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Wednesday Wakeup Call: The endless lineup debate

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Morning, lunatics …

>> The Wednesday column takes on that most dreaded of baseball topics — at least as far as overfilling the inbox — and that’s picking out a lineup preference.

Included in this piece are three elements related to the Pirates’ 2013 lineup:

1. How it looks like Clint Hurdle will fill out his card April 1. That’s on the graphic at the top.

2. How I think it should look, meaning my opinion. That’s the body of the column.

3. Where the players themselves would prefer to hit. As you can see, all involved — except Pedro Alvarez, who always has hated this topic — gave a fairly firm answer.

Thought that last one might add something to the fun here, but I can also tell you that I based none of my calls on what the players wanted, even where they match. In fact, I was more than a little surprised that Starling Marte, in particular, chose No. 2.

Anyway, I’ll also welcome seeing your suggestions in the comments below.

>> Here’s video of Hurdle answering my question about valuing on-base skills at leadoff …

>> Here’s the TribLIVE Radio show podcast from out in the right-field corner yesterday, featuring special guest A.J. Burnett. Thanks to all who emailed!

>> And finally out of all this, here’s the news notebook feature that focused on Gerrit Cole’s day, accompanied neatly by this vid of Cole’s postgame …

>> The amazing Chicago Blackhawks are a wonderful story for all of sports, not just the NHL. Too bad the circus at ESPN saw fit to denigrate them.

On that note, Hallelujah.

>> Elsewhere in pucks, if you missed what Eric Fehr pulled off last night in D.C. …

>> All kinds of developments on the Penguins’ front, not least of which is Beau Bennett being assigned to the Evgeni Malkin-James Neal line. It’s overdue but welcome nonetheless.

>> Also welcome is the Steelers working to restructure with James Harrison. Ideally, all these old guys are replaced with the wave of a wand with a ton of new guys, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Instead, we live in a world where the local football roster isn’t exactly overflowing with pass-rushers.

>> On the first day of Pitt spring drills, Rushel Shell’s future impact is gauged by our Jerry DiPaola.

>> This will be my final day in Florida. Flying home tonight after Pirates-Red Sox here in the south of the state.

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.

121 Comments

  1. Pens have a lot of options in how they address their roster

    Forwards
    1. 1st line RW – trade Kennedy, Bennett 2nd line LW, Dupuis 3rd line RW
    2. 2nd line LW – trade Kennedy, Bennett 3rd line RW
    3. 3rd line RW – trade Kennedy, Bennett 2nd line LW

    Defense pairings could be all over the place
    1. Orpik – Martin / Despres – Letang / Eaton – Niskanen
    2. Orpik – Martin / Despres – Letang / Eaton – Engelland
    3. Orpik – Martin / Despres – Letang / Eaton – Bortuzzo
    4. Orpik – Martin / Despres – Letang / Eaton – RD

    I’d like to see a few games with the first defense combinations because I think that has potential to be pretty good come playoff time. I know everyone wants size and grit on the blue line but there’s really not much of it out there. Are the Penguins going to acquire a defenseman of greater value than what they already have with Despres, Eaton, and Niskanen?

    Would the Flames take a package of Kennedy, D prospect (excluding Morrow), and 1st round pick for Jarome Iginla?

    Are Pens better off trying to deal Kennedy plus mid round pick to Blue Jackets for Vinny Prospal?

    Iginla Deal
    1st: Kunitz – Crosby – Iginla – Despres – Letang
    2nd: Bennett – Malkin – Neal – Orpik – Martin
    3rd: Cooke – Sutter – Dupuis – Eaton – Niskanen
    4th: Glass – Vitale – Adams

    Prospal Deal
    1st: Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis – Despres – Letang
    2nd: Prospal – Malkin – Neal – Orpik – Martin
    3rd: Cooke – Sutter – Bennett – Eaton – Niskanen
    4th: Glass – Vitale – Adams

    • Trade Kennedy for some 3rd/4th line grit?

    • Colombus has access to the same video equipment we do, and they arent inexplicably married to Kennedy like Disco.

