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Monday Wakeup Call: Why Steelers right on Sanders

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

>> The Monday column is about baseball, this special young man in particular …

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The game itself was as noteworthy as they come in April, with a 10-run rally and a sweep of maybe the National League’s most talented team.

Here’s what a guy with two home runs had to say …

>> If you missed it, the Sunday column covered the Riverhounds’ wonderful debut at Highmark Stadium. One of the neatest experiences I’ve had in this job. It’s also worth noting that we got a very good reaction from the readership to our coverage in general, including hit counts online. Expect to see more.

>> OK, with business out of the way, let’s get to the Steelers and Emmanuel Sanders

I’d written that they should keep him, that they likely would, and they ultimately did.

Good for them.

Let’s not kid anyone: This decision was going to be based off what Ben Roethlisberger needed and wanted, and he’s entitled to have that say as a two-time Super Bowl winning QB. If that offends anyone longing for the old days when even the most elite athletes had no say, so be it. Ben’s going to be 31 and would have had every right to be ticked had he lost Mike Wallace and Sanders and not had a meaningful free agent signed.

Analyzing this further is probably a waste of time, but since everyone will: The Steelers could have let the Patriots keep Sanders, saved $2.5 million, spared themselves the indignity of watching Sanders walk next spring as a free agent and, of course, gotten a third-round comp pick. And some of that inherently sounds pretty tempting.

But at what cost?

The 2013 Steelers needed another receiver, or they’d go into the season with Antonio Brown, Plaxico Burress and Jerricho Cotchery, and maybe cope for a spell without Heath Miller. Sorry, but that’s tantamount to forfeit, no matter if you brought in a rookie Earl Campbell to be your back.

That matters. It matters that a star QB in his prime isn’t tossing away an entire season.

Moreover, there’s nothing stopping the Steelers from drafting a wide receiver should they wish. People were talking as if the New England comp pick were the only way they’d ever pull that off. They could still have one in the first round should they so choose. (I’d hope not.)

The NFL exists on a year-to-year basis. The greatest turnarounds happen in football, the shortest period before free agency is in football, and what’s here today can be gone tomorrow with the next snap.

I won’t suggest Sanders doesn’t have flaws. He does, not least of which is the generally infantile behavior of the so-called Young Money crew. He’s not consistent enough, not durable enough. But he’s an established NFL wide receiver, he’s only 26, he can make plays and, way above all, this team needs that right now.

>> I’ll visit with TribLIVE Radio today at 11:30 a.m. to talk about all this with Ken Laird and Guy Junker. Hope you can join us. We’re one simple click away.

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, recently, 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 country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

Comments

  1. MadTurk says:

    I would let him go. He has a lot to prove in his last year here if he wants big money next year. Like staying healty, stop the fumbling, and catch the dang ball on critical plays. None of which he has shown yet.

    DK: Fair points. Think he’s capable of showing some of that in 2013? Think he’s peaked?

  2. T.S. says:

    I agree with Mark Kaboly’s blog entry on 4/10 that Steelers should have let Sanders walk. Especially if they’re going to pick a WR in the first round of the draft.

    DK: Wouldn’t you think this reduces the chance of a first-round WR?

  3. Scott says:

    Maybe Sanders hasn’t yet shown he can be a star, but that statement would also apply to any player the team would draft as his replacement. So I really can’t see what letting him go would have accomplished.

    $2.5 million is not that much to pay a starting wide receiver – especially when you have absolutely nobody else in line behind him and you already have other key positions that need to be addressed in the draft.

  4. AugustWest says:

    Dejan is right about Sanders. There are no guarantees with third-round picks and receivers tend to take at least a couple of years to develop – time the Steelers don’t have given that their $104 million franchise QB is in the thick of his prime.

    Sanders will be a serviceable starter and could be more if he stays healthy. Injuries have been his biggest problem as a Steeler. And the team has too many other holes to invest more than one 2013 draft pick on a wideout. A playmaking outside linebacker, a running back and a safety are needed pronto, and absent Sanders they probably would have needed to spend at least two picks on wide receivers.

    Not the team’s proudest moment, but a necessary move given the hole in which they find themselves.

    DK: If only that playmaking outside linebacker would simply show up to Latrobe in shape and put on a No. 56 jersey.

  5. Mizery says:

    I hope this means we don’t draft a WR in this draft. I don’t know why everyone is so excited about this 2013 crop. We could get someone late that will be just as good as the WRs taken early.

    DK: What’s your preferred position for the top two rounds?

  6. Drew71 says:

    I wonder if Rene Gayo can find them a running back.

    Why not?

    Trust Rene.

  7. Gary Redus says:

    Even unproven or questionable talent at receiver is valued highly among teams these days. The Steelers’ WR corps were among the most underachieving in the league last year, and were still in high demand and ended up being overcompensated.

    It’s a good move, and I still wouldn’t be against drafting a WR in the first round.

  8. jtp2106 says:

    I hope Sanders can stay healthy, because he looks like a pretty good WR when he can stay on the field. A larger role in the offense might push his game to a higher level. I also think his skill set is a good match for Todd Haley’s offense. He’s quick and he can find open space over the middle.

    That being said, I’d really like to see the Steelers draft Stedman Bailey in the 2nd or 3rd round. He was a heck of a player at WVU and I think he’s going to be good in the NFL. It also would be interesting to see if the Steelers would take on a project like Denard Robinson in the later rounds. It might take some time for him to develop into a WR in the NFL, but his athleticism is too enticing to pass up.

    DK: The idea of adding simple athleticism to the team, including the defense — no, especially the defense — is enticing enough on its own.

  9. DK: Welcome to newcomers for the Steelers discussion. Anyone interested in attaching a face — or anything — to the gray man, check gravatars.com … it’s pretty easy.

  10. brendan says:

    Terrific piece on Marte.

    I know from conversations with national writers over the winter many were skeptical of his ability to become even an above average regular, based on his plate discipline (and who knows they may ultimately prove to be correct, but I certainly hope not).

    My feeling was that while the history of guys with Marte’s K/BB rate in the minors isn’t especially encouraging, he’s perhaps something of a unique case, due to beginning his pro career at relatively late age for a Latin-signee. I was also heartened by his improved plate discipline during winter ball.

    That said, with his speed and defense, even if he were to simply perform at the plate as he did in 2012 over a full season he’d still be a really valuable player.

    I know you’re pretty clearly on record as being no fan of the Pirates development process. As someone who’s followed Marte for many years, I’d be curious to get your thoughts on his development specifically. Normally if a ‘raw’ 18 year old puts up a 220/307/595 line in the Dominican Summer League and is then able to actualize his tools and become the player Marte currently is six years later the inclination would be to credit the development process I think, right? I say this with the caveat that from afar it’s pretty difficult/impossible to determine what proportion of an individual prospects success is the result of development versus simply recognizing ‘potential’ and drafting/signing wisely, so that’s not necessarily the correct inclination. But from your vantage point, is Marte an instance in which the Pirates succeeded developmentally? Or were they simply the beneficiary of an astute signing. Or something combination of both?

  11. JoeyBats says:

    * Congratulations to the Buccos, STAR-ling….keep up the the great work ! Love watching him develop.
    .
    * As for the Steelers…..gotta draft more playmakers on April 25, 26, 27. Keeping Sanders was a good move……the roster needs more experience…more talent to help Ben — NOT LESS. Even if they have him for only 1 year. Didn’t need Cotchery or Plex as the #2 receiver to start the season. This roster is too shallow…too slow :-(

  12. John Lease says:

    Had the Patsies signed him for big money, of course we’d let him go. But he’s making 2.5 million, easy decision to keep him.

    And maybe McKenry can now get 2 starts a week…

  13. TK39 says:

    Welcome back DK! I hope you enjoyed your break.

  14. Thundercrack says:

    The way it usually goes for the Pirates, if Phil Irwin had pitched for the Reds he would have pitched 4 hit shutout baseball for 8 innings…against the Bucs.

  15. Drew71 says:

    Ah. A Pessimist. DaqCrack.

    You in a mood cause you left the game in the sixth or something?

  16. Papa Croz says:

    DK…. You have mentioned that T Vokoun is the best
    acquisition this season -rightfully so- but you have
    to be impressed by #36 J Jokinen and his aggressive
    style.

  17. Thundercrack says:

    We stayed to the end!

  18. MadTurk says:

    I think it will be a make or break year for him. Can he? possibly, If he does that will be good for the Steelers this year, although he will ask for more then we can pay in the next contract. That is all we can hope for by resigning him this year. Hope we do draft another WR and get him some playing time for the future. The question is do we thinnk Ben is in his prime and is going to win another SB this year with Sanders or should we get someone into the system for next year or the year after and hope to make a run then.

  19. Drew71 says:

    She probably made you, or after the fifth you woulda been walking to your car (in the Casino lot), blubbering.

