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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Pirates, vultures and stuff

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Brief and to the Point …

>> The Wednesday column is about the Pirates’ front office job security.

I’ll tell you right here that it probably raises more questions than it answers. And I’m OK with that, because that’s really the stage described in there: Bob Nutting has questions to ask, and he’s got to dig to get the right answers.

I’ll also tell you that it’s been a weird few days. Maybe because of the Friday column, maybe because of the Pirates’ collapse, I’ve had people from around baseball calling me — unsolicited — to ask what’s going on. These are people I don’t hear from as often anymore, not being on the beat full-time, which makes it stand out all the more.

Really, being completely candid, it’s not all that different than the summer of 2007. Not in content, not in tone.

Once the vultures start circling, they seldom disperse.

>> One last time, here’s the podcast of the first episode of the new radio show, featuring an opening rant about the Pirates’ ‘blame game,’ Jamie Dixon on renewing the Pitt-West Virginia Brawl, and our Mark Kaboly on obsessing over Steelers film.

And here’s video of that opening rant.


  1. Sam says:

    DK: What do you consider to be the bigger surprise: This season’s collapse in August and September, or the fact that THIS offense led MLB in offense in June and July?

    Personally, I think both are pretty unbelievable, especially considering this is the second straight year a huge collapse has happened, and the Pirates’ schedule was actually very favorable to at least maintain their level of play, but I would slightly lean toward the offense in June and July because it pretty much came out of nowhere after April and May – and I believe it has come back to normal in the past few months. I know some players on the team are streaky, but it appears the entire Pirates’ team could also be looked at the same way, with huge ups and downs and not much in the middle.

    DK: The culprit is a lack of depth. NOTHING could go wrong for that team you saw in June and July. Once it did, the lack of depth — and lack of reinforcements at the trade deadline — were bitterly exposed.

  2. Hurdled says:

    I hope he asks better questions during the next front office hiring period.

    That might stop the question asking later on down the road.

    Might save him some $$$ as well.

  3. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    “Put another way, he’s no more or less involved than Art Rooney II or Mario Lemieux.”

    Thanks for pointing that and other information out about BN. Some always raise the idea that he’s off at Seven Springs counting his bank roll. Fact is the guy cares, why else would he put himself through this? Nobody would get into this type of business without the idea of wanting to win a championship.

    DK: That line won’t be popular with the masses. I see Bob Nutting around his team just as much as I see the other two. Which is plenty for all three.

  4. Jason81 says:

    From what I’ve gathered reading the article, the Pirates could be looking at a top-to-bottom housecleaning. Which is fine if the development is “deplorable.” However, the fan base is not going to put up with another “five-year plan.”

    Sure, it looks good to spend money in the draft, but if few of those players ever become big league players, you’re stuck in a never ending cycle of draft and hope. Keep spending money on the draft, but the money spent at the Major League level is going to have to be spent properly too. What happens with Garrett Jones and Joel Hanrahan this winter? Will Mr. Nutting pay to keep two productive players, or will we go searching for “quality replacements?”

  5. JMB says:



    The value of the team keeps on climbing.

    DK: Yeah, lighting $51 million on fire with mostly busted draft picks is a great boon for franchise value.

  6. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    In regards to the development side, you said that other coaches have complained about the Pirates way of doing things; were these Pirates coaches or others?

    DK: My reference in this column is to Pirates coaches.

  7. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:


    Another awesome Pirates column. I agree that FC and CH will probably be retained, unless of course a new GM comes in and gets rid of Hurdle. I still don’t see that happening considering thoughts about Hurdle around baseball.

    I don’t believe that there are many better managers out there, but GM’s? I’m sure there’s plenty.

  8. David says:

    Is it honestly that hard for the Pirates to acquire major league hitters? To beat a dead horse, your column left out acquisitions of:

    Lastings Milledge, Ryan Ludwick, Jason Michaels, Brandon Moss, Andy LaRoche, Brandon Wood, Bobby Crosby, Ronny Cedeno, Chris Snyder, Doug Mientkiewicz and Steve Pearce.

    To be fair, not all of them were everyday players, but most of them were counted on to be everyday players; are products of the Huntington era; and you could more than fill out a full 9-man lineup (Who is DHing?) with these players.

  9. Abe says:

    I’m from Pittsburgh and have been a Bucs fan all my life. I live in Cleveland now, but still
    visit pretty often. I made it down to 12 games this season, and my Burgh friends are solid fans as well and go to 10-20 games a year. I was having a talk with a few down on Southside the other day and we all agreed that we’ll always be big fans and support the team, but if the team isn’t going to be competitive and the games are meaningless and ticket prices keep rising, then we’ve all had the PNC experience and would just assume watch at home. If I go to the ballpark I want to see a meaningful game and all of my friends agree. I get the feeling that a big number if fans are thinking this way. The club has to realize this too. It isn’t a matter of being fairweather, but a matter of spending our money on a product that’s worth the effort.

  10. Tracy Dendy Brummett says:

    Good evening Dejan, read the article and enjoyed it as usual. Keep up the good work. I grew up watching every Braves game on WTBS in the late 70s and early 80s so I have watched many a meaningless game over the years. I was a fan when they REALLY stunk but I loved them regardless. There’s a lot to be said for faithful fans in the good years and IMHO the bad years especially. That being said I commend the Pirates faithful fans over all these years. I didn’t jump on the bandwagon, cause well no one like bandwagoners, but I pulled for them none the less and was very happy earlier in the season for them and it’s been sad to see the collapse cause…I have felt that pain and it sucks. Heck I remembered all those years ago when the Braves played the Pirates and it was a race to see which team stunk the worse. :/

    Anyway all that being said, I truly hope that whatever all the issues are can get “fixed” and may they have an awesome year next year and kick butt. Pirates fans soooo deserve it.

    Quick question, how is/did the SEAL training go? Any word yet?

    All My Best,
    Tracy B.

    DK: I did hear some second-hand stuff, Tracy. I’d rather hear it more directly before sharing any of it. I didn’t like what I heard.

  11. Scott says:

    One minor thing I wanted to mention, DK, since you noted in your radio show that tickets were available on Stubhub for the Pirate game for 20 cents. That is true of just about every weekday game throughout MLB this time of year. You can pickup Yankees tickets for tomorrow night’s game in the Bronx for $1. The Cubs had 10 cent tickets for that Monday night game. There are many reasons to mock the Pirates; 20 cent resale tickets is not one of them. (All of those purchases, by the way, come with more than $10 in service charges.)

    That aside, your column today is spot-on. If someone has to go, Stark may well have earned that fate.

    DK: That’s good info, Scott. It was live radio, and I’ll have a better perspective on that for the future.

  12. StatsRUs says:

    It is pretty obvious even to the causal Bucco fan that the performance of the Pirates stealing bases, and preventing opposing teams from taking bases on them, has been abysmal. Here’s a few stats to show just how off-the-charts awful it has been.

    Using run values for a successful stolen base (+.19 runs) and caught stealing (-.46 runs) that the authors of “The Book: Playing the Percentages In Baseball” derived, you can determine a run differential value for a team’s performance on the base paths. From 1954-2011 (caught stealing stats were either inaccurate or not kept before ’54), the team with the worst SB/CS combined offensive and defensive run differential was the 1986 Texas Rangers. That team lost -27.42 runs on the base paths.

    The 2012 edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates are about to handily topple that mark of infamy. Through tonight’s 6-0 loss to the Brewers, they have thrown out 14 out of 151 runners attempting to steal (9.27%, worst defensive CS% since 1954) and have stolen a dismal 63 bases in 111 attempts (56.76%). Using the aforementioned SB/CS run valuations, the Pirates have a -29.70 run differential, again worst since 1954. That amounts to about 3.5 extra losses this year (Bill James pythagorean win expectation), which coincidentally is how many games the Pirates find themselves out of a playoff spot this morning.

    Finally, in 2007 Josh Bard of the Padres threw out 10 out of 131 runners attempting to steal, a 7.63 caught stealing percentage. Of catchers with at least 50 CS attempts in a season, Bard has the worst CS% since ’54. Rod Barajas, after going 0-6 last night, has now thrown out 6 out of 90 runners in 2012, a CS% of 6.67%, on pace for worst since accurate CS stats have been kept. Insert yois here.

  13. Dan1283 says:

    Hope the concert was awesome!

    Just one question: In your opinion, do you think Huntington survives the offseason and is still the GM on March 1st?

    DK: Metric was exceptional. Really. Breathtaking show.

    Everything I have on your specific question is up there in the column.

  14. Catfish293 says:

    Do you think this is one year too early? Next year was always the year… Or do you think they could’ve won 90 this year with the right moves? Would Headley have done it? If this was the year NH should be fired, if not, he gets one or two more. Also, NH might make a preemptive strike and get rid of Hurdle to save his job.

  15. Matt W. says:


    1) Where do you perceive Hurdle’s job security as coming from? He’s clearly cost this team games. And wouldn’t a new GM want to pick his own guy?

    2) To what degree does the performance of the big league club call greater attention to the state of the organization as a whole? I agree the organization isn’t in very good shape from top to bottom, but if this team had half the luck in August that it did in June and they’re nine or 10 over instead of one over, is Nutting asking these questions?

    3) What’d you think of Stage AE?

    DK: In order …

    1. I explain Hurdle in the column. Two years isn’t enough. Not his fault he’s forced to play lousy players when starters fell.

    2. My understanding is yes.

    3. Fantastic! What acoustics in there. Really, almost went in there prepared to be disappointed and was just blown away. So was the band, incidentally. Made several remarks about “this great room.”

  16. Matt W. says:

    Also, Tony Sanchez is 24, not 25. DOB: 5/20/88.

    DK: Being fixed, Matt. Thank you.

  17. RumBunter says:


    Does Mr. Nutting ask these questions alone, or does he have a confidant that he seeks knowledge from when he questions the Pirates brass?

    Is he working from a list of prospects for example, we paid ZVR x amount of dollars when will he be in AA? We spent x amount of dollars on Dodson, why is he suspended for drugs?

    Is he asking why the team refuses to pitch out despite being stolen from more than the nerd in the cafeteria line?

    Does Mr. Nutting have prepared questions or is he listening to reports from his team and then asking the follow up questions?

    Just trying to understand the dynamic.

    DK: Simplest way to answer all of that — and most accurate — is to go back to his process with Littlefield. He not only asked questions internally but also externally. I mentioned that in this column. The reason he did both was for the very reasons you cite, to gain better knowledge and broader background. At least that’s the way it was explained to me back then.

    The column details the three main areas of concern.

    Biggest difference now is that, in 2007, Nutting really was all alone in this venture. That doesn’t have to be the case now.

  18. Catfish293 says:

    Wouldn’t another GM demand his own manager?

    DK: No, not necessarily.

  19. Mario says:

    great article as usual, not 2 beat dead horse, 3 people in Baltimore who coulda/shoulda been in #Pittsburgh
    #1 Wieters > dead horse
    #2 JJ.Hardy ss having monster yr & O’s just locked him up
    #3 Showalter mgr who knows how to bring up young players, knows how to win, & manage, think we’d all be happy w/ 2 of the 3. Hoping NH is relieved of his duties, whichever the new GM is, could you see 1 of 2 trades happening? Andrus from Texas where uber prospect Profair will prob have SS his 2 lose next yr & needing 2 save $ 2 resign Josh Hamilton or Nunez from #NYY sum pop, above avg speed? & when Hurdle talks about playing “Hot Hand” when Pedro has been in his groove why continue to bat him #5-#6 or #7 hole. Lately Cutch righty, Gabby righty, Pedro Lefty, hurdle can’t even make that argument of right left right

  20. Catfish293 says:

    My thought has always been to pay a GM a lot… More than any other team and see if he is up to the challenge… GM is the single most important part of a baseball operation. Who’s to say you couldn’t lure someone away for the right price?