      If Shero cold get Columbus to TAKE TK he would have to give them a mid round pick. If he wanted Prospal on top of that it would cost extra.

      In all seriousness, the number of ‘sellers’ is very low because the shortened season has everyone in contention for the 8 spot. There are far more ‘buyers’ than usual. Players will cost more than usual.

      And NOBODY will want TK. Nobody.

    • Trade Kennedy for 3rd/4th line grit?

      • Kennedy is supposed to be 3rd or 4th line grit. That’s like trading a saw for broken one. NOBODY wants Kennedy. The only team in the NHL that would play Kennedy every night is the one he is already playing for.

        Which works out good for him, I guess.

  2. If Jose Tabata is all the way back… then I’d like to see…

    1. Tabata, RF
    2. Walker, 2B
    3. McCutchen, CF
    4. Alvarez, 3B
    5. Jones, 1B
    6. Marte, LF
    7. Martin, C
    8. Barmes, SS

    • I’d consider swapping Jones and Pedro if Pedro continues to have issues with cleanup. I’d definitely start the season with this though.

      I like Walker at 5, but I believe in putting your OBP guys at the top of the lineup, and this is sadly the best they can do with that.

  3. I know a lot of people are not fans of platoons, but I think Tabata and Snider might be candidates for one. Neither has really proven anything yet. One is a righty, one is a lefty. Just leave each in the game on his “start” day in order to see how each can handle pitching match-up changes (unless late in a game when a favorable pinch-hitter match-up for the Bucs is really needed), and let the players show who which one deserves to start.
    Ain’t gonna happen. We know NH’s MO — he traded for Snider, Snider will be run out there no matter how ugly it gets. But this was my two cents on the issue.

  4. DK,

    Good column. Here are my platoons:

    Against lefties – Tabata, Marte, Cutch, Sanchez, Pedro, Walker, Martin, Barmes, SP

    Righties: Marte, Snider, Cutch, Jones, Pedro, Walker, Martin, Barmes, SP

    Less overall disruption that way, and a regular platoon for a couple of months giving 4 guys a chance to win an every day position.

    On other fronts:
    Keep Despres, trade Kennedy, move Bennet to Sid’s line w/Dupuis, Kunitz w/ Geno and Neal. Use who you get for Kennedy on fourth line W/Adams and Vitale.

    Pitt plays a double post W/Adams and Taylor. Jamie makes Patterson earn his playing time. play both Robinson and Woodall together. Talib relieves both Adams and Taylor. Johnson earns more time with shooting.

    Stuart

  5. Frankly I’m inclined to pretty much agree with your proposed lineup, at least to start the season. Obviously you can adjust appropriately as things progress.

    After the 2010 season there was the feeling that Tabata needed to hit for power to qualify as viable corner outfield option. But frankly 2010 Tabata would be a pretty useful player, especially now that the Pirates actually have a reasonable amount of power in their lineup.

  6. 1. Tabata, RF
    2. Marte, LF
    3. McCutchen, CF
    4. Sanchez/Jones, 1B
    5. Alvarez, 3B
    6. Walker, 2B
    7. Martin/McKenry, C
    8. Barmes, SS
    9 Duh, P

    My base line-up keeps two platoons in the same spot of the batting order. Lets at least start the season with some consistency. Of course it gets trickier when you involve the other TBD bench players.

    DK can Gaby Sanchez win the starting job at 1B? His spring output is really getting my attention.

  7. Just want to point out, after all his whining about the cold, that is had been unseasonably warm all winter. Mostly 70s and 80s. Until Dejan arrived.

    So what is the real cause of the icy feel to the air?

    BTW. Forecast for the end of this week, after Dejan flies out.

    Sunny. Low 80s

  8. I buy the LOGIC of Tabata over Snider.

    Just not the REASON.

    I cannot believe that Hurdle (HURDLE!) would select anyone to help build the perception of Neal’s deadline deal.

