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Thursday Wakeup Call: Are Grilli/Melancon even human?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The weekly chat will begin at noon, right here on this blog. Hope to have you.


>> Haven’t paid much attention to the baseball team, for obvious reasons. Haven’t even been able to see many of the games, other than video highlights on my iPhone. As a result, most of my thoughts are of the type that are fairly distant from the subject matter itself.

Which, once in a while, can be the healthiest kind.

So let me ask those who have been watching this: Are Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon even human?

What’s going on here?

Have you noticed, when you aren’t cheering through the 10 or 12 minutes needed to breeze through the eighth and ninth innings, what they’ve done numerically so far?

I’ll try to lay it out in the starkest of stats:

Grilli: 20 appearances, 17 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 2 runs, 29 Ks, 4 walks, .148 opponents’ average

Melancon: 21 appearances, 20 innings, 14 hits, 1 run, 22 Ks, 1 walk, .182 opponents’ average

Three runs over 41 combined appearances!

What is that?

Who does that?

An excellent figure for weighing relief pitching, infinitely better than ERA, is WHIP, or Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched. Grilli’s is 0.74, Melancon’s 0.71. Those figures both rank in the top 10 in the majors for relievers with at least 15 appearances, a number I think is fair to this point in the year.

For some perspective, last year, the number of relievers who finished with a 0.75 WHIP or lower was exactly one: Craig Kimbrel of the Braves. Kimbrel was so extraordinary that he earned votes for Cy Young, including the fourth spot on my ballot.  That doesn’t happen much for a reliever.

For further perspective, in 2003, the year Eric Gagne pretty much set the gold standard for a closer’s single-season performance, he had 55 saves and a 0.69 WHIP, the latter not far from either Grilli or Melancon right now.

Before this season, Grilli never posted a WHIP below 1.14. He got that with the Pirates last season at age 35. Before joining the Pirates in 2011, his career WHIP was 1.45, roughly double what it is now. Before joining the Pirates, his best strikeout-to-walk ratio in any season was 1.92. Last year, it was 4.09, and now it’s 7.00.

Melancon is 28, and he’s had only one year where he’s appeared in more than a quarter of his team’s games. That was in 2011 with the Astros, when he had a 1.22 WHIP, miles above his current figure. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was never higher in any season than 2.92. Right now, it’s 20.00.

I don’t even know what to do with these numbers. My brain can’t process them.

Maybe I should just stick to hockey.

>> Then again, maybe not …

This document was getting a few yuks around the Internet yesterday, an actual Dave Littlefield scouting report on Jason Giambi that projected Giambi as a ‘bat off the bench.’

To which I’ll simply reply with this: Wait until the Internet gets a hold of the Pirates’ current staff’s written assessment of then-amateur Mike Trout.

I’m guessing this will be the reaction …

>> Here’s all our Penguins coverage for the day. I took the day off, as I’ll do again today with the exception of the chat because it’s my daughter’s take-your-dad-to-school day.

Hope those kids don’t ask me to define reliever excellence.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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


  1. Frank says:

    What both of them are doing is incredible. I thought the Hanrahan trade was a good move but if you told me that the team wouldn’t miss him at all I’d have thought you were crazy. Unreal what these two are doing. I had high expectations for Melancon and he’s surpassed them, but Grilli doesn’t even make sense. Here’s hoping that these two supermen don’t meet their kryptonite anytime soon

  2. Ghost says:

    So if tomorrow plays out for you like it does for Aaron Rodgers in the State Farm commercial, what would the precocious little girl say her teacher said about sports columnists?

  3. Mike C. says:

    Their kryptonite can be only one thing: Hurdle’s overuse and misuse of them. Hurdle doesn’t have the best track record on bullpen usage. Well, one of the worst, actually.

    And also, if the starters can’t go deeper into games.

  4. Ed says:

    Lights out once again for those two. I just hope they don’t wear down in the last couple months, like pretty much all the pitching did last year.

    As for the game itself, a few exciting plays but kind of a ho-hum affair. Was quite humid and dead air after the sun went down. My forearms were sweating. Perhaps it was because I was too engaged with some hot sorority babes that ended up sitting next to me ;)

    Big come through by Walker tonight. Definitely a better team with him in the lineup.

  5. KenKopp says:

    Last year on this day the Bucs were 17-19. Today 23-17.
    Last year the Pens were packing their bags for the off season.

    Enjoy your day with your daughter. So, so… much more important than any of the great articles you write. But, if the kids ask you about reliever excellence say Goose Gossage or maybe Roy Face (18 relief wins for the ’59 Pirates). Wouldn’t fret it too much dude, the kids are not going to ask that. Enjoy the day.

    By the way, the year after Roy Face got his 18 wins as a reliever Maz hit a walk off homer in game seven. Enjoy the moment Lunnies. We have two of the best players in hockey, we have the Bucs and Steelers. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Enjoy it.

  6. Ghost says:

    It boggles the mind that the same GM who tossed out with the trash good guys like Salomon Torres, Matt Capps or Jose Bautista — the same GM who thought it was a good idea to bring in Eric Hinske, Aki Iwamura, or even traded for Gorkys Hernandez — has actually started making shrewd, successful acquisitions. Repeatedly now. Look no further than each of the three Pirate pitchers who tossed this gem tonight. As the Brits would say, “Well there we are, then.”

  7. Ghost says:

    Valdespin (and some imbecilic NY fans) unfairly drag his teammates and manager into the mess he created.

  8. Jim S. says:

    Like most people who first get promoted into a position of much greater responsibility, accountability and pressure, maybe he is just growing into the position.

  9. Jim S. says:

    Those are concerns, Mike C., but I would offer this: The 2013 edition of the Pirates and their organization is much more ready to handle a bullpen implosion of the top guys than any of our recent teams. There are power arms waiting in Indy and Altoona. I’m not saying they are ready to step up and take over for Grilli and Melancon, should they falter. But we have the kind of bullpen depth that can weather the loss of one of those guys. Any team in MLB would be in a world of trouble if their eight- and ninth-inning guys just collapsed or got injured. We are no different, but long term our bullpen is in good shape.

    As for the starters, they seem to be getting stronger as the season rolls along, rather than weakening. And, Jeff Karstens is rounding into shape now and should be ready to contribute within a month. If Cole develops by the 2nd half of the season, that is another starter option down the stretch. Finally, although he is no guarantee to pitch like he did last Saturday every time out, Liriano is a talented guy that could be a big help. Finally, Charlie Morton will be healthy in a few weeks as well. He is another potential starter for the 2nd half. Nothing is certain, but we have options.

  10. Jim S. says:

    Melancon and Grilli have been lights out. They have pitched a lot, but they have also been pretty efficient in terms of pitches thrown. Hanny, just by his style, was often a bit wild and threw a lot of pitches as a result. These two are strike-throwers so far, and therefore might not be in the dire straits everyone seems to be worrying about. Even if they do falter, I believe there are options on the current roster and in the minors. I would not expect them to keep posting .75 WHIPs, but hopefully they will continue to be consistent. We’ll survive the inevitable one or two non-holds or blown saves.

  11. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    There’s no question that both Melancon and Grilli have been excellent, to put it mildly.
    I have concerns that Melancon has had a hot and cold career, and Grilli has not been in this situation before.
    Can they keep it up for several more months?
    I think Hurdle is going to have to find a way to rest them more often.
    Some added depth to the starting pitching staff via the FO would sure help…But can’t be counted on.

  12. Drew71 says:

    To put those #s in perspective to the league, the average NL WHIP was 1.36 in, I think, 2011, the last time I looked it up.

    I must have missed a meeting. I don’t get the Mike Trout reference.

  13. macchamp74 says:

    Mike Trout was the 25th pick in draft. A few teams other than the Pirates did not think he was a first rounder.

  14. Drew71 says:

    The reference CAN’T be just draft positioning. Not logical. 20 teams between Pirates at 4 and Dodgers at 25.

    In fact, if just a positioning argument, the real embarrassment would be on the Angels. Same media market. Picked one slot before the Dodgers. At 24. In fact an outfielder, the future HoFer Randal Grichuk. Or WSox at 23 picking an OFer. Or AZ picking in particular a center fielder at 17. But particularly the shared LA market Angels picking OFer Grichuk at 24.

    But READ Dejan’s note. I don’t like to read minds but I DON’T think that draft positioning is his point. So it is inaccurate to argue with him on that point.

    The comparison is not to what Littlefield DID with their draft pick that year instead of picking Giambi…IT’S WHAT LITTLEFIELD WROTE ABOUT GIAMBI.

    My missed-a-meeting reference meant: has Dejan or anyone released the Pirates scouting summary of Trout, and what did it say?

    Dejan, when you wake at noon, have you heard what the Ps wrote about Trout, and is that what you’re referencing?

    DK: No scouting report anywhere is about draft positioning, per se, at least none that I’ve heard of. It’s about numerical grades and highly specific evaluations such as those you can can see on the Littlefield/Giambi report.

