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Friday Wakeup Call: Steelers seek identity anew

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, lunatics …

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>> The Friday notes column is led by — what else? — the Steelers’ No. 1 pick, Jarvis Jones. You’ll also find more in there on football, plus pucks and baseball.

Here, too, is our news coverage by Alan Robinson.

And here’s Jones’ official NFL Draft profile video …

The second round begins at 6:30 p.m., but I’m guessing the main event around here will be Jones’ news conference at 5 p.m. on the South Side.

In the interim, let’s hear from you about this pick. Delighted? Disappointed?

>> The chat transcript covered a continent-sized scope of topics.

>> Never mind the Penguins’ immaterial game in Newark. The headline here was that Sidney Crosby’s return to practice today.

>> Yesterday was a bad day in a place I really like.

>> That said, these guys have it even worse.

>> The Pirates brought out the chicken wire again, including a two-inning save for Tony Watson and three of four in Philadelphia. They’re playing some persistent ball.

>> I’ll visit with TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 to talk NFL Draft.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

215 Comments

  1. Do you think Jarvis steps in as a starter day 1, or do you see the Steelers going with Worilds in the early going to see what they have with him?

    DK: At one point tonight, Tomlin told us, “He’ll still be a rookie.” Could see a camp competition.

  2. Okay, I’ll just rehash what I said at end of last thread.

    Namely, I think I like the pick. Jones should be ready to play in Dick Lebeau’s defense sooner than most rookies and no one will benefit more from that than LaMarr Woodley. Looking forward to Woodley rebounding this year if his hamstrings hold up. The defense is actually getting younger and the Day 2 priority has to now be identifying guys who can eventually replace Polamalu and Clark. Adding receivers and finding a good back are important too, but defense wins championships and defines Pittsburgh teams. We’re on the cusp of the next generation of the Steeler D actually being in place.

    Adding another ILB here, another corner there, wouldn’t hurt. But getting younger at safety is the immediate need I see.

  3. DK,

    Was there anyone else the Steelers were hoping to get, but who got snagged before the Steelers picked?

    DK: They made no such indication, even as they stressed Jones was their guy.

  4. Thanks for the above.
    Here’s another (and it’s a real off-the-wall loopy one before I go to sleep…)

    Do you think Ike Taylor could ever be converted to a safety to extend his career, a la Rod Woodson or Deion Sanders? He’s big and physical enough. Would he have the other intangibles necessary? Would the Steelers even entertain such a notion??

    • I’ve thought about this too. Taylor always has been a pretty solid tackler, so no worries there. But he isn’t athletic enough to take the SS position and quite honestly I don’t think he has the comprehension to make the reads for the FS position.

      But If the price is right, I certainly think its an experiment worth giving a long honest look at. Ike has 9 years in LeBeau’s system and has never really had any injury problems.

      • Not a safety, however the thought is a good one. Woodson and Showtime were simply other worldly – physically and mentally. That’s just how I see it though and swaggin’ is not built for safety…NFL safeties could be linebackers…they are a different breed.

  5. I like the pick. It was who I was wanting. Now lets hope lacy, cyprien or Arthur brown slip to us in round 2.

  6. Messing around with NHL tiebreakers, and it looks to me that if the Islanders lose in regulation tonight, they’re locked in as the eighth seed. Is that right?

    DK: Yes. First tiebreaker is non-shootout wins. Isles are eighth going into finale tonight at Buffalo.

    • As a Rangers fan, I am relieved that we finally made the playoffs. Now my concern is to avoid that last position in the standings.

      • Yeah, too bad if they finish as the 7th seed, they won’t get the opportunity to knock out the Crosby -less Penguins in the 1st round.

        Maybe the Islanders can do it, but i wouldn’t count on it.

        Possible they throw the game vs Devils on saturday, so they can get the favorable matchup.

  7. Headin to Carlisle for swap meet with the hubby. Hope to see some nice cars and get some stuff for the Chevelle. Weather to be perfect – sunny and 60′s. Check in later. Happy Friday!

  8. Seemed to be another poor defensive preformance
    by the Pens, lots of turnovers. Hopefully these
    bad habits/ tendencies can be rectified before
    they have an early exit Could rest be what’s
    needed?

  9. I like the Steelers pick and your thoughts on it in Friday’s column. I hope Jones brings the things you describe and can help re-establish the defense’s identity as aggressive and pursuing the QB.

    I wanted an edge rusher from the weak side. Jones fits that bill. His highlights and stats look good. There is risk with all picks. My concern with Jones is that he could do this in college but might find it difficult against the improved level of athleticism in the NFL. It’s not just the 4.9 40. He looks like a natural athlete that hasn’t done a lot to augment that in thet weight room. While that may work for Troy, Jones will be engaged with OL far more often and looks like he can add some muscle to his frame.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the pick. I just think that Jones may have to step up his weight training and work outs to maintain his level of play in the pros.

  10. Sorry about the Jets… I was rooting for them too, but for another reason. (their record at Consul)

  11. Yet another thing I like about this pick…

    Assuming he eventually starts, Jones turns a one-dimensional, questionable Worilds into a truly useful part time player who can be used in ways that match his, um, one dimension.

  12. I was disappointed about Winnipeg but maybe it’s for the best.

    Had they slipped in and faced the Pens, Dejan would not have known who to root for in the press box.

