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Wednesday Wakeup Call: The joy of candor

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

Morning, lunatics …

>> The Wednesday column advises the Penguins to cool it with their hottest player.

Here’s a bit of my talk yesterday with Tomas Vokoun about being used little of late …

Here’s today’s TribLIVE Radio show podcast, featuring my guests, Paul Martin and Trib auto racing maven Ralph Paulk live from Daytona.

And here’s video of the monologue on the Penguins’ defensive work …

>> Cover story in the Trib today is on the NHL’s amazing ratings in the Pittsburgh market. As our Rob Rossi reports, no other NHL or NBA team can match.

>> Tremendous quote from Dick LeBeau: “It hurts to see the Ravens win anything.”

>> Hard to imagine a better wide receiver match out there for the Steelers, including financially and all kinds of intangibles, than newly released Steve Breaston.

>> The Dukes get destroyed at No. 15 Butler. From watching this on TV, I’m surprised this score stayed this close. Jim Ferry has much work ahead.

>> God bless Jason Grilli. Finally, someone with the guts to go on the record.

Who else will follow?

>> Lest we leave you with a negative note, here’s the outcome of Pavel Datsyuk taking on the entire Nashville franchise last night.

No. 13 is pretty special.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

334 Comments

  1. Much appreciation for addressing that you were one to knock Martin last year. It may seem small, but that’s the kind of thing that helps to make a writer or anyone really seem credible and legitimate. Among other things, obviously, but … kudos.

    I’ve been a big time supporter and have taken my share of guff over the past years when I proudly don my #7 jersey. I just want to point out that I think hand in hand with the decision to keep Martin being the best for the Pens was the decision to give Michalek back to Phoenix. I think he had a lot to do with the problems that Martin had, as well as others defensively. I know that seems crazy to say because of Michalek’s defensive pedigree, but he is the absolute opposite of a defensemen in this system. Could you imagine years ago seeing a tape from the future of the way that Deryk Engelland joins the rush these days? Would be unbelievable. I don’t think Michalek was going to make that kind of adjustment.

    I don’t like to speak so negatively of a guy in Michalek that came and went quietly, never having anything negative to say about the organization. But I think he unfairly escaped a LOT of blame while Martin shouldered all of it.

    Anyhow, no real point to all of this. Just happy we can all appreciate the way Martin plays now, regardless of the past.

    DK: Glad you liked the interview, Trey, but understand that acknowledging Martin is playing well now is not tantamount to a retraction of anything. Martin was bad last year, and anyone who called him bad — myself included — wasn’t exactly wrong. Martin himself acknowledged that in the interview.

    • Right, I get that and I struggled in coming up with a way to express my point without sounding that way. (failed). From your opening discussion, it is fair to assume that your surprise in the importance of Martin to this team means that you felt he should have been traded this off-season. As soon as the words ‘amnesty clause’ were even muttered during the lockout, his name was basically screamed from the rooftops. I think I remember reading that stance from you – but I could very well be mistaken. So, what I meant was to applaud you and anyone else who maybe wanted him out of town at one point and is able to acknowledge how great it is for this team that he is still here.

      I’ll maintain my one-in-a-million stance that he didn’t play as badly as he was painted the past two years. I’ll just say that – while maybe he didn’t live up to the contract – I don’t ever remember a player outwardly refuting mass-media’s feelings of their play. But I’ll let this dead horse rest now =)

      • That isnt a one in a million stance. I’m right there with you in that belief that he didn’t play nearly as bad as people thought he did. He was still a viable NHL defensemen. Right or wrong , people will always judge a players contribution within the context of their contract, and not purely on its own merits.

  2. I’ve just deleted the comment I WANT to make several times.

    Suffice it to say, I think the biggest thing lacking on this Pirates team may not have been talent. I’m starting to wonder if it was mental toughness.

    There are some teams that say, “Hey, we think this group, right here, is good enough to get it done.”

    Not only did this team not do that, they didn’t even pay it lip service.

    • Amen Sean. Although I do wonder if opinions like Grilli and Walker regarding the trade deadline are well in the minority on the team.

    • Not so sure about the mental toughness part. I think they were riding high and the lack of a move by TBMTIB took all the wind out of their sails. I give credit to Grilli for speaking up. He did so in a way that wasn’t offensive.

      • I’m w. you Jandy.

        • JMB, I realize my opinion isn’t popular, but I don’t feel Grilli was out of line, or passing the buck. He was stating an abvious fact. Let’s hope it doesn’t get him in trouble.

      • I give him credit for being a leader, but he needs to shoulder some of the blame, too. Blaming others mistakes is a newfangled trend. I’ve never seen you do it, J-girl.
        :P

        • I don’t see calling out someone as being a leader at all. This is an example of being a leader, IMO:

          “It was on us,” he insisted. “That’s the reason we lost. There was nothing else that had to do with it — team chemistry, trades, nothing like that. We didn’t finish the job. We take the blame.”

          –Andrew McCutchen

        • No and I usually won’t. But Grilli is very passionate…no doubt he was even holding back lol. Not saying he’s 100% right, but I won’t slam him for saying what he said, because it’s all true.
          What Cutch said is true as well. It takes a team to win. Everyone has to pull their weight. (No Tabata or Snider snark here, please lol).
          Would be nice for some of the others to speak as well.

    • Here’s where I’m confused. (Beyond the normal stuff.)

      Do we think players were upset that PBC didn’t go after a “name” bat?

      Do we think players were upset that PBC traded away Saint McGehee and didn’t let that team go for it?

      Probably both. And sometimes neither.

      Just like bloggers…different opinions probably sweep the clubhouse. Any clubhouse.

      So to Dejan’s “Who else will follow?” Follow may mean speak next. But it may not mean agree.

      • The very article Dejan linked has exactly what you’re talking about, Drew.

        Dejan chose to praise Grilli while ignoring the face of the franchise and MVP candidate.

      • Current players always want to trade guys away that will be arriving 2,3,4 years down the road to go for it now. Them saying it doesn’t make it the correct move. All you have to do is look at the leader of this team which is Cutch and see how a professional should act. I’m not sure of the exact words but essentially he said the failure to deliver is on us the players. We had the guys to do it and just didn’t deliver.

        They finish 9 games out of a playoff spot and that was with some of the other teams the made the playoffs struggling down the stretch. No one even two players makes up 9 games in the win column over 54 games.

        I don’t blame Grilli for making the comments. He wants to win now. He will be retired when Polanco, Tiallon, Hanson and Heredia are contributing. I just don’t know how him saying it makes it some kind of ah ha moment that the GM and/or owner was wrong not to do it. This team obviously was not just one player short.

        • 16 games over 0.500 and management brings in Snider and Sanchez, both of whom seem to be AAA+ players AT BEST, was a downer for both players and fans. All because Neal, the worst GM in MLB, had stats that said they weren’t that good. Looking for support and an infusion of talent and Neal gives them years of control and potential – words that belong in his bio as he looks for a new job OUTSIDE baseball, because in baseball, he stinks!

    • Absolutely.

      Grilli’s comment is unfortunately very telling. It shows a complete lack of confidence.

