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Friday Wakeup Call: Ottawa’s bag empty?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

>> There’s no Friday column because it’s pushed back to tomorrow to cover Game 2.

>> There is, however, a chat transcript from yesterday that pretty much run the gamut. This was my favorite one in a long while, actually, entirely because of the caliber of questions.

>> One of the best questions was about what the Senators can bring to Game 2 that was missing in Game 1, and I’m not sure I answered it all that well. Heck, I’m not sure there is an answer, which might be the point.

Don’t misunderstand: I’m not knocking Ottawa. That roster and system are both strong enough that they could take Game 2 by a three-goal margin without it looking even remotely fluky.

Rather, the point is that I don’t know if the Senators have a second gear.

The only real news from either camp yesterday was that Guillaume Latendresse probably will be inserted into Paul MacLean’s lineup to add a physical presence. Oh, and that Eric Gryba, a big, strong defenseman, almost surely won’t play after Brooks Orpik’s Richter-scale hit in Game 1.

That’s it.

The Ottawa press continues to buzz about Jason Spezza skating back in Ontario, but the man’s been on the ice for all of a week after major back surgery — no such thing as minor back surgery — and has yet to have someone so much as breathe near him toward preparing for physical contact. Anyone who thinks Spezza’s coming back for this series is dreaming.

Overall, the Senators you saw in Game 1 are mostly the Senators you’ll get, except for some better execution with the puck and maybe another big save or two from Craig Anderson.

Contrast that to the Penguins, who have Jussi Jokinen, Beau Bennett and Simon Despres watching from the press box. All three, if inserted, could completely change the style and look of how the team attacks.

We’ll know soon enough if the home side capitalizes on its edge without having to turn to Plan B.

>> Here’s our full team coverage of Pens-Sens Game 2. I’ll be up at the rink all day.

>> I’ll check in from the skates with TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m. One click does the trick.

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.


  1. First. Can’t wait for the game tonight. Going up 2-0 on these guys will be huge. Plus I’d like to win all the games at home. Stanley Cup!!!

  2. Hoka Hey everyone!
    Pirates win…Pirates win…..XXIV wins down, …and LVIII to go.
    Yes, GM Neal and Mgr. Clint ….82 wins DOES make a difference.
    Beat Em’ Bucs ! :-)

  3. The Pirates beat the Brewers last night 7-1. I was there. I saw it happen. Live.

    Always nice to beat the Brewers. And the 6th inning was great —seemed like a while since the team strung that many hits together and scored ‘a crooked number’

  4. JAL’s Friday’s Child Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Thursday Thoughts on Liriano, Martin, Wilson, Milwaukee, Sanchez

    Prospect Watch: Tony Sanchez Keeps Hitting, Gregory Polanco Homers

    Prospect Notebook: When Should Taillon and Pimentel Be Promoted to Indianapolis?

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Liriano, Snider dominate Brewers in 7-1 win


    Game 40: Pirates 7 Brewers 1

    8 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Rock ‘n’ Roll Against Brewers 7-1

    9 Rumbunter

    Win a LG Electronics 42-Inch LED TV from Rum Bunter

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 7, Brewers 1

  5. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Brewers’ offense struggles again in loss to Pirates

    12 Rant Sports

    Next Six Games Are Crucial For Pittsburgh Pirates.

    13 Yahoo Sports

    Quarter Poll: Analyzing the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Hot Start to the Season

    14 USA Today

    Stanford ace Mark Appel has moved past last year’s draft

    15 Delaware Times

    Spirit of Danny Murtaugh lives on in Drexel Neumann Academy gym

    16 CBS Sports

    Houston at Pittsburgh Preview

    17 Sweetspot

    Yu Darvish wins battle of the aces

    18 PBC Site

    Snider’s three-hit night backs Liriano’s strong start

    Notebook: Hurdle gratified with Bucs’ attitude, effort, direction


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    On the Origin of the Switch-Hitting Species

    20 Fangraphs

    Daily Notes: Most Improved Pitchers So Far, Per ZiPS

  6. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Injury Report: Recovery dictates patience for Sean Spence

    Around the AFC North: What was your favorite Rolando McClain Ravens moment?

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Terrible Podcast: Young Steelers, Wide Receivers, Directional Rush, and more

    Soccer(football) Will T

    23 Daily Telegraph

    David Beckham calls time on his illustrious football career with parting shot at critics

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 15th May, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Points.

    26 USA Today

    Senators hope to tighten up against Penguins in Game 2

    27 Yahoo Sports

    Pittsburgh Penguins Suited to Handle Senators in Second Round

  7. I just read the chat. DK, interesting idea about Kunitz to top line for Crosby’s benefit. I thought he had a less than stellar game 1. Largely unnoticed because they won handily. Lets see I’d he has a better game 2.

  8. The Pirates have shown a knack of bouncing back after losing the first game of a particular series. I don’t put much stock in that, however, the team isn’t getting down over losses, something I feel has plagued them late in the past couple of seasons. Hopefully the team is tougher in that regard this year to get over that hump.

    I’m expecting a very desperate Ottawa team tonight and a much closer hockey game. DK makes a great point though; Ottawa may not have the personnel to switch up their style of play to gain an advantage. The Pens on the other hand can insert grit, speed, scoring touch, and a great goalie at a games notice depending on how the series develops and how the match ups work out. Great stuff.

