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Wakeup Call: Cubs for sale! Cubs for sale!

Brief and to the Point …

>> The Friday column is all about the NBA. Yeah, that’s right. The NBA.

My sincere thanks to Bob Miller of Sidelines Bar and Grill in Millvale for serving as our guinea pigs in this basketball vs. hockey project. Neat place.

>> So the Cubs hint that Starlin Castro can be had, and antennae go flying up that the Pirates finally can get their shortstop. And, in all seriousness, it’s tantalizing to even think about. Castro’s a wonderfully dynamic player, he’s 22, and the Pirates haven’t had a star shortstop since Nixon. (Richard, not Otis.)

But Theo Epstein or whoever it was in his front office didn’t float that out there for nothing. He’ll want the best lot of prospects he can find and as many bidders as possible. That’s probably going to net him someone’s 1-2. Not 1 or 2, but 1 and 2. In the Pirates’ system, that’s Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.

Still listening?

Not me. It’s so, so hard for low-spending teams to acquire elite starting pitching. I could see parting with one, but no way both.

Besides, Epstein later tried to shoot it all down.

>> Thought some of you might like this image I snapped at the Steelers’ OTAs …

Those are Pitt football players, coming outside from their facility — half the building on the South Side — to watch the Steelers’ final half-hour of OTAs on Tuesday. It’s one of the benefits of sharing as the parties do. These players watch each other, know each other, even eat together.

Todd Graham had next to nothing to do with the Steelers, but the same isn’t the case with Paul Chryst. The new man is encouraging the interaction.

>> Today is the 20th anniversary of the Penguins’ second Cup championship. Our Mike Palm has a complete rundown today of what every single player is doing. He also has a Web-only feature on the unforgettable Muskegon Line.

>> Gary Bettman said in his state-of-the-NHL news conference Wednesday in Newark that the league plans to invest a special session of general managers this summer to figure out the best way to enforce hooking, holding and other obstruction-type penalties. This tells me two things:

1. Terry Gregson, chief dinosaur in charge of officiating, had absolutely no idea what he was talking about when he told our newspaper and others that obstruction wasn’t an issue.

2. Bettman’s really making this more complicated than it needs to be. All the man has to do is type up the following email to all GMs, coaches and refs:

Gentlemen,

There’s a rule book. Pretty sure you all have a copy. Enforce it.

Hugs and kisses,

Gary

>> This was our chat transcript from yesterday.

Comments

  1. Nate says:

    Jay Bell was a star shortshop. Many 7-15 year old undersized, light-hitting caucasian kids tried to model their game after him!

  2. Sammich says:

    As I recall, the Pittsburgh Pisces drew pretty good crowds….

  3. Spamrahan says:

    I wouldn’t give up Cole or Taillon for Castro. Mainly because I think there is no way he sticks at SS.

  4. John Lease says:

    I agree, Jay Bell was a ‘star’ shortstop. Even better than Gene Alley, who was no slouch.

  5. Drew71 says:

    Todd Graham? Who’s Todd Graham?

    Hugs and kisses,

    Drew

  6. JAL says:

    JAL’s Keep on Smilin 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

    Barmes Disappointed in His Early Season Struggles

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/barmes-disappointed-in-his-early-season-struggles.html

    Prospect Watch: Tony Sanchez On a Hot Streak

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/06/prospect-watch-tony-sanchez-on-a-hot-streak.html

    Pirates Prospects 2012 Draft Top 100 Tiered Rankings

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/pirates-prospects-2012-draft-top-100-tiered-rankings.html

    Draft Notes: Marrero, Zunino, DeCarlo

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/draft-notes-marrero-zunino-decarlo.html

  7. JAL says:

    Three Indians Pitchers Combine For a Four-Hit Shutout

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/06/three-indians-pitchers-combine-for-a-four-hit-shutout.html

    Mayo’s Latest Mock Draft Has Max Fried to Pirates

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/mayos-latest-mock-draft-has-max-fried-to-pirates.html

    First Pitch: A Good Shortstop is Extremely Hard to Find

    http://blogs.piratesprospects.com/williams/first-pitch-a-good-shortstop-is-extremely-hard-to-find/

    5 Bucs Dugout

    #Hurdled: Pittsburgh Pirates Sacrifice Bunt Attempts

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/5/31/3055838/hurdled-pittsburgh-pirates-sacrifice-bunt-attempts

    Minor League Roundup: Two Walkoffs and an Outstanding Start From Rick VandenHurk

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/6/1/3056258/minor-league-roundup-two-walkoffs-and-an-outstanding-start-from-rick

    6 Rumbunter

    Pirates Closer Joel Hanrahan Ending Games With Style

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/05/31/pirates-closer-joel-hanrahan-ending-games-with-style/

    A.J. Burnett Has Been A Game Changer for the Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/05/31/a-j-burnett-has-been-a-game-changer-for-the-pittsburgh-pirates/

    Video: The Pittsburgh Pirates Best May In Four Years

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/05/31/video-the-pittsburgh-pirates-best-may-in-four-years/

    7 McEffect

    Where Does the Pirates “Big Three” Stack Up?