    Forget his extension and the control that it implies. That’s just not Hurdle. I would be stunned to learn that Hurdle went against his own instinct to help justify a Neal Deal. Unless Hurdle happens to AGREE that Snider should start.

    So if Snider DOES start, I believe it will be because Hurdle wants him to.

    I may disagree with the lineup. But I see no way Hurdle is kowtowing or being overruled.

    Not Hurdle. Love him or Foo him, not Hurdle.

    • Drew,

      I don’t agree with your view of Hurdle. He is a company manager, not a free thinking one.
      Why did he continue to play Tabata early last year when it was apparent to everyone that Jose was out-of-shape, disinterested and loafing. Furthermore, Hurdle played Barajas way too much when it was apparent that anyone else would have been a better option.
      Both of these examples, I believe, were due to Hurdle doing what he was told to do by Neal or Nutting. Hurdle is a really nice guy, but not a good manager.

      • Hurdle isn’t John Russell. You didn’t see the crazy left field shift.

        And early in the season who was the alternative to Tabata? I think they were hoping Jose would play through his struggles.

        • Jones in right and Magahee (spelling) on 1st would have been better than Tabata.

          This is not aimed at you, but I get tired of the endless mantra “______ is an upgrade over ______”.

          Hurdle is an upgrade over Russell. Well, Neal, who hired Russell?
          Martin is an upgrademover Barajas. Well, Neal who hired Barajas?
          Sanchez is an upgrade over Maghee (sp). Well, who hired Maghee?
          2012 was an upgrade over 2010. But, Neal etal, who blew up the team that year?

          I expect the FO (the GM and his syncophants) to be accountable for their performance be it good or bad.

          • You know they won’t happen. If it didn’t happen after the SECOND collapse, it ain’t never gonna happen. But I know exactly what you mean. If we actually held NH to his word that player X is an upgrade over player Y then by this point we should have the ’27 Yankees.

          • “Jones in right and Magahee (spelling) on 1st would have been better than Tabata.”

            Um, that actually happened. A lot. You must have missed, like, most of the season.

            You’re still short an outfielder, since Presley also failed. Tabby was only around for as long as he was because he was still, shockingly, the better option.

      • You play Tabta to give him a chance…prove himself. That way when he was sent down, he had no one to blame but himself.

    • Just to be clear.

      I don’t think Hurdle is subversive or disloyal to his employers.

      Also, I don’t think he has been asked, or would be willing to cede, those decisions – such as lineup card decisions – that are in the hands of the more established and job-secure managers.

      Not saying that Hurdle would not CONSIDER senior management feedback. Not saying he couldnt be talked into something. Just saying it is my opinion that decisions such as these are ultimately his, when they may not have always been totally Russell’s or other less established or job-secure managers.

    • Amen, Drew. No idea how Dejan could make that jump in reason.

      Showing his cards, I presume.

      • Thanks.

        Also for clarity, I am not touching motives; Hurdle’s, Neal’s or Dejan’s.

        Regarding Doctor Dejan’s right field prognosis, I simply am saying:

        I agree with the good doctor’s treatment plan, just not the diagnosis.

  9. If Gaby Sanchez shows that he can play a decent third base and Josh Harrison doesn’t show that he can hit, I think JayHay is going to find him self in Indy.

  10. Yesterday DK said that he was going to ask AJ if ‘the Pirates did enough at the trade deadline’. He asked and AJ answered. If you haven’t listened to that section of DK’s show I suggest you go to that section of the podcast and listen to what AJ said.

    And I really hope that that will put this whole issue to bed. It is over. That was 7 months ago. There was plenty of other opportunities to ask players what they thought of the deadline.

    Ask them back in July. Ask they when the season ended. Ask them at Piratefest.
    At this point, what does it matter?

  11. The problem with Tabata leading off, is he doesn’t walk either. Omar Moreno was a patient man compared to both Tabata and Marte. Ideally either one of them is a good 2 slot guy. The Pirates really don’t have a lead off hitter.

    But, I agree that Tabata is probably the best of what they have. Omar Moreno’s 412 steals as a Pirate won’t be topped by anyone going forward. Which is too bad, I loved 1970′s baseball.

