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Monday Wakeup Call: A homestand that leads to … ?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, lunatics …

IMG_1172

>> The Monday column visits the Pirates one final time before a really long road trip. And by the time they come back, the Stanley Cup playoffs will have begun, so this might be the last one in a long while.

Up top is a pic I snapped of the first pitch yesterday, something I do with every sporting event I cover on my Instagram account, as well as Twitter and Facebook.

Here’s video of a couple Qs I had for Neal Huntington yesterday …

And a couple I had for an especially uplifted Jared Hughes after his huge K …

>> Full coverage of the homestand finale from PNC Park by our Rob Biertempfel.

>> I linked to the Sunday column on Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow on here yesterday, and I want to share some terrific material that shared that section: Columnist Joe Starkey visits with Jack Riley, the wonderful 93-year-old patriarch of the original Penguins. … the critical nature of the Steelers’ draft this week, by Alan Robinson … a sabermetric look at Starling Marte’s plate discipline, by David Golebiewski … increasing black presence in Major League Baseball, by Biertempfel.

>> CSI: Ottawa apparently won’t have concluded its investigation into Matt Cooke’s stepping onto Erik Karlsson’s ankle in time for faceoff tonight in Canada’s capital.

The world waits.

>> Don’t forget: If you held tickets for the originally scheduled Penguins-Sabres game Saturday night, those same tickets will work for the makeup tomorrow.

>> Wonderful stuff here on MiLB.com about Miguel Sano getting tossed from a Class A game and Doug Mientkiewicz rushing to his defense.

>> I’ll visit with TribLIVE Radio today at 11:30 to talk, talk, talk with Ken Laird and Guy Junker. My regular radio show is tomorrow, and my special guest will be the Pirates’ Tony Watson.

I’ll also pay a visit today to Steelers HQ for the annual pre-draft news conference with Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin. That’s set to start at noon.

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. diehard says:

    Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk calls Chris Neil (123 PIM – 2nd in the league) a skill player, but Matt Cooke (who has had 3 seasons over 100 – including the dreadful 2010-11 season with 129) is a goon who should be banned from the league?

    Um, OK.

  2. Nice column, DK. The fan is me says, “stop raining on the parade.” The realist in me says, “you’re spot on.”

  3. Ghost says:

    Another rewrite of “Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain.”

    First we’ll use 34
    then we’ll use 51
    Then three off days
    saved by Gilli or Melancon
    Back will come 34
    followed by 51
    And followed
    we hope
    by a bullpen not come undone.

  4. Ghost says:

    The realist in me says the same. The BMT…those guys — is possibly making some better decisions this season, though. But the glaring lack of pitching rotation depth, bench depth, and organizational depth is going to take a while to rectify. Still not at all confident those guys are the ones to do it. We shall see.

  5. JRay3 says:

    Very fair column on the Pirates both today and peeking at future outlook @DK. I enjoyed the commentary and probing of NH.

    It was asked earlier is this team/start sustainable. I believe it is for a couple of reasons. Firstly I thought before the start of the season this was the most formidable lineup the Bucs have put out there in the past decade. Cutch, Alvarez, Walker , Jones all a year older and a very good middle of the lineup. Marte, a surprising Snider who has not yet fully realized his talent potential and a more committed better attitude Tabata gives a decent top of the lineup. Martin is a big upgrade over Barajas, the Yanks hated seeing him go, so improvement there. Barmes is Barmes take what he gives you offensively like today and be thankful for his glove.

    The bullpen appears to be a strength. Grilli was exceptional a year ago and does not looked fazed in the 9th, Melancon looks as if he could recapture his past closer type prowess himself. Hard throwers abound with Wilson, Hughes and Morris when recalled and each have miss the bat capability. Give this team a lead late and I’d say the odds are favorable to close out games.

    Which leaves us the rotation. AJ and Wandy are just what you want at the top, experience, great stuff, true pitchers who know how to pitch and give you a chance to win. The rest hold your breath. JMac shows flashes but who knows, Locke has done it in the minors so now is the time to see if it translates at this level and Sanchez just has to go NOW.

    All in all the team has improved in lineup, defense, and bullpen in my estimation and rotation is probably even to last year as Wandy only had 8 or so starts on the ’12 team. If management makes a move or a surprise arm emerges who knows but there are signs that another step forward from 79 wins a year ago is feasible.

    The Brewers, Mets, Mariners, Astros, and Cubs litter the May schedule seems like a great opportunity to for team to make some more early season noise and put pressure on management. I plan on enjoying the ride.

  6. Eric Bowser says:

    I’d rather see Sanchez moved to the bullpen and Wilson take his spot until Liriano is ready and then kick Sanchez to the curb.

  7. JRay3 says:

    Wanted to add one more quick tidbit. Reading the Hughes quote in the Monday column, reminded me of hearing a conversation he was having with some folks before a game last August in San Diego.

    Hughes was talking with some people he knew and some othe Bucs fans in attendance and was asked what were his plans after season and would he be partaking in a certain baseball camp. His response was he hoped so and that after playing in the World Series he planned on taking maybe a week off.

    My thoughts back than were that you have to admire his mindset, you have to believe it, you have to have that swagger and confidence, he obviously does.

    His quote about team’s having it tough having to play the Pirates just another excellent example of that.

    DK: Both posts terrific, JR. Thanks!

  8. Baywatch says:

    Good points in your column, DK. A good dose of reality is what we ALL need! I mean it’s sorta like the Braves starting out the way they did, Maholm starting out the way he did. It’s just the third week of the season! It’s as inevitable that the Pirates’ weaknesses are going to bite them at some point as it was that the Braves were going to lose 3 out 4 and Maholm was going to give up a run AND get beat!

    I do wonder this, though: Have their been teams in the modern era that have won with only two good starters and two good relievers? It’s AWFULLY early. WHY am I asking goofy questions like that!

  9. Ghost says:

    “Have there been teams in the modern era that have won with only two good starters and two good relievers?”

    The 2001 Diamondbacks won the whole enchilada with just two good starters and… their *one* decent reliever, Byung-Hyun Kim, bombing in the WS. In game seven, Randy Johnson actually had to come in and play reliever in game seven, the night after pitching seven inning in Game 6.

  10. Stuart says:

    Hey, what was the name of that reliever the BUCS traded for Travis Snider? What ever happened to him?

    Stuart

  11. Ghost says:

    THE Byung-Hyun Kim. Don’t know what Neal was thinking (do we ever?), but he had to pay Kim $300K to go away after one month back in the spring of ’08.

  12. Chris says:

    I know last year’s Pirates team didn’t end up very well… but the bullpen was great for most of the season with essentially “two good relievers” + Watson/Hughes. The Pirates still have that. Plus Justin Wilson and Bryan Morris are looking like quality relievers.

  13. Chris says:

    I am admittedly an optimist… but I expect good things from Charlie Morton once he returns. He said that in 2012 he avoided throwing his sinker and curveball because they hurt too much to throw. On top of that he had lost some velocity. Reports are in his rehab stints he has been throwing in the mid 90′s. If he can throw his sinker and curveball anything like he used to be able to throw them, then maybe he can pitch like he did in 2011.

    DK: That’s why I always stress — not just with Morton’s case but with anyone — that Tommy John is unpredictable in its recovery period. That’s PERIOD. The recovery prognosis in general has reached the point of being excellent. But the timetable varies because different people react different ways.

    Counting on Morton in any capacity in 2013 seems unfair.

  14. tomp says:

    Nothing earth-shattering with the two riveting questions asked of NH.

    Seriously, you had to ask about the relievers, to draw your own conclusion?

    Nothing like throwing softball questions at the guy, pretty much after ripping him a new one on a daily basis, more frequently after a loss.

    Trust me, i would have like nothing more than Huntington removed after the season was finished in 2012.
    No questions about the probable, impending debut of Brandon Inge in a Pirates uniform in the next few days?

    No questions about the leash around the neck of Jonathan Sanchez, and who would get the first shot at his gig?

    Like I said, lots of softball tossing between NH and DK, which to me was the latest version of “the pen is mightier than the sword.”

    DK: Well, yeah, either that or I asked about what I actually was writing about. That’s kind of the point. If I were writing about Inge, I’d have asked about Inge. The column was about the lack of starting depth and what the Pirates are or could be doing to address it. And what I needed to confirm was that the bullpen was being constructed a certain way to account for that. You see the exchange that followed.

    Never ceases to amaze me the number of people who think that press conferences are supposed to be these dramatic finger-wagging sessions. We ask questions. They give answers. That’s it.

  15. Ghost says:

    Before I turn in, I realized I needed to clarify that in no way did I intend my above post on the 2001 Diamondbacks to be a counterpoint to the Monday column. What Johnson and Schilling did 12 years ago will probably stand alone in the annuls of baseball for a time that will, at least, outlast me. Our Pirates, alas, face a bleak summer unless some unexpected help — help that comes in the form of more than just one or two arms — arrives in the nick of time. Short of that, ERAs will plump, Jared Hughes will start avoiding DK, and Dr. James Andrews calendar in August will read like the roll call for our bullpen.