  9. I may have a slight disagreement with DK re: that Ottawa doesnt have the “personnel” to go another notch. I would say sometimes it doesnt matter. McLean has a history of taking runs at players, sending out the “goons”, and brawling. Just look at their series with Montreal.

    Last year, Philly didnt have the personnel to hang with the Penguins, but they played chippy hockey, and got the Pens off their game. So lets figure that somewhere into the equation.

    I am not saying Ottawa will be able to do it, but there is a chance that they can.

    • Hipposter!!!

    • Ottawa’s squabbles in the last series had more to do with Montreal overreacting to the Lars Eller hit and trying to extract revenge than it did with Ottawa gooning it up. I don’t expect MacLean to go that route.

      • don’t kid yourself. They’re down one game. if they’re having trouble to start Game 2, look for their goons to goon it up. Chris Neil can’t help himself!

        • That’s Chris Neil’s game. To Hippo’s point, I don’t see MacLean sending out his goon squad for the sole purpose of sending a message.

          • No, not to send a message, but to try to knock us off our game. Especially Geno and James Neal. That’s what he’d send them out for.

            • Totally agree.

              What I didn’t agree with was that MacLean has a history of “taking runs, sending goons and brawling” based on the Montreal series. My point was the blame for that circus was on Montreal and their players, not Paul MacLean.

              In any event, looking forward to a great game tonight!

  10. If Ottawa feels they haven’t been physical enough, they might just “physical” themselves right out of the game if they try to take it up another level. Guys like Neil are already going out of there way to make hits and that could lead to even more scoring opportunities for the Pens. They might be better off gearing it down a bit and trying to force the Pens into mistakes but hey, whatever floats their boat, as long as it help the Pens to a win.

    Other than that note; I think the real hidden issue with Spezza playing or not, is he still hasn’t been able to find a dependable coke source in Pittsburgh.

  11. I can’t believe I’m going to write this.

    Can the Pirates just play the brewers EVERY day?

  12. Thoroughly enjoyable game last night. Let’s have two of those tonight.


  13. I just realized that the Pirates have had four 4-game series so far this season. In all four, they have dropped the first game and have gone on to win the last three. (Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York M, Milwaukee)

  14. From link #5:

    “Before the game [Martin] and Michael McKenry each saw 24 stolen base attempts. McKenry threw out one runner. Martin threw out nine. The league average for caught stealing has been 28%, and Martin was at 38%. That was before throwing out one of two tonight.”

    • Martin clearly a major upgrade at catcher

    • There’s probably a very logical reason that other teams have attempted to steal just as often on McKenry when he’s caught fewer games than Martin.

      • Thats a good point, didn’t think of that before

      • Another thing that doesn’t bode well for the Fort. Tony Sanchez is hitting .307 at Indy. Tony already has the defensive skills to be a ML catcher.

        • Especially since most value defense a lot more then offense for their back up catchers. If Sanchez is hitting well it is a no brainer to go with him over Fort. I like McKerney but I think he may make sense for another team more then the Pirates.

      • Nah. Sample size is too small for stats to matter. :-D

        • Yeah, I forgot. 10 years in AAA is too small a sample.


          • The Fort’s caught stealing % in his minor league career is 36%.

            • They run on every pitch in the minors. That’s probably from a bigger sample size.


              Truly, I believe it’s his mechanics that need tweeked. Doumit was just poor defensively. McKenry can be fixed.

              • Did you see where Clint is having him take grounders at second base in order to work on his throws?

                I love stuff like that. I have absolutely no idea what the two have to do with each other, but I’m also absolutely sure Clint has a reason for doing it.


              • Saw that. You’d think he’d have him take them at 3rd for a longer throw, but what do I know.

              • Spunky, you’re getting ahead of Clint, taking them from third is the NEXT step ;)

              • Yep. I remember when they got him in that 8 catcher season, his rep was good defense, not much offense. But we were comparing him to Doumit, and to a lesser extent Snyder, who never lived up to his rep defensively.

                One other thing, I think the Fort suffered from the aptly termed ” Organizational indifference” to stealing bases that the Pirates had until this year.

              • Clint must have a reason, b/c throwing from 2nd base is nothing like throwing from behind the plate to catch a runner stealing.


              • I’m not the best baseball observer, but from what I’ve seen, Fort gets the ball to second, but the throw is either too high or off too far from the bag to make the tag successfully/in time. Just needs some fine tuning.

              • Wasn’t it Ed Ott or one of those guys from that era who had a hop when he came out of his crouch to throw and they fixed him?

                He was better after they got rid of that. McKenry is fixable. (At least I hope so).

              • Ah, nothing like an Ed Ott reference to take me back to my teenage years and regular attendance at TRS for Bucs’ games. I was at the game when Ed Ott went in hard at second and Felix Milan of the Mets tooka swing at him. Ott body slammed him to the turf and broke his collarbone (I think). I still remember the trainers tending to him out there at second base.

              • Can’t remember the Otter backing away from anything.

    • I doubt he keep’s this up but that is very encouraging. Add to that the amount of balls he prevents from being pass balls/wild pitches and the relationship he seems to have with some of the pitchers and I don’t see how he isn’t considered possible are most important player.