    The opposite of your Irwin post…

    Paul Maholm won for the Braves last night. Pitched 7.2 innings of shutout ball. Four hits, seven SOs. He’s now 3-0.

    Do you think that when he sails into the Hall, will his bust have a Pirates or Braves cap?

  20. Thundercrack says:

    Like I said yesterday, apparently between cheap shots, the Buccos sleepwalking through 6 innings almost put me to sleep. My wife had to explain to me how we had a Sanchez on third while another Sanchez was up at bat.

    And we park Downtown. We like to walk through town, imagining that we were super cool and lived there.

    Braves are 11-1.

  21. Drew71 says:

    Wanna live downtown?

    I take it all back.

    Did you stop at Starbucks on the way?

    Or Manitoba?

  22. Dave G says:

    Something magical about those Pirates uniforms from ’71.

    I hope that magic continues…

  23. JAL says:

    JAL’s Ramblin Man Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x28jaeyX2s

    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 Stats

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsjN0zO-DxI0dHVOMzdPYm9wUEJtdVJ0WWUzVWhFc2c#gid=0

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: What Really Led to the Comeback by the Pirates

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/first-pitch-what-really-led-to-the-comeback-by-the-pirates.html

    Alen Hanson’s Defense Is Tough to Watch; Will It Ever Be Good?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/alen-hansons-defense-is-tough-to-watch-will-it-ever-be-good.html

    Prospect Watch: Tony Sanchez Shows Some Offense, Stetson Allie Keeps Hitting

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/prospect-watch-tony-sanchez-shows-some-offense-stetson-allie-keeps-hitting.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates’ huge comeback rescues Phil Irwin’s 1st start as Bucs win 10-7

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/4/14/4224490/pirates-huge-comeback-rescues-phil-irwins-1st-start-as-bucs-win-10-7

    Allie and Tony Sanchez go 3-3, Hanson commits three more errors

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/4/14/4224302/allie-and-tony-sanchez-go-3-3-hanson-commits-three-more-errors

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 12: Pirates 10 Reds 7

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/april-2013/game-12-pirates-10-reds-7.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Return of the Lumber Company; Bucs Rally For 10-7 Win

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/04/return-of-lumber-company-bucs-rally-for.html

    9 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Week 2 Review

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/04/15/pittsburgh-pirates-week-2-review/

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger
    Pirates 10, Reds 7

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/04/pirates-10-reds-7/

  24. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Rant Sports

    Michael McKenry’s Two Homers Helps Pittsburgh Pirates Top Reds

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/04/14/michael-mckenrys-two-homers-helps-pittsburgh-pirates-top-cincinnati-reds/

    12 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Cardinals-Pirates series matchup

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cardinals-pirates-series-matchup/article_41ce1a02-76f4-5ae9-be8c-b534f488cc3b.html

    13 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates Power Past Reds

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/04/14/pittsburgh-pirates-power-past-reds/

    14 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Pirates rally past Reds to complete sweep

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130414/SPT04/304140102/Pirates-rally-past-Reds-complete-sweep

    15 Boston Globe

    Sox’ Hanrahan to rest with hamstring injury

    http://bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/04/14/sox-hanrahan-rest-with-hamstring-injury/wYYloIlWAV4zojFZEV4CPP/story.html

    16 CBS Sports

    St. Louis-Pittsburgh Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130415_STL@PIT/cardinalspirates-preview

    17 Sweetspot

    Weekend wrap: Braves do it right way

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/34836/weekend-wrap-braves-do-it-right-way

    18 PBC Site

    McKenry, Marte lead Bucs’ comeback to sweep Reds

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_04_14_cinmlb_pitmlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Hurdle extolls value of pitching inside

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130414&content_id=44756144&notebook_id=44756362&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20218

    20 Fangraphs

    Should MLB Tie Suspensions To Injury Length?

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/should-mlb-tie-suspensions-to-injury-length/

  25. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers match Patriots offer for Emmanuel Sanders

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/4/14/4224664/steelers-match-patriots-offer-emmanuel-sanders

    Heath Miller Injury: How much did knee injury affect Steelers decision to match offer sheet?

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/4/14/4224704/heath-miller-injury-steelers-match-emmanuel-sanders-offer-sheet-patriots

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Scouting Report: West Virginia WR Stedman Bailey

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/04/steelers-2013-draft-west-virginia-wr-stedman-bailey-scouting-report-profile/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Newcastle United v Sunderland: fans arrested and three police officers injured following Tyne-Wear derby

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/premier-league/9993558/Newcastle-United-v-Sunderland-fans-arrested-and-three-police-officers-injured-following-Tyne-Wear-derby.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 12th April, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-12th-april-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Bleacher Report

    Why the Pittsburgh Penguins Are the Favorites to Win the Stanley Cup

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1604714-why-the-pittsburgh-penguins-are-the-favorites-to-win-the-stanley-cup

  26. JAL says:

    Ramblin Man Allman Brothers 1973 Written by Dicky Betts, who also sings lead on it. Based on song of same title by Hank Williams and was Allman Brothers only top 10 hit.

  27. BillyBaduka says:

    Love those caps.

    Best uniforms they have, IMO.

  28. Thundercrack says:

    +1

    I bought one of those caps last year. Love it

    I didn’t wear it yesterday to the game.

    I wore my new cap that says Bradenton – McKechnie Field

  29. SJB says:

    Gotta say, even though Vokoun and his play has been a clear positive so far, it really isn’t as big a help to Fleury and the team as it would have been in a full season.

    The additions of Morrow, Jokinen, Iginla and to a lesser degree Murray, will prove bigger returns for the team in the playoffs than Vokoun will, seeing as how Fleury will start pretty much every game and Vokoun will take an even more prominent role as backup.

  30. TJA says:

    I said yesterday…don’t wash them and wear ‘em this evening…

  31. JAL,

    Don’t know what your theme is, but this kind of music is right in my wheelhouse. Thanks!!

  32. NMR says:

    Ha, I was thinking that JAL might be taking a little jab at MANY of our commenting habbits.

  33. dwf says:

    PC,

    Couldn’t agree with you more. While Vokun has for the most part been pretty solid, he did have a rocky patch he went through. But, according to some, the “Win one for the Gipper” speech he gave in Philly is the reason the Pens’ season turned around?? That alone should’ve garnered him the “best acquisition of the season” tag? Anyway, let’s see if a more rested Fleury can help the Pens “steal” a first round series? I think the whole Fleury was tired excuse last year and that was why they lost in the first round, was just that a lame excuse. Fleury was awful and the D was worse.

    The Jokinen deal IMO was a great pickup! Jokinen will continue to pay dividends as long as a “rested” Fleury can keep stopping pucks.

  34. NMR says:

    Did everyone see Milo knock that Travis Snider homerun back onto the field yesterday?

    Just can’t bear to give up that one homerun joke.

    Seriously though, Snider has been sneaky good. Even better when you take out his pinch hit appearances. Still a terribly small sample, but raise your hand if you woke up this morning thinking Travis Snider had an OPS over .800 and struck out in less than 20% of his at-bats.

  35. Guys!

    Can’t be here much (or at all) today. It’s April 15th——gotta do my taxes. I itemize. Hope to be done by midnight!

    Some things I think I think:

    ——welcome back Dejan.
    ——I like it that at least today you have “interacted” more with the boys and girls above.
    ——Where’s that guy who last week claimed that a) the Reds would sweep the Bucs 100-0 in this series; b) that Starling Marte was just a 4th or 5th outfielder; c) that Aw Choo in centerfield for Reds was second coming of Willie Mays; d) that Reds starting pitchers would eat the Pirates for lunch. Keep playing the lottery, Bud . . . . Pennsylvania needs your dollars!
    ——Can BMTIB be given credit for Marte’s development? Interesting question by Brendan Byrne Arena above.
    ——Congrats to Robert Morris and Visit Pittsburgh and Penguins for pulling off Frozen Four. Makes us proud.
    ——After verbally designating Neil Walker as a utility player only in Majors, didn’t some later try to give credit to BMTIB for developing Walker as now borderline All Star 2nd baseman?
    ——Can’t wait to see the coverage for the opening game of the Pittsburgh Power football team. I’ll bet they have more attendance than the Dogs by the River did. But, of course, not as many lonely fans to create “hits” on blog!
    ——Michael McKenry was invaluable yesterday.
    ——Travis Snider has added some spark to the lineup.
    ——Or, maybe it’s the absence of Gaby Sanchez in the lineup that has added the spark.
    ——I hope Geno’s sunburn gets better soon!
    ——I don’t ever want to take for granted how great it is to follow the Penguins right now.
    ——Signing Sanders was the ONLY choice: Ben could not go into 2013 season missing 3 of his top 4 receivers from last year!
    ——Will Pedro Alvarez hit his weight in 2013?
    ——Draft a safety in 1st round, a stand-up defensive end to convert to outside linebacker in 2nd round, a wideout in the 3rd round, another wideout in 4th round, a fat man to be middle of D-line in 5th round, a quarterback in 6th round, another fat man in 7th.
    ——Sure am glad about BMTIB decision to let Paul Maholm go for nothing. He’ll never amount to anything!