    DK: Thought it was a great point, at least in the context of playoffs. The way Bob Brenly lined up those two all through the postseason on short rest was remarkable.

    But over 162 games, and not having two living legends?

  16. Ghost says:

    Then when the recorders stop recording, you pinch his cheeks, he chases you around the club house, you two reverse directions, multiple times, until one of you catches the other and yanks him a wedgie. This plays out daily. The players and clubhouse attendants have grown used to it.

  17. tomp says:

    Just seems a face to face with NH, and your questions focus on a long relief pitcher in Gomez, and another guy not currently on the team?

    Just saying, I would have liked to hear NH’s answers, to some more relevant questions. Like, for instance, on how the makeup of the bench may change in the next week, and how much longer can you keep the current #4 starter, if he can’t give you more than 3 innings a pop?

    Whatever!!

    DK: So you would have written a different column, then, as well as asking different questions.

    I respect that, but I wrote the column I wanted, asked the questions I wanted. No one will ever fully agree with every topic or every viewpoint, obviously.

  18. Brandie says:

    DK and Everyone,

    Good Morning. First of all, I went to bed last night only to get up to find the blog landscape has been changed a bit. It is a lesson to me to be careful in what I post. If there has been anything I have said that has been annoying or out of line, I apologize.

    Second, I read the column. No, I do not think you are “that guy” by honoring your craft and offering spot on analysis of the Buccos and their situation. In Jonathan Sanchez, you have an often injured pitcher who has exhibited control problems for the last three years. Sure, the price was right, but there is not enough “bang for the buck”. Even with all the chicken wire, gumbands, glue and tape, McDonald, Sanchez, and Locke are “who we thought they were.”

    So, I say be proud of the wins gutted out by the crew because they do build the foundation for success, but this team is not put together for offensive explosions and will often have to be the grinders of their division. An unstable pitching rotation is going to make offensive success much harder to come by.

    Once again, DK, thank you for allowing me the privilege to post. Excellent work.

    DK: Thanks, Brandie, but I’ll reiterate here there’s no lesson to be learned, no precedent being set. None. This was one poster, one problem. And as you can already see in this very thread, annoying me is still eminently fair game. :)

    Oh, and a golden Dennis Green reference there.

  19. Drew71 says:

    “And as you can already see in this very thread, annoying me is still eminently fair game.”

    What are you TALKING about? I haven’t even posted yet.

    And by the way, Dejan. Your “no precedent” comment…that’s Number 24.

    Careful.

    There are limits.

  20. Drew71 says:

    Eminently.

  21. Drew71 says:

    Yes. Save the finger-wagging for the bl…

    nevermind.

    too easy.

  22. JoeyBats says:

    Hoka Hey everyone!
    .
    PROSPECT REPORT:
    Reviewing organizational depth @ SS….if you are looking to find successors for Clint(“the RBI machine” – 2 yesterday!) Barmes … :-( and the owner of a stellar Batting Average of .130 and John McDonald batting .083. Here’s how the farm prospects are doing so far:
    .
    Jordy Mercer at Indy:
    Batting Average is .323 ….with 1 HR 8 RBI in 17 games. He has a .411 OBP ….10K’s and 10 BB’s …2 stolen bases……. 2 errors.
    .
    Gift Ngope at Double A Altoona:
    Batting Avg. is .130 …..with 1 HR 4 RBI in 16 games. He has a .208 OBP … 19 K’s and 4 BB’s …..1 stolen base…….1 error.
    .
    Alen Hanson at Class A Bradenton:
    Batting Avg. is .242 …. 2 3B (0 HR) 5 RBI in 14 games. He has a .309 OBP…..16K’s and 6 BB’s …..5 stolen bases……BAD NEWS ==> 12 errors. :-(

  23. kr70 says:

    Ghost I started Spahn and Sain remakes but I have to say you have taken it to a whole new level. +1

  24. kr70 says:

    I guess after DK’s article we want to know…Will the real Pittsburgh Pirates please stand up.
    One homestand does not a season make but just think what we would be writing if they had bee 2-7.

  25. Dave G says:

    What a great weekend for Pittsburgh sports teams.

    Gotta say I’m impressed with the Bucs and what they did over this homestand. 7-2 against some serious contenders.

    And what the Pens are doing (all season, really) is incredible. A Pens-Blackhawks Stanley Cup final would be colossal.

    And it’s nice to be able to comment here without the burden of some ‘snide’ retort. (No further references necessary.)

    Thanks, DK, for all you do!

    Have a great Monday everyone!

  26. Thundercrack says:

    thanks for saving me the typing.

    :-)

  27. Thundercrack says:

    ‘those guys have to play us’. What a great line by Jared Hughes.

    Has anyone asked Hurdle about using Melancon on Friday night? I know it was 6-0 but I don’t care. I want wins….and so does Clint.

    Plus, with that Braves’ lineup 6-0 can become 6-4 very easily.

  28. Jandy says:

    Checking in now….have a huge bid to help with so I’ll be scare today.

    Dejan, your columns are awesome. Thanks for the work you do, even if you enjoy it.

    Pirates…what can ya say? How much fun have we been having? These guys have been busting tail. I sure hope the pitching gets some help before it starts to come undone.

    Pens at Ottawa tonight. It’s on! Do we have the intestinal fortitude to play disciplinec hockey? Has the Garage League warned both teams yet?
    I’ll be glued to the television set.

    Happy Monday to all and to all a good day.

  29. Jandy says:

    Good luck with the interview, Brandie :)

  30. Drew71 says:

    Ditto

  31. The Gunner says:

    I agree with you about removing Jonathan Sanchez from the rotation. The Bucs dodged a bullet yesterday despite his poor performance. Eric Bowser has the right idea, give Justin Wilson an opportunity to start instead of Sanchez. The chances for a “W” will certainly increase!!!

  32. JAL says:

    JAL’s Standing in the Rain Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaGQIyhH6e0

    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: These Pirates Are Good, But…

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/first-pitch-these-pirates-are-good-but.html

    Prospect Watch: Bell Has a Big Day at the Plate, Cole Struggles With Control

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/prospect-watch-bell-has-a-big-day-at-the-plate-cole-struggles-with-control.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates win 4-2, take 3 of 4 from Braves

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/4/21/4250384/pirates-defeat-the-braves-4-2-take-three-games-from-the-atlanta-braves

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 18: Pirates 4 Braves 2

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/april-2013/game-18-pirates-4-braves-2.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Take Series With 4-2 Win

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/04/bucs-take-series-with-4-2-win.html

    9 Rumbunter

    The Neal Huntington Show Recap

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/04/21/the-neal-huntington-show-recap/

    Unless Changes Made Pittsburgh Pirates Bubble Bound To Burst

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/04/21/unless-changes-made-pittsburgh-pirates-bubble-bound-to-burst/?utm_source=FanSided&utm_medium=Network&utm_campaign=Hot%2BTopics

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 4, Braves 2

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/04/pirates-4-braves-2/

  33. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Rant Sports

    Clint Barmes Shouldn’t Start For Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/04/21/clint-barmes-shouldnt-start-for-pittsburgh-pirates/

    12 Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Braves quotes after Sunday’s loss to Pirates

    om/news/sports/baseball/braves-quotes-after-sundays-loss-to-pirates/nXSSZ/

    13Charleston Gazette Mail

    Bell leads Power past Suns 11-2

    http://www.wvgazette.com/Sports/201304210181

    14 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates win series from Braves with 4-2 victory

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/04/21/pittsburgh-pirates-win-series-from-braves-with-4-2-victory/?utm_source=FanSided&utm_medium=Network&utm_campaign=Hot%2BTopics

    15 Talking Chop

    Braves Squander Opportunities, Lose Third In A Row To Pirates

    http://www.talkingchop.com/2013/4/21/4249884/braves-squander-opportunities-lose-third-in-a-row-to-pirates

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates-Phillies Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130422_PIT@PHI/piratesphillies-preview

    17 Sweetspot

    Weekend wrap: Angels OK, Tigers overrated

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/35058/weekend-wrap-los-angeles-angels-ok-detroit-tigers-overrated

    18 PBC Site

    Barmes, brilliant bullpen lead Bucs by Braves

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_04_21_atlmlb_pitmlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Grilli, Melancon forming formidable duo

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130421&content_id=45321368&notebook_id=45322474&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20306

    20 Fangraphs

    CC Sabathia and Pitching to the Score

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/cc-sabathia-and-pitching-to-the-score/

  34. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    NFL Draft Trade Value Chart

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/4/21/4248456/nfl-trade-value-chart-jimmy-johnson-draft-points

    Steelers Draft Countdown: Revisiting the class of 2008

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/4/21/4248364/steelers-draft-history-2008

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Mike Mayock NFL Draft Conference Call

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/04/mike-mayock-nfl-draft-conference-call-thursday-april-18/

    Soccer(football) Will T

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Liverpool striker Luis Suarez in new controversy after he appears to bite Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/liverpool/10008855/Liverpool-striker-Luis-Suarez-in-new-controversy-after-he-appears-to-bite-Chelsea-defender-Branislav-Ivanovic.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 19th April, 2013

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

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Ray Shero chides Jack Edwards

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/4/21/4249486/ray-shero-chides-jack-edwards

  35. JAL says:

    Standing in the Rain ELO 1977 ELO holds the record for most top 40 hits by a band without having a number 1 hit. Their highest charting single was Don’t Bring Me Down, 1979

  36. SJB says:

    The Sens are playing for something tonight and the Pens aren’t, that combined with what I’m sure is some kind of bounty on Cooke’s (or any Penguins) head from that insane owner is reason enough for Cooke or anyone else who can sit tonight to do so. The Pens need to dress Engelland, MacIntyre, Jeffrey and anyone else they want to get some ice time and take as many potential targets off the ice as they can.

