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Wakeup Call: Since we last saw Starling …

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Brief and to the Point …

>> The Friday column offers friendly advice for how the Penguins can pay Sidney Crosby back.

The only thing I’ll add today — and it’s not really an addition — is to emphasize that line in the column that no one should ever doubt Crosby’s commitment to the Penguins and to Pittsburgh. That includes those people that prompted my #C column back in January, and I mean all of those people.

Crosby is for real.

>> This is where to find all our news coverage on Crosby, by our Rob Rossi.

>> Oh, and when referring to Evgeni Malkin by his nickname, please spell it “Gino.” That’s the request he and his family made of the Trib, and we will honor it, of course.

>> Want to see Starling Marte get a stand-up triple, his International League-leading 10th?

Let that clip keep running if you want to see Marte go deep.

Then another triple.

Then another homer.

This is all in the past couple days, and it’s why he’s currently on a 13-for-35 tear that includes four home runs, 12 RBI, five steals in six tries and three walks. For June, he’s batting .304 with a whopping 27 RBI. For the season, well, look for yourself.

You guys might recall my trip to Indy early this month, as well as the column out there backing the Pirates’ stance that more patience was required. By the team, the player and yes, the fans. But you reach a point in a prospect’s development, I’d think, where you stop looking at what a player can’t do and start looking at what he can.

This kid can play some serious baseball.

If the primary issue is strike-zone discipline, Marte has struck out 65 times and walked 19 times, neither of which is alarming within 283 at-bats. Especially not when 31 of his 77 hits have gone for extra bases.

Maybe it’s about time for the Pirates to look again.

>> It might also be time for Clint Hurdle to stop threatening Jose Tabata once, then twice, about going to the minors without following through. This act is getting tired.

>> Pitt’s Ashton Gibbs didn’t get taken in the NBA Draft. Can’t begin to imagine why anyone, including Gibbs himself, thought he had a chance. He was a highly effective one-dimensional player as a junior, a highly ineffective one-dimensional player as a senior. That wasn’t exactly progress.

He’s a nice player and was a good citizen at Pitt. But it just isn’t easy with two rounds. Kevin Jones was a far superior player at West Virginia, and he got blown off, too.

>> This was the chat transcript from yesterday.

Comments

  1. diehard says:

    Jose’s act has definitely gotten tired – he’s better than what we’ve seen and Triple-A is begging. And MAYBE if he goes down he turns it around and begins lighting things up. And MAYBE Marte comes up and does fairly well. Then MAYBE the Bucs can recall Jose in six weeks or so IF he’s doing well, and suddenly, we’ll have a decent all-around outfield. Maybe.

    DK – To your knowledge, has any player had a talk with Jose about getting things in gear? Tried to do for him something like Burnett has done for MacDonald?

    DK: I’m aware of some grumbling, but nothing as specific as what you’re asking.

  2. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    It sounds like its about time. What else can the kid do to get the call?

    Would it be Jose though that goes down?

  3. jack says:

    Hey any news on steve sullivan or asham comin back to pens? or another d being traided from pens? jack

    DK: All our latest Penguins news is on that link up there, Jack.

  4. aglebagel says:

    Thanks for the link, DK. It’s actually the first time I’ve ever seen video of Marte, and I’m amazed at how easy his power looks for a skinny dude. He’s got about as quiet and simple a swing as I’ve seen. Even his homers looked easy. Just a slight lift and plant of the foot, drop the head of the bat through the zone, and BOOM! Very nice.

  5. Jessica says:

    You need to spill what you know about that “C” meeting some of the Pens players supposedly held about Sid….These little hints and mentions of it are annoying….

  6. Skip says:

    Time for Huntington to finally pull the trigger on a trade: Marte for Tabata.

  7. Deb says:

    I agree with Jessica…a bit more detail and less hinting would be appreciated. Even something as nonspecific as to whether the leaders of the coup are still disgruntled? How may players were involved? Will the leaders of the coup be on the team this year? Given that, by the playoffs, the C letter stuff was still in play, do you know if any peace or resolution was reached within the team?

  8. Deb says:

    Also wanted to post, there were many articles about Sid and his 12 year contract and many of the articles referenced his “concussion history” and “risk given his concussion woes etc”

    What am I missing? EVERY player is one hit away from getting a concussion. EVERY player is one hit away from a career ending injury. EVERYONE.

    Sid didn’t have a “concussion history” until he received ‘one hit’ at the Winter Classic.

    DK: Sid has had three hits to the head that knocked him out of the lineup, beginning with the Classic. That’s a history.

    As for the #C, people who actually read that column know that it was no more than 2-3 percent devoted to the meeting described. The dominant majority of it was about other stuff related to a growing discontent with Crosby at the time. That’s my reference up there. None of it should have happened, outside or inside.

    THAT’S what I wrote back then, too.

  9. Mike C. says:

    chat link up not showing.
    for ppl who couldn’t find the link

    http://triblive.com/sports/dejankovacevic/2109801-74/dejan-kovacevic-think-team-parise-crosby-pirates-tabata-pens-sid

    whichever FA the Pens sign, whether it be Zach Parise or someone else, Shero has my trust again after the whole Martin debacle.

