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On location: Cubs 3, Pirates 2

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Looking ahead to first pitch …

Game: Pirates (1-1) vs. Chicago Cubs (1-1)

Starters: RHP James McDonald vs. LHP Travis Wood

Time: 12:35 p.m.

Site: PNC Park

TV, radio: Root Sports, 93.7 The Fan

Here’s the official live box score.

Here’s the Pirates’ lineup …

  1. Starling Marte, LF
  2. Russell Martin, C
  3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  4. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
  5. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
  6. Neil Walker, 2B
  7. Jose Tabata, RF
  8. Clint Barmes, SS
  9. McDonald, RHP

Here’s the TribLIVE’s Pirates page. Karen Price and I will be on the scene.

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.

305 Comments

  1. Still no Snider… Lincoln trade looks awesome

    • I noticed that too. But I think it is more of a Righty / Lefty thing.

      Maybe Lincoln would pitch better in a Pirate uniform, but right now he is in the minor leagues as a Blue Jay.

      DK: Player sent away does poorly = “See? Good trade!” Player sent away does great = “Aw, no one thought he’d be THAT good! Who could have known?”

      Not really talking about what you have here, TC, but every once in a while, it’s refreshing to see trades analyzed from the simple standpoint as to how well the player is faring who was acquired. Such as Wandy Rodriguez. That’s a good deal simplly because he’s done well since arriving.

      • I don’t know how to analyze a trade other than by looking at both the production you’re getting and the production you’ve give up.

      • Whew. And here I thought the Robinzon Diaz trade sucked because Jose Bautista has hit 141 homers since we traded him. I feel a lot better knowing that doesn’t matter.

        Hey Cubs fans, it doesn’t matter that Lou Brock ended up in the Hall Of Fame. That Ernie Broglio was a really good guy, wasn’t he ?

        DK: Oh, mercy. For a writer, I’ve never done a good job of explaining my thinking on this.

    • At least Snider still on MLB roster, Lincoln in minors

  2. So much for my Gaby-Jones theory. Joggin Joe is starting in RF today and Jones sits against a lefty.

    Can’t wait to see how young Tabata performs today.

  3. Yet another DVR Special!!
    Time for TWO-LINE THURSDAY!!
    Let’s open the window, and as always this is just for fun and entertainment purposes.

    Max “wager” is 100 units on each separate line.
    All “wagers” must be divisible by 5.
    Please reply in this box, makes it much easier for me to “book-keep” that way.

    LINE #1
    Total HITS + WALKS allowed by James McDonald in today’s game
    LINE is 8.5

    LINE #2
    Total HITS + WALKS + RBI’s by Pedro Alvarez in today’s game
    Line is 3.5

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

    **The Window is on twitter, twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow, feel free to follow**

    Thanks to all for playing and good luck!!

  4. I agree with your point DK. But I believe another part of evaluating a trade is the “acquisition costs.” When you factor that into it, the Wandy trade looks even better and it takes the sting out of the Snider trade- for now (even though I would like to see Snider actually play in 2013)

    Oh my…did I just use a NH term……

    DK: You make trades to get better players to help your team win more games. That’s the purpose. The Wandy trade has done that (and you’ll recall that on the very day it happened, I praised it). Very, very few others have.

    Throwing everything else into the equation is generally done when the trades did NOT achieve the above.

    • It seems like Wandy actually benefitted by playing in the WBC. I never thought I’d hear myself say that.

      Hope he doesn’t flame out in August because of it.

    • In baseball, generally the team acquiring “name brand” player does better. It’s not true 100% of the time, but look at what NH has done. Most of his trade successes have been of the guys you’ve probably heard of variety like Burnett, Wandy, and Derrick Lee. Most of his sucky trades have been losing guys like Bay, Freddy Sanchez, Javy Lopez, etc. There’s a couple exceptions on both sides, but mostly the team acquiring the brand name does better.

    • So if Robbie Grossman goes on to become an above average outfielder for six years and Rudy Owens finds a spot as a solid starting pitcher the Wandy trade is still good because the team won a couple more games in 2012 and 2013?

      Just doens’t make sense. You ALWAYS have to consider what was given up.

    • Agree with Dejan, you evaluate trades on what they brought to the team. The purpose of trade is usually improve the team. Salary dumps may be an exception.

      • So then why don’t small market teams sell the farm for one star?

        Or spend half their payroll on one player?

        • Because 1 player is not enough to have a winning team and one super high contract makes it difficult to build a team, as Texas learned when they had A-Rod

          • Exactly.

            Meaning that the acquisition costs MUST be considered. Just about everybody would agree to this if weren’t wrapped up in this good/bad trade narrative.