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/05/where-does-pirates-big-three-stack-up.html

    The Starlin Castro Thing

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/05/starlin-castro-thing.html

  8. JAL says:

    8 WHY GAVS

    Bucs on a Roll

    http://whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/may-2012/the-bucs-are-on-a-roll.html

    9 Green Weenie

    Who To Trade For…That’s The Question

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/05/who-to-trade-forthats-question.html

    10 Hyzdu Headquarters

    2012 Draft Target: Albert Almora

    http://hyzduhq.blogspot.com/2012/05/2012-draft-target-albert-almora.html

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES

    11 CBS Sports

    Pirates -Brewers Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20120601_PIT@MIL/piratesbrewers-preview

    12 Detroit Free Press

    Ex-Tigers reliever Jason Grilli enjoying a breakout season with Pirates

    http://www.freep.com/article/20120601/SPORTS02/120531066/mlb-pittsburgh-pirates-jason-grilli

    13 Chicago Tribune

    Pittsburgh Pirates – Team Watch

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-bbo-pirates-teamreportmtze85ut3w0gn-20120530,0,5076163.story

    14 Ballpark Digest

    Indians, Pirates extend PDC through 2014

    http://www.kittanningpaper.com/2012/05/31/buffone-is-james-mcdonald-becoming-elite/27610

  9. JAL says:

    15 Belleville News Democrat

    Cubs: Let the fire sale begin

    http://www.bnd.com/2012/05/31/2194766/cubs-let-the-fire-sale-begin.html

    16 KDKA

    Pirates’ Pitching Coach Ray Searage Talks Burnett, Morton & Tough Decisions

    Pirates’ Pitching Coach Ray Searage Talks Burnett, Morton & Tough Decisions

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    17 PBC Site

    Drafting for need isn’t part of Pirates’ plan

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120531&content_id=32555336&vkey=news_pit&c_id=pit

    Bucs head to Milwaukee looking to reverse fortunes

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_06_01_pitmlb_milmlb_1&mode=preview&vkey=preview_web_away&c_id=pit

    18 Fangraphs

    Cubs’ Players Available in Trades

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/cubs-players-available-in-trades/

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Transaction Analysis

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=17209

  10. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Hines Ward To Join NBC’s Football Night in America Crew

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/31/3055663/Pittsburgh-steelers-hines-ward-NBC-Sunday-night-football-in-america-rodney-harrison

    Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Schedule Preview Week 6: at Tennessee Titans

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/31/3054398/pittsburgh-steelers-2012-schedule-preview-week-6-tennessee-titans

    Dwyer, Batch and Rainey: Three Steelers Running Backs. Three Late-Round “Steals.” Only Room for One in the Hearts of Steelers Fans?

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/31/3053878/dwyer-batch-and-rainey-three-steelers-running-backs-three-late-round

    21 Steelers Depot

    - Jason Worilds Faces Make or Break Season of Sorts

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/05/jason-worilds-faces-make-or-break-season-of-sorts/

    22 Nice Pick Cowher

    Kordell Stewart: The Man, The Myth

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/05/30/kordell-stewart-the-man-the-myth/

  11. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    23 Pitt Blather

    Expansiopocolypse Sees the Brakes Tapped

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/05/31/expansiopocolypse-sees-the-brakes-tapped/

    24 Cardiac Hill

    Pitt’s Isaac Bennett Drawing National Recognition

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/5/31/3048937/pitt-football-pittsburgh-panthers-isaac-bennett-rushel-shell-ray-graham-2012-heisman-candidates

    WVU Blogs

    25 Metro News

    Athlon: WVU Cover Highest Selling

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=52996

    26 WV Illustrated

    Previewing 2012 WVU Football Opponents: Texas

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/18666207/previewing-2012-wvu-football-opponents-texas

  12. JAL says:

    Soccer(football)

    27 Sky Sports

    Lampard out of Euros

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/12016/7789070/Lampard-out-of-Euros

    28 Daily Telegraph

    Euro 2012: England’s problems mount as Scott Parker struggles for fitness and Frank Lampard is ruled out

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/england/9304218/Euro-2012-Englands-problems-mount-as-Scott-Parker-struggles-for-fitness-and-Frank-Lampard-is-ruled-out.html

    29 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: Stories you need to read, May 31st 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-31st-may-2012

    PENGUIN BLOGS

    30 Pensburgh

    Season in Review: Matt Cooke

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/5/31/3055796/season-in-review-matt-cooke

  13. JAL says:

    Keep on Smilin 1974 Wet Willie Out of Mobile Alabama, Wet Willie had big hit with Keep on Smilin. They are also a southern rock band that did not suffer any major tragic accidents. They continue to tour and if billed as Wet Willie their original singer Jimmy Hall is in the lineup. If billed as The Wet Willie Band Ric Seymour, member of the band since 1992 is the lead singer.

  14. dcpinpgh says:

    Two words….kevin polcovich

  15. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sad that the Pirates have had more success finding a shortstop in the grocery store than they have in the draft.

  16. Jandy says:

    And Milo does it again lol

  17. JMB says:

    If the Pirates would have to give up Cole & Jamo for Castro, then we should have just drafted Manny Machado instead of Jamo.

    OTOH in a world where a bum like Barmes gets 2/$11m, a good SS is worth a ton.

    I don’t know if Castro is really 22, so that also comes into play.

  18. And, BINGO . . . . . Milo (not the soulless former Pirate baseball announcer) has solved the Pirate 5-year backup shortstop problem . . . . . .

    . . . . . . . Neil Huntington does not spend enough time in the grocery store!!

