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Wednesday Wakeup Call: Thirteen

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

>> The Wednesday column is about the Pirates’ patchwork rotation … and how it got that way.

>> Meanwhile, in the big glass box Uptown, the clock struck 13

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Yes, 13

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As in, 13

The goaltenders get it done, as Rob Rossi reports, but Marc-Andre Fleury is down. One would think Tomas Vokoun was going to get the nod Thursday against the Jets, so this might end up being moot. But, obviously, given the clear blow to the head, the Penguins would do very well to err on the side of caution.

Our #TribHKY team’s video report from Consol …

>> Here again is yesterday’s TribLIVE Radio show podcast featuring James Neal of the Penguins and the Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gary Lawless.

Here, too, is video of the opening segment about why Jarome Iginla isn’t necessarily a good fit anymore, complete with Bruce Boudreau’s head on a stick …

>> I’ll visit with the TribLIVE Radio cast again this afternoon at 1:30. We’ve got live video streaming from the studio now, by the way. If you’re on a laptop, just open the player and click WATCH rather than LISTEN.

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.

290 Comments

  1. First!!!!

    Penguins at thirteen and the Pirates digging through their own trash to get a rotation together. At least the Penguins will play until June so I don’t have to pay attention to the Pirates. Dejan needs to write that book because I have a feeling the Pirates are even more dysfunctional than what we fans think. Which is hard to imagine.

  2. GO Hens 1st UWV now NC
    Next Kentucky, then Uconn, then manwoman

    DD is sooo much better than any female (and most players M or F) that I’ve ever seen

    Elena http://twitter.com/De11eDonne

    Go Hens

    ps there is a Newark, De listed in the DK blog

  3. Russel Shell transferring?

  4. I miss Brian Burress….

  5. “Jeff Karstens was wisely brought back at a lower rate, but his recent shoulder trouble should have ensured contingencies.”

    I believe those contingencies were Locke, McPherson, and Morton & Cole in June.

  6. I’m a bit surprised that today’s column wasn’t about Michel Therrien

  7. JAL’s Centerfield Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0R5orBZis8

    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

    Gerrit Cole vs Jameson Taillon at Pirate City

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/03/gerrit-cole-vs-jameson-taillon-at-pirate-city.html

    Creating Space on the 40-Man For Sanchez and Inge

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/03/creating-space-on-the-40-man-for-sanchez-and-inge.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Jonathan Sanchez, Brandon Inge make Pirates

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/3/26/4148508/jonathan-sanchez-brandon-inge-make-pirates

    7 WHYGAVS

    Why did the Pirates trade a draft pick for Gaby Sanchez, but not give one up for Kyle Lohse?

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/march-2013/why-did-the-pirates-trade-a-draft-pick-for-gaby-sanchez-but-not-give-one-up-for-kyle-lohse.html

    Brandon Inge and Jonathan Sanchez are officially Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/march-2013/brandon-inge-and-jonathan-sanchez-are-officially-pittsburgh-pirates.html

    8 Exponent Telegram

    WVU hopeful for deal with New York-Penn League

    http://www.exponent-telegram.com/sports/article_a21f00f2-9694-11e2-a9e7-001a4bcf887a.html

    9 Rumbunter

    Poor Pitching In Spring Training Is A Pittsburgh Pirates Staple

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/03/26/poor-pitching-in-spring-training-is-a-pittsburgh-pirates-staple/

    Pirates Keep Brandon Inge On Roster, But Why?

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/03/26/pirates-keep-brandon-inge-on-roster-but-why/

    10 Green Weenie

    Bucs Fall Behind Early, Go Down 6-3 To Jays

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/03/bucs-fall-behind-early-go-down-6-3-to.html

    • Centerfield John Fogerty 1985 Lead singer of CCR, Fogerty had a hit with this song in his solo career. The album was his first after taking a 9 year break from music.

  8. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Portland Press Herald

    Steve Solloway: Maybe Reid between the lines

    http://www.pressherald.com/sports/maybe-reid-between-the-lines_2013-03-27.html

    12 Bleacher Report

    Predictions for Every MLB Team in April

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1577939-predictions-for-every-mlb-team-in-april

    13 Sports Illustrated

    Young stars and balanced teams move the game into a new era

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20130326/mlb-season-preview/

    14 KDKA

    Colin Dunlap: Karstens Injury Leaves Pirates In Real Bind

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/03/26/colin-dunlap-karstens-injury-leaves-pirates-in-real-bind/

    15 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates Season Preview: Looking at the Second Basemen

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/03/26/pittsburgh-pirates-season-preview-looking-at-the-second-basemen/

    16 Bradenton Herald

    Recap: Toronto vs. Pittsburgh

    http://www.bradenton.com/2013/03/26/4454695/recap-toronto-vs-pittsburgh.html

    17 Sweetspot

    Cardinals no lock to make the playoffs

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/34097/cardinals-no-lock-to-make-the-playoffs