    DK: I wouldn’t disagree with that.

  21. Matt W. says:

    When Nutting fired Littlefield, he hired Coonelly, who hired Huntington, who fleshed out his own staff. Who would make the call on a new GM if Coonelly is retained? Would that be Nutting’s hire with Coonelly’s input, or Coonelly’s alone?

  22. Dan1283 says:


    Glad to hear it, I’ll have to check out some of their stuff.

    I had read the column before my post but I re-read it just now and the one line that I found is “Huntington, Smith and Stark should face the hardest questions, based on all of the above.” So I obviously can pick up that you’re leaning toward the fact that they should be let go (if I am reading that right), but my question is simply what do you think WILL happen? Will Nutting pull the trigger on a new hire for GM after 5 years like he did with Littlefield, or do you think he will choose the more patient path? I’m just interested in your educated guess, based on several years of dealing with Nutting on a professional basis, of what he WILL do.

    Will he continue to ride the “Train in Vain”? This could be the biggest decision of his ownership tenure.

    DK: I’m not going to do an educated guess on something that important. When I have something of that scope, it will be in a full-length column. This column up there says clearly that I don’t see predicting — or pushing — for an outcome as logical right now, based on how the team, amazingly, still could salvage its season.

    Whether or not that should change a lot, it might.

  23. SteelersCrash says:

    There has to be a give and a take, on both sides.


    They must bump payroll. I’ll say no LESS than $75 mil for 2013.

    Go get a legit power bat, add some speed (Juan Pierre is cheap and available next winter) and stop with the stop gaps on the mound. THE top 3 SP’s next season must be AJ, Wandy, and Cole. Give Tallion a legit chance to earn a job also.

    Get a decent, experienced LH reliever as well.

    No Correia, Barajas, and Berdard frees up $12.5 mil off the books from the current $63 mil payroll. The resources are there, but so must the desire from the brass to use it.

    If they fire Neil, all they would do is promote another Nutting yes man to GM. IMO the GM is pointless until the WAY they try to sign talent changes.


    If he stays, he needs to be allowed to pick his own staff, ALL of them. No more hired hands who the front office wanted. The good ol’ boys who have failed to develop the talent. It should be Hurdle’s call who he wants in his dugout, no one else.

    Hurdle must also start being more accountable. Especially for his bizarre, almost daily changes in the lineup. Pedro needs to bat 5th, and LEAVE HIM THERE ALL YEAR when he’s playing. Not 5th on Monday, 6th on Tuesday, and 7th on Wednesday. He’s the best pure power bat they have, they need to start treating him as a luxury and not as a spare part.

    The Pirates are raising ticket prices? What they need to raise along with that is their efforts to try and improve this team.

    If they don’t? Nothing will change.

  24. Dan1283 says:

    By the way, Dejan, you just haven’t seen Stage AE at it’s best until you’ve seen 311 play there. Niche band, yes, but incredible live show. Such energy.

    Sorry people, OK I’m done, carry on with the sports!

  25. Dan1283 says:

    “DK: I’m not going to do an educated guess on something that important….”

    Fair enough. And I agree, any move at this point would be unwise. There’s only two weeks left. This team/manager/front office has earned the chance to contend or collapse to the very end with what they’ve accmplished this season. I will just say that if the Pirates do not make the playoffs, and more importantly if they do not finish over .500, that I would be shocked if Nutting retained the top rungs of the front office. Not that he needs to go one way or the other with the decision, but that based on what I know about Nutting and what I see around baseball, that I would be fully shocked.

    You have to give it to these Pirates. If nothing else, they are fascinating.

    DK: For those of us in the news business, they never stop giving.

  26. SHoops5 says:

    Reading your article, I remembered hearing about all the rankings of the Pirates’ farm system at the beginning of the year. Looking back at a few of them, specifically Keith Law’s from the four-letter network, he had them ranked eighth due to the number of high-round picks but was extremely surprised at the lack of depth.

    It all seems to be ringing true now.

    As you pointed out, Latin America being separate, the return being shown from those other than the can’t-miss picks is staggeringly small. In the cases where the talent is there, where is the development?

    l think your question posed about who has questions to answer is spot on.

    DK: As you saw from the column, Baseball America’s Jim Callis sees it exactly the same way right now.

  27. Eric Singer says:


    First, the radio show was great, and your articles are always well written and a good read.

    I must say, as disappointing as this collapse has been for the Pirates, it’s been a fun run this summer watching them. Both from leading the Central, then the wild card until the unfortunate collapse that is now taking place. It was fun being able to be with a group of friends after a beer-league softball game and putting the Bucco game on the radio and everyone being into it, everyone having hope.

    There is plenty of blame to go all around, from Nutting to Neal not going all in at the deadline for a game-changing player (like Chase Headley, who just happens to lead the league in HRs and RBI since the All-Star break) to the players not being able to get out this funk to the coaches making some questionable calls lately.

    I will be disappointed if they dont finish 82-80 and finally break the streak. But in all reality, the real goal should be making the playoffs not finishing a game above average. So here’s to hoping they stop this funk that they’re in and turn it around and make a little noise the last few weeks of the season.

    Anyway, keep up the great work with the articles, the blog and now the radio show.


    DK: Thanks, E!

  28. Ed says:

    Absolutely pathetic effort last night, at the plate and behind the plate. You can clearly tell Barajas is finished as a player and yet, Hurdle keeps running him out there. At least Fryer has a 25% success rate of throwing out runners. Maybe the players were tired from the late night in Chicago but they’ve put themselves in this hole.

    At least I had a good seat. Plenty to pick from these days, some cheaper than a dollar value menu item.

    I’ve heard that a big reason these minor leaguers are coming up with such poor fundamentals is that the organization doesn’t want to pay for good instructors. Yes, I know that fundamentals aren’t what they used to be in the game in general. But it’s glaring with this team.

    I’ve been preparing myself for a future without Pirates baseball in my life. Not forever but they’ll have to make the playoffs before I become a fan again. This collapse to another seemingly inevitable losing record is the last straw. I didn’t just jump on the bandwagon last year. I go back to the early 80’s. It will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do because I love baseball so much. I’ve just reached the point where I can’t support these losers anymore.

    DK: Doesn’t want to pay for good instructors?

    Ed, there’s almost no separation in pay for minor-league managers, coaches and coordinators from system to system.

    On that note: Does anyone ever put a thought into this Nutting stuff? Or do they assume that no one else does and will just nod along?

    That’s not a dig at you, Ed. You didn’t even mention or reference the owner. In general, there’s just SO MUCH of this stuff.

  29. sidelinespensfan says:


    It seems the Bucs will have to start on yet another five-year plan. (Sigh.) With some of the comments that you have heard, and shared with us (thanks for that), I just can’t see how NH, Smith, or Stark can keep their jobs after this season.

    My question to you is this: Assuming that there is some major front office turnover this off season, how long will it take this organization to field a major league team with solid fundamentals from top to bottom? As a follow up, how long do you see it taking to have a truly competitive team for an entire season?

    OK, one more. Do you agree that this season was lost with the “tinkering” at the trade deadline? The front office had a chance to make a strong statement to the team that they were “All In,” and they failed miserably. I’m not a psychologist, but it can’t be a coincidence that the team started to tank after the deadline.

    DK: There’s no correlation between changing a position, even one as critical as GM, and going through another full rebuild. No sane person would inherit this roster — young as it is — and think that starting over is ideal.

    To me, the season isn’t lost at any dramatic turning point. It’s lost by drafting and developing poorly. This team never should have had this little depth in the fifth year of a rebuild.

  30. Ed says:

    Fair enough Dejan, on the financial aspect.

    But they’re clearly not teaching these players as properly as some other organizations do. The product of this, for those players who have progressed through the system, has reared its ugly head time and time again this season.

    DK: As you can tell from my writings of late, including this column, that’s hardly a position I’d dispute. My only point to you is that it isn’t a matter of money.

  31. Boise Bucco says:

    What REALLY hurts is, with that $51 million they spent on the draft, they pretty much went for broke, knowing that the system was in the midst of changing. And now that it has changed and they really don’t get to try to game the system anymore, they don’t exactly have anything to show for it. If they had drafted Cole or Taillon this year with the #1/#2 picks, those guys would’ve still got paid, but all those 8/9/10/11th round bonus baby pitchers wouldn’t exist this year. Josh Bell certainly wouldn’t. That’s the real burn of it all; they had a great opportunity, and unless ZVR turns out to be a world-beater, they really didn’t do anything with it.

    That, more than anything, should prove to the other 29 teams that bigger draft spending doesn’t exactly mean instant, or even eventual, success.

  32. Reading says:

    First, entertaining radio show yesterday DK! I got to listen during my lunch using the Trib Radio Droid app on my phone. For purposes of potential stats on geographic reach, I was listening in Louisiana.

    Next, the apparent lack of fundamentals in the system as a whole would seem to be something that could easily be solved. Baseball has been around a long time. Why don’t they examine how the “fundamentally sound” organizations teach them in minor leagues. Unless, practices and workouts are closed off, that would be easy to find out.

    Also, the Pirates have a rich history of sound teams in the 60s and 70s and guys from those teams are still around. How did the Pirates with Joe Brown as the GM do things in the minors back then? How did Murtaugh drill his teams on fundamentals? Maybe this is a simplistic view of things, but the “fundamentals” problem ought to be easy to solve.

    DK: Thanks, Reading. Yeah, the online thing comes with some real benefits. Endless reach.

  33. John Lease says:

    Every GM thru here, from the guy from Georgia, to Littlefield, to Neil H, always talked about how they were going to instruct the fundementals in the minors, yet the Pirates have been one of the most UNfundamental team thru all of them. I’d suggest hiring someone from a system that DOES instruct in fundamentals, like the Twins, put them in charge of minor league instruction. I’d also suggest hiring someone successful at draft strategy, and putting that person in charge of the draft. The Pirates were oh so good at firing minor league managers who didn’t do things ‘their’ way. Considering their way results in guys who don’t have fundamentals, why keep Neil?

  34. Thundercrack says:


    Very good article with great insight.

    And I totally agree. Where are the other prospects besides the #1 picks? I try not to get caught up the ranking of farm systems against each other, but why aren’t there more Top 100 prospects overall?

    When fans were clamoring to see more of Mercer and d’Arnaud, I had to figure one of the reasons Clint wasn’t playing them was because he didn’t have enough faith in their ability to play regularly.

    DK: Thanks, TC. And remember that four of the six guys in the top 100 are Latin American signees. Or were you already doing that?

  35. Thundercrack says:

    I only saw and heard parts of last night’s game.

    For next season I can live with another year of Clint Barmes if I have to. But they have to do something about the catching position. I realize a lot of can be blamed on the pitchers, but every single and walk turns into a double.

  36. JAL says:

    JAL’s Old Dominion Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Notebook: Brewers Swipe Seven Bases

    First Pitch: Stolen Bases Are a Problem, But Not the Big Problem

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Yovani Gallardo, Brewers 3-Hit Pirates

    6 Rumbunter

    More on The Pittsburgh Pirates Theft Epidemic

    The Pittsburgh Pirates Have a Theft Epidemic

    7 McEffect

    The Implications of the Second Wild Card

    8 The Green Weenie

    Brewers Run Wild In 6-0 Win

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Brewers run all over Bucs

    10 WHY GAVS

    It’s alright, Ma (I’m only sighing)

  37. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 CBS Sports

    Pirates-Brewers Game Preview

    12 Jamestown Post-Journal

    Jammers, Pirates Agree On Minor League Deal–Pirates-Agree-On-Minor-League-Deal.html?nav=5192

    13 Chicago Tribune

    Pirates Report,0,5736108.story

    14 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Cardinals play musical starters

    15 Beaver County Times

    Pirates aren’t sure which end of race is up

    16 Wall Street Journal

    Baseball’s Unsure If It Wants to Party

    17 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Brewers steal win from Pirates


    18 PBC Site

    Sleep deprivation becomes run deprivation for Bucs

    Resop touched by Clemente Award nomination

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    What You Need to Know

    20 Fangraphs

    Q&A: Jameson Taillon, Future Pirates Ace

  38. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Storyteller, Mythmaker, Beloved Chronicler of NFL History Steve Sabol Dies.

