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Wakeup Call: What is Pitt thinking with Tino?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

DENVER — Brief and to the Point …

>> My Friday column picks the Broncos to beat the Steelers on Sunday night for one dominant reason.

(It’s that I never miss on predictions!)

>> Derek Wolfe, the Broncos’ defensive end who had a great camp after being a second-round pick, grew up in Lisbon, Ohio — not far from Youngstown — “surrounded by Steelers fans.” But he told me yesterday he loved the Packers instead.

“I hated the Steelers. Maybe it was Brett Favre. Maybe I just wanted to be different.”

The Big East co-defensive player of the year at Cincinnati has certainly stood out so far, forcing Denver coaches to find him playing time on an already strong line.

>> Pitt’s football team is somehow performing below an unquestionably low talent level. There’s a ton of blame to go around.

But the bottom line is that it’s painfully evident the season is going nowhere.

So why shouldn’t Paul Chryst get the younger players involved — if legitimately ready — and start looking ahead to the ACC?

Why not bench Tino Sunseri?

I understand he makes a convenient target, just as I understand it’s uncool to be critical of college players. But Tino’s had all kinds of chances, all kinds of starts, and it can’t be open for debate or opinion anymore that he hasn’t gotten a whit better.

I’m not being mean. It’s there for all to see.

Pitt has a terrible line but has Rushel Shell — who looked interesting early  last night — and a nice running game. Couple good receivers, too.

Start Chad Voytik.

Forget the redshirt. There’s no reason to envision Voytik as some megastar four years from now. A better QB will be recruited in the interim. There’s no point saving him for anything. This is going to be his team next year, so Chryst might as well give him and the team the best chance next year.

Either that, or he can continue making embarrassing decisions like sending Sunseri back onto the field down 31 points with three minutes to go.

>> Did Sunseri become the first quarterback in history to pass for a touchdown and a field goal?

Sorry.

>> Mike Shanahan is a nice receiver for Pitt. You wouldn’t know it from this game. All he did was get open all night and thoroughly ignored by the quarterback.

And yes, that was Shanahan underneath the uprights that Sunseri split with that pass to end the first half.

>> The Pirates have 26 games left, and 17 are against teams with losing records. The Cubs are up this weekend, and there are three more with the Astros.

Ask me, and that absolutely should factor into fair expectations for this team.

So, playoffs or bust, right?

>> Yesterday’s chat transcript can be found here.

I have something to add to the slate soon. I’ll let you know Tuesday.

>> Oh, and I’ll be on TribLIVE Radio today at noon.

158 Comments

  1. In a galaxy far, far away, the Paralympics are being contested. Last night an Olympic stadium full of paying customers watched the various track and field events. At one point before the 100 meter finals, the crowd started chanting the name of Johnny Peacock, the British world-record holder for the event, and the BBC crew noted that even Usain Bolt didn’t get that kind of treatment a few weeks ago.

    DK: That’s outstanding. I’ve caught just a couple of the highlights from over there.

    As I was leaving, the ads began running right away for the Paralympics, mostly to capitalize on all the frustrated Londoners unable to secure tickets for the Olympics and still wanting to experience it. It worked big-time. They sold about 300,000 tickets before the Olympic Closing Ceremony, and I’m sure that grew.

    Thanks for sharing that!

  2. I don’t really follow Pitt football too closely, but they happened to be showing the game on over here on AFN so I felt like it was my Yinzer duty to watch, at least for the first half. Yeahhh…you pretty much nailed it…

    I just gotta ask: we absolutely DESTROYED Todd Graham, and for good cause, but for all the calling out of Sunseri he did last year, I gotta believe at least some of that stemmed from the fact that maybe he’s just not very good. Could it be that maybe Graham was right about him?

    DK: Don’t recall ever hearing someone say Graham wasn’t right about Sunseri. It was more a matter of calling him out.

    And really, if you go back over what Graham actually said, it wasn’t that harsh. I think people were more bugged by the fact Graham would never take any responsibility himself.

  3. I agree with playing Voytik — for all the reasons Dejan listed above.

    It could be a long ugly season if Sunseri is left in there.

  4. OK, now that DK has picked the Broncos to win, the Steelers are gonna win :)

    TC & Lucky, sorry to have my typo-itis rub off on you guys…hope you get rid of it soon.

  5. The Cubs (51-86) have lost 17 of their last 18 road games and six in a row overall. They were outscored 31-9 in the series against the Nationals.
    The benches cleared twice last night.

    Oh great. Perfect time for them to come to PNC?

  6. I am starting to believe that the expectations for this team the rest of the way should be to continue to win more than they lose.

    I’m not sure it will or should be ‘playoffs or bust’. Even though they may not have schedules with the same degree of difficulty that the Pirates’ do, but there are a few other teams around that will also impact who gets into the playoffs: Braves, Cards, Dodgers

  7. Thundercrack, I hear ya on the Cubbies comin to PNC. Seems like when we get the teams that are down and out…WE are the ones that get torched…

  8. Actually, Tom Savage will be the starting qb next year. From what I’ve heard, he was the best qb in camp but can’t play this year b/c he transferred from Zona. So if you play Voytik this year, maybe redshirt him next year? I agree that Tino needs to go but would you really throw Voytik into the fire against V Tech?

    DK: Exactly the point I was making when I wrote that someone better than Voytik will come along over the next four years.

    Why wait to use him?

  9. Sure. Let’s get a true freshman QB killed. Sounds like a splendid idea.

  10. Tino Sunseri is 23 years old… and we’re not “allowed” to be critical of a player who has clearly done nothing to inspire his teammates, his team or the fans. In now, his third ineffective season as starter. There’s always an excuse for him. Every play that goes sour, every interception, every fumble; there’s always an excuse.

    Here’s the fact: he’s not very good.

  11. Man is it going to suck when baseball season is over…

  12. NMR, I hope to heck hockey has settled the CBA and there’s hockey!

  13. Dejan,

    Your column link takes us just to a picture of Ben.