    18 PBC SITE

    Sanchez settles after early runs in final spring start

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130326&content_id=43330636&vkey=news_pit&c_id=pit

    Hurdle eager to unwrap another season of baseball

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130325&content_id=43290502&vkey=news_pit&c_id=pit

    Sanchez turns focus to pitch count with job secure

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130326&content_id=43340756&notebook_id=43343774&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Why Turning 30 is So Much Better if You Don’t Play Baseball

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19976

    20 Fangraphs

    Positional Power Rankings: Relief Pitchers (#1-#15)

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/positional-power-rankings-relief-pitchers-1-15/

    Positional Power Rankings: Relief Pitchers (#16-30)

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/positional-power-rankings-relief-pitchers-16-30/

  9. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers defensive depth chart: A post-free agency look at the Steelers roster

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/3/26/4148220/steelers-depth-chart-defense-nfl-free-agency-draft-roster

    Steelers Offensive Depth Chart: post-free agency look at the Steelers roster

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/3/26/4148178/steelers-depth-chart-2013-roster-free-agency-nfl-draft

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Florida A&M Now Has Three Former Steelers Players On Their Coaching Staff

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/03/florida-am-now-has-three-former-steelers-players-on-their-coaching-staff/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Sir Alex Ferguson says he expected title race to be much tighter as rivals lag far behind Manchester United

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/9955107/Sir-Alex-Ferguson-says-he-expected-title-race-to-be-much-tighter-as-rivals-lag-far-behind-Manchester-United.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 26th March, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/uncategorized/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-26th-march-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Keys to the Penguins’ Winning Streak

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/3/26/4143536/keys-to-the-penguins-12-game-winning-streak

  10. I’m very glad the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t run by the people who run the Pirates.

  11. I am confused about the starting rotation. They say they do not need a fifth starter for a couple of weeks. But when they get to Los Angeles, although only the first a picture will have enough rest to pitch in LA. If Sanchez pitches a game in LA Burnett pitches a game in LA who’s going to pitch the third game in LA?

    • Radio, you are right.

      We counted games yesterday and established that they do not need a 5th starter during the first and third time through the rotation, but do for April 7, which is in the midst of the second time through.

      If they chose to pull a guy up from Indy or the bullpen to handle April 7 without formally naming him as the fifth starter, that means they do not need to establish a fifth starter until April 16, the fourth time through the rotation. At which point they will regularly need a fifth. (Me to, watching him.)

      So those first two-plus weeks (handling April 7 as a spot start) provide breathing space to see if:
      - one of the injured guys is ready and if not,
      - Locke or McPherson starts to earn it, at least if they continue their competition in Indy

      If neither of these things happen by mid April, considering Sanchez is also a huge question mark, they are in big trouble.

  12. I will quibble with the article on band aids

    There were many who wanted Karstens back, including many, Dejan included, who thought the Pirates should have tendered him. That would doubled his current salary. Yes, everyone knew he was fragile but I don’t think anyone thought he would not be ready to start the season. Karstens usually wears down mid-season. What they planned was having him as the 4th starter.

    Jonathan Sanchez was a mess early but pitched much better late. Even yesterday he pitched well but let down by defense, two misplayed balls in the first. He was terrible last season but pitched well in the range of a number 4 starter the 3 previous seasons. It is reasonable to think last season was an aberration.

    Jeff Locke threw 34 innings last season with an ERA right on the line for a number 5 starter. This spring he has an ERA of 3.38 so, even though he has had some bad outings he has been effective overall this spring.

    The plan was AJ, Wandy, JMac, Karstens, and Locke or McPherson to hold the line until Liriano and then Morton were ready. Having Sanchez as possible stand in was a good move, not a bad move. He was good risk signing.

    Sure it would have been nice to have picked up one more solid starter.

    As for drafts, the 2009 pitchers are not looking good but still early on later drafts for prep pitchers. From 2010 both Taillon and Kingham are moving forward, From 2011 Cole, Holmes and Glasnow are all showing potential.

    • Well said, JAL.

    • Great points JAL.

      The starting rotation ain’t great, but it may be even more important that the bullpen does well – especially long-relief.

      And the other side of the equation is that the offense has to improve from last year.
      Higher on-base %, drastically cut down the K’s, more walks. More runs.

    • in the style of so many here: +1 … and a big +1 at that…well said, JAL, and exactly what I was thinking.

      Everyone, led by DK, clamored and shouted when Karstens wasn’t tendered… there was a reason for all that noise from both sides. But no one could have anticipated another injury to Karstens before the season started. If you want to criticize all that pitching they drafted, well, fine. Just make sure you praise it when the top talent comes to the big team, too.