    NFL Power Rankings: Steelers Stay Even With Last Week

    22 Steelers Depot

    - NFL Week Two TOX Stats

    23 Steelers Gab

    Art Rooney II Releases Statement on the Passing of Steve Sabol

    24 Nice Pick Cower

    Steelers Chalk Talk: 5 Keys That Led To Victory Over Jets

    Pitt Blogs

    25 Pitt Blather

    Playing with Links and Numbers, Post-VT

    26 Cardiac Hill

    Coachspeak: Paul Chryst’s Top Ten Quotes From Pitt-Gardner-Webb Press Conference

    WVU Blogs

    27 Metro News

    No “Soft” Spot for Holgorsen

    28 WV Illustrated

    Mountaineers Prepare for Inexperienced Maryland Attack


    29 Sky Sports

    Ronaldo stuns City late on

    30 Daily Telegraph

    Montpellier 1 Arsenal 2: match report

    31 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 18th September, 2012


    32 Pensburgh

    KHL Magnitogorsk Signs Malkin, Gonchar, Kulemin. Talks w/ Crosby Don’t Lead to Deal

  39. JAL says:

    Virginia, Old Dominion, by Eddie From Ohio sometime from 2000 to now. There is an Eddie but all 4 members of the group are from northern Virginia.

  40. Drew71 says:

    Thank you, Dejan, for your observations and insights.

    At its heart, a very observational column. And beyond that, it offered valuable insights into what you have observed or heard.

    I learned some things. And it helped me to look at some things in new ways. Particularly the draft and Nutting’s evaluation process. I always value writings which help me to learn. (though with my level of knowledge, that’s a low bar.)

    And it was restrained. Sort of like your new jacket.

    Tremendous column, Dejan.

    DK: Thanks, Drew.

  41. JAL says:

    On the column, I see 1 and 2 as related. One reason there may few players from picks 2 to 5 is lack of development. A few players, like McCutchen and marte are so talented they can overcome development problem to become good players but less talented players need development.

  42. Thundercrack says:

    Here is my view on the free agent signing by NH

    1) In the first few years I believe he was signing players to fill in the holes that were on the roster. There was going to be no help from the minor leagues so he had to just about sign anyone he could.

    2) If I am shopping for clothes at the local second-hand Thrift store and you are buying at Macy’s or Saks Fifth Avenue. You are going to look better than me. He needed more money. NH wasn’t able to shop for the higher tiered free agents. (and when he did some said they didn’t want to play here).

    3) Not all the free agents were busts (Dotel, Grilli, G. Jones), but there should have been more productivity for the investment. Barmes and Barajas filled glaring needs for this team. NH mentioned on his radio show this past week that with what was available in F.A., they were two of higher rated players at their position. (but I have to wonder why Barmes got TWO years)

    4) I would have thought that with at least the law of averages that there would have been a few more ‘hits’ with free agent signings than there were ‘misses’. But I have also been saying “You would think that in 19 straight years you would have at least been lucky enough to win one more game than you lose”

    DK: Grilli and Jones were minor-league free agents. Those aren’t high-leverage decisions. It’s fish in a barrel.

  43. bdubb says:

    Totally agree with the column. I have also said for sometime now that the development has to be with the structure or the plan down there. I just can’t believe the Pirates miss on so many prospects. And if they do then all scouts need to go and they need to overpay for Minnesota’s or Tampa’s scouts. How is it possible that Tampa and St Louis, for example, continually produce top notch players and yet the Pirates can’t even get one, save for Alavarez who was a no-brainer pick? Whatever it is they are teaching down there has to change (oh wait, doesn’t sound like they are teaching anything).

    If this organization will not spend top dollars than it is imperative they get kids ready to contribute annually from the minors. I am not sure what the idea NH has in place down on the Farms but it ain’t working. Clean house. Get a GM who has a better plan and better people in place.

    One other note…I would say that if Nutting is attending most games that is more impressive than both Mario and Rooney. Rooney only has to attend 8 regular season games. NHL only plays 80 games. In MLB Nutting is essentially at the yard for 6 consecutive months. I will give it up to him on that.

  44. Thundercrack says:

    ” I’ve had people from around baseball calling me — unsolicited — to ask what’s going on. These are people I don’t hear from as often anymore, not being on the beat full-time, which makes it stand out all the more.”

    DK, I’m sure you won’t tell us what positions in baseball these people hold, but what are they calling you and asking about?

    If it is about ‘The Collapse”…well, isn’t EVERYONE asking about that? Just about every out of town relative and friend I have has contacted me and asked about that.

    Are they asking about other areas….like the Navy SEALS training?

    DK: Very little to do with the collapse.

  45. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m with JAL that #1 & #2 are certainly related. But it’s a chicken / egg thing for me. I’ve said it many times, the best way to improve fundamentals is to get better players.

  46. Thundercrack says:

    One last point regarding the free agents, I thought this past offseason was one year where they should have increased their spending and shopped at Macy’s. There were a few outfielders that could have helped.

  47. TJA says:

    Your column last Friday was a dandy…a gem! If people were not talking before this, that sure got some mouths moving that day. Thank you, Dejan for lighting up this team (that indeed we all love and want to see do well!) like a Christmas Tree!

    DK: Funny that you mentioned that. That’s exactly how it worked.

  48. TJA says:

    Another good article, today, too. Good work!

  49. NMR says:

    I have to agree with JAL.

    I don’t fault Huntington for his drafts because at the time they happened, I can’t remember many complaints. That is the time of the clean slate. When pure talent is evaluated. That is Huntingtons job.

    From there, he HAS to depend on his developement staff. For a while, I attributed what looked like lack of fundamentals to lack of discipline. And still do, to a degree. But the comment Dejan got from another NL farm director is quite the dagger. The Pirates simply cannot continue to let that happen.

  50. Leefoo says:


    AND, what you fail to point out is that baseball drafts rarely produce more than 4 usable players. Surely Callis will agree with that.

    That 2008 draft has given us Pedro who has been VERY usable. And don’t give me that tired argument about how you’re not supposed to MISS with those high picks. Tim Beckham went # 1. Teams miss….baseball draft is VERY inexact. Again, I am sure Callis will agree with that.

    We’ve also gotten d’Arnaud, Mercer, Grossman (who went for Wandy), Hague and Justin Wilson. The jury is still out on how usable they will be.

    Take a look at KC from 2008 (BA’s #1 system a couple of years ago). All they have is Eric Hosmer and Giavotella (.243) so far. Who is to say what Mercer could’ve done had he played regularly. I guess THEIR draft is a failure, too?

    Look at Seattle….NOBODY of any ilk. Heck, we got Lorin and Pribanic in a deal.

    You need to start reading P2 more.


  51. Leefoo says:

    Also, our # 2, Tanner Scheppers didn’t sign.

    I’m sorry….NH has done wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better than Littleyield and Bonifay.

    Surprised you gave Clint a free pass after all the headscratching decisions he’s made. He’s been horrible!



  52. Ace McTasty says:

    GM is the single most important position in the organization. Don’t think the success the Steelers and Pens have had is accidental. Colbert and Shero are among the best at what they do. Sure they’ve made mistakes but their overall track records are excellent. Meanwhile, Pirate fans have had to deal with the likes of NH, Littlefield & Bonifay. Hopefully the next time Bob Nutting hires a GM he sets his sights higher than a guy who had been recently demoted by Cleveland.

  53. Milo Hamilton says:

    Did someone warn Neal’s kids not to read the blog today ?

  54. pattonbb says:

    DK – I have a question. If Kyle Stark is replaced, does that have a significant “trickle down” effect in the organization? I mean, wouldn’t a new Director of Player Development want to name his own coaches and minor league instructors? Seems replacing Stark might cause a rather large organizational shake up.

    I don’t see how Huntington or Stark keep their jobs.

    Very nice article this morning.

    DK: Yes, undoubtedly it would.

  55. Leefoo says:

    NMR…I agree on #49. We loved the drafts at the time. Also, don’t forget that the on field product HAS improved each of the last two years. How many of us would’ve taken 74-73 back on Apr 1?

    Is the draft to blame for:

    Our ‘stopper’ has lost 6 in a row.
    Our other 1st half ace is out of the rotation.
    Our “Number 3″ starter is hurt.
    Our best pitchers are Wandy (we got him for Grossman) and KC.
    We’re starting two AAA pitchers.
    Our bullpen, once our strength, is no longer our strength.
    And, that is just our pitching!

    Plus, I would’ve LOVED to have seen what Mercer could’ve done at SS this year.

    I guess Clint doesn’t trust him. But he trusts Rod? I don’t trust Clint’s ‘trust’.

    GM Foo


  56. As one who’s begun thinking that Nutting’s small purse is the root of the problem, the column’s challenging. Reality is humbling. In July, I thought NH was a genius finally come in for well deserved accolades, though I have long wondered about his penchant for running a business that employs millionaires like a boot camp.

  57. JW says:

    Even If Barmes and Barajas were considered two of the higher-rated available players at their position this off-season, that the Pirates had to settle for both only reiterates a lack of foresight, development and/or organizational depth at both of those positions.

  58. redus says:

    Oh my – “complete rebuild”, “five year plan” – it is an ugly morning and an offense undeserving of a series win, but it is still there for the taking. Consider this the “swept in 4 games of the divional series week/weekend” and simply enjoy baseball when it’s below 50 degrees for the first time in 15 years (yeah even the freak show counts).

    OK enough of the magical world of disney outlook on why we should accept this as just another step and enjoy meaningful baseball in September…Win a meaningful game guys…and do it soon. Someone step up. I can accept a collapse, but not rolling over…at least fart on Ryan Braun’s dinner before you go home for the winter!

  59. Bizrow says:

    If Huntington goes, he should take Coonelly with him.

    Neither give you a warm fuzzy that they are “leaders” of the PBC organization.

    We’ve had trouble in the past though hiring quality GMs, much like free agent players, they don’t seem to want to come here

  60. JMB says:


    I agree completely.

    In my mind, it has to be a complete housecleaning.

  61. Thundercrack says:

    I agree with your points. No team’s minor league system could plug all the holes that have sprung up during this “Collapse”.

    Of course it would be nice if the minor league system could hurry up and develop a shortstop and catcher.

  62. Leefoo says:

    On # 55, I wrote this part wrong:

    “..WE have lost 6 in a row when our stopper has pitched.”

  63. JMB says:

    DK: Yeah, lighting $51 million on fire with mostly busted draft picks is a great boon for franchise value.

    I understand that, but from what I understand, that wasn’t $51MM of the Nuttings’ personal wealth that was lit on fire.

    If Nutting had burned through $51MM of Ogden’s money, then I could see the argument that BN is a guy that wants to win above all else.

    The team made money in 07, 08, and 09.

    I’m not saying that Nutting is “lining his pockets,” but he definitely isn’t losing money either.

    The value of the franchise has increased at an incredible rate since the Nutting’s first bought into the team “with a $2 million loan to McClatchy, and they snapped up portions of the team as members withdrew from the group.”

    DK: Do you think Rooney or Lemieux is burning either of his personal banking accounts in supporting the Steelers and Penguins?

    Why is that applied only to baseball around here?

  64. Leefoo says:

    JMB…LOVED # 62



  65. 21sthebest says:

    “I did hear some second-hand stuff, Tracy. I’d rather hear it more directly before sharing any of it. I didn’t like what I heard.”