    • I’d have to completely disagree. Tabata’s spread between BA and OBP is pretty good, IMO.

      • 8.1% career walk rate is rate at league average.

        • I’m just asking, but is that at league average for lead off or for everyone? I think it makes a difference.

          • That’s a great question, AW. Wish I could figure out how to sort that stat.

            8.0% was the league-wide walk average last season.

            • 8% stinks. That’s 40 walks in 500 PA’s. Only on the Pirates is that lofty. Granted plate discipline as a whole stinks league wide, but it doesn’t mean it should be accepted. I’d like a guy leading off to at LEAST get 54 walks, or 1 every 3 games. It’s not asking for the moon. In my fantasies I think of 100 BB seasons. I’m sure Barry was the last Pirate to do that.

    • Tabata career walk rate: 8.1%.

      Moreno career walk rate: 7.0%

      Omar Moreno was a terrible leadoff hitter. The mark of a good leadoff hitter is not base stealing, it’s the ability to get on base. Moreno posted a career OBP of .306.

      • The last Pirate championship doesn’t happen without Omar Moreno.

        • He contributed a lot on defense, and it was the only season that he came close to being adequate at the plate. That doesn’t change the fact that he was a terrible leadoff hitter. The Pirates didn’t win in 1979 because the lineup started off Moreno-Foli, they won in spite of it. They had seven other guys with OPS north of .800 in 350 plate appearances or more and the third best pitching staff in the NL.

  12. JAL’s That’s Life Morning Links

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

    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

    First Pitch: Some Early Thoughts From Big League Camp

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/03/first-pitch-some-early-thoughts-from-big-league-camp.html

    Pirates Notebook: Gerrit Cole Dominates, But Don’t Expect Him To Make the Team

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/03/pirates-notebook-gerrit-cole-dominates-but-dont-expect-him-to-make-the-team.html

    Tony Sanchez Has the Defense, But Can He Hit in the Majors?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/03/tony-sanchez-has-the-defense-but-can-he-hit-in-the-majors.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates defeat Spain 10-0, but still probably stink at something Spain is good at, so there

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/3/5/4068558/pirates-defeat-spain-10-0-but-still-probably-stink-at-something-spain

    7 Bloguin

    2013 X-Factor: Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.bloguin.com/theoutsidecorner/2013-articles/march/2013-x-factor-pittsburgh-pirates.html

    8 Rant Sports

    Pedro Alvarez Needs to Hit for Better Average for Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/03/05/pedro-alvarez-needs-to-hit-for-better-average-for-pittsburgh-pirates/

    9 Rumbunter

    Pirates Spring Training: Some Random Thoughts

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/03/05/pirates-spring-training-some-random-thoughts/

    Pirates, Gerrit Cole Cruise Over Team Spain

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/03/05/pirates-gerrit-cole-cruise-over-team-spain/

    10 Green Weenie

    Bucs Whup On Spain 10-0

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/03/bucs-whup-on-spain-10-0.html

    • That’s Life Frank Sinatra 1966 The best known version of a song that been recorded by Bono, The Temptations, James Brown, Van Morrison and others.

      • Speaking of the great Sinatra, TCM is showing a decent Chairman of the Board film later tonight. “The Man with the Golden Arm” stars Sinatra, the incomparable Darren McGavin and a young breathtaking Kim Novak. (TCM is featuring Novak all night).

        The film stands as one of the many attempts by filmmaker Otto Preminger to weaken the stifling censorship implemented by the Hays Office.