    Let the Sens release their inner-goon tonight and hopefully that and a win will appease them enough, or if not, we can see them in the playoffs and take advantage of their unfocused and unjustified thirst for revenge and bounce them in 4 games.

    That said, Crosby and Malkin need to get back for Tuesdays game. Regardless of how well they are playing now, thinking they can just drop 3 or 4 players back into the mix at the start of the playoffs is asking for nothing but trouble. In fact, if they feel the need to not play them until the playoffs, then bring one in at a time slowly (even every other game) as the games progress. I’d rather go with the lineup they have now, than a drastically altered one in game 1, no matter who’s coming back.

  37. BillyBaduka says:

    I’m going to the Pirates – Phillies game tonight.

    Hope the Pirates win and hope I don’t take too much flak for my mustard Pirates cap. Best uniforms and caps. I’m biased because I had one of these uniforms as a little kid and many photos with the mustard cap in the family albums. All of my cousins had the cap too. I was so glad they brought these back.

    Let’s go Bucs!

  38. NMR says:

    If it is that simple, then why not pitch Grilli as well?

    It was a senseless move.

  39. JD says:

    How many hits did they have? Good band.

  40. Dadtackular says:

    I love the Sunday home uniforms too!

  41. Patrick says:

    That’s nothing new in Ottawa really. They have had at least a half dozen Chris Neils ovcer the last decade. Jarkko Ruutu is another name that jumps out. Melnyk can cry all he wants. Everyone else, EVERYONE ELSE, in the NHL that knows the faintest thing about hockey knows he is completely full of it.

  42. Enjoyable column. Wish I didn’t agree so much, but I do.

  43. Originak Ether says:

    Since I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else, there’s another baseball team in town that’s been doing well and has gotten little publicity.

    Pitt’s baseball team – ranked #25 – completed a 3-game sweep of Rutgers this week to improve to 29-10 overall with a 9-3 Big East mark, good currently for 2nd place.

    They host Cincinnati this weekend.

    Interesting stat I read elsewhere is that they are currently the highest ranked team located north of the Mason-Dixon line.

  44. Patrick says:

    And not to totally discount AJ or Wandy as professionals or diminish what they have done so far this season, but Johnson and Schilling in 2001 were far more capable and accomplished than AJ and Wandy of 2013.

    They have done reaallly reaaaallly well so far. No arguing that. Its unrealistic to expect they continue.

  45. Brad Lincoln. In AAA for Toronto and not pitching well.

  46. NMR says:

    Sharpen that pencil, Jandy. Second lowest bidder doesn’t get any prizes!

  47. SJB says:

    The best thing to see with over a week left in the NHL regular season.

    1. z – Pittsburgh
    2.
    3.
    4.
    5.
    6.
    7.
    8.
    9.
    10
    11.
    12. e – Philadelphia

    z – Clinched Best Record in Conference
    e- Eliminated from Playoff Contention

  48. TJ says:

    Pirates bullpen has the 2nd best ERA; I think Hurdle knows what he is doing. He’s pushed all the right buttons so far this season. People can’t be happy with a 6-0 win; gotta find something I guess. Maybe Clint is a true baseball fan and understood the Pirates had a chance to complete the game facing only 27 batters something that has only been done twice before in the teams history.

    Sometimes you have to take these types of accomplishments and say hey look at what you just went out and did; something only done 3 times in the teams history; only 50 some times in MLB history.

  49. Nancy52 says:

    DK, last night you tweeted for folks to let you know how they
    feel about the Bucs after this homestand.

    My answer which rattled around the noggin is pleasantly
    surprised BUT wondering where they can go with less than
    half a starting rotation. And there your column is ….touching
    on that very same notion.

  50. JMB says:

    As the PP article says, “No matter how good the Pirates look this year, the collapses from the last two years make it impossible to believe in them.”

    So I say, “Meh!”

    Until Sept. 1st…

  51. TJ says:

    Opening line should be Vitale, Glass, Macintyre with Bortuzzo and Engelland. If the Sens want to go then drop the gloves; if not then play hockey.

  52. JAL says:

    27 top 40 hits

  53. Bizrow says:

    Thirded

  54. Bizrow says:

    + 1

  55. Patrick says:

    Im no journalist, by any means, but you cant simply interrogate a guy and drill him about everything wrong every time you see him. It gets old. NH has to make himself to the media, but he can pick and choose just who “the media” consists of. If DK, or anyone else, makes it a habit to work him over about the rotation, AFTER A WIN even, the likelihood of further one-on-one’s drops considerably.

    There’s a time and a place to grill the GM about his rotation and problems. 30 minutes after a gutsy performance against a division leader that caps a 3 out of four from a division leader probably isn’t thew best time to go all ‘deep throat’ on a guy….

  56. JAL says:

    John Lannan out for at least a start so who do Phils have to start tonight–a AAA pitchers who so far this season has 2 starts, 9 innings, 15 hits, 10 runs. Admittedly he had a good year last season between AA and AAA but the point is MLB teams rarely have deep depth in starting pitchers.

  57. Thundercrack says:

    We’re not even 20 games into the season and we’re worried about pitchers being tired.

    There is no second half collapse to worry about if you don’t win games in the first half.

    I trust Clint.

  58. Patrick says:

    I know that sounds like the thing to do, but it simply isn’t professional, and Mario and Burkle wouldn’t go for it. DB isn’t that kind of coach either.

    Besides making a line like that to start a game is asking for it. A starting line like that gets a organization fined. Remember the debacle of long island against the Islanders of 2011? The coaches will talk before the game about who they are going to start, like they always do. Macintyre will dress if, and only if, there is a need for him to.

  59. Patrick says:

    Dejan asks questions
    The answers are good or bad
    The Flyers still suck

  60. SJB says:

    I agree. I’ll be watching and rooting, but to coin a phrase that’s become popular recently, I won’t go “all in” again until this team proves it is worth it’s weight in sunflower seeds come mid-September. I won’t even use August as a barometer anymore since that’s still plenty of time for the air to leave the balloon and excuse me if I’m apprehensive.

    I also want to see a meaningful, high-profile addition made at the trade deadline if they are contending at the time that has win now written on it, instead of years of control.

  61. NMR says:

    At the risk of sounding like the wild optomist of the bunch, my response to Dejan’s column is this: don’t make the same mistake for the third time.

    Coming into the year, some people said that the corner outfield spots HAD to be weaknesses. Even though talented options were present (Marte, Snider, Tabata, Sands, Presley, etc) each had their warts. They chose to focus on what those players lacked, not what they added.

    Coming into the year, some people said that the bullpen HAD to be worse without Hanrahan. Even though the 2013 version had better arms overall, many weren’t “proven”. Once again, people focused on the negative and overlooked the positive.

    You don’t have to squint hard at all to see the same thing happening with the rotation replacements.

    You can choose to focus on how long other itchers take to return to form after Tommy John surgery, or you can see the Charlie Morton already has his pre-surgery stuff back. The same sinker-curveball combo that made him a breakout pitcher in early 2011.

    You can choose to focus on Gerrit Coles early season AAA stats, or you can remember that he’s still one of the top 3 right handed prospects in all of baseball.

    You can choose to focus on Jeff Karstens being injured right now, or you can remember that many said even 100 innings of Jeff Karstens is worth having around.

    Throw in Liriano, McPherson, and the trade deadline. Is it really THAT hard to imagine two legit starting pitchers coming out of that bunch?

  62. NMR says:

    Exactly.

    Still waiting on where all these teams hide legit major league proven starting pitching on their rosters.