  66. Leefoo says:

    TC… Agree, but EVERY organization has their ‘holes’ that they can’t field from within.

    That’s why trades are made!


    And I STILL think they should’ve played Mercer for an extended time. I think he can become like JJ Hardy. He has good pop and is an average SS.

    Maybe we’ll trade him away and then he’ll become a star elsewhere….:) :)


  67. Leefoo says:

    Out for most of the day. Big retirement picnic at work.

    Food, food ,food! And desserts!!!!!

    Foo D


  68. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Very good column. I like the way it was used to open the radio show yesterday. (Only got to hear about 5 minutes of it. They frown on that in state offices here). Makes me anxious to see what plays out a month or so from now. Should be a more than interesting winter for the PBC.

  69. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Oh man I hope Huntington books some therapy sessions for his family once they read this column. Poor guy.

    DK, I don’t think Huntington will view your work as metrically sound.

  70. 21sthebest says:

    “I’m not saying that Nutting is “lining his pockets,” but he definitely isn’t losing money either.”

    In 2007-2009 they made $35 million in profits before income taxes. However, from the time the current ownership group bought the franchise in 1996 through 2006, the team lost $65 million. So that’s cumulative losses of $30 million through 2009 and they had to borrow another $20 million on their line of credit in 2009.

    Since the 2010 and 2011 financial information has not been made public like the previous years, I estimate that it’s possible they’ve been able to wipe out the $30 million in cumulative losses that existed as of the end of 2009.

    Sorry but I like to chime in when I see the financial stuff being discussed and the claims of Nutting making money from the team (although I realize you said you didn’t think he was lining his pockets) which I don’t think is a fair criticism.

    But what I do think is a fair criticism that I’ve never really seen anyone make is why is he investing in Seven Springs when he has a baseball team with financial needs and fans in the region who depend on their sports franchises for entertainment? If there are issues with other limited partners, I think those could possibly be overcome.

  71. AJS says:


    One thing I want to suggest. When reading the column today I felt like I was reading the transcript of the opening segment of your radio show yesterday, up until the end which based on your coments about timing yesterday you probably also intended to say on the air.

    It is ultimately your show and your platform, but I would hope that in the futur the content of the radio show is not just a platform for you to try out the next days column or parrot a prior column. Otherwise a couple things happen:

    1. People who listen to the radio show won’t bother to read the column, which is bad for your employer
    2. People will opt not to bother to go online and listen instead opting just to read the article the next day, bad for the show.

    If you are going to present in a new medium then make it something a little different that people will want to make sure they hear.

    DK: It’ll be VERY different in the future. In all candor here, I wanted a subject with which I was very comfortable for that opening segment. First time essentially talking to myself in a room.

    That said, the column had a TON of material that the segment didn’t.

    And thanks for listening/reading both!

  72. patrick(RI) says:

    @foo, re: Mercer

    More likely, we will dump him and get zip in return.

  73. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Although it is somewhat reassuring as a fan to hear that BNut is more involved than he seems- he’s not a very public guy in that regard. In comparison, Pens games show Mario in attendance on average about 653 times per game, especially when he has his angry face on.

  74. Matt says:


    Great article as usual! I hear everyone down on Barajas’ lack of hitting and defensive liability and rightfully so. I also hear everyone mentioning Tony Sanchez being a bust so far. Isn’t defense his strength? I’m not saying by any means that he alone would have prevented the collapse, but all these stolen bases are demoralizing to the team I’m sure! And what about the pitching coach? Do you know if he is addressing the slide-step at all with the staff? I was a pure knuckleballer in college and never had close to this many problems with stolen bases, at least pay SOME attention to someone on base. Go buccos!

    DK: Sanchez’s defense has been fine. He needs to hit.

  75. Hurdled says:

    Today, September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate day.

    OK, here goes……

    YARR, fetch me a mess of pitchers with downward planes and projectable stuff, YARR!

    YARR, I be worried about cost certainty, YARR!

    What else ye got??

  76. patrick(RI) says:

    for a little extra fun, check out Nate McLouth’s recent action for the Orioles (not meant as a critique of the “we loved him, traded him, loved him again, then dumped him” strategy — I just love the irony of watching Nate and the maligned Steve P. sort of duke it out for the AL East title contenders).

  77. Milo Hamilton says:


    I tried talking like a Pirate but I kept choking so much I couldn’t get anything out.

  78. Hurdled says:

    YARR, his xFIP be much better as of late, YARR!

  79. Hurdled says:

    Milo, that be treasonous talk to some, but I still gives it a big ol’ YARR!!

  80. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    YARR, isn’t that one of the stats that proves Barmes is the best SS ever?

  81. NMR says:

    Milo wins the internet today.

  82. Dave says:

    Why isn’t Bob Nutting asking himself questions? If he is holding the front office responsible he should also be holding their boss responsible for keeping the team on a shoe string budget each and every year. If he doesn’t go cheap in hiring Cleveland’s #3 man in charge does he get a better GM? If he actually was willing to spend free agent money on a potential impact player instead of 3-4 terrible over the hill rent a vets that the team brings in each season would they be better?

  83. NMR says:


    You bring up a good pont, though.

    Three of Huntington’s “busts”…McLouth, Ryan Ludwick, and Brandon Moss…are currently significant contibutors on playoff teams and making their current GM’s look good.

    It’s all Huntingtons fault.

  84. DominicDeNucci says:

    Depending on the draft and development from within always has somewhat of a crapshoot aspect to it. You have to have some good luck sprinkled in, and this franchise has had nothing but bad luck. Remember, going back 5 years, how much hope and promise there was involving that young rotation? Gorzelanny, Snell, Duke, Maholm? The most level-headed baseball minds would tell you that you’d better assume that only 50% of those guys would work out long-term. For the Pirates? Yeah, that 0% sucks. Maholm still has some effectiveness, but he pitches elsewhere now. And don’t forget about Bullington.

  85. patrick(RI) says:

    @ NMR

    I thought it was the curse of MLB Extra Inninings, which tempted me to revel in the agony of watching former players excell, but then I realized that, as a much younger entity, I recall the horror of the 1964 Cardinals winning the series with Groat & Skinner as key players. And for extra fun, Dick Stuart hit 33 homers and drove in 114 for the Boston Red Sox.

    Nothing is new. It just seems that way.

  86. NMR says:

    @patrick – I enjoyed that post, and you’re right. If it’s happening in baseball, it’s probably happened before. I love that part of the game.

  87. SJB says:

    “Brad, Indiana PA
    September 19th, 2012 – 9:42 am
    Although it is somewhat reassuring as a fan to hear that BNut is more involved than he seems- he’s not a very public guy in that regard. In comparison, Pens games show Mario in attendance on average about 653 times per game, especially when he has his angry face on.”

    Tru dat! He needs to be more visible at games and other related public functions if fans are going to give him benefit of doubt that he really is worried about the team’s performance and especially WINNING. Even Kevin McClatchy knew enough to be seen at games and on on television. As hard as it may be for Nutting from a personality standpoint to be out there shaking hands and kissing babies, he needs to realize until he does, everyone’s going to take his supposed interest in how the team performs with a grain of salt.

    Not only that, show us all you’re just as accountable and as “all in” as you want everyone else to be and try only breaking even for one year. Show everyone winning is that important to you and one of the main reason’s you dared buy a baseball team in the first place.

  88. Milo Hamilton says:

    Jesus was married ?! Lucky ?

  89. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR(or whatever your name is)—so, “Three of Huntington’s “busts”…McLouth, Ryan Ludwick, and Brandon Moss…are currently significant contibutors on playoff teams and making their current GM’s look good” you think shows Neal’s not so bad? I thought how they played for us was also under the GM’s responsibility.

  90. Thundercrack says:

    Funny how people now want Nutting to be more visible…and act more like Mario.

    Last year when the team was winning, Nutting made a couple of appearances on sport talk radio shows —-and people on blogs blasted him for that.

    DK said that he is around the team and the ballpark a lot. That is all I need.

    I don’t need to see him dancing on the dugout roof or have ROOT sports showing him frown or pull his hair out up in his owner’s box. My point is that I don’t want a “Jerry Jones” type.

  91. NMR says:


    That, as a matter of philosophy, I vehemently disagree with.

    It’s the GM’s responsibility to acquire players that have the ability to help their team win.

    It is NOT, nor has it ever been, his responsibility to ensure they play well. He cannot swing the bat for them.

    All three of those players have proven that Huntington was correct in identifying that they could help the Pirates win. The fact that they didn’t is their responsibility, not Huntington’s.

  92. Milo Hamilton says:


    I wish we had George Steinbrenner. Warts and all.

  93. nate83 says:

    I’m a little confused by all of this. At the beginning of year almost everyone thought that a good year for this team would be 72-78 wins. Most agreed that they would still be a year or two away from the difference making prospects coming up and contributing.

    What has changed? Who are these trade deadline players that other teams got that are helping their teams make the playoffs. Did Greinke help the Angels make the playoffs? Have any of the Dodgers addtions made them better? Is Dempster adding that much to the Rangers? Who did the A’s and Orioles pick up? It could be argued that Wandy is the best pitcher picked up at the deadline based on what he has done.

    Also please point out what 3-6 million dollor free agents become all-stars. You only have career stats to go by on these free agents and inexplicably almost everyone we have gotten has performed well below their averages. Unless thers is a magic crystal ball I don’t know about how can you see that. We haven’t overpaid for any of these guys based on what they did before they got to Pittsburgh.

    If the argument is the development is bad and fundementals are not being addressed at the lower levels I fully agree and that falls on Stark. At the end of the day it also falls on Huntington because he appointed Stark and has continued to support him, but I’m not seeing how this organization top to bottom isn’t light years ahead of where it was 5 years ago. It truly was worse then an expansion franchise because it didn’t have any rules giving them an advantage.

  94. nate83 says:


    I think we could all agree that Mario has a leg up on Nutting for the simple reason he was a legend before ever becoming the owner of the Penguins. If Nutting is at the game I don’t care how much face time he gets. How would he even control such a thing. Tell Roots he won’t renew their contract if he doesn’t get at least 5 minutes of face time a game?

  95. Thundercrack says:

    Here’s is what I would like to listen to: Neal Huntington on DK’s new internet show.

    Face to face, mano a mano in the studio.

    DK can ask him the question he has posed the past few weeks or so: Based upon the results in the minor leagues, how does a guy like Kyle Stark get promoted?

    DK: No new ground would be broken there, including the promotions.

  96. nate83 says:


    So our GM is an idiot for picking up McLouth and Moss but at the same time and Idiot for letting them go?

    Ludwick you could argue would have been nice to keep but we looked to be pretty solid in the outfield this year and moving forward which unfortunately didn’t work out. I’m thinking he wanted a longer contract and we just needed a one year stop gap.

  97. 21sthebest says:

    “Also please point out what 3-6 million dollor free agents become all-stars. ”

    Kevin Correia!

  98. Arriba Wilver says:

    Nate@#92–so you don’t think Nutting should even look into it, other than the fundamentals?

    Just speaking for myself I’m so tired of the “most people thought in April” argument. We are 15-29 since August 1, with still a legit chance to make the playoffs if we play a little bit better. What does that have to do with what anyone thought in April?

    Nate@#95–I never said he was an idiot, and I also didn’t say he was wrong to let them go. What I did say, and do think, is that the fact he got them, they didn’t do well for us and then did do well for other teams is not a feather in his cap for picking them in the first place.

  99. SJB says:

    September 19th, 2012 – 10:29 am

    That, as a matter of philosophy, I vehemently disagree with.

    It’s the GM’s responsibility to acquire players that have the ability to help their team win.

    It is NOT, nor has it ever been, his responsibility to ensure they play well. He cannot swing the bat for them.