    • Working on the turn at 2B to help a catcher’s throwing may sound unconventional, but it’s a pretty good drill. It works on the following: proper footwork; quick footwork; quick transfer from catch to throw; making the feet, the transfer and the throwing motion work together.

      What I’ve seen from Fort this year is that his timing and mechanics are way, way off. And his arm slot is nowhere near what it was two years ago when he’d lock it by his ear and let fly. His arm seems to be too far from his body and his throws are sailing. High throws generally are a result of overstriding and rushing…he gets no snap on those at all.

  15. I’m surprised no one has noted that the Marlins had a bigger crowd last night than the Pirates. :)

    I follow the Brewers pretty closely. Get the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel everyday. And to quote our departed friend, Milo, they stink. Shaky starters, poor bullpen. Will not be surprised if they finish behind the Cubs. These are series that need to be taken and the Pirates did just that. Sign of a decent ballclub.

    Now another team comes to town that the Pirates should take the series from. Is there anymore loathsome front office in the majors than the Astros? Jim Crane is one of the biggest tools in sports. Their cable TV contract reaches only 40% of the Houston market! Way to win over the community, Jimmie. And Pirates fans complain that a couple of their games are not on because of the Pens!

    • I would also note that it looks like the Pirates trumped the Brewers in off season starting pitching acquisitions. If Liriano stays healthy, he will certainly benefit his club far more than pedestrian Kyle Lohse.

      • At a far better contract price. But what are the odds we read about that comparison or about the .211 catcher for the team paid $17M for who is, through 41 games, is arguably the team MVP?

        Very easy and logical to criticize the moves in the offseason… just as easy to give the team its due if the moves actually work. At least, so far.

        • Hey Naje: Thanks for the Derby Pie suggestion for the Derby party I went to. It was a hit as my fellow Cheeseheads at the party were generally unaware of the pie custom.

          Who do you like tomorrow? I’m pulling for Orb simply because I would love to see another triple crown winner before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

          • Me too.

          • You are most welcome for the tip, John… and glad you had a good time.

            Yes, Orb… what a fantastic horse. I had the good fortune to be on the backside on the Tuesday before Derby and spent time with Dallas Stewart talking about Golden Soul. Wrote a story about him, the horse and Stewart’s good friend Scotty Davenport. Davenport was an assistant coach under two hall of fame coaches at UofL: Denny Crum and Rick Pitino. He coached Bellarmine (a horse, by the way, that won on Derby day — race No. 5) University men’s hoops to the D-II National Championship in 2011 and has them competing at the very top of D-II every year.

            So, from talking with Stewart about Golden Soul, it was clear that he felt his horse could hit the board… I put 10 across on him and got $290 in return…

            Back to Orb… big, huge trunk on that horse. I mean, remember how huge Big Brown was in his haunches and across his front? Orb is like that in the rump… powerful as all heck. Not sure that post position No. 1 is ideal for him, but Rosario should be able to manage him.

            Like you, I want a triple crown winner. Orb is definitely the horse. Work with Billy Reed… and you may find this story from him interesting… neat to see all of the connections and the family histories here:


            • Thanks for the link. Good read. Just a random thought but some of the best sports writing I have ever read has been about horse racing and boxing. Must be something about the colorful personalities in the respective sports.

              I baked the pies off of internet recipes. I’m pretty good at baking and cooking if I do say so myself. The key is that I make my own crusts. Never use the frozen ones.

              • Oshkosh do you use shortening or butter in yours?

              • I use a combination of both. Probably 2/3 or 3/4 butter. The ones made only with shortening are too bland, but the ones made only with butter are too crumbly, I think. If I really don’t care about my guests’ arteries, I have been known to use only lard!

              • Ahhh Lard…that’s the best! I can make a decent crust, but nothing like the ones my mother used to make.

              • Glad you enjoyed it! Billy’s a great writer and has so many connections with the horse industry and Shug is a good friend of his. Yeah, the personalities in those sports is really what drives them.

                And you MUST make your own crusts… awesome that you made those pies and happy to hear they turned out well. Have my mom’s pie crust recipes (and many others that we’ve put in a book) in an honored spot on my bookshelf.

                She’ll often plan on making a pie and always double the recipe for the crusts… she says: hey, it’s always easier for me to make two and then we can have a second pie and leftovers… at 82, she still cranks them out at least twice a month: apple pies (and the turnovers she makes with the leftover crust/apples are incredible), lemon mirangue, coconut cream…can’t wait to visit next weekend for the bounty!

        • The more I think about it, the more I don’t want the Buccos to spend big money on free agents (not like they did anyway).

          Everyone would have loved it if we signed Jose Reyes back in 2011 but he actually had a negative WAR stat from last seas and he is making on average around 10% of our gross revenue. We really cannot justify paying anyone that much and especially someone who isn’t producing.

          Even guys like Edwin Jackson, Mark Buehrle, or Jonathan Papelbon who aren’t exactly getting Albert Pujols’ money aren’t necessarily playing poorly but not living up to their contract.

          Speaking of Pujols, that’s someone who isn’t living up to their contract by any means. Last year he had a 3.5 WAR, which isn’t bad but if that’s how he’s playing now, what’s it going to be like when he’s in his 40’s and making $30 Million?