  13. JAL’s Rain Must Fall Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWRksiUhd-o

    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: The Pirates Prospects Podcast

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/first-pitch-the-pirates-prospects-podcast.html

    Prospect Watch: Liriano Strikes Out Eight, Polanco Drives In Four

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/prospect-watch-liriano-strikes-out-eight-polanco-drives-in-four.html

    All’s Well with Allie in West Virginia

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/alls-well-with-allie-in-west-virginia.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates’ first base platoon tag-teams to beat Phillies, 6-4

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/4/25/4266642/pirates-first-base-platoon-tag-teams-to-beat-phillies-6-4

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 22: Pirates 6 Phillies 4

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/april-2013/game-22-pirates-6-phillies-4.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Rolling, Rolling, Rolling…

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/04/rolling-rolling-rolling.html

    9 Rumbunter

    Chicken Wire, Duct Tape And Spit Working For the Pirates Now, But Not Effective For Long-Term

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/04/25/chicken-wire-duct-tape-and-spit-working-for-the-pirates-now-but-not-effective-for-long-term/

    The Unbelievable Truth That Is The 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/04/25/the-unbelievable-truth-that-is-the-2013-pittsburgh-pirates/

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 6 Phillies 4

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/04/pirates-6-phillies-4/

  14. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Francisco Liriano expected to make Bucs debut May 10

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/04/25/pittsburgh-pirates-francisco-liriano-expected-to-make-bucs-debut-may-10/

    12 NJ Star Ledger

    Philadelphia Phillies falter again vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.nj.com/times-sports/index.ssf/2013/04/philadelphia_phillies_falter_a.html

    13Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ Brandon Inge Plays Big Part in First Two Games

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/04/25/pittsburgh-pirates-brandon-inge-plays-big-part-in-first-two-games-back/

    14 Bleacher Report

    Pittsburgh Pirates Are Thriving Despite Challenging Schedule

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1618221-pittsburgh-pirates-are-thriving-despite-challenging-schedule

    15 Charleston Gazette

    Reinvented Power hitter

    http://www.wvgazette.com/Sports/201304250222

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates-Cardinals Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130426_PIT@STL

    17 Sweetspot

    The strange career of Roy Cullenbine

    http://www.baseballnation.com/2013/4/22/4232580/baseball-movie-ideas-unmade

    18 PBC Site

    Pirates take battle of ‘Pens-ylvania yet again

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_04_25_pitmlb_phimlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Taxed Grilli, Melancon get finale off in Philadelphia

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130425&content_id=45758650&notebook_id=45758656&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    11 Favorite Baserunning Memories

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20264

    20 Fangraphs

    The Importance of Sequencing

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-importance-of-sequencing/

  15. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Jarvis Jones provides playmaking element in nickel packages

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/4/26/4268356/steelers-draft-jarvis-jones-defense-linebacker

    Reasons why the Steelers passed on Sharrif Floyd

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/4/25/4268102/steelers-first-round-draft-sharrif-floyd-vikings

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers Rookie LB Jarvis Jones Says He Needs To Work On Dropping Into Coverage The Most

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/04/steelers-rookie-lb-jarvis-jones-says-he-needs-to-work-on-dropping-into-coverage-the-most/

    Soccer(football) Will T

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Football League ups and downs: Who faces promotion and relegation from the Championship, League One and League Two?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/championship/9987839/Football-League-ups-and-downs-Who-faces-promotion-and-relegation-from-the-Championship-League-One-and-League-Two.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 25th April, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-25th-april-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Let Lead Slip, Lose 3-2

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/4/25/4267482/pens-let-lead-slip-lose-3-2

  16. How about all the silly draft choices made yesterday?

    Dallas selecting Travis Frederick who maybe could have fallen till the 3rd round.

    The Bills trading down to select maybe the third best QB in the draft. Some had EJ ranked as the 4th or even the 5th best QB. Kiper had him ranked a sthe 103rd best player in the draft and Buffalo took him #16 overall.

    Numerous team reaching on o-lineman. Guys like Justin Pugh, Kyle Long were thought to go to the 2nd round. It is understood that the draft was running low on lineman but you have to get value too.

    Sometimes I think the fans could do a better job.

    Maybe the Steelers can move up to draft Lacy. I wish we would have let Sanders go for the Pats #3 pick. We could have very well used that for trade bait. But mock draft does have us taking him at #48:http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/nfl/43149/60/second-day-mock-draft?pg=1

    • Dom I was shocked as well by some of the picks. As much as I wanted the Steelers to take Eifert I was just as upset to see the Bengals end up with him. They are going to be the divisions version of NE with their 2 TE sets and Green on the outside.

      Also shocked to see Minnesota end up with 3 #1 picks; talk about making some moves; and all of them quality players.

      No RB taken in the first round; Geno Smith still sitting there. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are not trades being worked on right now for teams trying to move up. I believe that was part of the concept of stopping after round 1; to give teams time to evaluate who wasn’t picked and possibly make some moves.

      • I was hoping the GMen would take Eifert, but they decided to make fools of themselves instead.

        Even before Eiffert, the Bengals were my favorites to win teh division.

    • I’m actually happy they matched New England’s offer. Sanders is nothing spectacular, but at the very least will be able to fill the void a bit.