    All three of those players have proven that Huntington was correct in identifying that they could help the Pirates win. The fact that they didn’t is their responsibility, not Huntington’s.”

    Ok. Who’s fault was it then? Who’s fault was it that the great McClouth failed in Atlanta as well? Maybe Neal needs to be GM for Baltimore or the Reds. Maybe just like the players, he’s good, just not with the Pirates. I assume you’re blaming coaching then right? That or something else at this level that should have little or nothing to do with whether a player can hit, pitch or field well enough to hold a spot on a team devoid of talent. But then again, they did have talent; they had Moss, McClouth and all the others that went through the Pirates turnstiles as a failure, only to be born a again a star somewhere else. Nope, not the GM’s fault at all. I know, maybe it’s the water…yeah, that’s the ticket.

  100. nate83 says:


    Born again star is a stretch. The only star the Pirates have given up on in the last 5 years is Jose Bautista.

  101. Milo Hamilton says:

    A column like Dejan’s today can often illicit the dreaded “vote of confidence” in response. It will be interesting to see the reaction, if any.

  102. NMR says:


    How is it anything but crystal clear that I’m saying it’s the PLAYERS fault?


    Nobody is saying it’s a feather in Neals cap that he once acquired those players. What I’m saying is that its an equally large stretch to say that Huntington should be fired for them not performing to their abilities while in Pittsburgh.

  103. SJB says:

    September 19th, 2012 – 11:11 am

    Born again star is a stretch. The only star the Pirates have given up on in the last 5 years is Jose Bautista.”

    Oh I agree, some others seem to think they are better than minor contributors and worth using as fodder and justification for supporting their continued argument in absolving Huntington of blame.

  104. nate83 says:


    I think he should look into everything. I just think the issue is more in development of talent and not the aquiring of the talent. Which also falls on Huntington because he put those people in charge. It should all go into the evaluation of him. There are pieces in place but you can’t compete at 50 million. I think in order to be judged fairly he needs one year with a 80 million dollor payroll. There is a reason that Oreo’s taste a lot better then the imitation ones. They cost more.

  105. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m one of those people that think the Pirates need to spend more on major league payroll.

    Did you know that three surprise teams this season – Baltimore , Oakland, & the White Sox – all lowered their payroll entering this season ? The Orioles slashed $15 million & the Chisox $30 million. You can do this when you get meaningful contributions from the minor leagues.

  106. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–I guess I misinterpreted you saying “All three of those players have proven that Huntington was correct in identifying that they could help the Pirates win. The fact that they didn’t is their responsibility, not Huntington’s.”. That was what I was basing the “feather in the cap” reference on.

  107. Arriba Wilver says:

    Nate–I’ll quote (at least pretty close) DK from the Showdown this past Sunday when Pompeani suggested the Pirates needed an $80 million payroll. “Bill Gates would not give Neal Huntington $25 million to spend on bringing guys in” [with his track record.]

  108. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    @Nate, 93

    In regards to Mario, I actually find it humorous when I’m watching the game and they keep showing him brooding in the box if Pens aren’t doing well. I was also pointing out that they show him very often. Visually, for me as a fan, it just creates a reassuring feeling. I don’t hold BNut to that standard as he’s not much of a PR guy from what I’ve seen. Nor do I really care if he get’s 15 minutes of airtime in a game.

    I know BNut isn’t a legend like Mario and I know he doesn’t have Root camera operators on a string. I don’t expect to see him at every game or on the tube every other batter. But what can we fans honestly know for sure about him? At times he seems involved, which I think he needs to be (within reason), and others it’s like he’s not even there. SJB made a good point in 86.

    And regarding NH, no matter what flow chart you make it all comes down to him. Whether that’s fair or not, that’s how it is. Even Craig Patrick was canned. I think most people would agree he was pretty darn good for a while. My issues with NH, beyond his baseball decisions, are numerous. He deflects blame and makes excuses and throws his family out as a psychological barrier (probably coincidental with his education) and then sort-of takes responsibility with an *.

    There’s a fine line between confident and arrogant, and for me he’s crossed it too many times. I acknowledge he’s done some good stuff, especially with the Latin American and bullpen-on-a-budget aspects. But let’s be real, his prize draft picks weren’t exactly diamonds in the rough and his FA record is horrible. But there are excuses for that one.

    I’m probably just greedy, but personally I’ve never been content with 82. I think last year and the progress we made this year set the bar higher than that. Just my opinion. My interpretation of NH is that he’s ok with it as long as “progress” is made. I don’t like his vague answers, I don’t like his irresponsibility and I don’t like his arrogance.

  109. LuckyNKentucky says:


    Not sure what you’re referring to in #87 above, but Jesus had more sense than that. (Sorry Jandy).

  110. Arriba Wilver says:

    Lucky–there was a report yesterday that a parchment, maybe from the 4th Century, was potential support for the theory that Jesus was married.

  111. Milo Hamilton says:


    It was reported in the New York Times & I saw it on the Today Show, so it must be true. Ha ha.

    An papyrus has been uncovered in which Jesus refers to his wife. If true, I blame Kyle Stark for the cover up.

  112. NMR says:

    @Arriba (#106)

    In my field, when you arrive at a conclusion, THEN look for facts to back it up, you’re bound to make a mistake.

    The quote you offered falls into that category, IMO.

    Yes, Huntington has a poor record of free agent acquisitions. But to completely blame his talent evalutaion and dismiss the fact that he automatically is limitted to the choices with the least talent completely overlooks the true cause of the problem.

  113. Naterosboro says:


    Agree mostly with what you wrote in your column, except I think Hurdle needs to be replaced too. We’re past the “up-beat, positive attitude” stage. We need “attitude + good baseball in-game managing decisions” guy now if this team is to take the next step and truly contend for a title.


    You wrote: “I could fill the sports section with examples, or I could simply share what a farm director for another National League team told me Tuesday: “What the Pirates are doing down there is deplorable.”

    That sentiment is echoed broadly across the industry.”

    I NEED those specific examples though. I would like to know exactly what is so deplorable about what the Pirates do at the minor league level.

    And, while you say this “sentiment” is echoed “broadly” (and I understand you can’t name sources), it does matter who is making the statement. I’d love to know what farm director said that and take a look at what their system is doing.

    It’s easy to “talk the talk”. I know. I do it everyday. ;)

  114. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–I don’t think what you said is limited to any particular field; it’s universal, to me.

    But, (i) I was offering it kind of as a joke, (ii) I think the idea that you have to give Neal an $80 mil payroll before you can adequately evaluate him is preposterous in terms of his job security. Maybe on his career, but I’m a Pirate fan, not a Neal Huntington fan.

  115. SJB says:

    September 19th, 2012 – 11:17 am

    How is it anything but crystal clear that I’m saying it’s the PLAYERS fault?”

    Just wanted to make sure. Now, can you tell us why? Why not one or two, but more or less the entire roster goes into the crapper for the better portion of two months after being one of the better teams statistically in baseball for much of the summer? They are obviously a much better collection of players than they are showing now, right? I mean; Barmes, Barajas, Tabata, Presley, Snider, Sanchez and Clement are all quality starting lineup kinda players, so I don’t know what could be wrong there. Pedro is clearly not a strikeout/HR-Or-Bust/Only Hit Righties machine and is just having an off season, right? The lack of fundamentals is solely on the players and not their development in the farm system (GM’s responsibility). I mean; they should just know that stuff and be born with it, right? To keep this brief, we’ll save the implosion of the pitching for another discussion.

    We know the GM has nothing to do with any of this, correct? These players are all good and suddenly, for whatever reason, turn to crap? Not just this season but two years in a row now. Even after adding new players and assurance from the manager and GM that wouldn’t happen again. Hmmm, what could cause this to happen? Bad diet, sleep apnea, allergic to winning?

    I do agree with you that it’s the players fault (sadly, they just aren’t good enough), and to a smaller degree, the manager’s, but I also think it’s foolish to think the GM can simply wash his hands of things when “HIS” players fail…repeatedly. Are you a parent? Do you think when your kid – who’s hopefully not just an idiot – fails over and over, that maybe, just maybe, it’s YOUR fault? Is that too much of a stretch?

    Blame should always start at the top, not the other way around. Everyone’s at fault here, but only a few can be blamed.

  116. LuckyNKentucky says:

    AW and Milo,

    The Bride of Christ the Bible refers to is a disputed reference to either New Jerusalem or the Church and nobody here wants to know my argument for either. I wouldn’t put much stock in any papyrus indicating anything. But I agree with you. It’s either Kyle Stark or Neal H. who is responsible for the cover-up. Hands down. No doubt about it.

    I don’t think the man had time to be married when he walked the earth, anyway. He was busier than DK then and He still is now. I keep Him pretty busy myself. Can’t imagine what the millions of others are doing, too. :)

  117. NMR says:


    I’ve never met Neal in my life. I have absolutely zero emotional attachment to him. I’m obviously a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates as well.

    You know from this blog that I am far from sold on Huntington. Don’t forget about back in late June, early July when I took criticism from fellow lunatics for saying I’d still fire him in a heartbeat, IF there was a better candidate available. That the essence of improving as an organization.

    In my eyes, some of these reason that get snowballed together in order to build the case against fit into the exact scenario I described in my previous post, which you agreed with. I said it a couple weeks ago. Go ahead, fire the GM. You just better have someone in place thats an improvement. We’ve seen it can get much, much worse.

  118. NMR says:

    Off to meetings, sorry if I don’t respond to you.

  119. Arriba Wilver says:

    Lucky–those ideas were given as one of the potential explanations in the articles I read. Fascinating stuff.

  120. SJB says:

    September 19th, 2012 – 11:53 am

    Agree mostly with what you wrote in your column, except I think Hurdle needs to be replaced too. We’re past the “up-beat, positive attitude” stage. We need “attitude + good baseball in-game managing decisions” guy now if this team is to take the next step and truly contend for a title.”

    Agreed Nate. They don’t need a “buddy” coach anymore. They need a smart, hard a$$, proven coach they respect enough to actually fear screwing up. Hurdle? Glorified HS coach IMO.

  121. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–I was referring to Nate’s argument, which was also what I listed the quote in response to. I’m not even saying he should be fired, I don’t know, but what I see are excuses for just about everything he’s done, which is why I mentioned the Pirate fan. Not directed at you.

  122. SJB says:

    September 19th, 2012 – 12:09 pm

    “Go ahead, fire the GM. You just better have someone in place thats an improvement. We’ve seen it can get much, much worse.”

    Agree with that too. Like I said; blame starts at the top. Coonelly hired Huntington, so will he be able to do better this time? Would it be smart to just replace Coonelly as well, or is Nutting smart enough to hire the next GM and let Frank worry about other important things like his drinking problem and harassing local bar owners.

  123. Milo Hamilton says:


    I just learned more from your post than I did on the Today program. That’s why you’re my “go to guy” on matters of religion & the minor leagues.

  124. LuckyNKentucky says:


    That is fascinating stuff. Saw a documentary on that subject once. It wasn’t convincing, but it was interesting. Paul said it was better to be like him (not to marry) but it was better to marry than to burn (with passion, not burn in Hell). Thank God, Paul didn’t have to look at the commercials and stuff we do these days. He might have married, too. On the other hand, some men and ladies would rather burn in Hell than marry these days. We see it every day.

    We need more examples of solid people being good family people, like Hurdle, Neil Walker, the Fort, Paul Maholm and others. Makes for better role models. And, I don’t care what these ballplayers say, they are role models.

  125. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Thanks, Milo. I’m glad someone can learn something from me. As far as the minor leagues, I’m shell-shocked at what we’ve seen with these call-ups. I’ve watched some of them for several seasons in the minors and they seem lost when they get up here. Like they just landed here from another planet as opposed to the minors.