    It’s interesting how fans of other teams are lamenting this is the worst contract in the history of sports. I’m sure all Pens fans now just laugh at those sad whines.

    And if we do sign Zach Parise, I can’t wait till other fans, and even the media of towns like Philly, start comparing it the Miami Heat situation where Wade, Lebron & Bosh sorta worked it out between themselves to form a Super-Team (though I personally believe they are two totally different situations).
    Since Crosby signed for less, and especially if Parise signs for under market value, just wait for the mobs shouting Collusion.
    Can you picture the heads exploding in Philly if even Gino signs for less?

  10. JAL says:

    JAL’s Dancing with the Moonlit Knight 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/

    4 Pirates Prospects Draft Pick Signing Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012draft

    PIRATE BLOGS

    5—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Notebook: Tabata Getting Closer to Being Demoted

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/06/pirates-notebook-tabata-getting-closer-to-being-demoted.html

    Cabrera, Cumpton, and Holt Named Eastern League All-Stars

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/06/cabrera-cumpton-and-holt-named-eastern-league-all-stars.html

    Three Hit Night For Alen Hanson; Hafner Touches 94 MPH

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/06/three-hit-night-for-alen-hanson-hafner-touches-94-mph.html

    Prospect Watch: Starling Marte Has Another Big Night

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/06/prospect-watch-starling-marte-has-another-big-night.html

    First Pitch: Off-Season Additions Haven’t Been That Bad Lately

    http://blogs.piratesprospects.com/williams/first-pitch-the-free-agents-havent-been-that-bad-lately/

    Beating Up On The Weak Sisters

    http://blogs.piratesprospects.com/creagh/beating-up-on-the-weak-sisters/

  11. JAL says:

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates Hold On To Beat Phillies 5-4, Salvage Split

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/6/28/3124180/pirates-hold-on-to-beat-phillies-5-4-salvage-split

    Minor League Roundup: Jameson Taillon Struggles for Two Innings; Barrett Barnes Gets Four Hits

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/6/27/3122412/minor-league-roundup-jameson-taillon-struggles-for-two-innings

    7 Rumbunter

    Pirates Burnett Grounds Phillies: Cruz, Grilli, Hanrahan Close Out 5-4 Win

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/06/28/pirates-burnett-grounds-phillies-cruz-grilli-hanrahan-close-out-5-4-win/

    8 McEffect

    6/28 Recap | Pirates 5 Phillies 4

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/06/628-recap-pirates-5-phillies-4.html

    Jose Tabata with Men On Base

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/06/jose-tabata-with-men-on-base.html

    9 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Hang On 5-4 To Earn Split

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/06/bucs-hang-on-5-4-to-earn-split.html

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Bucs hold on by a thread

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2012/06/bucs-hold-on-by-a-thread/

    11 WhyGavs

    Game 75: Pirates 5 Phillies 4

    http://whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/may-2012/game-75-pirates-5-phillies-4.html

  12. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 CBS Sports

    Pirates-Cardinals Game Peview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20120629_PIT@STL/piratescardinals-preview

    13 St. Louis post Dispatch

    Are the Cardinals’ pitchers missing Dave Duncan?

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/round-two/are-the-cardinals-pitchers-missing-dave-duncan/article_3dfcffe6-c14e-11e1-a3d3-001a4bcf6878.html

    14 Chicago Tribune

    Pirates Report

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-bbo-pirates-teamreportmtze86sat8070-20120628,0,4733438.story

    15 Philadelphia Inquirer

    Rich Hofmann: Calendar says it’s past time for Phillies to get bullpen right

    http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20120629_Calendar_says_it_s_past_time_for_Phillies_to_get_bullpen_right.html

    16 KDKA

    MLB Network Analyst On Pirates: “These Guys Can Hang In The Race”

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2012/06/28/mlb-network-analyst-on-pirates-these-guys-can-hang-in-the-race/

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    17 PBC Site

    Burnett bests Phils, wins his eighth straight start

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_06_28_pitmlb_phimlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Newcomer Sutton inserted into leadoff spot

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120628&content_id=34079838&notebook_id=34079948&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    18 Fangraphs

    The Disappearance of Hitters Who Walk More

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-disappearance-of-hitters-that-walk-more-than-they-strikeout/

    19 John Dewan’s Stat of the Week

    Youkilis Goes to Chicago

    http://idevmail.americaneagle.com/message.aspx?d=313&m=1277&e=dmtodd1@gmail.com&r=297287&f=HTML

  13. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Sign OLB Ryan Baker, Release LB Brandon Lindsey

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/6/28/3124103/Pittsburgh-steelers-sign-rookie-ryan-baker-release-brandon-lindsey

    The Steelers Window – Opening or Closing?

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/6/28/3123192/the-steelers-window-opening-or-closing

    Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Competition: CB Cortez Allen vs. CB Curtis Brown

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/6/28/3122893/pittsburgh-steelers-training-camp-competition-cortez-allen-curtis-brown

    21 Steelers Depot

    - Brandon Lindsey Confirms He Needs Shoulder Surgery

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/06/brandon-lindsey-confirms-he-needs-shoulder-surgery/

    22 Steelers Gab

    Steelers Come to Terms with former LSU Tigers LB Ryan Baker; Waive Brandon Lindsey

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2012/06/28/steelers-come-to-terms-with-former-lsu-tigers-lb-ryan-baker-waive-brandon-lindsey/

    23 Nice Pick Cower

    Gone Fishin’: Steelers’ Summer Full Of Fishing….