      In looking at what is still available, I honestly can’t fathom trading up. Lacy, Ertz, Teo, Robert Woods, Justin Hunter…somebody I think is bound to fall down to them.

      • Agreed Greg. There is plenty of talent in this draft; and the Steelers have made it known they want as many players as they can get.

    • Buffalo getting a HAUL for dropping back (Add a 2nd,3rd,4th and 6th) was a great move. But then they waste it by picking a guy that almost assuredly would have been there when they selected 40th. Beyond stupid.

      Pugh were desperation picks. Never a good sign when a team goes grasping at Guards on the first day.

      Good for the Raiders to drop back and get the guy they wanted anyways. To bad they didnt actually take him. Instead they took the 4th best DB available, like Buffalo, he would have been there when they picked in the second round.

      Minnesota has to be considered the clear winner. not just because they got 3 picks, but they got such great ones in the 20′s.

      And I have no idea WTH Dallas was thinking.

      And let me just say this now:

      2013 AFC Champs- Cincinnatti Bengals.

  17. The drafting of Jones certainly addresses an area of need and I guess I like it BUT check back in a couple of years. Every #1 draft pick is destined for greatness at the time they’re drafted. Their highlight reels look great. In the case of Jones will he be able to perform at the same level against NFL left tackles and other linemen? Yes – he played in the SEC which is definitely the highest level of college football week in and week out but it’s still far from the NFL.

    If he has the work ethic and commitment it takes to succeed we may be looking at a really good player for years to come. If Woodley can get himself in shape, Timmons continues to play at the level he played last year and this kid steps in to Harrison’s spot the linebacking corps may return to its traditional strength. In the words of Al Davis, “The quarterback must go down, and he must go down hard.”

    Now lets get a running back and receiver!

  18. I’m not one of those people to ignore the Pens recent loss and how they went about doing it. I saw bad play and habits that were typical of their problems from earlier this season and much of last. Losing 2 ,or possibly 3 games in a row going into the playoffs is NOT where any team, even the ones as talented as the Penguins wants. If this team is going to go soft on the fore check, stop hitting, spend all it’s time in their own end and not offer the slightest resistance to any attempt by the other team cross the blue line at 100 mph, then I don’t think they’ll accomplish much in the playoffs. Like Morrow said before this and the last game, that it was important to win and play well as to not allow any bad habits to creep in. Well, the exact opposite seems to be happening. This team is slacking and playing bad hockey right now.

    In hockey more than any other sport, I think it’s better to battle your way into the playoffs than casually back in waiting for everyone else to meet you there, so regardless of the potential this team has to win the cup, I still wouldn’t be surprised if they go down in the 1st round and become some kind of historical footnote in NHL history. I also think the timing of reintroducing Crosby, Neal and Martin back into the fold might only make things more difficult for them early on.

    I hate to say it but right now, the way all the teams in the conference are currently playing – not by who they have on the team, or how they look on paper – the Caps have the best shot to win the East.

    • Pens were in play it safe, dont-get-hurt mode. They are human beings and when the game is really meaningless its almost impossible to avoid a let-down.

      They will be fine when everyone gets back. In the next week they will add their best PP point man, a 40 goal scorer and the worlds best player. I wouldnt be to worried.

      • I’ve found there’s two ways to look at this; thinking it’s just nothing games that we can’t blame them for getting up for, or they should be trying to tune up for the playoffs and play the best they can regardless. I favor the later. No team wants to be playing slacker hockey 5 days from the start of the playoffs, there is no excuse. Besides, playing not to get hurt more than often gets you hurt. you have to be playing your best going into the playoffs, not only aren’t they doing that, they are going to be juggling lines again. Not a good situation.

        I also don’t think they can flick a switch and magically be unbeatable again. We’ve seen where that thinking leads to. Plus, I think everyone will be sadly surprised if they think Crosby will jump out there and be what he was before the injury. Just getting comfortable with playing with the shield in his vision all the time now will be enough to get used to let alone not even practicing with the team for a month.

        I’m just saying no one should be thinking this team right now is a lock to win anything.

      • Very well put Patrick! +++

    • I hate seeing how they have played as well in the last two games. I am hoping that they have eased up on the forcheck and such to avoid any injuries and that will be the extent of it. We will see soon enough.

    • I would have agreed with this completely last year, and I have said much of this myself in the past. However, I am not getting the impression that this team thinks it can just show up and win. Last night was a bad loss and I hated seeing it, but it was clear that the Pens were focused on not getting anyone else injured. I think they have earned some confidence at this point. And two other words occur to me:

      Brendan Morrow

    • I agree.. If anything else, these last couple games are wakeup calls. And this team needs wakeup calls from time to time. I will just be happy if the wakeup call is now rather than two weeks from now.

  19. I don’t dislike the pick as much as I just thought there were more important areas to address with the #17 overall pick. Jones is a special kind of rusher. No doubt. He will get after qb’s. He will get sacks. But that’s pretty much it. He’s a beast against the pass, but better not be expected to do much more. Teams ran right at him last year.

    How many times have you seen a rookie OLB get a lot of playing time in a LeBeau defense? I doubt that changes. I hope it does, but doubt it.

    Without starting a debate about what might or might not be sustainable, I just want to say the Buccos are fun to watch. Yesterday’s game, to me, was one of those games that they’ve been losing for the last few (ok, dozen) years. Can’t wait to see Cutch heat up. Can’t wait to see Cole come up later. Can’t wait to see meaningful baseball played in Pittsburgh this fall.