  126. Jandy says:

    Lucky #108, no sorries needed. Jesus was too busy to get married ;)

  127. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Is DK a columnist-vampire? I see lot’s of stuff posted during Twilight hours. Can’t bring myself to watch those movies, though.

    DK: Vampire!

  128. Jandy says:

    Brad, it”s all the Starbucks he drinks ;)

  129. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Ha Jandy, must be. He must have Starbucks in his veins.

  130. Jandy says:

    I;d say that’s it, Brad lol. Babysitting today, Granddaughter is keeping me busy

  131. 21sthebest says:

    Uh oh! The Pirates did charity work today! The day of a night game before a day game and after a night game!

  132. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Rob Rossi says NHL lockout shouldn’t be long. Hope he’s right. We got my son a Malkin jersey for his birthday and he’s dying to wear it. Want to get my daughter one- she sings that “They call me Geno” song DVE played a few years ago all the time minus the Ovechkin sucks part. Anyone know where to get a pink Pens jersey size 4T-ish that doesn’t require a mortgage and isn’t going to spark a federal investigation? Sports shop here was raided last year for illegal jerseys.

  133. Baywatch says:

    Great column, DK.

  134. JB says:

    Interesting interview with Jamie Dixon. I will disagree with scheduling the Backyard Brawl being difficult. This isn’t football where games are scheduled years in advance. You might have an occasional home and home but nothing further out than 2 years. There is no excuse (for either side) that the game does not get scheduled next season.

    Also got a kick out of Dixon talking about schedule difficulties saying (and i am paraphrasing) “well you know teams have some many home games and road games”. What would he know about road games? Pitt plays 2 nonconference games outside the city of Pittsburgh this year and those are at a neutral site. He has always taken the Syracuse route to scheduling non conference games at home and hardly ever challenging his team in a true road game. Does nothing but hurt them come tourney time. And I don’t want to hear about getting screwed in the Big East-SEC challenge or the Preseason NIT. Those games are scheduled by someone else, Pitt is not responsible. In the last 5 years counting this one they have played at Duquesne, Tennessee, Penn, and Florida St. That’s 4 road games in 5 years.

    By comparison, in the same time frame WVU has played at Gonzaga, Purdue (twice), Duquesne (twice), Mississippi St, Miami, Cleveland St, Mississippi, and Ohio St.

  135. Drew71 says:

    I got lost.

    “The day of a night game before a day game and after a night game” = today, right?

  136. albatross says:

    “Why not one or two, but more or less the entire roster goes into the crapper for the better portion of two months after being one of the better teams statistically in baseball for much of the summer?”

    Has everyone forgotten how godawful the offense was for the first 2 months? The only thing that kept us respectable was the pitching, which is now suspect. I think the regression to the mean theory is the most apt. They’re just not good enough, and there’s no depth.

  137. Doc says:

    DK… in re your column: Thank you, thank you, thank you. As I have been saying for three years, there is nothing wrong with “The Plan”. The problem is the execution. From the failure of the Bay trade until now with the utter lack of fundamentals, this is a team that has worn out its welcome. NH has been a acceptable GM, but when you are working with limited financial resources, and against 2 decades of losing baseball, you need something better than “acceptable”. I have always gotten the impression NH is a fine human being. I wish him well in all his future endeavors, as long as they aren’t with the Pirates

  138. Milo Hamilton says:

    You should see how cute those grade school kids are with clay pigeons. Or are they having the little buggers do SEAL training ? Just the sight of 1st graders running down the halls with desks on their backs sure warms the heart, doesn’t it ? All the while, there’s Clint imploring them to “put a foot down”.

  139. Arriba Wilver says:

    Alba– the thing that got us to 16 games over .500 was the offense in June and July. I don’t buy the regression to the mean argument for 15-29 since Aug 1. Depth? Yeah, absolutely.

  140. Plenty of Hope says:

    Thank you for bringing up the “failure to progress” as I call it. I know it’s a delivery/labor term on the OB floor at hospitals, but I see it in a lot of our drafts. How do I gauge this? Through science? Stats? Scouts?
    No sir, I just look at the young ones that come to the MLB level on other teams and perform well. And then I look up who the Pirates drafted that year. It makes no sense to me that other teams bring up young talent. We bring talent up to struggle at the age of 26.
    It’s a generalization, but it’s also a trend.

  141. Thundercrack says:

    “DK: No new ground would be broken there, including the promotions.”

    Are you saying that you asked NH that already? If so, what was his answer.

  142. Great column, DK, on the Pirates front office. I definitely appreciate the perspective on Bob Nutting, as my own perception was quite different… and quite incorrect.

    @ Brad (133):
    I’m finding it increasingly difficult to believe that the NHL lockout will be resolved quickly. The number of NHL players signing overseas only appears to be increasing and the comments from many of the players themselves indicate that they expect the season to be lost. From the league perspective, teams have already begun layoffs for staff and the NHL has reportedly sent around a memo alerting staff of reduced workweeks and salary cuts.

    For a lockout that has scarcely reached Day Four, and for a league who’s training camps are not yet scheduled to open, these are ominous signs.

  143. JHadar says:

    A few things: (forgive the inevitable typos)

    1) Arrrgh! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day Mateys

    2) It is time to clean the house, not to burn it down.

    3) Huntington is an improvement over Littlefield and Bonifay. That alone does not constitute competence..

    4) The discussion on Hurdle reminds me of an old joke. It goes like this: The newly hired manager opens the empty desk in his new office and finds three envelopes labeled “to be opened when things go wrong” and signed by the old manager. Things go well for a while, but the team hits a losing streak and curiosity takes hold of the new guy. He opens the first envelop. It says “Blame Me.” He calls a press conference and talks about how he’s trying to correct some of the bad habits that the players picked up from the old regime. The fan base calms down, and things go well for a while longer. But when the losing starts again he opens the second envelope, “Fire an assistant coach and blame the players.” He calls a press conference and says that the players aren’t hitting and he’s firing the hitting coach. Things go well again for a while, but eventually the losing starts. He opens the third envelope and reads “Prepare Three Envelopes.”

    5) I’m among those who thought that close to .500 was what we were going to get in April. I’m disappointed because the performance of the team through the summer got my hopes up. I knew that they were playing over their potential — but it doesn’t seem like they’ve gone back to their potential, which should have let them coast home, but that they (panicked, choked, quit, lost their bearings, gave up on themselves, tightened up — pick one).

    6) I hate that baseball doesn’t have a level financial playing field.

    7) It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

    8..) I understand why some fans defend under-performing players like Barmes and Barajas, to name the most obvious, and why they point out their good games — but the fact that those guys are there shows the lack of depth. I root for them to do well, but their performances fall short of both hope and expectation.

    9) Wait ’til next year.

  144. Milo Hamilton says:

    Where’d all the Brock Holt people go ?

  145. Jandy says:

    ::wavin at Milo:: I’m still a Holt person.

    Drew, ask for directions, don’t be wandering in circles :)

  146. cmat0829 says:

    Seems to me there is definitely a case to be made for firing NH… and most of the front office along with him. Can’t see any case to fire CH. I think it was Foo earlier in the post string who talked about the injuries to the team and who we’ve essentially plugged into the spots on the team… can’t see for a second that is CH’s fault.

    His game-day strategy may be bewildering to some but really, really unfair to blame CH for players not being able to execute fundamentals when they arrive in Pittsburgh and for having such a lack of depth on the 40-man roster.

    I think NH is likely a smart man, and no doubt he really cares. Anyone opining other than that needs to go back to Smizik-land where they belong. But Neal has been too patient and stubborn in overvaluing his “own guys” in trade discussions and wanting to be bring the young talent along very slowly. If we do fire Neal, we MUST bring in a GM with experience in the job at the MLB level, because I think Neal’s biggest problem was he was afraid to make a mistake…didn’t make the big deal at the deadline because he was more worried about being wrong and losing the young talent than possibly being right and winning it all.

    We need someone who has the ability to make decisions with more backbone and not be worried about making a mistake.

  147. Arriba Wilver says:

    A week ago I didn’t think Neal’s job was in any way in jeopardy. But what I was thinking is that they need to hire a Legitimate bench coach, someone with a little panache (think Don Zimmer-like) to help Clint. And also a legitimate hitting coach, with a strong direction to Clint that He (the new guy) is in charge there. But I didn’t think there was enough heft in the FO to make that stick. And I personally think that one of Neal’s problems is too much loyalty to the internal guys (a nice, humane concept) but apparently not consistent with results. DK’s column makes me more hopeful that some tough decisions may be made.

  148. Milo Hamilton says:

    Omar Vizquel just tied Babe Ruth on the all time hits list with 2,873. I’m really starting to think he’s a Hall Of Famer.

  149. 21sthebest says:

    As a big fan of players who are able to play a long time Milo, I couldn’t agree more. I really wish Jim Kaat was in the Hall.

  150. Milo Hamilton says:


    Agreed on Jim Kaat. They should take his defense into account. 16 gold gloves.

  151. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Hurdle definitely making a case for catch-22 manager of the year. He should be the most difficult decision for BNut if we don’t make the playoffs.

  152. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    I appreciate any researched criticism in regards to any member of the Nutting Regime.
    However….I just don’t see anything really changing until the top of the totem pole is removed.
    Bob Nutting remains the root of the problem.

  153. NMR says:

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around how Frank Coonelly gets a complete pass in DK’s piece because he’s “done well on the business end”.

    Which part, the one where he signed whats probably the worst TV deal in Major League baseballl?

    Or the one where he chose the sprawling Northern West Virginia market for the Pirates minor league affiliate over Central PA?

    The Bud Lite bar in the outfield must’ve put him over the top.

  154. Matt says:


    Other than my post (#74), I haven’t posted for a few days. I was glad to see you speak the truth (#125)! I was also impressed that the other bloggers didn’t ridicule you for your stance. You were correct about a week ago Lucky, this is a fine bunch.

  155. patrick(RI) says:

    Strength up the middle must still be important and this team is pretty mediocre. SS has been weak since Wilson, catchers are pitiful, 2B is better than we had any reason to expect, but still a converted catcher and CF, while a marvelous talent, is neither strong-armed nor all that sound about using the arm he has. All this makes the pitching staff look weaker than it is (perhaps a moot point).

    If I were GM this is what I would try to fix and I would trade promising pitching to do it — no choice. I would start by switching Marte & our MVP. Then, I would think about sending Alvarez to winter ball to learn 1B(or how about RF — his arm and Marte could cover for him) then, we could try again on a free agent 3B.

    Then, at the end of the season we would have a nice starting 8, and I would be fired for having no pitchers.

  156. Bizrow says:

    One thing to remember too with 2013 is that sometimes clubs do not make linear steps of improvement, sometimes, the club improves but takes a step back the following season.

    What with Cutchs and GI Jones pretty much career years, AJ winning 15 games and usually giving us a chance, Grilli coming out of nowhere and Hanrahan having much more success, well

    Am not sure that any success the PBC has had this season will automatically extend to the next season.

  157. Milo Hamilton says:


    Or how about embarrassing the organization at least once a year with a PR gaffe ? Coonelly & Huntington are an entry in my opinion. Both go and are replaced by one person with complete autonomy over baseball operations.

  158. Arriba Wilver says:

    Matt—“speak the truth?” We’re on shaky ground (talking religion) here. Best to leave it alone. And why would anyone ridicule Lucky?

  159. 21sthebest says:


    What are the terms of the TV deal? I’ve never been able to locate them.

  160. Brad, Indiana PA says:


    I believe you might be mistaken. It might have been the Tilted Kilt.

  161. pattonbb says:

    @Milo – I’m one of those Brock Holt guys. Haven’t gone anywhere. But I can admit I got a little caught up in those initial games.