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/06/28/gone-fishin-steelers-summer-full-of-fishing-for-players/

    Pitt Blogs

    24 Pitt Blather

    Current View Of Recruiting

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/06/28/current-view-of-recruiting/

    25 Cardiac Hill

    Pitt Basketball Releases Conference Opponents

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/6/28/3123678/big-east-basketball-schedules-conference-expansion-acc-pitt-pittsburgh-panthers-syracuse

    WVU Blogs

    26 Metro News

    Holgorsen Talks Playoff, Recruiting And Uniforms

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=53517

    27 WV Illustrated

    WVU’s Spiker Receives Top Athletic Training Honor

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/18850038/wvus-spiker-receives-top-athletic-training-honor

    Soccer(football)

    28 Sky Sports

    Super Mario fires Italy through

    http://www.skysports.com/football/match_report/0,19764,11065_3523456,00.html

    29 Daily Telegraph

    Italy stuns Germany in Euro 2012 semi-final

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/soccer/italy-stuns-germany-in-euro-2012-semi-final/story-fndb5nmd-1226411721313

    30 World Soccer Daily

    10 Euro 2012 stories you need to read, 28th June, 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-euro-2012-stories-you-need-to-read-28th-june-2012

    PENGUIN BLOGS

    31 Pensburgh

    Sidney Crosby Contract Extension Fun Facts

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/6/28/3124432/sidney-crosby-contract-extension-fun-facts

  14. JAL says:

    Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, Genesis, This song is from their 1973 album, Selling England by the Pound. Early Genesis recorded mostly progressive epics, long and complex songs . Listening to this song you will hear early use of the guitar techniques known as “tapping” and “sweep-picking”. Peter Gabriel was lead singer with Phil Collins doing backup. Although Genesis had popularity in the early years they didn’t hit big in the U.S. until 1978 with Phil Collins on lead vocal and a more pop style.

  15. bdubb says:

    I wonder how many other teams would leave Marte in AAA right now – especially with the glaring need for an upgrade at that position with the big league club in a pennant race?When it all comes down to it, as you said, Marte is a baller. Let him play!

  16. radio wave says:

    Could Marte strikeout at a higher rate than pa?

  17. David says:

    The issue of wether to bring up Marte has absolutely zero to do with the performance of Presley and Tabata. And yes the two need lumped together they have both performed poorly. A prospect of Marte’s caliber is brought up when and only when he is ready. Before his recent hot streak he was in the midst of quite a bad slump. And while his walk rate may not be overly alarming consider this Jeff Larish has walked just one less time than him in exactly 192 less PA. Brian Friday has walked 2 more time than him in 142 fewer PA.

    The time to bring him up is not now but could be soon approaching. If they were to bring him up though I would hope they wouldn’t put him a top the order with his current plate discipline issues he would be better served batting 6th or 7th. Something does have to be done about Tabata and Presley but Marte isn’t the solution yet. Personally I’ll advocate for Sutton to get a look in LF and for Jones and Hernandez a look in RF. 1B can be manned by McGehee and Indy’s best hitter Jeff Clement.

  18. nate83 says:

    DK

    Just curious you mention best player of all time in your article when referring to Mario. Is that your actual view? Being a Penguin fan I have this argument all the time with my friends that Mario is a lot closer to Gretzky then they think. They all think Gretzky is the greatest hands down, but they never want to consider a number of things such as games missed by Mario, teammates played with and the fact that Gretzky rarely got touched by anyone on the ice it was almost as if he had is own set of rules.

    DK: Not sure what you’re asking, Nate. I wouldn’t write something like that lightly, and I’ve written it countless times over the years.

  19. LuckyNKentucky says:

    As long as the Pirates are playing as good as they are, there probably is no reason to bring up Marte, unless he can play short. The next time they lose 1-0, we’ll be screaming for him again.

  20. NMR says:

    “Could Marte strikeout at a higher rate than pa?”

    Pedro Alvarez 2010 AAA K%: 24.5

    Starling Marte 2012 AAA K%: 20.6

    Yes. The answer is yes.

  21. NMR says:

    Alvarez walked almost twice as much as Marte at that level as well.

  22. JohnS says:

    I know that everyone wants Martin gone but to me the guy that really makes sense to move is Orpick. He is 31 and his cap hit wouldn’t be terrible for a team to take plus you might get an actual prospect. I think the time is now because I don’t see the Pens resigning him beyond the current contract.

  23. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Andrew McCutchen MLB K% 23

    Cutch has 25 walks and 61 K’s so far.

    Neil Walker MLB K% 23

    Neil has 26 walks and 63 K’s so far

    Our 2 best players. I know, that’s MLB and the pitching is vastly different in AAA, right?