      Grilli made an *ss out of himself by whining to his hometown reporters about his All Star “snub” and now this. The guy needs to take responsibility for HIMSELF before worrying about others.

      • Also, if you go back and look at a couple of games in the last month of the season, Grilli didn’t pitch so well. I wonder if he mentioned that to the reporter.

        ( and I like Grilli ! )

        • Yeah, well AJ regressed too. Hanny has issues. So did Cutch for a while. A lot of players had struggles. So, I guess that’s all Grillis’ fault, too? No wait, it has to be Matt Cooke’s fault ;)

    • I suppose that if only Pence or Victorino had been acquired, Grilli would have pitched better down the stretch.

      To make up for the collapse, the Pirates would have had to acquire Babe Ruth and Ted Williams for the stretch run to remain competitive.

  3. I notice Rossi’s article is careful to mention that the Penguins’ rating is higher than in any other regional market in the U.S. Does this mean there is a Canadian team with a higher regional rating, and if so, who?

    Not that it even slightly damages that amazing statistic, but that’s what that wording would seem to suggest.

    And yes, big ups to Jason Grilli for standing tall. Hopefully, he is as big a piece to the puzzle this season as he was last year.

    DK: I’ve never seen a breakdown of Canada, Dan, but it’s a safe assumption that the Canadian markets get higher ratings.

  4. The problem with the Grilli quote is the players he mentioned were not very good last season. If they would have acquired any of them they would have been acquiring a name, not a productive player.

    • +1 to Sec143

      Plus I wonder if Grilli will change his tune once he is saving games for Cole & Tailon.

      • I doubt Grilli will ever save a game for Jamo.

      • Funny he didn’t mention chemistry when speaking of the players he wanted them to bring in. No matter if it were Pence, Victorino, Upton, or Snider and Sanchez, they still only get a 25-man roster. Someone from that high chemistry clubhouse had to go.

  5. Dejan, thanks for the video on Datsyuk. I’ve always admired both him and Lidstrom. Two class acts. The wings miss Liddy now, wonder what they’ll do when Dats is gone?

    And I have to agree on Fluery and Vokoun. Fleury needs to be fresh down the stretch and into the playoffs this shortened season. Keep Vokoun sharp. What a great signing by Shero..Vokoun is a pro and a team player…class act.

  6. I like Cutch’s quote in that article:

    “It was on us,” he insisted. “That’s the reason we lost. There was nothing else that had to do with it — team chemistry, trades, nothing like that. We didn’t finish the job. We take the blame.”

  7. ‘Dude, do you want to go for the gusto here? Do you want to go for the jugular?’

    I would like to tell Mr. Grilli “Dude you guys were 16 games over .500 and ended the season below .500. You grabbed your own jugular”

    • and this as well.

    • I wish the team had gone for the gusto.

      If the team regresses this year, the lost opportunity will be even tougher to take.

      • JMB

        What lost opportunity. They finished 9 games out. They could have picked up 3 very good players and they wouldn’t have improved 9 games over a 54 game period. It’s not basketball. A very good baseball players get’s 4 extra hit every 100 at bats over an average baseball player. Is 1 extra hit every 25 at bats really going to get you 9 more wins.

        • The lack of moves took the wind out of the team’s sails.

          We will never know what a big move might have done for the team.

          By the comments, it is obvious that some members of the team were disappointed by the lack of going “All-in,’ esp. after all of Hurdle’s lip service about it.

          We debated this endlessly last year, but in the end, the final outcome was extremely unsatisfying.

          • They made at least 3 moves.
            They may have not been the major / blockbuster that people wanted, but it was a lack of moves.

            ( I better switch to decaf soon!) :-)

          • Then trade them because the Pirates shouldn’t want a team full of players with that mindset. They will never win if that is their reaction. Snider when healthy in Augest played better then 2 of 3 players Grilli mentioned. Maybe if Grilli didn’t have over a 5 ERA in the second half they could have won a few more games.

            What’s wrong with saying management decided to roll the dice with the current players (the ones that are 16 games above .500) let’s go finish this. They could have went 27-27 down the stretch against an easy schedule and made the playoffs.

            I hope Cutch pulls Grilli to the side and tells him to take care of his own and lead by example. Not by ripping Gabby and Snider which is really what Grilli is doing here. Ironic for a guy who took 12 years to become a player that anyone wanted.

          • So, a lack of moves caused the collapse. We’re, in essence, admitting the team was playing way over their heads. If you truly believe that, you should be lauding the moves as they were made with 2013 in mind, realizing that 2012 was bound to be a lost cause.

            I can say, without a doubt, Pence, Bourn, etc. would not have improved the team by 10 games in the second half alone, even if acquired in addition to the other moves that were made or even replacing any number of the other trades.

            Acquiring “big names” did not prevent the 2011 collapse, so there’s no reasonable expectation that it would also have stopped James McDonald’s implosion or helped Rod Barajas’ defense and hitting abilities.

  8. ‘Hurdle failed to mold the new unit into a cohesive group on and off the field.’

    What?! Skeet shooting at 7 Springs wasn’t enough? :-)

    Can the writer, or anyone else, explain to me what Hurdle had to do / mold when the additions were Wandy, Quails, Snider and Gabby — and the subtractions were Lincoln and Gorkys?

    Oh wait….I forgot about the subtraction of McGehee.

  9. JAL’s Mrs. Robinson Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajtpaMkLu_k

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Spring Training Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/st2013

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    Spring Training Notes: February 19

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/02/spring-training-notes-february-19.html

    Draft Prospect Watch: First Week Recap

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/02/draft-prospect-watch-first-week-recap.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Jason Grilli blasts Pirates’ management for 2012 trade deadline performance

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/2/19/4004648/jason-grilli-blasts-pirates-management-for-2012-trade-deadline

    Breakout or Collapse: A look at the Pirates’ ‘high-beta’ roster

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/2/19/4006590/breakout-or-collapse-a-look-at-the-pirates-high-beta-roster

    7 This Is Getting old

    Five Pirates Prospects Make Baseball America Top 100

    http://thisisgettingold.net/2013/02/19/five-pirates-prospects-make-baseball-america-top-100/

    8 WHYGAVS

    Jeff Karstens has a sore shoulder

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/february-2013/jeff-karstens-has-a-sore-shoulder.html

    9 Rumbunter

    The Pittsburgh Pirates ‘Fascinating’ Starling Marte

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/02/19/the-pittsburgh-pirates-fascinating-starling-marte/

    10 Green Weenie

    This Week In Pirate History

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/02/this-week-in-pirate-history.html

    • Mrs. Robinson Simon and Garfunkel 1968 from the film The Graduate. Simon and Garfunkel’s 2nd number 1 (The Sound of Silence was their 1st number 1)

    • Someone once asked Roger Ebert if he ever regretted something he wrote in a film review. His answer was he regretted writing that “The Graduate” had a terrible soundtrack.