          • “Everyone would have loved it if we signed Jose Reyes back in 2011 but he actually had a negative WAR stat from last seas and he is making on average around 10% of our gross revenue.”

            Really? Honestly, I may have missed it, but I don’t remember one poster, on here or on PG+, who advocated signing Reyes. Not one.
            I don’t think you are giving people enough credit.

          • I agree.

            But I also don’t agree that they should go wild on the other new trend, player extensions.

            Has any of the younger players on the current team really shown that they are any less risky than free agents? IMO, no. Just cheaper.

            For a team with a low payroll like the Pirates, signing a guy like Neil Walker to a $40-50m extension and having him play like he has this season is just as bad as missing on a free agent.

            • Well, how about a 5 year, 30M extension for Walker? Is that more reasonable? When he’s right, he’s a top 5 second baseman in the NL with respect to production.

              With Marte, let him get through this season before moving forward with an extension as his talent seems to be a little more special/reliable… but to have 5 more years of his talent without having to sign him, maybe we wait till mid-or-late 2014 to work with him on that.

              • @Naje

                If thats 5 years AFTER this year, then that would he’ll be making less in his two would-be free agent seasons than he would have in his arbitrated seasons. Doesn’t seem probable he’d accept that.

                Besides, right now Neal Walker is a platoon player.

                I’m not paying any platoon player $10m unless they play premium defense at a premium position.

            • Well every signing has risk. In house, free agent, draft picks…all of them. I think the risk for retaining a player is slightly less than a FA if for no other reason than you know how well he gets long with the team, manager, ECT as well as having a much better understanding of his injury history.

              And not to stir the pot in another direction, but we seem to be worrying about BN money again. The long and short of it is Neil Walker is a lot cheaper than a player identical player signed via FA, but more expensive than unknown commodity from Indy. Another team will be glad to pay 10-15% more for Walker than the Pirates could sign him for. If he tanks he tanks. But like you said….they run that risk with anyone, and they would never get bad press for resigning a true homegrown kid.

    • That is awful news. I wonder if the fans are still livid after the second straight collapse.

    • It seemed pretty much understood that the plan was to ride their offense as far as it will take them. They certainly have the players to do it. I’d take their outfield over any in the NL Central and they might also have the best hitting shortstop and third baseman in the Division.

      But it was incomprehensible to me to see them do soooo little to address their dreadful bullpen AND enter the season with guys like Fiers, Estrada, and Narveson backing up Gallardo and Lohse.

      Truly wing-and-a-prayer style management.

      • I think I have read that the Brewers ‘lost significant money’ in the ‘go for it’ era the last few years; so it seems prudent for them to restock and load up on prospects and not waste money (the Lohse signing, yes indeedy) in seasons where they have no chance at the playoffs. Melvin was right when he didn’t pursue resigning Grienke, etc. but then they contradict and waste money on Lohse. You need to be true to the plan.

  16. Snider had a fantastic night last night. 1st HR and a stolen base and 3 hits! I have a very serious question – what’s up with his face? His cheeks and nose seem to get super red. Just curious if that was ever explained. I know people with Lupus get a red rash like that but obviously he doesn’t have Lupus or he wouldn’t be playing baseball.

  17. Pirates on pace for 94 wins. I don’t know why Hurdle just didn’t predict it 2 years ago.

  18. I know the Maple Leafs choke job hurt a lot of feelings in Toronto, but smoking crack is never the answer. Especially when you’re the mayor.

    • Two thoughts:

      This skirts the political but instead of treating him like an horrific criminal, the Canadians will likely get him treatment and counseling.

      Same thing happened to Mayor Barry and he ultimately survived politically.

      • Ha, my first thought was of Barry. DC’s done alright since then.

        Also funny – actually, no, not funny at al. Good. – that a couple of colleagues I’ve talked to in the GTA brought up getting him help and not hanging him for all to see. Different cultures for sure.

      • They should put him in goal for the Loafs! ;)

  19. Rob Scuderi is an unrestricted free agent this year. Anyone think Shero will try to bring him back? Or are we back to the salary cap thing again which is why he left the first time?

    • Rob Scuderi will be 35 in December. The Pens are gifted with Defensive talent. I really don’t see it happening.

    • I hope not. Despite my man-love on Scuderi, we just don’t need another oldie. Need to re-sign Letang and then cultivate our gifted young’ns to come up and fill any holes. I wish there was any way we could sign up Iginla for another year. I mean.. he hasn’t been spectacular yet? (if you ignore the point he gets in every playoff game) Just think it would be nice to see him with Crosby for another year. Eventhough according to everyone else, Crosby likes Kunitz better. :\

    • Depends a lot on what happens with other guys like Martin, Orpik, Murray. ect….but LA really does love him. I doubt they would let hiim go without a fight. he has meant alot to their young defensemen.

  20. Dejan,

    I kept thinking last night of your line about fans needing to settle for, and ostensibly appreciate, Alvarez for being a .250 hitter who’ll collect 20-30 HR. The guy is hitting .188 and is arguably off to a worse start than the year they sent him back down to the minors. He’s not a professional hitter yet – he seems to be swinging or not swinging blindly, just on a whim – let alone a .250 hitter.