  63. Bizrow says:

    Hope but expect, as it were

  64. JHadar says:

    I don’t think this is a 9-3 team, but I didn’t think it was a 1-5 team either. Streaks go both ways and 10-8 seems ok. We’re half a length behind in a 4-way horse race (were leading the game that got rained out which would keep us tied), and 18 games into the season all of our starting eight have got their batting averages over .100.

    I appreciate the dose of reality even though I was well aware of how improbable the past couple of weeks have been. Cincinnati keeps winning. Milwaukee’s won seven straight, too.

    Morton, Karstens, Liriano? Pick two (the right two, please) and the starters get better — not dominant, but enough to stay in it??? Depends, I guess, on who and how many if any can find their stuff?

    In the meantime the Phillies are calling up a guy who’s been struggling in the minors for tonight’s game. (Sound familiar?) Maybe it will keep us going a little while longer. We need to get to May… and if we get there, we’ll need to get to June.

    Looks like the guys on the field are playing for this year while (can I say it on this thread?) management is playing for next year.

    It may not be perfect, but it’s enough to keep an old fan interested for another year.

  65. hockeymonster says:

    Its about time we start using the words “Dupuis” and “Selke” in the same sentence…

  66. NMR says:

    Since when was Clint Hurdle an authority on proper bullpen management?

    The point is that this whole bullpen situation isn’t about one inning or one game or one month.

    Nobody is worried about the bullpen being overworked right NOW because of the starting pitching, they’re worried about those innings adding up down the road.

    Seems only fair to question throwing one of the pitchers you’re trying to protect in a situation which is not necessary.

  67. JMB says:

    It’s early, but wouldnt “the same mistake for the third time” be believing that this team is for real?

    In 2011, some people said this team was the real deal.

    In 2012, some people said that a 2nd consecutive collapse was impossible. A certain columnist even said 82 wins was a lock.

  68. JAL says:

    That is why number 5 starters have an ERA over 6 on average.

  69. Thundercrack says:

    Who says they are trying to protect Melancon , here in April?

  70. TJ says:

    I honestly don’t have a problem with the OF’s. Between the corner outfield and 1B spot the guys that play those positions should just be called the platoon. It seems thus far that they want to play the percentages and if you can’t find one guy who can hit LH and RH then find a quality platoon.

    As for Cole I said it last night and I’ll say it again. We are not at the games to see what Cole is throwing. For all we know he’s throwing 80 breaking balls a game because thats what they want him working on; or 80 fastballs to get better command. Its way to early in the season for young pitchers in the minors to be worried about stats.

    Its hard to get excited about the trade deadline. Nutting made it extremely clear that the team you have on the field is the team you’ll have at the trade deadline. Unless that was posturing to let his guys know that this is the team and you have to rely on each other. But there are going to be quite a few teams seeking starting pitching; an depending on the record the Pirates could have a couple good ones to deal if they are south of the .500 mark at that point.

  71. Thundercrack says:

    Guys like that usually do damage to the Bucs.
    But this year seems a bit different….so far.

    I posted last weekend that Phil Irwin is usually the guy that would throw a 5 hit shutout- against the Pirates

  72. Arriba Wilver says:

    Last time the Pirates had a 7-2 home stand was September of 2010. Yes, that 2010.

  73. Thundercrack says:

    I can’t believe that wasn’t enough to save JR’s job.

    :-)

  74. Mike says:

    With Cooke being a free agent after this year perhaps Melnyk can overpay for him in free agency and then have the coaching staff banish him to the minor leagues a la Wade Redden? I mean that’s the same level of foolishness as suggesting that a guy cut someone on purpose while looking the other way and was so precise in doing so that he cut his achilles in the process. Let’s talk about something way more important like the lines in the playoffs if everyone is healthy:

    Kunitz Crosby Dupuis
    Neal Malkin Iggy
    Morrow Sutter Bennett
    Cooke Adams Jokinen

    Orpik Martin
    Letang Eaton
    Murray Niskanen

    That would mean Kennedy, Glass, Vitale, Engo, Despres all would be scratched. That’s unfathomable how good of a team this is on paper.

  75. NMR says:

    Never argued that this team is “for real”, JMB. I don’t believe they are.

    Just like I didn’t believe they were last year or in 2011.

  76. Brotherhood of the Redus says:

    Great point. 27 up 27 down….not going for it is the senselessness – sorry NMR, normally on the same page as you but you throw the best of the kitchen sink at that accomplishment and don’t just hope for the best but go out and get it.

    To do that to an offensively capable team such as the Braves makes it that much more special.

    Anyone hear Hurdle talk about confidence yesterday? Confidence NMR – they grabbed a little more Friday night. When they struggle again this year, and they will, that little tidbit might be what they need to snap out of it.

  77. Milo Hamilton says:

    Saw this sign by the side of the road yesterday.

    Thursday May 16th
    The Palace Theater in Greensburg
    2 PM & 8 PM

    Vicki Lawrence as Mama

    DK: You did not.

  78. TJ says:

    Kind of hard to imagine Jokinen on the 4th line the way he’s played but not room for everyone unless perhaps Sutter gets dropped down to 4th line center. Jokinen seems to offer more offense to the line with Morrow and Bennett.

  79. TJ says:

    Times are tough

  80. Brotherhood of the Redus says:

    And it was necessary – they had a shot at finishing something quite impressive. You throw your best in that situation.

  81. NMR says:

    I read the trade deadline comments to be talking about payroll, TJ. The last two years the team has taken on “significant”(by their standards) amounts of money at the deadline. Doesn’t sound like that will be the case this year.

    But does that mean NO additions are possible? What about dumping a bench player in order to fit the rest of Bud Norris’ $3m salary, for example? Or, God forbid, actually go over budget by a couple million bucks.

  82. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  83. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m thinking Blog Field Trip.

  84. JohninOshkosh says:

    Will Dorf be appearing with her?

  85. NMR says:

    I can respect the point of view, TC/TJ/Redus.

    As long as that flag gets raised, I’m on board.

  86. JohninOshkosh says:

    I saw Reese Witherspoon, a woman I enormously respect, pulled the old “Do you know I am?” bit with a cop pulling her husband over for DUI.

    At least, Al Michaels didn’t pull that.

  87. Some please say it:

    “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”.

  88. TJ says:

    I agree NMR; totally agree. I’m just going by what was already said. That statement from Nutting was kind of like your boss telling you a couple months before Christmas not to expect a bonus. I’d love to see Norris added to the team but I think there are quite a few teams that would love to have him as well.

  89. TJ says:

    My biggest issue is they were pulled over driving a ford fusion. Even Reese must be falling on hard times.

  90. Karen22 says:

    Touche! Fool me once…fool me twice…
    I am now a total realist when it comes to the Pirates. I hope to be entertained for as long as possible, but I have NO expectations. Love the article.

  91. SJB says:

    What isn’t “professional” is everything the Sens GM and owner Melnyk has been saying and hinting at for the past 3 months and I wouldn’t expect that to not carry over into this game. I’ll trade being professional for one of our key players being needlessly injured in a game that means nothing to the Pens.

    Fines only happen if you do something to be fined for. Rolling out our subs and a couple AHLer’s is not a fine-able offense and all it does is give the starters some needed rest, keeps them out of the other team’s bull’s eye, while keeping the other team honest to boot.

    This isn’t about gooning it up to the other team, it’s about protecting our stars and not taking any chances. If the other teams wants to see it differently, then that’s on them.

  92. JohninOshkosh says:

    Say what you will about the starting staff of the Pirates. But at least they are not the Dodgers, that of the $217 million Dodgers.

  93. scapper says:

    You just know the NHL is drooling over the very real possibility of a Caps-Pens conference final. For the first time ever, I’ll be rooting FOR the Caps this week. Better they end up 3rd than laying an egg this week and grabbing the 8th spot. I keep telling everyone they are a dangerous team, perhaps the second best team in the East right now.

  94. JohninOshkosh says:

    Have a blast, William! I’ll look for you in the crowd!

  95. Bizrow says:

    + 1

  96. Iceman says:

    I agree with SJB here. It would not be unheard of to rest some key players the game after you clinch the east. Other than getting practice and staying on top of their game, there isn’t a whole lot more to play for. If I’m the Pens coach, GM, and owners, I put out SJB’s lines with very clear instructions that they do not initiate or engage. You put the line out so the Senators know who is there and then if something transpires, you let those players take care of it, however, I would make sure the players know that they are not to initiate anything at all and if at all possible, ignore the things being said to them.

  97. Iceman says:

    Love this!

  98. TJ says:

    Anyone seen the latest mock draft by Kiper? He had us taking Eifert the TE from Notre Dame in all of his previous mocks but did another one after the Revis trade and now has Eifert going #6 to the Browns. That’s quite a jump. The Steelers are projected to take Jarvis Jones. I’d almost rather see them trade down than take Jones. I don’t see him holding up in our system. For some reason I see him turning into a Bruce Davis.