  10. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Bradenton Herald

    Spring training | Pirates prospects Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon on track for big things

    http://www.bradenton.com/2013/02/20/4400865/spring-training-pirates-prospects.html

    12 Rant Sports

    A.J. Burnett Will Lead The Pittsburgh Pirates Rotation In 2013

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/02/19/a-j-burnett-will-lead-the-pittsburgh-pirates-rotation-in-2013/

    13 Bleacher Report

    Complete Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Season Preview

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1535348-complete-pittsburgh-pirates-2013-season-preview

    14 MLB Daily Dish

    Pirates rumors: Neil Walker next for extension?

    http://www.mlbdailydish.com/2013/2/19/4004874/pirates-rumors-neil-walker-extension

    15 KDKA

    Big League Hopes For Pirates’ Vic Black In 2013

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/02/19/big-league-hopes-for-pirates-vic-black-in-2013/

    16 Motor City Bengals

    The State of the Game–Part II–Enhanced Interleague Play & the DH

    http://motorcitybengals.com/2013/02/20/the-state-of-the-game-part-ii-enhanced-interleague-play-the-dh/

    17 Yahoo Sports

    Baseball America’s top 100 prospects: a team-by-team breakdown

    http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/baseball-america-top-100-prospects-team-team-breakdown-232334708–mlb.html

    18 Fox Sports

    Can Bucs finally end The Streak?

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/can-pittsburgh-pirates-end-20-year-streak-of-losing-seasons-andrew-mccutchen-pedro-alvarez-aj-burnett-clint-hurdle-021913

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    11 Favorite Off-Season Moves

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19644

    20 Fangraphs

    Daily Notes: Spring Broadcast Schedule Begins Saturday

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/daily-notes-spring-broadcast-schedule-begins-saturday/

  11. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Ryan Clark sees bigger problems than Woodley’s weight

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/2/19/4002154/steelers-ryan-clark-interview-Woodley-Mendenhall-Wallace-NFL-network

    How stats mislead defining elite QBs

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/2/19/4001768/nfl-elite-quarterbacks-free-agency-draft-2013

    22 Steelers Depot

    -Larry Foote Thinks a Steelers Coach May Have Put Out the Comments About Lamart Woodley

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/02/steelers-larry-foote-coach-lamarr-woodley-comments/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 3: match report

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/champions-league/9881479/Arsenal-1-Bayern-Munich-3-match-report.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 Stories You Need to Read 19th February 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-19th-february-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Matt Cullen: Potential Penguin?

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/2/19/4005010/pittsburgh-penguins-trade-rumors-minnesota-wild-matt-cullen

  12. Thunder crack is fired up today

  13. JAL, another great song selection. Memories :)

  14. Really liked the column today on Dick LeBeau. How fortunate we are to have him as part of the Steelers organization. Finishing number 1 in overall defense year after year and still being called “coach dad” by the players who absolutely love playing for him…..how great is that?

  15. Wonder what “shootout hijinx” is???

  16. It takes guts to blame somebody else for one’s own poor performance?

    Whew, thats some kind of lesson for the kids…

    • I’m with you on that NMR. Grilli needs to get some saves under his belt before he starts mouthing off. Glad to see he thinks he’s a team leader, but stow it until you’ve done something this year.

      Last year he popped off at the ASB and we know how the second half went for the entire team.

      I like a stand-up guy like Cutch any day. Take the blame that’s yours and move on.

  17. Hard to believe that Freddy Sanchez is only 35 and hasn’t played a baseball game since June 2011.

    Also hard to believe that a team like the Astros or Marlins wouldn’t take a chance on him as a utility player. Guys like Scutaro and Keppinger turned opportunities into big paydays last year.

    It could be the homer in me talking, but I could see Freddy turning into a similar story.

  18. Whatever one’s take on Grilli’s statements is, the most important and telling thing to me is that the clubhouse doesn’t care for BMTIB and this is a very divided organization. Most fans don’t like these shmo’s for one reason or another, and more than rightly so. Nutthing is a cheapskate who’s out to make a buck off a company that’s far more important to its constituents than its management. Frank the Stank- ’nuff said. Neal the Circus SEAL is rude and arrogant to fans. Stark is a wannabe and a joke.

    Yeah, the players certainly share the burden of collapse 2.0. In the end, it really falls on their shoulders most heavily. They got to 16 over, they fell below .500. Hurdle shares blame too. His mismanagement alone cost us about 10-12 games last year. That’s not even accounting for the intangibles a manager is responsible for.

    But after Walker and Grilli make similar statements about the direction this club is taking after last year’s trade deadline, it’s fair to conclude there’s some major problems at hand. Whether they’re reasonable issues or not, they do exist. And they are problems beyond just baserunning and laying down bunts.

    • Brad, well said. I don’t fault Grilli for speaking his mind. Nor do I fault Cutch for saying the things he knows management wants to hear ie politically correct statements.
      Grilli wasn’t offensive. He just said what he felt to be true. Don’t we as fans feel he’s right? Weren’t we complaining about the lack of trades/additions for a playoff push? I remember reading a lot of that here. I’m not saying the players should flat out trash their bosses, but I thought Grilli handled it well.

      • I think it’s the business of the players to NOT say what we as fans feel is right. We can rant and rave and it doesn’t mean a thing to anyone but us, but when one of them speaks out, it undermines the team if words aren’t chosen correctly. JMHO,

      • So you talked to Cutch?

        You know he said those things because thats what management wants to hear and not because he, you know, believes them?

        Awfully presumptuous, my dear Jandy.

        • My son gave an interview to the school paper the other day. I wonder if he called out the coach for the freshman class he recruited last year.

        • NMR, c’mon, get off your soapbox, dude. Sports players do it every day. It’s called being politically correct. Grilli chose to speak his mind.

          • Jandy, how do you know Cutch wasn’t simply just speaking his mind?

            • He may have been. Just my interpretation, 21. And I’m entitled to it, just as you are :)

              • I just think Cutch learned after last years ASG private plane flap that he needs to toe the party line.

              • Cutch is the most powerful man in this organization, outside of Nutting himself.

                He could decide tomorrow that he’s sick of the BS, demand a trade, and it would bring management to its knees.

                He’s the last person that NEEDS to toe a line.

              • NMR I see Cutch as a Sidney Crosby for the Pirates. He won’t say anything negative. He’ll do his best to keep,things steady in the clubhouse, but more by actions than words. I don’t think he’s too verbal. He’s a class act. He may THINK the FO could have done more but he’d never say so, at least not publicly.

      • I couldn’t really care less who was being politically correct, or who is reflecting the views of fans, or whatever. If Grilli is indeed telling the truth – that the guys in the clubhouse felt slighted because the team didn’t make a big “all-in” acquisition at the deadline, and it affected their psyche – then that is one mentally soft clubhouse.

        No “us against the world” mentality. No, “the only guys that count are the guys in this room” thought process.

        I won’t deny that the roster, as it was constructed at that time, was several pieces short of being a true contender. An acquisition like Chase Headley could have been huge. Another vet starting pitcher could have calmed the woes of the rotation.

        But the team was 16 GAMES OVER .500. It’s not like they were hanging on by their fingernails; they were playing quite well to that point.