    So yes, Drew, you’re right about that.

    And clearly WRONG about my waking up at noon!

  15. Jandy says:

    He should be sent down to their AAA team until he
    1) apologizes to the Pirates AND to his team
    2) shows an attitude change
    3) promises to do better

    What a friggin loser.

  16. Jandy says:

    It’s not when he awakens, Dejan, it’s when he sobers up ;)

  17. Dom says:

    Anyone surprised that Littlefield thought Giambi would be at best a bench player? He thought that because he was incompetent.

    Despite what Pirate fans want to hear, we didn’t pass on Matt Wieters in the 2007 draft because Nutting is cheap. We did it b/c DL is incompetent. He thought Wieters didn’t have the glove to make it in the big leagues so he decided that it was better to take someone who projected to be at best a closer. Six years later, Moskos is 27 years old and has an era over 5 in about 15 or so relief appearances in AAA.

    Ditto with the 2002 draft. We didn’t pass on BJ Upton, Prince Fielder, Cole Hammels, etc. because McClatchey is cheap. We did so b/c DL is incompetent. I had to do a google search to find out what Bryan Bullington is up to nowadays. The most recent update I found was that he was pitching in Japan back in 2011.

  18. JUCOFan says:

    Perhaps if Giambi stays away from the juice, he ends up a bat off the bench?

  19. Thundercrack says:

    I thought the same thing.

    DK: Dave Littlefield, suddenly a hero to the masses.

  20. JAL says:

    JAL’s Thursday 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

    Rodriguez Works Out of Trouble, Beats Brewers

    First Pitch: Wandy Rodriguez Will Most Likely Land the Pirates a Draft Pick

    Prospect Notebook: Cole Making Progress, But Still Needs Those Strikeouts

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pie, Carroll wreck Buffalo

    7 KDKA

    ‘Walk on Wednesday’: The Other Team Is Not Comfortable In That Other Dugout

    8 The Green Weenie

    Wandy, Walker Lead Bucs To 3-1 Win

    9 Rumbunter

    Pig To Pirate: The Improbable Case of Pittsburgh Pirates Closer Jason Grilli

    Pirates Andrew McCutchen Needs To Stop Trying To Hit Home Runs

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 3, Brewers 1

  21. Thundercrack says:

    This is not a defense of the current FO or Dave Littlefield, but isn’t this type of thing common in regards to scouting? If you take the reports of a certain player from 12 different scouts, 4 would love the player, 4 would think he’s nothing special, and 4 would be somewhere in the middle.

    Didn’t a very good Pirate scout once write in his scouting report that Chad Hermanson could ‘walk on water’.

    DK: That was Woody Huyke, his rookie-ball manager.

  22. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Latest loss puts Brewers at bottom of NL Central

    12 Rant Sports

    John McDonald To DL, Jordy Mercer Recalled By Pittsburgh Pirates.

    13 Post Bulletin

    Struggling Brewers fall to Pirates again, 3-1

    14 USA Today

    Mets teammate on Valdespin’s HR trot: ‘Bonehead’

    15 Washington Times

    Jonathan Sanchez and Carlos Zambrano sign minor league contracts

    16 CBS Sports

    Milwaukee at Pittsburgh Preview

    17 Sweetspot

    Thoughts: Time to take Pirates seriously

    18 PBC Site

    Wandy outlasts Gallardo as Bucs top Brewers

    McCutchen’s slump-busting strategy: Just keep hitting


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Catcher Framing Before PITCHf/x

    20 Fangraphs

    About the Braves and All of Their Strikeouts

  23. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers rookies will wait until June 2 at the earliest to sign contracts

    Steelers preseason schedule released

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Can Steelers B More Run Balanced With More Zone Blocking?

    Soccer(football) Will T

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Rio Ferdinand bids farewell to England while John Terry’s international days are also coming to an end

    24 World Soccer Daily

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


    25 CBC Sports

    Penguins teach Senators lesson in special teams.

  24. JAL says:

    Thursday Jim Croce

  25. Jandy says:

    If I could put time in a bottle…

  26. Karen22 says:

    It’s truly remarkable – Melancon and Grilli. Anyone who says he saw this coming is a bonifide liar. I am enjoying the 2013 version of the Pittsburgh Pirates ONE game at a time. This team is fun to watch thus far, and I look forward to tonight’s game. Beyond that – NO expectations. When there are five games left in the season and we’re six games over .500, I’ll be smiling. My 30 year old son, soon to be married, will be smiling, too – he was TEN and in Little League, and he remembers…

  27. meglasdad says:

    I am in no way defending Littlefield, but lets all remember that Giambi was getting his milkshakes from the same place as Canseco. His career might have been just a little different if they had been coming from McDonalds.

    DK: Littlefield is awesome.

  28. 21sthebest says:


  29. Karen22 says:

    20+ years…in a bottle.

  30. 21sthebest says:

    30 teams passed on Pujols 12 times. Smoltz was a 22nd round pick. Etc…

    I can’t believe this is even a topic.

    DK: Why was it one yesterday? Now today it’s suddenly verboten?

    OK to make fun of Littlefield, I guess.

  31. Skip says:

    After reading that, I’m now a huge fan of LaTroy Hawkins AND Terry Collins. Thanks for the link, Ghost.

  32. Joe D says:

    Another site posted comments Littlefield wrote on Derek Jeter. He basically felt that he would be a utility infielder. A scout for Houston quit when the Astros took Phil Nevin instead.

    DK: Littlefield is tremendous. Earned his promotion.

  33. Drew71 says:

    I see Dejan hasn’t gone to bed yet from last night.

    When he finally crashes, woo boy. Look out.

  34. gregenstein says:

    I was thinking the same thing. To be fair though, when Giambi supposed went off the juice, he still had a couple of good-not-great seasons.

    DK: Littlefield is the man.

  35. Drew71 says:

    I’m not gonna rehabilitate Littlefield now.

    He was WRONG about Giambi.
    He was WRONG about Moskos.
    He was WRONG about Matt Morris.
    He was WRONG about Central America (baseball, not the Sandinistas.)
    He was WRONG for the Pirates.
    He was just WRONG.

  36. Drew71 says:

    I understand that baseball scouting is an unpredictable science.

    Except for Littlefield.

    He was pretty damn predictable.

  37. Two words to explain the dominance of Grilli/Melancon.

    Ray Searage.

  38. Thundercrack says:

    DK: Dave Littlefield, suddenly a hero to the masses.

    If you got that impression from my comments, or that Littlefield is awesome from the other comments— I suggest you try sleeping until noon.

    DK: Oh, I’m sure you knew what I meant. Only way Littlefield would ever be defended by anyone is if one (or more) of his actions somehow mirrored that of the current group. Then it’s fine.

    Wide awake, TC! Always with eyes wide open, too.

  39. CoachWard says:

    Posted this in the blog yesterday, thought since it relates to DK’s column more today I would repost it. Incredible that, throughout the years of losing, that the Pirates have been able to have some really good talent come through their bullpen. Somehow they always seem to have a decent set up man and closer. Grilli, Hanrahan, Dotel, Capps, Gonzalez, Mesa, Williams, Loiselle, Miceli, (Baseball Reference. com) have all had decent to great years. For Williams (46 ’02), Mesa (43, ’04) and Hanrahan (40, ’11) to crack the 40 save mark during this stretch of futility is pretty impressive. Going to look back and see the return when we’ve gotten rid of some of these closers and their set-up men.

  40. JaxBuc says:

    Clearly a WHIP below 0.8 is very impressive and both guys have been true shining stars for the PBC this year.

    However, as an engineer, I must point out that if Melancon’s line (21 appearances, 20 innings, 14 hits, 1 run, 22 Ks, 1 walk) is correct, then his WHIP is 0.75 (15/20), not 0.71 as stated.

    Later, I’ll try to cross-check Littlefield’s numeric assessment of Wieters vs. …uh…hmm…some college pitcher who I can’t remember right now. Who would have thought that the morning after taking a second in a row from the hated Brewers (loved that K of Braun in the 8th), we’d be discussing Dave Littlefield’s talent evaluations. Wow.

    DK: Was kind of surprised myself that it became a national topic yesterday.

    As for math, I’m taking the WHIP right off the official stats. No calculations here.

  41. Nate83 says:

    Jim I couldn’t have said it better myself. Although there is no way they could replace what these two men have done up until this point there is plenty of depth for relievers to keep it a group that stays at league average or better.

