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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Thoughts on Steelers, mine and yours


Brief and to the Point …

>> The Friday column collects thoughts on the Steelers’ now-complete OTAs and minicamp, headlined by Ben Roethlisberger’s apparent reverse on the playbook.

Really would love to have a good Steelers discussion down in comments today. This will probably be the last time for a while there’s this much fresh material.

Let’s get it started with three questions:

1. Why would this defense be better at takeaways than the 2011 unit that was the NFL’s worst?

2. How would you use Isaac Redman and Chris Rainey?

3. Who will win the Baron Batch Award for most-discussed player in Latrobe?

>> The Pirates getting swept in Baltimore, right after the high of poking into first place Sunday night, still doesn’t have that here-they-go-again feel for me. Not yet.

Next two games in Cleveland bring James McDonald and A.J. Burnett to the mound, and the Indians are throwing three guys with ERAs of 4.70 or higher. Yeah, I know that latter number usually doesn’t matter even when it’s 6.70 or higher, but it’s better than the alternative.

How about the Pirates at least get the weekend to salvage their season?

>> If you’re still lamenting the Pirates not taking Matt Wieters all these years later, I’d suggest you look at it a bit more broadly: The Daniel Moskos pick was a big reason Dave Littlefield lost his job. And the public wrath and humiliation wrought by that pick was a huge reason, I believe, this management team has gone wild to sign high draft picks.

Ask yourself if you’d rather have had Wieters (and Littlefield, possibly), or Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Josh Bell, etc.

>> Here’s the chat transcript from yesterday.


  1. JohninOshkosh says:

    It’s hard to believe that camp starts in 40 days. David DeCastro was an absolute beast at Stanford. The DL at many of the Pac 12 schools were nothing to scoff at but complexity of schemes and player speed at this level is no easy adjustment for even the brightest and skilled of kids. No doubt that he has the brains. The question will be his physical adaptation to the league. The preseason gets kicked around by its many critics but, man, for someone like DeCastro, those are going to be some crucial moments. Looking forward to see how he does.

    DK: You know what’s funny? The Steelers sound and seem so confident in him that I don’t know if they share that sense of suspense. It’s pretty neat, actually.

  2. pghboyinca says:

    D.K., If that pick is why Littlefield lost his job then why ddin’t the Bay trade cost Huntington his? And I am pretty sure if that is an attempt to suggest that taking Moskos was good because it triggered replacing one incompetant boob with another consider this. Last year we started fast and then collapsed, this year we started fast and we will see what happens. However is this sustainable? Is there a plan? You have McDonald and who else projecting after 2013? A bunch of unproven high draft picks on the mound with no offense of any kind?

    Who is at short, behind the plate, at first, corner outfielders? If this pitching was done with a bunch of young kids acquired in trades or mid round draft picks outperforming then maybe you have a foundation. Burnett was a once in a decade gift because of the New York pressure nad even at that he is subsidized by the Yanks paying the majority of his salary. Want to count on that happening again? JMac is a gem but even a blind G.M. gets lucky on one out of 20 trades. Bedard will break down and or come back to earth. Correia … please. As I have said repeatedly the pitching will come back to earth and the hitting will remain putrid. This team will lose 90 games and next year there is nothing coming to get excited about.

    The NL Central is arguably the worst in baseball and the NL in general is weak this year. Who has the regime drafted and developed? Drafting Moskos got us Huntington and the chance to draft a bunch of amateur pitchers that every other club would have drafted 100 times out of 100 times no matter what the situation. Let’s throw a party and celebrate because this management team will develop them like they did Alvarez and Tony Sanchez …

  3. Dave says:

    It may be true that Huntington in theory has selected better players than Littlefield, but 4 years on the job and all that his selections have to show for Huntington at the MLB level is failing Pedro Alvarez. He has Tony Sanchez who struggles to have double power, Tallion has thown poorly his last 6 starts (but looked very sharp before that), and Allie is now a hitter who would’ve went between rounds 3-5. Bell is injured and looked bad when he started. The over-slot bonus babies that Huntington has signed over the past few seasons have basically all performed poorly (one of which has retired already). Our best hitters on the active roster right now are Littlefield draftees and the best hitting prospect is a Littlefield signing. If Littlefield was that bad at his job at selecting draft choices, exactly how good is Huntington when the only prospects of his that have looked good in terms of performance were absolute no-brainers (Cole and Tallion) while the rest have yet to live up to their potential?

    Also, no, I’m not saying Littlefield should still be GM. I’m saying Huntington and his staff from the scouting departments all the way down to the coaches in the low levels are overmatched.

  4. JAL says:

    JAL’s Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    4 Pirates Prospects Draft Pick Signing Tracker


    5—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Notebook: A Bad Week All Around For the Pirates Rotation

    Prospect Watch: Cole Pitches a Gem, Hanson and Polanco Both Homer

    D’Arnaud and Locke Lead Indians Over Charlotte

  5. JAL says:

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Orioles Defeat Pirates 12-6 As Your Humble Correspondent Descends Into Confusion

    7 Rumbunter

    Orioles Sweep Pirates, But There Is One Great Thing To Enjoy in Baltimore

    8 McEffect

    Just Calm Down Part 694

    9 The Green Weenie

    Birds Broom Bucs 12-6

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Bye bye Baltimore

    11 WhyGavs

    Game 62: Orioles 12 Pirates 6

  6. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 CBS Sports

    Pirates-Indians Game Peview

    13 Baltimore Sun

    Steve Pearce sticks it to his former team with 5 RBIs in win over Pirates,0,2646705.story