  14. You forgot the lol, Naje.

  15. Groat, Ijust went around that…clicked on Kovacevic up there ^^ and clicked on the column.
    Dejan must be mad at us, he’s making us work…

  16. Drew… There’s nothing funny about an uninspiring, inaccurate, weak-armed, heavy/slow-footed, terrible quarterback.

    Those who defend Sunseri, please stop making excuses. A 23 year old senior qb should inspire confidence in his offensive line… should be in the zip code of his receivers with his passes….should be well-versed in how to stop the clock…. should be able to defeat an FCS school… should, at some point, avoid totally embarrassing Pitt football every time its on national television and he’s starting…

    It just gets worse with him. Milo, there’s no choice anymore. Trial by fire for Voytik may well be more exciting than watching another pathetic performance from Sunseri.

  17. @Jandy – Amen, sister!

  18. Who is defending Sunseri’s performance? Or has ever?

    The only thing I ever read in Tino’s defense, which Dejan aluded to, is that some people find it distasteful for middle aged men to rag on an unpaid college kid like he’s an embarassment to his school.

    Relax.

  19. Well. Depends on your perspective. Since I’m very much NOT a Pitt football fan…

    To me, it’s kinda like when the Bengals ran out David Klingler. Go for it. Do it again.

  20. Naje, NMR, I think the lol Drew was referring to was RF’s “the horse you rode in on” baloney yesterday.

  21. I’ve been outed.

    By a knee-jerker.

    But a cute one.

  22. Hey JandyGirl,

    Did you see your “sideways snowmen with flashlights on their feet” got a mention on the blog yesterday?

  23. Drew, I don’t knee jerk, you can hurt a guy REALLY bad doin’ that.. (emoticon omitted)

    LOL Groat, yes, I did. Gave me a chuckle!

  24. @Naje

    I agree with everything you said. I was just thinking of Voytik’s well being. I’ll let you guys handle Tino. I’ve got a laser-like focus on the Athletic Director.

    This didn’t have to be like this. This is the same guy that fired Frank Solich because things had to change at Nebraska. Really ? Bill Callahan, really ?

    HE’S GOT TO GO.

  25. Jandy
    I think I am the knee jerker. I can teach you how to do it without really hurting someone….it can just rile some people up though.

  26. Milo… gotcha… and agree. His, the AD’s, football acumen is less than stellar. This program is fast becoming the equivalent to the 105 loss Bucs…

  27. Is Milo suggesting we #freewanstache?

  28. TC, I can learn by following your lead ;)
    You guys DO teach me a lot in here.,..just sayin’

  29. I haven’t looked the Pirates’ record against +.500 teams or against -.500 teams, but it seems to me they “held their own” during the brutal opening schedule, and lately they’ve been a stinker against the stinkers.

    That doesn’t give me excessive hope, though I will concede that they looked much more focused/energized after the loss to Houston. Perhaps they needed a kick in the teeth from a team to which they are clearly superior.

    Still, that Jeff Smardizilingaski owned us last time, and he’s the enviable “good stuff”. Couple that with McDonald pitching, and I’m already thinking the Pirates MUST win tonight and Sunday for this series to be beneficial at all.

  30. @NMR

    He’ll probably be the head coach in Buffalo when Chan is fired. God help them. That said, I wouldn’t have fired him. But I could have been won over real fast if Pederson would have hired the right guy. Not the wrong guy. Twice. And maybe three times. How many swings does this guy get ?

  31. I don’t know whether any of you got to read Paul Daugherty’s article on SI.com——JAL probably had it up yesterday and I didn’t catch it. I just read it on Smizik’s collection.

    Wait . . . I have to wipe my eyes. It’s an article about being a Pirate fan. About being a Pirate fan again. About being a Pirate fan when you live away from Western PA. About being a Pirate fan when others think you’re foolish. About bringing back that little boy inside you that made you love sports and the Pirates in the first place. About sitting in your car and trying to listen through the static to the Bucs, hearing words no one else can hear. About that “thing” that brings us together as Pirate fans. About touching that inner core of our very being. About the yelps that escape our bodies inadvertently when the Bucs come back. About against all logic loving the Pirates.

    It’s not a very good article.

  32. “Forget the redshirt. There’s no reason to envision Voytik as some megastar four years from now. A better QB will be recruited in the interim. There’s no point saving him for anything. This is going to be his team next year, so Chryst might as well give him and the team the best chance next year.”

    I was saying this to a friend last night almost exactly. Start playing him ight now so he can hit the ground running next year.

    The last play of the first half was embarrassing. Pitt has all this momentum from driving down the field and Tino seems to have no ability to carry it. Watch the replay. First, Street is wide open on a slant to the right for the quick throw. But forget about that. When the ball is snapped, the is no pressure to Tino’s left and the left tackle does an outstanding job of sealing his opponent to the inside. There are two defensive backs in man coverage to his left, both with a receiver of some kind to cover. Tino has half a field of green to his left with no one spying him. He has a chance to EASILY roll out of the pocket and make a play. He has one receiver drawing a defender to the back corner of the end zone, easily out of reach. And he has another running on the goal line toward the pylon. Tino can use this guy as a decoy, pump fake to freeze the defender, and walk in for an easy score. Or he can lead his receiver for a TD pass with a good throw to the outside. Either way, that should be six. And I didn’t have to back it up 6 times to recognize this. I saw all of this the FIRST TIME when the play was run live. You know the difference between Tino and myself? I haven’t started 28 games for Pitt.

    If he can’t see that, then I don’t know what all the film study is for. If he’s so short he can’t see over his “hulking” linemen, then he needs to find ways to escape the pocket and make a play. I mean, he had 2/3 of the field available for a touchdown, and instead he locked in totally on the 1/3 that had the most black shirts and the fewest white ones. When you don’t use the whole field, the defense uses you. I know the clock was not a luxury there ,but screw the clock, you need to make a play.