    • I agree, JAL. The only quibble I would have with your quibble is the reports out of Piratefest were that the Pirates’ brass was suggesting that Karstens had some arm or shoulder trouble at that time. That was in addition to his history of wearing down. The Sanchez point did jump out at me, though.

      • Karstens was tipped off to the FO’s “suggestions” and went on twitter to dispute any injury and declared himself as healthy.

        See how coy the FO is. Drive all other suitors away, drive the price down, sign the pitcher.

        Oh…but wait…the pitcher still landed on the disabled list.

    • Sanchez, Liriano, and Karstens were the only guys “brought in” via free agency to help with starting pitching depth. 2 of them have an injury history as thick as War & Peace. The 3rd was one of the worst pitchers in both leagues last year.

      I won’t argue much about the drafts, but all I can say is that it feels like they should have more depth by now. They intentionally didn’t spend on MLB payroll in 2009, 2010, and 2011 just so they could invest those resources into the draft. 5 full years is pretty much a generation in a farm system, and yet we’re still saying the same things we said back when he was hired…the best ones are in A ball and 2-3 years away…not much in the upper levels…

      • What pitchers did the team have five years ago in A ball? None.

        Trade guys like Morton, Karstens, and Locke have had mixed results and the ’08/’09 drafts were hitter/HS pitcher heavy.

        This gap in talent is what happens when the few drafted college pitchers (J. Wilson, Vic Black) turn out to be relievers and your projectable high school arms don’t project.

    • It is almost time when our opinions become moot (and if you’re lucky, in my case, mute).

      This will all play out under our noses.

  13. Another great win by the Pens! Hope Fleury is okay; that was an ugly hit…

    My concerns with the Pirate starting pitchers are:

    . Highly unlikely that AJ will repeat last years performance. His age and historical inconsistancy trouble me.

    . Wandy is a 0.500 pitcher; anyone expecting better than that needs to be prepared for disappoinment. Besides he is short

    . JMac is ….well, JMac. What will he bring to the mound this year?

    . Sanchez and the others are all huge question marks, reaches (down for a AAA/AAAA guy) to over achieve, or coming off injuries. Sould not expect too much from them.

    Anyway, hope I am wrong!

    I just don’t see reasons to get excited here. And this team is unlikely to outscore many other than the Astros.

    Thinking 72 wins……

  14. Morning Sports-fans!!
    The Window is happy to be back for 2013, and has the very first OVER / UNDER of the year ready!!
    This line will stay open until Sunday evening, and as always this is just for fun and entertainment purposes.

    Total number of Pirates Victories in 2013
    LINE is 81.5
    Maximum “wager” is 250 units. All “wagers” must be divisible by 5.

    Anyone can play, and everyone should try!
    What’ll ya have? What’ll ya have?

    **Also new for this year, The Window is on twitter @TheBuccoWindow, feel free to follow**

  15. The upcoming season feels like a disaster in the making from here. I would like to be wrong about that. So glad we have the Penguins to fill in for awhile as a distraction. That said, I’m pretty worried about Fleury.

    • This seems to be a common theme.

      My question is if this season feels like a disaster, what the heck was anyone thinking about last year?

      The 2013 opening day rotation, even with Sanchez, is better than starting the year with Bedard, Burnett, McDonald, and Correia.

      Is it that expectations are higher, which causes bad news to be magnified?

      • I think expectations are a big part of it, yes. Maybe some of it has to do with a perception that BMTIB didn’t do enough this offseason to continue any momentum. Not enough effort from ownership that could have gotten them past the late season malaise that has sabotaged the last 2 seasons.

        I’m not really saying they did or didn’t, just that i think there is a feeling that the FO didn’t do enough.

        But really, it’s as simple as year 21. People are understandably fatalistic. There is a very vocal group of Pirates fans that have been and always will be optimistic and hopeful. They are in the minority.

        • Well said, Patrick.

          And let me be clear, I’m not arguing this sentiment at all. It is whatever people feel it is.

          Just wondering myself why I see it differently, at least relative to the season they just had. Thank for the response.

  16. At playoffs put me down for 200 on the under. I agree with Karen, I hope I am wrong I am not optimistic.

  17. hey, I’m gonna join this wager stuff. AND I’m going “ALL IN”. Mother Theresa says 250 on the over.

  18. Pirates cut from MLB camp: McPherson, Mercer, Presley, Pie,
    Reid, Zagurski, Mazzaro, May and Paulino.

  19. Here is your 25 to start season

    rotation: Burnett, Rodriguez, McDonald, J. Sanchez and Locke.

    bullpen: Grilli, Melancon, Hughes, Watson, Wilson, Leroux, Gomez.

    bench: Tabata, McKenry, McDonald, Sanchez/Jones, Harrison with Inge like to DL

    • and, of course, the starters–Walker, Barmes, Alvarez, Martin, Marte, McCutchen, Snider

    • That is worse than what I’d thought it be.