    Vizquel should be a FIRST ballot HOFer. A-Rod, Ripken, and Jeter may have won the popularity contests (rightfully so), but Vizquel was the guy winning the Gold Gloves. He was always one of my favorite SS to watch. No flash, just great technique, range and arm strength. Made spectacular plays look ho-hum.

    By the way, I read somewhere that Vizquel always wore #13 because his childhood hero was Dave Concepcion. Would be kind of weird if neither one of them ever went into the Hall.

  162. Matt says:


    Because Lucky spoke what he believes about his faith on a secular blog without people being upset or offended even if they disagreed with him. I meant it as a compliment towards Lucky and anyone else who read it w/o getting upset.

  163. NMR says:

    Wasn’t even gonna go there, Milo.

    Coonely’s PR gaffes alone should be enough to remove him from the position.

    I was playing on Dejan’s terms, and still finding zero way to justify his performance.

    Frank Coonely’s business philosophy is to collect MLB welfare.

  164. Matt says:

    It is good to see Lucky get respect on here as clergy was my point.

  165. Arriba Wilver says:

    I get that, Matt, and agree with you about Lucky. I was talking about the “speak the truth” aspect you added. Like I said, shaky ground.

  166. NMR says:

    @21 – Arriba linked the exact article I was thinking of. Signing that contract, at that price, for that length, all but ensures zero ground can be made financially.

    Do the math. Even half a million more people/year in attendence wouldn’t get the Pirates half way to making up the difference between what the Pirates recieve in TV revenues and what the Padres just got.

    The Pirates could win 5 consecutive World Series titles and it won’t be another 19 years until they can financially capitalize on that success.

    Frank Coonely negotiated that contract.

    Good business. Yup.

  167. Arriba Wilver says:

    For some reason DK has always given FC a bit of a pass. I’ve always thought it was because FC by background, and apparently in person, is very impressive. Heck, Mark Madden was impressed by him. But the only way to say he’s been successful in his role (even forgetting the gaffes) is that BN has made a profit each year since he came.

    I know, “who’d have known” that TV deals would skyrocket? Kinda like Jose Bautista.

  168. Milo Hamilton says:


    That should be required reading for Pirate fans. The Rangers are one thing, but the Padres ?

    Wal-Mart greeter in an Armani suit.

  169. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Wow, a few responses this morning/afternoon….

  170. RobertoForever says:

    Happy Birthday, Dan Byslma.

  171. RobertoForever says:

    Lineup was out about 30 min ago.

    Here is the preview

    Holt 2B, Marte LF, Cutch CF, Jones 1B, Alvarez 3B, McKenry C, Snider RF, Barmes SS, McPherson P

  172. RobertoForever says:

    Also, Happy Birthday to Brett Keisel.

  173. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Just heard clip on 93.7 of NH defending Rod Barajas. Rough quote from memory but here is the jist, “Rod just brings so much more. This isn’t FANTASY BASEBALL where you are looking for saves or strikeouts or stolen bases. Yeah his batting is a bit below .200 but that’s not all that we’re looking for.” Seriously, Neal?! You’re defending that?

    I guess we fans will just never get that intangible metric you see. We all must be stupid. You snotty little… You want to talk about fantasy baseball since those are the only terms we stupid fans can contemplate, why don’t you look at the real-life team you put on the field. Here’s a fantasy stat for you: Barajas has thrown out 6 out of 90 SB attempts. NH is getting worse by the day. Looks like he really learns from his mistakes. This morning I was all for letting him at least finish the season. Not anymore.

  174. nate83 says:

    cmat @ 146

    I agree with most of what you say, but winning it all seems to be a stretch. The way the team is playing now is proof they are far from being 1 player away from competing with the Nationals, Reds and Giants.

    I would take all 4 of the Nationals top 4 starting pitchers over any of our starting pitchers. Same goes for top 3 Giant starting pitchers. We wouldn’t even approach the level of the Reds line up with Pence or Headly. Not to mention who knows if Nutting would have even given the green light on taking on Pence’s contract.

    The two biggest names we have gotten in trades are Burnett and Wandy. Both deals came with the other team taking on large chunks of the remaining contract. I don’t believe either of those deals get done without that because there is no way Nutting gives the OK.

    By the way those two guys have been pretty good. It’s amazing what a player that makes 10-14 million a year can accomplish compared to 4-6 million. Raise payroll to 80 million then evaluate. It is the only fair way to judge a GM.

  175. Milo Hamilton says:


    That’s funny, considering he & the rest of his “Moneyball” crew runs the team like it’s fantasy baseball. He’s been saying some really “out there” stuff lately. He’s certainly feeling the heat.

  176. Milo Hamilton says:


    The White Sox, Orioles & A’s cut their payrolls by a total of $48 million this year. It’s not all about the money.

  177. Frankie says:

    I am done with the Pirates…..If someone has a kid and want to go to a remaining game, I have 2 box seats from the rain out game on April 23rd. All you need to do is exchange for a current game. FREE to the 1st person to email me their address. I will mail out that day. I cannot take the losing anymore.

  178. Arriba Wilver says:

    Nate @175—so you’re just going to ignore my responses on the $80 mil at # 107 and !14? Like I said, that notion is preposterous in deciding whether Neal should continue to be GM of the Pirates.

  179. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    @ Milo,

    I detest this guy after hearing that clip, before I was just disappointed. I mean, he’s obviously addressing fans in these interviews and to insinuate that they just don’t get it? I wish I could find a clip of it. The condescending tone of his voice was blatantly obvious, too. First he blames us for demoralizing his family and now not only are we rude, we’re ignorant. What nerve.

    @ Nate

    How would you rate the Tigers, Angels, Mets, Red Sox, Marlins, Dodgers, and Phillies GM’s?

  180. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think the recent Neal interviews are just proof of what DK was saying about the vultures being out there. There’s definitely something in the air . . .

  181. Brian says:

    The lack of fundamental teaching is disturbing, but very noticeable. I remember Huntington talking about it when he first took over the system and it’s lack of fundamentals.
    Your minor league system should be about who is the “next” player coming up to the big leagues. I would like to know who is the next catcher, 1st base, 2nd base, shortstop, 3rd base, or outfielder that has everyone excited. We have a nice number of pitchers about to take the leap, but not counting the guys on the roster now we are fairly void of talent….

  182. NMR says:


    nate DIRECTLY acknowledges your post about the $80m payroll.

    “By the way those two guys have been pretty good. It’s amazing what a player that makes 10-14 million a year can accomplish compared to 4-6 million.”

    “Both deals came with the other team taking on large chunks of the remaining contract. I don’t believe either of those deals get done without that because there is no way Nutting gives the OK.”

    Huntingtons two best moves this year have been for guys that would’ve absolutely, without a doubt, been off limits to him on the open market with his current budget.

    Hardly “preposterous”.

  183. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–you have a very different view of “directly” than I do. Maybe you came to your conclusion first and worked backwards.

  184. nate83 says:

    I am only saying what NMR is saying. Would any GM willing to come to the Pirates do any better with the restrictions put on by the owner? Great to hear Nutting is not leaving any stone unturned to figure out the collapse. He should start with a legitimate payroll to provide depth.

    Depth from the minors does not happen overnight. Our outfield and pitching depth currently is tremendous compared to 5 years ago, but it is 1-2 years away from arriving and 3-4 years away from contributing unless you beleive every player that comes up should play like a rookie of the year.

    Marte and Alvarez are going to get better, Cutch, Walker and hopefully Jones will be part of this team going forward. You fill in the other 3 spots with guys that make 10-14 million and are proven major league players you have a very good team. Wait a second I just realized our GM is not allowed to spend 10-14 million on a free agent. It’s hard to build a team when the top 3 or 4 free agents at any position are not even an option for you to pick up.

    Be careful what you wish for because the next GM could be as bad as the previous 2 GM’s before NH. It doesn’t matter what the pieces are as long as the pieces are circling around the drain that is Nutting the players, coaches and front office will be climbing an uphill battle.

  185. NMR says:

    @Brad If I may…

    Red Sox – Theo left Cherrington a ticking time bomb of huge contracts and ageing players. Ben correctly blew it up.

    Phillies – Amaro drove himself into the same situation as Theo. That team will be burried even deeper in a few years than the Sox are now. The cracks have shown this year and their (former) stars are only getting older.

    Dodgers – Had a blank check and yet got two worse pitchers than Wandy to help his team make the playoffs. Poor decision.

    Tigers/Angels – Both GM’s assembled the talent, but both in close races. Thats why they play the games.

    Marlins – complete failure. no question.

  186. Mike Shigley says:

    Let’s look at the depth problem (i.e., the GM’s drafts)

    2007 – Only the 14th rounder, Kyle McPherson, has made it. That was the Moskos in the first round. Duke Welker (pitcher) is in AAA, as is the 3rd rounder, infielder Brian Friday (about a .200 hitter). The 4th rounder, Quincy Latimore, is still stuck at about .250 in AA, and they took 2 catchers I never heard of in 5 and 7.

    2008 – That was the Pedro Alvarez draft. Jordy Mercer was #3, Chase d’Arnaud was #4 Justin Wilson was #5, and Robbie Grossman was #6, and another shortstop (Benji Gonzales) at #7 is still in High A. It also had Matt Hague at #9, and another .200 shortstop Jarek Cunningham (at AA) at #18,.

    2009 – This was also a very bad draft. Tony Sanchez was #1, and we took pitchers as a compensation pick, #2, and #4 through #8. Other than Victor Black, the comp pick, they haven’t advanced beyond A, although all were paid a very large sum of money. The center fielder at #3 hits about .200 However, Brock Holt was #9, and Phil Irwin (another pitcher) at #21 came on very strong and made it up to AAA.

    2010 – This was another mediocre draft, except for Taillon at #1. Allie was #2, Mel Rojas (a light hitting outfielder was #3), Nicholas Kingham (struggled pitching in low A) at #4, Tyler Waldron struggled pitching at A and AA at #5, Brandon Cumpton was decent pitching at AA at #9, but their left fielder Dan Grovatt was mediocre at A at #11. The later rounds may make it worthwhile. Matt Curry, a first baseman at #16 has shown decent power at AA, and outfielder Adalberto Santos at #22 has excelled at every level, finishing at almost .400 at AA (but no power).

    2011 – This was the Gerrit Cole draft. Josh Bell was #2, and except for his injury would have progressed further. Alex Dickerson finished strong in high A with good power, but once again 2 more outfielders. Dan Gamacher, #6, a third baseman, hit for decent power and RBIs at low A, but no power. Taylor Lewis, at #10, an outfielder hit about .240 for low A. The rest were pitchers or mediocre position players.

    In other words, there are no catchers waiting, and no shortstops (unless the 2008 class succeeds), and maybe only a single 1st basemen and a couple outfielders. Even the pitching prospects, other than the prized two and a couple others show little promise.

    Grade anyone?

    DK: I’m told that the 2009 draft, plus Allie, are big deals here.

  187. NMR says:

    Sorry, Arriba. You’re correct. Nate did not address you by name.

  188. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Now, for the evening service, the sermon topic will be……

    Just kidding.

    (No politics or religion, at least while DK is awake)

  189. LuckyNKentucky says:


    Good outline, but you left out Alan Hanson and Gregory Palanco, who, I believe were Gayo signings. Also, signings like Heredia and others, or are you looking at JUST the draft?

  190. NMR says:


    “By the way those two guys have been pretty good. It’s amazing what a player that makes 10-14 million a year can accomplish compared to 4-6 million.”

    “Both deals came with the other team taking on large chunks of the remaining contract. I don’t believe either of those deals get done without that because there is no way Nutting gives the OK.”

    How do you respond?

  191. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–weak, my friend, very weak, to be almost non-existent. (How’d you like the conclusion thing?)

  192. NMR says:

    Was Mike the guy who yelled at DK for Huntington failing to draft Weiters?

  193. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–in #194 I was responding to your # 190.