    I’m serious, for those of you who dared to keep that game on your DVR overnight, roll it back. That’s Tino in a nutshell. All this opportunity around him and he makes the worst choice possible. He missed open receivers all night. Unfortunately for Pitt, there is almost no chance he missed his flight home.

  33. “9.Milo Hamilton
    September 7th, 2012 – 7:35 am Sure. Let’s get a true freshman QB killed. Sounds like a splendid idea.”

    Pat Bostick had success as a freshman. Won at least as many games as he lost. Countless other freshman QB’s have had successful seasons, too. Maybe this team plays better after a QB change? It’s hard to believe that they still think Tino is the best option on the team.

    I’m not picking on you, Milo, I just don’t think playing a freshman is a poor choice in these circumstances.

  34. Groat, I have no incentive to want to read that SI article. None. Not one. I don’t want to read it. I don’t.
    ::mumblingwherecanifindthedarnlink::

  35. Didn’t watch much of the Pitt game. Turned it on and they were losing within 4 minutes. Got kids ready for bed and then they were losing even worse. Haven’t followed them much since the days of Pitt stadium and the great Matt Lytle- how ironic to think of him amid the Tino talk. If only Pistol Pete could re-enroll.

  36. Groat, pass the tissues.

  37. “It is unrealistic to expect Brock or any of our other shortstops to match Barmes’ defense,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “Barmes has rebounded with the bat and has been essentially what we projected him to be overall — an outstanding defensive shortstop that stabilizes our infield defense while providing adequate offense.”
    http://triblive.com/sports/2529944-85/holt-walker-pirates-barmes-indy-shortstop-bat-biertempfel-brock-defense#axzz25KcPYGOw

    Yeah I guess it is unrealistic to expect Holt to match Barmes if you aren’t going to give him a chance. And apparently my definition of “adequate” is different from NH’s.

  38. @Milo – I’m not a Pitt fan, but I’d take a guy like Wannstedt any day at my school. He is what I picture when I think of a college coach, not the Sabans and Meyers of the world.

    I also suppose I don’t have much of a say on Pederson, but as an outsider, it does seem like PITT athletics in general are better off than before he arrived. Football? Not so much. And we’d all be lying to ourselves if we said thats not what really matters to BCS schools.

  39. That’s OK, Brad. We allow for differences of opinion in our world! :-)

    Honestly, I know it was just one game, and it was against the Astros, but I got a hair excited with Barmes’ game the other night with him hitting second because a)he did a decent job with the bat, (including the squeeze play? Was that the same game?) and b) the combination of it moving Presley to hitting 8th! Even a struggling Presley hitting 8th is something I can get much more excited about … that’s pretty decent pop, speed and potential in that part of the lineup!

  40. Hi Bay! What’s your take on Holt?

  41. Jandy, I can see where utility guy is very likely going to be his lot. But I’m romantic enough to believe in chapters like this where the guy is the ONLY one hitting consistently down a playoff stretch and we FIND a place for him to play. Do you believe in Angels In The Infield … Yes!

  42. Bay, totally agree with the hair of excitement. I was pleasantly surprised (especially after nearly fainting when reading the lineup before the game). Liked how it worked out, just don’t think it’s sustainable that way. I think against the Reds that lineup would turn out how most would expect it to. NH just sounds downright delusional/pompous/arrogant/irresponsible to me far too often. Maybe I’m overly harsh but 600 years of bad losing under Bonifay/Littlehead er, field/Huntington has diminished my trust in the whole FO. However, I’m thinking this is the week that starts a semi-cataclysmic collapse by the Reds and a 15-5 run for the Buccos!

  43. Thanks, Bay. I do want to see him play tho, as long as his bat is hot.

  44. Playoffs or bust? Pardon me, Dejan, but .500 is the goal until it isn’t, right?

    As for Pitt, they aren’t very good. Why is everyone so angry? Sunseri isn’t a very good QB, but he’s not a bad person. Some teams are not good. Pitt is one of them. The sooner fans remember that it’s only a game and there’s nothing on the line, the better off we’ll all be.

  45. TOTALLY understand, Brad. Speaking of delusional, we all should have checked in for some psychological help a LONG time ago, pulling for this team. Then with that terrible August, I somehow just KNOW I wasn’t the only one who fought some SERIOUS depression!

  46. I’ve played this game before with Barmes, but lets play this again with his even better “good” month.

    Barmes has just over 400 plate appearances. In MLB, there are 21 shortstops with at least that many PAs. Of those SS’s, for the season, he is 20th of 21 in OPS, 79 points behind the guy in 19th place.

    The case has been made that Barmes has been adequate offensively lately. If we take his August OPS of .671 and give him credit for it for 400 PAs… He still only gets up to 15th of 21. Take his post All Star Game OPS of .623, and he’s STILL 20th of 21.

    If that’s adequate, the bar is set pretty darn low. And yes, if his defense were stellar, he’d still be viable there. But his defense is typically above average, with 14 errors on the year. That is simply not good enough to justify his inclusion in the lineup daily.

    Is Holt the long term answer? Probably not, but while the bat stays hot, and if Walker comes back to play 2B, he’s worth a few starts at SS, since you know what you currently have there is awful.

  47. And we finally have a guy this year CONSISTENTLY getting on base from the leadoff position? I don’t think even John Russell would take him out as long as he’s doing that!

  48. Bay, that’s the HUGEST thing…lead off man getting on base…consistently. Key word, consistently.

  49. Checking out the Pirates schedule I see that after an off day next Thursday they finish the season with the dreaded 20 games in 20 days ! ARGHHHHHHHHH.

    I ‘m sure they are making preparations for a 7 or 8 man rotation even as we speak.

  50. I thought a QB change was maybe going to be made to start the second half, but probably better, if you are going to make a change, to give the freshman the benefit of having the extended practice as the starter leading up to the next game.

  51. Milo–forget the 7 or 8 man rotation . . . After 20 games in 20 days, where’s the pigeon shoot?

  52. @Wilver

    After the last game, on the off day before the 1 game playoff.