        As NMR has asked countless times since then, how did the team go from playing so well for so long to collapsing at one specific point in time? Am I supposed to buy it was all some crazy, sharp regression to the mean….or did this team quit?

        If the team quit…I’m sorry, I know Neal Huntington is a terrible GM, but that’s not on him.

      • Why do you think that of Cutch’s statement Jandy?

        Cutch is a winner and by definition he believes in himself. He thinks himself and his teammates can do anything. I believe 100% that Cutch thinks they team they had before the trade deadline was capable of making the playoffs and fell on their face. I bet he spent the entire off season working hsi butt of to get better and not allow it to happen. Hopefully many of his teammates did the same including Grilli.

        But based on Grilli’s comments I am willing to bet he may have just sat next to Grary Sheffield making phone calls to all 30 teams only to sign with the team he believes is not interested in winning.

        • I have the utmost respect for Cutch. No doubt he believes what he said.I’m not saying anything bad about Cutch, but I’m not gonna slam Grilli for saying how he felt. Nor would I be surprised if more in the clubhouse felt the same way. Cutch is a class act. Cutch *IS* the Pittsburgh Pirates. Had he said anything different, that would have been shall we say…a no no.
          I’m bascially saying if the players quit (which is what Cutch said), then WHY? There is more to this that we as fans don’t know. It’s in the clubhouse.

          • I don’t view what Cutch said as the players quit. And Jandy, it looks like you’re holding Grilli and Cutch to different standards.

            I think there are a number of reasons for the collapse. Cutch came back to earth, Walker and Karstens got injured, JMac imploded, and just look at the team’s ERA in August and September as compared to the other months.

            • What do YOU think Cutch was saying, 21? He said the players didn’t get it done. That they simply failed?

              • That’s not the same as quitting to me Jandy. You can put forth the same effort but just not do as well. Many factors can affect a declining performance that have nothing to do with quitting.

              • That’s true, 21. but more than just a fluke happened with this team, two years in a row. I don’t pretend to know what happened. But it’s obvious it wasn’t just “lack of effort”. That’s epic lack of effort.

              • Well ERA’s over 5 in August and September of 2011 didn’t help either.

              • Nor did slumping batting averages.

            • I don’t think Cutch was saying ” lack of effort.” There were lots of reports of the batters squeezing the bat too tight, and maybe the pitchers holding the ball too tight. Sometimes you can “try too much.”

          • Look, reducing Cutch’s comments to “political correctness” is condescending. “Political correctness” doesn’t have a good connotation in my house, and I’d be surprised if it did in yours.

            Maybe it was a poor choice of wording on your part, since you obviously respect him, but I objected to you claiming his comments weren’t authentic. Both players have every right to their thoughts.

            • I don’t know what you would expect Cutch to say? He’s not going to say anything other than what he said. He’s the face of the Pirates. And since both players have a right to their thoughts, I respect Grilli for having the cojones to speak his. We were all in here last season slamming the FO for not adding better pieces down the stretch. Now you’re all slamming Grilli for having the same opinion. He didn’t do it in a waythat was objectionable. Like I said, I can’t slam him for that.

              • “We were all in here last season slamming the FO for not adding better pieces down the stretch.”

                Not all of us.

              • OK, MOST.

                I’m not saying Grilli is a saint. Lord knows, I’m not. But I refuse to slam him for saying something that’s true to MANY people. Maybe not the entire clubhouse, but many people.

              • You don’t see the huge difference between us, the fans, and Grilli, the player?

                WE can b*tch and moan all we want. We don’t get paid to perform. I don’t have any problem with any of us exressing our opinions.

                But the moment the player uses that as an excuse crosses the line. Frankly, I don’t even understand how that difference isn’t obvious.

              • NMR, which is why I said Cutch said what he said, because it is the CORRECT thing to say. Again, I refuse to slam Grilli for not being politically correct. I hope he doesn’t lose his job over it.

            • +1

              I had less of an issue with Grilli’s comments because the guy wants to win now and there is nothing wrong with that. My bigger issue was with this being some kind of ah ha moment and that Grilli saying it makes it correct or this meaning that there is an entire clubhouse full of players belly aching over not getting more at the trade deadline.

            • Condescending is the LAST trait I’d have, NMR. Not in a million years.

              • I know you’re not, Jandy, but your comment was. Thats why I said it may have been a poor choice of words.

                Next time you have an opinion I disagree with, how would you feel if I dismissed it as just being politically correct?

              • NMR, go for it, that’s what blogs are for. If anyone on this blog is dismissive, it’s you. But I don’t take it personally :)

              • The comment by Jandy was not a poor choice of words. Cutch was politically correct Grilli wasn’t. Just because Grilli wasn’t politically correct doesn’t mean he doesn’t take responsibility for the fall off of production by anyone, himself included. So easy for some on this blog to disagree with opinion. But God forbid if anyone disagrees with them, they need to attack integrity of the blogger.

              • Thanks for the back up, Dadtackular. I don’t think the guys were “attacking” me per se (even if it felt like it at times). Grilli has been known to have a big mouth. Once in a while he spouts off. He should think a bit more before he says some things. But again, I won’t slam him for speaking what many of us think.
                Be sure to come around some more :)

              • Hey Dad, no one, and I mean NO ONE, is attacking Jandy’s integrity.

              • Double Amen, AW.

              • I’ll third the amen. Not sure if this is going to show up in the right place.

        • Exactly Jandy. I put the blame on the players.

          • Well, the players are the who have to win. So, yeah, it’s on them. Again, I’m NOT saying Cutch is wrong, and Grilli right. Just saying I won’t slam Grilli for speaking what he felt. There’s a lot we as fans don’t know about what goes on in the dugout. But in the end, it’s up to the players to win, or at least try their best.

            • And I understand what you are saying Jandy but I’ve never believed in publicly calling out anyone in sports. I think it’s cowardly but I think taking responsibility is mature and shows leadership.

              And the other thing is just because someone is saying something, that doesn’t make it true. None of us know for sure exactly why we collapsed, it’s nothing but anecdotal evidence as to why play declines. So a player can point to management and there’s nothing to dispute his claim but there’s also nothing to definitively support it either.

    • Here is partly how I look at it. And I will play the ‘what if’ game.

      What if players like Grilli and Walker were part of trade rumors around the deadline. Teams wanted to trade for them. And let’s say their play & performance suffered and they admitted “the trade rumors took a toll on me, distracted me, and affected my play”.

      I would not be happy.

      Just as I am not happy that they admitted to paying attention to trade rumors around the deadline and inferring that it somehow affected & distracted the team when those trades did not happen.

    • I agree with you, Brad. I’m starting to think this team is fatally flawed, and not just because of talent.

      Too many Grilli’s and not enough Cutch’s and Burnett’s.

      I think back to reading about the Cards last year going into the 9th down by two against the Nats top closer in the deciding game of the NLDS and never doubting their ability to come back.

      Do you think they would’ve come out and complained about not having that one piece that could’ve put them over the top had they failed? Not a chance.

      • And, if they would have, they’d be somewhere else honing their skills. Most every malcontent on the Cardinals in the last few years is playing elsewhere. And there ain’t been that many.