    Is my Kool-Aid mustache showing?

    • The Pirates are definitely fun to watch – they never seem to be out of a game, and they have a likeable team. Cole, Liriano and Morton should make the rotation fierce by June, and Karstens would make a great addition to the pen (he did really well there in his last stint).

      One thing I really wish they’d address though is the SS position. Barmes and McDonald are a major hole in that line up going on two seasons. I don’t think Mercer is the answer either, so maybe they need to be a little proactive and start looking for someone who will hit even .250-.270 and play good defense.

    • Greg Lloyd was drafted 6th round. Gildon in the 3rd. So was Joey Porter. Harrison went undrafted.

      I’m going to say this till im blue in the face:

      THE 3-4 LEBEAU RUNS DOESNT NEED 1ST ROUND PICKS ON THE OUTSIDE.

      IT ISNT THE PLAYER, ITS THE SYSTEM.

      How many times have we lost a player, plugged someone else in and they did just fine in the OLB slot? Remeber when we lost anyone of the aforementioned and everyone thought the defense would fall apart. Right up until his replacement got 3 sacks and a FF in the first two games.

      I like Jarvis Jones. Hes a good player. He will do fine. But they probably could have filled the ROLB spot with an undersized and overlooked college DE in the 2nd or 3rd round. I say that because thats exactly what Lloyd, Gildon, Kirkland, Woodley and others were. Converted college DE that made the Pro-Bowl as LBs for Pittsburgh.

      Its not a bad pick. Just a little unnecessary. I dont place as much emphasis on the position as everyone else.

      • Like somebody pointed out on the radio today though, back then, not too many teams played the 3-4, now there are 14 teams that play that defense.

        So the demand for those type of players was not as much back then.

      • It could be that the draft is a little weak for edge rushers, and this guy is an impact player right out of the box. Imagine the D with an edge rusher with 1st round caliber (many thought he was a steal at #17). Sacks are way down, and the Steelers are always best when their LB corp is one of the best in the league. If Woodley gets motivated in the offseason, that group is looking really good now. Loved the pick.

        • As many holes as they have on both sides of the ball, an outside pass rusher is the one player, if good, the Steelers can have starting immediately, especially with the situation they are in at OLB. Outside of maybe a top RB, any other player they pick in this draft will not start. Jones is a solid pick to fit that need and hopefully be an impact player right away.

          Anyone who thinks the Steelers have an answer for Harrison’s loss already on the team is sniffing glue.

          Besides: How an RB would be more important than a pass rusher in a pass happy NFL is beyond me.

      • A couple of commenters right above me mentioned it, but I’ll repeat; back then, the Steelers were the ONLY team hunting down those tweeners. Almost everyone was in a base 4-3, and they wanted either prototypical ends or OLB’s.

        I couldn’t tell you exactly where the shift came – the first hint, in my estimation, came when Houston entered the league and Dom Capers coveted Jason Gildon as his attack dog from the outside and forced the Steelers into an expensive extension (before cutting him the next year or so).

        Maybe, though, it was when Dallas drafted DeMarcus Ware basically for the “pass rusher” position. From that point on, it seemed like it went from a niche the Steelers could fill with a guy here and there to a position that was a premium across the league. As teams have moved more and more to the pass, a guy that can get to the quarterback has been more essential than maybe any other defensive position.

        You say the system makes the player and not the other way around…but the diamonds in the rough that the Steelers used to steal in the second and third rounds are now being snapped up because people are approaching their evaluations much more seriously.

        Rarely anymore do teams play in their base defense for most of the game. With three- and four-receiver sets spreading the field, you’re in nickel and dime situations more often than not. In that case, you need to find a guy that can rush the passer standing straight up from the outside, as well as put his hand on the ground and get around the end.

        If you keep waiting until later rounds to bring those guys in, you get more Bruce Davises and not enough Joey Porters.

        • So what do you think of a Chippewa going 1 overall?

          • Personally, I’m thrilled that the MAC has a #1 overall pick in the NFL to go along with the one in MLB (Bullington) and MLS (forget his name…but still! #1 overall pick!)

            That he’s a Chimp…err, Chip, makes it bittersweet, but all in all this only adds to the exposure of the conference. The MAC has had some great successes lately – Akron winning the men’s soccer national championship not long ago, NIU in the Orange Bowl (could possibly have been Kent State, as well), Kent in the College World Series, Ohio in the Sweet 16 last year, Akron riding high for much of the basketball season…things are getting better here.

      • Maybe I put too much emphasis on it.

        Converting a DE is not a given. For every success there is one that didn’t pan out:

        Thaddeus Gibson 4th rd
        Bruce Davis 3rd
        Nathaniel Adibi 2nd
        Alonzo Jackson 2nd

  20. From your column:

    “In November, I canvassed more than a dozen of the Steelers’ players in the locker room to ask who were the team leaders, and I got more than a dozen names in return. Not one mention of Harrison.”

    With a 53 man roster that means there was one leader in every 4-5 players. Maybe that was the problem with the Steelers last year. Maybe they need fewer, more effective leaders, not more “leaders”.

    Too many people who think they should be leaders, not enough who have the skills to actually be one.