      Who is the McDonald on the bench?

    • THREE lefties in starting rotation . . . . . . . that’s real good at PNC!

    • On paper, and yes that’s a serious qualifier, this squad looks better than what we started with last year. Pitching depends on which versions of some of these guys show up, still a huge hole at shortstop, including the back-ups, catcher had to improve by being impossible to get worse. Maybe the same true at shortstop. Starters generally should be improved by age/experience and being together again — more ups than downs, but impossible to name names at this point. Bench also improved by being next to impossible to be weaker than last season.

      The division is improved by subtraction of the Astros. Of course the other teams don’t have to play them either. Leaving several questions: Is this enough improvement to offset what the other four clubs have done? Was the play before or after the collapse the fluke, or was it all an extreme example of “regression to the mean”? Other than Cole is their help at Indianapolis? Can Marte and Alvarez come up to expectations? What will an injury-free Sanchez be like?

  20. Locke has won it. I understand what Dejan is saying in his article today, but I agree with JAL that there is a little to much being made of it at this point. I think A.J. and Wandy will be just fine, J-Mac could be an ace if he can be consistent. He is kind of like Pedro Alvarez of the pitching staff. And, not that I don’t like Jeff Karstens, but all I can remember right now is Dejan jumping down NH’s throat when he questioned Karsents durablity last year. Well, looky hear, another injury. And Sanchez is a proven starter, even with the issues he has had, so maybe he can find that again. I guess we will see.

    • I don’t think he “won” anything. Got it by default and will have to work his tail off to stay in the rotation.

  21. 150 on under, please

  22. I agree with sending McPherson out. He has more upside from what most people say. He can use some time in AAA to work out some things. What are we gonna do with Jeanmar?

    • I think he will be primarily long relief, spot starter if needed. Leroux could also go two or three innings if you needed him to, so at least they have some guys with length in the pen.

    • Need someone to be the long reliever and starter-in-waiting in case a starting pitcher eats bad clams the night before a start or gets hit by a grounder on his pitching hand in the 1st inning.

      Jennmar is stretched out more than Leroux, and Huntington has said repeatedly that HE THINKS Leroux loses his effectiveness after 2 innings and is better served as a reliever.

  23. I’m probably in the minority here (and on the rest of the planet for that matter), but I’m not worried about the pitching this year. Yes, a lot of question marks, and no, I can’t really explain it, but I don’t think pitching will be the problem. I’m expecting a shaky April but look for the rotation to be solid after all the pieces sort themselves out.

    That being said, I don’t think they’ll hit worth squat.

  24. Hey JAL and other baseball freaks!

    What do you make of Dejan repeatedly saying Gerrit Cole needs to stay at AAA until mid-June to get an extra year of service. That is incorrect!!

    A Major League season is considered 181 days long. If Cole stays 2 weeks at Indy, he would come in at 172 days or less, but give Bucs the whole rest of the season + 6 more complete seasons.

    The mid-June date only matters about Super Two arbitration status. Is Dejan protecting Bob Nutting’s money here by insisting on Cole waiting until mid-June? That would make this decision totally a $$ decision rather than a “seasons of control” issue, which Dejan keeps painting it?

    What think ye?

    • I think DK should be tarred & feathered.

      Or be forced to sit next to Drew during a ST game.

      • Groat, you are correct. The June date is for Super 2 status, not control. If they bring him up after 20 days the 2013 season will not count a full season so his clock would not start until 2014. He would have 4 years of arbitration instead of 3 and thus be more expensive.

    • I agree . . . to a point. Realistically, if Cole is as advertised, and he gets Super 2 status, he WILL be out of the Nutting price range a year sooner, so we will have him a year less either way.

    • Dejan isn’t incorrect the way he’s painting it. You are correct that they gain that year if he stays in the minors for 2 weeks. You are also correct that he’d be a Super Two if called up in late April-mid June. This, in effect, is the same thing as being a free agent to Bob Nutting.

      There’s no “effing” way Bob Nutting & Co. are going to pay Gerrit Cole his 4th year arb salary. So, while technically they’d have that year of control, his salary that year would basically be huge if he’s truly an ace.

      In short, calling him up prior to June 15th-ish does nothing to extend Gerrit Cole’s time as a Pirate. They’d be trading him to the Yankees or Red Sox or Dodgers 1 year earlier than they would if they brought up after June 15th-ish. What Dejan could be doing is saying they need to keep him in AAA to add another year of AFFORDABLE control.

      • Dejan has written this at least 3 times, including a complete column and has never once used that modifier.

        I need Milo here to join me so we could sing this in harmony——”Why, O why, is Dejan protecting Bob Nutting’s money?!”