      • Losing breeds this mindset. The Cards are a winning organization. They trust the guys around them to get it done because they have done it before. The Pirates haven’t so they feel like they have to bring in others that have.

        I don’t buy into the whole veteran thing that much usually but for this team having AJ, Martin, Inge and even Barmes couldn’t hurt. The players showed with their words last year that they respect Barmes and AJ. Hopefully the same will be true for Martin and Inge if he makes the team.

    • It’s not the clubhouse’s job to like or dislike the front office. It’s their job to play ball and work their tail off. This just looks to me more like the wussification of America and pro athletes in particular. Personal responsibility is becoming less and less important.

      I’d like to know how they felt about the trade deadline deals in 2011. Grilli joined the team on July 21st of that year. Was he part of the problem?

      • +1+1+1 “This just looks to me more like the wussification of America and pro athletes in particular”

        Its ALWAYS somebody elses fault.

      • Here’s is the other thing I can’t quite get: Grilli was a free agent and had the chance to sign with another team. And some of them considered more of a ‘contender’ than the Pirates. If last season and playing for a small market team bothered him so much he could have done something about it.

      • If your employer doesn’t give you the proper tools/assets to excel at your job, then it is not a sign of wussification to voice displeasure.

        I understand personal responsibility, but if you hand me a tablespoon and tell me to dig a well, then I’m not going to have a ton a motivation to break my back.

        • Do you do it in the media?

          • Sure, if the media has an interest in my story, then I’m happy to talk about what is lacking to improve the chances of success.

            It actually shows cajones to go on the record — the exact opposite of wussy-ness.

            • Right. You wouldn’t go to your boss or co-workers and complain, just head to the papers and TV, etc.

              Cajones for brains in other words? ;)

              • I don’t work in an industry where reporters stick a mic in my face and ask me for my opinion.

                I’m guessing based on Hurdle’s comments at the time that many/some players did grouse to him and each other.

                I don’t know how/if NH is as pompous and aloof to the players as he comes across to the fans, so I doubt I would ever go to him or FC about anything.

              • Spunky that was mean !!!

            • I didn’t mean it that way, Jandy. JMB has good points. I just wish Grilli would choose his words better. He has plenty of guts (or cajones if you will) but temper them with brains.

              And I love that avi, JMB.

        • I can absolutely understand the tablespoon and well logic, JMB, but don’t we have to keep this in context?

          We’re not talking about a team that simply couldn’t hold their high level of play all year and ended up being passed by other squads.

          We’re not talking about a team that slowly came back down to earth and needed reinforcements.

          We’re not talking about a team that was one player away from competing for a playoff spot.

          We’re talking about a team that played worse baseball over a given stretch than ANY OTHER TEAM in the history of the game.

          Nobody asked Grilli to dig a well with that spoon. Simply playing average baseball would’ve been more than enough to at least break the streak.

          That is the main reason I don’t buy the sailboat narrative. These players are making it out like they valiantly fought to the bitter end and came up just short.

          Please! They folded faster than a house of cards in a tornado. I just don’t see how the specific context of their collapse fits this narrative that blames management.

          If anything, blame management for paying these guys in the first place.

      • The clubhouse’s job is not to like or dislike the front office. True. But they are allowed to be individuals with opinions. I want to know their true opinions. I don’t want to be lied to by Grilli. His opinion doesn’t make him a wussy any more than your opinion makes you an idiot or a wussy. It’s just an opinion. If you want to hear what the establishment tells you, then third world countries might be the environment that suits you the most.

    • In the end, my biggest concern is that whatever the multitude of problems were last year, they haven’t been fixed on any front- management or players. It’s such a double-edged sword it’s ridiculous. While I think players shouldn’t be focusing on trade rumors or lack thereof, they are human employees. If I played for BMTIB I’d certainly have some strong opinions. Let’s face it, BMTIB is not your typical group in the MLB FO department.

      The Pope McGehee movement was downright stupid. The guy sucked. Players need to get over it. I could have gone into the clubhouse, told a dumb joke and hit as well as he did (okay, probably not). But I wouldn’t be upset if I was traded for some Quails. If Cutch was traded, then by all means have at it.

      On the flip side, Grilli’s not stupid. The players floundering down the stretch isn’t immune to ridicule, but he and probably most of the veterans on the team felt they could have used a little help beyond Brock Holt. Can’t say I disagree. While he is mouthing off a bit, I’d be more concerned if he didn’t care. Those are the guys that need reprimanded. The Scabata’s dogging ground balls and fly balls in the outfield. Pedro’s not playing winter ball and dogging any hit that doesn’t immediately make it into the outfield.

      And seriously, when the GM of a team basically says on record that they were just overperforming, why should they be positive? None of the BMTIB have accepted any direct responsibility for anything either. They skirt around it in hypothetical jargon. If we’re going to hold the players to certain professional standards then the FO should be held by the same. What’s obviously apparent is that this team has very few, if any, standards from top to bottom.

  19. Dovetailing off JAL’s song of the day. Did you know that in the famous Graduate movie poster, Mrs. Robinson’s legs actually belonged to Linda Gray – famous for playing Sue Ellen Ewing on Dallas. She’s 72 years old & looks fantastic.

  20. Leaving for Pgh. in one hour for tonight’s game. Only get to Consol once or twice a year, so I’m like a kid on Xmas Eve. Can somebody please do something about the clock in here! It ain’t moving!

  21. Listening to Grilli on The Fan. Hope he doesn’t hurt himself backpedaling.

    Says his comments were misinterpreted just like the Bible can be sometimes. What a clown.

    • Wow he brought religion into the conversation. Now all he needs is politics and he can have everyone picking sides and ready to go to battle.

    • Sounds like he needs to take more lessons from his agent on dealing with the media.
      *sarcasm emoticon*

    • I didn’t listen to Grilli on the Fan.

      But I could see a situation where he said other things to the reporter – such as:
      - We’re getting close to being a winning team
      - I love the city and the fans
      - I am indebted to the team and CH for saving my career and taking a chance on me.

      And those comments were left out of the article.

    • The only trouble with that comment is that people misinterpreting the Bible are ones who don’t the Lord on a personal basis most of the time. Grilli is speaking the English language, not Italian.

      • A lot of knowledgeable people interpret the bible differently. Just go to any bible study. Just like you are interpreting Grilli’s comments. You’ve proved his point.

        • I don’t disagree, but the Bible says the scriptures are not for any private interpretation. Up to us to get it right.

  22. Regarding the Penguins television ratings, is watching hours upon hours of TV really something for a populace to be proud of? Isn’t it just another way of saying that we don’t have anything better to do or perhpas that we’re not sophisticated to appreciate other things besides televised sporting events? I certainly don’t think large television ratings for hockey is anything for us to flaunt over other cities.

    DK: Sounds like a separate argument: Does Pittsburgh watch more TV than other cities?

    If so, that would be news to me.

    • So does posting on message boards make us more or less sophisticated than sporting event viewers?

    • What do YOU do in your spare time? I mean, you’re here and you posted, right?