  21. Yesterday I hosted a breakfast meeting of some of our company’s top resellers.

    Buffet line, covered hot trays, little signs in front of trays announcing each dish. You know the routine.

    So I’m going through the line with two of our most important. We approach a covered tray. Sign in front says Potatoes O’Brien.

    I point to the sign and say: I think I dated her in high school.

    Note to self: Shut. Up.

  22. After all the excitement of yesterday’s win vs. the hated Phillies settled down for me, It got me to thinking: I love what the Pirates are doing in this stretch. Impressive, no question. I said that yesterday. But, I, unlike last year just can’t get too excited…yet. I think 20 years of losing will do that. I really think the past 2 seasons will do that. We are only one month into the campaign. If this was, say, August……. None the less, I’ll still say, hope they have a great weekend in Missouri and then Brew Town… “Beat ‘em Bucs”!

  23. Painfully long swing?

    Are we talking about the swing Travis Snider had with the Blue Jays:

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

    Or the one he has now with the Pirates:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSxMXD3_-og

    This year I see a wide, slightly open stance the closes up with a short stride and low hands very similar to Andrew McCutchen. Snider’s load can get a little long when he drops his hands too much, which I think also causes him to get around the ball, but it is much improved from his time with the Jays.

    I love talking about this kind of stuff. Help me out, what am I missing? What makes Snider’s swing “painfully long”?

    • Well it’s not his arms, so it must be a long bat. Just kidding I haven’t seen enough of his past at bats to compare for myself. Good question though.

    • Maybe long could be replaced for “slow”? He seems to sit back a bit sometimes so he can still pull the soft stuff. Personally I’ve seen plenty of MLB players have an uglier swing and be just fine. Not everyone can have a swing like Bonds or Griffey.

      Cal Ripken Jr changed his swing almost every year. Dramatically sometimes. I’ll look around and try and find it, but I found a montage one time of all the different batting stances Ripken had during his career. It was actually pretty funny.

      Long, short, powerful, compact, Hips, elbows, open, closed, chin over shoulder, peeking, breathing through his eyelids…blah blah blah….can he get the barrel of the bat to the ball in front of the plate?

      • Now slow I could buy. He certainly doesn’t have the batspeed of McCutchen, Alvarez, or especially Marte. But there is a huge difference between slow and long. Slow bats don’t produce power, long swings don’t produce contact.

        • I don’t think Snider’s swing is long at all anymore. I”ve seen Dejan write that twice now in the past two days and I’m really puzzled.

          • 21,
            You are not a scout.

            And I don’t value your opinion less than theirs

            • Thank you because:

              1. I’ve seen how scouts dress (although they’re not worse than journalists), and

              b. I value your opinion when you’re drinking.

  24. At some point DK, you’re just going to write “Travis Snider is playing well” and not have to preface it with some bluster about “I’ve talked to 15 scouts and the cryogenically frozen head of Ted Williams who believe he’ll be nothing more than a 4th OF…”

    The guy is producing…isn’t it time that he stop taking the displaced blame for Huntington not pulling the trigger on the Headley deal?

    • When he produces for more than a month. There is plenty of time for water to find its level. whatever level that is in…say, June, is probably a better sampling of Snider’s ability.

      Unless of course he sucks out loud for two weeks and gets replaced by Alex Presley. Again. Which has just as much chance of happening as Snider continuing to produce the way he has in the first 20 games.

    • Zach, I am nominating that for “POST OF THE DAY”. Don’t get too excited though, there is no actual prize.

      Patrick, can’t we say he is playing well for this month?

      • Whether I agree with you or not, Zachary, I’m sending you a bill for a new iPhone. When I got to the severed head, my poor attempt at suppressing laughter turned into a spit covered phone.

        Your fault

        So I have to ask after the disembodied head reference, does your V. stand for Vivisection?

      • Well that kinda obvious I would think. I suppose for Snider that is a new enough trend that it warrants noting.

        • Just how “new” is this trend of good play?

          Snider has been a Pirate for about three months. He hit .301/.385/.422 over his first 28 games last year, then slumped to .156/.204/.156 in his last 22. He’s hit .309/.387/.436 in his first 21 games this season.

          Objectively speaking, Travis Snider has been more successful than unsuccessful as a Pirate. And that’s before even considering how his hamstring injury impacted his performance in the last month of 2012.

          • Well even if the 3 months had been consecutive I suppose I would consider it “new”. But you’re obviously right, he has been more good than bad. I suppose this is just my baseball cynicism discoloring things.

            I will remain cautiously optimistic about Snider. I have said for years that the PBC is long overdue to have one of the 19 dozen OFs they trade for break out. Last time one of their “prospects” they trade for turn into something special was Jason Bay. The law of averages says that at some point one of these guys turns in to an everyday player at least.

            I suppose Brandon Wood did….eventually…

            • Don’t get me wrong, I’m not using this as a defense or prediction of future success. I THOUGHT it would be a good lede to a conversation on whether or not the old scouting reports of Snider are even relevant, but apparently nobody is interested.

              In my opinion, he still is hitting off a soft front leg which kills his weight transfer and also leads to his front hip opening too fast. This is killing his power.

              I also doubt his >.300 batting average is sustainable since he’s hitting .405 on balls in play, which would probably be some kind of record.