  24. Thundercrack says:

    Play Mercer or send him down
    Keep Lincoln in the bullpen
    Bring Marte up

    It’s always something.

  25. AJS says:

    I see someone has mentioned Clement again. Time to get over it. It just isn’t going to happen. He’s not on the 40 man. They have no plans for him in their future. Right or wrong, that’s how it is. Apparently Neil like the prospects he has on the 40 man enough to keep Clement off.

  26. Thundercrack says:

    They see Marte’s stats. They see how he handles AAA pitching. They see how he handles himself on & off the field.

    The see how major league pitchers pitch. (they’ve seen how guys like Presley have struggled in the big leagues).

    Is it possible that they – Pirate coaches and scouts – just don’t think Marte is ready.

  27. Bizrow says:

    Well, Orpik is getting married this weekend, so……..

    I don’t want to see Orpik going anywhere, IMO he’s part of the guts of the Penguins

  28. buggee says:

    @Playoffs2012: Just read in yesterday’s game-blog your reply to that interview question. That was nothing short of awesome, and it should also communicate to the interviewer that you are very quick-witted! Excellent

  29. NMR says:

    @Lucky

    Cutch had a K-rate of 11% his last season in AAA

    Walker had a K-rate of 16% his last season in AAA

    Yes, the pitching is that different.

  30. Thundercrack says:

    It is great what Sidney Crosby has done. He is smart enough to realize that he has it good here in Pittsburgh, likes to live here, wants to win, and still has more money than he’ll every spend. If he really liked living in Chicago or Toronto, maybe he would take even less.

    But he values winning. Or having the chance to win every year. Players that play in leagues with a salary cap have to think about leaving some money on the table so that they can be surrounded by other good players. It seems that happens in hockey, but I don’t recall seeing it in the NFL or NBA.

  31. NMR says:

    @Thunder

    One of the old school baseball lines that never made sense to me was that hitters will just automatically develope plate discipline with experience.

    That, regardless of change in approach, they’ll just naturally learn to lay off sliders on the outside corner and curveballs in the dirt.

    If Huntingdon has learned anything in his clubs recent failures at developing hitters, it might just be that this is balogna. Maybe, after seeing Pedro, Alex, and Jose struggle with plate discipline, he’s forcing his MiL staff to change how they handle their hitters.

    Plate discipline isn’t mechanical. It can’t be fixed in a month.

  32. Thundercrack says:

    NMR,
    I think experience helps. I believe the type of pitching a hitter sees in AAA is much different than what they’ll see in the majors. Mostly in regards to stuff, approach to pitching and the quality of pitching.

  33. Dave G says:

    I can’t consider Parise predestined to be a Penguin, though expectations are high.

    There was a certain #68 who, for a while last summer, seemed destined to be a Penguin as well…

  34. LuckyNKentucky says:

    NMR,

    As always, I respect your views, as they are well founded. But I disagree that AAA pitching is vastly different. Those guys are either nearly ML ready or vets who are one step below. I know it’s watered down with so many teams in MLB now and, if they were MLB ready, most would be there. But look at Indy. 3 guys who could be on many staffs right now and several vets who have had success in the bigs.

    I agree with keeping him down there, believe me. Even Pirates coaches and scouts know more than us old fans, but lets quit using the excuses they use and just say “he ain’t ready and we’ll say when he is” and let him bomb AAA opponents all season. I’d respect that out of them more than just saying he needs more plate discipline.

  35. bob hasis says:

    DK, this may not be the correct thread for this entry, but since I just read your article and the two by Rob Rossi, I wanted to say this; you made a profound and possibly unnoticed statement,” But the Penguins are blessed with young defensemen. There’s no need there.”

    That is perfectly correct. If we bring Ryan Suter into this mix, we are going to have a real monster on our hands later. Someone above mentioned we don’t need Orpik, to which I say well maybe, but for this year we do.

    My HUGE concern will be when it comes time to sign Kris Letang. I believe his star power, personality and ego will be very difficuly to appease, and if Suter happens to be here at a rate which pushes our Cap, we will never be able to keep Letang – the one guy on our blue line who CANNOT get away, irrespective of Suter, Orpik and all of our young and as yet undeveloped defensive up and comers.

    My point is Suter would be a reference point, turned into a club, for Letang’s agent, and he would wield it. Letang would require him to do so

  36. Paul says:

    I don’t get the tendency for people, fans and writers, to focus in on one particular player when there are multiple problems facing the Pirates in remaining competitive. First it was Alvarez, then Presley now it’s Tabata… fact is this team has several significant issues that need to be addressed if the Pirates hope to get to the play off.

    Tabata’s demotion is long overdue, no doubt about it, but what about the utter lack of production out of the top two spots in the order regardless who’s hitting there?

    How is it that every player on the team save for Casey McGehee is walking a rate significantly below their career numbers? Could this really be a coincidence?

    Clint Barmes, what a complete disaster in ever possible regard. Did anyone in the front office even look at his defensive metric before signing this guy as their short stop? How did these career number earn him a reputation as a good defensive short stop: GP-522 FPCT .970 RF-4.73 ZR-2.521 With a .963 Fielding Percentage and 3.92 Range Factor this year is it even within the realm of possibility that Drew Sutton could do worse?