    • Not really. Watching hockey on tv is a passive activity (if an activity can be passive), and so regardless of how much other television we watch, I’m not sure why these large ratings for the Penguins are something for us to brag about. I’ve yet to hear why these huge numbers say something so good about us. The fact that such a large number of us choose to watch what are essentially glorified exhibition games, given the fact that the Penguins were near locks to make the playoffs right from the start of the season and the fact that seeding has proven to be meaningless in the NHL postseason, says more bad than good, I’m afraid. It seems that writers and talk show hosts throw these numbers around as evidence of how awesome we are when compared to other towns that draw lesser ratings, but I’m guessing that the other towns aren’t quite as envious as you might think.

  23. Gene Collier has a column about Hurdle’s extension in that “other paper.” Pretty good.

    • It is, AW… line that struck me: as both ambassador and field general for a still wobbly franchise, he actually means it when he says, “there is no place I’d rather be than in a Pirates uniform.”

      That attitude, that commitment has a lot of value…at least when compared to the somnambulant one (Russell), or the I-invented-baseball guy (Tracy).

    • Thanks for the heads up, AW. It was a good read.

      Actually served to lay out the teams priorities this season, as well. Running game and strikeouts.

    • The collapses rest squarely on Te broad shoulders of the Phenom named Clint Hurdle. He cannot manage a winning team. OK, the Rockies got hot for a month or so as did the Pitrates last year, but Hurdle is not a competent MLB manager.

      Huntington undermined the club with his trade deadline moves – a couple of MLB wannabes plus Wandy ( a career losing pitcher) – and his overall lack of belief in the product on the field.

      With no help coming from the outside, Hurdle making stupid managerial moves, both with the pitching staff and catcher, and Cutch plus AJ coming back to earth and JMac imploding, the team played poorly and lost ……..

      The FO and Hurdle own these issues….if this was Tomlin or Bylsma, yinzers would be screaming to fire them and run them outta tawn on a rail.

  24. I’m surprised the Buccos had five guys in Baseball America’s top 100. #7 on JAL’s link says that Josh Bell just missed the list. The only downside is that Miguel Sano is #9. If we would have signed him, we’d almost certainly have the best farm system in the league.

  25. So Mr. Cool’s words not as important as Mr. Grilli’s. Way to get those hits DK.

    And Mr. Karstens is back in the PBC uniform. His uniform just seems to have a half ton of ice permanently added to his throwing shoulder.

    • DK did kind of throw a grenade and run. He honestly hasn’t spoke hardly a word about the Pirates in the last few months (at least on the blog) and now he dedicates 2 sentences and 90% of the blog is about the Pirates.

    • I don’t think anyone should continue to expect something out of Dejan that clearly isn’t going to happen.

      He’s made it clear that he’s going to write about what he wants and how he wants.

      He never said he was out to be neutral or fair or balanced. He’s going to take a side, and he’s going to nail it.

      People may not like that approach, but he’s earned the job.

  26. dayjm, I gotta go regroup, I’m a bit tattered from all the give n go here this morning.

  27. I’m amazed at all the Pirates talk on a Flyers-Pens day.
    My Rangers lost again last night to Montreal. That’s the first place Montreal team that was awful last year. Are they the surprise team so far this mini season?

    • I’d personally rate the Leafs as a bigger surprise, but for no other reason that that they’re the Leafs.

    • I was thinking the same thing Radio. Here we have a game between two of the biggest rivals in any sport (at this point in time) and the blog is being wasted talking about some comments a Pirate’s player made. Sure they are comments that deserve mentioning, but come on. It’s Pens-Flyers night!

      Heard an interview with Tanner Glass this morning where he said that Danny Briere is one of the dirtiest players in the league (referred to him as “undercover dirty” which I loved). That is big talk coming from a man who is known to hit hard. I plan on keeping an eye on Briere tonight to see if I see any of it.

      Also thought it was great hearing Bylsma talk about his attitude when playing the Flyers. A player said that he notices a different look come across Bylsma’s face when he talks about the Flyers. Also interesting to hear both Crosby and Giroux talk about their dislike for each other. Man I love this sport and the game tonight is going to be intense I am sure!

  28. I can’t help but think that we’ve got two guys on our team that surely can do what Datsyuk did in that clip, but who seem to choose to pass it 99 times out of 100 instead.

  29. Honestly I think McCutchen’s and Grilli’s statements are both fairly honest and that we find in them confirmation for what we already think.

    We had catchers that couldn’t throw anyone out, a shortstop that couldn’t hit until it didn’t matter, a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde Superman/Strikeout King third baseman, were short an outfielder all year and had no bench. And we were winning. Who’s on first?

    So were there great expectations at the trade deadline? Probably. Is it reasonable to think that the team is unaware of the incompetent/cheap reputation of management? I don’t think so.

    What Yogi said was “90% of this game is half mental.” (Except he got credit for a Danny Ozark quote) Not being able to beat Houston at a most-critical juncture, losing to the Cubs; I think it brought on that “oh no here we go again feeling.” The one that results in trying “not to lose.” It’s just what I think, though. I wasn’t there in the clubhouse.

    When things are going well and you collapse, everyone and everything is to blame. One minute it’s one guy’s fault, and then it’s my fault, but the other guy fell apart, too, and so on. Not to mention not getting the breaks. In baseball 3 out of 5 wins is excellent and 2 out of 5 is horrible. And when the magic is gone . . .

    Maybe this year.

    • Good to see you, JHadar :)

    • Always good insight from the resident Hawkeye.

    • Well said, sir

      My problem with this argument that its all the players fault is, it should be management, ie, the BMTIB to lead and provide direction to the club.

      I’ve worked for many folks in my career, you try to support them all, but there have been times where there has been more passion due to the fact that you know this guy gets it. Its human nature.

      Doing things like weird training, saying that the club was not as good as the record indicated, ordering the club to not retaliate for the Cutch chin music, well, those things might not be helpful in creating an environment that brings confidence in the uppity-ups.

      • Did management order the team not to retaliate against the Reds?

      • Plenty of blame to go around, including but not limited to, the guys who put the team together. Scouting? Ownership? Strategy? Players? Breaks? Umpires? Training?

        I wonder if they had been bouncing around .500 all year and then come up short in the last couple of weeks if I would have been as disappointed as I was.

      • “there have been times where there has been more passion due to the fact that you know this guy gets it. Its human nature.”

        It’s some people’s human nature. And I think that’s unfortunate. I think people should derive their motivation from within and from the desire to please others. I can’t think of any outside factors as a legitimate reason why a person should not always try their best and want to be the best that they can.

        Athletes are well paid and should feel extremely fortunate that that’s how they make their living and a lot of them can retire from the game and never have to work again. That should be plenty of motivation.

    • Barmes hit when it mattered and I think the pitchers were as much to blame as the catchers for the stolen bases.

      • Actually, the stolen bases disaster is something that can squarely be placed on management, and I don’t mean Clint Hurdle.

      • I prefer to blame Barmes for everything.

      • Very subjective. I get that you’re a fan of his.

        I expect more out of a starting shortstop than .229

        I expect more than his .257 post all-star break average too.