    14 Chicago Tribune

    Pirates Report,0,6906579.story

    15 NY Times

    Burnett Brings a Steady Presence to the Pirates

    16 Bradenton Herald

    Marauders Maggi, Welch, Chambers promoted to Double-A Altoona


    17 PBC Site

    Bedard, Bucs blitzed early in loss to Orioles

    Notebook: Karstens nearing his second rehab stint

    18 Fangraphs

    Epic Pitching Performances on the Same Night

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Reaching Back for a Little Extra, Part Two

  7. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers OL Kelvin Beachum Signs Contract, Learns Offense

    Pittsburgh Steelers Player Profiles: DE Ziggy Hood

    Steelers Owner Weighs in on the Absence of WR Mike Wallace

    21 Steelers Depot

    - Kevin Colbert Open To Bringing Back Max Starks When He Is Healthy

    22 Nice Pick Cowher

    Steelers On The Move: Sign LB Johnson And Cut A TE

  8. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    23 Pitt Blather

    Clearing Up Transfer Rules

    24 Cardiac Hill

    Ray Graham Progress Report

    WVU Blogs

    25 Metro News

    Huggins Sees New Basketball Era Underway

    26 WV Illustrated

    Garrison Expects To Return To Full Strength Next Month

    Mazey Adds Steven Trout to WVU Baseball Staff


    27 Sky Sports

    Irish eyes not smiling,19764,11065_3472059,00.html

    28 Daily Telegraph

    Croatia hold Italy to 1-1 draw to lift hopes of quarter-final berth at European Championships

    29 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 Euro 2012 stories you need to read, 14th June, 2012


    30 Pensburgh

    2011-2012 Pittsburgh Penguins Player Usage Chart

  9. JAL says:

    Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat, 1950, Frank Loesser lyrics and music. Based on several Damon Runyon stories. Clip from the 1955 movie starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine

  10. Mike says:

    I live near Baltimore and was at the game last night. Lot’s of Pirate fans at the game. Not drafting Wieters was a mistake that is going to haunt Pirates fans for the next 10+ years. He was crushing the ball last night. And he does it from both sides of the plate. Heck, every Oriole was crushing the ball last night. At least there were no broken bat HR’s.

    I was excited at the first place Pirates coming to Baltimore. I am now over it. Watching Presley and Cutch turn and run for double after double after HR made me tired. Not sure this is going to end well for the Bucs.

    On a positive note, only 40 days until maxi-camp.

  11. RobertoForever says:

    Answers to your questions

    1) Because it really has to. No defense can be considered elite without big takeaways numbers. I have faith in Dick LeBeau to get the adjustments done.

    2) I have no earthly idea. With Haley’s “new” offense and two rookies competing for o-line time, there is a ton in flux. Whatever way they are used, it needs to be successful on 3rd and short.

    3) Baron Batch award? A tie between Big Ben and Todd Haley. Not that I want it that way.

  12. JAL says:

    Link 4 (post 4) is a permanent addition until July16. It shows Pirate draft pick signings.

  13. bdubb says:

    Littlefield should have been fired the day he drafted Bullington and projected him a 3rd starter

  14. NMR says:

    Here’s a novel idea: every time Dave Littlefield is mentioned DOES NOT have to be a referendum on Neal Huntington.

    Nowhere did Dejan try to compare, grade, or judge Huntington’s performance.

    If you cannot see a positive difference between the current management team’s drafting strategy and the previous one, then you need to step away from the interwebs for a minute and regroup.

    Win 10 of 13: YAY we’re headed in the right direction!
    Lose 3 straight: FAHR NIL HUHNTINDUN!

  15. NMR says:

    This is going to sound smug, but so be it…anyone who references a given pitchers 5 outing stretch in A ball, for positive or negative, has no baseball sense whatsoever.

    Pay attention for more than a year and you’ll realize that isn’t something worth wasting the keystrokes to even point out.

  16. Bizrow says:

    @NMR – re #13, thats the way it is with PBC fans

    Like JAL often says, its not a race, its a marathon

    That being said, am a bit worried about this rough stretch of pitching these past few days.

  17. JMB says:

    “Going wild to sign high picks” is only half the battle, and it’s the much easier part.

    Developing these bonus babies into MLB studs is “the plan” on the way to a “dynasty.”

    The Angels took a HS OF’er 25th overall, Mike Trout, and he is now being compared to Mantle & Mays along w. Bryce Harper. In that same draft, we took a “safe” pick in Tony Sanchez.

    Bullington was a bad pick, but Appel is also currently being called a #3. So only time will tell.

    As players from the 08 & 09 drafts enter MLB, we can get more of a sense of NH’s first two drafts. But I don’t think he gets a pat on the back just for drafting and signing guys; they have to also pan out since we can’t (won’t) compete for FA studs.

  18. Vinqtin says:

    1) Improved health may be the number one reason for more turnovers. Having Harrison and Woodley in place and playing at full speed will put pressure on the QB and cause bad throws. I just hope that the safeties aren’t too old and slow to take advantage.

    2) Redman is the main man in the backfield. It’s his time to shine, on all three downs. Rainey and Batch can get a few carries and catches if they show they can handle it. Rainey’s should be used mostly on special teams, especially returns.

    3) I think Rainey is already this year’s Batch but I look for Ta’amu to open some eyes.

  19. JMB says:

    “still doesn’t have that here-they-go-again feel for me. Not yet.”