  99. NMR says:

    Gotcha, TJ.

    It is unfortunate, especially since I think the Bucs could actually land Chase Headley at a very reasonable price this time around.

  100. NMR says:

    Haha, made me laugh.

  101. Patrick says:

    I dont mean sending out the 3rd and fouterth liners and resting your key players. THAT is nothing new or unexpected.

    I was referring to starting the game with a MacIntyre, Engelland, Murray type lineup. There is no grey area there. There is no reasonable reason a line like that would be on the ice at the same time except to fight.

    And no Melnyk insn’t being professional. I never said he was. But Mario and Burkle ARE, and they don’t do that kind of BS. Protecting their star players? Sure. Marty McSorley once skated on a line with Mario for that express purpose. We have had players like Caufield, Oliwa, and Laraque. But Mario never sent them out to start the game, and not on a line with all the other tough guys. And he isnt going to start now.

    Dressing MacIntyre:Acceptable

    Starting the game like its the championship game with Ogilthiorpe: Not so much

  102. Patrick(RI) says:

    One of the biggest surprises of the last couple of weeks is that the bottom-feeders in our line-up have actually made some offensive contributions. I usually hit the fridge when last 5 batters are due up, but lately that has cost me some glorious sights (eg, TWO hits from Barmas, doubles by Martin, etc.). If that can keep happening, occasionally, we will get some good results. I side with those who see pitching help coming from the injured list.

    Like most, I remain skeptical, even cynical when it comes to bullpen mgt, but much more hopeful than last year about final results.

  103. gregenstein says:

    Bring up Bryan Morris, kick Sanchez to the curb immediately, start ANYONE ELSE. You like Wilson? Fine by me. I’d settle for Gomez or Mazzaro at this point too. Anything has to be better than Sanchez.

  104. Bizrow says:

    I think that came from McShay and not Kiper

    From what I’ve been reading, is seems like a lot of teams are looking to trade down.

  105. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    If Nutting chooses to leave the team stranded (as he did at the trading deadline last year) it will end up with “21″ becoming a reality.
    This team has some potential, but it will need to add a couple pieces in July to get over the hump.
    We will see if the Regime cares to win on the field OR win only at the bank.

  106. TJ says:

    If thats the case the Steelers should consider moving up. If they can move up and acquire a quality player I say do it. They may lose a pick or two but they will get a handful of comp picks next year due to their FA losses.

  107. Patrick says:

    And I know its immature and silly, but I just cant help trolling Philly fans:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Philadelphia-Eagles-championship-T-Shirt-/330910411491?ssPageName=ADME:L:LCA:US:1123

    I really hope someone actually buys one :D

  108. Bizrow says:

    I’m just hoping the Jets pick Te’O with one of their choices

    Would be a good “fit” for the circus there ;-)

  109. stuart66 says:

    Thanks Lucky, but I have to confess that I was just trolling some of our fellow inmates who have suggested that trading Lincoln was nearly the end of the world as we know it.

    Stu

  110. Brandie says:

    I had to reschedule it for Wednesday at 12 due to being pressed into double transport duty for the job I am DESPERATELY trying to leave.

  111. Brandie says:

    Thank you all for remembering.

  112. Brandie says:

    Good vibes Jandy woman.

  113. Brandie says:

    I got it…”Once bitten, twice shy.”

  114. Brandie says:

    You rooting for the Caps? Now I know Hades has frozen over. :>

  115. NMR says:

    Martin has surprised me the most out of the bottom of the order bats. Early on, it looks like he could be reinventing himself, again.

    Much has been discussed about his decreasing batting average and increasing strikeout rate over the last four years. I know its only 60 PA’s into the season, but he has cut his K% by more than half, down to just over 8%. The last time Martin has had a strikeout rate under 10% in any given month was way back in September of 2009. He’s also hitting far higher percentage of groundballs than at any time in the last two years.

    Seems like he’s made a concerted effort to change. Lets hope the last week was a sign of what those changes can produce.

  116. SeanAY says:

    I don’t see any way the Pirates maintain any sort of consistent success with two reliable starting pitchers out of five, and realistic options outside of the organization for vast improvement are scarce.

    Impossible? No, not necessarily. Without having been able to see many games this year (when will Kalamazoo pick up Root Sports?), it seems like McDonald is maddeningly inconsistent but is still showing flashes, and has only been awful in one start (damning with faint praise). Locke has a shot to get better, I would think. And Jonathan Sanchez…well look, it shouldn’t be too hard to replace what they’re getting from him, even if you’re relying on the Liriano / Morton scrap heap or the perpetually fragile Jeff Karstens.

    That said, there are an awful lot of “if’s” in that graph. There’s simply no denying that this team was not really put into a position to succeed by management.

    Let’s hope Gerrit Cole turns it on by June, and the Buccos are still hanging around by then. Because THAT is your best chance for lightning in a bottle.

  117. SeanAY says:

    Darned replay system…this ended up in the wrong thread!

    Carry on…

  118. NMR says:

    Very cool! Thanks for the heads up.

    Always fun to see northern squads crack the top 25.

  119. Nate83 says:

    Yes a thousand times. Some much needed logic as always. Wow our 3-5 starters have an over 5.5 ERA with the the 4th and 5th probably being our actual 8th and 9th by the end of the year. The number is also skewed a little by Sanchez being above 11. I thnk we can take a deep breath and step away from the ledge. We really only need 1 guy to step up (maybe 2).

    Locke has been about what you would expect a 5 to be and JMAC has one bad start out of 3 which is about what you would expect from a 4. So that just leaves Sanchez as the problem. There is no doubt in my mind that one of Karstans, Morton, Liriano and Cole will be able to stabalize the starters and if needed 2 or 3 of them. 3 of those guys have pitched to the level of a 3 in their career and the other is the 7th highest rated prospect in the entire league.

  120. Nate83 says:

    NY Yankees = home run swings. They don’t manufacture runs on that team. Certain guys on the team are told we just need home runs from you. His approach was probably much more aggressive. I don’t think he keeps up this K rate but it should settle in around 2/3 of his past few years in my opinion.

  121. Brandie says:

    This alone should get 1,000,000 Beatnik snaps up.

  122. TJ says:

    Here we go… with our idiot writer in Ottawa getting everyone ready. Probably had this article written 3 months ago.

    http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/04/21/playoff-push-could-save-pittsburgh-penguins-forward-matt-cooke-from-a-beat-down

  123. TJ says:

    Love how he honestly thinks his Ottawa Senators could give the Pens a beat down. Kind of obvious he hasn’t been watching this team.

  124. Chris says:

    Yes they shouldn’t have counted on him in their off season planning. The injury to Karstens And the injury/implosion of McPherson really took away any depth they thought they had. I think NH was planning just to strap together a passable back end of the rotation until Cole arrives.

  125. Drew71 says:

    Dear Philadelphia,

    Haha.

    Yours in Brotherly Love,

    Drew

  126. Vinny Giardina says:

    SNIDE!

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  127. NMR says:

    Could be right, Nate.

    I think a lot of people saw his numbers over the last few years as signs of declining skills. Increasing strikeouts with added power possibly signaling a decrease in batspeed forcing him to sit on fastballs and swing for the fence. That was and still is legitimately possible.

    But as you said, it seems now likely that his approach with NY was a CHOICE. Just as it has been his CHOICE to cut back on the K’s this year. If so, you gotta credit his baseball smarts and remaining skills.

  128. Chris says:

    Isn’t the makeup of the bench just as relevant as the makeup of the bullpen? The bench is essentially the bullpen of the lineup! :)

  129. Nate83 says:

    I just wanted to check. The Pirates are 10-8 after playing the likes of the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Reds, Cardinals and Braves. Also Martin, Snider, Wandy and even Gabby have contributed in one way or another correct. Yet here we are looking into a crystal ball trying to see what possibly could go wrong if all 4 of our solutions for starting pitching help all fall flat on their face.

    4 legitimate back of the rotation solutions is a problem almost every team in the league would kill for but we don’t have any starting pitching depth according to some. I can’t figure out exactly how many pitchers we should have signed in free agency. Maybe 7 or 8 would have been enough.

  130. TJ says:

    I had a nice exchange of emails with Mr Brennan after the incident when he was claiming the world was essentially going to come to an end and how the hit by cooke was going to hurt the NHL because fans in areas like TB only came out to see Karlsson. Having a real hard time not exchanging a few emails right now with him. He’s exactly the type of person that goons up hockey. Wonder if he teaches his kids this stuff.

  131. Brandie says:

    Nice love letter. I feel all warm and gooey inside. :-)

  132. TJ says:

    Jandy has been quiet today; must be on her way up to Ottawa to stick that size 9 up some Senators back sides

  133. SeanAY says:

    When you’re hitting in the Yankee Stadium Jet Stream, it’s only natural to swing for the fences.