    Gotta go. What pile should I put this 99 cent receipt for coffee from Sheetz in?

  36. Patrick says:

    I said in the Friday vacation entry:
    “If they (the Pirates) lose all three(to the Reds), but show a lot of heart doing so, and they haven’t show much to date, I will be ok with it. I want to see some will to compete. I want to see someone throw their batting helmet after grounding into a DP….”

    I think they showed everything I had hoped for. Great TEAM wins.

    And they should draft a NT in the first and the best playmaker (Off OR Def) available in the second round. The Steelers need for impact players was evident on both sides of the ball last year. With the loss of Wallace, Harrison and Lewis that need in 2013 will be even more obvious.

    I expect this year to have a lot of movement in it. The lack of a Franchise QB, only 1 true CB, no RB worthy of a 1st rd pick but a wealth of WR and D-Linemen makes this a draft that is an empty harvest for some and a bounty for others. Going to be a very interesting first day.

  37. John Lease says:

    No receipts!

    Use the estimation method… :)

  38. Bizrow says:

    The weekend was good baseball by the PBC, no doubt.

    Now they gotta do it again tonight.

  39. Arriba Wilver says:

    Were you there yesterday?

  40. Bizrow says:

    No, spent the day at home doing chores

    Were you there?

  41. Arriba Wilver says:

    No. TC was, though. I just thought you had posted earlier that you had the Sunday game when the weather forecast (and baseball forecast) was much cooler.

  42. Arriba Wilver says:

    And, from your seats you would have had a good look at the Snider HR/double.

  43. Iceman says:

    We did see it all with the Pirates this weekend. You could see it in the dugout that the players were obviously caring more and they were getting excited for each other when they accomplished something. We also saw Burnett’s absolute desire to win and be the best he can be. He was livid after giving up a couple runs and getting pulled in the Friday night game. He brings more passion to this team than any other one player I can think of. Oh and the bullpen is unbelievable. It is great to see, but not something I want to see them relying so heavily on as the season continues.

  44. Patrick says:

    I don’t think anyone, including JJ, could have predicted the seamless transition and significant contribution Jussi has made. And really I dont want anyone to get to high on JJ just yet. There was a reason why Carolina was willing to give him up for a mere 7th round pick. Theres a reason he has been a career 3rd line player.

    But he certainly has played well. Good for everybody. Except Carolina. The only GM more butthurt than Jim Rutherford is probably Joe Nieuwendyk.

    And the clown from Boston :D

  45. Patrick(RI) says:

    Imagine this team with Maholm in the rotation and Bautista on 3rd. Cost? Just salaries. Cuddah, wuddah, shuddah . .
    .

  46. Dom says:

    I don’t think there will be a credible NT to take when we draft in the first round.

    I think we’ll take Tavon Austin, Jarvis Jones, or Alec Olgetree.

  47. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sidney Crosby is on the ice this morning with strength coach Mike Kadar sporting a shield to protect his jaw.

  48. Milo Hamilton says:

    And so are Paul Martin & James Neal.

  49. Here are the standings through the fist 12 games. Let me know if there are mistakes. Thanks.
    RobertoForever ~ 390
    cmat0829 ~ 350
    TK ~ 300
    Steve J. Smith ~ 250
    Jason81 ~ 250
    EricBowser ~ 250
    theplanisworking ~ 250
    JohninOshkosh ~ 235
    Frankie ~ 200
    Pucknutz ~ 200
    Boise Bucco ~ 200
    Kevin ~ 200
    JoeyBats ~ 175
    JUCOFan ~ 175
    tcb ~ 175
    cherokee23 ~ 150
    Karen22 ~ 150
    radio wave ~ 150
    bman ~ 130
    Lad9 ~ 125
    tdb1977 ~ 100
    PetroSteel ~ 100
    stickyweb ~ 100
    Keith ~ 100
    Arriba Wilver ~ 75
    OZ ~ 50
    mlrgenuine ~ 50
    JaxBuc ~ 30
    tmp444 ~ 25
    JRay3 ~ 15
    fellocolonial ~ EVEN
    Nate83 ~ EVEN
    pants-n-at ~ EVEN
    Joey Mellons ~ -10
    Ruffian706 ~ -40
    TJ ~ -50
    Chico ~ -50
    JD ~ -50
    Dom ~ -75
    KJX ~ -75
    DemonDachshund ~ -100
    Jandy ~ -100
    cosmo ~ -100
    Dcpinpgh ~ -100
    Kevin S ~ -100
    steelercrazy ~ -100
    TCB ~ -200
    stuart66 ~ -400
    Bizrow ~ -400
    JMB ~ -600

  50. AL says:

    Anything on James Neal? I haven’t heard/read anything so I’m not sure if that means good news or bad news.

    DK: Saw Neal this AM after he took the ice. Nothing visibly amiss.

  51. Dom says:

    Don’t forget that Maholm was a FA at the end of last season and Bautista would have been one years ago had he not signed his extension. Neither one of those guys would be on our team.

  52. Dom says:

    Could Ben be out of line for lobbying for Sanders to stay? I think this could be a disaster. That extra third round pick could have been used to move up into the second round if someone of the likes of Keenan Allen fall though.

  53. Patrick(RI) says:

    You are right. I just cringed when I saw this am, that PM has an ERA of 0.00 in 20+ innings. Want a real laugh? Berate has the same ERA in about 1/3 the innings.

  54. Jason says:

    Just checking to see if my avatar works. (Don’t mind me)

  55. Patrick(RI) says:

    “Bedard”. – IPad strikes again!

  56. Bob Hasis says:

    DK: Why was Marte permitted to score when Snider was allowed only two bases due to “fan interference”?
    Shouldn’t Marte have been sent back to third?

    Or does this fall into the nebulous category of “umpires discretion”?

    DK: Check the column. Because he’s that fast.

  57. Jason says:

    Do you have a pic of his new headgear? I’m just curious what it looks like.

  58. Dom says:

    What is that avatar of?

  59. Jason says:

    A Dalek from Doctor Who.

  60. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sid’s headgear. Let’s see if this works.

    http://instagram.com/p/YILHewOpD1/#

  61. Iceman says:

    Fan interference does not follow the same rules as a ground rule double. My understanding is that other base runners are at the Umpire’s discretion.

  62. Iceman says:

    That doesn’t look quite as ridiculous as Tocchet’s did back in the day, but for someone as superstitious as Sid, I’m sure it is having some effect on his mojo.

  63. Patrick says:

    I’m not a fan of the Sanders retention, but it isn’t a horrible decision either. I’m 51/49% opposed so to speak. Really all this does is delay losing Sanders for one more year, at which point they will get nothing except a compensatory pick in 2017 (maybe 2016). Initial rumors I have heard have guessed that the Steelers will receive two extra picks in the 2016 draft for Wallace and Lewis of the 3rd and 4th variety. Hardly worth their considerable talents. Even if they get a 2nd and 3rd…..

    I know its losing one of the few experienced play makers they have left, but only thinking about THIS YEAR is the kind of mentality that has gotten them into the cap trouble they are currently in. Thinking only about THIS YEAR is also not the way previous Steelers teams were assembled. As unpopular as it is, the Steelers were always successful when they thought about the next 3-4 years, not the one right in front of them.

    And anyone questioning the Steelers coaches is crazy, idiotic or outright trolling. Anyone over the age of 35 should remember that 6-7 years into his coaching regime (which is where Tomlin is now) the now canonized Bill Cowher faced a similar problem. Steed was gone. Carnell Lake and Woodson were gone. Kirkland got really old, really fast. I could make comparisons all day:
    -Todd Haley=Kevin Gilbride.
    -Limas Sweed=Troy Edwards
    -Everyone started whispering that the only reason Cowher (insert Tomlin) was succesful was because he took over Noll’s (Cowher’s) team. As if the first 6-7 years of success was somehow a fluke.
    -Mendenhall=Bam Morris (in disappointment only. Rashard is actually a really great, moral and respectable citizen)

    The similarities are endless between the 2013 Steelers and the 1999-01 version. Rebuilding happens.

    DK: Outstanding post, man. Thank you.

  64. SeanAY says:

    Exterminate!

  65. NMR says:

    I hope Maholm continues this trend. Great late-bloomer story.

    After the Buccos didn’t pick up his $10m 2012 option he was only able to get one year guaranteed at half that rate from the Cubbies with an option year tacked on. The Pirates certainly could’ve afforded that.