  42. JoeyBats says:

    Hoka Hey everyone!
    Since some of the conversation today turned towards scouting, drafting and talent evaluation ….wanted to provide a quick update of the last top picks in the Pirate drafts:
    2012: (1st round -45th ) Barrett Barnes…OF…West Virginia…. (currently on disabled list since May 1) .220/.289/.244 ….0 HR, 3 RBI, 9 K, 4 BB, 3 SB in 10 Games and 41 AB’s (Mark Appel was selected #1 and went unsigned)
    2011: Gerritt Cole…RHP…Indy….3 W, 1 L, 2.55 ERA…..42.1 IP, 30 H, 31 K, 20 BB, 4 HR…..1.18 WHIP
    2010: Jameson Taillon …RHP … Altoona…2 W, 4 L, 2.82 ERA …..44.2 IP, 39 H, 47 K, 16 BB, 1 HR….1.23 WHIP
    2009: Tony Sanchez…. C ….Indy…. .294/.400/.518 … 3 HR, 15 RBI , 21 K, 10 BB, 0 SB, in 27 games and 85 AB’s

    DK: Thank you for doing these, JB. Would love to have them for Penguins, too. Any takers?

  43. JAL says:

    That story was in yesterday’s morning links.

    DK: Indeed.

  44. Jandy says:

    Love that song…Croce is a classic

  45. Jandy says: oldest daughter is 30, not married, and has no plans. She lives in DaBurgh. Loves the Buccos and loves the Pens and loves the Steelers. She’s a Burgh girl thru and thru. Gotta enjoy our Buccos one game at a time, as you say. I know I LOVE seeing Grilli get passionate after every strike out, every win. I’d like to see more of his passion from some of the other guys.

    And Karen, congrats on the wedding, I hope it’s beautiful :)

  46. Jandy says:


  47. Jandy says:

    We missing the snark alerts? ;)

  48. radio wave says:

    Would be nice if Reds, Cards would lose once in a while. Both are 8-2, in last ten.
    Charlie Morton pitches at 10:30 this morning.

  49. Jandy says:

    I just hope it’s not when he’s at his daughter’s classroom

  50. SeanAY says:

    I’m kind of lost as to what’s going on here today. Dave Littlefield? What’s he even doing now?

    If anything, aren’t most of the so-called Pirates apologists accused of piling on Littlefield too much?

    And why did that warrant the comment, “wait till they see what Huntington said about Trout!”

    I’m not sure what transpired behind closed doors from last year to this year, but it must have been bad.

    DK: Who made that comment? I believe you’re the first person in the thread to mention the current GM.

  51. Jandy says:


    (Not in reply to gregenstein)

  52. LoufromOSU says:

    On a totally different topic, Pittsburgh’s own John Gibson led Team USA over Russia this morning in the IIHF by a score of 8-3. Gibson is 3-0 in the world championships.

    Russia did beat Team USA on May 7, but that was before Ovechkin joined them. What a winner.

    DK: Yeah, but maybe the refs didn’t hate him as much over there.

    No, really, the Gibson story, as well as that of Brandon Saad being a Calder candidate with the Hawks (he made my ballot) and Vince Trocheck just winning OHL MVP … three Pittsburgh kids doing great … amazing time for local hockey in so many ways.

  53. Jandy says:

    Hi SeanAY, it’s snark. :)

  54. Jandy says:

    +1 for Gibson :)

  55. chef automatic says:

    What does “haven’t paid much attention to the baseball team, for obvious reasons” mean? Isn’t it part of your job?

    DK: Means I haven’t been on site with them much at all. Also means I’ve spent significant stretches out of town, so broadcasts weren’t an option, either.

    It’s PART of the job, as you say, Frank. Right now, I’m going all playoffs all the time with the columns, so it’s obviously a very small part.

  56. Jandy says:

    It’s foggy in here this morning, I’m gonna go get some work done. be back later.

  57. Nate83 says:

    I would love to know if Cole’s strike outs are low because he is “working on stuff” They seem a little low for a guy with his kind of stuff. Obviously walks are high but you got to like him only giving up 30 hits. If is BB are a more reasonable 3 per 9 innings his WHIP is approaching 1.00 which would be tremendous. Thanks for sharing.

  58. Thundercrack says:

    @ Littlefield this morning
    The bloody meat/bait was thrown into the water

  59. chrstn41 says:

    “Not been in this situation before?”

    What situation? Pitching really well? He did that last year. Or closing? He’s 16 for 16, in save opportunities, I think he’s acclimated himself to the new gig.

    DK: Welcome!

  60. Nate83 says:

    To me it seems as if DK works some ridiculous hours. I don’t think I will ever question his time commitment or lack of coverage on one team over the other. He can’t be everywhere at one time and I don’t expect him to be watching Pirate games on DVR at 2:00 in the morning after he post his morning wake up blog.

    DK: Our chef hates hockey. It’s an ongoing theme. I’m certain he’s not questioning work ethic or anything like that.

  61. Thundercrack says:

    Oh. I think the Dodgers were idiots for losing Clemente in the Rule 5 draft so that means I think NH is a genius.

  62. Patrick says:

    wow. Didnt even realize this had become such a big deal. I suppose when you are getting your butt kicked stuff like this is what people talk about. Sometimes I think baseball folks worry a little bit too much about truly innocuous events.

    Still, when the press and fans make a big deal about stuff that’s one thing. When your teammates are publicly angry with you, i think its time to set aside the ego and own it.

  63. Jandy says:

    maybe he should stick to the kitchen, then ;)

  64. chef automatic says:

    correct. i wasn’t questioning your work ethic at all or the number of hours you devote to your job. i guess i was questioning why it was so ‘obvious’ that you, a general columnist for the trib (i think that characterization of your job is an accurate one), would focus only on one team for such a long period of time and ignore another one that is also in season. it’s clearly a choice that you’ve made, but i’m not sure that it’s an obvious one. i would surely think that many columnists in other cities that have multiple teams would spread themselves around a bit more.

    DK: Two replies …

    1. I’ve been assigned to all Stanley Cup playoff games, home and road, for the duration. That alone takes me well beyond what a typical work week would be.

    2. If I had not been assigned, and it were wholly up to me, I’d have done the exact same thing.

    The world in which you see these two simultaneous events as being of anything resembling equal interest isn’t the real world. They aren’t in the same stratosphere.

    This is the Pittsburgh you live in.

  65. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Why not? Isn’t that happy hour at Starbucks?

  66. SeanAY says:

    “To which I’ll simply reply with this: Wait until the Internet gets a hold of the Pirates’ current staff’s written assessment of then-amateur Mike Trout.”

    I mean, I guess you didn’t mention him BY NAME.

  67. Bizrow says:

    Seems kinda rough in here today.

    So about 1/4 of the season done, Grilli with 16 saves, the club has what 23 wins?

    Anyone know what the season record for saves is?

    DK: Don’t know, but I do know that from the general reaction here today, everyone’s just expecting he’ll go 64 for 64 and compete with a bullpen mate for Cy Young, right?

    Still waiting for the very first pragmatic reaction to those utterly insane numbers up there.

  68. Dom says:

    I know the Buccos are playing well now but I personally will not be a believer until they can carry this into August. If they’re above .500 at that point, then I will get my hopes up that the streak might come to an end.

  69. Jandy says:


  70. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I looked at the Johnny Damon report on that link. What exactly does a “strong face” have to do with hitting and catching a ball?

    Some of this stuff makes me laugh. “…ball jumps when he catches it on fat part of bat…” No kidding?! Amateur drunken physicists everywhere will be astounded!

  71. Paperboy says:

    I keep hearing about the workload of Melancon and Grilli and how that could come back to bite the Pirates later this summer. While that could potentially be true, doesn’t that come with having a better baseball team? More leads in the 8th and 9th innings is going to lead to more opportunities for your set-up man and closer. Isn’t this a good thing? IF they start to wear down in August/September, hopefully they have some viable arms that can come in and play admirably.

    I did get a chuckle from Littlefield’s assessment of Jasob Giambi. What I got an even bigger laugh at was that he was listed as 195 lbs. I don’t know too many people who put on 60 lbs of muscle after the age of 21.

    DK: Welcome!

  72. Jandy says:

    Hi CoachWard, good to see you back this morning :)

  73. Patrick(RI) says:

    Good advice, but it is hard not to get excited viewing play and stats for Grilli/Melancon, Martin, AJ/Wandy/Locke and, especially, Marte. All of these guys except Grilli were not even here at this time last year. If Liriano is not a mirage, things look pretty promising.

  74. I dont know why DK covers baseball at all. Obviously his job is whatever I think it should be. And I like girls in mock football gear playing football!!

    Nobody covers the newly Legends Football league. And they have decided to play their Championship game at Highmark Stadium this year. Since when should baseball be given so much press and sophmoric girls in spandex playing football not even get mentioned?!

    I’m sincerely disappointed that DK decided to sleep anytime in the last two weeks and not made mention of how awesome it will be to have our soccer field transformed into a side show for vapid males during halftime of the Super Bowl! Shame on DK! SHAME ON THE TRIB!


    DK: They really wear Spandex?

  75. Jandy says:

    Hi, Paperboy, if you list your hometown, Bizrow will add it to the list of Dejan’s Lunatic Asylum. :)

  76. SeanAY says:

    I don’t understand how anyone can see that the Penguins are not THE story in Pittsburgh right now. What with, you know, the playoffs and everything.