        Others may have different expectations.

        You are right that the pitchers didn’t help the catchers, nonetheless they didn’t throw very many people out.

        • I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of Barmes but thanks anyways. I think he’s adequate defensively and I think he was horrible offensively through July. I thought he had a pretty darn good August and September at the plate.

          And thanks again, but I’ll tell you what my expectations are, I don’t need you to do it for me.

  30. Thoughts on Dejan’s and others’ thoughts on a humpday (hey, get your mind out of the gutter! I mean Wednesday!)…

    * While I share the concern of Dejan’s Wednesday column, I also don’t think it’s possible to over use Fleury this season. With the regular season games plus playoffs (assuming they make it), the Pens can play anywhere from 52-76 games. I think the tougher thing is keeping Vokoun sharp as he’s used to being a starting goaltender. Will not playing as much hurt him when he does play? Maybe a reason Bylsma is riding Fleury at the mo. Or just because he’s the hot hand.

    * Now that I’m thinking more about it, I think it’s a bit ridiculous to suggest that Fleury sit just because he fell apart at the end of last season. There’s nothing to say that would happen again should he shoulder a similar work load.

    * Dick LeBeau is the man. I share his sentiment. Now the Ravens can play without Ray (and possibly Ed) and with the target on their back. They’re the team “to beat now”, so to speak. We’ll see how RayR and Joe do when the lights are turned up a little bit brighter.

    * Just a random: I cannot stand Danny Briere. There’s not a player in the NHL who is more overrated. He does nothing other than make defensemen forget about him (by doing nothing) and stand around the goal and wait for rebounds and mistakes. Perhaps you can say he puts himself in the right situations. I’d maybe even agree. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it or him. I cannot stand him (all the way down to his goofy look). If Matt Cooke could perhaps ride Danny into the boards tonight….

    * The only issue I have with Jason Grilli’s comments is that it shows some of the players were effected by moves (or non-moves) made by management when they shouldn’t be worrying about that. I know players don’t live in a vacuum, but you have to worry about the things you can control. Hopefully, more of the players will adopt Cutch’s attitude and take responsibility for failing to achieve an above .500 record.

    * That goal by Datsyuk…WOW. Must be something about Russian born players liking to skate thru franchises to score goals…

    HAVE A GOOD DAY ALL :-)

    • I think you are only looking at ” number of games” with your thoughts on Fleury. No one knows how the less time off between games will factor in with the condensed schedule. To assume there will be no effect at all wouldn’t be very prudent.

      • Truth, Arriba. I hadn’t really factored in the “condensed” nature of the games. But I can’t automatically assume Fleury will be “burned out” again this season should he play the majority of games. There’s no trend yet to indicate that other than last season.

        If I’m remembering correctly, the defense in front of Marc didn’t exactly have a stellar series against the Flyers either…

        • I think that’s right about the defense, but I also don’t think there’s any doubt he wasn’t playing as well in the playoffs as he did earlier in the season. I think under any circumstance, including the expected rotation, Fleury will play the ” majority” of games. Sounds like its been decided that DK was correct, in any event, since they’ve announced they’d like to get back to the planned rotation, and Vokoun will be in net tonight.

          • wouldn’t the correct rotation be matching the goalie up with a familiar opponent… ie.. let fleury redeem himself tonight and then let vokoun go on Friday against a team he knows and played with for 4 years?

  31. I seriously do not want to come across as indelicate, but does anyone know if Bob Hasis is still with us?

    A lot of good material as of late for him, RobertoForever and Pigs Legs.

  32. yikes….another good question. I have no idea.

  33. Cheers to Jason Grilli in blasting the Nutting Regime for sitting on their duffs before the trading deadline late last July.
    The help they got at that point of the season was like throwing a pan of water on a house fire.
    I might add….If Grilli would’ve said this a few months ago….I think it’s highly unlikely that he is a Pirate today.
    The Nutting Regime….Still in power, but fooling very few.

    • I thought the Buccos did a satisfactory job at the deadline last year. I understand if someone wanted us to deal Cole or Taillon in order to obtain the top options but I would feel that is too high of a price tag.

      • Next to no one spoke of dealing Cole…..Very few Taillon or Marte.
        Huntington failed (as usual) and the result was the swoon of all swoons.
        In my opinion he barely even tried.
        The Regime was more than happy to paint last season as an “improvement.”
        They continually love to toss real success down the road a few years…. For a decade and a half now.

        • What is giving you the impression he didnt try?

        • Really?

          Who exactly was available that didn’t require Cole, Taillon, or Marte?

          Honestly, you make that statement as fact, not opinion. So I’m curious.

          Which “all-in” players were available that wouldn’t have required any of the teams top three prospects?

    • Didn’t read what Grilli said this morning.

      Using logic, if Grilli was so upset at the Pirates why he he sign. He had at least two other offers. logic says he would have signed elsewhere.

    • Grilli’s interview on the Fan (thanks JAL) says he has no knock against management and that he believes his comments were taken out of context.

  34. Interesting article about the 49ers Alex Smith.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/reasons-why-49ers-alex-smith-not-drawing-interest-164600361–nfl.html

    Evidently, he’s not on the radar for a number of teams. I would have expected that with the dire need for QB on some teams, that Smith could have been worth a 2nd rounder if not higher.

  35. Indirectly I think Cutch and Grilli are saying the same thing. They weren’t good enough and they either need to play better or get better players. A contending team should not have to pick up a player at the trade deadline to put them over the top unless they have had a major injury or an exposed weakness.

    If every Pirates player has a career season this year, they could possibly make the playoffs. But they would fold before the World Series.

    Hypothetical question-If there was an expansion draft for a new team this season, do you think the Pirates would be worried about losing anyone? If they protected the top 20 players on the roster, their only concern would be giving up a cheap salary instead of a pricy one.

    Believe it or not, I think there would be less of a discussion on the board of the Pirates if they were actual contenders and had better management.

    • I say you are wrong about discussion. Last season when they were in contention through July there was more discussion, not less. There was less as the collapse unfolded.

      As for expansion draft, the entire 40 would eligible so they would have to protect players like Cole and Tallion. Cheap players always a concern because the cheap ones are the future.

      • Yes there were some really long blogs when they were winning in June and July.

        It would be much tougher to protect 25 of the 40 this year then it was 6 years ago. I think that is a good thing but most seem to think we should have been here 2 years ago. I choose to be happy that we are here at all.

      • Part of that may be because the Pens season was over. The Bucs were the only live game in town at that point, until Steeler camp. I was just responding to the fact that there seem to be more Pirates related posts than Pens posts, even though the Pens are playing an important game and the Bucs are just warming up.

        I didn’t mean to get into the rules of the expansion draft. I was just curious if there is anyone on this team that you think they would be in danger of losing, but you’d hate to see them go, for whatever reason. I can’t think of any that would most likely be protected.

      • I think some of the most spirited discussions I can remember about the Pirates were back before the web when the Internet consisted of Usenet, WAIS, gopher, e-mail and chat rooms.