    Still doesn’t mean that the club should’ve seen the last two years coming after posting a 4.58 ERA over his first six, but thats baseball for you.

  66. Patrick says:

    The nerd level of this blog just went up a notch or two.

    I’m a fan personally. All we need now is NMR to change his avatar to a Rubiks cube.

    Nerdcore, baby.

    DK: Not needed, Patrick. Only person I allow anyone to get nasty with here — and snotty and sarcastic and repetitive and obsessive — is me.

    Not talking about you in the latter case, obviously.

  67. Arriba Wilver says:

    No.

  68. Patrick says:

    Wanting to keep PM is pure hindsight. There was a reason there wasn’t anyone at the wailing wall when he left.

  69. NMR says:

    Absolutely true.

  70. Arriba Wilver says:

    Please remind me—who gave Paul the $10 mil option contract?

  71. Milo Hamilton says:

    In the true spirit of the Masters, I just called Major League Baseball and they’re going to give Travis Snider that home run. Yeah, right.

  72. Thundercrack says:

    This just in: Paul Maholm traveling to New York to accept the 2013 Cy Young Award…after 3 starts

  73. Arriba Wilver says:

    We all know what “bazinga” means. I’m not sure how the nerd level could go up.
    ;-)

  74. NMR says:

    Good lord. Does EVERY conversation have to turn into this?

    Just let it be for once.

  75. Arriba Wilver says:

    Neal’s a genius.

  76. Jandy says:

    Sometimes, it just takes the “right” coach to put a player in the “right” position to succeed. I’ll have an eye on Jussi for sure.

    “and the Clown from Boston”….lol…priceless!

  77. 21sthebest says:

    He might check with JMac before he gets on the plane.

  78. Arriba Wilver says:

    If you quit trying to defend them, I’ll quit countering. Seems fair, right?

    DK: Because that’s all there is to discuss. Got it.

  79. 21sthebest says:

    Maybe if Smizik’s blog gets shut down. :-)

  80. NMR says:

    Really enjoyed DK’s column.

    “Not thinking about anything. It’s baseball. It’s a game. I don’t let anything bother me. Why should I?”

    If only you could transfer this to Locke, Tabata, and Snider. All four players say the same thing, but for whatever reason, Marte’s the only one who gives me the impression that he actually believes it.

    DK: Glad you liked it, NMR. Thank you.

  81. 21sthebest says:

    I know everyone wants to watch the Boston Marathon online so here’s the link.

    http://watchlive.baa.org/

  82. NMR says:

    Right.

    Because EVERY conversation boils down to defending or bashing. Can’t just talk baseball.

    So sick of this on the blog.

    EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

    DK: Emphatically, passionately agreed. And I’m open to suggestions as to what to do about it. Drags this place down every day after what’s usually a pretty good start. Really tired of it.

  83. Bizrow says:

    No, it was the Saturday game, didn’t go

  84. Arriba Wilver says:

    I was responding to you. Might want to look in the mirror.

  85. Bizrow says:

    I think I’ve made a mistake every time I’ve bet. ;-)

    Once again, Playoffs, thanks for doing this

  86. Domske,

    It is NOT illegal for Pirates to sign their own free agents.

    You indicate a “giving up/doomed to failure” attitude by saying what you did!

  87. Milo Hamilton says:

    Here is a really good look at Sid’s shield.

    http://instagram.com/p/YIOCvrupHn/#

  88. You guys are brothers, aren’t you?

    Or one of you married the other’s ex-wife.

  89. Jandy says:

    A rip off is still a rip off no matter how it’s painted. Friggin umps. Dorktards!

  90. Patrick says:

    Jarvis Jones will be long gone. If he isn’t sure…why not.

    If they draft a 5’8″ punt returner in the first round I will burn down some buildings. There is a reason the league isn’t filled with guys under 200#. Welker and Steve Smith are anomalies, not prototypes. Austin=Troy Edwards. Phenomenal college stats from a system that inflates them. He is just to small and not worth the risk at 16.

    Ogletree is widely regarded as the best/truest ILB in the draft. Chicago just got rid of Urlacher and the Giants need one too. I think one of those two will jump up to get him.

    I’m going to say this again, even though it makes me sound crazy. John Jenkins from Georgia is a Casey Hampton clone. 6’4″ and 346#. Lead the combine with THIRTY bench reps. I’m not sold on Alameda Ta’amu, and apparently the Steelers aren’t fans of McClendon.

    You simply CANNOT run a 3-4 with a NT that demands the double team. Can’t be done. Undersized DE’ that convert to OLB are easier to find in the later rounds than a true NT. Since Cowher took over the Steelers haven’t had a player drafted earlier than the 3rd round lead the team in sacks until Timmons in 2012.

    And to reitterate: If they draft Austin in the first round I will incite a riot…

  91. There was wailing from me!!

  92. Arriba Wilver says:

    :-)

  93. SJB says:

    I agree, they need to get rid of Ben now so they are ahead of the curve. Screw this year..or next for that matter. lol

    Seriously though, unless you’re going to do that, there’s no reason to completely bail on an experienced young player over an extra $1.2 million they were obviously already willing to pay him and gamble on a draft pick being appropriate compensation for him and everything the team has already invested in him, unless they feel he will be no better this season, or worse.

    If the Steelers didn’t think he was worth the $2.5 million, or could get by adequately without him, he’d be a Patriot today. As tight up against the cap as they are, with draft picks that will still need signed, this tells me he must be worth it, or they very easily could have let him go even if they didn’t want too and blame money reasons as forcing their hand.

    The upside is they will have a player in a contract year again and hopefully he will play with a bigger payday in mind. If he plays to a level the Steelers can’t afford to resign after this season, at least they will get their money’s worth and maybe another year to groom the WR (or two) they will get in this years draft.

    I trust the Steelers know more than anyone on this blog what they need at this stage of rebuilding and who is worth keeping compared to all the drunk, simple-minded yinzers out there calling into radio shows complaining about Sanders and his 80 fumbles and only playing 2 games his whole time as a Steeler.

  94. SeanAY says:

    Hey, good for Paul. Seems like a really good guy that was starting to get his career on track late in his time in Pittsburgh and is starting to take it to another level. Lefties like him seem to get better with age. I hope he keeps it up.

    I remember saying at the time the $9M option seemed like a good idea to pick up, if only because Huntington seemed prepared to give Jorge de la Rosa $10M for three years, and the two pitchers had nearly identical career stat lines at that time. Why not stay with the devil you know?

    Maholm may never have replicated that last season in Pittsburgh, but it seemed like he could always be a crafty, No. 3 lefty. But what are you gonna do, you know? I wasn’t heartbroken to see him go, and I didn’t curse the front office, but I thought he would have continued to be a good investment and that letting him go was more about wanting a change than his actual price point or performance.

  95. Patrick says:

    So much of baseball is economics and contracts anymore. Thats not just Pittsburgh, its everywhere. That’s baseball in the Moneyball/Fantasy League era.

  96. Thundercrack says:

    I am actually happy for Maholm. Still want to see what his record and numbers are at the end of the season. With that offense, there is a good chance he’ll stay in games longer than he did with the Bucs.

    And I don’t think the Pirates should have kept him. And I think they tried to trade him but couldn’t.

    See, I have it both ways.

    (I need to invent a ‘sarcasm emoticon’. Maybe I’ll just use my real face as my avatar. That should get my point across)

  97. Jandy says:

    Not too bad, really. And I knew he’d be itching to get back on the ice.

  98. Thundercrack says:

    It should transfer to this blog.

    :-)

  99. DemonDachshund says:

    But, but, but… FIRE BYLS… bah, doesn’t fit.

  100. Patrick says:

    Let me get this straight before I even attempt to respond to this.

    Did you just call me a simple-minded drunk yinzer?

  101. Thundercrack says:

    Only if the only other viewing is a Riverhounds game.

    Boom!

    DK: A shot at soccer. Constructive. And original.

  102. NMR says:

    A comment was made that Maholm wouldn’t be on the team due to free agency.

    My entire response was centered around my opinion that he certainly could’ve been based on the contract he received elsewhere. Didn’t offer a single opinion on whether he SHOULD have been.

    If you read that as defending the front office you’re looking for a fight.

  103. SJB says:

    lol. No, just referring to the calls I was hearing. Amazing what’s out there that feels obligated to call in.

  104. NMR says:

    Well said.

    Never liked the idea of giving PM $9m, but your de la Rosa point makes a lot of sense.

    I see PM now as my hope for Jeff Locke. So many similarities between them.

  105. 21sthebest says:

    :-)

  106. Arriba Wilver says:

    I stubbornly argued for a couple years against the idea that Maholm was at best a #3 pitcher. I was finally convinced otherwise. I haven’t once thought since then ” I sure wish we still had Paul Maholm.” But I agree with you— good for him and I wish him all success.