    I would love to see Alvarez hit .250 for a full season. What evidence do you have that he will? Even Barmes is hitting miles ahead of this guy right now. He’s got a .237 OBP, Dejan. I don’t see how he’s different from, say, Brad Eldred right now. But what would you do with him, especially with the Pirates winning despite Alvarez’s lack of contribution to the offense.

    DK: My remark in the chat, as you’ll see if you look again, was a hypothetical for the future as to what Pirates fans might need to accept down the road as an ideal.

    • Pedro didn’t break out last year until the Cleveland series in where he had back-to-back 2-homer games. That series was June 13-15.

      Coming into that series he was hitting .189/.254/.373. He hit .265/.344/.476 for the rest of the year.

      Pedro’s numbers right now are abysmal. No denying it. But they also don’t mean anything in comparison to last year given the very small number of at-bats.

      Think about it…Travis Snider raised his season OPS 55 points last night. In one game. Jose Tabata rasied his season OPS 143 points last week with his 4 for 5 showing against the Mets. Again, in one game.

      The numbers just simply don’t mean much at this point, at least when projecting the rest of the season moving forward.

      • You’re essentially using the “if you take away this month or that month, he’s good” argument, but baseball is 162 games. And every game counts. Pedro isn’t slumping; he just isn’t a very good hitter. Lots of power, not a good hitter. Brad Eldred was the same way, but wasn’t as streaky.

        Bell and Hurdle must be tearing their hair out over Alvarez, but with the Pirates winning, what can and should we do besides wait for him to “come around”? .250 and 20-30 HR would be fine, if he ever does it over a full season, but even then….if that’s his ceiling and someone else was available I’d jump on it.

        I know it’s ages ago, but Aramis Ramirez was a far better hitter in his prime, and the Pirates traded him, in his prime. For a character on “King of the Hill.” Or a bag of balls. Whatever you want to call Bobby Hill. That still mystifies the hell out of me.

        • They were mismanaged and didn’t have any money to pay him. Simple salary dump. That’s what happens when you give clowns like Derek Bell guaranteed deals.

        • You’re begging the question, Adam.

          You’ve clearly already made up your mind that Pedro Alvarez is not worth having on the team. The only answer you’ll take is “get rid of him”.

          That’s fine. But it makes no sense unless a replacement is found first.

  21. Dejan’s hockey idol took a puck to the face last night. Got stitches and came back out to play, and fueled a comeback win:

  22. Sporting thoughts on a TGIFriday Friday…

    * SUCK IT, MILWAUKEE (x3)!

    * Frankie Liriano had another solid start for the Bucs. I hesitate to call it good, as he only went 5.2IP (and he did walk 3 in those 5.2IP), but only 6 Hs allowed and 7Ks is solid. Plus he picked up his 2nd win in as many starts. Good acquisition so far.

    * It would be nice if the Reds and Cardinals could lose a game every now and then. Or at least when the Buccos are winning.

    * Travis Snider hit a dinger. Even though it was only 1, I can now understand why he was described as “dripping with power”. That was a laser shot to [basically] dead CF.

    * Petey Alvarez is still hitting under .200. I say by the end of June that he’s fully entrenched in the land above .200. Only took 3 months. He better have 15 HRs by the end of June though, I’ll say that.

    * Solid 3.1IP of hitless relief by Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris & Jose Contreras.

    * The Brewers are an average ballclub (as highlighted above by NMR). But they’ve had the Buccos’ number for the past few years. While it may not mean too much, I think that starting to beat the Brewers regularly could propel the Pirates on to that above .500 record.

    * 24-17 after that 3-of-4 against the Brewers. After the 1-5 start, the Pirates are 23-12. That’s pretty darn good baseball, and it seems like different people are stepping up to contribute each night. It’s been a fun ride in the early going, and I hope it continues to a playoff berth.

    * I think the Penguins have the Senators number this season. That said, I expect Game 2 to be much tighter (I’m thinking 3-2, with the winner scored in the middle of the 3rd period; tied at 2 after 2). But, I think the Pens get the Game 2 win, and go to Ottawa up 2-0. Penguins take the series in 5 (maaaaaaayyyyyybbbe 6).

    * Gotta secretly root for Boston (feels a little dirty typing that) as I wouldn’t want the Pens to see Lundqvist in the Conf. Finals.

    * STEELERS! (b/c I couldn’t think of anything to type about our football team). Well, Ok, I thought of something…Ben Roethlisberger was named the 61st best player in the NFL by his peers. I guess that’s something.

    * My final thought: how can people get excited for a horse race, yet pay no mind to one of the best games on the planet (and yes, I’m talking about soccer)? Race cheetahs or ostriches? Then we’re talking…



    • are you serious? we own Lundqvist. I have no interest in facing Boston.

      • Yes, I am serious. I’d rather see Rask than Lundqvist.

        • I am also serious and I second Naters’ sentiment on Rask v. Lundqvist. If anyone, we own Rask more so than Lunqvist.

          • And besides, we can laugh at Rask when he gets p*ssed and smashes his stick on the goal ;)

            • I don’t want any part of a Boston/Pittsburgh series. They have a lot of hatred built up over the Cooke incident, and rightly so, and they’re a much better team in general. Henrik is great, but he’s not great against the Pens. And the rest of the Rangers just aren’t anything special.

              • No doubt, Adam.