        Topics like how the Bucs promise to keep AVS as the best paid player on the team would kill them in negotiating with Bonds. Jeff King was the whipping boy of choice on rec.sport.baseball, but Bobby Bonilla wasn’t far behind. Not filling Three Rivers for the playoffs was brought up to show that they should move the team to Florida. Fascinating stuff, but when they started losing the newsgroups became focused on long discussions about how the minor leagues would eventually provide relief vs. the need to win now.

        Of course that was twenty or so years ago.

    • The Pirates should be better in the field just for the simple case of progression of young players. Except for Martin, Barmes and in some ways Jones every player in the field is working towards their prime years or in Walker’s case living in his prime years. The should get better just because that is what players 24-31 do.

      Pitching is another story. They have more depth but almost all of it can give us anything from a consistant 3.50 ERA pitcher to a close your eyes and hide the women and children 6.00 ERA everytime they pitch.

      Our most consistant pitcher in Karstans can’t stay healthy. AJ has a better chance off regressing dramatically then he does of improving. Wandy should be good but won’t be better. JMAC who knows. Locke shouldn’t get worse as it is impossible to give up that many home runs unless you are pitching in a home run derby. The good news is they have 3 or 4 reasonable replacements if any of these guys have the wheels fall off in McPhearson, Cole, Morton and Sanchez and maybe even Wilson.

      • I’m actually fairly confident that the Pirates have 5 competent starting pitchers and two corner outfielders on their 40-man roster. Not all above average, but capable of starting on a winning team.

        My bigger worry is how long it will take to get those seven guys established.

        If Sands, Tabata, Cole, Morton, etc end up being part off the solution, it’ll most likely mean they capitalized on a chance earned AFTER somebody else failed. If enough of those failures happen together, this is going to be a bad team. One that possibly won’t be able to recover, even if they eventually find the right mix of players.

    • “I think there would be less of a discussion on the board of the Pirates if they were actual contenders and had better management.”

      Undoubtedly.

      It’s easier to armchair GM a losing team.

      • You are correct for most teams, but I think the Pirates have proven us wrong, as JAL pointed out above.

        When the team was winning, there was a lot more actual baseball discussion. Players, games, possible trades, OTHER teams.

        When the team is losing, 99% of the conversations boil down to various degrees of just exactly how much Neal Huntington sucks. And I don’t even think that can be argued.

        • So anyone complaining about the glut of Pirates material over Pens should be happy they aren’t overwelming favorites to win the World Series this year?

  36. Just saw on the Penguins Twitter feed a couple interesting things:

    Vokun will get the start over Fleury tonight. DB said he wants to get back to the goalie rotation they had planned coming into the season.

    Mark Eaton was released by WBS and the Penguins have brought him to practice with the team as a tryout.

      • Just a tryout at this point. I’m thinking they let him practice with the team a few days, see how he looks and see if any of the other defensemen get hurt, and at that point sign him. If no injuries and he looks ok, they can feel good about giving him a chance and he can either try out with another team or choose to retire.

  37. AJ to start opening day, Wandy next and that is far the announcement went

  38. Predict the rest of the rotation.

    1. AJ
    2. Wandy

    Who will be 3, 4, and 5?

    • Beginning of the year

      3. JMAC
      4. Karstans
      5. Locke

      End of the year

      3. Liriano (back from injury)
      4. Cole
      5. JMAC/Morton depending on which JMAC we get.

      • Beginning of the year

        3. JMAC
        4. Karstans
        5. McPherson

        End of the year

        3. Cole
        4. Liriano
        5. McPherson

        • I like McPherson better then Locke as well, but he has only started in 3 AAA games. Locke has proven everything he can and needs to sink or swim. Plus McPherson already has the arm problem.

          • Oh, that’s right. He also has that injury. Maybe, I’ll go with Locke as the #5 to start the season and McPherson will break into the rotation after the first quarter of the season.

            Overall, that rotation is pretty weak.

            • Not as weak as. Snell, Duke, Gorzo, Maholm and whoever the 5th starter was 6 years ago. We have seen a lot worse. In fact this may be the best starting 5 pitchers we have had in 8 or 9 years, and we have never had options behind them like we do now over the time period.

    • AJ (R)
      Wandy (L)
      McD (R)
      Liriano/Locke/Sanchez (L)
      Karstens/McPhereson/Morton/Cole (R)

      Actually makes baseball strategery sense, in terms of series matchups.

  39. Sounds like Garrett is being politically correct. He’s supportive of management and said, “I think we picked up some good players.”

  40. Betcha PITT would get that stadium in Oakland, though.

  41. Gotta love that DK calls for a little less fleury so we don’t get a repeat performance of last years spent playoff form and then the report the Vokoun is in tonight. I think DK had some insider info.

    DK: No, not on this. Vokoun didn’t know, either.

  42. So the Steelers locker room may be imploding and we just spent 300 posts talking about what a Pirates reliever may or may not have meant.

    This town is dying for winning baseball.

    • “and we just spent 300 posts talking..”

      299 without Drew.

    • Including the occasional, always popular, “It doesn’t matter if the Steelers have problems, because mark of a champion and blah blah blah AND THEY’RE NOT AS AWFUL AS THE NUTTING PIRATES!”

      Always good for a laugh.

    • NMR – The Steeler season ended about six weeks ago.
      What you’re hearing is residual griping in regards to a
      season that is over.
      I know it’s always par for the course for Nutting Regime-ites to deflect the lack of effort and
      quality in regards to the Pirate organization.

  43. The Stillers have issues, and they appear to be many, but make no mistake…. they will correct these issues and be in the playoff picture/hunt even in their so called down years. The Nuttings? They throw in the towel even when they are getting their first sniff of a winning season in 2 decades.

    It is not the players attitute that is the problem as SeanAy suggests…. it is ownerships and managements. They have the stink of a loser

    • “It is not the players attitute that is the problem as SeanAy suggests…. it is ownerships and managements. They have the stink of a loser”

      Not possible that both could be to blame?

      The fact remains, we’ve seen not one, but TWO different players essentially admit that when the team didn’t get a big shiny name to add to the line-up, they pouted in the clubhouse and resigned themselves to their fate.

      Was the roster fatally flawed to begin with? Yeah, probably. Except for that part where it went 16 games over .500 through August 15.

      As you and others said, though, that was probably done with smoke and mirrors.

      Even Grilli believed it was an illusion, apparently. Which is pathetic, in my opinion.

  44. Just noticed this Nutting quote on MLB.com, when he was unveiling the refurbished McKechnie Field facilities: “‘We’ve rebuilt the facilities, we’ve rebuilt the leadership, we’ve rebuilt the approach that we are taking to create a championship organization for Pittsburgh,” Nutting said. “I could not be more excited for the 2013 campaign, and where we’re headed — and we’ll get started in just a few days.’”

    Now when did they rebuild the leadership????????????????

  45. Grilli spoke the truth….Plain and simple.

    • And after years working in sports, I won’t get into it with those that think every single problem can be traced back to one man, 1,000 miles above the field.

      You’ve chosen to believe that the players are in no way accountable for the collapses. It’s always someone else’s fault.

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