    How do I respond? Where’s the $80 million benchmark before you can evaluate Neal?

  194. RobertoForever says:


    That’s a great accumulation of info on the drafts. But 2007 was Littlefield’s draft, not Huntington’s.

    Just comparing 2008 to 2007, it looks like a vast improvement. With respect to 2009 and beyond, there is little conclusions to be made. I looked at the Reds, Cardinals and Twins drafts from 2008 and 2009, and I think the Pirates did better than all of those 3 in both years, so far.

  195. NMR says:

    @AW – I always appreciate a guy with good enough memory to bring back part of a conversation. Shows they actually listen.

    So what exactly is weak?

    Arriba: Why would Neal do any better with more money?

    nate: His two best acquisitions this season have been ones in which the other team contributed to their salary. Without said contribution, neither player would’ve been available for Huntington to aqcuire.

    I’m no prosecutor, but thats about as direct as you can get.

  196. Arriba Wilver says:

    Let me just say this: If Neal’s benchmark is “did you do better than Littlefield” sign him up to a lifetime contract.

  197. NMR says:


    Answering a question with a question is the ultimate sign of a bad argument.

    Where did Littlefield come into play?

    Care to actually respond to nate’s comment?

  198. Milo Hamilton says:

    $80 million ? What a classic strawman. How about you guys all promise to come visit my grave when the payroll gets to $80 million.

  199. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–where in the Wild Wild World of Sports did you come up with me saying “Why would Neal do better with more money?” Wouldn’t we all do better with more money?
    But I don’t need $80 Mil to do better, and the argument was you can’t evaluate Neal until he has had the opportunity to spend $80 mil. Still working backwards from the conclusion, Dude.

  200. Arriba Wilver says:

    OK, $70 Million, $75 million. My point is that you can’t say you can’t evaluate Neal until he has a chance to spend any set amount. He has what he has. Like I said, it’s a preposterous proposition.

  201. nate83 says:

    If you get 2 players that contribute to your team from every draft you have almost filled your team roster without even signing free agents. Who are these teams that get 5 great prospects from every draft? They don’t exist. Only number that matters is minor league prospects rankings done by people much more capable then myself and those rankings show a dramatic increase for the Pirates. I believe they have went from 29th or 30th to 11th or 12th under NH.

  202. NMR says:

    Wait, we’re actually talking about the number being dead set at $80m and not a penny less?

    Then absolutely!

    There’s no magic number to payroll success. I thought that number was being thrown around as a ballpark for giving him the freedom to choose over more than just the $3-$6m players(which is obviously not a hard fact, thus I assumed the $80m wasn’t either).

    “Bill Gates would not give Neal Huntington $25 million to spend on bringing guys in” [with his track record.]”


    nate listed two very good acquisitions Neal has gotten with added financial flexibility.

    Why would an extra $25m be any different?

  203. Milo Hamilton says:


    Prospect rankings aren’t worth a hill of beans. And this is our hill, and these are our beans ! The only thing that matters is performance at the big league level.

    Now, I promised Norberg we’d bake a raisin nut bread.

  204. Arriba Wilver says:

    nate–you’re moving the goalposts, or as JAL would say, you’re trying to shift the argument. I’m not going to get into the minor leagues and draft. I’m not even arguing, as I said earlier, Neal should be fired. You, on the other hand, and NMR as your surrogate, seem to be arguing you can’t fire him because he hasn’t had enough money to spend.

  205. NMR says:

    Nobody said you cannot evaluate him.

    You just cannot evaluate him against his peers who are getting the extra money.

    Like I said, replacing him is fine, but good like finding somebody who is going to do better.

    I asked multiple time for GM’s who have a track record of producing consistantly winning teams with budgets the size of Huntingtons.

    The list isn’t exactly huge, and no amount of money is getting them.

  206. NMR says:

    Arriba, you are the only one who is talking about firing somebody.

  207. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–I can’t even follow you anymore. Too much arriving at a conclusion and working backwards.

  208. nate83 says:


    Please elaborate as to why they are not worth a hill of beans. I would love to hear more then a 1 sentence I’m right your wrong comment.

    Put some meat on that argument. Why do they say the Tigers gave up the number 12 and 52 top prospects in the league to get a player if it doesn’t amount to anything?

  209. Brad, Indiana PA says:


    You may, and you proved my point exactly, though I probably should have stated it (doh). Those teams all have large payrolls and are not where they should be from a financial investment perspective. So to say NH needs an 80 mil payroll to be evaluated accurately as Nate suggests doesn’t really float for me. However, I totally agree that’s what the minimum payroll should be if BNut wants the team to be successful. All that aside, if his track record isn’t enough to get him canned, his abrasive attitude towards fans that I mentioned in 175 should.

  210. Milo Hamilton says:


    You are kidding. Aren’t you ?

  211. Milo Hamilton says:


    I’ll use this analogy. You know who had the best recruiting class in college football 4 years ago ?


    It’s very simple. All that matters is the end result.

  212. nate83 says:


    I would be fine with NH being fired but not for most of the reasons stated by many on this subject. I’ve even stated he may not be the right guy for the organization to take the next step forward. I do think he is leaps and bounds better then previous GM’s and I think he is hardly the worse GM.

    He put in place a plan the fits the market we are in and this team is much better of then it was 5 years ago. I just don’t know what great GM is out there willing to take this job.

  213. nate83 says:


    ?????? I think you just supported my argument. They had the best ranked recruiting class and then went out and won with it. That sounds like more then a hill of beans. It sounds more like one of those Pennsylvania mountains they build tunnels through because they can’t move the thing.

  214. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR@208–“Nobody said you cannot evaluate him.”

    Nate said “I think in order to be judged fairly he needs one year with a 80 million dollor payroll.” # 104

    “Raise payroll to 80 million then evaluate. It is the only fair way to judge a GM.” # 176

    NMR–if you’re going to just make sh*t up or ignore that facts, no point in having a discussion with you.

  215. nate83 says:


    I understand your saying you can have all the perceived talent in the world but if you don’t train it correctly who cares, but you have to at least start with the talent or you are dead in the water before the race starts. Their has to be talent to teach and it wasn’t there 6 years ago. Now it is.

  216. RobertoForever says:

    I heard this concept bandied about that drafting in the top 4 positions in the draft means you better hit a gold mine or you are a huge failure.

    Looked at the Top 4 spots in the 5 drafts before NH came to the Pirates (2003-2007). That is 20 draft choices for teams. How many successes? Should be about 18 or 19 if you believe the hype.

    SEVEN. Less than half of the top picks in that 5 year period amounted to a contributor (Not even a key contributor). Here are the names. David Price, Evan Longoria, Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, Justin Verlander and Rickie Weeks.

    Guess its a lot less of a “sure thing” to be drafting in the top 4 than folks have implied.

    you have a 7 out of 20 chance when picking in the top 4 in a draft to get a contributor. Less than 40%

  217. NMR says:

    @Arriba – The old Sammy Sosa excuse! Brilliant move. My lawyers will have to convene before we respond.

    @Brad – First off, we’re speaking strictly on free agent acquisitions. Not the team as a whole.

    Its clear there is not a straight linear correlation between the highest payroll and the highest number of wins. That goes with free agent aquisitions as well.

    But when your GM is excluded from signing a huge portion of talented players that other GM’s have available, how does that make for a fair comparison?

  218. Milo Hamilton says:


    Looked it up. Mighty Miami had the #1 ranked recruiting class in 2008 according to ESPN. Thank goodness for these rankings so we know what to expect 5 years hence. (Bama was 3rd, by the way.)

  219. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–WTF? it gets curiouser and curiouser. Man, you are out to lunch.

  220. NMR says:

    Hittin’ the clock. see you lunatics tomorrow.

    Goodnight, John-Boy.

  221. nate83 says:


    I’m not even sure what you and NMR are arguing about, but I never said he couldn’t be evaluated just he couldn’t be evaluated fairly. $80 million was never meant to be a magical number but 25 million allow you to get 3 free agents that are Furcal and not Barmes.

    It really is simple math.

    More money = better players.
    Better players = better team.

    This stuff really is not that complicated.

  222. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Ya know……I think I’m gonna stay away from this conversation today. Just trying to keep up and read some of the comments…doesn’t seem fun to me.

    And I’m usually all about debates.

  223. nate83 says:

    I thought you where saying that Alabama did have the best recruiting class 4 years ago. 3rd is still pretty good and I bet they had a much better chance of winning it all the team with the 30th best recruiting class.

  224. Doc says:

    Every GM misses on a draft here or there. Few miss on more than 4 before they are canned

  225. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Since you’re all talking about payroll and payrolls that win.

    I don’t know if anyone mentioned it, but the Oakland A’s are deadlast in MLB payroll at $49,137,500.

    They also have been one of the hottest teams in baseball since the All-Star break and are 3 games back of the big payrolled Rangers and ahead of the even larger payrolled Angels. They are also leading the WC standings as we speak.

    Its not what you spend, its what you spend on when you do spend and also, its all about development.

    The Pirates call ups have been minimally used. Leads me to think 1 of 2 things. 1. Hurdle doesn’t trust them or 2. He doesn’t feel that they are ready.

    I do trust Clint Hurdle as an evaluator and as a baseball guy. I don’t trust NH at either.

  226. Milo Hamilton says:


    What I’m saying is that you can’t trust prospect lists because the people making them know far less than the people that have actually picked the players. The only way to fairly evaluate a draft is to see how these players perform at the big league level. Not how they look on a prospect list, or how they do in the minor leagues.

  227. Arriba Wilver says:

    Nate–I don’t know what we are arguing about, either. Seemed NMR kept shifting. I acknowleged that the number didn’t have to be $80 mil (#203). All I was saying initially was that the suggestion that Neal could not be evaluated until he has X $$ to spend was silly. If you didn’t mean to imply that Neal’s job status shouldn’t be evaluated until he had X amount to spend, no problem. We are what we are. If Neal gets fired, it doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. But he is dealing in the market he has. It’s certainly possible someone could do better.

  228. nate83 says:


    Are you saying we have been missing. I have heard way to many people say that are farm system is really good to believe we are missing. 2008 is a solid draft. 2009 is an absolute miss. 2010 and 2011 is to early to evaluate but I think they will not fall into the miss catagory. Baseball has a lot more misses on players then the other sports.

  229. Arriba Wilver says:

    Agree Ryan.

  230. Milo Hamilton says:


    I’ve brought up today that Oakland, Baltimore & the White Sox all reduced payroll from last year to this. The White Sox slashed $30 million & a big mouth manager. It’s not all about the money. But I do wish they’d spend more.

  231. nate83 says:


    I think we agree on more then you think. I again wouldn’t be terribly upset if NH got fired but I lack any confidence we can get one of those GM’s that can do better. I have seen what worse looks like and I don’t want it. I just would like to see what this guy can do with an industry standard payroll for a team in this kind of market. Just think you should start the game of poker with the same amount of chips.

  232. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:


    I too wish they’d spend more, if its an actual improvement. Who wouldn’t have loved Jose Reyes in a Pirates uniform. Reality is, the Pirates probably couldn’t afford him and he would’ve asked for even more than what he got in Miami. All assumptions of course.

  233. Arriba Wilver says:

    nate–I’m not surprised, actually. My issue was more with NMR twisting stuff. We’re good.

    Like I said, I don’t know at this point if he should be fired or retained. But some changes have to be made, which I think most agree with, at least before we get to the details. :-)

  234. Doc says:

    @ Nate-
    I think you need to look at his peers. The Pirates have done OK, world’s better than Littlefield. But have they done good enough… I don’t think so. I have my opinion you have yours. I think we both agree that the Pirates are severely lacking in fundamentals, organizationally wide. And while there are LOTS of pitchers drafted and signed, there are few position players available, and almost none of merit.

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