              I want to see 500 PA’s before I believe he’s the .275/.350/.450 type of player that his peripherals suggest he could be.

  25. Dejan, your taste in movies is fantastic.
    -Lex Luthor, The greatest criminal mind of our time.

    • I thought that answer in the chat was interesting, too. (Favorite superhero movie—Superman II). Especially since the new reboot is supposed to have at least some of the same bad guys from Krypton.

      • I’ll give Dejan props for picking Superman II, clearly the best of the Christopher Reeve efforts. Mario Puzo was one of the screenwriters. However, the film’s cast included the dreadful Margot Kidder, whose very presence drags down the cast, so it can not top a favorite list.

        Christian Bale Batman movies are the class of that franchise.

        I think it may be impossible for Dejan to consider a Marvel product but I would place Iron Man I and The Avengers ahead of Superman II. I could also be convinced that Sin City and Watchmen were better efforts (then again, I’ll watch anything with Carla Gugino and Malin Akerman in it).

        • Christopher Reeve was the perfect Clark Kent.

          Honestly, the X-Men movies and the Fantastic Four ones stand out for me on the Marvel side, along with the Avengers movie. Magneto I think brings similar clout like Luthor and Joker. Ditto with Dr. Doom. Easier to hate maybe. The latest Spiderman movie didn’t do much for me.

    • You must be delusional, everybody knows that Simon Bar Sinister is the greatest criminal mind ever!!

  26. “…aside from health concerns and his ability to tackle he should be a good player” Kiper on Raiders corner DJ Hayden. Because if there are two things that aren’t really relevant in the NFL, its health issues or a defensive players ability to tackle….

    “…of all the players that can locate and catch the ball, hes is one of the better ones” Kiper on WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston’s first pick. Does this mean their are WR in the draft that can’t locate or catch the ball?

    I also hear dhim three times criticize players for having “Short arms”. All three of which were lineman. The only thing more absurd than critiqueing a NT “..has short arms” it’s spending a minute lavishing a praise on a LT for his great 40 yard dash time. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen an OT tackle run 40 yards in my 30+ years of watching football.

    And we think making a big deal out Lacy’s or Jones’ 40 yard time was silly? Some of the stuff these guys talk about is ridiculous. How on earth does Kiper still have a job?

    And for God’s sake can someone please comb Jon Gruden’s hair?!?!

  27. I was looking through the available talent from the first round and I personally be satisfied if we obtain any of the following in the second round:

    Eddie Lacy-RB
    Robert Woods-WR
    Justin Hunter-WR
    Keenan Allen-WR
    John Cyprien-Safety
    Jesse Williams-NT
    Arthur Brown-ILB
    Manti Teo-ILB
    Kevin Minter-ILB

    • I agree with all of those except Williams – they have a much greater need for the other positions. Would take any of those guys, and with the run on QBs early in the 2nd, they just might get their pick of a few of them.

      • Since we’ll most likely obtain an extra selections next year draft for losing Wallace/Lewis to free agency I wonder if the Steelers will use one of our original 2014 draft choices to move up from the 3rd round to grab one of those guys who might slide.

        • With all the talent that is seemingly still available, that’d be smart I think. Good to take advantage of a deep 2nd-4th round now because who knows what it would be like next year…

        • I was wondering that myself, they know they should get a couple of nice comp picks next year.

          I don’t want to see them trading any of the picks this year, they need em all

          • I think we could very well get a 3rd and 4th for Wallace and Lewis and maybe like a 6th for Mendenhall. So, I certainly think next years draft could picks could be fair game.

    • I’d be content with any of these guys in the third if they’re available:
      Montee Ball-RB
      Jonathan Franklin-RB
      Bacarri Rambo-Safety
      Phillip Thomas –Safety
      Shamarko Thomas-Safety
      David Amerson-CB
      Tyrann Mathieu-CB
      Blidi Wreh-Wilson-CB
      John Bostic-ILB
      I think the Steelers will go safety in the 3rd and/or 4th rounds since we really have no backups since Mundy is gone and Allen will most likely follow suit.

    • I really like Justin Hunter. Big guy with speed.

    • For what it’s worth, this looks about right, except I’m zero-ing in on Lacy, Woods, Teo, or Hunter. It’s one of those 4 I’m hoping falls in their lap tonight, pretty much in the order I listed them.

  28. A good start by Liriano last night, 5 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 8 Ks

    I’ve read that a target date for him is May 10th or so.

    If Sanchez blows up again tonight, am wondering if they would consider moving that date up

    • Let’s try this today: What if Sanchez pitches a gem tonight. Couple that with Locke’s recent great start and JMac doing OK for 2 starts in a row.

      Let’s freak out and try to figure out what we’re going to do with TOO MANY starting pitchers.

      :-)

      • This is a little early to be hitting the bottle, even by Milo’s standards.

        • “Let’s freak out and try to figure out what we’re going to do with TOO MANY starting pitchers.”

          I feel an August 1st nightmare coming on.

          • My experience as a person yields the fact that, when there are too many SP’s, some become relievers, others go to the minors, others to the CL and others shown the door.

            Chris Leroux is doing Rosetta Stone for Japanese right now.

            • Come on Lucky, play along. I just wanted to shake things up a bit.

              If we continue down the path we were going on (“when is Sanchez leaving”) we’re going to get yelled at for discussing the same topic over & over.