  53. Pigeon shoot. We’ll be shooting at some Cincy Reds during that next to the last series of the season.

  54. @Wilver

    Are you saying that everyone involved has treated this stretch run like amateur hour ?

  55. haha I didn’t know pigeons were red ;)

  56. http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120905/OPINION03/209050422

    Interesting article about Leyland.

    I notice how the writer blames the hitters for their poor performance rather than the manager or hitting coach. He also mentions how fans second guess everything a manager does.

    By the way, I don’t hear many people blaming Hurdle or Ritchie these days for the hitting.

  57. @Groat

    It was a nice article, but the curmudgeon in me has to take exception to “least successful franchise in the history of sports” – OK, recently, yes, but worse than the St. Louis Browns or the Padres, etc.?

  58. @Jandy

    Or Cuban.

  59. TC, interesting that Leyland only opted for a one year contract this season.
    I’ve always admired Leyland. One has to wonder what is going wrong there. Much like we wonder when things go wrong here.

  60. Milo…yeah, that too!

  61. “By the way, I don’t hear many people blaming Hurdle or Ritchie these days for the hitting.”

    This might be the best example of selective hearing I’ve ever read on this blog.

  62. NMR–are you saying that doesn’t pass the “ear test?” :-)

  63. A Davey Johnson team getting into multiple bench clearing brawls and it’s “obviously” the other guy’s fault ? Some things never change.

  64. NMR
    I remember lots of people clamoring about Hurdle and Ritchie a few months ago -when the hitting was really bad.

    DK even brought up the issue of why was Ritchie still employed because the hitting has been so bad.

    I haven’t read much of that lately. Or heard. Not selective

  65. I will say that I wanted to see if Tino could be at least competent as a game manager instead of the HIGH OCTANE QB where he was clearly was not a fit.

    At this point, I’d say the answer is clear. Give that man a clipboard and let him start getting on with his life’s work.

  66. Milo,
    I read a story this morning about the National / Cubs game.
    It said that the Cubs were mad that Werth swung at a 3-0 pitch in the 5th inning.

    And the umpire said that he thought the things the Cubs’ coach was yelling to Bo Porter were very out of line –that’s why he threw him out of the game.

  67. I saw about a quarter of the Pitt game last night. I only had one thought….Tino is the best we have?

    Play anyone else…anyone. Can’t be any worse

  68. @Thunder

    I still have a thing for Davey from the Mets days. It’s nice to see the Cubs still have some fight. Or maybe not considering we have to see them 7 more times.

  69. At a loss with Pitt, they continue to sink to low’s not seen since the 90′s. Tough to blame Chryst for this mess he has walked into although there was definitely some very poor game management which is concerning.

    Poor leadership from the AD starts it all, poor hires has made this the most unstable Division 1 program in the land and three different styles of play just in the last three seasons alone has these kids lost.

    I too have seen enough of Sunseri. @Dan1283 you had a great description up in post 33, there were MANY plays to be made and Sunseri just is unable to make them.

    I also though hate to waste a year of Voytik and eligibility for a season that is lost but the future has to start at some point.

    Sometimes I don’t know what has been tougher being a fan of Pitt or the Pirates over the years. Brutal.

    On that note big series for the Bucs starting tonight with AJ #STFD Burnett on the hill let’s start the series with a win! Go Bucs!

  70. Interesting to see NH is already starting the Barmes-spin for 2013.

    Oh well, I guess there are 5.5 million reasons why ;-)

  71. Again, on Barmes…. it’s really up to Hurdle now in terms of the lineup. Neal obviously is defensive about the signing of Barmes and so I take comments like ” he is exactly what we signed him to be, excellent defense and adequate offense” with a grain of salt. Take out the element of us not liking NH defending his moves vs. projecting more of an “all hands on deck, we are playing to win and the best men will play” attitude… but I really don’t see NH intevening in how the manager sets the lineup.. Maybe with “comatose” Russell but not with Clint.

    I know there is an element on this blog that wants “anybody but Barmes” in the lineup but, humbly, that is just dead wrong. Yes, I agree, to give Holt a shot, and see if his defense stands up to his offense. The Bucs need a leadoff presence much more than SS defense, at least until the SS defense kills them in a tight game. It may, or it may not. I’m ok with rolling the dice. But let’s stop short of the need to get rid of Barmes, etc.

    I know objectivity is tough with the track record of the Pirates and their dubious signings and history. But let’s close our eyes, assume Mark Cuban was the owner and Theo Epstein was the GM….and they signed Clint Barmes. Would we still be so vitriolic in our opinion of Barmes contributions? I think not. But opinions is what makes the (blog) world go round.

  72. Yea Milo, I hated Johnson when he was with the Mets. Of course I hated every Met.

    I don’t mind him so much now.

    I went to mlb.com and watch the videos there that showed what started the benches to clear. I think the Cubs were out of line. At least for being pissed that Werth swung at 3-0 and them yelling at the third base coach. I don’t have problem with them buzzing Harper…if that is what they were doing.

  73. @AW – BOOM. Haha, well timed for this terribly slow Friday morning, my friend. Thank you.

    @Thunder – I’m pretty sure there has been plenty of complaints about the hitting reverting back to April/May, about the continued lack of discipline, continued lack of logical approach.

    If you need every post to cite Hurdle and Ritchie as the cause just to get the hint, then yes, that is the definition of selective hearing.

  74. cma
    Nice post.
    Theo signed a lot worse than Barmes…and for a lot more money.

  75. Pitt has a football team? I thought they were only a basketball school…

    hmm, who knew?

  76. NMR,
    I really need that hint, my friend. I must be slow….or highly selective

    There have been continuous complaints about the hitting. But I have not seen the manager or the hitting coach called out specifically…as was the case a few months ago.
    (certainly not nearly as often as before. But I don’t read every single post. I and I probably will be more even more selective in the future)

  77. @cmat/Biz

    In the context of the question, how else was Huntington supposed to respond?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the whole conversation started by asking if Brock Holt would replace Barmes?