    I agree. It’s fun to come in here and debate, but until we get to 9/1/12, we just have to enjoy the roller coaster nature of a baseball season. Actually even where we are on 7/25 will be a big indicator on being a buyer or seller by 7/31. The next six weeks are crucial.

    If we can break .500, this season will be a success to a majority of the fans. You have to walk before you can crawl.

  20. Brian says:

    1. Why would this defense be better at takeaways than the 2011 unit that was the NFL’s worst?

    Well, they can’t have gotten worse, right? Perhaps the infusion of youth and athleticism over guys like Aaron Smith and James Farrior will help in the turnover department. Maybe Ziggy Hood really IS going to be a beast and get into the backfield often enough to cause more fumbles. Maybe one of those young, athletic DBs will find a knack for jumping routes that William Gay and Ike Taylor just didn’t make careers out of. Maybe Polamalu will get some of the lucky breaks that eluded him last year (a good number of footballs hit his hands and bounced away).

    2. How would you use Isaac Redman and Chris Rainey?

    Exactly as their physique dictates. Redman is going to be a serviceable starter and hopefully the offensive line will be as good run-blocking as they are on paper. Assuming Redman can take the beating that comes with being a starting RB, that’s exactly what he’ll do. Rainey may not see a ton of playing time, as the Steelers don’t tend to play rookie RBs a whole lot. Baron Batch is, as far as I know, slated to be the third-down back and that’s the kind of role I’d prefer for a small quick guy like Rainey. I wouldn’t run him between the tackles very much, but he might offer a decent change of pace from the big Redman/Dwyer combination.

    3. Who will win the Baron Batch Award for most-discussed player in Latrobe?

    I’m hoping and praying it will be whichever cornerback wins the starting job. Wouldn’t hate it if Ziggy Hood followed up his unreal workout videos on Youtube with a big time training camp performance. His job won’t be to pressure the QB and get sacks, per se, but I’ll notice if he’s consistently getting low on tackles and guards and driving them back off the line.

    DK: Apologies, Brian, for the ridiculous delay in this post going up. Only happens with the very first one. All others are immediate.

    Good stuff, man, and welcome.

  21. DemonDachshund says:

    As I pointed out after the 10 for 13 streak, I am not convinced that this year is any different than last year.

    Thus, I will continue to scream “FAHR NIL HUHNTINDUN!” as loudly as I ever have.

    Develop or acquire ONE above average position player and I’ll reconsider.

  22. TJA says:

    Agree with JMB… After last season and the teaser we had…as we are now well into the 2012 campaign, I have said all along…come talk to me in mid -August and we’ll see where things stand then. In the meantime…you do have the give (to borrow a football line from Myron Cope)…the “Balt Birdies” a little credit. That is a pretty good team over there.

  23. jdwfb55 says:

    Chris Rainey is definitely the Baron Batch-most talked about player but I feel DeCastro will probably pass him once we see more of him.

    Observations From Right Field at Camden Yards Last Night

    Tabata needs to go on the DL: It was apparent watching him try to run down a rbi double into the gap that he doesn’t have the speed to continue to play. He has become a liability both on the field and on the basepath.

    Pedro, Pedro, Pedro: I am no longer angry with Hurdle continuing to throw him out there, I now just feel sorry for him. Completely lost at the plate, regardless of the pitch or pitcher

    Barmes the Bum: He just can’t hit, does anybody remember when Harrison was getting on base and Cutch was hitting him in, I do….

    Steve Pearce: He was ripping the ball, what, he’s not on the team! my bad!

  24. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Sorry, I can’t lament Steve Pearce. He had ample chances, but couldn’t stay on the field. Have to be happy for the guy and move on. But, No-armes, something has to be done about that situation. Make him a utility guy, send Pedro down, get him some personal help and play Harrison and Mercer. DL or CL for Tabata and platoon Jones and someone else in right. JMHO as always.

  25. Jandy says:

    I’m still learning, but the way I feel about the Pirates is:
    They had put together a nice string of wins. Everyone knows the bats are insufficient. If you want to continue to win, you need to improve that either internally or externally. Any player who is hitting is an improvement over PA and Barmes to name just two. Please make some changes to get back on a winning track. It’s not expected to win them all, but win!

    Steelers, I have to agree with Vinqtin that a healthy Harrison and Woodley WILL wreak havoc. Redman plays, Rainey gets spots and has to EARN more. And I’m sure he will. Most taked about? Seems it’s Rainey, but that’s not to say that others won’t/haven’t impressed.

  26. nate83 says:

    I think the Steelers will cause more turnovers on just pure luck and law of averages. You can’t have as many elite guys as they have on defense and not cause turnovers. Just like teams can exceed using “smoke and mirrors” over a short period of time I think others can struggle just by pure bad luck over a short period of time.

    Seems as if last year teams decided to release the ball quickly underneath our defense. Maybe just having our CB’s be a little more aggresive in their coverage would lead to more turnovers by interception or sacks with fumbles.

  27. Dan1283 says:

    1. Why would this defense be better at takeaways than the 2011 unit that was the NFL’s worst? – Because of the Steelers’ law of averages. Seriously, every time this defense has an awful takeaway year, they rebound in a big way, and every time they have a great one they slip the next year. Or call it simply, “they can’t get any worse.”

    I know that’s not a sexy answer, but I don’t see any splash players that are going to have a 6-INT year.