    After all, home runs will forgive a lot of sins come free agency time!

  134. Brandie says:

    It was also his CHOICE to follow management and concentrate more on both holding runners on base and/or throwing out the ones trying to steal, which was evidenced this past weekend.

  135. JRay3 says:

    Thanks for the report, if only Hanson could play Ngope or Mercer type defense. Of all your information above it is encouraging to see Mercer’s line since he is closest to being the “next” man up.

  136. Chris says:

    I was just thinking this. In previous years I’d expect the pirates to get shutout by this kind of pitcher, even if he is just a fledgling prospect.

  137. Brandie says:

    You do not have to dense yourself to stoop to his kind of nastiness.

  138. Brandie says:

    Point well taken.

  139. Jandy says:

    Ouch! Well, we’re all keeping our fingers crossed for you!

  140. Jandy says:

    Thanks you two.l…the pencil is sharpened constantly. lol

  141. TJ says:

    Well they say it starts at the top and based on the comments from their owner I would say he’s as dense as it gets.

  142. Chris says:

    I’d also add the same thing goes for bench players. I’ll admit last years bench was awful but right now the Pirates have Mckenry, Tabata, Presley, Sanchez… (and McDonald). There aren’t a lot of teams with proven hitters who could start on another team on their bench

  143. Milo Hamilton says:

    My favorite part of the baseball season so far are those 70′s uniforms the Pirates are wearing on Sundays.

  144. Jandy says:

    Gotta love this. Poor Max is on the wrong team :/

  145. Brandie says:

    Thicker than a forest full of redwoods, as my daddy says.

  146. Jandy says:

    Green slimy pond scum!

  147. Milo Hamilton says:

    I apologize for that. It reads like Larry King’s old column in the USA Today. Remember ? “I love peanut butter & jelly sandwiches” or “Ebbets Field smelled like baseball”. He’s a genius, give him a million dollars.

  148. Chris says:

    Disclaimer… I wasn’t suggesting any of those pirates could start for another team

  149. JRay3 says:

    Enjoy the game…bring us another “W”! I, too, have to admit the old school hats look sharp!

  150. Jandy says:

    Good choices all around!

  151. Mike Shigley says:

    Well, here is from the Palace’s web site:

    May 16
    Thursday 2 PM
    &
    8 PM Latshaw Productions presents
    Vicki Lawrence & Mama:
    A Two-Woman Show!
    $55, $45, $35

  152. JRay3 says:

    Wow, wonder when the last time a Pitt baseball team was ranked? They have made some significant strides the past few years.

  153. Tom P. says:

    Interesting challenge for the Pirates tonight. Jonathan Pettibone will be making his major league debut for the Phillies. My memory tells me that the Pirates are more likely to make similarly situated pitchers look like Cy Young rather than rookies. We will see if the Pirates can come up with a good approach against him.

  154. TJ says:

    Love the 70′s uniforms. They really should consider them next year when they introduce the new logo. They could be worse; could be like the Astros of the 80′s or Padres of old. Certainly could have been worse…. Remember when teams were using uniforms like this…

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SWNVBbeOhDI/TxemuzUe5vI/AAAAAAAACeU/yOVMgVykZcA/s1600/PittsburghPirates1999.jpg

  155. Brandie says:

    You all have a good day.

  156. Jandy says:

    I would hope the league sees fit to call both teams and warn them, especially after the debacle with the Goon Islanders.

  157. Jandy says:

    Hah Teddy Bear, no I’m working on a bid with a tight deadline. It’s a hospital job my boss dearly wants. Breaking now, then back to it again.

  158. Jandy says:

    You too Brandie, catch ya later :)

  159. TJ says:

    Pens Sign Goalie Brent Johnson to a one game contract; they are more interested in his left hook his glove work

  160. cmat0829 says:

    Another lively blog day….. a few of my own thoughts:

    1) I agree the Pirates lack the starting pitching at this moment to seriously contend in 2013…and that has got to be the top focus of the front office and management. That said, I don’t recall a time in the last 20 years that our 1-2 starters have been as good and as veteran/solid/trackrecord as AJ and Wandy…that gives the Pirates a chance to find 3/4/5 starters to round out the staff.

    I think Clint is approaching it correctly… everyone outside of AJ and Wandy is pitching for their spots right now. JMac showed why he has so much promise but it is time for him to be who is he is going to be. JSanchez is likely done. I’m not certain the Pirates will even give him another start. Clint pulling him after 3 is testament to that. As Clint says “It was not in our best interest to have him out there”. ‘Nuff said. Locke will get another start and can keep starting if he delivers… if he falters, he is due back in Indy.

    Eventually this rotation will be AJ/Wandy/Cole/Liriano/JMac or Morton or Karstens… JMac is key, if he pitches well, we can not have to count on much from Morton…Karstens can be an ideal long-man in the bullpen or a 5th starter if need be, if he is healthy.

    As to the bullpen, not many remain livid over the trade of JHanrahan, eh? Grilli likely wouldn’t have signed with us if he was still to set up Hanny, so me thinks this is a good trade for many reasons. Grilli/Melancon is better than Hanny/HughesorWatson by a loooooong stretch. Watch Contreras here. I think he can pitch into the 7th inning spot if Hughes continues to have his moments of struggle… Grill/Melancon/Watson/Contreras/Hughes/Karstens is likely the best bullpen, though all the other guys are doing great and contributing.

    As to the lineup, too much is expected of Barmes’ bat… his defense is excellent and it’s been awhile that we haven’t had to worry about the Bucs defense up the middle…with the other guys producing, you don’t need much more from Barmes than 240-ish and less strikeouts…now, I know he has to ‘regress to the mean’ from where he is now, but it’s early.

  161. JRay3 says:

    Enjoyed the post…FYI Contreras completed his second consecutive clean inning down in Altoona yesterday. With both he and Bryan Morris waiting in the wings this already deep bullpen is about to have a few more options at its disposal.

    Would not surprise me at all to see Jeanmar Gomez be named the starter Friday in St.Louis to take Sanchez spot and have one of either Contreras or Morris recalled.

    The entire NL Central is filled with teams that have flaws. The Reds lost Ryan Ludwick already creating a corner OF hole, the Cardinals have lost their closer and their bullpen is a mess, the Brewers have a lot of the same rotation questions and shaky bullpen.

    JMac is probably fairly or not a big key to all of this, that and as you mentioned above, Cole and his ability to contribute or not by time Summer rolls around.

  162. Dom says:

    Yeah, Eifert to the Browns is awfully high. Usually, TEs have a tendency to fall.

    However, I wouldn’t mind Jones. He was at one point one of the best prospects in the draft. Some mocks had him going #2 overall.

    Why are you not a fan?

  163. NMR says:

    I think it is interesting to see the goal posts already moving in the positive direction regarding this teams expectations.

    To Dejan’s credit, all winter he has said win or be fired.

    As for the rest of the blog, seems to already be a shift from too many “ifs” being the reason the team will catastrophically fail or be worse than last year to now being the reason they can’t legitimately contend with the top teams in the league.

    This isn’t a post about being right or wrong. With only three weeks in the books, nobody is right or wrong. Just good from this fans perspective to see other fans outlook improving, even if begrudgingly.

  164. Patrick says:

    I’m sure after last weeks call ups there were phone calls to both owners reminding them of their responsibilities. Im sure the Penguins still remember the debacle on long island two years ago…

  165. 21sthebest says:

    “Just good from this fans perspective to see other fans outlook improving, even if begrudgingly.”

    Come on NMR. Us fans, we’re a what have you done lately for me bunch. If we lose the next 2 or 3, you’ll see another shift the other way (and some bloggers we haven’t seen in a while). Frankly, I don’t feel any differently about this team right now than when they were 1-5.

  166. pattonbb says:

    That’s an interesting story on Sano and Dirty Doug getting tossed. If that ump really tossed Sano for a fist pump and yelling something, he should be ashamed. On the other hand, if Sano was pointing a finger at the dugout as he rounded the bases (as other articles claimed) then he should’ve been tossed. Either way, sounds like a pretty interesting day at the ball park.

    As a Pirate faithful living close to the heart of Braves territory, I can’t even begin to tell you how nice it is to not here that damned Tomahawk Chop. I was giving my neighbor a little grief about the series. He looked at me and said, “two words – Sid Bream”.

    I hate Braves fans……..

  167. Iceman says:

    Just read the article and the comments that follow. I am glad that there are those in Ottawa who also see that an article like this is a joke. They are all saying that the team needs to focus on winning so they can lock up a playoff spot and this “journalist” is worrying more about retribution for Cooke.