    Neal was firm, direct, and even cited proof in supporting his starting shortstop.

    We can disagree with his assessment, but I certainly don’t believe that throwing your players under the bus in the media is going to attract free agents to Pittsburgh. Neal did exactly what any GM should do in that situation.

  78. @NMR: I agree with you, I’m certainly not one of the “non-objective” Neal-bashers. A big, big part of being able to bring in FA to Pittsburgh is learning how to deal with veterans and their agents…and this includes supporting them and having patience with them more than you would younger players. It just is what it is. Table stakes if you want to be a part of the MLB process.

    Now, in a perfect world, I’d love NH’s answer to be: ” Clint makes out the lineup card and he is going to put the best 9 on the field every day to compete to win a championship” followed by ” We love what Holt brings to the park every day and he is off to a great start. And we are very pleased with the body of work Clint has provided…after a slow start at the plate, he has really contributed for us both in terms of very steady defense and solid offense”.

    That is nitpicking I know… but might keep a few of the torchbearers at bay. I really, really, really want Holt to succeed. Just like I really, really, really wanted Presley to succeed. And before that Tike Redman and Chris Duffy and Nyjer Morgan and and and and and and…..

    What I really want to say is that while NH’s track record can certainly be debated, so can the track record of the #FREE crowd.

  79. cmat–I agree with most of what you said in #73 and almost all of what you posted yesterday in # 212, but I don’t agree with your last paragraph here. I think if one is truly objective, you would look at Barmes’ first two months, which everyone from Barmes, Neal and Clint acknowledges was a disaster, as the reason for people being down on him. Even Neal said (I heard him) “after the first 2 months” in coming to his evaluation. So, to me, the way to challenge your objectivity would be to say, if Barmes had played the entire year like he played in August and the last game, would people be on Neal like they are now about the signing? I don’t think so. That’s not to say he should or should not be playing now, just that whatever that answer is isn’t just based on who’s running the show.

  80. Devil Dog,

    How many touchdowns do you expect James Harrison to score this year? 6? 7? 10?
    My guess is: . probably none. You expect Harrison to sack the quarterback a bunch and stop the run. Any touchdowns he scores are just a bonus.

    To evaluate a shortstop on his OPS or other offensive statistics is to misunderstand what a shortstop’s primary job is. Because most batters are righthanded, more groundballs go toward left field and up the middle on the left than any other place on the field. A stable, topnotch defender there can give pitcher confidence to attack their job. Doubleplays started or turned can remove so many blemishes from a pitchers record as to raise his confidence even more.

    Pitching is 75-80 % of baseball. Sometimes you improve it with “downward plane” and other such garbage. Other times you improve it by catching and throwing the ball in the field fluently. The shortstop is Jack Lambert, Junior Seau, James Farrior.

    If James Harrison scores a touchdown, it’s a bonus. If your shortstop hits, it’s a bonus. Yet it’s not nearly the main emphasis of his job description. Any scale that measures Clint Barmes 20th of 21 shortstops is weighing the wrong factors.

    How many touchdowns will James Harrison score this season?

  81. Ryan, Pitt doesn’t have a football team, they play football tho ;)

  82. I was referring to the last paragraph in #73 .

  83. @cmat

    Never meant to make that a Neal Huntington-specific question, and certainly not saying you were taking a cheap shot at him. But I feel your response makes a ton of sense.

    I agree, Huntington certainly didn’t have to lay it on as thick as he did just to get the point across.

  84. Groat, excellent analysis. I have said on here I want to see more of Brock Holt. And I still do, until he cools off. I like Barmes’ defense. So, when Walker comes back,the problem is where to play Holt. I think that’s a nice problem to have.
    I don’t care where you play Holt, just play him.

  85. DK: or anyone else who might know;
    I was listening to a Washington D.C. radio station this morning. They were talking about the NFL weekend picks. The guest said he believes that the birth of Ben’s child is due this weekend, and Ben might miss the game.
    Is this correct information?

  86. How many failed signings need to be DFA’d in order for the “$x.x million reasons” excuse to be dropped?

    Somebody tell Nate McLouth and Erik Bedard that there are $5.5 million reasons they are still playing for the Pirates.

  87. I tried to make this point yesterday, but I’ll repeat it because of the reference to the Duffys and Redmans. How those guys turned out the year following their successful callups is totally irrelevant to evaluating whether Holt should be playing NOW. Looking at guys like that and how they performed in their callups actually is a point in favor of playing Holt now, if anything.

  88. Waving at the Radio,

    If Little Ben stays in the pocket as he should, he is due in late October I think.

    However Rothleisburgers have been know to stray out of the pocket early to make their play.

  89. Re: Post #12. NMR – baseball season is never over. granted, I like the competiton portion of things, but, of course, there is the business side of it, too. during the winter months, i like to read baseball related books or watch baseball movies. on those cold december/january days (especially on weekends) that helps.

  90. post 90, excellent.
    TJA post 91, I’m right there with you. I choose baseball books from the last pitch of the Ws to pitchers and catchers report.

  91. radio, I posted a link up in #9 on just that subject…it’s true

  92. JandyGirl,

    I have shuddered every time——EVERY TIME——Josh Harrison has played a game at short.

    I will not shudder if Hurdle give some time to Brock Holt at short.

    Let’s get Neil Walker back at full speed first. We need him most of all!

  93. LOL at Groat. Lil Ben better stay in the pocket this weekend then!

  94. AW, I’m with you on post #89
    #playthehotbat

    G2M2S, Josh is ok…in a pinch…not an everyday player at SS. I want to see Holt play there for some time, even if it bumps Barmes, BUT ONLY IF HIS BAT IS STLL HOT.
    Barmes is very good defensively (there, I said it!)