    2. How would you use Isaac Redman and Chris Rainey? Well it looks like Redman is going to be starter and the short yardage back, and Rainey is your typical 3rd-and-long guy and a runner for between the 20’s. But I think Haley will find another role for him. Rainey could be interesting on your second downs at the 10 yard line. Screen pass and a contrail to the end zone, anyone?

    3. Who will win the Baron Batch Award for most-discussed player in Latrobe? My initial reaction was “who cares?”, because of Batch’s fate last season. But I’ll play. If it’s most-discussed player based on what they’re doing on the field, I’ll have to go with a cornerback stepping up. Maybe Brown or Lewis. One of the defensive front seven always finds a way to make some noise. Hood? Heyward? Timmons? On offense, Mike Wallace will be the most talked about because of his contract, but I think the media and the fans will fall for Chris Rainey AND Baron Batch. Dark horse? David DeCastro. Watch him not give up a sack all camp.

  28. nate83 says:

    Wow lots of vile toward DK for simply stating that this GM has been more aggressive in the draft then the previous. I didn’t see anywhere he named him GM of the year. They have consistantly rated extremely high in the draft for their picks and aggresiveness in aquiring young talent and that is all he was pointing out.

    It’s baseball. Draft picks don’t always pan out. They fail more then in any other sport. All you can do is load your team up with as many players possilbe that are recognized industry wide as high prospects and cross your fingers. They have done that and have a minor league system rated much higher then 5 years ago.

    DK: Nate, I didn’t see a solitary “vile” thing up there, though I appreciate your concern!

    We’re just talking/debating sports. If nobody’s getting worked up, then something’s wrong.

  29. LuckyNKentucky says:

    I thought the last thing on Mendenhall was that he said he would be ready to start the season. If that’s the case, Redman will be what he’s always been, right? Can’t get too excited about the Steelers yet. Too much baseball to be played. Good, entertaining column, though. Good stuff to hear. At least the O won’t be as predictable. Some consternation is understandable for Old Ben. Just like starting a new job. Once you get the hang of it, it’s usually better than the old one.

  30. LuckyNKentucky says:

    DK mentioned lamenting Wieters. If anyone is getting teary-eyed over Brandon Moss tearing it up in Oakland (8-26, 5 HR, 2 doubles, 9 RBI in 8 games), we should think back on the Chris Shelton situation. He was so hot at the start of the season that year, they asked him if he would enjoy playing in the All-Star game in Pgh. He was in the minors when it was played. Moss spent most of last season in AAA and about as much time with us in AAA. Unless he’s another Bautista, he’ll probably be back in Sacramento this year, too. His 5 HR this season are 25% of his career total. Guess that’s the “lightning in the bottle” Lloyd Mac used to talk about.

  31. SeanAY says:

    1. Honestly, I don’t know if there is any way they can drastically improve on those turnover numbers. Maybe I’m simply too pessimistic, but I don’t know how James Harrison will ever overcome his back issues to get back to top form. He’s in his early to mid 30s, and he just didn’t seem to have “it” last year. Woodley might be the saving grace on the pass rush; if he plays a full season healthy, he could get back to the level we’re accustomed to seeing.

    The secondary is still a big question mark, in my opinion, in its ability to force turnovers. Other than Polamalu, no one else has a track record. They’ll have to convince me.

    2. If it were me, the answer is simple; use Redman in single- and fullback sets to keep the interior of the line honest, and when Haley decides he wants to spread things out, use Rainey. And not just on throwing downs, either. Keep the defense off balance by spreading the ball around the field and get creative; use Rainey on counters, send him out on swings and screens, etc. Just get him in space. Then go back to Redman and attack the middle again.

    3. I think it would end up being Mike Adams, if only because the entire outlook on the line changes completely if he’s not ready to start. If he is….then the Steelers may have a stud there for the next 7 years.

  32. nate83 says:

    I saw that the Pirates signed their 7th pick for $10,000 and 10th rounder for $5,000. They now have saved something like $450,000 under slot to put towards other picks. Can’t they also go up to like 5% over the combined slot of the first 10 rounds overall and not get a penalty. If so that would be an additional $300,000. It seems as if strategically they are doing a good job of freeing up money to sign appel and later round picks that where considered hard to sign.

  33. Black n Gold (not yellow) says:

    Alvarez provided more proof last night that his problem is that he’s too far away from the plate. His RBI single to left, to make the game 10-5, was off a pitch in the middle of the plate, and he had to reach for it. That’s a ball that most left-handed power hitters are driving to center and right center. He, literally, cannot do that if they don’t move him closer to the plate. Only 2 of 8 homeruns have come on pitches on the outside half of the plate and both (against Ari. and Col) were offspeed mistakes. Unless they move him closer and let him hit to his strength, Pedro will continue to struggle and they will ruin his career.

    Everyone says that baseball is a game of adjustments. Well, where are the adjustments? Go look at the videos. It’s obvious to anyone who can see the screen.

    As far as the series against the Orioles, they were due for a bad series. It happens. They had won 5 series in a row; including 2 sweeps, 2 series wins against the first place Reds, and a win in Milwaukee. The Orioles are 0.5 games out of first now and 8 games over .500 at the start of the series. It’s baseball and that’s how it works sometimes.

    I’m not on here very much so my observation is limited. But, is it just me or does the moniker “pghboyinca” only show up after the Pirates lose? I criticize the Pirates when it’s appropriate, but if someone really dislikes a team to that extent then why not root for someone else? I know that I would. Just an observation…

  34. nate83 says:

    DK I have seen you comment a few times about the calmness of the Steelers about DeCastro. That is awesome. It makes me feel like this is a guy that was just born to play football. Looks the part, talke the part and acts the part. It’s almost like he is Alan Faneca 2.0 and that excites me much more than a wide receiver that can run in a straight line really fast.