    • This is where my understanding of baseball really comes up far behind everyone else’s here. The many different types and levels of free agency is really confusing, and I never really understood the point of most of it. Type A/Type B..super 2…determining arbitration eligibilty by days of service, unless innings pitched x plate appearances is greater when divided by their daily calorie intake on Fat Tuesday…

      So many “if this then that” scenarios. It really places teams who struggle with payroll to make determinations and base future plans on performance that is a complete unknown.

  25. Wow, how good would Kevin Corriea look in the Pirates’ rotation now?!

    :-)

  26. Playoffs, thanks again for doing this.

    So I can make my first stupid bet of the season…..

    250 nuke nuggets on the OVAH, please

    Although, I might as well have taken the nuggets outside and just burned them…. ;-)

  27. Has there been any word on 40 man roster moves yet, or are they waiting till Sunday?

  28. Dejan…
    Did you get to watch the US-Mexico match last night after the Pens game? Great result for the USMNT.

    DK: I did. I was moved by the history and implications by most certainly not by the execution. My God, this country needs a creative midfielder.

    • This country needs to ignore soccer then maybe it will go away.

    • I like Bradley in the midfield… a lot. He’s a poor man’s Andrea Pirlo… but they have no one connecting with him. I wish we had the 2009/2010 version of Landon Donovan available. I’d pair him and Bradley in the middle (or Donovan on right side and Jones in the middle) and then let Dempsey play a withdrawn attack spot with Altidore or some other speedster. But really, I like Bradley’s poise and control quite a bit. Neat to see him develop Pirlo’s style/precision with passes.

  29. Like Mitzie Gaynor, call me a cockeyed optimist, but I think Sanchez will do just fine. Not that it means much but he has thrown a no hitter in the majors. The Giants, who know a thing or two about pitching, were once pretty high on him. The Royals thought enough of him to trade Melky Cabrera for him. He must have some innate stuff or he has been successful in fooling several major league scouts. I also have a lot of faith in Searage. Most teams in the majors have little in talent and fervent hope for their 4th and 5th guys.

    Then again, I once was excited about Bedard so what do I know?

    • Oshkosh b’gosh,

      From what I saw at Bradenton, I agree with you wholeheartedly. In the bullpen Sanchez throws like a $10 million man.

      The only measurement not available in the bullpen is from the neck up———for reference, see Charlie Morton, Erik Bedard, JMac 1st Half vs. JMac 2nd Half, Ian Snell, Oliver Perez.

      I personally think Pirates should install a Psychiatrists coach in the Bullpen before starters warm up. Bob Nutting could bring a used one from Seven Springs!

      • I’ve always wondered about this.So much of baseball is mental. In essence its the same game we have all played since we were kids. Just with more details. more things to pay attention to. Even more than that, what makes some players thrive on some teams and wilt on others?

        And lets not even talk about ‘Steve Blass syndrome”.

        But really, what is it about the Pirates? What would make a player, any player want to play for the Cardinals rather than the Pirates, even if the money was the same? Is it just a better work environment? Is it just not having to pay for soda in the clubhouse? A better hot tub?

        I guess I’ve wondered if the Pirates woes arent somehow connected to ownership not knowing how to treat or handle professional ball players as anything other than employees.

        Does that make sense?

        • Nice, Patrick. That would make for a nice column on your site.

          • Lol. Thanks. Ive made about a dozen so far about baseball and they have recieved…a tepid response…. to say the least.

            Baseball is a tough sport to write about in this town, or online really. Those who don’t know and don’t care.

            Those who DO know about baseball are tough to appeal to. And anyone left in Pittsburgh that cares to go searching for baseball to read about usually has their own blog anyways :D lol

    • Weren’t they high on that Alderson kid we got for Sanchez who I think is 26 and in AA

  30. Any one happen to watch the replay of the “shhh” game from the Stanley cup year on Root sports the other night? Man that was an amazing game against the flyers.

    But the one thing that stood out to me was Guerin/Crosby/Kunitz.

    Despite adding Morrow I still think the Pens should go after Iginla if they have a chance. I love Dupuis but it just seemed so different with Guerin commanding some respect when he had the puck. Can you imagine the lines if they did add Iginla?

    Kunitz-Crosby-Iginla
    Morrow-Malkin-Neal
    Cooke-Sutter-Dupuis

    That would be something to watch

    • I’d take that lineup. I’d even consider Bennett instead of Cooke. At least for a go-round. Bennett/Cooke-Vitale-Adams 4th.

  31. I know everyone’s talkin Buccos today but just have to throw in my hockey notes from last night since I actually got to see the whole game. Not being pessimistic, just always looking for ways to improve. A 13 game winning streak doesn’t mean a whole lot in the end if it’s not in the playoffs. And per the team’s head honchos, we’re not just aiming for the President’s Trophy this year.

    -Fleury’s been outstanding. Vokoun seems to have recovered very well. Easy to see in a 13 game streak that will never make ESPN because it isn’t basketball taking place in Miami.