                While I think both the Rangers and Bruins would lose out to the Pens, I’d rather be in an up-tempo series (as I’d think Boston would present this type of matchup) that plays to the Penguins strengths, than a slower-more defense oriented style that the Rangers would present.

                And Lundqvist.

                Don’t need to see him go all Halak on us.

              • That’s right.. they’re still angry we stole their team colors in 1980.. really? D: NY plays better team defense from what I’ve seen and with a hot goalie that spells more trouble than Boston. I dont even remember the Cookie incident. Was that the thing that involved Marc Savard?

      • Nobody “owns” Lundqvist. Our record against Both teams the past 2 years is very similar, but Lundqvist is by orders of magnitude better than Rask.

    • There are no ties in the Triple Crown. Just sayin’.

      • It’s still horses! What is this, 1847?! Maybe if you put full-size people on the horses I’d watch.

        • Soooo, you have a height prejudice? Hmmmm.

          • Nah, just would like to see how the horses would do if you put a 6’1” 200-215lb individual on their back.

            • Isn’t that kind of like saying lets see how Casey Hampton would do as a soccer player?

              • ZING! Wonder where he’ll end up playing this season? Casey that is.

              • I think he’d make a heck of a central defender. It’d be tough to maneuver around him.

                Wouldn’t offer much in the way of going forward though (offensively, to the lay, nonsoccer person).

              • Bigger’s better? WTF does the size of the humans involved have to do with how popular YOU decide a sport should matter to the general populace?

            • One final point, Nate. I’m not saying you or anyone else should be interested in Horse racing. You are the one criticizing others for being more interested in horse racing than soccer. The idea that “you should think/like what I think/like” goes back millenniums. Maybe to the Garden of Eden.

              (Yes, I realize you are mainly going tongue in cheek).

      • +1

        But JAL and I talk about soccer a fair amount, Nate… there’s nothing going on with soccer right now. The EPL is a runaway; Sir Alex is retiring; Champions League is an all German affair (and no, that’s not a sex scandal I’m talking about)… it’s just been a very mediocre, ho-hum sort of season. The Confed Cup is going to be a bore and about all that we can discuss right now is where the 2014 Cup final will be played because Brasil is having a heck of a time finishing its stadiums.

        • O I hear ya, Naje. and JAL always provides some links to some soccer articles. I was kind of thinking in general (and sort of referring to Americans).

          Why do we as Americans care more about horse racing than soccer? (I understand that both are down the totem pole in the sports talk scene, but feels to me like more people care about how a horse will run around a track than world class athletes plying their trade).

          And I don’t want this to sound ike I’m slagging off horses. They are beautiful creatures. I used to give the horses carrots that lived next to my grandma. That was fun. But you had to keep your hand straight. Or they’d bite your fingers off!

          • ” I used to give horses carrots.”

            Some of my best friends are _______.

          • “I was kind of thinking in general (and sort of referring to Americans).”

            Who exactly are you talking about? Time magazine just had a terrific piece about how thoroughbred racing is in trouble and dying. On this blog, only a few of us have ever posted about the ponies.

            Soccer is talked about, and written about, quite a bit here.

            You can pry my Daily Racing Form from my cold dead hands.

          • “Why do we as Americans care more about horse racing than soccer?”

            Because we can bet on horses without fear that they have been bribed to throw the race. :-)

          • Nate… really, if there was some footie to discuss, I’d jump in, but there’s a lull in the schedules and we’re pretty far removed from it.

            As for Americans not talking about it on a consistent basis, well, that’s not going to happen probably for another 20 years. Hoping that Klinsmann has a big impact on the USMNT for the next five+ years.

            • Not seeing it [Klinsmann's impact]. For some reason, we (USMNT) can’t find a forward that can score consistently other than Dempsey *PAGING MR. ALTIDORE* If Guiseppi Rossi would’ve realised he’s from New Jersey and not Rome, he could’ve been a legend. Instead, he’s never gotten into the Italian national team.

              We also have no creative-ness in midfield. How, in all these years, have we never produced a creative midfield product?

              And our back 4 always seems to sh*t themselves in the first 10 mins of a game putting us on the back foot.

              If anything, I want Klinsmann to find a young creative midfielder that can open defenses up, and stabilize our back 4. If he can do that, his run will be a success in my eyes, even if it doesn’t produce all that much in the way of winning.

    • St. Lou did lose yesterday by the way. 5-2 against the lowly Metropolitans.

      • Yeaaa buddy. But the GeeDee Reds won again. The Pirates, with their record of 24-17, would be in sole possession of 1st in the NL East and T-1st in the NL West, yet we sit 3rd in the Central! Arghhhh!

        • And we get to play the hapless ‘stros next. :)

          • I mean.. are we at that stage yet? Does anyone here have confidence that the pirates might be a legitimate team? And by legitimate I mean, they go out and take care of business and win series against weaker opponents.

            • Funny.

              I saw that the team has six games in a row at home against the Cubs and Astros and it made me more nervous than at any point in their hellish first month.

              Hard to imagine this team SHOULD enter June 10-12 games above .500.

            • I have $50 bet that they’ll win 83 or more, so I have about fifty dollars worth of confidence in them.

    • Cards did lose yesterday–to the Mets

    • Played soccer my whole life up until college and it is still one of my favorite sports to play, but I still have a hard time watching it on TV. Love going to games and watching live, but other than the World Cup, I don’t watch a whole lot.