  19. JMB says:

    At this point, I’d like to just see a salary dump of Morneau & Willingham for a package of 5 or 6 C level prospects and/or Tabata & Presley. Quantity not quality.

  20. TJA says:

    No to those rumbles of that trade….no way…

  21. Bait-and-switch alert!! Bait-and-switch alert!!

    Theo has no intention of trading Castro.

    But if he can get you to open up and discuss trading your #1 or #2 Prospect——or #1 and #2——then he’s got another player “just for you”!!

    I recognize the M. O. I used to work in a car store.

  22. TJA says:

    the bucs pitching staff, as we have seen so far this year, is pretty darned good. if ray searage gets to work with those minor league guys in the next year or two….hmmmm…
    yes, the bucs are heavy on the arms, but no way to trade those 2 high profile prospects…

  23. Thanks for linking Mike Palm’s article, DK, on the ’92 Pens. I really enjoyed hearing what the players from that amazing team are doing now.

    I still can’t believe that Mario came back to score 131 points while still missing 16-17-18 games in the season. And Tom Barrasso was only 3 games over .500 during the regular season . . . . . . but 11 games over .500 in the playoffs!! And Artie had 54 goals, Joey Mullen 42 goals, and Larry Murphy 77 points on defense. Wow!

  24. NMR says:

    @Groat

    Great analogy, except I wouldn’t mind seeing the Pirates use that to their favor. Lets be honest, there is no way in h*ll Huntingdon is trading any of his prized arms. If he could shop for the Chevy while everyone else is looking at the Mercedes, a decent deal might be possible.

    @JMB

    EXCELLENT point regarding Machado. Tells you how much the Pirates favor arms over anything else.

    I’m not attached to any of the Pirates prospects other than Cole and Tailon, though. That doesn’t mean I don’t think any of them will turn out, just that the old bird in the hand metaphor fits.

  25. sidelinespensfan says:

    No way NH trades his prized, young power arms, and he doesn’t need to do it. He does not need to land a star to upgrade the offense. At this point, a typical AAAA replacement would be an upgrade over what we have seen so far.

  26. NMR says:

    ” At this point, a typical AAAA replacement would be an upgrade over what we have seen so far.”

    *cough…Lahair…cough*

  27. Milo Hamilton says:

    I understand Aroldis Chapman needs a date for the next road trip.

  28. Leefoo says:

    Good to see that finally someone in the Pgh media agrees with me:

    From ‘the OTHER paper’

    YOU: seems some sports writers (not you) are implying that there friction between Ben and Haley. It’s almost seems like they want there to be? Your thoughts?
    ME: I don’t know about the writers, but I do know the impression on talk radio is that there is friction. I haven’t seen that, haven’t heard it and have talked to some people who say there is not. ”

    My thoughts exactly.

    Just fodder for the ‘heads’.

    Nothing to see here….move along.

    Foo

    .

  29. Thoughts gleaned from JAL’s excellent link of Tim Williams @ #7 above:

    “The reality of the shortstop position is that it’s the hardest position to fill, and it’s extremely hard to get a player at the position who can hit AND play defense. . . . it seems that Pirates fans are missing that reality.”

    The Pirates have featured “partial players” at shortstop for years.

    Now we try to get by with still cooking Jordy Mercer, replacement as soon as reality hits Mercer Chase D’Arnaud, and past-his-use-by-date Clint Barmes———at the most difficult position to fill on the diamond.

    At least we held our ground and didn’t pay too much to obtain JJ Hardy. We showed him!

  30. Jandy says:

    Milo LOL!

    Groat, Oh the happy memories that ’92 cup has..and the article brought them all back.
    Ron Francis is my all-time favorite player.

  31. Milo Hamilton says:

    “…the shortstop position is the hardest position to fill, and it’s extremely hard to get a player at the position who can hit and play defense…”

    Maybe there’s a network TV gig available for someone that can summon that kind of analysis. How insightful.

  32. JMB says:

    I know Tony Sanchez has had his health issues, but this college catcher drafted one year later is now in the majors, while TS is still in AA.

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/06/01/the-padres-are-calling-up-yasmani-grandal/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    *********************************************************************

    A nice look at the details of the Beltran trade from last year.

    http://www.nj.com/mets/index.ssf/2012/06/as_carlos_beltran_returns_mets.html

  33. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Excellent response, Milo. Talk about the understatement of the last 20 years. What Little Leaguer doesn’t know that? Why would Pirate fans “miss that reality”. Of course, half a player at that position is better than none, but what about 1/3 or 1/4?

  34. NMR says:

    @Groat – I wouldn’t argue with a word of what Tim wrote regarding shortstops, but I’m not sure Castro fits that bill. People in Chicago already question his ability to stick at shortstop defensively and he profiles as much less at third base due to lower power numbers. Don’t get me wrong, the kid is a stud at 22 years old, I just don’t think he’s worth two ace-type pitchers.

    After all, the Cubs think so highly of Castro as a shortstop that they went out and drafted another one in the first round last year.

    In related news, noticed this story on MLB Trade Rumors: http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/story/19216063/newlook-market-at-mlb-trade-deadline-loaded-with-pitching

    Jon Heyman profiles a list of 45 trade candidates, none of which are Pittsburgh Pirates. The list includes at least four closers, as well. Something to think about when throwing around Hanny for MLB-ready-power-bat trade scenarios.