    It’s not as if the Pirates aren’t making it into the paper. They’re getting regular coverage – quite good coverage, I think – from Rob B.

  77. AJS says:

    This ignores teh fact that Neil has always been pretty good at pitching acquisitions. And that Searage has been getting a lot out of a little for 3 years now. Correia, Bedard, Lincoln, Burnett. Every year the bullpen is considered a strength.

    I have no doubt NH knows his pitching. It is talent recognition at draft time and poor development techniques that are killing this guy. Oh and teh fact that when he rebuilds he has a tendency to push too much for “major league ready” guys. and his inability to recognize that to get over the hump he has to do more than give up middling prospects at the trade deadline.

  78. Jandy says:


  79. JaxBuc says:

    Line for Melancon should say 21 innings, not 20 innings. Ah, 21, what a magical number for the PBC.
    So the WHIP is 0.71, as originally stated.

  80. Jandy says:

    from Rob B…PRECISELY! Rob B is doing his job, and Dejan is doing his. Anyone who has a problem with that just wants egg in their beer…and they need to STFU and STFD :)

    DK: Rob B had been on a roll lately. His game stories are must reads. Great detail/reporting, and on a sport that offers the worst deadlines in the business.

  81. Jandy says:


  82. Jandy says:

    bahahaha nice work…Pat…errr..;X

  83. Jandy says:

    chrsrn41, if you list your hometown, Bizrow will add it to the list of Dejan’s Lunatic Asylum :)

  84. JaxBuc says:

    I truly laughed out loud at your response.

    Can we coin a new term that means “well, duhhh?”

    I propose ADPEA! which obviously stands for “Amateur drunken physicists everywhere will be astounded!”

  85. Jandy says:

    I’ve been reading some of them when I get a bit more time. I’ve enjoyed it too. I think you guys do a great job. I realize I pick on you from time to time, Dejan, but it’s in a fun spirit, not mean at all. This blog gives me a place I can de-stress while I’m at work…and it’s a stressful job. I thank you and everyone in here for that :)

  86. Jandy says:

    Brad is always for for one liners…I love his comments lol

  87. JohninOshkosh says:

    Made my day seeing the clip from Seinfeld. Maybe one of the greatest lines issued from a show deeply rich in great lines. The manner in which hack comic Kenny Bania (played by character actor, Steve Hytner) delivered the line will cause it to live for the ages.

    Dejan, your daughter ought to be very proud of you today. You are good provider, exceptional at your craft and, most importantly, a good dad. Pity the fella in the classroom who has to follow you in the introductions.

    DK: He’ll be better dressed and not nearly as illegally parked out front.

  88. Jandy says:

    well ADPEA…that was to be GOOD for one liners lol

  89. Kevin says:

    go Pittsburgh products!

  90. Jandy says:


  91. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I personally would like to see DK have an every other day deadline for Cup playoffs (no offense, DK).

    I’m not a fan of these 2 day layoffs during the playoffs. Whatever happened to games being played every other day?

  92. DK: not sure what it is. Perhaps “form fitting athletic gear that barely adheres to basic local decency ordinances” would have been more accurate than “spandex”

    And for those wondering, yes their actually is a “Legends Football league”.

    Yes, they are women dressed as described above. I’d post the link but…I’m not sure the Trib would approve of a barely SFW link on their site.

    Yes, they plan on having their “championship game” at Highmark stadium. Hooray for Pittsburgh.

    I’m also mad a Sally Wiggin for not personally covering the North Korean missile crisis, Stiegerwald for not traveling with the Riverhounds and Kaboly for failing to mention how competitive AAA WPIAL north will be this year! FOR SHAAAAME!

  93. chef automatic says:

    i don’t know what your specific function is with the paper. if your bosses tell you to write about a certain subject, then, of course, that is what you will be writing about. however, i would think that one of the great things about being a general columnist is that you have the luxury of writing about a variety of topics as opposed to one topic at the exclusion of all others. and if you are saying that no one in town currently has an interest in reading about baseball or the pirates, that is preposterous and i doubt that even you believes it to be true…..anyway, my initial point remains: the only reason that it is ‘obvious’ that you have not paid attention to the pirates is because you have chosen not to because you prefer hockey.

  94. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    What’s stressful about being a saint?

  95. Dom says:

    Beyond what you stated, the best part about this season is that we could very well have reinforcements in Cole, Sanchez, and maybe Taillion in the majors at some point.

  96. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Thanks, Jandy, but I would defer to Milo (maybe even Drew if he didn’t rub sunshine in everyone’s face while it’s a balmy 13 degrees outside).

  97. Thundercrack says:

    Hello Paperboy,
    Littlefield’s assessment of Giambi was correct…just 14 years too late.

    And I posted the other day that 2 years people were complaining that Hanrahan wasn’t used enough and Clint should bring him into tie games.


  98. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    You mean he’ll be wearing TWO Zack Morris coats?

  99. AJS says:

    DK, that’s not fair. And not the first time you have done this. No one is saying that Littlefield was the man or that he should be considered anything other than a terrible GM. But, to ignore teh steroids as a possible reason that he ended up a star and NOT a bench bat is irresponsible. We are analyzing one report here NOT a body of work. When you look at the body of work of course it is laughable.

  100. Jandy says:

    LOL Being a saint is easier than my day job is ;)

  101. Jandy says:

    Those two are Masters at that trade, but you hold your own, don’t be modest Brad :P

  102. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Heinz ketchup and IC Light!

  103. Patrick says:

    I collect baseball cards. I have TONS of them..that arent worth a damn thing anymore..but thats not the point. in 1991 and 1992 i bought 4 complete sets of both USA teams. Nomar Garciapparra, Jeter, Giambi, Varitek, Dreifort….anyways. I vividly remeber flipping through the cards and thinking “wow…this kid is kinda skinny to be playing 3rd base” looks like a lanky SS:

    Obviously Giambi’s chemical diet helped fuel his success. But Its also worth noting that just about everyone thought Giambi was the best amateur third basemen in the country and worthy of representing his country in international competition. Not just a “bat off of the bench”.

  104. JAL says:


    Francisco Rodriguez 62 2008

  105. Jandy says:

    what part of Dejan’s boss told him to cover the Stanley Cup Playoffs Penguins don’t you understand, chef dude? Really, you sound like a petulant child now. Grow up.

  106. chef automatic says:

    one final point from me: the pirates season started on april 1. the penguins first playoff game was not until around april 25, i believe. for most of the month of april, the penguins were essentially playing exhibition games. thus, the penguins playoff run is not really a valid excuse for why you ‘haven’t paid much attention to the baseball team’ this season.

    DK: OK, now you’re just making stuff up, or you don’t remember the Pirates columns I wrote in April. Which is fine. Let’s move on.

  107. Jandy says:


  108. Jandy says:


  109. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Pragmatic response initiated-

    “…somewhat streaky w/ stuff…”

    Object acquired.

    From Littlefield’s report on Jon Lieber.

  110. Damon says:

    Like. Ray Searage is the modern-day Ray Miller?

  111. Patrick says:

    I talk to one of the leaders in my community about scouting once in awhile, (ron zarowtuk for those that know local amatuer baseball. great guy.) He has met lots of scouts and answers questions for them every year. He coached Matt Clemente and several others that went on to be productive pro players. Anyways…

    He luaghed when we talked about Moneyball and the scouts disdain for a “fat- bodied catcher” because that’s exactly the kind of stuff they used to say. Probably still do. So I’m not surprised to hear “strong face”…

    He explained it that 1) the owner and president may know nothing about what it takes to scout a baseball player so they needed things to describe him so that they could sell the kid and 2) scouting also was about image. Teams wanted players that looked good on the face of baseball cards and Sports Illustrated. In Zarowtucks words “Look back through the 50’s, 60s and 70s and tell me how many ugly ballplayers you find. 90% could have been cast in a movie”

  112. At the very least.

  113. cmat0829 says:

    Free Dave Littlefield (LOL)!

    What I find interesting about Littlefield (and other failed GMs, which might include the current one if they don’t WIN OR ELSE this year)…. is that (1) they have had careers in baseball before coming to the Pirates (not as GMS, but as seemingly important evaluators of talent, etc) and often times go on to jobs AFTER they fail miserably as GMs in the ‘Burgh. Didn’t Littlefield go to the Cubs front office after leaving? (not that the Cubs have a sterling FO record either, but still).

    As to the main point today, Grilli and Melacon are ‘machines’… no doubt their performance is unreal (and get ready for it fans, unsustainable at that level…let’s not overreact the first time they blow a lead or egads give up a walk and a hit in the same inning)…. what is behind such great performance?

    I think for Grilli it has been 1) impeccable control 2) ability to do more than just fastball/slider, which most closers feature 3) confidence. For Melancon, a big part is getting a chance to get back on track from the debacle in Boston…and again, impeccable control.