            DK: Agreed on acquisition cost. I guess what I’m describing is tailing that acquisition cost after it’s gone. To me, that’s largely irrelevant. It’s just for fun. The cost is the cost only at the time of the transaction.

            • Psh, in that case, we absolutely agree. None of this look-how-bad-Jason-Bay-is-now bologna.

              DK: It happens. Better question: When we’re talking about BS, is it baloney or bologna? To me, the BS transcends the food in this case.

            • “The cost is the cost only at the time of the transaction.”

              If I understand you correctly, you’re referring to the player(s) given up. Shouldn’t you also consider the same for those acquired?

            • If Tyler Kennedy were traded, that would be a fine salami.

      • I think there are many extremes and exceptions to this way of evaluating.

        But if Robinson Diaz had developed into a .275 hitter and steady defensive catcher, was the Pirates starting catcher, and the Pirates had won more than they lost in any of the last few seasons, would you still evaluate the trade of Jose Bautista for him as a good trade?

        And let me be clear, I am always more concerned about what the Pirates got in return in trades and how it has made the Pirates better.

    • I thought the Lincoln trade was a good trade if you look at future vs future — but not so good as a “let’s win now” trade. I think I commented at the time (or at least strongly agreed with someone else who made the comment) that it was the kind of thing you’d like to see during the off season more than a deadline deal.

      You can’t disagree with DK’s statement that you make trades to get better players to help your team win more games. But how a trade helps or hurts may be influenced by dozens of factors that have nothing to do with the deal. Is our bench better with Snider instead of Presley? But a year from now, however you answered that question may change. Snider might see something, hypothetically from watching McCutchen or learn something from listening to Hurdle that would make him much better, or Presley could be super-motivated by being sent back to AAA. Hypothetically again, a team could also improve by getting rid of a clubhouse cancer — even though the player they bring in could not be as good as the one they let go.

      And how do you evaluate losing Lincoln when you’ve shaken up the bullpen completely and you have five starting pitchers in the wings (Cole, Liriano, Karstens, Morton, and Taillon) who could force some of our starters into long relief roles, take those roles themselves, or be dealt for position players?

      It all gets so subjective that in the end instead of evaluating individual trades you evaluate the GM on whether or not the whole club improved.

  5. I really don’t believe they’ve given up on Snider completely. I think were at the point of a player/manager relationship that I call the getting his attention stage.

    • Speaking of Player/Manager or player/coach relationships — could that have anything to do with why Lincoln pitched well for the Bucs but not for the Jays? — Just speculating.

      • New league. Somebody tinkering. Could be anything.

        The argument could be made that Neal dumped him at his highest value, too. I won’t make it but some may.

        I don’t know if he’ll be a starter, like gregenstein was saying above, but he throws heat and that’s what most like in a set-up/closer type.

  6. And it’s not even multi-line Monday. Mr. Playoffs, sir, I’ll take the max under on both lines. (#1 – 100 under, #2 – 100 under)

    It’s hard to knock the pirates after a shut-out win yesterday but I’m going to anyway. I wish they would finally learn to be more patient at the plate. They all swing at alot of balls. The most tragic one was Garrett Jones’ swing at a ball that bounced 10 ft in front of the plate. We were already up by 3 at that point. Why not sit back and wait for your pitch?

    By the way, waiting for your pitch is not the same as not swinging until you get a strike called on you. What I call a Jason Kendall batting practice. It’s annoying seeing every pirate look at the first strike right down the middle. That may seem totally hypocritical to what I say above about sitting back but its different I swear.

  7. Really hope Neil Walker can reverse this awful trend against LHP.

    Does anybody remember whether or not he’s always switch hit as a pro?

    Can’t imagine he’d do much worse against LHP as a LHB than he’s been doing for the last year as a RHB.

    • He has always pinch hit as a pro. He actually was talked about at the beginning of last year as getting better from the right side (not better than the left, mind you) but that seems to have gone by the wayside.

      • Thanks, AW. That does sound vaguely familiar.

        I haven’t paid close enough attention to spot it, but seems like teams have picked up on something and are pounding it.

  8. Besides the Brian Giles VS Billy Wagner incident as DK brought up in his chat, what other PNC moments top the charts?
    -The Rob Mackowiak multi homer double header on the day his son was born, was up there.
    -That extended inning game where we were down to Vogelsong (who stunk at the time) as our last pitcher and he went something like five innings and only let up one run on the last one. Jose Castillo countered in the next ½ inning w/ a homer to tie it up again and we won it the following inning.

    • Giles was my first thought. Mack was my second.