    What about the front office’s seeming inability to make obvious moves to address these and other issues; if Tabata’s demotion is long over due isn’t Jeff Clement’s promotion equally so? He may not be a solution but why are we moving closer to the trade deadline without finding out?

    Tabata is a problem but only one of many that the team is dragging its feet in addressing.

    Tabata is a problem that needs

  37. buggee says:

    >>> Post #17: “need lumped” Gotta love Pixburghese

    >>> Would y’all go wash your cars so that it rains please? Thanks, from yer Uncle buggee.

    >>> If Orpik goes I would not weep although I do have his jersey. There were times last season when it really looked as though he’d lost a step or two; he was getting beaten frequently toward the end of the season. With the glut of primo blueliners in WB, time to adopt the Steeler paradigm of cutting players loose just before they have to be let go.

    >>> Mario was hands down better than everyone else I’ve ever seen play the game. Gino came close last year when he carved through an entire opposing team to pot a puck. Dazzling, and it reminded me of the times I’ve seen Mario do the same. Gino did it once. There was also a play a couple years ago where Sid went back and forth behind the opposing goal several times with defenders draped all over him trying to keep up and then Sid buried the puck. Memorable. No point except that the (arguably) 2 best players on the planet cannot consistently do what Mario did.

    >>> I trust in Shero, but…there was Kovalev’s second stint here, courtesy of aforesaid GM. Beyond ridiculous was that move. I SOOOO wanted to jump onto the ice and get in Kovalev’s face when he not only didn’t throw a check, but side-stepped out of the way of an opposing player who was carrying the puck. The point, you may ask? Everyone makes mistakes, including Shero. This is the same GM who brought in Ponikorovski.

    >>> As I shout in my kickboxing class: ‘CLINCH! KNEE! PUNCH! ELBOW!’ Rinse and repeat.

  38. nate83 says:

    The Clement situation is interesting because Jones and McGehee have started hitting it so well there really isn’t a need to bring a guy up that really is only adding a bat.

    He isn’t versatile enough to be a bench guy. If he comes up he would have to play at the very least as a platoon player to make it worth while. It would be hard to justify adding him to the 40 with the way the current first baseman are playing.

    What he has done for us is become a decent trading chip that could easily be added to a deal to get a right fielder. I could definately see other teams seeing value in him. It would be interesting to see if he passed a physical if he was traded.

  39. Paul says:

    @NMR

    I’d disagree with the assertion the Pirates organization has had trouble developing hitters, especially when it comes to plate discipline. When you look at the current major league roster and compare walk rates and walk to strike out rations of every player to what they’ve done previously in theirs careers, it seems fairly apparent that the problem is at the major league level getting worse recently.

    Jeff Branson has done some pretty amazing things at AAA, like turning Neil Walker who most people though was on the verge of getting released into a decent hitter. But
    when your manager is publicly encouraging a player like Pedro Alvarez to swing at first pitches during spring training in order to hit more home runs I think the philosophy there is the major problem as it has been for several years and with several managers who share his aggressive approach, put the ball in play at any cost approach.

    If it’s an organizational/development problem how is it that even players who come in from other organizations and have major league experience come apart at the seems while playing in Pittsburgh then recover upon leaving?

  40. Thundercrack says:

    Paul,
    I don’t recall Clint Hurdle telling Pedro to swing that the first pitch in order to hit home runs.

    I have heard Clint say -over & over- be prepared to hit a good pitch, and if it is the first pitch swing at it. One of Pedro’s problems that he was watching good pitches go by. And a lot of them were first pitch strikes.

  41. LuckyNKentucky says:

    TC,

    Barmes must have overheard that conversation Hurdle had with Pedro. He seems to swing at the first pitch more than anyone in MLB. He has 4 walks on the season.

    nate,

    Good point on Clement.

  42. nate83 says:

    Pedro’s day/night splits are ridiculous. Maybe the Pirates should tell him to sleep in until 3:00 in the afternoon for night games.

  43. erik nist says:

    Could the Pirates be waiting to call up Marte over a concern with timing of eligibility and all of that technical BS? Didn’t that hold up McCutcheon? I haven’t heard it voiced as a concern, but wonder if he won’t be here in July when that timetable clears, if that is actually the case. Can you shed some light on this?

    Thanks. Keep up the great work. Love the insight.

  44. nate83 says:

    erik

    They are a considerable amount of time past the time of year where bringing him up would start his timetable for arbitration/free agency. I don’t know the exact number of games but I think it is something like 40 or 50.

  45. NMR says:

    @Paul

    Very interesting take on the subject.

    Lucky, I was using those AAA/MLB splits to show just how much different AAA picthing is from big league pitching. My logic being that those two stats show big league pitchers are more deceptive, have better stuff, and make less mistakes.

    Paul asserts that it could be a difference in approach between AAA and MLB, not necessarilly a difference in pitching.

    Without being intimately involved in either team, its tough to tell.

  46. NMR says:

    @Lucky

    Not sure I understand how you’d respect the organization more for holding Marte back for no good reason rather than a perfectly sound one. Seems out of character for you.