  35. Leefoo says:

    @Groat….do we have any idea what we did and didn’t offer for JJ Hardy? Perhaps they liked the O’s offer better even though ours was better? Also, at the time, Hardy’s career was trending down. He’d hit .229 (11 HRs) and .268 (with only 6 HRs). I doubt if too many baseball men saw this kind of resurgence.

    I’d LOVE to have JJ, but no way could we have been that prescient to see a 30 HR season. NO WAY!

    ———-

    As for Castro, he is a HITTING SS. His fielding is still lacking in many areas. I’d like to see what Mercer can do. I have always liked him.

    Fielding Foo

    .

  36. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Groat (not the over the top homer Pitt basketball announcer that we love anyway)

    Your comment on JJ Hardy pretty much sums up the Huntington administration up to this point.

  37. LuckyNKentucky says:

    JMB,

    Sanchez is picking up his game, hitting in the 3-hole. His BA is up around .270 and the article in the Altoona paper the other day said he is getting better defensively. There is hope for him. Maybe at least Indy this season.

  38. tmp444 says:

    DK – absolutely great article. Like you, I love the hardwood from high school through college…..I can’t stand the NBA. Maybe it’s because all you see from the “stars” in the NBA is whining to the officials, to their teammates, to their coaches. (If the m.o. of Sidney Crosby is that he cries to much, then people who say that should watch the NBA.)

    “Maybe we’re tapped out” is also a valid point. PGH’ers support the Power only to the tune of about 6K a game; other minor professional franchises, think indoor soccer, lacrosse, even the Riverhounds, don’t do very well here.

    Yet, PGH is definintely a “basketball” town — high school gyms on Friday nights are packed, Pitt regularly sells out the Pete, and Duquesne gets what it gets.

    And maybe that’s it — high school and college basketball (despite the cheating, etc that often times clouds big time college hoops) have a home town, blue collar feel and atmosphere to it ….. as does baseball, hockey, football. The NBA, with Jack Nicholson and Spike Lee sitting courtside for 10K a game, does not. It’s a game made for Hollywood and NYC, not Pittsburgh, Buffalo or the like.

  39. Leefoo says:

    JMB….not a Sanchez fan. I thought it was a ‘dud’ pick then and still do.

    DudLeeFoo Right

    .

  40. Jandy says:

    Whatever you guys are drinking, I’ll have some!

    These comments and names are amusing as h*ll. Really making my Friday morning. =)

  41. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Foo

    I don’t know what Neal offered for Hardy, but I know what the Twins took:

    Brett Jacobson – a 25 year old pitcher with a 5.14 ERA in his 2nd year at AA.

    Jim Hoey – a 29 year old career minor league pitcher that currently has a 5.47 ERA out of the Twins bullpen.

    Maybe they both work at a grocery store in the off season ?

  42. Milo Hamilton says:

    You know, now that Tim Williams has enlightened me to the fact that shortstop is hard to play and it’s difficult to find a good one – I’m really going to have to rethink my criticisms of Neal Huntington.

  43. Milo,

    “How insightful.”

    For this audience here . . . . for the present group of Pirate fans . . . . I think extremely!

    How many so-called experts here and at other sites have been calling for Josh Harrison to be the regular shortstop?! Too, too many! How many have unbelievably stated that we should have kept Houdini (he makes time disappear, or maybe he just disappears at times) Ronny Cedeno?! Way too many!

    Not only do present Pirate fans NOT know what a winning team looks like for 20 years, too many apparently do NOT know that a winning team is built by being strong up the middle, especially starting with a solid, not afterthought, player at short. Losing for 20 straight years apparently takes away proper perspective of how to win.

    I HOPE Jordy Mercer turns out to be that solid cornerstone. Or Chase D’Arnaud.

    Yet HOPING unproven rookies hold your whole defense together leads to “luck” being more important than proper team construction.

  44. NMR says:

    “Why would Pirate fans “miss that reality”. ”

    You do realize that the Williams article is basically a response to fans not wanting to part with an ace-potential pitcher in order to get that shortstop, right?

    I think in that context, it is a completely relevant point to make.

  45. NMR says:

    “How insightful.”

    Almost as insightful as saying that the Pirates need to make a trade. NOW.

    OMG, I had no idea!!!

  46. NMR says:

    I obviously have no inside knowledge of this, but I think the Pirates not going after Hardy from the Twins had as much to do with Ronny Cedeno as anything. Neal had just traded for him the year before and was clearly banking on him filling the shortstop hole.

    Obviously, it was the wrong move. One I think he acknowledged this off season by trying to upgrade with Barmes instead of taking the cheaper Cedeno extension.

    Key word: “trying”.

  47. Milo Hamilton says:

    @NMR

    I said to someone yesterday that I’d love to have Starlin Castro on the Pirates, but then what are we going to do about shortstop ?

  48. NMR says:

    @Milo – haha, agreed completely. Not exactly filling the need.

  49. LuckyNKentucky says:

    C’mon Groat, Neal said Jack Wilson “didn’t hit league average” but he was above average in the field, even in decline. Why would Pirate fans be that stupid? I sure wouldn’t give up Cole and Taillon for Castro, but, go with some young guys with potential, like Mercer, d’Arnaud later or maybe Holt down the road or some others in the lower minors. Why do we have to be made out like we never saw a winning team and we’re too stupid to know what one looks like?

  50. Drew71 says:

    Ah. A Jack Wilson sighting.