    -I cringed at the Despres move. It BETTER only be a paper move until the 3rd.

    -Tyler Kennedy wasn’t scratched. I cringed again.

    -Tyler Kennedy fought. I laughed.

    -I gave Tyler Kennedy props for getting that wraparound attempt on net. Then I second-guessed myself.

    -Tyler Kennedy laid his biggest hit of the season on his own unsuspecting goaltender. I wanted to fight Tyler Kennedy.
    (Sorry, but if Gionta meant for that to happen then Cooke meant to hurt Karlsson.)

    -James Neal needs to get his Shiitake together.

    -There is no good reason whatsoever that Glass is ever in any way shape or form on the ice. Period. I liked his PK at the beginning of the season. I’m way over it now.

    -There is no good, logical, justifiable, reasonable, acceptable, condonable, defensible, excusable or otherwise sane reason to give Tyler Kennedy more playing time than Beau Bennett or Joe Vitale. None. Whatsoever. At all.

    -This Disco insistence of relying on some of these guys is going to burn us in the playoffs. If anyone thinks a guy like Michel Therrien or Claude Julienne-pepper can’t figure out a way to exploit the deficiencies of Glasses and Kennedys and Adamses (Oh my), they’re in for a surprise. (Not tryin to hate on Adams. He’s just not as effective as he once was)

    • Brad:

      Couldn’t agree more on a lot of what you said.

      I will say this though; it makes it a lot harder for guys like Therrien to exploit the Pens when the Pens are actually scoring more than one goal a game. Once a team gets behind more than one goal they have to abandon their own style of play in order to get back into it. So while its likely that we will still see the likes of Glass, TK and Adams I think their ice time will diminish and hopefully we will start scoring some more.

      • And in the end, I think the whole makeup may change drastically over the next week or so because of trades, so much of this stuff might be moot soon anyway. I’m thinking mainly Iginla will have that effect unless SugarRay has another big time winger lined up that we haven’t really heard about.

    • Brad, don’t always agree with you, but this assessment is great! Hopefully, Shero is working a trade sending several of the Oh My Boys on their way in exchange for a true PKer! Kennedy’s biggest hitthismyear takes out the Flower…..double oye

      • Pat,

        I’m not even sure they need to be traded. Well, if Glass was sent walking for a bag of onion rings I wouldn’t lose any sleep.

        I just hope Neal gets his groove back soon. It’d be nice to see it before Malkin gets back.

    • Indian Brad,

      I was willing to overlook the Tyler Kennedy man-crush you seem to have——do you see him walking down the street, passing by your office window, driving the other way when you are in your car, delivering pizza to your neighbors, staring at your wife/date/mother?!

      However, busting on Dan Bylsma for projected failure when he is in the midst of a 13-game winning streak means I must call you out!!!

      Let’s wait to see how the NHL Coach of the Year coaches in the Playoffs when Pens get to the Playoffs. Regular season means you must roll 4 lines, with the talent Shero has provided.

      • Groat,

        I admit my man-crush for Peanut Kennedy (see yesterday’s semi-incoherent mental skit) can be excessive. Sometimes. I just personally don’t care much for the one-dimensional players that focus entirely on offense like Kennedy, Kessel and Ovechkin. I didn’t like that they resigned him 2 years ago. Just haven’t changed my opinion on him. And his overall play this season has been bad.

        I’m not really busting on Disco. I’ve acknowledged he does extremely well in the regular season. Just basing a projection on trends and tendencies I’ve seen over the last several years in the playoffs (historian, just how I roll). My point about the talent available is that I think he has better options available right now than what he’s using.

        Bennett’s played very well in my book and deserves more responsibility. He hits, plays D, finishes checks consistently and has playmaking ability that Peanut will never have. Vitale showed some really good stuff recently and has been benched. Same’s been going on with Despres all year in favor of guys like Engelland (who I do really like, but was much better last season).

        • Brad, I have to admit, I agree with you on TK, and not just because he KO’d Fleury. He’s been the epitome of suck, and for the $2m he’s paid, it’s awful I’d much rather see Vitale out there. He’s good at faceoffs and I think the PK too. Let HIM play. And he’s less money. Depres will be back up, and he had BETTER play more tha Engo. I’m a huge Engo fan, but right now, he’s just not cutting it. With Morrow, Glass becomes expendible.

        • The trade for Murray reduces the need for Engelland. If he is not included in a trade, I look for him to be in the owner’s box on game nite. He is a good depth 7th/8th Dman for playoffs on this current roster.

          Agree absolutely on Bennett, I’ve been surprised how well he has played, including the physical side.