    When closers or late relievers get in trouble it is most often because of control issues..falling behind, having to come over the plate, etc. When Hanny caused “Han-attacks” or whatever Clint called them, a lot of times it was because of walks.


  114. Brotherhood of the Redus says:

    Littlefield huh….baabaa boooooooeeeeyy baba booey baba booey.

  115. Kevin says:

    go Pirates!

  116. Sounds like they were gonna shoot him down.

  117. Kevin says:

    Those too!

  118. Kevin says:

    go Penguins!

  119. Kevin says:

    go girls in football pads and a spandex!

  120. Dom says:

    IMO, Littlefield wasn’t a bad choice for GM at the time he was hired. He was the director of player devilment for Montreal and then the assistant GM for the Marlins.

  121. JohninOshkosh says:

    I was really looking forward to the Hawks/Wings series.

    1. First of all, how can one not be moved by the anthem performed at the United Center during Hawks games. The distinguished veterans presenting the colors, Jim Cornelison’s preternatural voice and the crowd erupting throughout the anthem in nationalistic glee. Goosebumps. I was at Wrigley when the Cubs honored the Stanley Cup champions a few years ago and the crowd cheered during the anthem. It was electric.

    2. I love the history involved. I still remember looking at the standings as a kid. The Norris division first in the Prince of Wales Conference and later in the Clarence Campbell Conference. It was all so exotic to an American boy accustomed to directional and geographical sports classifications! I miss the named divisions and the Campbell/Wales Conferences.

    3. That being said, the Hawks are a damn fine team. They dispatched the Wings like they were an AHL club.

    If there are hockey gods, then I hope they are convening on Mount Sawchuk as we speak to grant a Wings/Pens final.

  122. cmat0829 says:

    Not “on topic” but maybe to move us on from any more Littlefield discussion (think we’ve milked that cow already)….

    CollapseI vs. CollapseII vs. (pleaseGodnotcollapseIII):

    I think each season is very different, and each roster definitely is different, so not entirely fair to ‘collapse’ the collapse analysis together… In 2011, the Bucs were coming off a 57-win season and had surprising early season success, but were woefully thin everywhere and injuries ravaged the team… so I’m not sure calling that a collapse is really all that accurate…. more like a big-time, Dennis Green-style “they are what we thought they were” regression to the mean…. 2012 was totally deflating because they did have better depth, were riding Cutch’s unreal summer and the awakening of Pedro, had AJ and good JMac and Hanny and Grilli, etc. and were in a position to really add (the piece they should have gotten in addition to Wandy is Jonathan Broxton to bolster the tired pen)… but even then when Cutch cooled and Neil went down with injury the Pirates didn’t have enough depth to stave off a pitching downfall in August/September…..

    2013 ‘feels different’… first off is that the Bucs are having some success scoring runs WITHOUT CUTCH ‘being Cutch’. And they were winning when Neil was out of the lineup. Two things they really have never done consistently…which is winning with Cutch slumping and Neil not playing…I don’t have stats but I think they’d back up that assertion.

    Feels more like a Leyland-type of roster at this point…platoon contributors like Gaby and Tabby feels like 1990-91-92 (people like RJ Reynolds, Gary Redus, etc.).

    You don’t need superstars at every position and productive platoons aren’t blasphemy (sorry fantasy sports droolers, but in real life platoons can be a good thing).

    Here’s hoping this summer does not bring a Sequel to the ‘burgh titled “Epic Collapse III”… we have enough movie sequels to deal with …..

  123. Jandy says:

    ugly = John Kruk

  124. Dom says:

    I was just reading about DL on baseball reference and they bring up just about every poor move he made as GM. The nicest thing that was said about him is that he’s 6’3 and weighs 195 lbs.

  125. SeanAY says:

    I think DK just wants someone to say that they think Grilli and Melancon are going to fail. Or at least falter badly.

  126. JD says:

    Hey now!

  127. Damon says:

    DK – Thought…if one of the reasons TV is better than MAF is his stickhandling, is it possible MAF could go all Crosby and work on it in the off season to the point where he becomes exceptional at it?

  128. cmat0829 says:

    Um, no, Tony Sanchez will not be in the majors this year barring injury to Martin or the Fort. He doesn’t fill the backup catcher spot like the Fort does and I don’t think the Bucs will take a risk to chemistry by dumping the Fort. And I wouldn’t count on Taillon to come up before June 2014, he is still in AA.

    As to Cole, I do think they want him up in June, but he really needs to pitch at AAA like he’s ready to come up and be successful… we don’t need a ‘slow start’ for Cole like we’ve had with Pedro/Marte, etc.

  129. SeanAY says:

    I’ll say this…the previous career numbers back up a major fall from grace. It could totally happen.

  130. Dom says:

    I don’t think they’ll fail but they most likely get injured after pitching so much so early in the season.

  131. tdb1977 says:

    Could get interesting around here when the Mets come to PNC to play. What is his actions going to be?

  132. Jandy says:


  133. TC will be happy to know he’s tall.

  134. Patrick says:

    I don’t like sounding like I’m defending Littlefield. His mistakes at the winter meeting with his 40 man is reason enough alone that he should never be allowed in a front office anywhere.


    I do wonder how differently things would have been if he wasn’t forced to dump Aramis Ramirez. In 2003 if he plays the whole season instead of 63 with the Cubs is he the difference between 75 wins and 82? Eh…probably not. Is he the missing piece in 2004 when they lost 90? Its a stretch,,but we’ll never know. And that was something we all know he hated doing.

    I still believe that the GM of the PIrates is still playing a different game than the others. Its tough to truly judge a GMs contribution when there are so many other uncontrolable variables involved. I’m more inclined to condemn DL for his boneheadness at the 2007 winter meetings than his poor scouting of Giambi

  135. Naterosboro says:

    Mike Piazza was a 61st round pick and was a favor by Tommy Lasorda I believe.

    61st round pick turned out to be the greatest hitting catcher IMO of all time (so far).

    Which scout(s) fudged up that 1? All of them?

  136. Patrick says:

    I’ve watched 6-7 Hawks games this year and 3 of their playoff games. Unless Crawford completely melts down, the Pens cant beat them. Just cant. Not in a 7 games series. Hawks would skate circles around the slower Pens and beat them in 6. Maybe 5.

    If Jonathan Quick doesn’t beat the Hawks…nobody does.

  137. Good points, Patrick, and all the above considered, I think the worst move ever by any GM in any sport (I know it’s exaggerating, but it seems like it to me) was the Matt Morris acquistition.

    Matt was basically finished and Littlefield didn’t even ask the Giants to pay any of the $10,000,000 he was owed. Unforgivable in my opinion. Littlefield made Huntington look like a genius.

    And who knows, except for a Bautista here or an Andy LaRoche there, and he may be.

  138. radio wave says:

    Labor day

  139. Dom says:

    He had a WAR of 1.3 in the 2003 season after leaving for the Cubs.

  140. Nate83 says:

    Rob B and Travis have been offering great coverage of the Pirates. I’m not sure if Travis has cleared up time for Rob B to dedicate a little more time to the game columns but both are doing excellent work.

  141. tdb1977 says:

    Maybe a size 9 is needed?

  142. Nate83 says:

    Before that I think Bobby Thigpen had like 57 or something for the white sox.

    I think Grille has a chance to get upwards of 45-50. The Pirates seem like a team that could be playing a lot of close games and I don’t think it would be unreallastic for him to get 29 the rest of the year if he stays healthy.

  143. Sisyphus says:

    Far be it from me to defend Littlefield the GM, but I’ve got to defend Littlefield the scout here. Scouting seventeen year old high school kids and trying to project what they’ll be like as 27 year old major leaguers is ridiculously difficult. All scouts miss on far more players than they hit on. Scouting baseball players has to be the most difficult job in sports, outside of actually playing.

  144. Cole still needs work. Look at his line from Tuesday. Not terrible, but 3 HR’s. Still, he’s getting his effeciency level up. Some.

    95 pitches, 58 strikes

    6 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 3 earned, 1 W, 5 K, 3 HR

  145. Nate83 says:

    I have to disagree with you on the back up catcher. Most back up catcher are defense oriented. It’s a position that ussually offensive contributions are a bonus except for a handful like Posey, Maure and few others.

    If Fort can’t start throwing some baserunners out or stopping some pitches in the dirt you will see Sanchez this year. Especially since his hitting numbers are really not that great and Sanchez has been hitting well.

  146. Nate83 says:

    30 hits 41 innings. I’m pretty sure we will take that over Gomez right now.

  147. Nate83 says:

    I dont’ think they will fail as much as regress to a more normal level of play. I think both will end up being well above average relievers by the end of the year but I don’t think either has Kimbrell, Chapman, Rivera type stuff.