    Don’t tell Thunder.

    Jack may not be able to play anymore but hey, he’d be GREAT at Fan Appreciation Day.

  51. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Drewmeister;

    Just an example. Not desiring his return.

  52. Leefoo says:

    On # 22………I still think Kordell could’ve been a perennial All Pro WR.

    Foo

    .

  53. Leefoo says:

    @Milo……….again, what had Hardy done in 2009-2010 that warranted anything more than those two players? Personally, I thought he was washed up, and a lot of others thought the same.

    ******FREE JACK WILSON*****

    I would take a Jack Wilson clone in a heartbeat. One of my all time favorite Buccos.

    SS Foo

    .

  54. Jandy says:

    Leefoo ~ Problem with Kordell, is his mouth is too big, kinda like Ben, but Ben has more talent…

  55. Jandy says:

    Milo ~ you’re rollin’ for sure…watch out for those buffalo chips ;)

  56. Drew71 says:

    Not poking you, Luckster.

    Just Thunder.

    Just because.

  57. NMR says:

    @Milo – I always get a laugh when people from Pittsburgh make fun of West Virginia. To just eabout everyone outside of those two areas, they’re one in the same.

    Pig on a parkway, cows on 28…I’m keeping an eye out for sheep on the trolley after work tonight.

  58. Kentuck Knob,

    Anyone who has been calling for Josh Harrison to play short, or wishing that Ronny Cedeno was still here at short, qualifies for your words: “Why do we have to be made out like we never saw a winning team and we’re too stupid to know what one looks like?”

    I think Holt will never make it as a shortstop; maybe a 2nd baseman. He doesn’t have the range or arm for short in the majors.

  59. pattonbb says:

    I know what winning teams look like. They usually have shorstops with names like Jeter, Cabrera, Hardy, Rollins, Andrus, Reyes, or Tulowitzki. Obviously there are exceptions to that (see Julio Lugo), and like most of you, I’m aware that this team won’t ever make a big splash FA signing like that.

    My opinion, which means absolutely nada, is that this team won’t turn the proverbial corner until they fill that hole. Maybe Mercer or D’Arnaud will be the answer. I certainly hope that’s true.

    Go back to your Little League, Pony ball, Legion, or high school playing days. The best player on the team usually played SS. There’s reasons for that.

    Just as a side note, if we were getting any offensive output from RF, LF, 3B, or 1B, It would be much easier to overlook the lack of production at SS.

    Hope everyone has a good weekend. I think we have a nice opportunity to take 2 out of 3 against those hated “Booers”.

  60. Leefoo says:

    Groat….I agree on your description of Holt. The way PRNW is playing, perhaps we might have to start thinking about Brock as our footure 2bman?

    Foo

  61. Leefoo says:

    Am I the only one who has the MLB player draft, 7:00 PM Monday, June 4 set to record on my DVR?

    Huhn?

    Does DVR sound like one of our pitching prospects?

    Duke Von RosterMove?

    Foo

    /

  62. Leefoo says:

    Only people from WV want Harrison at SS or Ronny back.
    :)

    Hoopy Foo

    .

  63. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Groat, (not the wonderful PBP guy for Pitt, whom I’ve never heard but seen play many years ago),

    I see your point. Thanks for the insight on Holt. He looks good in the boxscores, anyway. That’s the extent of my ability to judge upcoming talent. Harrison is a utility guy at best, but glad to see him make it somewhere. Seems like a good kid.

  64. Arriba Wilver says:

    Foo’s Neal is god excuses:

    #1 everybody makes mistakes (too numerous to mention)

    #2. Who’d a known (Bautista, Hardy, etc)

    #3. The draft’s a crap shoot whether you’re picking #2 or # 30

    This isn’t a try hard league, it’s a can do league—Clint Hurdle
    :-)

  65. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Foo

    I avoid the MLB draft at all costs. I’ll wait for you & Lucky to tell me about the Duke Von RosterMove’s of the world when they get here.

  66. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Milo,

    That’s a deal. Remember the name Rinku Singh. He’s not your doctor.

  67. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Lucky

    Thanks. I actually know who that guy is. He’s only been here for a few years & his English is outstanding. I’m really rooting for him.

    Plus, it would perpetuate the Neal stereotype. Can’t find a hitter to save his life, but he found a pitcher in India of all places.

  68. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Milo,

    A big amen on that one!

  69. Interesting observation:

    Gerrit Cole is 22, barely had a .500 record IN COLLEGE last year, with an ERA a whole run higher than his college teammate who was also a #1 draft pick of Arizona, is currently playing in A ball, far, far from the Majors, where he frequently does not even throw 5 innings———and Bucs fans want to deem him an untouchable and a future All Star.

    Starlin Castro is 22, 1/3 into his 3rd year in the Major Leagues, his 2nd full season, is hitting well over .300, won a Silver Slugger last season as best National League hitting shortstop, made the Major League All Star team, has cut down on his errors significantly this season while still having the best range at short in National League, and his defensive rating this season is more improved than any shortstop in baseball.

    Yet Bucs fans would not want to consider trading Gerrit Cole plus any other “prospect” for Starlin Castro because Castro might make more errors at short?

    I personally do not think Theo will trade Castro——he’s just dangling him to rattle chains in Chicago and see who comes begging——but to hear folks here imply they would never consider trading an unproven 22 year old Cole in a deal for a proven .300 hitting, fabulous range 22 year old shortstop Castro (who still can get better!) . . . . . . . leaves me speechless.