    DK: Kid just comes with an ‘automatic’ feel.

  35. The Drive for FIVE (Hundred)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. Black n Gold (not yellow) says:

    And I will say this…

    I’ve never seen people complain more about winning. Everyone claims to want a competitive team. Well, they were competitive nearly the entire season last year (pre-significant injuries). And they’ve been very competitive this season. Say what you want about the offense. It hasn’t been good and everyone knows he’s been pursuing a bat for weeks now. But NH is the architect of one the better pitching staffs in MLB. That is fact. Karstens has been hurt. Morton will be out for the year. They’ve been as strict as you can be with pitch counts, etc. Those things are not NH’s fault. Most of the commenters have given him credit for the pitching. But some are giving him the Bruce Arians business (who helped the Steelers win a Super Bowl and get to another) and, while it’s fair for everyone to express their opinion, it’s unreasonable in my opinion.

  37. nate83 says:


    They are driving in reverse right now. Hopefully they can turn it around. I actually will get to watch all three of these games on Cleveland’s sports station so I’m looking forward to doing more then reading about the games and following play by play on the computer.

  38. nate83 says:

    Black n Gold

    I agree with you completely. Even if NH leaves this team before it becomes consistantly competitive the foundation he has set up and they way they now do business is invaluable. This team was lost 6 years ago with no visible plan in place. A plan is in place now. I’m not sold on him as an evaluater of talent but they have been much more aggresive and proactive in their attempts to build a team from the foundation up.

  39. Nate the Wide Receiver,

    I will be involved in a wedding this weekend, so my Pirate involvement will be spotty and via radio.

    I’m glad you get to view the games. Yell twice——once for you, once for me——at appropriate times. Hopefully those will be screams of joy!

  40. Black n Gold (not yellow) says:

    Good observation on the draft nate83. I would expect them to sign Appel for around $3.8 mil. They’ll go over slot some, with help from under-slot signings elsewhere, to get it done if they feel strongly that he’ll make a real difference. If not, they get two first round picks next season and that’s not all bad.

  41. “fifth-round scatback Chris Rainey. He’s barely big enough to ride the Thunderbolt -”

    Great colloquial turn-of-phrase, Dejan, to which we all can relate!

    I immediately pictured him standing next to Kenny . . . . . or sitting on Cowboy Joe’s lap.

  42. Jandy says:

    “Nate 83: They are driving in reverse right now. Hopefully they can turn it around.”


  43. MrB says:


    So now we’ve established that Big Ben is just like any other previously successful employee in that he is initially resistant to change. Like many here stated, his reactions were simply human and not a big (column) deal.

    I understand Mr. Lee is composing a letter of his own and is using DK’s to line his birdcage along with Pirates box scores.

    DK: You didn’t think the franchise QB speaking openly and unsolicited in his criticism of a new playbook qualified as news? Why?

    I’m not talking about why you might have thought Ben was justified in doing so. (As I wrote in the column you cite, I actually said I, too, felt he was justified to that point.) I’m talking about why you feel it was not newsworthy. You’re the very first person I’ve heard express such a thing.

  44. Jandy says:

    MrB, say what you want abut DK, but most people know that Ben has proven himself to be a Big Butthead at times. Criticism is deserved. Ben deserves every (big) column he gets.

    Careful that birdcage doesn’t come open and you choke on the feathers when they drift out…

  45. Bizrow says:

    Re Brandon Moss

    I’m personally happy to see him doing well and I hope it continues

  46. LuckyNKentucky says:


    With you on that one. He seemed to be a good guy. He can overcome history, hopefully.

  47. Dejan,

    You question produces an immediate and easy answer. I would prefer Wieters and Littlefield!

    1/ Wieters is already a Major Leaguer, a proven player, an All Star.

    2/ Cole and Taillon are still in A ball, a million miles away from the Majors.
    I recall another A ball phenom, who could “walk on water.” [I have his baseball card on my desk to remind me!] How well did Chad do in the Majors?

    3/ Josh Bell may turn out good, but he’s a high school player in low A. 2 million miles away!

    4/ Littlefield drafted Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Alex Presley, Bucs 3 most consistent starters in line-up right now . . . . . and drafted Sean Burnett a #1, who had the value to be traded for Joel Hanrahan. Two other #1 Littlefield picks are still in the Majors. I’ll take Littlefield.

    5/ Maybe Littlefield redeems himself in the next years’ picks. He would not have had to do much to pick better than Pedro Alvarez and Tony Sanchez. And how about Tanner what’s-his-name and Stetson Allie as #2 picks! Might Littlefield possibly have done better there?

    6/ The Moskos pick over Weiters was a TERRIBLE decision. But Littlefield’s overall box score certainly ranks him over Neal Huntington.

  48. LuckyNKentucky says:


    You’re referring to Tanner Scheppers. He was hurt and wanted first-round money. It was a good move by Neal (can’t believe I’m saying that) not signing him, although he did get called up to the majors last week. The rest of your logic is sound, as usual, but you’ll probably get a few who disagree.

  49. nate83 says:


    All good points, but it is really hard to compare players that currently have been in the system 6-8 years with players that have been in the system 1-4 years. 3 years ago Walker and Presley where not considered sucessful as draft picks. I would like to wait and see how Alvarez, Grossman, Mercer, Marte….etc perform after given the same amount of time to develope. I know they are not deep in hitting prospects but they made a choice to stock pile pitchers and that decision really hasn’t had enough time play out.