      On another note, I went to watch some of the WPIAL boys volleyball playoffs and that was quite fun. I’ve always loved Volleyball and those guys are good. It is definitely a sport that I wish got more publicity and I also wish there was more opportunities to watch college, pro, and international games on TV. Great sport.

  23. I can’t keep up with all the comments so I’m going to ask…

    Anyone know why Adams and Letang were not in the morning skate?

  24. I really don’t see the logic in paying relievers Hanrahan money. We really cannot spend that much on guys when we could just as easily get similar production from guys like Bryon Morris, Justin Wilson, Duke Welker, etc.

    Unless we fight for a playoff spot, we should always be looking to deal guys like Hanrahan b/c not only are they replaceable but they for some reason generate more than ample return.

    • Its nice to see Melancon get back to the pitcher he was for the Astros. Could be interesting to see if NH would be willing to deal Grilli if he could get someone to help the lineup.

      • Last week I (half)jokingly noted that Boston needs a closer after the Hanny/Bailey injuries.

        Grilli is terribly cheap…but still…wouldn’t you at least be curious?

        • He’s also only 1/8th of the way through his two year contract. It’s not like they’re gonna lose Grilli for nothing in the offseason.

        • You have to be curious. If the Pirates are serious about winning you have to make bold moves if they are going to bring back the right players. I don’t want another 4 minor leaguers 4 years away.

          I know everyone remembers the “trade” the Pens made to get Francis and Ulf; but just as important in my opinion was the one in which they made with Philly to land them Kjell, Tochett and and Wregett. Sometimes you have to part with contributors in order to get contributors at a position of weakness. Trading Grilli and inserting Melancon doesn’t look like a huge down side to me.

          • How about going bold in the opposite direction? Trade FOR a back of the pen guy so you have three, not two. More protection if the starters fade wear the pen down as in the last two seasons.

            And if the starters DON’T wear down, or the returning-from-injury starters offset that trend, then WOW. You have some pitching then.

      • Why break up the strength of the team when the rest of the bullpen does not look to be ready to step up?

        If they keep playing well, they will be in a wild card race.

        I don’t think that makes it time to Break Up The Bucs.

        • A little hyperbole, no?

          The rest of the bullpen doesn’t look ready to step up? Perhaps you’ve missed the work of Justin Wilson? Or the two guys dominating in Indy?

          And nobody suggested breaking up the Bucs. We floated the POSSIBILITY of trading one player.

          Like TJ said. BOLD MOVES.

          If a team was dumb enough to give up a young shortstop and staring pitcher, you really wouldn’t even listen?

          • Did the Buccos get Ray Shero for GM? I must have missed that ;)

          • Ease up, N. I’m not calling it stupid. I’m simply disagreeing and offering an alternative bold move.

            In part because I value strong and deep(er) pitching vs same re lineup.

            • No, you’re right.

              Just surprised me that you wouldn’t even pick up the phone, as GM’s supposedly say.

              • If they are at the end of July and a few games out of the last wild card I have no problem with fielding calls from other GM’s. A team like Boston or the Dodgers that need more then anything to make it into the playoffs would give up a lot for a guy like Grille. I think the depth is there to cover it and we could possible pick up some pieces that help a little now and alot later.

                If we are in a playoff spot I personally wouldn’t touch the team unless it was to add but that is just my opinion.

              • Thank you, Nate.

      • Remember the tizzzy that shocked the clubhouse when they traded Casey McGeheeeeeee last season?

        And what do you think would happen if they traded Grilli?

        What exact help to they need with the lineup at this point? Shortstop and that is about it.

        Hey, maybe we can play the guy we already have a little more….Mercer.

        • Yes, shortstop. A real one. Not a Jordy.

          And while we’re at it, how bout replacing the weak-minded guys that were supposedly affected by McGehee being traded and the FO not going “all-in”.

          Those are REALLY the kind of guys I want coming up to bat in the playoffs.

          • Yep, the team is doing well, so lets break them up.

            Break up the Bucco’s!

            • Amazing.

              All season the meme has been that this team’s success is unsustainable.

              A couple guys float the IDEA of trading from a strength ONLY if a team OVERPAYS at PREMIUM positions and now everybody wants to keep them together.


              • Amazing? Huh? You hanging me with what DK says about the Buc’s? Now THAT ‘S Amazing.

                And where did ANYONE say don’t listen?

              • Sorry, AW. You’re right.

                I don’t know how I could’ve mistaken your incredibly deep and thoughtful comment. Some of your best work yet.

              • I think Milo was right—you ARE my wife!

              • Ha, seriously though, if I didn’t find our interactions informative or at least entertaining, I wouldn’t bother. Even when we don’t agree, I don’t engage you in conversation just for a good joust once in a while.

                I hope the feeling is mutual.

              • It is.

  25. Apparently, Iginla and Kunitz have switched lines again. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why this is so hard for Dan Bylsma.

    • Ya, I don’t get it either. Why mess with (what I thought) was a good thing. Is it just cuz Crosby didnt have any points in gm1?

    • Iginla like most players has performed well on the crosby line; but Kunitz has seemed to have gone quiet as has James Neal. But then again when Malkin has been playing like he has most everyone else does go quiet.