    I go back to Tim Williams article: folks here do not realize how important shortstop is————starting with the BMTIB! Give us instead Chris Gomez or Pedro Ciriaco or Yamaico Navarro.

  70. GlassHalfFull says:

    @Playoffs by 2012

    From the game thread on May 30th….

    Post # 5-Tonight’s OVER / UNDER (always just for fun of course)
    Total Pirates Runners Left on Base
    Line is 7.5

    Post # 169-The Bucs left 8 men on base, and the UNDER squeaks out the win….

    Methinks you have some splainin to do (insert smiley emoticon here)

    We now take you back to the shortstop debate…#FreeGeneAlley

  71. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Groat

    You know in this day and age, “prospect love” runs rampant.

  72. NMR says:

    @Milo – Neal stereotype? You’re far too kind.

    @Groat – Exactly, brother. I usually don’t side with Tim, but I think he’s spot on here. I know Milo doesn’t have much taste for Williams, but he blew that one completely out of context.

  73. Leefoo says:

    “This isn’t a try hard league, it’s a can do league—Clint Hurdle”

    When is Clint going to become a ‘can do’ manager???

    Huhn, Pizza boy??
    :)

  74. Leefoo says:

    LNK……great Singh comment….lol

    .

  75. Leefoo says:

    Milo – “prospect love”

    Wasn’t that a Capt and Tennille hit??

    America Foo

    ,.

  76. Leefoo says:

    Cole and Marte….yes, trade them for Castro.

    SS Foo

    .

  77. Leefoo says:

    Off for awhile….lots of chores to do. Heck, I think I am busier than when I ‘worked’ for a living. But I am happier, also.
    :)

  78. Milo Hamilton says:

    @NMR

    I don’t disagree with Tim’s story at all. I just thought that line was a little condescending. OK, a lot condescending.

  79. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Foo

    “Floatin’ like the heavens above, looks like Prospect Love.”

  80. JMB says:

    @Foo

    This is the first time since NH took over that I have no interest in the draft.

    This draft class is not supposed to be very good, so I just hope NH takes the best available player. Bu,OTOH, I would like a guy who will be MLB ready in 2014, if possible. So maybe a college hitter is the way to go.

    I havent read up on this stuff at all this year, but that Richie Shaffer kid sounds good.

    http://www.clemsontigers.com/sports/m-basebl/mtt/shaffer_richie00.html

  81. Evan says:

    According to CBS Sports, the Red Sox say they are planning on trading Kevin Youkilis. He has been an on base machine in the past, and is hitting for .250 with 4 homers this year (with 3 weeks on the season on DL).

    Think he’s a good fit with the Bucs?

  82. LuckyNKentucky says:

    We’ve beaten that one pretty hard here, Evan, but continue it, please. It’s worth the input.

  83. Arriba Wilver says:

    Foo– you think they’re at .500 IN SPITE of Hurdle? So you think Neal gets £ years and Hurdle gets one? (and have you forgotten, that was a chicken barbecue pizza, a “specialty ” pizza)

  84. Arriba Wilver says:

    Evan—no, it would be a typical last 20 years Pirate move IMO.

  85. Evan says:

    @LuckNKentucky

    Sorry to bring it up again, then. Just saw the new reports on Twitter. I think Youk would be worth it, even though he has a big contract. And I would hope the Pirates eat enough of it to limit how much they would have to give up. Probably not the ideal match, but who is.

  86. tmp444 says:

    @Groat – Amen.

  87. LuckyNKentucky says:

    His type of player would be worth it, Evan.

  88. JohninOshkosh says:

    According to tvbythenumbers.com, the NBA Draft Lottery show drew almost identical ratings in the 18-49 demographic as Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. (1.2 v 11/3). That means the spectacle of a group of NBA GM’s, or their wives or sons, holding bizarre good luck charms, while sitting on a panel watching a bunch of ping pong balls flying around an enclosed aquarium, drew higher ratings than the hockey season’s big finale. Hockey was also soundly defeated (3.9 v 11/3) by the NBA’s Eastern Conference Final game being played at the same time. Hockey was on one of the original television networks available in almost every home while the NBA was televised on a pay channel, ESPN.

    I have no doubt that the NHL is more popular in Pittsburgh, but it isn’t even close on the two coasts or with those of us in the flyover states.

    DK: Who suggested it was? I believe the term I used to describe what you’ve got there is “kill.” I didn’t use that lightly.

  89. NMR says:

    Clint Hurdle: bad manager or terrible manager? Thoughts?

    Just kidding, AW :)

  90. LuckyNKentucky says:

    NMR,

    Good manager, questionable hitting coach?

  91. JAL says:

    Groat

    Colw is 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA and K rate of 8,8 per 9 innings. Expect to see him in Altoona soon.

  92. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    I’m not taking that trade either, at least for both. For one of them, sure. I can do that.

    Tony Sanchez has been on hot in Altoona. Defensively, he’s probably ready, but offensively, he’s coming around.

    I see TS as a Kurt Suzuki type of catcher. I’d take that, but not from a #1. A #1 catcher is Buster Posey and some dude in Baltimore.

  93. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    About Clint Hurdle.

    I don’t think I can remember someone talking about hitting or baseball in general that speaks it as well as he does. Aside from myself and others on this blog of course.