    Lack of plate discipline is hardly an excuse, friend.

    Also, I must have missed when Marte started “bombing” AAA pitching. The kid doesn’t even have an OPS over 800.

    We’re not holding back Bryce Harper here, folks.

  47. nate83 says:

    I believe Marte is as ready as Cutch was when he came up his first year. If our 2nd and 3rd outfielders where even hitting .250 and hitting with any kind of power at all I would say leave Marte in AAA but they are not. If he comes up and hits the exact average as Tabata and Presley but adds the dimension of speed and the ability to drive the ball I would take it. He has earned it by showing he can be more patient at the plate over the last 30 or so games.

  48. Arriba Wilver says:

    erik—Cutch wasn’t held back because of timing issues, but because he needed to work on his bunting technique. (source–Neal Huntington)

    Nate–I believe the timing issue is more complicated because there is a formula, and there were changes in the most recent CBA to make more players eligible for Super 2 status. I remember there was a question before last year whether Neil Walker was or wasn’t eligible, which I think it has been determined he is. Doesn’t affect major league service time (it is what it is), but does affect arbitration eligibility, which is a big financial issue. At least that’s my uneducated understanding.

  49. Thundercrack says:

    AW,
    I don’t know how good Cutch’s bunting is. But I would bet that he and Harrison didn’t have the same minor league instructor when it comes to bunting.

  50. LuckyNKentucky says:

    NMR,

    I think they have a good reason. They’re just not sharing it with us. He’s been bombing the last week or so. Overall, not so much. Last night, 2-5, HR, double, 5 RBI’s. This week has been a general tear. A .270 average at AAA is not great, but not terrible. I hope the guys already here continue to contribute and he can stay there as long as necessary.

  51. nate83 says:

    Just checked Cutch’s minor league stats against Marte and they are not that much differant. In Cutch’s final full year in Indy he batted .283 and had an OPS of .770 and that was following a .265 and OPS of .713 the year before split between Altoona and Indy.

    Marte last year far outperformed that with a .334 average and OPS well over .800. This year he has a .276 average and and OPS of .804 and has been much better then that over the last 25 games. I say bring him up.

  52. JAL says:

    The new CBA took super two from the top 17% to the top 22% which will add 5 or six players. A year of service time still is 172 days so we are well past that time.

  53. NMR says:

    @Arriba

    Haha, thanks for reminding us of that bit of Huntingdon gold regarding Cutch’s bunting skills.

    Now THAT is an excuse…

  54. Arriba Wilver says:

    Marte may or may not be as ready as Cutch was, but Cutch had a full year + of AAA under his belt when he fixed his bunting technique enough to be called up. On Marte, I’m still in the school they know better than us what to do. And I don’t think DK was demanding they bring him up today, just maybe time for a new look, which they may be in the process of doing. This hot streak is pretty recent.

  55. Mike Shigley says:

    It is probably harder than we think to judge when a person is ready to come up. However, the Pirates promoted Drew Maggi and Stefan Welch from Bradenton to Altoona and both have hit much better in AA than High A. Also, without saying that Starling Marte is better than Bryce Harper, let us compare his numbers (as per current MLB stats) to Harper’s when Harper was promoted: Oh, and Harper’s MLB numbers are significantly better than his AAA numbers were when he was promoted. Not saying Marte could do the same, but it is a thought.
    Marte Harper
    OBP .333 .333
    SLG .479 .375
    AVG .274 .250
    OPS .813 .708

  56. Arriba Wilver says:

    JAL–thanks for providing more detail. And the top 22% is based on service time correct, so it is not a hard and fast number. Depends on what other teams do.

  57. Arriba Wilver says:

    Harper was brought up based on need (injuries, I think) and he has worked out. Not sure the circumstances are real similar.

  58. nate83 says:

    So if they send Tabata down who would be surprised if it is Gorky that comes back up instead of Marte.

    I will say one think if that happens this management team has a philosophy in place and they will not deviate from it no matter how tempting it may seem. I guess that is a quality I like even if it can be frustrating. They are the ones that see these players daily.

  59. Bizrow says:

    I guess the question is, and I think Dejan may have said this in his column, I won’t know till I get home to read it, could Marte give us LESS production than we are currently getting?

    Maybe the answer for more hitting is right under NH’s nose?

    Just sayin….

  60. JAL says:

    Arriba

    Yes, based on service time. Not a hard number. It is the top 22% of those players who have two years of service time and were on the MLB roster at least

    Here is real example

    In 2007 Tim Lincecum came may 6 and Mark Reynolds May 16. Lincecum was super two at 2 years and 148 days of service while Reynolds was not a super two at 2 years 138 days. Under the new CBA Reynolds would probably have been a super two.

  61. nate83 says:

    Arriba

    Wouldn’t need also be accomplished by horrible play by our current outfielders. We need more from our left fielder then we are getting right now.

  62. Trip says:

    Here’s something that’s gone a bit unrecognized…the Pirates have 12 HRs between Barajas and the Fort. Not sure where the 8 catchers were at this point last year, but these two have been a nice improvement, especially out of the 7-8 holes.