      Personally, Pedro’s extra innings walkoff in 2010 would be next. If one moment could sum up the far off feeling of hope, that had to be it.

      • I was also thinking Pedro HR against Colorado in 2010.

        Besides the obvious reason:

        1. I was in town staying at a downtown hotel and walked to every game of that series. Except THAT one. My wife and I were walking up Duquesne Blvd looking at the stadium lights and we heard the cheer, saw the fireworks, i looked at my wife, and said, why do I keep making bad choices?

        2. After that game, Dejan asked if that was a sign that the Pirates had hit bottom on their way to recovery or something like that. The Pirates went on to lose the next game (I was there), like, 74-0. It was one of those monthly Maholm blow-ups. They started a losing streak and ended the season with 57 wins. And Pedro hit .013 in 2011 with no extra base hits. And for asking the question, Dejan was tarred and babushka’d and driven out of town. That’s how he became Winnipeg’s beat writer.

        How can you beat THAT???

        DK: I’m chief of the Trib’s Manitoba bureau. Get it right, Drew-man.

  9. Playoffs:

    50 on the under on both

    Thanks

  10. Correction. 50 on the OVER on line 1

  11. If this is how they’re going to make mediocre pitching look this year …

  12. Come on Buccos…let’s not waste a good start by J-Mac today!

  13. Once again, our lack of impact bats pokes it’s ugly head…

  14. Travis Wood. Cy Young candidate.

  15. So Neil, explain to me why we don’t want to trade prospects for impact players again??

  16. Think it might be time for Walker to hit lefty exclusively….

  17. So I remember that Pedro is hitting against a lefty, but TOTALLY ignore who JMAC is pitching to. Uh-huh. Just call me Neal.

  18. We are making this guy look like a HOF’er!

  19. Who would have thought Jmac would be having such a good game.

  20. Maybe the Cubs will throw it away late?

  21. Thank you Dale Sveum.

  22. Good lord. Did Hurdle really just bunt Gaby?

    DK: Actually a really good call. Cubs’ third baseman was five miles back. Would have been a single if it had stayed fair.

  23. 88 mph fastballs are knocking the bat right out of Pedro’s hands right now.

  24. i am a purist and favor low scoring great pitching games. Just checked from work on the score and see only 3 hits total for both clubs. What is going on today…is this really a pitcher’s duel? Or is this a lousy game?

    DK: Yes.

  25. McCutchen should be 0-2 on stolen base attempts this season. I don’t see any noticable improvement in his base stealing other than he’s getting lucky.

  26. What is this? I lay down for a nap in the 5th, figuring I’d get back up and we wouldn’t be anemic anymore? I just knew Walker was going to bang Cutch in just then. Too close to take that last one? It did look to be off the plate a hair.

  27. Reason #1,309 why the Pirates continue to be legendary in their sucktitude:

    One run game, 7th inning, man on second, no one out, clean-up hitter at bat…and they have him first try to bunt the man to third followed by three soft hacks trying to move him to third base. The CLEANUP hitter. With a man in scoring position. And he’s trying to move him over.

    Here’s the Job Description of a cleanup hitter: MOVE MEN ACROSS HOMEPLATE, NOT TO THIRD BASE.

    Simply exasperating.

  28. Dejan, SPOILER ALERT…Do not look at the new Sport’s Illustrated a full page picture of something you detest!!!

  29. What a powerful line-up. It is a good thing that Nutting didn’t authorize an increase in spending to bring in some offense.

  30. Can’t wait to see what Greinke & Kershaw do to them.

  31. Pinch hit for the guy with the hit.

  32. Looks like the starter’s may be able to sue for non-support this year….

  33. The most entertaining aspect of today’s game so far is the lady in the 1st row behind home plate chowing down a corn dog. Could we get that on the AGH cam ?

  34. Gutsy steal by the Cubs.

  35. Game, set and match…

  36. Classic 2nd guess on my part, but you would think a left hander would have made sense with Rizzo & Schierholtz batting.

  37. at least we’re not skunked

  38. Another Gaby bunt ? This should be fun.

  39. You can’t let Walker bat left handed here.

  40. Neil Walker …..you suck

  41. Pittsburgh Pirates…. You suck

  42. Just saw the final score. So, for conversation sake, who do all want to fire first? I know they have only played 3 games. I know, I know. But, I figure someone will want to start a conversation on who they’ll fire first, so I launched that volley….