  148. Kevin says:

    ‘cant’ should not be in your vocabulary, Patrick. Anything is possible and DOES happen in the stanley cup playoffs. And pens-hawks, if it should happen, is still 3 or so weeks away. Plenty of time for Crawford to slump, or get run over in the crease, or the penguins to get super hot, or (blank)…

    Much like the isles, the senators couldn’t match the penguins intensity in the first game. I predicted that… although my prediction that Anderson would crack fell a bit short. Maybe he’ll crack in this game if we get on him again in the 1st period. That first goal is crucial against a team like the sens.

  149. I don’t think anyone thinks Gomez is better than Cole in the big picture. But he’s throwing against ML hitters, not AAA.

    Still a good point.

  150. Nate83 says:

    I like what Gomez has done for us up until this point. He saved us a few times. I just feel like the wheels will fall off at sometimes. Coles ERA of under 3 is impressive considering his control problems and average number of strike outs. His BA on balls in play must be really low.

  151. Right on all the above.

  152. 21sthebest says:

    “DK: Why was it one yesterday? Now today it’s suddenly verboten?”

    I have no idea what you’re referring to DK. I don’t even think I looked at the blog yesterday.

    I’m not making fun of anybody. I just think scouting is extremely difficult. I have nothing against Littlefield and have never had any interest in comparing him to Huntington, Bonifay or the Easter Bunny.

  153. Three rehab innings for Charlie so far this morning in Altoona and the only blemish is a Neil Medchill HR. 48 pitches, 31 AA strikes.

  154. Kevin says:

    I’ve seen this a couple times… and I dunno maybe Sarah can weigh in. How important is stick handling for a goalie? I guess another way to say it.. if you are fantastic at stick handling vs being just average, what kinda difference does that make in stopping a puck?

  155. Jandy says:

    Possibly lol

  156. Drew71 says:

    I Am Not Making Fun Of Littlefield.

    It took me two years of therapy to not have to post He Whose Name Shall Not Be Written.

    Littlefield, especially his Moscos pick, came inches from ending my fan-ness for the Pirates. Seriously. Seriously. Seriously.

    What I’ve written today about Littlefield is drop dead serious.

    He was WRONG.

  157. JHadar says:

    Worse than Bonfiay!

  158. Jandy says:

    They are the Chapmans on the Pirates, IMO. No doubt they will falter, but that doesn’t mean they will fail.

  159. Jandy says:

    He has a beautiful warm morning for it too.

  160. Do you mean Dog Chapman and his family?


  161. Jandy says:

    LOL good one, Spunky. But seriously, these two guys shine on this team. I’m enjoying it. And when they do falter (which they will, you know that Murphy’s Law thing) I won’t bash them. Doesn’t mean I won’t be unhappy but hey, they’re only human.

  162. theplanisworking says:

    I think what Daquido was saying, is that both Grilli and Melancon have had hot and cold careers. Grilli wasnt the closer last year, so it is fair to say he hasnt been in this situation so far.

    Yes he is doing wonderfully so far, but it is a fair question to ask if he can continue.

  163. Charlie update:

    Slade Heathcott took him out in the 4th. 61 pitches through 4. About right on that end.

  164. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Closing…..If the Pirates remain in contention, the pressure will mount.
    Can he deal with it?
    I think so, but again, he has no track record in the aspect of closing games late in a pennant race.

  165. Jandy says:

    Hipposter! :)

  166. theplanisworking says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but wasnt that draft report from 1992…………. when Littlefield was first coming into the business? And, here is the kicker…….. he was in the Montreal Expos system at the time.,……………. and they had an awesome farm system! Just makes you wonder.

  167. You are correct as always, J-girl. I think they’re less likely to fail than Dog and his crew. Human or not.

  168. Jandy says:

    Punk needs his butt kicked.

  169. theplanisworking says:


  170. Naterosboro says:

    Thoughts from Last night’s Raising of the Jolly Roger:

    * I love that saying, Raise the Jolly Roger. Better than “THEEEEE YANNKKKKEEESS WIIIIINNNNNN”.

    * Still can’t stand Tim Neverette.

    * Has anyone ever tweeted the @BucsBooth handle and had a question answered during a game?

    * On Melancon, I was trying to allay TC’s fears about his lack of 1-2-3 innings, by basically showing that his WHIP (was .75, now I guess after last night it’s .71) does indicate he is getting his share of 1-2-3 innings. Also, he’s been damn near perfect (just the 1 meaningless HR allowed to Votto) in his set-up role. He’s going to blow games. He’s human. Nobody’s perfect. Except Brad Lidge in 2008.

    * Jason Grilli has the perfect mentality to close out baseball games. Fearless. Basically, “if you can hit, you can name it”. Was curious if anyone knows what Jason scrawls on the mound before he pitches? DK? ANYONE?!

    * The interesting thing with the platoon situations is we’ll have to see if guys start to establish themselves. Will Clint continue to stay with these platoons, or will he go to a more traditional lineup of starters and bench players? I guess how the season is going will dictate this.

    * 1 thing I thought of last night: are the Pirates (not the players, but management) scared of success? If they do finish over .500 this season, then playoffs are the next step. If they somehow make the playoffs this year (we can dream, right?) then expectations for next season go even higher. Is our management team (the best in baseball, maybe all of sports mind you (not my words)) ready for that?

    * Andrew McCutchen had a very good season last year. He hit .327 overall (but was well over that for most of the year). While I think he’ll hit around .300 again this season, is it unrealistic to expect ‘Cutch to hit around .330 and up for his career? Do the Pirates need him to hit there to be successful. Results right now suggest otherwise, but I’m wondering if our Buccos are getting a little lucky right now not having their best hitter be their best hitter.

    * Just a little shout to Vin Mazzaro, Bryan Morris, Justin Wilson, Tony Watson (albeit he’s had his struggles this season) & Jeanmar Gomez. The un-sung heroes of the Pirates pitching staff so far.

    * Ray Searage quitely gets results out of [what appears on paper] a less-than-average pitching staff. He deserves a cookie. Get that man a cookie.

    * Neal Huntington: MLB Executive of the Year, 2013? Too soon?


  171. radio wave says:

    Nice to see a pair of original six matchups in this round of the NHL playoffs. As a Rangers fan, no way I can be objective. So Pens fans, give me an unbiased overview of the NY vs. Boston series. Which team is better? Which team poses bigger problem for Pens? Which of the four Western teams do you want to avoid? Which one do you hope makes it through?

  172. theplanisworking says:

    Jandy girl! 8-)

  173. theplanisworking says:

    Well said.
    We all will have to wait and see.

    Fair questions you posted above.

  174. theplanisworking says:

    Mybe Bad, Bad Leroy Brown is needed to end the streak??? ;)

  175. Drew71 says:

    Yuck and Flavorless Watery Light Yuck

  176. Jandy says:

    The sun is shining here. Heavenly. How is it at your Hippo Pond?

  177. MadTurk says:

    Better dressed? Was that even in question?

  178. radio wave says:

    Charlie Morton is done after 4 innings. Gave up two homers, two total earned runs.

  179. theplanisworking says:

    : ducks :

  180. theplanisworking says:

    Warming up.
    Maybe getting in the 80’s today!!

    Its a good day to be a Hippo.
    I gues that means HIPPO HEY !!!! ;)

  181. Excellent column.

    Instead of a cookie for Searage how about an extension through 2025?

  182. Naterosboro says:

    From what I’ve seen, Dog ALWAYS gets his man (or wo-man).

  183. Those were the only 2 hits. 1 W. 1 K. Needs a few innings at Indy and we may see him.

  184. Jandy says:

    lol :)

  185. theplanisworking says:

    like Uncle Charlies sausages??? ;)

  186. Or gets thrown in jail himself.

  187. theplanisworking says:

    I will be swimming with the sharks on the blog here for a bit.

    Man, the tackiness and snarkiness are high today……think I will just read, and comment little. SHEESH!!!!!!!!!

    But how is your world over there?

    I will get some popcorn for us and we will enjoy the show! ;)

  188. Naterosboro says:

    On paper, Boston is the better squad. But, there’s that Lundqvist guy who can cancel out all of that.

    I’d say Boston would be the tougher matchup, should the Penguins play them in the next round, but, sadly, I’d rather see them than the Rangers.

    Again, because of that Lundqvist thingy.

    He can steal a series by himself. Ask the Capitals.

    Tukka Rask is good. But he’s not Lundqvist good.

  189. theplanisworking says:

    not possibly……definitely. :)

  190. theplanisworking says:

    You know, it is funny you say yuck to Heinz ketchup.
    Blind taste tests show Heinz ranks near the bottom of ketchups, but it has like 80% of the market.

    Its all about the name.

  191. theplanisworking says:

    eat a grilled cheese sangwich! ;)

  192. He’s talking about IC Light.

    BTW, that Hippo Hey is the POTD.

  193. Naje says:

    DK– Is this bizarro DK day? You jacked up on the chai lattes? Man, a little testy, but here are some answers.