  63. cmat0829 says:

    The Pirates are in a pennant race. Seems to me to be a risky proposition to call up Marte, insert him into the leadoff spot, and ride him through a critical stretch of games. The best move is to trade for a legitimate major league outfielder who can hit leadoff and platoon Jones and McGehee at first. Marte can earn his way on the team completely separate from the needs of the major league club which is how it is supposed to be.

    Dont get me wrong.. I’d love to see Marte get a shot and become a star that he seems to have the tools to be….but it’s not like we’re the Cubs and have nothing to play for but the future…. these games mean something. So, do the Bucs need something better than Presley and Tabata have given them? No doubt…. do they need to hope Marte can instantly produce at an above average level right from the get-go in a pennant race? No way.

  64. LuckyNKentucky says:

    I sure hope Cutch forgot how to bunt. I hope he never bunts again if he plays until he’s 60. And I hope he’s never inserted into the leadoff spot again.

  65. Mike Shigley says:

    It is true that Harper was called up because of injuries. However, at that time he was not deemed “ready” (which seems an amorphous term, at least for this front office). Nonetheless, he performed — and at a higher level than AAA. Until someone who is performing well at a lower level is given a chance we won’t know — and it seems, at times, that this front office is reluctant to show faith in the products it supposedly thought were quality prospects that they are supposedly developing.

  66. Boise Bucco says:

    So with Burnett at 9-2, I began to wonder if it was possible for him to get to 20 wins…

    87 games left, so each pitcher would get approximately 17 starts. Also, Burnett only has 2 no-decisions this year. Hmmmm….

  67. Boise Bucco says:

    Also, I’m reading that Trevor Bauer got hurt in his first major league start, yet managed to make the front page of CNNSI.com. They’re trying so hard for him to be the next Strasburg, it’s just not gonna happen.

  68. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Anybody know what that Marte kid has been up to?

    Haven’t heard much about him lately.

  69. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Good one, Ryan. 5 ribbies last night. That’s a month for some.

  70. NMR says:

    @Biz

    I think that should be the LAST reason to promote Marte.

    Improving on the pile of garbage currently residing in left field can be done any number of ways. The Pirates have just done it, albeit momentarily, with Drew Sutton.

    Rushing your best position player to the majors shouldn’t be one of them.

  71. nate83 says:

    cmat0829

    Because they are in position to be in a pennant race is the exact reason they can not afford to have such little production from their corner outfielders. They really need 1 1/2 outfielders because Jones can’t hit lefties and I’m sure they would still like to give him some starts at first.

    They do need to trade for a proven player but I don’t think that will happen untile July 27th-30th and there are very important games before that. He couldn’t be any worse then the little to no production we are getting now. He sure didn’t looked overmatched in spring training or the last month in AAA.

  72. The Gunner says:

    For Clint Hurdle to air the Jose Tabata’s lousy attitude and extreme lack of performance in the Trib tells me that the Pirate manager is rip-roaring mad at Joggin’ Joe. He should be and the trigger needs to be pulled on this one……….NOW!!

    I have a feeling JJ will be in the lineup tonight because of past success against Adam Wainwright, the Cardinal pitcher – I hope I am wrong. Hey, Wainwright is a righty; Joggin’ Joe should sit and Drew Sutton deserves another start. An outfield of Sutton LF, McClutchen CF, & GI Jones RF sounds real good to me.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE……….DON’T TORTURE US BY STARTING TABATA TONIGHT!!!!!!!!

  73. Bizrow says:

    I say give the kid a chance

    Roll the dice, don’t manage by trying to not lose, try to win this thing. Marte is an option.

  74. nate83 says:

    I don’t believe he is being rushed to the majors. If you look at his minor league stats he has put up over a .300 average and .800 OPS at every level going back to 2008 and that year he batted .296.

    Some guys just have it and I think he is one of those guys. 5 full years of minor league baseball at the level he has played and the spring training he had combined with the season our current options are having is enough reasons for me to say bring him up.

  75. The Gunner says:

    @ nate83 – #74

    Nate

    I support your statements about Marte – get him up here and the sooner, the better. Send Tabata to Indy, maybe he’ll find himself and then we can include him in a trade.

  76. NMR says:

    I’m a little surprised DK, JAL, et al haven’t mentioned anything about the Dodgers signing Cuban defector Yasel Puig.

    I cannot fathom how any team could throw a 7 yr, $42m contract at a kid they’ve admittedly never seen play a single baseball game.

    Just unbelievable.

  77. JAL says:

    NMR

    Haven’t mentioned it because I don’t care :)

  78. cmat0829 says:

    If you truly think Marte in LF tonight (vs. Sutton or Presley) gives the Pirates a better chance to beat the Cards, then you call him up and play him. If you don’t, you keep him in AAA… he comes up otherwise when he is ready to succeed at ML level.

  79. NMR says:

    And apparently you’re not alone, haha.

  80. The Gunner says:

    @ cmat0829 – #78

    whatever you say, sir

  81. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    I have no problem if Tabata starts tonight.

    Honestly, let’s see if the call-out does anything. He pinch hit last night and was called to bunt. If I heard correctly, he almost beat it out.

    Let’s see if it makes a difference. I’m all for giving him a shot to prove himself……….again.