              :-)

              We’ll have so many starting pitchers, NH will trade Jonathan Sanchez for a power hitting short stop.
              -Now it’s your turn

              • Is this a taboo subject?

                Anyone have a list anywhere ;-)

                Actually I was trying to say I was encouraged by Liriano’s start last night

              • Neal’s not Shero, TC. Ray would have the Orioles begging us to take Manny Machado and Weiters for Sanchez and Gomez and a PTBNL.

                I think I’m allowed to discuss package deals on an open thread, right?

                :D

              • Package deals might be a taboo subject on all threads ;-)

              • TC

                I understand what you are saying completely when talking about Locke and JMac. Sanchez not so much. There is no chance he stays in any rotation when anyone is ready. I’m amazed Wilson isn’t starting today. He probably ends up pitching more innings then Sanchez today.

                I will say Sancez legitametely looks frustrated. He wants to compete. It must be hard knowing at one point you actually had the stuff to be a number 2 or 3 starter and now at a relatively young age you can’t find that stuff anymore.

              • I think DK cleared us last week to discuss anything at any time, except package deals and the circus he mentioned on the chat yesterday.

                Do you think that’s Sirc De Sole’ or however that’s spelled?

              • There’s an article today in the PG with the title “Sanchez Won’t Change His Style on Mound.”
                He basically said he just needs to be more consistent.

            • +1000 on the Rosetta Stone comment

              • Yeah, I’m going to have to steal that one sometime.

              • We’re probably close to getting in trouble.

                This ‘made up’ scenario of having too many starting pitchers has killed the draft talk…and debates on who should be on the Pens’ fourth line.

              • “and debates on who should be on the Pens’ fourth line.”

                That reminds me. I was sitting in Nationals Park during Strasburg’s debut and the folks sitting next to me were talking about the Redskins 5th round draft choice that year.

            • If EYE had written “my experience as a person”, people would be asking me to prove it.

    • They seem to be treating this as his spring training more than rehab since it is a non-throwing arm injury, similar to AJ last year. More about working on mechanics and feel than health.

      I said yesterday that the answer to Sanchez’ short term replacement is Gerrit Cole. He lines up on the same day and order in Indy’s rotation as Sanchez does with the big club. It would only be for one or two spot starts so he wouldn’t lose a year of control, gain Super-2 status, or stunt his development in AAA, and mostly it would send a message that the team is serious about every game they play.

      • Hopefully his start in 5 days is just as solid and if Sanchez struggles again they bring him up one start early. If in deed it is not about health, which I think you are correct in saying, why not bring him up. The results could not possible be any worse then Sanchez.

        • Thats what I was thinking too, and if Liriano can go 5 right now, well, thats better than what we’ve gotten from Sanchez so far

  29. I was hoping they’d get either Dee Milliner or Kenny Vaccaro. Turns out neither were available so I’m happy with their pick.

  30. Former Pirate Watch:

    Brad Lincoln was recalled Thursday and pitched a scoreless inning for the Blue Jays.

  31. -As a SEC college football fan (Gators) I am very happy with the pick. Jones can bring it.

    -A lot of people put stock into 40 times (don’t think the Steelers are one of those teams) and I know Jones struggled with that at the combine, but on the field he was a man amongst boys. Great pick by the Steelers, looking forward to the rest of the draft.

    -Still a lot of players out there to choose from. I’d like to see Matt Barkley or Monte Ball with pick #2 if they are available.

    • Not real high on either of those, especially Barkley. Too many other needs to worry about training a backup quarterback who won’t even get the chance to start until after his first contract is up. He makes sense for a team in the Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland crowd.

  32. George Jones has died, may he rest in peace. Question now is, will he show for the funeral ? Too soon ?

  33. It is a great time to be a Pittsburgh sports fan. The Flyers are out of the playoffs. The Penguins are the number 1 seed in the east and their players are getting healthy. The Pirates beat the Phillies. The Pirates are beating pitchers who are some of the best in the league. Pedro hit a homer off a lefty.

    On a side note, must be rough being a Philadelphia sports fan right now.

  34. Do any lunatics think Ray Graham is going to get drafted? And if so, where?

  35. FanGraphs has an article up on Changing Approaches that fits in perfectly with DK’s Travis Snider note. It has been said that Snider changed his game upon getting a fresh start with the Pirates. Has that actually happened?

    Physically, I think the difference in swing mechanics illustrated above speaks for itself.

    Mentally, Snider supposedly was to be focussing on more contact, something that should show up in his plate discipline numbers. FanGraphs analysis suggests statistics such as swing rate, contact rate, strikeout rate, and walk rate stabilize after about 200 attempts. Snider now has 207 as a Pirate, so lets take a look…

    Swing Rate, Jays: 52% Swing Rate, Pirates: 43%
    Contact Rate, Jays: 75% Contact Rate, Pirates: 82%
    Strikeout Rate, Jays: 26.7% Strikeout Rate, Pirates: 22.7%
    Walk Rate, Jays: 7.5% Walk Rate, Pirates: 10.1%

    The numbers seem to support a significant change in approach.

    • I believe pedro accounts for 22.6% of that strike out rate

    • Anyone have any info on the injury to Orpik?

    • These numbers certainly would suggest that Snider has changed his mental approach at the plate. Every single number is an improvement over his time with the Jays. I wonder what he has changed in his approach to make this improvement.