  43. Blysma, no Dixon, no Tomlin ah what the heck fire everyone

  44. On our way. 10-22.

  45. Dear Mr. Hurdle,
    Josh Harrison, Mike McKenry, and probably every pitcher sitting on the bench in the 9th are all faster than Gabby Sanchez. Not to mention 2/3 of the crowd in attendance. PINCH RUN! Cutch is on 3rd – you really think they’re going to try to throw a guy out at 2nd and risk him running when it’s 1st and 3rd with ZERO outs? Most likely, Pedro gets an IBB, you have bases loaded and no out – if not Walker does. Still, loaded and 1 out.
    Thank you.
    dying harder

  46. So passes Denethor, son of Ecthelion.

  47. Does anyone else cringe when Pedro comes up in crunch time? Is there a less “clutch” player than him?

    • Right now I cringe when anyone comes up in crunch time. All we needed was a sacrifice fly from Pedro or Walker. It was frickin’ Andrew on 3B with NO outs!

    • Alvarez’s approach to situational hitting is completely ass-backwards. He’ll come up to the plate with no one on and first-pitch swing….usually at a junk offering out of the zone and immediately be behind in the count. Now he comes up with men in scoring position, the game on the line and the opposing pitcher needing a first-pitch strike….and he decides to TAKE the first-pitch strike one right down the pike. Once again, he’s in the hole…once again, he fails miserably by swinging at a strike three, which requires a hoe or shovel to hit!

  48. Gaby was not too shabby.

  49. RIP Roger Ebert

  50. OK I’m out for now…have a wonderful evening everyone :)

  51. Where’s Roberto?

    I need to feel better about this.

  52. I still don’t understand how JMac gets the loss.

    And another beat writer wrote that JMac was dazzling.
    I didn’t see the game but was that the case?

  53. With my MLB TV subscription I got the At Bat app. It is great.

    I followed the bottom of the 9th with the gamecast on the app. That was nerve wracking.

    • Thunder I was actually on the plane following the 9th and kept refreshing cause I saw the Pirates had runners on base; thought there was something wrong with my iPad.

  54. One could argue that this lineup:

    Presley, Mercer, Pie, Sands, Inge, Hague, Goedert, Tony Sanchez, Dejesus (Indy’s opener tonight)

    could bang out more hits than the one the Bucs fielded today. At least through the first 8.

    • Inge on a rehab assignment already? I’m ready for him, and Contreras to bring that “winning” mentality to Pittsburgh.

      1st and 3rd and no one out and can’t score a tying run. Nutting probably had a smirk when Walker grounded into the DP thinking there went 250k off that extension.

  55. True story…

    Arrive back to Pittsburgh from Tampa this afternoon. Get out to my car and who do I see waiting to catch a bus to the terminal but Bob Smizik. For one split second I thought about running him over; but then I realized if I did that Bazzini and his buddy BFD would bring their tired, repetative stand up routine to this blog on a consistent basis.

    I took one for the team and passed on the hit and run.

  56. I don’t have any real media connection to Pittsburgh rather than Dejan and some of the Pirate beat writers, but three media people get torched here all the time, and I have to admit that I don’t really know why.

    Bob Smizek, Mark Madden and Pierre McGuire get kicked around here like a rusty can.

    • John;

      If you ever went over to the smizik blog you’d understand why. Its more of a bridge and tunnel crowd.

      • yes. and you are so rationale and level headed…………..

        You seem to have a personal issue with my posts since they differ from your sunshine and rainbow views

        • I’ve never said anything about sunshine and rainbows; it speaks to your inability to read. I posted earlier my unhappiness with todays game. You on the other hand continue to beat the same drum over and over and over again. I wish you’d put your efforts toward building a group of investors that could actually afford to buy the Pirates rather than sit and complain about the owner over and over and over and over again.

          • if you don’t like my posts….. scroll past them

            • I like reading the same thing over and over. Reminds me why I despise the Pirates.

            • Ya know BFD things could be a whole lot worse. I just prefer someone to give their actual opinion on subjects rather than the same opinion on one subject over and over. C’mon man I know you can do more than complain about Nutting.

              • what do you want to hear? The team has no offensive power and no hope for becoming a descent offensive team.
                Pedro’s at bat sounded (I listened) awful….

                I see the starting pitching as having potential to be average or slightly better but I also see them falling apart (Again) because they will be asked to carry the team and win 2-1 or 2-0 games.

                It’s the same story over and over and over again………. which is why I have to repeat the same thing over and over again (as you claim)
                XXI

              • Actually BFD thats exactly what I like to debate. I don’t know about you but all I’ve seen this team do is take one pile of rocks and move it from one side to the other. 5 years ago they were good offensively when they had Bay, Nady, Sanchez etc but couldn’t pitch to save their lives. So what do they do; they shuffle the offense out and bring in pitching. So now you have some decent pitching and a lousy offense again.