  82. dcpinpgh says:

    I thought that the Pens don’t need to be below the cap until the puck drops for the first game. They can spend the money and go over the cap…say in the amount of…Martin’s salary. Then they would just have to remove him before October.

  83. NewGuyTim says:

    DK,

    Really liked both of your last 2 articles on the Pens; the Parise article and the Staal article. I agree that Shero should do everything he can (within reason) to sign Parise, and that he should not hesitate to trade Martin or send him to the AHL to clear cap space.

    At the same time, even if by some miracle Shero is able to sign both Parise AND Suter, the Pens’ roster still lacks key pieces. All of the focus on Parise and Suter has taken attention away from other, gaping holes in the lineup that need to be filled before the Pens can seriously be considered a cup threat.

    1) The Pens still need a tough, physical power forward with SIZE (I’m talking 6’2 +/215+) to protect Crosby and Malkin, stand in front of the net on the power play, and chip in offensively. During their 08′ and 09′ cup runs, Malone and Guerin, respectively, filled this role. Since then, the Pens have not had this type of power-player, and it has cost them dearly in the playoffs against tough teams that push them around and frustrate their stars; e.g. the Flyers. The Pens still don’t have a Bob Errey or a Kevin Stevens. Even with the addition of Parise and Suter, they still may lack the size and grit up front to contend for a cup.

    2) Second, the Pens need more than just Suter to patch up the porous defense we saw in in April. The way I see it, with Suter the Pens would have 3 top-4 quality defensemen (Suter, Letang, and Orpik). Everyone else is either unproven, or unreliable. This is not enough to win a cup. Until another 2-3 reliable defensive “pieces” emerge — either by trade or by the development of 1 of the organization’s many young prospects — the Pens simply lack the defensive depth to contain explosive offensive teams in the playoffs.

    I might also add a defensive winger to that list of missing pieces. Thoughts?

    DK: Those power forwards obviously aren’t that common, Tim. If I were an Eric Tangradi believer, I’d throw out that it could be him. But I’d also point out that James Neal has at least some of those traits.

    In general, getting MUCH bigger on the wings — regardless of line — would be a welcome addition. Look at the Kings and Devils.

  84. bob hasis says:

    Sherlock Holmes would solve cases by eliminating certain suspects due to the presence of clues and real evidence, and in the end would have his culprit.

    I say let’s play several games WITHOUT Tabata and Barmes, and I predict the quality of our play and ultimately the overall team performance – and net results – will show who our problems have been.

    Supplement that with no – or fewer – bunt attempts and put Leyva out in the bullpen as a coach and we’ll have fewer base running mistakes.

    Can I get an AMEN brother?

  85. jaxbuc says:

    Amen.

  86. The Gunner says:

    @ bob hasis – #84

    amen for me, too / I’ll meet you down in Meadowlands for a cold one!!

  87. bob hasis says:

    @The Gunner

    Why travel that far – unless you had in mind a little action. There is a little place in South Park Shoppes called Barley’s and Hops which serves craft brewed “suds” of all kinds.

    I try to stop there a couple times per week and pay my dues. If you live in this quadrant of the county and you are familiar with the place, it would be neat. They have a ‘hoppy hour” between 4:30 and 6:30 where all draft beer is $2.00 off.

    I wonder if Milo would up for it as well? Or anyone else? We can put some faces on these names and brains with whom we exchange “pleasantries” on a daily basis.

  88. Liberty Sam says:

    Am I the only one hoping that the Pens don’t “win free agency day” by landing Parise and Suter ? To my knowlege, the only time a Pittsburgh team was ever a “winner” in Free Agency resulted in $45 million in cap space that the Pen’s are desperate to dump.

    No question, Parise is a great player. He is not however a sniper, he scores his goals from below the hash marks with his grinder mentality and his tremendous hands. Sid doesn’t need a poor man’s version of himself, he needs a player who compliments his game. Namely a Right Handed shooter with a wicked shot (longer range) that is a threat to score from the left-side of the Offensive Zone, (which would transform the Power Play)

    This isn’t fantasy hockey. Putting players that are similar together rarely works, see Heatly-Thornton, Hossa-Datsyuk, even Gomez-Jagr from 5 years back. Does Ray have any concept of complimentary players or synergy ?

    DK: How does this right-handed shot from the left side complement Crosby’s cycling, which comprises about 90 percent of his offensive game?

  89. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @Bob

    Why not………couldn’t hurt.

  90. bob hasis says:

    @Ryan

    Are you contemplating a cold one if we can arrange a little get together? It would be a pleasure.

  91. Liberty Sam says:

    Sid is a cycler extraordinaire, but he is clearly most comfortable playing on the right side of the offensive zone. Is it wise to eliminate the possibility of him setting up a one timer ? The best Center-Winger Duo’s are often opposite handed, Gretzky to Kurri, Lemieux to Stevens, Brown, Jagr…

    Don’t get me wrong, the organization’s strategic shift of spending money on top line players instead of 3rd line players is major progress, and Parise certainly is a star. I just worry that our 4 best forwards being LH shooters will have us wondering why our PP can’t out perform our opponent again next spring.

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