  50. Bizrow says:

    Littlefield left some chips, Huntington spent them poorly.

    Not to beat a dead horse, but we might be a bit better off if NH hadn’t blown the Bay, Sanchez, JWilson, to name a few, trades and gotten a few players who just might be helping this years edition of the PBC in the majors.

    Just sayin, NH’s trades above are part of his current legacy.

  51. NMR says:

    Man, Groat, I seriously didn’t think you’d fall into that terrible comparison trap…

    You’re comparing two completely separate timelines. It is now 12 years after Littlefield started as GM. In that 12 years he produced one back of the rotation starter(Maholm), one average 2nd baseman(Walker), and one star(McCutchen).

    You can’t possibly see any logic in comparing those 12 years to Huntingdons 4 1/2.

    If you really want to compare Littlefield to Huntingdon, show me what Littlefield achieved by 2006.

  52. BaltoBill says:

    I am a lifelong Pirates fan living in Baltimore. I shelled-out good money to attend the 3 recent Pirates games in Baltimore. Did I ever waste my money! That was one of the most poorly played series by the Pirates I’ve ever witnessed. Every aspect of their game stunk. They were totally over-matched. It was embarrassing to sit in the stands. I was so excited about seeing the Pirates come to town, now I’m excited to see them leaving. At the end of the season I think everyone will look back and see that this was the series the bubble burst. The season is not going to end well again this year.

  53. Just answering Dejan’s question, NMR. He’s the one who posed, “Which would you prefer?”

    I prefer Wieters in hand to Cole & Taillon & Bell in the bushes———way DOWN in the bush leagues. [see Chad Hermanson above!]

    And, the odds are we don’t get the #2, #4, #2, #1 draft picks to have hopefuls down in the bushes if poor trades and less than superior scouting on shortstops and free agents don’t cause Pirates to have such terrible records. NMR, you and I could have used the Baseball America Guide to draft Pedro and Taillon and Cole with those high picks. I give BMTIB no credit for those players. I’ll give them credit if Josh Bell becomes real.

    Nate the Wide Receiver——Starling Marte was a signee of Littlefield. He’s the only legitimate batting hope Pirates have in high Minors.

  54. nate83 says:


    Seriously Bay is fair and I think that trade was terrible. Sanchez is reaching a little we offered a fair contract and he hasn’t done much since. Wilson just can’t be put in this catagory he wasn’t worth much of anything when we traded him.

    There is a GM on the other side of the deal and in my opinion he has won as many if not more then he lost. Don’t overvalue our players because we have become fans of theirs. Very few of the traded players have went on to do anything and few would have signed with us if trades where not made.

    We are calling for Clemant to be called up to the big leagues and Wilson and Snell currently are not servicable baseball players if they are baseball players at all. How was that a bad trade? Should we be getting All-Stars for our average players on a below average team?

  55. nate83 says:


    I actually thought that about Marte myself after submitting it and was hopeing you didn’t notice.

    To be fair I saw something a few months back showing SS drafted between 2008-2011 that have had any kind of impact in the major leagues and they just don’t exist except for a few. Mercer might be just as good as anybody else drafted during that period.

  56. NMR says:


    You’re missing DK’s point.

    “NMR, you and I could have used the Baseball America Guide to draft Pedro and Taillon and Cole with those high picks.”

    Yet, Littlefield would not have.

    Thats exacty what Dejan is saying.

  57. NMR says:

    And as for trades, Bay is the only one that was a big failure, and it was huge.

    Wilson was an ageing light hitting shortstop in his contract year.

    Sanchez should’ve brought something, but as a rental player, he was far from enough to get garunteed studs.

  58. NMR says:

    God I hate this tired, old argument.

    Lets go Bucs.

  59. JAL says:

    Draft picks are a gamble, as long as the team takes a player with a pick where they are rated that is all they can do. Pedro has been a big disappointment so far, obviously the talent is there but he can’t seem to harness it. Taillon and Cole, we have to wait and see.

  60. I like Jordy Mercer. I like Chase d’Arnaud even more! I hope Huntington succeeds with them. I was referring more to the Major League shortstops BMTIB has provided for Pirates in their tenure. Get rid of Jack Wilson if you don’t like him——just bring back someone better.

    I’m just saying, citing Taillon and Cole and Bell as reasons Huntington is better than than Littlefield is bogus. Huntington created the situation that gave Pirates #2, #4, #2, and #1 picks by trading away the Pirates chips for wooden nickels that caused Bucs to fall to the bottom of the 30 Major League clubs.

    And from the day of that 2009 draft, I have disagreed with taking #32 ranked (Baseball America) Tony Sanchez as the #4 pick.

    When asked, I say, “Give me Wieters and David Littlefield.”

  61. Bizrow says:


    No, but they were chips and had we gotten something/anything, our major league club could be stronger. Look at the guys that have been traded/obtained by other clubs and some of the impacts they are making with those clubs. We “flooded” the system with talent, but it ain’t helping us where it counts.

    “Flooding” is a relative term, my basement got backed up with sewage several years ago. Now that is also “flooding”

    All I’m saying is that those trades were missed opportunities. And with Freddy, well, he has one more World Series ring than anyone on the PBC, and he was a big part of the GMen winning that.

    Most all of the “early” trades we got nuttin/not very much in return.

    Those were missed opportunities, and are hurting the big club as we speak.