  13. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Minden Times

    Scouts and assorted loafers

    http://www.mindentimes.ca/2013/03/05/scouts-and-assorted-loafers

    12 TSN

    SAUNDERS HOMERS AS CANADA BEATS BREWERS IN WBC WARMUP

    http://www.tsn.ca/mlb/story/?id=417462

    13 Pioneer Press

    Minnesota Twins: Brandon Boggs trying to show he’s got Jim Thome power

    http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_22725346/minnesota-twins-brandon-boggs-trying-show-hes-got

    14 CBC

    Dual citizen Jameson Taillon ‘honoured’ to pitch for Canada

    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/baseball/mlb/story/2013/03/05/sp-mlb-world-baseball-classic-canada-jameson-taillon.html

    15 KDKA

    Karstens And Vinnie Go Head-To-Head

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/03/05/karstens-and-vinnie-go-head-to-head/

    16 Beaver County Times

    Torre: MLB examining expanded replay for 2014

    http://www.timesonline.com/sports/pirates/torre-mlb-examining-expanded-replay-for/article_cd8db1dc-6879-5343-816f-b90a2e1ffb97.html

    17 ESPN

    How the Nationals can make history

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/33482/how-the-nationals-can-make-history

    18 PBC SITE

    McCutchen takes new fame and runs with it

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130305&content_id=42314432&vkey=news_pit&c_id=pit

    When delivery is sound, Cole unhittable

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130305&content_id=42317896&notebook_id=42318964&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Curious Case of Freddie Lindstrom

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19799

    20 Fangraphs

    Longer PED Suspensions: Deterrent or Retribution?

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/longer-ped-suspensions-deterrent-or-retribution/

  14. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    DraftSeason’s Blogger’s Draft has CB Desmond Trufant going to Pittsburgh

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/3/4/4062416/is-the-steelers-locker-room-fractured

    Tunch Ilkin Holds Forth on Head Injuries

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/3/5/4066426/tunch-ilkin-holds-forth-on-head-injuries

    22 Steelers Depot

    -Report: Steelers Continuing Talks With Agent Of James Harrison

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/03/steelers-continuing-talks-agent-james-harrison/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Manchester United 1 Real Madrid 2; 2-3 agg: match report

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/champions-league/9910624/Manchester-United-1-Real-Madrid-2-2-3-agg-match-report.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 5th March, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-4th-march-2013-2

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Zach Boychuk claimed on waivers, Tom Kostopoulous signed for WB/S, Beau Bennett back in Pittsburgh

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/3/5/4067498/zach-boychuk-claimed-on-waivers-tom-kostopoulous-signed-for-wb-s-beau

    Penguins trade rumors: Jack Johnson

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/3/5/4066640/penguins-trade-rumors-jack-johnson

  15. I like Jose Tabata and I really do hope he gets a ton of playing time this season and has the break-out year we have been waiting for.

    But what I don’t understand is why some keep harping on the 128 at-bats that Travis Snider had last year and how great Tabata looks this Spring. Tabata did get in great shape but have you forgotten last year? Why doesn’t Snider get the opportunity to ‘wipe the slate clean’ and start fresh in 2013? Snider seems to have to carry the baggage of those 128 at-bats and the fact that he was a ‘deadline deal acquisition’.

    Can’t we wait and see what Snider does in some spring training games. Supposedly he was also injured last season and is in better shape this year.

    Both players are ‘supposedly’ the same age. Snider has 32 career home runs, Tabata 11. I am interested in seeing how this will play out. And I want to wait and see how it will play out.

    • +1

      Really surprised Dejan fell for the “BSOHL” cliche. Tabby impressing people by NOT showing up to camp a complete fat *ss is damning with the faintest of praise.

    • I’ll take it one step further. Aside from Cutch, Walker, Martin, and Alvarez why should anyone have a position that is “there’s to lose”? Barmes could be considered in that category as well, I guess. But only because there is absolutely NO ONE between him and AA.

      Maybe when it comes to baseball I miss some of the finer points of how to manage and develop players, so maybe that is a crude argument. But IMO after the way they finished last season and the 20 before it, there are fewer guys who should have nameplates than players whose names should be written on tape with sharpie. I certainly wouldn’t go around telling guys like Tabata or Snider that that “it’s their job to lose”.

  16. Did anyone happen to see that Toronto was planning on sending Brad Lincoln to AAA to work as a starter but now have him back in competition for a spot in the bullpen?

    Competition for a spot? I thought he would have been a lock the way he pitched here last season.