    Yes, Grilli and Melancon are human. Yes, their numbers will regress. Yes, they may be called upon more than necessary or enough so that alterations in their usage or other arms to support them will be needed (read: added to the team).

    I like flamethrowers, but don’t necessarily love them as long term solutions to a closer role. The one-trick pony power pitchers break down to easily and eventually get caught-up-to.

    For closer, I’d take a strong arm that knows how to pitch over a pure flamethrower every day of the week. In pressure situations, being able to reliably fool a hitter is more valuable, to me, than thinking you have to strike out every hitter you face.

    Grilli and Melancon fit that profile right now and I think Brad Lincoln did, too. That’s why I think so many PBC fans thought Lincoln could be a closer: his ability to pitch. Meek, Capps and Hanny, not so much; especially when they lost their sliders.

  194. theplanisworking says:

    Lucky, help a Hippo out here……..

    what is POTD??

  195. theplanisworking says:

    : ducks :

  196. likeabugonarug says:

    I was watching MLB Network yesterday afternoon and they were having quite a discussion about the incident. And only because it’s NY, probably.


  197. theplanisworking says:

    Ah, mind is in 3 other places.

    Why thank you for that. I try to bring humor to here.
    Dont always succeed, but I do try.

  198. JohnS says:

    Please someone tell Neverett that every fly ball isn’t automatically going to be a home run.

  199. You do a good job. Keep up the good work.

  200. Jandy says:

    OK I’ll get ‘em ready…size 9 wides coming up ;)

  201. Jandy says:

    dittos! You rock Hipposter! :)

  202. Jandy says:

    watery light yuck is for p^ss^es

  203. Jandy says:


  204. Jandy says:

    lol yup! or make one ;)

  205. theplanisworking says:

    You are too kind. Really.

    How much do I owe you two?? ;)

  206. theplanisworking says:

    Agreed on the beer.
    I am in the minority that likes the taste of Heinz. I like that extra vinegariness…….. most ketchups are way too sweet.

  207. theplanisworking says:

    Havent had one of those in years!

  208. Jandy says:

    Sorry Facebook is blocked at work :(

  209. JohninOshkosh says:

    I like both teams, Radio. I like the old time match up as well.

    Nash has not even displayed half of his talent. And Lundqvist is always the “X” factor.

    I always hated that “1940” chant, and that Rangers run in 94 is still one of the great sports stories of the 20th century.

    Love NYR history, love MSG and my wife loves Lundqvist. But if I was a betting man-which I am, only not on hockey, I would pick the Bruins. They seem to have some mojo going for them which can not be discounted.

  210. Iceman says:

    First of all, Grilli and Melancon are doing awesome and it is great to see their success. I hope they can maintain because they are fun to watch right now.

    I know that it is an off-day for hockey and therefore a good day to talk about baseball, but I want to say kudos to the Trib Hockey Team for the stuff they put together today on an uneventful off-day for Pens Playoffs. Really good stuff and especially appreciated hearing James Neal admit that his penalties are stupid and he needs to do better. Glad that he is at least willing to admit that. Means there is some hope for change.

    Second, great column by Joe Starkey on Brooks Orpik. Brooks has had a weird season, but he is truly coming into playoff form. Everyone on the ice that isn’t wearing the black and gold better keep their head on a swivel. Also great to hear Brooks’s always candid answers to interview questions.

  211. MadTurk says:


  212. theplanisworking says:

    for those without FB access………….

    It is the cover of “Saturday Night Fever”, with Bylsma’s face superimposed.

    Quite funny to see him in a white leisure suit. 8-)

  213. MadTurk says:

    Stopping it behind the net is important. And MAF has worked on it but needs even more. The issue is when he does stop it he sends it to the opposing players and not a teammate that be near him and able to do something with it.

  214. Jandy says:

    LOL I can picture it :)

  215. Nate83 says:

    Anybody know how many pitches? If it wasn’t at least 60 I can’t see him coming up until after at least 2 more rehab starts.

  216. JaxBuc says:

    John Milner and John Candelaria are two guys that had no chance of getting a leading role in a movie, based on good looks.

    Was Matt Clemente an illegitimate son of Roberto?

  217. theplanisworking says:

    Miss Jandy, I am off to swim around the Pond. May be back for the Buccos tonight.

    Thanks to you and Lucky for the kind words above. Your checks will be in the mail………….

    Hippo out.

  218. Jandy says:

    I’m busy as heck, but plowing thru.
    Popcorn, funny you mention that, I’m munching on some now…have a popcorn machine at work lol

  219. Jandy says:

    just a smile on a cloudy day is fine :)

  220. Jandy says:

    same with me n the hubby…we like Heinz. In fact, hubs won’t allow any other kind lol

  221. Jandy says:

    I buy the hot sausage, put it in the slow cooker with green peppers and onions, and sauce…simmer all day on low….Oh Lord, to die for!

  222. Kevin says:

    I want the penguins to win first obviously. Would rather see Rask in the Eastern final for the same reasons as others have already said. And I’d like to see an absolute wild card in the west come through – San Jose Sharkies! Don’t really see that happening, Sharkies would have to upset the Kings. Hoping the wings take out the hawks too.. but then that will probly mean we’ll see a 08, 09 re-match in the finals.

  223. Jandy says:


  224. Jandy says:

    later on friend… enjoy the day

  225. Sarah says:

    The best and most confident I ever saw MAF handling the puck was when he came back from his ankle injury which I think was 09?…While rehabbing he worked a lot with backup Ty Conklin and was more than adequate handling dump ins when he got back to playing.

    He has regressed since then and it’s back to being an adventure any time he tries to play the puck. No excuses for a goalie with his years, but I actually put a lot on Gilles Meloche too.

    I really do not see that Meloche has done a lot to help Fleury. Certainly not between the ears.

    I wonder if that assignment as “goalie coach” is just charity from the Pens, as it was when Greg Malone was a “scout”….

  226. Sarah says:

    I can tell you that stick handling is HUGE for a goaltender.
    And it does make a difference stopping the puck, by reducing the number of pucks you have to stop.

    Goalies who can really stop those dump-ins and dish accurately to the D GREATLY benefit their team:
    1) They save the D from having to manage the puck in the corner/on the boards, with their back to the onrushing forechecker. This saves wear and tear on the D (ands maybe even injury too) which is enormous in the playoff grind.
    2) Reduces the chance that the D turnsover the puck, thereby reducing the chance there’s a shot from the opponents
    3) IMPORTANTLY – breaks up the forecheck of the opponents – HUGE

    4) MORE IMPORTANT – aids the breakout for the offensive team – really huge!!

    Tom Barrasso almost single-handedly disarmed the Boston forecheck in 1990.

    It can be enormous for a goalie to have good skills back there, can really make the difference in a long series.

    The “trapezoid” rule which limits the goalie’s ability to roam, was really the one rule change a absolutely hated.

    It was the ONLY rule that REMOVED skill from the game. If you’re got a Brodeur or a Barrasso, you should be able to use him.

    Awful rule.

  227. Karen22 says:

    Thank you, Jandy! July 6th…in Oakmont. Beginning to freak out about now!

  228. Jandy says:

    this is priceless LOL :

    Comment From Guest
    The NHL is a hack league…Look how few Americans play the sport, the Major College athletes who play cannot hold a candle (athletically) to NCAA football, hoops, or baseball players. It’s just a major sport played at a much lower level and whose make-up would be completely changed if more American athletes were exposed to it. What sayeth you?


    Dejan Kovacevic:
    What I sayeth is that you don’t sound like you’re from Pittsburgh.

  229. Sounds like he’s from another planet.

  230. Jandy says:

    Sounds like a Master Baiter ;)

  231. Jandy says:

    then there’s this:
    Dejan Kovacevic:
    That’s all for today. It’s take-your-father-to-school day, and I’ve got to make sure I’m doing the least amount of damage to my daughter’s standing with her friends. Which means I’ve got to change out of this FREE COMIC BOOK DAY T-shirt.


  232. Ornery. Or Onery, as they say it here.

    Nobody is more “American” than Chris Walton and he likes the NHL. That’s good enough for me.

  233. NMR says:

    Did it really need to be openly stated that at some point those two are going to regress?


    Amateur hour.

    DK: Honestly, I was trying not to spell it out, but everyone’s reaction … they act like this can just go on forever.

  234. Jandy says:

    if it’s good nuff fer you, it’s good nuff fer me too ;)

  235. Chris says:

    Great picture!

  236. Thundercrack says:

    I’m happy about that and that he is no longer the GM of the Pirates

  237. Jandy says:

    it’s about time you showed up NMR ;)

  238. NMR says:

    I disagree, Dejan. You’re not giving enough credit to the baseball knowledge in the room.

    You wrote what basically amounts to a column celebrating their success. We’re fans. We joined in.

    We obviously know that at some point a save or hold will be blown. That’s baseball.

    But who wants to be THAT guy to state the obvious?