  94. Milo Hamilton says:

    This just in…

    Flyers end Pens brief playoff run.

  95. JAL says:

    Milo

    you do get news fast:)

  96. JAL,

    Talk to me when he is playing for the Pirates, not in some bush league throwing 4-5 innings a start. Talk to me when he has his name on the back of his uniform.

    How well did Chad Hermanson do in the Minors? Zach Duke? Sean Burnett? Brad Eldred?

    Tony Sanchez has been so hot in AA that his average is now .270. Either he really stunk before, or he really is just lukewarm.

    Sorry, North Cali Ryan——I’m not busting on you. I just never liked that reach of a draft pick in Sanchez from the start.

  97. cmat0829 says:

    Interesting discussion…. as usual. I think Neal’s approach is generally that he pursues moves that are “upgrades” over what he has…. he signed Barmes not because he is a top 15 Major League shortstop but because he represented an upgrade (mostly defensively and in a professional consistent approach) over Ronny Cedeno and the not-ready-for-prime-time D’Arnaud and Mercer. Same with Barajas. He isn’t top 15, but he is better (defensively, managing ball games and in power) than Doumit/Snyder/Cast of cast-offs that the Bucs plugged in behind the dish in 2011.

    The hardest part about a trade is not so much identifying who would be legitimate upgrades (because that is easy) it is parting with talent that would definitely downgrade you in another area. My only real criticism of Neal is that he is too cautious and prefers to either buy “lottery tickets” (Clement, Wood) cheaply or settle for marginal upgrades (Barmes, Barajas) vs. downgrading to upgrade.

    I don’t blame him…. especially if/when it comes to any of the PIrates top 10 prospects. Making the wrong choice in trading one of those chips would set the Bucs back significantly…. so think “hope for short term gain” vs. “bring on the long term pain”….

    The next few months is pretty much make or break for Neal. He has built a pitching staff and pitching depth that is set up for both short-term and long-term success. Now he has to make the bold trade and roll the dice that he will be right… that trade will bring short-to-medium term improvement while definitely dealing away a good prospect who may blossom (think Moises Alou for Zane Smith 1992).

    As to trading either Jamo or Cole for Castro. NO WAY IN HELL.

  98. Dejan,

    Since we are up over 100 comments, I guess I/we should thank you for the NBA column. I have watched 4 of the 5 Conference Finals games and they have been really good.

    I love the way Tim Duncun and the Spurs play!

    There——our required response to your NBA column.

    1/100 ain’t bad!

  99. cmat0829 says:

    On Tony Sanchez: I believe at the time the rationale of Neal and the scouting team was that since the Pirates did not value anyone in that slot too highly (read “worth the signing bonus”), they took a whole draft budget allocation strategy…thus I think they paid “above slot” later in the draft for a few players they needed to to sign them. I can’t really remember who those people were ( I think a number of high school pitchers) but to really evaluate that draft we will need to do on that basis.

    As to Sanchez, catching is one of the most scarce talent pools out there…the Pirates aren’t the only team searching for talent (the Dbacks just ridiculously overpaid to sign Miguel Montero long-term because they have no talent in the system at C). If he can become a serviceable ML catcher, say top 15-20 at the position, then that’s a decent pick. Is he worth the #4 pick overall or whatever he was? depends. If any of the “overslot” players pan out…then yes. If not, then no.

  100. Cream of Wheat 829,

    On one hand I don’t necessarily disagree with you or the premise sold to us.

    However, none of those “above slot” players——now in their 4th season in pro ball——are excelling at their levels, and none have made significant jumps of levels.

    Dirty socks all wrapped up in pretty wrapping paper and a fancy bow, even if you paid a lot for the bow and wrapping paper, are still just dirty socks.

    Shouldn’t those so-called “above slot” players begin to separate themselves from their peers by their 4th season?

  101. Karen22 says:

    Anyone know where Adam Hyzdu is? :>)

  102. JohninOshkosh says:

    Oh, I liked the column today immensely. Too many columnists or pundits simply sit at their office and opine about matters without actually doing any legwork (like I do with this blog). Your ability to get your hands dirty, so to speak, and actually talk to people ranging from team presidents to owners of sports bars really solidify your positions and make your columns very persuasive.

    Oh, and I would to try Bob’s Baby Back Ribs with a large black and tan. Or try my luck at the music trivia contest.

    DK: Thanks, John.

  103. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Karen

    Still in Double-A isn’t he ? But we’re still not trading him !

  104. Milo Hamilton says:

    @John

    I need to find a job where going to a sports bar is considered work.

  105. cmat0829 says:

    From where I sit (sunny and HOT Phoenix Arizona), I can’t really project what the overslot guys will do. They are high school pitchers so I’d think the next 18months would be key. We can call the draft a wash out now if we like or wait until next season, where Tony needs to be either behind the dish in the “Burgh or out of the jet stream for good and the over slot arms should either be important trade bait or knocking at the door. Glass half full says it won’t be either a great draft or a disaster, that Sanchez will contribute and at least one of the arms will have been worth it. Now that said, we can and should expect more than that from the BMTIB….. I don’t think it will end up a disaster but I’m a glass half full guy.

  106. Jandy says:

    Milo, can I be your secretary????

  107. JohninOshkosh says:

    Milo,

    Yeah, right. Now there is a job at which I could excel.