  95. Oh, was that knee jerk???? ;)

  96. This is a nice line of crap: “”From our perspective, there has been a sense of urgency all summer,” Daly said in an email to The Associated Press, ”but, obviously, it becomes more real as we get closer to September 15 with no meaningful progress being made.”

    Sense of urgency all summer? Sheesh, neither side did much of anything until August. Last I checked, that means it’s almost Fall.

  97. @Jandy

    Nice dig…I like.

  98. Are we still debating Barmes’s qualifications as a SS?

    If you are evaluating a SS by his offensive numbers, then you’re missing the mark.

    Offense to a SS is similiar to a catchers, bonus.

    Though the above statement does not include catchers hitting at or below .200

  99. JHay at SS is weakness of the depth of this ballclub.

    I too would like to see Holt there, but this might not be the time to do it.

    With a playoff run, is not a time to experiement, IMO, though I’d rather see him there than JHay, if that’s what it comes down too.

  100. Thanks Ryan. I’m frustrated and these jackwagons spouting outright lies just gets my blood pressure up.

  101. Jack Wilson’s offense was regularly trashed.

    Jack Wilson, to this poster’s eyes, was a better defensive SS as a Pirate than CB.

    Jack Wison hit around .270 for his career as a Pirate , (and that’s without dropping off his worst months).

  102. Going to the game tomorrow night against Cubs. McDonald vs. Smarfglkrtoiufkjfggljrtoi should be a great game.

    Going with 58 of my closest friends from Church. I have instructed them that the proper way to wind our path to our seats in PNC is to limp——per Dejan.

    Look for 58 smiling but limping folks behind the left field foul pole tomorrow night. We’re hopin’ for a healin’!!

  103. Groat, I’ll be watching for you all on television! Make signs1 “DK’s Lunatic Legion” or something like that!

  104. AW,

    Great post #103. Neal said the reason they didn’t offer him more money to stay was that he was “below the league average” in hitting, too. Wonder what that translates to now.

  105. Arriba:

    Just like the “after years” are not relevant to you in terms of Redman, Duffy, et al ( and my point was not in re: to today’s lineup but in re: to people’s comments about “track record” of the Bucs FO), in my opinion the first 2 months are not relevant to whether to play Clint Barmes at SS the last 20+ games.

    Again, and I repeat, I DO SUPPORT playing Holt at SS after Walker returns and rolling the dice… but I also would not “bitch and moan” if Hurdle plays Barmes and Walker and plugs Holt in a game here and there down the stretch. It really is not that black and white and anyone who says it is is overestimating Holt and underestimating Barmes.

    That said, the Bucs need a spark at the top of the lineup…they need someone who takes PROFESSIONAL at bats…and I love watching Holt play.

  106. I watched that pitiful game last night. In my mind, not only has Sunseri not improved, he is getting worse. Let the Freshman play!

  107. cmat–that’s why I said “That’s not to say he should or should not be playing now, just that whatever that answer is isn’t just based on who’s running the show.”. My point was that it was not just The idea “I don’t like Neal” that is affecting people’s opinions of Barmes, which is what I interpreted you to be saying in your last paragraph in #73 with the references to Cuban and Theo.

  108. @AW

    I immediately thought of Jack Flash during our best defensive shortstops conversation yesterday. I don’t remember him being regarded as the best in the league during his prime, but I would absolutely take his defense over any of the current NL starters.

    Offensively, he had those two really good years, and a bunch of really unimpressive ones. Always seemed odd to me.

  109. I think I saw a DK tweet that Marte may be back tonight. He didn’t say he would or would not be playing.

  110. Arriba:

    OK, I’ll bite. If it isn’t entirely FO-bias that is behind the “get rid of Barmes at all costs” sentiment, then what is it in your opinion?

    1) Entirely based on stats/ performance for the full season to date? Doesn’t seem that would be basis for folks to say he needs to be released…. solid MLB SS it reads to me.

    2) Based on the 2 year $11M contract he received at beginning of year? In other words, he is decent but not worth the $ and commitment? Seems to me this is going rate for solid ML SS so not sure I follow this thread either.

    3) We have better options for playing time, both short term and in 2013?? Jury out on Holt at SS and again I’m all for plugging him in and seeing what happens, but hard to say that it is clear cut that Barmes isn’t the best SS option the Bucs have , both for right now and for the future.

    I really see is as a gray area and so I guess I am question what objective logic folks are using (or subjective illogic) that makes it so black and white that Barmes needs to not only be benched now but cut loose for 2013.

    My opinion and it is just my opinion is that it is a combination of 1-3 above and I think that “cocktail” is not really objective… c’est la vie.

  111. Lucky,

    It’s not as if they just let Jack walk away. They did offer Jack a contract. A very fair contract that was appropriate in my opinion. It was considerably more then what they gave Barmes. Jack turned it down and then signed just about the same contract with the Mariners. The Pirates and most teams in the league can’t afford to overpay for anyone. Especially somebody that has went on to do very little since leaving. This goes for Sanchez as well.

    What if they did up both the offers to Sanchez and Wilson by 2 million a year and added another year to the contract. I don’t think any of us would look at that as a wise decision now. I can’t believe the Steelers get praised for the same thing that the Pirates get dragged through the mud for. They both evaluate the talent, make an offer and then move on if the player thinks they are worth more which they ussually are not.

    The only difference is Baseball is much more reliant on a farm system to replace those players. The Pirates farm system stunk until recently. Now it is much better to the point we are argueing if Holt should be playing shortstop during a playoff chase when he is our 12th best prospect and Hanson is waiting in the wings as well.

    But of course this management team is horrible. Worse one in baseball hand down.

  112. Remember – Benjamin Alexander Roethlisberger. That way Ben can call him B.A..

  113. Re: Jumpin Jack Flash… not really fair to compare today vs. 2010 or whenever that was when Jack Wilson had the contract offer and turned it down from the Pirates. The Bucs were way more than a SS away from contending then and it was inappropriate to shell out more than they offered especially since Jack was in decline and would have been pretty much useless in 2011/2012 (don’t take my word for it, just watch video of him the past 2 years).