  107. NMR says:

    This is what I was trying to say.

  108. It’s “married the ex-wife.” Gotta be!

  109. Bizrow says:

    Well, in any event, it is very good to hear he is back on the ice

    (how can he not know how many teeth he lost????)

  110. Milo Hamilton says:

    And they try to tell us replay is supposed to get everything right. SMH.

  111. Jandy says:

    Not when it’s the Pirates. Prolly works just fine for everyone else tho.

  112. Jandy says:

    ::thwap::

  113. Arriba Wilver says:

    “Still doesn’t mean that the club should’ve seen the last two years coming after posting a 4.58 ERA over his first six, but thats baseball for you.”

    That was what seemed defensive to me. And we could break that down, but I won’t bore anyone with it.

  114. Jandy says:

    he just isn’t telling lol

  115. Arriba Wilver says:

    Bazinga!

  116. DemonDachshund says:

    I don’t get baseball.

    A week ago, the Bucs had 3 guys hitting their weight (and the 3rd was only because Barmes is skinny) and looked lifeless. I figured Hurdle would be sacrificed by the end of the month.

    Then they take 2 of 3 in Arizona against a team that’s now 8-4, followed by a sweep of a pretty talented Reds team, and with a win tonight, will be the First Place Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Yeah, that makes sense.

  117. kr70 says:

    started flashing the Z in Arizona,,,,,,

  118. Bizrow says:

    All part of “ze plan”??

  119. No problem. Happy to do it.

  120. Bob Hasis says:

    That is just it; the umps don’t want to get it right – via replay – so that they can preserve the sanctity of the umpires word.
    If 100 people were asked about that replay who didn’t know anything about baseball, there would have been a unanimous opinion that the ball was out of the park.

    I say they purposely ruled two bases!!!!

  121. JohninOshkosh says:

    It’s unnatural for people to run around the city streets unless they are thieves or victims. It makes people nervous to see someone running. I know that when I see someone running on my street, my instincts tell me to let the dog go after him.
    - Mike Royko

  122. DemonDachshund says:

    It’s Penguin injury policy to not release any information they don’t have to… You never know what the other teams would do with an exact count of the lost teeth.

  123. JohninOshkosh says:

    Gotta love hockey players.

    My wife hates sports. Only one she can tolerate is hockey because of the players’ toughness. (And “the boys are cute and there are no cheerleaders” as she once said). She always slams baseball by referring to the time Brewer Marquis Grissom missed games for a “strained buttock.” (Actual words used by the Brewers).

  124. SJB says:

    It all usually comes out in the wash come September. Hard to get too excited one way or another this early in the season…or even July when it comes to the Pirates.

    Fool me once…

  125. Jandy says:

    Grissom should have been embarassed when he did come back.

  126. Jandy says:

    Anyone who watched the game yesterday and said they didn’t enjoy it is a liar :)

  127. Probably BMTIB paid off umps.

    I hear Travis Snider engages a bonus clause in his contract if he hits 2 homeruns this season!

  128. Milo Hamilton says:

    Royko’s column ran in our local paper when I was a kid. He was probably the 1st non sports columnist I read on a regular basis. You just brought back some good memories there.

    DK: Royko was the master of conversational writing. Without peer. And riotously funny.

  129. Jandy says:

    Fleury’s save on Derek Stepan of the Rangers is NHL Network’s top save of the week

  130. I strained my buttock once——Doc said I should not eat so much cheese.

  131. JRay3 says:

    Great read on Marte this morning, really enjoyed it @DK. What a weekend for the PBC, yesterday was reminiscent of some of the games from a year ago when the Bucs were really on a roll.

    Mike McKenry said it during the post game, confidence and momentum can carry a club and you want to ride it while you have it, storming back from down 5-0 in the 7th can certainly show this club they are never out of it.

    Really like how Cutch brought back the “Z” in Arizona, if for no other reason than to get they guys playing loose and having fun again, they seem to do very well when they play in that regard.

    Looking forward to another big series with Cardinals coming in, winners of 5 of their past 6 against two top NL Clubs hopefully rids some of the doom and gloom being predicted far to early in the season.

    DK: Glad you liked the piece, JRay. Thanks.

  132. Dom says:

    Jones’ stock has fallen. He could go somewhere like New Orleans at #15 but it’s not out of the question for him to fall to us.

    John Jenkins would be a huge reach at #17. We could very well obtain him in the second round.

    Tyler Eifert could also be a possibility.

  133. Dom says:

    It’s not illegal but it’s also not likely.

  134. 21sthebest says:

    That was a good article but I couldn’t help but wonder if Jose Guillen or Marte has the best arm since Parker. Van Slyke’s was pretty good too.

  135. Thundercrack says:

    “Really like how Cutch brought back the “Z” in Arizona, if for no other reason than to get they guys playing loose and having fun again, they seem to do very well when they play in that regard.”

    Please, no one tell Casey McGehee that we’re playing loose and having fun again.

    DK: That’s useful.

  136. Bizrow says:

    Dusty Baker???? ;-)

  137. Brandie says:

    Good column on Marte. As far as Sanders…Had to keep him for the sake of continuity. Sanders has the chance to be the true face of the Wide Receivers and wash the taste of “The Young Money Crew” out of our collective consciousness. I just hope he shows enough cojones to do so.

    DK: Better than AB?

  138. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  139. SJB says:

    The sooner he gets back the better (Neal too), so they can get the lines set and get a few games in with them together before the playoffs. If he’s willing to play with that headgear on, then I don’t think the injury is dictating his return schedule anymore.

    Honestly, as long as he feels he can skate well enough, and can get in at least one or two full practices, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he tries for the Sabres game at home this Saturday. In fact, I predict it. Even short shifts and reduced minutes would be better for him, the team and his ‘game legs” than skating in circles and soft team practices.

    Also, don’t anyone think Crosby doesn’t want the scoring title more than he would lead on about it. If he get’s pissed at losing at ping-pong, you know this is irritating him as well.

    DK: I wouldn’t disagree about Sid and the Art Ross. He’s legacy-minded. And I can imagine what he was thinking up in the press box in Tampa watching Steven Stamkos inch closer.

  140. Dom says:

    You’ll get no argument on that from me.

  141. Bob Hasis says:

    Remember, there is no exactitude in an upper body injury. Or lower body injury for that matter.
    The element of uncertainty will always prevail

  142. 21sthebest says:

    He’s hitting .435 with 1 homerun after 14 games, btw.

  143. Thundercrack says:

    Good one Biz.

    When we went ahead I told my wife that it meant we wouldn’t have to face Chapman. Then I was really surprised to see him come in to get one out.

    What I didn’t know was that Chapman or Chad Billingsley hadn’t pitched much all week.

    Last night I went on to the Reds ‘blog’ and they were roasting Dusty’s chestnut over how he handles the pitching staff. (which seems to follow him to every job he has)

  144. NMR says:

    Unlikey to sign as a free agent after declining his option? Maybe.

    But extensions happen all the time.

    Something like 3 years at $7m/yr would’ve been close to market rate and eliminated the sting of that option year price tag.

  145. JHadar says:

    As frustrating as that was, and it was very frustrating even though it did work out in the end, every time I get up upset with baseball umpiring I just think back to watching college basketball this winter.

    With baseball I expect that the umpires will get it right. With basketball it seems like there’s about a 50/50 chance when they show a replay.

  146. Thundercrack says:

    Casey McGehee?

    Do you have him on your Japanese Fantasy Baseball team?

  147. JRay3 says:

    Forgot about Jose Guillen, good call he did have a rocket of an arm as well.

  148. Jandy says:

    YIKES!

  149. Bizrow says:

    Don’t get many save opportunities during a 5 game losing streak. Well, unless your closer is causing the streak.

    Yeah, TC, Dusty most definitely has a history on mismanaging pitching staffs. Lets hope he continues to stay true to form.

  150. Jandy says:

    lol I meant Pirates fans…but ya got me on that one ;)

  151. JRay3 says:

    @ Thundercrack – Of all the games you have had a chance to witness in person, how did yesterday’s measure up? Sure was exciting to watch on TV. Don’t think anyone could have expected that comeback.

  152. Bizrow says:

    Once again, NH gives up on a guy too early :-)

    Kidding, kidding kidding

  153. Ron Cook said this morning on the Fan that there is no momentum is baseball. What universe is he from?!

    There’s no way Pirates win that game yesterday if they had dropped the first 2 games of that series to the Reds!

    There’s momentum after a great catch! Or getting out of a bases-loaded jam! Certainly after coming back from 5-0 in the 7th against a top of the line pitcher.

    If JMac holds them close tonight, the odds are greater that Bucs pull one out tonight. Which should then give JMac confidence that he does not have to be perfect tonight.