  108. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @Groat

    By no means am I saying TS was worth that draft location. I do think he was rated as a 1st rounder, but not that high……..or low, however you look at it.

  109. JAL says:

    Speaking of prospects

    Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon Named FSL All-Stars

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/06/gerrit-cole-and-jameson-taillon-named-fsl-all-stars.html

    DK: Look how similar their numbers are, Joe. Wouldn’t it be neat if these two can rise through the system together?

  110. Evan says:

    Charlie goes on the DL to make room for Cruz…

  111. JAL says:

    Cruz activated and Charlie Morton to the DL, right elbow inflammation.

  112. LuckyNKentucky says:

    So who takes Charlie’s spot? Karstens throws tonight, so it won’t be him right off? Lincoln?

    Indy has a 6-game lead at 31-22. Talk about weak divisions. And Ric Vandenhurk, former major-leaguer has pitched well there. Another Neal miracle?

  113. JAL says:

    Lucky,

    no one for the moment, June 4 an off so they will just skip his spot for now,

  114. JAL says:

    After that most likely Lincoln

  115. Evan says:

    I would guess Lincoln takes Charlie’s turn before Karstens comes back. Or maybe they will call up a AAA starter for the day when his turn comes. They like to keep as many usable arms in the pen as possible it seems.

  116. Evan says:

    @JAL
    Didn’t know there was another off day so soon. That’s convenient for the rotation.

  117. JAL says:

    Evan

    Yep, 3 in Milwaukee, off day, 3 in Cincy. They have every Monday off until June 25

  118. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Good time for some mental and physical rehab for Charlie and Lincoln can still come out of the pen for the weekend and they can make sure Karstens is 100% before shoving him in there.

  119. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    The way he’s pitching now, Brad Lincoln can fill any role. Very impressed.

  120. JohninOshkosh says:

    If Braun gets plunked, even accidentally, this weekend, then we may see some fireworks. The Brewers, always sensitive about getting hit, are hypersensitive to it right now, given their injuries, not to mention poor little Ryan’s sore Achilles.

  121. NMR says:

    Right elbow inflamation?

    Could explain the loss in velocity and “feel” Charlie talked about recently.

  122. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @John

    How’d you know my achilles is sore? Hmmm

    @NMR

    Agreed, I thought maybe it could’ve been from the hip surgery and unable to push off the rubber at 100%.

  123. JohninOshkosh says:

    @Ryan :)

  124. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @DK

    DK: Look how similar their numbers are, Joe. Wouldn’t it be neat if these two can rise through the system together?

    I’ve read, I think Keith Law’s reviews about these guys and I think he had them predicted to come up at the same time. Cole first. The 2014 rotation was projected to have both of them.

  125. cosmo says:

    @ Milo

    Thanks for the update on Pens/Flyers. It fits in with update on the Steeler
    draft.

    Which is taking longer to complete. the upgrade to this site or digging the
    tunnels under the river.

  126. NMR says:

    @Ryan

    I certainly don’t overlook the hip injury in the grand scheme of Morton’s struggles.

    He was coming off a significant change in delivery when the hip put him out, one that requires a ton of reps to form the required muscle memory. The general time off along with getting comfortable with his lower half could’ve certainly made it harder for him to find that groove again, and possibly caused him to overcompensate somewhere else causing the strain in the elbow.

    I tend to think Charlie doesn’t have much bigger mental issues than other struggling pitchers, he’s just honest about them. I don’t beleive a word when a guy has a career setback or bad outing and gives the bright eyed optomist interview. You can see right through it.

    From the sounds of the official team statement DK posted on Twitter, this is gonna be longer than 15 days. Good for Charlie, and good for the Pirates, who luckily look to have the type of depth that might actually improve the rotation. I won’t be one bit surprised if Chuck ends the season with +150 IP and an ERA around 4.

  127. LuckyNKentucky says:

    NMR,

    You’d have to ask Bob Hasis, but wasn’t it Dizzy Dean who ruined his arm by over-compensating from shooting himself in the leg or some such thing? Anyway, your reasoning is very sound.

  128. LuckyNKentucky says:

    DK got upset with a couple of us when we thought Leroux’s injury was well-timed, but 24/7 can get away with it in Twitterworld. The inequities of it all.

  129. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m not buying this one either, Lucky. I’m not saying his elbow’s not sore either. But this one’s awful convenient. This is where I was going with Correia a couple weeks back, I just had the wrong guy. This front office has a history of this kind of thing. Not a criticism, just an observation.

  130. cosmo says:

    so Cruz comes back and Morton goes on DL. Who gets sent out when Karstens comes back in a week or so.

  131. NMR says:

    @Milo – so then, if the injury isn’t real, why rest him?

    I’m not sure what the other options would be. Why in the world would they keep a guy active who isn’t doing any baseball activities?

  132. Milo Hamilton says:

    The laughable part of this is that when Karstens went out on his 1st rehab start, Stan Savran asked Bob Walk if the Pirates would consider a 6 man rotation when he returned. Walk said that his expectation is that somebody would end up on the DL instead because not only would it make room for Karstens, but it keeps guys innings down.

  133. Milo Hamilton says:

    @NMR

    They have a history of this when guys aren’t performing. They did it with Morton in 2010 & with Pedro last year. In each case minor injuries turned into a couple months so they could go somewhere to get specific instruction by coaches or a shrink. I’m sure Charlie will get a couple of big league starts in before the trading deadline.

 
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