    As a player for the Senators, if the chance comes up for a Senator during the game to make a hard, legal hit on Cooke or someone can convince Cooke to drop the gloves (not an easy feat as Cooke does not fight often), I say they have every right and Cooke knows to expect it. It will not be the first time that he has had to be prepared for a game like this, but if the Senators are well coached and disciplined, they will make sure not to take a stupid penalty, risk giving the Pens a PP, or worse, losing a player to suspension. Hopefully the coach has a better head on his shoulders than the owner.

  168. Patrick says:

    Well that’s the thing. I would say that all of them are CAPABLE of being a back end solution. Its a question if any of them WILL BE. Morton, Liriano and Karstens are hurt. Sanchez sucks out loud. The others are all enigmas, at best.

    Right now we have had no hitting then a ton of it. Great pitching followed by horrible pitching. Teams that win CONSISTENTLY over 162 games have consistent play and arent so feast or famine. Right now I think we all need to give this version of the PBC another 20 games….

  169. Patrick says:

    Hurdle is doing well, for the most part. He still made a few stupid mistakes. Sending Hughes back out Friday when he was obviously struggling might have cost them a 4 game sweep. And I’m still a little worried about over using AJ this early. I know many have said the guy likes his routine, and he wants the ball every fifth day. But he isnt 30 anymore and might still think he is.

    I don’t expect a lot from Barmes. Nobody expects a lot from his bat. I don’t think asking for him to hit his weight is asking a lot.I’d be happy with .220 at this point

  170. Patrick says:

    Winning cures all.

  171. Thundercrack says:

    ” Frankly, I don’t feel any differently about this team right now than when they were 1-5.”

    You don’t have a heart.

  172. Nancy52 says:

    Don’t know if Milo travels the same roads I do,
    but I did see a sign with the same info Saturday
    in Monroeville.

  173. Nor Cal Stlrfanrc (Ryan) says:

    Agree 100%

  174. Nor Cal Stlrfanrc (Ryan) says:

    Agree. They all need that type of attitude. I believe those attitudes are contagious. Great to have.

  175. Bizrow says:

    Completely agree with you 21.

    Its a long season, very nice homestand.

    Still far too early to get too excited

  176. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  177. Nor Cal Stlrfanrc (Ryan) says:

    -Great column DK and I believe it was spot on the current situation. Can Liriano, JK, and CM improve this rotation? I believe they could.

    -I do think CM might have to go to the bullpen when he comes back. I’m not sure what the typical response is from the return of TJ surgery, but if those other 2 do well and JMac builds off his last outing, that’s the only logical solution. IF the Pirates plans include CM in the future (he has the stuff) then work him back slowly and use him like the Giants used 2 time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.

    -I think the BP is built well, but CANNOT be used this way over the course of 162, with any hopes of the playoffs.

    -I do believe that if this team can get some attention on the rotation outside of the top 2, then they could be a contendar.

  178. 21sthebest says:

    Well I thought the homestand was breathtaking quite frankly, but yes, long way to go.

  179. NMR says:

    I, also, don’t see much to be gained by starting Jonathan Sanchez again.

    Hey, if you’re going to sign a trash heap reclamation project, may as well go for one with potential upside rather than the Jeff Francis’ of the world. But at this point, the experiment should be up.

    Jeanmar has everything asked of him thus far. He deserves a shot at a couple starts. Other AAAA guys like Vin Mazarro can’t be any worse. Neither would Phil Irwin, assuming you aren’t judging him on a single start.

  180. TJ says:

    I just have a bad feeling about him; when your ranked #2 and suddenly drop its for a reason. Add that neck injury that caused him to transfer from Oregon to Georgia where he had to be cleared to play and you just never know how long this kid is going to hold up in the NFL. The Steelers are not in the position to be taking risks with their #1 picks right now.

  181. John Lease says:

    So, are we ‘allowed’ to post baseball stuff here?

  182. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’d like to see Phil again. Seems like a lot of his problem last time was nerves with his first start in the big leagues. Certainly over Sanchez.

  183. TJ says:

    Ice I loved the comments from the readers. You could tell they actually understood the game of hockey and the plays that are involved. However this goof feels the need to stir the pot. He must live in fantasy land as he referenced how Cooke was still seen as one of the dirtiest players in the league and this hit on Karlsson was just another example of it. This despite the fact that almost everyone including the NHL network showed over and over again how impossible it would be for Cooke to have intentionally done that.

    It is what it is but this isn’t the same Pens team that got beat down by the Islanders a few years ago. Like I said start the game with Vitale, Glass and Macintyre with Engelland and Bortuzzo and see where it goes. If they go they go if not then lets play hockey.

  184. Bizrow says:

    Well, if you had a homestand like this in September in a pennant race, I would give you the breathtaking part ;-)

  185. Brotherhood of the Redus says:

    Burnett on a pretty strict pitch count…which could get blown out of the water if he keeps spinning near no-no’s

  186. The Gunner says:

    I think Irwin definitely deserves another look. His minor league stats are real good – WHIP 1.096 & pretty good control. Bring the kid up, DFA J. Sanchez now!!

  187. Brotherhood of the Redus says:

    I agree about Morton…Have thought for awhile that his stuff is unhittable for 2-3 innings.

    Even if he were to get the rest of his work out of the pen and on the side while they ensure that he is in fact ready for the rotation, what could it hurt? I don’t doubt for a second though that he may not have the mentality for relief work, or that his talents may be considered a waste when utilized in that manner…

  188. TJ says:

    A homestand like this in September when it actually meant something; not when we are 15 games under .500

  189. Patrick says:

    If you send that line out there to start the game the Sens WILL reciprocate, even if they didnt previously intend to be. If hat line takes the ice there WILL be fights. With each other if need be.

    The Pens shouldnt be the aggressor here. They dont need to go into Ottawa looking to pick a fight. If they need to, fine. But dont go looking for it.

  190. Brotherhood of the Redus says:

    You guys are right on sanchez, however I don’t believe he was hit all that hard yesterday…if there is anything that buys him another start, it’s that…but it’s alarming how bad his control has become. He get’s away with a lot of mistakes pitches and that just won’t coninue to happen all year.

    So if he has great stuff with alwful command, what is the answer?

  191. Brotherhood of the Redus says:

    Pretty formidable lineup he faced as well

  192. TJ says:

    If the Pens win tonight Bylsma wins his 200th game as an NHL coach which would have taken only 316 games a new record; current record is 326 games by former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.

    Bylsma the fastest to 200 wins by potentially 10 games?

    FIRE HIM NOW!!!

  193. Arriba Wilver says:

    Amen.

  194. Dadtackular says:

    I agree Milo. Brings back good memories!!

  195. TJ says:

    Thats fine and dandy Patrick but the Sens get to set their line after the Pens; Pens could be sitting ducks if they send anything other than that line out there to start the game.

    Unless the NHL has made it clear that there will be fines and quik ejections I would error on the side of safety. Send out Dupuis, Bennett, and Morrow and they send out their punchers your screwed.

  196. JohninOshkosh says:

    I have not heard from the “Penguins may be in the playoffs but they are not a playoff team” crowd in awhile, either.

  197. cherokee23 says:

    I kinda like Clint doing what it takes to win now, the game today…..worry bout tomorows game tomorrow…….I see the point of guys wearing out, but as Tomlin once said about a certain running back, Clint should “ride ‘em til the wheels fall off”…….and let the GM worry about supplying more guys when needed……only problem I see is that Willie Parker’s wheel eventually fell off!!

  198. I think that crowd dispersed, John.

  199. cherokee23 says:

    I don’t think Cooke would go for that either….He’s been through this before and knows how to handle himself!!

  200. Original Ether says:

    Don’t remember the specifics, but it was a couple years ago. Think they were around #20 or so.

    The strength of schedule is not particularly good, so the RPI is a bit lower; I think it’s around #50. The consensus is that they need to win the Big East Torunament, or win at least 40 games; they have 16 left, with the most notable being at Louisville to finish the regular season.

    Last tourney appearance was 1995.

  201. Original Ether says:

    Actually, count me someone who wants to see Philly climb to #9 or #10. Heck, I’m ok with #6 or #7. Don’t want to see them get a Top 5 draft pick. Same with the Caps.

  202. cherokee23 says:

    I’m pretty close to agreeing with you

  203. JohninOshkosh says:

    Twins already cancelled tonight’s game with Miami due to weather.

    “C’mon guys lets play. Don’t postpone it!” said zero members of the Marlins.

  204. Bizrow says:

    Yes, TJ, in a pennant race ;-)

  205. NMR says:

    Isn’t that making the wild assumption that no other pitchers were capable of protecting a 6-0?

    Sheesh.

    Hurdle sends Hughes back out for the 8th one day because Melancon needed a rest then turns around and burns Melancon the next in a game that easily, easily could’ve been finished by other members of the pen.

  206. Bizrow says:

    Forecast of 3-6 inches of snow in the Twin Cities

  207. Arriba Wilver says:

    JMac is a 3 on the Pirates team and really has 2 good and 2 not good starts, if you are looking at it fairly. Only 1 disastrous start.