    Because it is played every day, momentum may be bigger in baseball than any other major sport!

  154. NMR says:

    This is the exact mentality I talked about before the season when I said that none of these games really matter to some people until August.

    Hard to see why some get all worked up over the bad start (not you, specifically, SJB) when even good play gets marginalized down to the “fool me once” attitude. It’s a lose-lose situation.

    If they play bad, I told you so. If they play good, it doesn’t matter.

  155. Brandie says:

    Does the same apply for Tanner Glass if he scores another goal?

  156. Thundercrack says:

    JRay,
    It was great. It really was.
    But the first six innings almost put me to sleep and the Pirates’ play seemed to aggravate me. Especially Irwin. I know he settled down but we were down 5-0 pretty quick. I just kept thinking “we’ll never see .500 again”

    Our pen did a great job. (even at the plate & on the base paths)

  157. Drew71 says:

    Dalek Kovacevic.

    That’s all I got

  158. Only unlikely because of the approach/attitude of this front office.

    Maybe THEIR “giving up/doomed to failure” approach/attitude is wrong.

  159. Drew71 says:

    Dalik

  160. NMR says:

    Yeah, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t buy into a lot of the baseball narratives (“clutch”, “proven closer”, “lineup protection”), but momentum is certainly one of them that I do believe.

    Hitting IS contagious, at least with these Buccos.

  161. NMR says:

    I’ll second that.

  162. You’re A Fine Girl,

    No need to even consider!

  163. JAL says:

    That is baseball. It is long season and still very early. Every team in MLB has at least 4 losses except the Braves. Win a couple or lose a couple and yoiu might move from 1st to 4th or 4th to first. Dejan wrote “Honestly, I still can’t get a firm feel for these Pirates, not with a 6-6 record and not even after this intense, impressive sweep of an opponent that’s among the class of the National League.”

    No one can get a firm feel for a team after 12 games in baseball, except maybe a very bad team. 12 is 3/4ths of the season in the NFL but a very small part of a MLB season.

  164. NMR says:

    Can you guys think of a time when Marte has really unleashed it?

    I think we can all see the arm strength, but I’m having a hard time remembering a play in which he’s really used it. Seems like he’s had less chances to make a maquee throw being in LF instead of RF.

    Would’ve loved to see him show it off by stopping that 5th run instead of lobbing the ball into no-mans land.

  165. DemonDachshund says:

    You can enjoy the wins without getting optimistic.

    Optimism leads to disappointment.
    Disappointment leads to anger.
    Anger leads to the dark side.

  166. Brandie says:

    I get the reference. That is indeed the song I was named after. And Cook totally ,kissed the boat on momentum.

  167. 7 %, my little handy dandy tax calculator says.

    Oops, I better get back to them!! I can’t believe how much coffee I drink from Sheetz, according to these receipts!

  168. Jandy says:

    I totally enjoyed the game yesterday. :)

  169. Jandy says:

    I have a partner in my coffee guiltly pleasure ;)

  170. SJB says:

    If the season were 3 months long, I could either get jacked about the weekends games, or uber-depressed about the 1-5 start. All I know is; there have been plenty of instances like both over the past couple decades that eventually, one becomes numb to it. The last two season’s just further enforce that disconnect with me.

    Like I says, if the team is in the race (realistically, not technically) come mid-August, and still playing well, I’ll feel a lot more excited about the Pirates and their chances than I will if they are 16 games over again in July.

    If I’m a hungry dog and you keep putting food down in front of me and pull it away before I can eat it, eventually I’m not going to bother trying, especially if it’s mostly rotten.

    This Pirates season is all about proving it for me. 6-6 early on doesn’t raise my Jolly roger.

  171. JHadar says:

    I got to the game thread late yesterday, so I may repeat a few things — but that’s often the nature of a blog, everything’s already been said, but not everybody has said it yet.

    Let’s start with Rene Gayo for GM.

    I also have a ’71 hat. I got it Des Moines last year at one of those mall hat stores. It was the first time in years that they actually had more than one style of Pirates hat. In the past they kept the style (in a number of sizes that didn’t fit right) on a lower shelf in a back corner. You had to be looking for it. Progress is progress.

    My brother came in this morning and said “WE have gone 5-1 after THEIR bad start.”

    Someone above wondered if Pedro would hit his weight, but you have to understand that that would be harder for him than most guys.

    A win today puts us tied for the lead. Who would have thought that last Monday?

    If Marte keeps hitting the way he has will he move back in the order. If he does, who would lead off? If he doesn’t will it be because there’s no other lead off option?

    McKenry and Snider have both shown some potential. If either them develop consistency, look out.

    What does the pitching staff look like in August if Karstens, Morton, and Liriano get healthy and Cole comes up. Who goes to long relief, who goes to Indy, who gets traded?

    And while we’re on pitching, could this be a good break-in year for Locke? I hope he has a future with the Bucs.

    I sure do hope I’m still a wild-eyed optimist come September. Last year was hard to take.

  172. SJB says:

    Yeah, it was nice.

  173. Jandy says:

    With comments like that, Cook must be from Uranus ;)

  174. JohninOshkosh says:

    You are an official member of the blog now, Brandi. Groat has branded you.

    I’ve “known” Groat long enough to have predicted he would draw from that song.

  175. JohninOshkosh says:

    The Chicago Blackhawks are a good hockey team.

  176. Dom says:

    There does seem to be many empty seats for the home games. Does anyone know if this has been an issue so far this year?

  177. Bizrow says:

    Well, we do have two planets listed regarding where DK’s lunatics reside ;-)

  178. DemonDachshund says:

    I remember being very impressed with one throw of his last year, but I believe the runner stayed at 3rd so it didn’t make the highlights.

  179. Bizrow says:

    Attendance is down 15-20 K, the last I saw

  180. NMR says:

    How many Captains did they trade for?

  181. Jandy says:

    Yeah but not UrANUS ;)

  182. NMR says:

    I know you aren’t writing this for my approval, but I completely understand this logic. Certainly have history on your side.

    It’s just the guys who jump all over the bad while ignoring the good that I find odd. Why even follow the team if that’s gonna be your attitude, right?

  183. NMR says:

    You know, I bet that’s happened at least a couple times. Teams don’t seem to challenge him much.

  184. Dom says:

    That could be what Cook was getting at.

  185. Brandie says:

    Kirk, Crunch, and Morgan.

  186. Milo Hamilton says:

    Patrick Kane seems to have something going with Morgan.

  187. Jandy says:

    You’re being way too nice, Dom :)

  188. Dom says:

    News on Sid:
    http://tracking.si.com/2013/04/15/sidney-crosby-back-on-the-ice/

    DK: And no one had that news or the pics before the site you’re currently visiting: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/3843709-74/crosby-ice-martin?showmobile=false

    Proud of our Penguins coverage.

  189. Brandie says:

    Just so long as he does not drink it from Lord Stanley’s Cup. That would be pure ghetto.

  190. Jandy says:

    Morgan is a fav of mine ;)

  191. 21sthebest says:

    “If I’m a hungry dog and you keep putting food down in front of me and pull it away before I can eat it, eventually I’m not going to bother trying, especially if it’s mostly rotten.”

    Apparently, you’ve never owned a dog. :-)

  192. Brandie says:

    Maybe he should be the Buccos new Mascot.

  193. 21sthebest says:

    “No one can get a firm feel for a team after 12 games in baseball”

    That’s how I feel, which is why I was surprised Dejan wrote what he did.

    DK: Sorry to have disappointed you.

  194. NMR says:

    “What does the pitching staff look like in August if Karstens, Morton, and Liriano get healthy and Cole comes up. Who goes to long relief, who goes to Indy, who gets traded?”

    Would’ve been easy to fit one of them into the pen as Leroux’s replacement, but they just burned Morris’ last option for that so you know he isn’t going anywhere. I could still see Karstens taking Jeanmar’s spot as the long man, as long as he eventually returns to pitching like Jeanmar Gomez and not the excellent middle reliever he’s been so far.

    Tony Watson seems to be the other likely candidate to drop from the pen, maybe to be replaced by Morton, given Watson’s struggles with injury and performance early on this he. He’s got two options to burn, so the organization wouldn’t lose him.

    Liriano seems likely to replace Sanchez, which just leaves Cole an injury away from breaking into the rotation rather easily.

    This is definintely just my preference and opinion, not what I think is the best baseball move or what I think will happen, but I’d really like to see Locke have the entire year to figure out how to command the zone against big leaguers. He clearly has been able to do it at every level of the minors and I just see so, so much of a Paul Maholm career trajectory in his story line thus far. Hate to see that potential wasted in the minors.

  195. 21sthebest says:

    I want to say I remember him throwing out someone at second base last year.

  196. Dom says:

    What do you mean?