    DK: It’s possible that I’m not giving enough credit, NMR. That’s a fair point. But I can tell you that only about 95 percent of the feedback I’ve gotten today sounds utterly oblivious to this, presumably willingly so.

  239. Paperboy says:

    I love how nonsensical the question is. It starts out about the NHL, then goes right into college sports and athletes, and then he somehow tied it into Americans not being involved. If this guy knew anything at all about the “hack NHL”, he’d know lots of NHLers and several American hockey players don’t play NCAA hockey, at least not the best of the best. Can you even compare the sports athletically, whatever that means?

  240. Thundercrack says:

    Thanks for looking out for me Nate.

    And now, I promise this is the last time I will bring this up about Melancon.
    ( I and I think he is doing great, realize he will eventually hit a rough patch, etc..)

    He has had 21 appearances (each is one inning) Our of those 11 were more than 3 batters. OK, that isn’t too bad.

    In May he has had 7 appearances. Only 2 were 1-2-3 innings. And that was my point. It seemed that he wasn’t getting many 1-2-3 innings recently and eventually it would catch up with him.

  241. florida pirate says:

    I really hope you’re right about Alvarez, but I don’t see him coming around. He doesn’t even come close to hitting the ball at all, let alone hitting it somewhere.

    Here is a telling little story, you know how they have those “questions for Pirates” on the jumbotron? Well they asked “where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world”, and Pedro’s answer totally non sarcastic was “on an island by myself”.

    Huh?, that dude is becoming more and more of a head case. Guess it will be solved by a few dingers, but I don’t see him on the team at the end of the year

  242. Iceman says:

    I want to hear this guy say any of the business about college being less athletic than other major sports to Gary Roberts. That man’s workout is absurd.

  243. Paperboy says:

    Who’s their future at 3B?

  244. Jandy says:

    That’s my point about him being a Master Baiter. Play on words…but…
    either he’s “baiting” Dejan into a surly reply….which won’t happen in any case
    he’s just that dumb.
    If it’s the latter…then
    Dorktards bore me lol

    Welcome to the Lunies Asylum, Paperboy :)

  245. Jandy says:



  246. Jandy says:

    Please don’t say Inge

  247. John Lease says:

    Piazza without steroids was a 61st round pick.

    Same with a 5’10” outfielder we got from the Indians.

  248. Jim S. says:

    DK, can’t you just start being in more than 2 or 3 places at once? Would make the experience much better for us.

  249. Jandy says:

    Ehhh…you need to relax and enjoy it. You’re the Mother of the Groom and you will shine :)

  250. Jandy says:

    good stuff, Sarah

  251. Jim S. says:

    My pragmatic reaction is no one can keep up those numbers. Well, Kimbrell from Atlanta did for a couple of years, but even he blew a few games this year. Those two guys are legitimately good pitchers. Grilli has pitched well for a couple of years now, although not this well. Melancon was good until last year, but a lot of people totally expected him to bounce back in ’13 and felt NH actually stole him from Boston for Hanny, who was trending downward. Unfortunately for Hanny, now we know why he was trending downward. But, there is room for a small slip from them and still not have a disaster result, IMO. They don’t always pitch in one run games, where a slight hiccup ties the score. Often, they have a little cushion. Even last night, if Grilli had given up a run, we still win and his ERA and WHIP start to rise. And, if the game gets tied because they give up a run or two, that doesn’t mean an automatic loss. Plus, our bullpen in the majors and high minors is now in the best shape I have seen in a long, long time. There is help there. Aside from the pen, I think it is reasonable to think Cutch and Pedro are both due for offensive upticks, and so is a healthy Walker. Maybe even if Grilli and Melancon come back to earth it is coupled with more lopsided victories as a result of an improved offense. Finally, I see no reason to think our starting pitching won’t improve a bit. Liriano has a chance to do well, and Karstens has shown he can put together 18-20 starts & 120/130 innings. Even Morton could jump in and contribute. Personally, I don’t see Cole being a factor much this year.

    Bottom line, for as good as they have been (and DK rightly points out they have been other-wordly), they have pitched about 40 innings. What have they given up, 4 or 5 ERs? If they had given up 10 so far, that would be about what I expected of them. So, that’s 5-6 extra runs, which might have cost them a couple of games if the spacing of those runs was fortuitous. Who really knows that? If Pedro were swinging better, and Cutch could have a few more balls drop in, maybe that is 5-6 runs back to steal a few games back from the hypothetical blown leads by Melancon/Grilli.

  252. Jim S. says:

    Well said. To me, as a fan of the Bucs, there is reason to be positive. That doesn’t mean they are a lock for 88 wins or even 82 wins. It’s baseball, and everything could crumble if a couple of key guys went down. But, I always choose optimism. I think it makes life more enjoyable for me. I always add a dash of realism to balance things. But, this doesn’t feel like the mirage of the last 2 years to me. I’ve been wrong before, though, so who knows?

  253. Jim S. says:

    Someone was smart enough to sign Pablo Sandoval and Prince Fielder. Some scouts must not be subscribing to the body type theories.

  254. Jim S. says:

    I never listed my town, either. I won’t call it my hometown because Pittsburgh will always be my hometown. But, I live in Naperville, IL (Chicago suburbs).

  255. Jim S. says:

    Interest officially piqued, I think.

  256. Jim S. says:

    I guess DK can start covering baseball now, seeing as how the Hawks have already beaten the Pens.

  257. Jim S. says:

    Exactyl, Nate! I actually said this earlier, but I got on the blog late today and have a bad habit of starting at the beginning. So, I often end up commenting very late in the conversation when most have moved on.

    Anyway, regressing a bit does not spell doom and gloom. Guys like Morris and Mazzaro are already pitching in high leverage situations that are often more difficult than the ones Melancon and Grilli are pitching in, only earlier in the games. Plus, there are stud arms in waiting at Indy & Altoona. Regression is not the end of the world. They are only 2/25 of the current roster. That does not even get into the fact that we now have better starting pitching options here & coming soon than Jonathan Sanchez & James MacDonald. Jeanmar most likely won’t even have to keep starting soon, if he happens to slip badly. Finally, Cutch has not caught many breaks at the plate, and Pedro will hit much better, as will Walker. We’re ok with the 8th & 9th inning guys slipping a bit.

  258. Jim S. says:

    Consideration should also be given to the point that they are not always protecting a 1-run lead. Last night Grilli came in up 2. He could have had a bad outing and still got the save. His stats would have slipped and no harm would have come to the record. That is often the case, as a matter of fact. Also, if he had given up 2 runs, we still would have had a 50/50 chance of winning the game. They cannot keep this up, but doom and gloom does not have to result.

  259. Jim S. says:

    I have always thought the single biggest flaw in MAF’s game is not just the stick handling, which was correctly pointed out, but that he compounds that problem by straying too far behind and away from the net, often losing the puck in the process. So, I think it is not only handling the puck, but being better at decision-making to not consistently put himself and the team in bad situations.

  260. Jim S. says:

    Reports I read are his stuff is pretty filthy today.

  261. Jim S. says:

    Great points across the board! In answer to the platoon question, I would say that everyone who is platooning is doing so right now because that is what they were brought to do. Sanchez and Jones form a terrific platoon, and that was the plan all along. In RF, we do not currently have a full-time player. Polanco maybe in 2 years, but not yet. No choice there. Pedro seems to be in a semi-platoon situation when bad match-up lefties are facing us. I would like to see Jordy get those at bats until he proves he cannot hit in that role.

  262. Jim S. says:

    It’s Pedro or someone from another team. Maybe Wood, but he’s no sure thing.

    Pedro could still learn to be more consistent. That’s my hope. The light went on for Ryan Howard.

  263. Jim S. says:

    Whether or not he can continue pitching so well is a good question, but it no longer has anything to do with being up to closing. No one owns that challenge any better than Grilli.

  264. Karen22 says:

    We are equally vested with the in-laws…so JUST as involved in everything “wedding.” Some days I’m relaxed and others, not so much. But one thing is certain—we’re all awesome, fun folks (if I must say so myself) and have become very good friends through it all! It’s gonna be a blast!

  265. Jim S. says:

    What a great post! Very well said. Enjoy it for what it is, day-by-day or else when they do have a winning season this year you will have missed it.

    My kids are 16, 14, 11. They have not seen a winning Pirates season, and they are ready.

  266. Jim S. says:

    I think he is working on control now, moreso than rearing back and going for K’s.

  267. Jim S. says:

    Pens blew it on Saad. It happens.

  268. Jim S. says:

    But, one thing we know about NH is that when he says a guy has some things to clean up at AAA, that guy is staying at AAA until he cleans things up to his satisfaction.

  269. florida pirate says:

    who’s the future? Umm, someone other than him, how’s that for nailing it down. Someone that doesn’t swing at fastballs a foot over his head and sit around acting like a sour puss

  270. Arriba Wilver says:

    POTW. (Post of the week)

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