    • that is his problem TJ, Lincoln has not pitched well since he was traded to Toronto.

      • He misses McGehee

      • So in other words the trade has not worked out for either team right now

        • We can flip-flop them back as far as I’m concerned.

          I like DK’s lineup better than Clint’s.

          Tabata, Marte, Cutch, Jones, Walker, Pedro, Martin, Barmes

          Snider would be on the bench or in AAA, but I think he’s out of options, so the end of the bench.

          • I honestly think I’d rather have Marte lead off. He at least has some speed and seems to be working on his plate discipline. Jay Bell should decide who bats second.

          • I like that lineup but I also like Walker batting 2nd and putting Pedro 5th. Pedro’s numbers batting 5th last year were excellent if that means anything, but so are Walker’s.

            I’m not sure Marte has the ability yet to move runners so I’m not sure about him batting 2nd. I’d love to see Marte bat 6th but for some reason I seem to think batting him leadoff might help him to focus more on plate discipline for now.

        • Lincoln pitched very well for three months with the Pirates. Not so well the rest of his career.

          Lincoln and Snider could not be any closer to the same player to each of the teams that drafted them. People in Toronto don’t like Lincoln because he sucked while there and they still have hope for Snider.

          Literally the same exact, but opposite, sentiment from a lot of Pirate fans.

          • Does any city like a trade? I checked out some Boston blogs in December and I was shocked how much they didn’t like Hanrahan including his salary.

            • I think it’s common for fans to be skeptical, which is all Boston was doing.

              It’s not like Hanrahan was a slam dunk. Far from it. Especially after how poorly trading for a “proven closer” worked out for them the prior season.

              They were just acknowledging what everyone else was saying.

  17. At the risk of being “one of those guys”, I agree with the several studies that show lineup construction has very little impact on the number of runs scored by a team. I don’t think Alvarez’s record hitting at 4 is anything more than anecdotal – his collective history shows that he’s not a .131 hitter, he’s not a .272 or .263 hitter – he’s somewhere in the middle.
    Just my two cents. . .
    I think it’s far more important to get the right hitters in the lineup than where you place them.

  18. Really enjoyed the column, Dejan! Great idea to mix the three points of view. Tied in the whole debate theme very well.

    Couple quibbles…

    -”Marte is the freest of swingers, anything but a pure on-base guy. Asking him to alter his game risks burying his many positives.”

    Sorry, but what positives did we see last year as a result of Marte being Marte? 28% K rate. Barely .300 OBP. Power? He only had one more home run in three less PA’s than your favorite whipping boy, Travis Snider.

    Marte NEEDS to change his game. We’re not in Indianapolis anymore.

    -”If he(Barmes) replicates that in 2013, coupled with Martin’s walks, these spots will do more than set up the pitcher whiffing.”

    Yeah, like set up Marte for RBI opportunities. I don’t know why we’re looking at this lineup like Marte will be leading off EVERY at-bat. Last year, Neil Walker had 32 RBI batting 5th and 31 RBI batting second. With a black hole from 7-8-9-1. Adding Martin and an average Barmes will only inrease Marte’s chances to produce runs.

  19. On the ESPN front, I think they’ve been without competition for so long that the shipped has sailed for any real all-sports challenger. For a very long time ESPN has been about ESPN. The rise of podcasts has brought me to the point where the only thing I watch/listen to on their networks is live programing.
    Long-form sports writing has taken away a lot of my espn.com time, although I confess I still subscribe for Keith Law’s work. They’re very smart keeping him locked up in their pay-for compartment.

  20. Let’s hear it for another job well done by the weather guessers. We were right on the line of 1-3 & 3-6. Well we got 3. And 3 more, and then 3 more. And for good measure – 3 more. At least I got my cardio in.

  21. While out this morning getting the 8 inches of snow off of my driveway I met my new neighbor. He moved in across the street a couple of weeks ago.

    Do you know what he was wearing? An Atlanta Braves cap.

    The curse continues.

    • Ever see the DirecTV commercial where the odd guy in the neighborhood wearing a Dallas Jersey or whatever in Philly has all the neighbors throw snow in his drive way?