  62. Bizrow says:

    @NMR, I understand, but it is part of NH’s legacy. It can be forgotten, but will not go away, its fact. Neal got “wedgied” in those trades. You are tired of hearing of it, thats fair, I am tired of losing ;-)

    @JAL re Pedro, he was the consensus pick at that spot, IMO I can’t and won’t blame or criticize the FO for that pick.

  63. Arriba Wilver says:

    Almost to a person, everyone who says something along the lines of “I hate this tired old argument” says it only AFTER they have put their two cents in on that “tired old argument.” Just sayin’.

  64. JMB says:

    This article by Randy Linville from last week looks at Huntington’s skill as a talent evaluator during his time in Cleveland. The money quote is “My conclusion is that the Indians did a poor job of drafting when Huntington was involved.”

    So we actually do have a considerable amount of evidence (November 1998-now) from which to evaluate Huntington.

  65. NMR says:

    Haha, fair enough, Arriba. I can accept that.


    How many of those players Huntington traded away would have been given contracts by Bob Nutting? Bay? Absolutely not. Nady? Nope. Sanchez? Proven. Wilson? Ditto.

    Littlefield would’ve ended up in similar drafting positions as Huntingdon because the team he built would’ve been gone regardless of being traded or not.

    Dave Littlefield’s Pirates roster would’ve self destructed instead of traded away.

  66. NMR says:

    @Biz – I’m no fan of Huntington, and I obviously hold the Bay and Sanchez trade against him.

    I just know that you won’t find any GMs that win every trade. I think it’s being untruthful to categorize NH’s track record off of two misses when Karstens, Hanny, Jmac, and Burnett have been big hits.

  67. NMR says:

    Just did a little history refresher.

    Who would’ve guessed that Freddy Sanchez finshed last among all qualified MLB 2nd basemen over the course of ’08 & ’09? I wouldn’t have.

    Who would’ve guessed he finished 22nd in OPS the year of his trade?

    I’d be very surprised if anyone on this blog would assign a high trade value to an unnamed player with those stats in his free agent year.

  68. JMB says:

    If we are looking at “which do you prefer” timelines, I would be curious to see what an alternate timeline where we waited a couple of weeks in the fall of 2007 and somehow hired Walt Jocketty might have meant.

    NH hired September 25, 2007.

    Jocketty fired 10/3/07 by Cards.

    The Reds were only four games better than the Pirates at the end of the 07 season, and they were in the playoffs in 2010: 91-71.

  69. nate83 says:


    I don’t know how this is comparable. I’m not saying Jocketty isn’t a better GM (I’m also not sure he would take the job if the Pirates offered it). I just don’t know how current record of the team he is taking over makes it comparable. There are so many other factors that go into that. I’m not sure but Votto, Phillips and probably Bruce where probably already part of the organization. The Pirates GM job may have been the worse one available of all 30 teams at the time.

    If NH did nothing more then change the thought process of the appropriate way for a small market team to run it’s bussiness model then he will have been successful even if it takes another GM to finish the job.

  70. Arriba Wilver says:

    DK–Just got a chance to read the transcript of yesterday’s chat. Very good chat. It does lead me to comment on two items:

    One, the Penn State disaster:

    You commented: “Really, as sickening as the broader testimony has been, the cold fact is that the hardest news to come out of the early days of this trial is that more people at Penn State apparently knew more than we thought. The Graham Spanier emails are especially damning, but the testimony placing Tom Bradley at one of the scenes was nearly as bad.”

    I agree about the e-mails, but at least based on what I’ve read the testimony was about Bradley I think that the reaction from you, Starkey, others in the media and probably the general public, is jumping way too far ahead on conclusions. From what I have read the victim said he and Sandusky were in the shower (not saying what was going on at the time), Bradley came in to the shower, did not leave until after the boy and Sandusky left. He testified that he didn’t know if Bradley was suspicious, but he thought he might be because Bradley did not leave the shower until after he and Sandusky did. That’s it, from what I read. I’m no accountant, but I think the first in first out accounting principal might also apply here. Not to make light of it, but Bradley was the last guy in the shower and the last guy to leave. Maybe there’s more there, and maybe I missed something, but not based on THAT testimony. Especially not knowing what Bradley did afterwards. Easy for us to say now, after we know what a monster Sandusky is, to read all kinds of things into what others did.

    Almost as damning as the emails? I don’t think so. And I thought it would be insanity for Penn State or Pitt to hire Bradley, just because we didn’t know what would come out, and because even this little bit of information gets overblown. And I said so at the time. But that’s about the institutions, not Bradley.

    The other thing was about the Olympics. It would be really cool to be able to be down there past the finish line for the 100 yard dash. The last time I paid a lot of attention to the Olympics was when Carl Lewis was supposed to win everything.

    DK: Made no presumption about what Bradley knew. But he’s got one up on Spanier in the sense that he’s the only one of the two to be described as a potential witness. That’s potentially far worse than Spanier.

    But again, nothing definitive there, obviously.

  71. nate83 says:

    I didn’t include Cueto on the list because I wasn’t sure but he was also left for Jocketty. Talk about some chips being left. He is a great GM compared to NH if you include outbidding everyone else for Chapman. Man that guy really knows how to write a check.

  72. JAL says:

    Gerrit Cole will make his AA debut next Wednesday

  73. Arriba Wilver says:

    Spanier is probably the only one of the two to potentially be indicted, so I guess it depends on your viewpoint of what is worse.

  74. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Cole pitched well last night. Brought some order to that team. They were giving up huge innings several games in a row.