  114. cmat—I don’t see the “get rid of Barmes at all costs sentiment” so I don’t have any response to your list. I thought the question was how much to play him this September vs Holt. I’m focused on this year, at least as long as we’re still in it. I don’t see the answer to that question as being solely “I hate the FO” based. Or even largely based on that, objectively speaking.

  115. I was wrong about Jack’s contract. They didn’t offer him as much as I thought but I still feel as if it was appropriate for the type of player he was at the time and was going to be going forward. Sorry for the accidental exaggeration.

  116. Another thought from me…. (as if anyone was wanting another one….)

    Seems to me the opinion of the Front Office really comes down to results… WIN and all is forgiven …LOSE and you suck. Sort of like that old baseball adage (crap) of “boy the clubhouse has much more camaraderie this year” when we are winning and it was “clubhouse factions” that caused the losses… as Bob Walk and Steve Blass say … want to see a happy clubhouse? win more than you lose…..

    My point is that NH certainly has made some wrong decisions since he got here…and YES, folks, he certainly has made some right ones. I think he has shown more skill as a GM than a long line of his predecessors and remember he is still working with constraints with budget, etc.

    As I see it, and I think i see it more objectively than most, he has been successful in improving the Bucs minor league system…he has been successful in upgrading the major league roster… he has mostly drafted well (except for Sanchez and I do fault the player more than the pick but still……)

    Is he the best GM in baseball? NO. Is he the worst. NO. I think he is a solid major league GM which is light years from what the Bucs have had.

    So, my advice to Neal is to improve how cynical Bucs fans view his performance is to have this year’s club make the playoffs. Then truly bad moves will be forgotten and forgiven, decent (but criticized) moves will be given their due and truly good moves will be lauded.

  117. It might be easier for some fans to overlook Barmes’ poor offense if they didn’t have to also accept Barajas and his .199 average at the same time.

  118. cmat, the problem with making the playoffs is NH failed to pick up any major help for this team to do that.

  119. cmat–who’s talking about whether keeping JW was the right or wrong thing? We were just talking about objective measures of his defense and offense when he was here vs. what’s being spoken about Barmes today.

  120. pattonbb, I sure like Barmes a lot better than Barajas…just sayin…

  121. Arriba:

    Peace. I have seen folks ask DK if the Bucs will release Barmes and eat the $5.5M next year and DK has responded (and I agree) that “they won’t and they shouldn’t based on Clint’s performance”. I guess I’m wondering what is behind the sentiment that asks that question.

    Holt vs. Barmes? My vote is Holt until he boots a vital double play ball and the Bucs lose a critical game…or he goes into a 0-12 tailspin. Hopefully neither happen.

    What has frustrated me most about Barmes is his flailing so badly at pitches way out of the zone… he has a good swing and some pop and if he would just be patient he would be an offensive plus and not a minus. Seeing him hit at 2 spot really made me pine for that to be permanent move to see if he can recapture the discipline…..

  122. Jandy, I’m with you.

  123. Wide Receiver Nate,

    Pirates offered Jack Wilson 2 years at $4 million each.
    Mariners signed Jack Wilson 2 years at $5 million each.

    I probably don’t hang out with as many rich people as you do, but $2 million, 20 % more than the Bucs’ offer, doesn’t sound like “the same contract” or a “fair offer” to me.

    Let’s not change history to protect the BMTIB. You’re not Nate Huntington, are you?

  124. Jandy:

    In all due respect, NH took a risk and traded for Wandy Rodriguez… when the Braves traded for Paul Maholm, they get lots of praise…yet NH gets zero.

    I think Wandy > Paul …at the very least Wandy = Paul in terms of stretch run impact.

    He also replaced McGehee with Gaby which I find a mild upgrade. Snider is an upgrade over who was playing RF before though I hated seeing Lincoln go.

    Fact is the Bucs aren’t making the playoffs without the starting pitching stepping up and Cutch and Walker providing the offense. Do we really think that this latest funk the Bucs are in would have been altered with Shane Victorino in the lineup? Hunter Pence?

    Me thinks no, but I’m sure others think yes.

  125. Wide Receiver Nate,

    I just saw your retraction of your previous ramblings about Jack Wilson’s contract.

    You proved you are not Nate Huntington.

  126. nate,

    I have no problem with Barmes, at all. Never have. I do have a problem with Neal or anyone talking out of both sides of their mouth, saying Wilson’s BA was below league average and Barmes at .220 is “about what we expected”. I’m also fully aware that a shortstop’s higher BA is gravy and so is a catcher’s.

  127. Not signing Jack back then was the right move. Period and end of discussion. Same for Freddy.

    Time to criticize it was at the time (and boy everyone did)… now, with hindsight proving that it was right? Nah.

  128. Regardless of they what offered Wilson it was a good decision to trade him as he never played even half a season after he left. High was 79 games in 2011

  129. Really, Jandy?

    That surprises me coming from you.

  130. Hey JAL,

    Welcome from Wild and Wonderful. Don’t go inserting logic and reason in our emotional arguments!!!!!

  131. Is it Tuesday yet?

  132. Don’t look now, but Barmes is moving back to career norms ever-so-quiet-yet-effectively. Be carefule what you wish for with Brock Holt…you just might miss old Barmes this last month of play. Here’s what’s going to happen…and you can take it to the bank…Holt plays second until Walker is completely ready. If he is still hitting well when that time comes (which I have complete confidence he will be…guy just plays nice baseball), then he will take a start few starts per week off of Barmes (provided his defense holds up) and is the FIRST guy off the bench on nights he doesn’t start…i.e. double switches and every other creative way of finding guys at-bats in September.

    You don’t have to start to be a stud…and guys not hitting early in games will know that there’s a guy hitting .400 waiting to take their place in the on deck circle.