      • This is a pretty good article about it, which was in JAL’s morning links last week.

        http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/04/17/evolution-of-travis-snider-starting-to-yield-results-for-pittsburgh-pirates/

      • Somebody suggested last week that the major change is Russell Martin’s game(similar to Snider, huge decrease in strikeouts and increase in ground balls) was because as a veteran, he knew he didn’t have the short porch at Yankee Stadium to target.

        I think something similar clicked with Snider. He was a hugely touted power hitting prospect in high school and shot up through the lower minors against less experienced competition. Once he got to AAA, he was playing in the Pacific Coast League which is notorious for inflating statistics, especially power numbers.

        Even after three consecutive seasons of limited success in limited opportunities at the big league level, he was still going back to AAA and seeing his numbers skyrocket. I think this might’ve been the false hope that kept him from making a dramatic change. Seeing the Jays basically give up on him might’ve been the kick in the rear he needed.

  36. Just opened my USAToday app on my iPad and there was a Subway ad featuring Justin Tuck, Ndamukong Suh, RGIII, and Jarvis Jones.

    So I guess we made a good pick.

  37. Today is the day to pick up speed in thwe Wide Receiver, Running Back and Safety positions. Good luck Steelers!

    Some picks for Rd # 2:

    Eddie Lacy – RB – Ala – 5-11 – 231
    LeVon Bell – RB – Mich St – 6-1 – 235
    Johnathan Cyprien – S – Fla Intl – 6-0 -217
    DJ Swearinger – S – S.Carol – 5-10 – 210
    Zach Ertz – TE – Stanford – 6-5 – 249
    Keenan Allen – WR -Cal – 6-2 -206
    Justin Hunter – WR -Tenn – 6-4 – 196
    Robert Woods – WR -USC – 6-1 – 201
    Quinton Patton – WR – La Tech – 6-0 – 204
    .
    .
    Some picks for Rd #3:
    Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor, 6-2 208
    Stedman Bailey, WR, WVU, 5-10, 193
    Marquise Goodwin, WR,Tex, 5-9, 183
    Markus Wheaton, WR, Oreg St, 5-11 189
    Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tenn Tech, 6-3 217
    Johnathan Franklin, WR, UCLA, 5-10 205
    Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin , 5-11, 214
    Christine Michael, RB, Tex A&M, 5-10 220
    Giovanni Bernard, RB, NC , 5-9, 202
    ShamarkoThomas, S, Syracuse, 5-9, 213
    Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno St, 6-1, 208
    Bacarri Rambo, S, GA, 6-1, 211
    JJ Wilcox, S, GaSouthern, 6-0 213

  38. Just read that Jordan Staal hopes the reaction to him tomorrow night is positive. He still plays ?

  39. Random thoughts from RTP, NC (visiting from sunny Phoenix):

    1) The whole Geno Smith fascination baffles me. His agents (and the 24/7 gasp-inducing NFL draft coverage since January) are responsible for overhyping his ability and that put him in the green room yesterday waiting to be bear-hugged by Roger Do-Goodell. So let’s not waste too many tears over his predicament of having to go home empty handed and wait for his name to be called on day 2 or 3. NFL teams are smarter than that (even the Bengals and Raiders are starting to act like real teams and not drunk fantasy football owners).

    Just because he plays QB doesn’t mean he’s worth taking above say, mid-round 3.

    2) Pirates are off to a very good start. Yes, they are riding a remarkable bullpen and some timely late-game hitting which isn’t sustainable, but on the other hand, there are a few missing pieces that figure to get better (Cutch hitting low 200s, Pedro not yet fully clicking, starting pitching figures to improve (hopefully)…. so before anyone writes off 13-9 as ‘nice, but Pittsburgh is the new ‘show-me city’, let’s factor in there are plusses and minuses in their start so far…and that is more encouraging than this time last year.

    DK: Man, Geno Smith isn’t doing himself any favors. Can’t handle a couple cameras?

  40. I think DK was right that the Jarvis Jones pick is part of a plan for the Steelers to re-gain their identity. There are no guarantees, but Jones looks like the kind of guy that has that potential in him.
    Here’s to hoping Day 2 looks as successful as Day 1 on paper.

    DK: Has to be a running back and a wide receiver in there. The offense has to get addressed next.

    • I guess its unlikely that Lacey drops to the steelers in the second round eh DK?

      DK: You wouldn’t think. But all I’m hearing so far is QBs and CBs are expected to go early. We’ll see. There are teams that need RBs. Plus, you can pretty much bank on the Chiefs and Bills doing stupid things.

  41. My random ramblings on above posts:
    Day 2 is 2 day.
    DK’s aversion to package deals was not helped by Don Brennan.
    The Steelers need to get Shamarko Thomas.

    PS: Though it’s probably already blown over, Brennan got some backlash from his own readership.
    http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/John-Toperzer/Game-Night-Pens-host-Buffalo-in-make-up-special/150/51088

  42. Just saw this post on Twitter from Elias, “Starling Marte has 11 multi-hit gms in ’13. He’s the 1st Bucco to have as many in the team’s 1st 22 gms since Jack Wilson(11) in 2002.”

    Good for Marte, but more shocking to me was that Jack Wilson lead the Pirates in an offensive statistic.

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