  197. Because I have the best interests of this blog at heart, because I will do anything to avoid working on my taxes, and because I am a Dog, I just finished looking at “the 50 Hottest Wives and Girlfriends” list.

    McCutch’s is #47 [way-ay-ay too low], Jonathan Sanchez is #13, and Russell Martin is #12. Only Pirates.

    Ronny Cedeno makes the list, but of course his is a butter!

    Back to my 1040.

  198. NMR says:

    Speak of the devil, I was about to add to the Paul Maholm Appreciation thread that he might end up one of the best free agents available this year.

    I swear my name isn’t Tim Dierkes…

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/04/free-agent-stock-watch-paul-maholm.html

  199. NMR says:

    List is clearly overlooking Karstens’ sweetie. He must have one heck of a personality.

  200. Brandie says:

    Don’t playa hate….procrastinate. Down with taxes.

  201. NMR says:

    Brandie gets my early season vote as Rookie of the Year candidate on the blog.

    Hopefully she sticks, unlike Lawn Beaver of last year.

  202. JohninOshkosh says:

    It’s called his wallet.

  203. 21sthebest says:

    You spelled earning potential wrong.

  204. Chris says:

    I’d still like to see them take a WR in the first round. Sanders will probably leave after this year and Cotchery, Plaxico, and Heath Miller aren’t getting any younger

  205. JohninOshkosh says:

    Groat:

    Don’t itemize time spent reading my posts as a legitimate “entertainment expense.” The IRS disallows deductions for frivolous expenses.

  206. Brandie says:

    Does that come with lawn furniture, like from late 1970′s Wheel Of Fortune?

  207. Chris says:

    I’d like to see the Steelers move up in the draft and take a real playmaker like the falcons did with Julio Jones. The last four years, the Steelers have taken an OL or DL with their first two picks except for Worilds. A strong line is important but you need playmakers who can make up for a few holes in the rest of your team.

    DK: Jones cost the Falcons a mint in terms of the future. Not disputing, just saying …

  208. I believe that’s his wife, isn’t it? Those Twitter shots do make you think she should be on the list.

    Besides, Jeff a fine-looking lad. Shouldn’t be all based on earnings potential.

  209. Jandy says:

    LOL! like

  210. The Gunner says:

    Which JMac shows up tonight?

  211. Brandie says:

    I agree. The last few drafts have been lacking players with explosiveness and just pure get it done grit. Less finesse, more players willing to make a mess.

  212. Dom says:

    I think we can get talent at #17. I really don’t want us trading picks as we have so many needs.

    I’ve seen numerous mock drafts that had Jarvis Jones falling to us and there are few that we would rather have over him.

    If we would give up our 2nd round pick in order to move up, we could very well miss out on someone like John Jenkins, Kevin Minter, Arthur Brown, or maybe a WR like Robert Woods could slide to us.

    DK: No Tavon Austin for you?

  213. NMR says:

    Unfortunately only my endearing admiration. And an autographed Lyle Overbay baseball.

  214. Brandie says:

    Throw in a Raul Mondesi or Derek Bell bobblehead doll and I’m in for the long haul. :-)

  215. Baywatch says:

    This is a combination, “Greetings this fine afternoon, y’all, looks like a forecast of 66 degrees at PNC tonight, and only an 8 percent chance of precip” and a test to see if I finally figured out how to upload an avatar.

  216. Baywatch says:

    In the WORD of Daryll (he hang around the Trib blog?), “Yesssssss!”

    DK: Congrats. You’re official now.

  217. Kevin says:

    How long into the season before people start saying Marte is the second coming of Roberto? And, if it’s not you not yet, what’s it gonna take to get you there? Seriously interested in these answers.

  218. Brandie says:

    I really cannot say because I did not get a chance to see Mr. Clemente play. My father and father in law have told me how special he was. If Marte can bring the eagerness, pure work ethic, willingness to learn, and improved plate discipline to the plate consistently, then watch out world.

  219. Baywatch says:

    Thanks, Buddy!

  220. Dom says:

    I would have thought Austin would go in the first round. I believe Mel Kiper Jr had him going to the Rams in the selection before ours but that really seems to be a reach. If he would slip, then I’d love to have him and the other guys on my list in the second.

    DK: When you’re visiting the Lions, your stock is on the rise. And Austin’s is.

  221. NMR says:

    I like this era of expanded baseball data because it helps make sense of things like why Pedro Alvarez hasn’t been able to hit anything so far this year. Even when that answer may be as simple as Pedro Alvarez will always go throw slumps like this while mashing in between.

    It did jump out to me when reading that he has seen the fewest fastballs of ANY hitter in the league, by far. Pitchers have only thrown fastballs 35% of the time against him thus far with Josh Hamilton a distant second at 42%.

    I also noticed that thus far, Pedro has only made contact with 62% of pitches in the strike zone compared to his big league average of 82%. Unless he suddenly completely forgot how to hit a baseball, this is probably what a Pedro Alvarez slump looks like.

    It will get better, it just sucks that this might always be Pedro.

  222. Nate83 says:

    They signed Tabata and Cutch and are working on a deal for Walker. Their approach seams to be in the the correct direction. Maholm is a decent pitcher but he wanted 9 mil and at the time wasn’t worth it or reliable enough to give that much money to.

    DK: He signed for $4.5 million, half the figure you cite.

  223. Patrick(RI) says:

    Gonna date myself, but here goes. The first time I saw Clemente, in the flesh, was on an incredibly hot day in July. I had a seat in the right field area of the Houston Colt .45′s field (yup, that is what they were called in those days). One of the Houston batters smacked a ball to the wall, where Clemente almost climbed it, whirled around and lasered (not yet a term, but applicable) a thrown back to the infield. A play I did not think humanly possible. In answer to your ?, Marte has the potential and is almost as much fun to watch, but not there yet, IMHO.

  224. Patrick(RI) says:

    Interesting stats. It seems to me that he can’t make contact with upper zone fastballs, either (anecdotal, based on recent observations)? Can you get stats on where pitchers are putting various pitches?

  225. Milo Hamilton says:

    Just me not saying anything. :)

  226. BillyBaduka says:

    Great game yesterday. Made me consider extending my NHL package to get the MLB package.

    For April, one gets both since they use the same channels.

  227. JHadar says:

    I think Roberto had been playing five years or so when the Colts and Mets joined the league. They changed their name to the Astros as soon as the dome went up.

    Just to split a hair, Marte may have a hall of fame career and in many aspects have better numbers than Clemente when it’s all over (or not) — but I don’t think anybody will ever play the game the way Roberto did — hitting balls that bounced to the plate, hitting triples with both feet off the ground, swinging with a hip slide instead of rotation. His swing looked the baseball version of Chi Chi Rodriguez’ golf swing. Everything about his game was unique from the way he ran and threw to the way he swung the bat. The way he swung at everything he could reach.

    From what I’ve seen of Marte, he is fluid — and if his numbers get there he’ll remind us old timers more of Mays than Clemente. Clemente was fast and powerful, but that came from the way he snapped his body around. To describe it makes it sound awkward, but it was a joy to watch. And, you could see why he needed a chiropractor following around at the end of the day. In that sense, the style and raw athleticism that he brought to the game — I don’t think we’ll ever see again.

    But that doesn’t mean Marte won’t develop a style of his own.

  228. Thundercrack says:

    No. Actually is was a shot at my friend 21.
    I know he can take it.
    And he knows I don’t care for soccer or marathons.

  229. Bizrow says:

    Roberto was one of a kind. Even though it means I are old, would not trade anything to have seen him in person for so many years.

  230. JHadar says:

    There’s that well-known hole in Pedro’s swing. I would be very surprised if they aren’t intensely working to correct it and that he’s over-thinking mechanics when he’s in a slump.

    And that’s why I think that no matter how hard he’s working out in the off-seasons, he just should have listened to the coaches and gone to play winter ball.

  231. 21sthebest says:

    Irwin down. Presley up.

  232. JHadar says:

    Ooops, meant to reply to NMR above not start a conversation.

    (Also, not only did we hit .500 yesterday, but the offense crept over Mendoza line.)

  233. Naje says:

    Groaty….
    Just wondering if Ron Cook was citing the old notion that, “In baseball, momentum is your next game’s starting pitcher.”

    There’s a lot to gain from that quote…but when your pitching is on, and the starters and relievers have some momentum going, they can get you to stay in games a lot longer than a bad staff and a lot of runs (think Pirates of 2008).

  234. NMR says:

    I was thinking of you the entire time I was writing this. No joke. :)

  235. Bizrow says:

    Great, something happened in Boston near the marathon’s finish line….

  236. NMR says:

    Presley?

    Did somebody get hurt?

  237. Bizrow says:

    Two explosions

  238. Bizrow says:

    Don’t think so, just short a man on the bench what with Harrison down

  239. NMR says:

    Not sure I understand what you’re saying. How do you knwo winter ball would’ve fixed him?