  208. JohninOshkosh says:

    Yeah, we had snow here yesterday but that stuff they’re having today is supposed to turn to rain when it gets to me tonight. Fingers crossed.

  209. BillyBaduka says:

    Thanks! I’ll be somewhere behind home plate.

  210. cherokee23 says:

    Guess I was looking more at the Sanchez game, pulling him after 3 and knowing it was gonna tax the bullpen

  211. Sisyphus says:

    He’s off to a bad start, but he isn’t just some schmoe. Pettibone is the #1 prospect in their organization.

  212. Patrick says:

    The sens aren’t going to take a run at Morrow, Dupuis or Bennett. That’s just not how hockey is played. Hasn’t been for 40 years. The only time i have seen anything close to what your thinking about is two years ago on Long Island. And the Islanders got a hefty fine and some pretty long suspensions. The Islanders had nothing to play for at that point, the Senators are still fighting for the playoffs. They want Matt Cooke and two points. Not to knock the hell out of Pascal Dupuis.

    I know what you are saying now. You’re worried that the Senators will send out a group of goons AFTER the pens make first shift. They made a subtle change to the rules a few years ago that allows the road team to expend their timeout after a stoppage if they get caught in that situation. Besides that both teams exchange lineups before the game and write down who they intend to start the game with.

    Really, this is all kind of a media hype. I really dont expect more than what happened a few years ago when Cooke had to back to Boston after knocking out Savard. His first shift out someone challenged him, Cooke Obliged, took his punch to the face and his 5 minute major and it was over.

  213. Sisyphus says:

    If Nutting chooses to leave the team stranded (as he did at the trading deadline last year)”

    Yeah, adding Wandy was just inconsequential.

  214. NMR says:

    Of all the well-compensated men and women involved in planning a stadium, it blows my mind that not one of them put their foot down and showed everyone else a freakin’ almanac.

    The last stadium had a roof for a reason.

  215. JRay3 says:

    I saw a lot of folks predicting a 12-20 start in the first 32 games or so, citing difficult April schedule, tough teams coming in after 1-5 start.

    The team at 10-8 staring at the Phils, Brewers, Mariners and Mets amongst the next 19 games certainly has to have people reconsidering their predictions of the type of start Bucs will have after the 32 game mark.

    They have decent shot to be .500 or better possibly at that mark and many here in this space had them games below .500.

  216. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’d be more worried when/if” the game’s out of reach for the Senators. Or conversely, when/if it’s in hand.

  217. Pucknutz says:

    Ya TJ, sorta cool comments from the readers, lot of them calling this writer
    pretty much a hack. Nice to see some smart fans that realize the team need the points.
    Agree w/Patrick ( below or above wherever this ends up) – 1st shift he is out there somebody says lets go, they go and thats it.

  218. Baywatch says:

    Fair enough, Guys! And I’m too tired to research to see if there were any other teams that did well enough to reach the playoffs on two ace starting pitchers and two really good relievers!

  219. Baywatch says:

    And don’t forget to throw in the BIGGEST variable: WE’RE THE PIRATES! (Would you believe two starters and two relievers good enough to lead us to one game over .500?)

  220. 21sthebest says:

    Got a snow shower in North Park Saturday morning. Friday morning I ran in shorts and a t shirt.

  221. JHadar says:

    They played all those years in Metropolitan Stadium, and nobody complained much.

    If you’d ever actually attended a game in the Metrodome you’d be more than willing to put up with a few April postponements whether the weather was rain or snow. (I didn’t hear anyone calling for a roof for on PNC when they were rained out last week.) That dome was far and away the worst venue in baseball. I’m sure it soured the locals on indoor games. (Is there any Astroturf left in MLB?)

    And for that matter, this April is not normal spring weather for the upper Midwest, but all the rain and snow is finally easing the drought.

  222. Bizrow says:

    I’d vote for Tampa Bay as being the worst ballpark, its not unusual for the roof to get in the way of a hit baseball down there.

    Thats good though that the drought is easing up a bit

  223. SeanAY says:

    I’m personally a fan of his opening of the column, where apparently the world was abuzz with the question, “Is Karlsson the best player in the world?”

    I mean, was anyone outside of Ottawa actually considering that? He’s great and all, but come on.

  224. PgherinLev says:

    Can they wear those uniforms all the time? They still look great after all these years!

  225. JHadar says:

    Especially since the Metrodome is no more.

    I think the worst MLB ballpark in my lifetime was the Los Angeles Colliseum. The Dodgers played four seasons there when they moved out from Brooklyn.. It was about 250 ft down the left field line with a 40 foot screen. Somewhere around a mile and half (ok 440 ft) to dead center, and the right field pole was at 300 feet, but the wall went almost straight back. Batters used to tie themselves into knots TRYING TO HIT POP FLIES there.

  226. NMR says:

    Milwaukee seems to have figured out how to put a roof on a stadium without making it god-awful.

    Minny is north of Milwaukee, right?

  227. Ghost says:

    The seventies canary-yellow polyester unis, right? I loved them, too. Others have made fun of them in more recent years, but who cares? They were bold and beautiful. Just update the fabric, but keep that look!

  228. JHadar says:

    The Twins have outdrawn the Brewers by half a million fans over the last three years despite fielding two last place teams, right?

    People aren’t staying home because there’s no roof. Sheesh.

  229. theplanisworking says:

    Fourthed.

    Break a leg……………..

    Whistle a Happy tune…………

    If you need me for musical accompianment, I will try my best for ya……. :)

  230. theplanisworking says:

    …….. abd hippo toes too

  231. theplanisworking says:

    I have a co-worker who looks like Jeff Lynne.

    Scary.

  232. JHadar says:

    And for reference, the three years before that while the Twins were in the Metrodome and had good teams, the Brewers outdrew them.

  233. theplanisworking says:

    Hopefully not too gooey………

  234. Arriba Wilver says:

    I have to +1 this post, if for no other reason that I have never seen my friend JH use “Sheesh” before. (No offense, NMR)

  235. Ghost says:

    About the Metrodome, remember this?
    http://tinyurl.com/26r8ymp

    Regarding the Pirates recent success, I’m lovin’ it. I didn’t get too down only about a week ago when we looked hideous against the Dodgers. But I’m also not going to get too excited about this past week — we’re still in April, after all. Still, players like Walker, Martin, Alverez and others are doing noticeably better. I’ll take it wherever we can get it. Because we’ll need even more of it. The Reds are stacked and the Cardinals always come on strong late in the season.

  236. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  237. NMR says:

    When did I ever say anything about attendance, JH?

    I’m much more concerned with actually playing the games in decent conditions. Or at all.

    I’m not the first person to think of this, I promise.

  238. NMR says:

    Haha, I’m equally impressed. Of all things to get worked up over.

  239. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think you missed my point, NMR. Getting worked up over? My comment was NOT meant as a criticism of JHadar. OK, now you can take offense.

  240. JHadar says:

    Now that brings back memories.

    And I do agree about the Bucs. Too early to give up or get too excited.

  241. JHadar says:

    Should have been a reply to the Metrodome video above. Not a new thread.

  242. Brandie says:

    Plan, you make me smile. :-)

  243. Naje says:

    NMR–
    Maybe the taxpayers of Minnesota only had so much to spend on a stadium. Have you seen where the stadium is located? They fit the entire stadium grounds in an 8 acre area… my brother in laws brother designed it (and several other stadiums, including PNC and Heinz Field and new Yankee stadium).

    Read this link about the building of Target Field… very good read:
    http://www.startribune.com/templates/Print_This_Story?sid=112415774

  244. JHadar says:

    And I would rather put up with an occasional rainout than have to take my baseball under a roof.

    I called your attention to the attendance because it shows more about the ballpark experience than the location of the city. Milwaukee is slightly south of Minneapolis, but Kansas City with an open air stadium is way north of Phoenix with its roof.

    However, I totally accept that you’re not the first person to think of playing indoor baseball in Minnesota, but they tried it and it was awful.

  245. JHadar says:

    AW: No offense taken.

    Once JAL and I had a similar conversation about who whether or not Emmet Kelly was a mascot for the Dodgers. Came down to defining “mascot”. Great fun, passing time with the national pastime.

    Likewise here. Killing time. Having a little fun.

  246. JHadar says:

    Nice read.

  247. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  248. Bizrow says:

    I remember that ballpark

    Thanks for that memory JH

    Polo Grounds, now that was pretty much the opposite, right? At least in Center Field

  249. Bizrow says:

    Baseball, and football, IMHO are outdoor games

  250. Sisyphus says:

    My bad, I could have sworn I heard or read somewhere that Pettibone was a top prospect, but it appears that he actually is something of a Schmoe according to several internet sources that I have some respect for.

 
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