist and beat reporter, but I’m sure everyone has more fun stuff to do.

    Oh, and your last sentence there, TC, is preposterous and you know it. If you don’t have a more meaningful counter to the many fact-based criticisms in there, the easiest route is to say, well, you sound like a commenter on Smizik’s blog. Or, at the other extreme, Bucs Dugout.

    You want to argue about hitting evaluation and instruction, I’m all ears.

    Funny, but this column never once raises a direct point about trades, and you accuse me of being repetitive about it. Amazing.

  81. DK, thanks for posting the link to the Showdown. I was out of town and missed it.

    I just watched the first segment where they talked about the Pirates. Is it bad that I totally agreed with Ron Cook?

    And DK, will they let you wear a baseball cap on that show? You have to do something with your hair!!! Each time you write an article that is critical of the Pirates’ evaluation and drafting of hitters ( WE KNOW ALREADY!), I will post something about your hair.

    Tip: some gel and a brush

    DK: Was oozing gel, man. Wife did it before I left the house. Blame-free on this one!

  82. DK, I don’t totally follow your response – but I do appreciate the response.

    My point was not your criticism isn’t fact based. (Did you ask NH why Greg Smith was promoted?) My point is that for the past two weeks you have been making the same point over, and over, and over. I get it. The team’s hitting is awful. But they are also .500. And yes, maybe the hitting coach does need to be fired.

    I wasn’t saying your thinking was “storm Federal Street” or “Boycott PNC Park”. But your continuous repeating of the same thing for the past several weeks is familiar to their M.O.

    My apologies to your wife. It is no easy task that she has undertaken. Did you drive or walk to the KD studios?

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