      Thats what I’d be doing

    • Hopefully that’s just the piece of crap hat that you grab for situations like this.

  22. DK, I think everyone would love to see Tabata finally break through, but your argument is contradictory. Snider didn’t set the world on fire post-trade, however Tabata was awful last season as well, so taking into account the player’s past season makes the argument a wash, at best. If this had to do with justifying anything, I would imagine the Pirates would probably be pushing Tabata as he is the guy who got a long-term deal without showing he had the consistency needed to be an everyday player at the Major League level. Maybe Tabata deserves another shot, but the job should be Snider’s to lose and with the spring he is having, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be out there on April 1st.

    My lineup:

    1. Neil Walker – Ideally he should be hitting either 2nd or 5th, but this isn’t an ideal situation. It’s an unorthodox idea, I know, but the guy is reliable at the plate and he can get on base so until we can develop/find a true lead off guy, I think Walker is the best fit at the 1 spot.

    2. Marte – If his power continues to develop, you’d probably like to see him hit a bit lower in the lineup, but as his game sits today, the 2 spot is probably the ideal place.

    3. Cutch – Yep.

    4. Legend – Jones seems to have the requisite mind set for a Clean-Up man that Pedro just doesn’t have yet. When Gaby’s playing first, I’d move him down to the 5/6 spot and slide up Pedro and Martin, but on Opening Day, this spot should belong to Jones.

    5. Pedro – This is where he is comfortable and this is where he should stay until he develops more consistancy.

    6. Snider – I hated the Lincoln trade as I really thought he was going to be a big part of the bullpen for years to come, but I’m coming around on Snider. People are quick to point out his awful production after coming to Pittsburgh, but I attribute a lot of that to the hamstring injury never getting a chance to heal. He’s had a solid spring and I really think he can be a key guy for us this year

    7. Martin – Martin’s spot can probably fluctuate between the 5-6-7 area, depending on the lineup/situation, but to start I think this is a good place for him.

    8. Barmes – Come on, Clint…you don’t need to be Miguel Tejada, just give us some timely hits.

    Lets Go Bucs.

    • Well said, Zach.

      Really can’t come up with a good reason for Walker NOT to lead off.

      • Only ones I can think of is that he’s good with runners on and not particularly fast. If we go by the time frame of developing/finding a true leadoff hitter, Neil could be there quite awhile.

        • I get what you’re saying about Walker being good with runners on, but the lead off guy’s primary job is to get on base, not to steal bases. If he gets on, with the way that Marte has been killing the ball this sprng, that could really set the table nicely for Cutch, Jones, and Pedro.

  23. 1. Tabata, RF
    2. Walker, 2B
    3. McCutchen, CF
    4. Alvarez, 3B
    5. Jones, 1B
    6. Martin, C
    7. Barmes, SS
    8. Marte, LF

  24. I don’t care what kinda shape Tabata came to camp in it doesn’t change the reality of the situation which is that even if he hits to his potential he, like Marte, Russell, Barmes, Sanchez and all the other right hand hitters with mediocre power who came and went before them are poor fits for the dimensions of PNC Park.

    Until someone in the organization gets a grasp on the realities of what the team’s home park does to light hitting right handed hitters and adjusts the roster and the lineups to reflect it it going to be another long summer of listening to the broadcast teams scratch their collective heads as to why the team only hits for power on the road.

    In any game where the opposing team starts a right handed pitcher, if Marte is leading off and Russell, Barmes and Sanchez are in the lineup as well you can just mark that down as a loss before the first pitch is thrown.

    • You had me til the last line. Opposing teams have to deal with the same dimensions as the Pirates.

      • Indeed they do but most other teams, but especially those who expect to contend, have rosters and lineups that either contain hitters who can hit pitchers from either side or have players on the bench to platoon with them when the match ups is required.

        The Pirate’s right handed hitters are all liabilities against right handed pitchers, with McCutchen being the one exception, regardless of where they’re playing and PNC Park only serves to magnify the problem.