  26. Would you Bucco fans rather:

    1) End the season at 82 wins and end the streak but the president, GM, etc keep their job

    2) End the season with 80 wins and have the management team be replaced.

    • Number 1 for me. I want to see the streak end in my lifetime. I don’t care if Joe L. Brown is the GM, posthumously, when they do it. Besides, the light bulb might finally be coming on for Neal, even beyong the pitching staffs he puts together.

      This team has the chemistry (even without Casey McGhehee) to do it. They never quit. The pitching keeps them in every game and they have the right mix of vets and young guys to get the job done.

      And, they have valid talent in most positions and a better bench than in the past. Two, young, 5-tool outfielders doesn’t hurt either.

    • why not both?

    • NOT to start a front office defender/droolers vs. conspiracy theorist debate, but in all objectivity, the front office has been below average but not ‘beyond any redemption horrible’ since 2008. Yes, there are the embarrassments that have been already debated to death (hoka Hey everyone!) but there are many other examples of solid building of a team that can compete. Hurdle’s hiring for one. The bullpen year after year. The top line young talent on the way. Searage. etc.

      So as a fan, how can you really hope for this team to collapse so we can hire say, Jack Z after he is fired from the Mariners…or another GM that has been somewhere else… that team will hopefully be above average but they will make their share of mistakes as well….

      It really goes back to what I’ve said for some time now… if everything up to now means that there is NOTHING that this FO or MGT team can do to redeem themselves, then they should be fired already.. it shouldn’t be “let them win or let them be fired” it should be “clear them out bucause they aren’t up to the job, results be damned”. If it really is win and they are ok to stay, then let them win and let’s stop analyzing every upcoming move with a comparison to the woeful past.

      DK: Hey, HERE’S a new topic!

      • Maybe some success with change the defensive, know-more-than-you attitude that we’ve seen. Maybe bring some joy to Mudville.

        I’d be all for it.

      • Your last paragraph is perfect.

        Frankly, I don’t buy the “let them win or be fired” talk.

        I don’t know Dejan or anybody else who quotes that line personally, but the feeling I get is that their minds are already made up. Even if this team does win and challenge, I feel like the first time they take a step back – such as the Reds did after winning the division in 2010 – will be used as another referendum on the whole bunch.

        DK: Take up that issue with Bob Nutting. Go back and reread his quotes following last season and into the offseason and then into spring training.

        Regardless of what you or I think, his is the only opinion that counts here.

        And hey, HERE’S a new topic!

        • I’ll believe something that Bob Nutting says when he starts telling the truth.

          But you’re right. Gameday thread material. My apologies, seriously.

          DK: VERY fair rebuttal on Nutting. Just wanted to remind what the genesis of that line was.

        • I knew we’d get our buns chewed if DK had time to read any of this. Was hoping the Pens’ thread would draw some early interest, but too late.


          • Hippos like NEW topics. Especially HERE!!!

            But seriously, I wont even think about those clowns til draft time.
            Pens should be near the Finals by then! :)

    • Number 1 because I admittingly don’t think they have been all that bad when given the oppertunity to spend a little money the last two years. I personally feel that the first two years were a complete tear down of the existing club and that the pieces they had to trade where not as good as some make them out to be.

      The 2009 draft was horrible but it was for a lot of teams (bad draft year). 2010 draft is starting to show a lot of promise and it really is to early to judge the last two drafts but they seem to be trending towards average to above average.

    • Number 1 obviously. Its all about results. If they win, they win. IMO anyone who answers #2 is making it personal rather than professional.

  27. I don’t know if that’s a Hobson’s choice, a Morton’s fork or a dilemma.

    But my pick is none of the above.

    Not even sure if #1 is a viable option. Meaning, if the P’s are not in the playoff race in September and end at 82, I don’t know it it is a sure thing that those guys are retained. I know you didn’t mean it as such, but that may make it a false choice.

  28. Vokoun in goal again. Good stuff. Gryba not playing for the Sens.

  29. Those speculating on “sell high” on bullpen pieces like Grilli and Melancon to “help the lineup”…please stop. Closers, especially those like Grilli who are performing so far above their mean, will NOT yield the type of offensive return you think will be worth the trade. Just stop overrating closers already. There are SOOOOOO many examples of “hall of fame” closers one year that are out of the role the next year or 2. Gagne for one. And lots of others.

    Neal needs to ADD TO THE BULLPEN, ala the Reds bringing in Broxton last year. Not only to ease the workload but for insurance at the back end. And Wilson/Morris have been WONDERFUL but need an experienced arm in the stretch run.

    • ” There are SOOOOOO many examples of “hall of fame” closers one year that are out of the role the next year or 2.”

      If you’re arguing to keep Grilli, you’re doing a really bad job.

      “And Wilson/Morris have been WONDERFUL but need an experienced arm in the stretch run.”

      What does this have to do with Grilli?

      Again, we’re talking about a hypothetically listening to an overpay situation. Not actually suggesting Grilli is traded.

  30. I’d like to predict a 7-3 win tonight in Pittsburgh. And actually… two 7-3 wins in Pittsburgh. Yes, I still think Anderson is going to crack so why not this game?

  31. OK this place is nuts again, I’m outta here…pop in on the hockey thread later on. have a nice afternoon everyone.

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