  240. NMR says:

    Interesting.

    Looks like he’s one of the hottest hitting Indians right now. Might be as simple as that, although it rarely is with these guys(FO).

  241. Milo Hamilton says:

    Joe Garagiola used to say that a slump was like the common cold. No matter what you do it lasts 2 weeks.

  242. NMR says:

    *crosses fingers*

  243. Milo Hamilton says:

    And toes.

  244. Dom says:

    Is Wandy going to be able to make his next start? I assume that is the reason they’re demoting Irwin. Well, that and b/c he didn’t play so well.

  245. 21sthebest says:

    Not sounding good.

  246. JHadar says:

    I don’t know anything for sure, but I think that the level of coaching would have been better and he would be hitting against pitchers doing their best to strike him out.

  247. JohninOshkosh says:

    dear God…

  248. Iceman says:

    Really enjoyed the column today. I don’t often read the baseball columns, but I have been very intrigued by Marte and wanted to hear what he and DK said. If this kid doesn’t allow the Pirates to ruin him, he is going to be phenomenal.

    It was great to hear Marte talking about having fun because it is a game. I know the “game” is their livelihood, but it was great to hear Marte remembering that it should still be fun. It was also great to see the Pirates having fun again. It was when they were having fun last year that they were successful and it seems to be working again this year. Good for Cutch going out there and reminding the rest of the team that it should be fun by bringing back the “Z”.

    I know that one game can’t change everything, but I wonder if the Fort hasn’t played himself into some extra games. Compare his hitting to Martin so far and it isn’t even in the same ballpark. I’m not saying to take away Martin’s starting position, but let’s give McHenry more chances to show his upside.

  249. Bizrow says:

    This looks really bad

  250. 21sthebest says:

    +1

  251. Vette60 says:

    Geez…awful to hear…sketchy details now, but not good.

    R.

  252. 21sthebest says:

    Fox reporting at least 3 have died.

  253. Naje says:

    “If this kid doesn’t allow the Pirates to ruin him…”

    Really???

    The team that signed him, trained him and put in a ton of hours in his development is now going to ruin him.

    Only in Pittsburgh.

  254. JHadar says:

    I had a cold this winter that hung on for six weeks.

  255. Dom says:

    This is a horrendous situation. I ran the “Great Race” a few years back and was trying to do so again but I can’t help to feel uneasy about it now.

  256. Bizrow says:

    “Widespread casualties” and a report of another bomb that did not go off.

    Folks, we’ve been here far, far too often anymore.

    Something has to stop

  257. Bizrow says:

    Make that widespread injuries, sorry for that mistake

  258. Iceman says:

    I credit Rene Gayo for signing him, training him, and developing him. Problem is Gayo is not in Pittsburgh.

    And forgive me for having some concern since I was practically too young to remember winning baseball in Pittsburgh. I have every right to be cautious and concerned regarding all baseball operations. You say, “Only in Pittsburgh,” and I’ll say, “Show me another professional sports team that has shown this knack for losing.”

  259. 21sthebest says:

    Pennsylvania Ave. in D.C. has been closed down.

  260. Dom says:

    In his defense, I can’t help but to feel the Pirates rushed Pedro through the system. Who knows what type of player he would be if he was not hurried through A and AA.

  261. 21sthebest says:

    Boston Police Department tweeted 2 deaths and 22 injuries.

  262. NMR says:

    You’re kidding, right?

    Since when did Rene Gayo coach?

  263. Iceman says:

    That was poor wording on my part and I apologize. Good for calling me out. I would say that Gayo oversaw his development while he was still in the Dominican. He didn’t actually do the training or development himself.

  264. Bizrow says:

    Supposedly the decision to call him up to the bigs was made above NH’s head.

    “Only in Pittsburgh”

    This FO deserves and earns all the grief they get

    Just sayin….

  265. NMR says:

    No need to apologize. I get your drift now. Gayo does seem to have been a strong force in his early career.

    And I do agree with you that the Pirates track record of development has been less than stellar, but at some point you gotta give credit where its due.

    Marte has been in the States since 2009. The current management staff gets credit for his development, whether he’s the next Clemente or just another talented player who could never reach his potential.

  266. NMR says:

    Even when its made up?

    Don’t worry, I know the answer.

  267. Naje says:

    Iceman…
    Just take a little time before indicting an entire organization for one player’s success. Success.

    Marte was in the minors, in the United States, in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

  268. 21sthebest says:

    Before 2012, if somebody had said you have a choice of letting Pedro play in the minors or 30 homeruns and 85 ribbies in the majors, which would you take?

  269. Iceman says:

    I will absolutely give them credit if Marte continues to develop. I want the Pirates to be better and I want to stop expecting them to fail, but I enter into every bit of excitement with concern and expectations for things to go down hill (whether it is a weekend sweep or a young player playing outstanding). I admit that this may not be fair to the current roster, but until things turn around, I will continue to be very cautious in my fandom.

  270. NMR says:

    Understood. I think there’s a bit of that in all of us.

  271. Naje says:

    Only in Pittsburgh is a reference to any of the following: (PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that these are generalities and just for fun…not wanting to debate a list of other examples that may prove or disprove the listings)

    –Always blaming management… after all, Pittsburgh didn’t become Pittsburgh without unions and the DNA for blaming management historically runs very deep and into the fabric of the culture.
    –Jumping immediately to the most negative scenario you can think of in light of failure or success by any player or coach or gm or president or owner.
    –If player has a bad game, blame others, mostly coaches…always.
    –If player has a bad season or part of a season, blame front office for not getting the right players and then blame the coaches for not being able to work miracles because player can’t play very well.
    –If player or team has a bad series in the playoffs, blame coaches (that’s for HCDB…and it’s actually, for the most part, true).
    –Always protect your starting quarterback, unless his last name is Sunseri.
    –When in doubt, always refer to the top reference.

  272. Arriba Wilver says:

    I don’t know if they rushed him or not, but Neal Huntington made it very clear at Piratefest before the 2011 season that HE thought they brought Pedro up too soon in 2010. I know, I know, he had a torrid September, but that was my interpretation of Neal’s comments.

  273. Dom says:

    I wasn’t blaming NH in particular and promoting him to the majors wasn’t the only issue. He really seemed rushed through Advanced A and AA. I’m no expert but I really don’t understand why he was promoted to Altoona when he didn’t even have a .250 batting average in A ball.

  274. Dom says:

    Again, promoting Pedro to the majors from AAA wasn’t necessarily the issue. I think he should have spent his entire first year after college in A ball.

  275. Dom says:

    Good Post. I was not aware of that.

  276. Iceman says:

    Fair enough. Just to give you my insight regarding your thoughts:

    - As far as the Pirates go, I blame everyone for the losing. There is a culture of losing in that organization from ownership down through the minor leagues. I think the Management team is at fault for much of it, but the players and coaches aren’t off the hook either.
    - I will continue to jump to the most negative situation regarding the Pirates because the negative scenario is all I’ve known with them. They need to earn the trust of younger fans like me because we’ve never seen a winning organization.
    - This irks me about Y’inzers as well. Sometimes a bad game is just a bad game.
    - See above.
    - This has bugged me a ton about people calling for DB’s head. Some of the collapse is his fault, but some of that falls on players as well. Especially those who are supposed to be the locker room leaders. That being said, look at the tenure of coaches in the Pens and Steelers organizations. This is abnormal for both of their respective leagues (NHL especially).
    - Don’t know if I agree here. Not many people were really wanting to protect Kordell or Tommy Maddox or Neil O’Donnell post Super Bowl meltdown. I know they are a different caliber from Ben/Bradshaw, but they were starting quarterbacks nonetheless.

  277. Thundercrack says:

    I think NH has said that they rushed Pedro and Marte.

    And when they finally promote Cole, he will probably say the same thing.

  278. 21sthebest says:

    The only thing I didn’t like was promoting him to the Majors in the middle of a slump in Triple A.

  279. 21sthebest says:

    They clearly rushed Phil Irwin.

  280. NMR says:

    Oh good gravy. This already? After one start?

  281. 21sthebest says:

    You didn’t disappoint me. Where are you getting that? I said “surprised.” I was just surprised that after 12 games one would expect to get a firm feel of a baseball team.

  282. 21sthebest says:

    Joking!!!!

  283. JHadar says:

    I think a lot of it comes from not following other teams — especially what their fans say about them.

    I caught a few minutes of a Cubs call-in show the other night — made the negativity here seem like sunshine and roses.

  284. NMR says:

    That’s not allowed here. Serious business!

  285. Cobra38 says:

    This is a very deep draft for wide receivers and the Steelers have a fairly large need to bring in not only a guy who can help this year, but one who would be the number two if Sanders leaves via free agency next year.

 
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