  75. DemonDachshund says:

    @NMR –

    Littlefield in 2006 had:
    Signed Matt Stairs for 2002.
    Signed Reggie Sanders and Kenny Lofton for 2003.
    Signed Jeff Suppan in 2003, then flipped him for Freddy Sanchez.
    Drafted Maholm in 2003, who looked pretty good the first year he was called up.
    Traded Giles for Bay and O Perez
    Traded Perez for Nady.

    Granted, there was the Ramirez disaster (which was forced upon him, by all accounts) and the Rule 5 Draft disaster, but he made some decent moves as well. I would say that in mid-2006, his record had a fair number of positives.

    It wasn’t until the wreck of ’07, with the trade for Matt Morris and passing on Wieters that he really beat the crap out of his legacy.

  76. DemonDachshund says:

    And yes, the team’s approach to the draft under Littlefield was horrible and short-sighted. NH improved that, but… So would have just about anyone selected as the post Littlefield GM.

    You need to have a plan (the same plan that every small market team has used) AND the ability to execute it. NH has yet to prove to me that he can do the second half of that statement.

  77. DemonDachshund says:

    Ah, also forgot that ’06 was the Randa/Burnitz/whatever other garbage DL signed in that offseason as the “missing pieces”. So pre-’06, he looked like he might know what he was doing.

  78. NMR says:

    Nice call, JMB!

    I’m a big Jockety guy. With that being said, he’s way too smart to take the Pirates job. Cinci is a better baseball town than Pittsburgh and has an owner willing to spend.


    I shared your view on DK’s Bradley comments. It sounded to me like DK said that Bradley turned his back on one of the instances of abuse. That is simply not what was said in trial.

    I don’t doubt that there were whispers about Sandusky’s affection towards kids, but I do not beleive people other than who were on those emails knew the extent. What was he supposed to do? Call the police and tell them what?



    Re-read Groats post. We were talking about the draft. Again, I ask, what did Dave Littlefield accomplish by ’06?

  79. NMR says:

    “…the man testified Bradley walked in when he and Sandusky were showering. The man said he doesn’t know what Bradley was thinking, but thought Bradley was suspicious of what was going on because he stayed in the shower the whole time until the boy and Sandusky left.”

    Nowhere does the Victim say that he was being abused while Bradley was there.

    DK: We could do this all day. If I see an old man in the showers with a child and I’m suspicious, I sure don’t fail to bring it up with everyone imaginable as soon as possible.

  80. nate83 says:

    Lofton and Sanders was great and he also had an open wallet during that time because PNC park had just opened. He also gave some horrible long term contracts and signed Burnitz, Mears, Bell, and others that I can’t remember their names because they where just that bad. He also was the architect of a bottom 5 minor league system. I would say 29th but I know other ranking show them much higher at like 26th.

    Wow 3 game losing streak and all of a sudden we are comparing Littlefield favorably to NH.

    I’m not calling for NH to be GM of year but I think he deserves better then what he receives from fans of the team he is running when they are currently winning for the first time in 19 years and a AAA team that resides in first.

  81. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–by itself, the testimony about Bradley is meaningless, unless you think that every time there is an adult and a minor in a sports shower someone should report it to the police.

  82. Arriba Wilver says:

    OK, DK.

    1. If that “man” is Bob Smizik,

    2. you know he has a charity that he started for young boys,

    3. he brings young boys to all kinds of PG or Trib functions,

    4. he’s married with kids,

    5. you see him in the sports showers with a young boy, nothing else


  83. NMR says:


    Interesting you bring up Burnitz. I was looking at some numbers over lunch and noticed he actually had a better season than Jose Bautista during the time that people now, in hindsight, are saying that Bautista showed so much promise. Again, wouldn’t have guess that.


    True words. I don’t doubt DK, but I also don’t fault Bradley. In that instance, there was nothing he could’ve done. Sad, no matter how you look at it.

  84. NMR says:

    DK is right in that we could do this all day. I was surprised he crossed into that territory to start when he refrained from doing it for so long. It was one of the things I admired about how he handled the story.

    DK: Crossed into what territory?

  85. DemonDachshund says:

    @nate83 –

    Meares and Bell were both brought in by Bonifay.

    The Bucs had an “open wallet” in 2003??? Then why did they have to give away Aramis half way through the year? Both of those guys were bargains at the time.

    @NMR –

    Obviously, we can’t fully judge NH’s drafts yet. I guess your point is that we can’t possibly fire NH for another 7 years?

  86. PhillyPoke says:

    Loved the line about Rainey being barely tall enough to ride the Thunderbolt. I wouldn’t want to ride next to him out of fear of ending up in the Potato Patch at the bottom of that 3rd hill. The kid looks solid! I might watch a few preseason games this year.

  87. NMR says:

    Real classy, DK. Real classy…

  88. NMR says:


    “I guess your point is that we can’t possibly fire NH for another 7 years?”

    Where in the world did you ever get that?

    Seriously, read the posts first before commenting.

    Groat listed the players drafted under DL that have succeeded over the last 12 years and compared that to what NH has drafted in 4 1/2.

    Please understand the conversation before butting in the middle.

  89. DemonDachshund says:

    @NMR –

    Think I’ll just stop replying to you. You seem to have control issues with deciding what discussions are about. You may want to note that by the time I replied, the discussion had expanded out quite a bit to include trades and other moves.

    But hey, I must have been replying to just #51, right? That way, you get to be condescending to the new guy.

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