          Despres, IMO, is a sightly different story. He has played well and shown his potential. And yes he does, on occasion, throw a couple of good solid checks. But there is no real physicality to his game (and size) and I thought his game against philly was the weakest one in quite a while. I don’t really want to say timid, but he shrank, rather than stood up in that game and I think that’s what is holding them back with him and why Engelland has played against the physical teams. I see him back on the roster ASAP, but I do not see him seeing the ice much in the playoffs, barring injuries. I see the decision being between him and Eaton for the 6th spot, he would dress if they dress 7.

    • Nobody would take Kennedy. Or Engelland. Or Adams. Every team already has a few of these guys. Some worse than ours. They simply don’t have any value to anyone.

      Trading them isn’t going to happen. If you sent Engelland or Adams through waivers they *might get picked up.

    • I agree with alot of what you say here, but not everything. I have actually been liking TK’s play for the last two weeks. I see glimpses of what made him decent a couple years ago. With the new additions, I would love to see him move to the fourth line and provide that line with someone who can actually score. I also thought that right before his fight, TK through some really good body checks. These checks are what led to the Canadiens getting upset and initiating the fight.

      Glass has been a disappointment. He does have the most checks on the team, but those checks often put him out of position and he is a turnover machine. I think he becomes the odd man out among the forwards.

      I also think that some of what DB has done with BB is good. Bennett has a history of injury and his weight is still down from the flu. By limiting his minutes now, they are allowing him to get up to speed with the NHL game, but also reduce his risk of re-injuring that wrist. Last think Bylsma wants to do is end up with his top forward prospect hurt long term. They need this kid now and in the future.

      Hate that they had to send Despres down, but I don’t know any better options right now. They may have to do the same with Bennett if Malkin comes back before the trade deadline.

      Here are my thoughts for lines moving forward:

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

      Orpik – Martin
      Letang – Murray
      Niskanen – Despres (or Eaton. Hard to bench a guy when the team hasn’t lost when he plays)

      This leaves the scratches as: Eaton\Despres, Jeffrey, Glass, Bortuzzo, Engelland.

      I think for now, once the trade deadline comes along, they have enough salary cap to keep all these players and I am satisfied with the line-up.

  32. Looking at the projected 4 and 5 guys for the division rivals.

    Cubs: Scot Feldman and Carlos Villanueva. Don’t plan the ticker tape parade down Michigan avenue just yet.

    Brewers: Willy Peralta and Chris Narvesoon. Plan to drink a lot of MGD’s on those days.

    Cardinals: Jaimie Garcia and Shelby Miller. Plan to “arch” your back straining to see balls fly over the fences.

    Reds: Homer “three homerun” Bailey (thanks, Milo) and Mike “five finger discount” Leake. Probably the best 4 and 5 guys in the division. Not even as hot as Cincinnati chili. Nuff said.

    I think the Pirates can roll with those guys.

  33. I’m actually cautiously optimistic about Sanchez. And if he fails, I’ll blame my misplaced optimism on Groat.

    • I am, also. I blame it on Groat, too. I thought Sanchez should have been pitching in minor league games and they were wasting valuable ST time on him in the ML games, but what do I know? I wanted Brad Lincoln more than AJ last season.

      Guess that’s why I’m here in the ministry and not in the FO of some baseball club sommerz. (“somewhere” in KY-speak).

    • My problem isn’t Sanchez. And I’m also not gonna freak out on the Front Office if he fails. That was a no-risk / chance-of-some-reward acquisition.

      I am already freaking out about Locke and McPherson.

      Other than Blue Blood draft picks, can these guys develop anyone?

      • That certainly is not a real question-question is is Drewmeister?

        More of a statement-question, right?

      • Seriously though. I would feel better about the organization if one of the AAA guys, Locke or McPherson, had stepped up to earn the 4th spot than Sanchez.

        If you flip the situation…
        - Assume Locke had pitched moderately alright, as Sanchez did
        - Assume Sanchez bombed

        Same (but reversed) net result to the rotation, but it would have said better things about the organization if a development project – rather than a long shot flier – delivered.

      • With madman Stark in charge of player development and the entire minor league operatons, NO They cannot develop anyone!

        One needs coaching, not mind games to develop, and there is little down there thanks to Neal and Kyle et al……

        Worrying about how Stark is gonna try to mess with Cole’s head; to valuable to let Stark near him. Maybe Boras will get after Stark……..

      • I don’t understand how people can be putting more stock into McPherson’s spring training performance than his actual, you know, MAJOR LEAGUE performance.

        The guy obviously needs more time. Most guys with just three AAA starts do.

        As for Locke, he is what he is. A back of the rotation starter, at best. He pitched exactly like that this spring training.

        It seems like people don’t just want the team to produce capable starters out of non-blue chip prospects, they want to be blown away by what the team has done with non-blue chip starters.

        • NúMinoR, that last paragraph is your interpretation of my comments, not what I said. Not what i meant. If someone said THAT, i would disagree with them, too.