        Let’s watch and see how many times this season the opposition sends a right handed starter to the mound at PNC and Hurdles’ lineup in loaded with right handed hitters with Marte whiffing at historic rates at the top.

        If the Pirates and Hurdle had any sense at all Robinson would make the team and Tabata wouldn’t and the lineup up against every right handed starter would be Snider in LF, Jones in RF, and Robinson at 1B and Marte would never see a plate appearance against a right hander but especially at PNC.

  25. The only way a Platoon will work at third is if Charlie Sheen and Willem Dafoe are involved.

    I’m not a fan of all this platooning. What are we at now? Potentially 4 often-platooned positions if this Gaby at third thing keeps going?

    • Are they letting Gaby hit twice? :)

      If he platoons with Pedro, he doesn’t platoon with GIJ.

      Nobody is suggesting Gaby and Pedro actually platoon, anyways. Or Tabata and Snider. Just that both pairs would compliment one another on off days.

      IMO a true platoon is locked down, R vs L and L vs R. Any mixing and its simply a starter and a bench player.

    • Gotta watch that movie again…….

      Snider needs to show some power to get regular ABs in my lineup……just because Neal signed him should not be the reason he is given RF.

  26. What could seriously be the harm in putting Tyler Kennedy on waivers? I think Patrick said above that no one will want him and I agree. What purpose can he serve in a trade other than bringing down the potential return? If no one takes him (which I doubt they will), I hear Wheeling is looking for a washed up 3rd line winger.

    And if Despres is dealt, then Shero is hanging around with the SEAL too much.

    • The $2m salary is way too much for WBS or Wheeling.

    • You don’t put him on waivers for the same reason you don’t put Lovejoy on waivers. Someone would pick him up if it’s not going to cost them any players. Instead, if you want to get rid of him, at worst you can trade him for a draft pick. However, I do think that you can get more than that for TK. While he has been awful this season, he has shown in the past that if he is playing with the right linemates, he can put the puck on net and score occasionally. He just can’t seem to get the chemistry right with Sutter in the center.

      Instead of trading or waiving TK, another option is to try sticking him down on the fourth line instead. When he was playing his best, TK was throwing his weight around and producing a good hard forecheck. If he can get back to this style of play, he could be a good fit for the fourth line and while he’s not scoring right now, he at least gives that line some scoring potential (which is more than what can be said for that line right now).

      Here would be my new lines:

      Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
      Bennett – Malkin – Neal
      Cooke – Sutter – Jeffrey
      Adams – Vitale – Kennedy

  27. DK tricked me. Somehow got his baseball column to show up on the Trib penguins page. Was a good trick cause I ended up reading it anyway. I’m still not ready for pirates “embrace-the-suck” baseball. :(

  28. RIP – Paul Bearer. No, really.

  29. I cannot wait for Pirate season to start. After 5 years Time Warner in Warren Ohio has picked up ROOT SPORTS. Now I can watch the Pirates and Pens…………

  30. Of course Hurdle gets to fill out a new line-up card every day.

    Some days it will have a DH — Gaby at 1B, Jones DH?

    I hope I’m wrong about Barmes and right about Pedro.

    Tabata vs Snider is a good thing. Whoever starts will have won the job and will need to perform to keep it.

    Barring the unforeseen then, I kind of like DK’s line-up — might play with the batting order at 4-5-6.

    • I really like both of those points, JH.

      I think you could be right about the competition helping Snider and Tabby. There wasn’t much more you could do to send Tabby a message last year, yet it seemed to ring hollow until the team brought in somebody to compete for his job.

      By Casey Mgehee chemistry logic, that makes the Lincoln trade a good move even if Snider busts out, right? :)

  31. 1. Tabata R
    2. Walker S
    3. Cutch R
    4. Alvarez L
    5. Marte R
    6. Jones L
    7. Martin R
    8. Barnes R

    Marte has more value to me in middle of order hitting between Pedro and Jones. Also, this lineup give a nice right handed / left handed blend through out. Almost alternating after each hitter

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