    But…Barmes is wicked good with his glove. When pitching is struggling to keep runs off the board of late, I don’t care what he does at the plate. Barmes starts most of the time and he gets hit for in late innings…even if he is 3 for 3 when due up in the 9th. He is just that kind of player. You know when you need to hit for him at this point. Hurdle knows what situations Barmes excels in…God of love baseball in September!

  133. Jeez,

    Folks are so in a turmoil over what Neil Huntington said yesterday on 970 and today with 24/7 about Clint Barmes being #1 in baseball that we are reverting to Jack Wilson/Freddie Sanchez arguments.

    JAL, you would have enjoyed being a part of yesterday afternoon’s fare.

  134. cmat–that’s one of the causes of some disagreements/misunderstandings here–I haven’t seen those comments here. They may be on Twitter or Sulia, which I only see on an ad hoc basis. And sometimes people are talking about comments on other blogs, like Smizik’s. There may be a random comment here about cutting Barmes now, but it sure doesn’t even rise to a level of a minority view, at least based on what I’ve read.

  135. Groat

    I already called myself out on the incorrect Wilson contract. I still sounds like a fair offer.

    Jandy

    What major league help could they have gotten that would take them from losing 7-2 to winning 8-7. They haven’t been losing by 1 run. They have been losing by large amounts. It starts and end with pitching and it has been horrible the last month. Wandy has settled in to be arguably are most reliable starting pitcher the last 3 weeks. Snyder has been one of our most consistant hitters. I don’t have time to check but I dont’ think any of the players traded for by other teams have had this C.C. Sabathia putting the Brewers on his back and carrying them into the playoffs affect.

    We need Walker and Cutch to return to form and JMac and Burnett to pitch closer to their first half performances. What would you have been willing to give up to get Hunter Pence or Chase Headley and what if they still didn’t make the playoffs.

  136. JAL, I see you made it to Morgantown safely.

    NMR, why do you say that? Barajas is too much a liability in the line-up, tho he is good with the guys. He throws wildly when opponents try to steal. I like the guy. Really I do. I said it yesterday, make him a coach/advisor and I’ll love him.
    Barmes, on the other hand, is very good defensively at SS. He isn’t the best bat, but he’s better than Rod.
    But then again, I want to plug Holt in at SS when Neil comes back. So, I guess I’m being female here, I want my cake and eat it, too.

  137. nate83, I don’t pretend to know who or what I’d trade to get another decent bat. Sanchez is JUST now coming around and hitting, and I’m thrilled to see it, trust me. And his play on first base lately has been very good. I just feel that the Buccos missed out on getting a better bat…I don’t know who they could have gotten. So, you have a point…I don’t know. Seriously.

  138. JAL, cmat, nate, Groaty,

    I don’t think anyone was for re-signing Jack or Freddie or anyone then or now thinks it would have been the right move. I just abhore a GM or anyone in any official office using Roberto Forever skewing of “metrics” or whatever to prove what a wonderful signing someone hitting sub-par “league average” has been when he didn’t use that logic proving himself right in the past. The man needs to be a stand-up guy all the time. Just MHO.

  139. Lucky @129– excellent post.

  140. I apologize for bringing Jack Wilson up. :-) :-) :-). For my next trick, I’m going to talk about the non-trade of Jason Bay to Cleveland for Cliff Lee, etc. . . .

  141. AW, would you like a Scoobie snack or a Yeunglings?

  142. Kentuck Knob,

    Huntington IS standing up——it’s just that you don’t know it because he’s so short!

    Actually, I agree with you 100 %. He uses statistics when it fits him and to defend his actions/non-activity. His statistical rate of consistency is 29 %.

  143. Wilver Dornel,

    Just don’t bring up the non-baseball statistical geeks getting Bert Blyleven undeservedly into the Hall of Fame——a guy who pitched in 1 All Star Game in his 22 year career!!!!!

  144. cmat, NMR, and all, remember, I am still a PUPIL here. You guys are teaching me daily. But it will still take me some time to ingest all this statistical information. Bear with me, please!

    Disclaimer: I STILL like Barmes better than Barajas ;)

  145. Lucky @ 141

    I think that is very fair, but all GM’s get defensive when the moves that don’t work get thrown back in their face by the fans and or media. I don’t disagree with his comment that Barmes is exactly what they thought he wuold be over his last 80-90 games. I know we don’t like to hear it but I’m sure he was told he can have up to 6 million a year for a shortstop and this is what he got. I’m not sure if any other free agent at that price would have been better. If dad only gives you $3000 to get a car you are not walking away with a 2009 Honda Accord with Leather seats and a sunroof. You are getting a 2001 escort with 120,000 miles on it.

  146. Groat,

    A big amen. And that’s all I meant. I like Barmes, even Barajas for what they bring. If we’re going to have 3 outs at the bottom of the order for defense, so be it. But we need six guys ahead of them who are hitters and we’ve had that pretty much and that is why we’re 72-64 instead of 50-86 at this point. End of sermon.

  147. Lucky gets me.

  148. HAHA BOOM…Harrison gets the start at short tonight!

  149. OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0<

    snowmen with antennas, just for my friend G2M2S =)

  150. nate–you need to talk to your Dad. You can do much better than a 2001 Escort with 120k miles for $3000.

  151. LETS GO BUCS LETS GO BUCS LETS GO BUCS…. where’s Darryle?

  152. No messing around with these Cubs. They are clearly out to take anyone they can down with them after seeing last nights debacle. the Nats are becomig a fun team to hate though.

  153. Agreed nate.#148. My pet peave is when people forgot what they said in the past and either lie (which Neal did not do) or prove a point with the same “logic” or close to it that they used in the opposite way 3 years before. We need to remember what we say and our “yes” needs to be “yes” and our “no” needs to be “no”. Sorry for bringing the Bible in again, but that’s where I spend a big part of my day.

  154. Jandy, Groat

    Yes, made to WV–Mom has no internet so I pick a signal from somewhere (Maybe Mars) that goes in and out

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