          I don’t expect major breakouts from guys like McPherson and Locke.

          I expect progress by at least one of them. Rather than the regression I saw this spring.

          I expect “ok” from at least one of them, maybe to the level we saw from Sanchez, not the pass-over-for-Sanchez regression.

          There. That’s what I want…

          “Ok”. “Progress”. Just from ONE of them.

          Disagree with that if you wish, which is fair game, rather than something I did not say and did not mean.

          • Sorry for not getting back to you…

            Very, very fair comment, Drew. And I apologize. I also don’t like when people interpret comments in a manner in which they weren’t intended.

            With that being said, I do have to disagree with you, or at least what you call “progress”.

            Jeff Locke was hurt last year by two things, big innings and the long ball.

            This spring he’s given up just one home run and no more than 2 earned runs in a given inning while posting a sub-4 ERA.

            If there was any “progress” to be measured in ST, shouldn’t adressing your biggest weaknesses fit that description?

  34. Hoka Hey everyone!

    All the jokes have been made above.
    .
    (stating the unfortunate OBVIOUS)
    .
    When pitchers like Jeanmar Gomez make your opening day roster…..it is going to be a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng season! :-(

    • pass around the bailey’s!

      • I had a shot a few weeks back called an Irish Breakfast, tastes like pancakes. I believe it had Bailey’s in it. Anyone ever had one ?

        • My daughter mentioned she had one…tasted like maple syrup. I can’t say I have had the pleasure.

        • Milo,

          I called on you above (around 9:30 or 9:40 above——I HATE this new style where we have trouble referring back to something) to join me in a singing duet!

          Warm up your voice!!!

          • I’ll sing it with you Groat. Cole should be kept down until & only until they guarantee themselves that 7th year. Unless of course things are going swimmingly up here. What I don’t want to hear is all the “Super 2″ crap. The thing to remember with Cole is that he’s a Boras client. There will be no McCutchen-like contract buying out free agent years. Boras clients become free agents the 1st day they’re eligible.

            And besides, he’s going to be the next general manager’s “problem” anyway.

            • From your lips . . .

            • 100 % right!!

              I cannot understand why Dejan keeps presenting the obviously incorrect, contrary view.

              Expecting the “parsing words” argument soon.

              Keeping Cole down until Mid-to-late June instead of bringing him up April 13 only deprives Pirates of his services for 2 to 2 1/2 months.

              It does not lengthen by ONE DAY Cole’s stay here as a Pirate, with Boras as agent!

    • My Irish History in the 60′s final exam is ready if anyone wants to take that :-)

    • The article doesn’t say but I wonder if he got in on the first ballot.

    • I’m Norwegian. I don’t believe we have a HOF. Thor has not been enshrined.

      • +

        What about Beowulf?

      • Thor transcends the need for induction in a HOF. He has a day named after him, “Thursday”.
        Take that, Beowulf!

        • Yet another reason I enjoy reading this blog. Not everyday you see “Take that, Beowulf!” in print. Well done, Joni!

          Beowulf and Ulysses should be removed from the Western Canon and deposited in the Incomprehensible Hall of Fame. Thank God for Cliff Notes. Never have two novels imposed such misery on students than those two.

          Ha en fin dag!

          • Hated Ulysses, loved Beowulf.

            When I was in high school the Adam West TV series was on — and so we called him Batwolf. Made the whole thing make sense.

  35. More inexplicable Pirates final ST cuts. How does Jeanmar Gomez make this club while Felix Pie gets sent down? Neal the knucklehead, that’s how.

  36. Dayum, I was looking for work on Fleury and I found this:

    The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled defenseman Simon Despres from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, it was announced by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.

    The Penguins also announced that they have placed defenseman Kris Letang on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

    Despres, 21, has appeared in 24 regular-season games this season for Pittsburgh, notching two goals, five assists and seven points while posting a plus-10 rating that places second among NHL rookies.

    The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Despres has collected assists in each of his last two games with Pittsburgh. Despres has also been a plus or even player in 20 of his last 21 games (+14 during stretch).

  37. OshKosh mentioned this yesterday I think, I had to look to see who Fleming was. Regadless, 62 is WAY too young…
    -Lightning assistant coach Wayne Fleming passed away following a lengthy battle with brain cancer. He was 62.

  38. Why is Gomez so bad? His numbers aren’t that poor.

    • http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/gomezje01.shtml

      You tell me. 38 starts, and declining production in the majors. He does have some upside just because he is young, there is a chance he can improve. But is he really an upgrade over Locke, McPherson, and any other guy they can drag out of AAA?

      He’s also shown nothing in spring training, other than being a favorite of Neil. That alone makes me HIGHLY suspicious of him.

      And when Quincy Latimore turns into an all-star, I’m REALLY going to be bummed. Although I doubt that happens…

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