                They haven’t stacked anything; their so called depth in the minors is a joke.

              • Ahh Billy we all have our bad days and this is probably one I shouldn’t be on this blog. After a long day of traveling and watching the game on gamecast on the plane was even more painful.

            • Whats ironic BFD is I find myself complaining about Smizik’s blog as much as you complain about Nutting. At least yours is a worth while purpose

    • I like the 1st two, John. Smizik was the Pirates beat writer when I was growing up. Very old school. I think he gets a bad rap now not so much for what he writes, but the same old tired arguments that take place on his blog. I like Madden too, but you have to understand it’s an act & not take him so seriously. I have no use for Regis. He got where he is by getting Scotty Bowman his coffee.

    • Didn’t mean to start a dust up, but thanks for the input guys. Nice to get some background on the charming world that is Pittsburgh. :)

      DVR’d the game. Wish I hadn’t. Oh well, go get em in La La Land.

      Dejan’s response to TJA was a classic. Made me laugh out loud.

  57. JMac’s outing’s got my hopes up. It’s the moral equivalent of Pedro going 3 for 5 with two home runs and 5 RBI against a #5 starter (the analogy is to the hapless Cubs offense). This guy may turn out to be one who, next time hitters adjust, becomes a head case and tanks. Or not. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, he looks like one of Nealapolean’s better moves.

  58. It was amazingly ill-advised what Chipper Jones tweeted about Mike Rice.

    Why he felt the need to chime in about Rice is beyond me. David Kaplan of WGN Radio called Jones a moron. You don’t see such pejoratives thrown around by reporters that often.

    Doesn’t take much detective work to figure out why Chipper knocked up a Hooters girl during his extramarital affair with her.

    • There are people who feel good when they can denigrate someoone who’d done better than they have. I regard them as beneath contempt.

      • You know, Officer, I’m slow on the uptake. I just got it that your moniker is from “Confederacy of Dunces”, is it not? You didn’t go with Ignatius J. Reilly!

        Read that book 20 years ago or more. I should read it again as I recall liking it a lot.

  59. So after another long day at work, The Window comes home and watches that entire game on the DVR…

    In the words of the late Ester Rolle when she played Florida on Good Times, “DAMN, DAMN, DAMN!”

    The UNDER wins for both lines today. Thanks to all who played.
    THREE-PLAY FRIDAY is on tap for the next game.
    Here are the up to date standings.
    If I made a mistake anywhere, please let me know. Thanks
    JRay3 ~ 275
    stuart66 ~ 225
    cmat0829 ~ 200
    Kevin ~ 200
    RobertoForever ~ 100
    PetroSteel ~ 100
    Bizrow ~ 100
    JoeyBats ~ 75
    Karen22 ~ 50
    Steve J. Smith ~ 50
    mlrgenuine ~ 50
    Jandy ~ 50
    KJX ~ 25
    tmp444 ~ 25
    Joey Mellons ~ 5
    Arriba Wilver ~ EVEN
    fellocolonial ~ EVEN
    radio wave ~ EVEN
    Nate83 ~ EVEN
    TK ~ EVEN
    Lad9 ~ EVEN
    pants-n-at ~ EVEN
    Ruffian706 ~ -40
    JohninOshkosh ~ -50
    TCB ~ -50
    TJ ~ -50
    Dom ~ -75
    tdb1977 ~ -100
    Pucknutz ~ -100
    JMB ~ -100
    Jason81 ~ -200

  60. WRT to Dejan’s column “no panic in Pirates, yet, but”

    He’s right of course saying objective analysis should always avoid drawing conclusions based on small sample sizes, that’s true. However when the small sample size is a continuation of the larger sample size that preceded it, it’s simply irrational to assume it’s going to change significantly in the future.

    Sure some of the guys are going to get their hits as the season progresses but the reality is the Pirates have pretty much just picked up where they left off the last two seasons on the offensive side of the game and for the same reasons: the irrational lineups lineups from a manager who abuse and misuse of small ball tactics and a GM who failed to recognize the needs and conditions the team plays in and secure the right types of players.

    2013 will be very much like 2012 & 2011 when it concludes, good pitching unsupported by bottom of the majors offense because the roster is made up of too many light hitting, right handed players with sharp platoon disadvantages playing in home park that hinders those very types of players and a manager who seems utterly incapable of recognizing any of these facts.

    This season, another losing one, is all but over already and the best evidence of it were the lineups Hurdle sent out the first two games.

    Nobody making decisions in this organization has a clue what they’re doing.

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