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Morning Java: The Pirates will never lose again

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> No column today because of the Stanley Cup playoffs forcing us to flip schedules because I’ve been assigned to the Penguins throughout the run.

>> We will, however, have the weekly chat that was pushed back from yesterday. It’ll be at noon right here on the blog. Hope to see you in there.

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>> The Pirates will never lose again.

At least that’s how they’re performing at the moment, despite an offense that ranks 19th in runs, 20th in OPS (the vital on-base plus slugging percentage stat), and a defense that ranks 17th in UZR (the equally vital Ultimate Zone Rating).

None of those should lead to one of the National League’s three best records.

But that’s why they say pitching is the name of the game, right?

The starting pitchers haven’t gone deep but have been mostly fine while on the mound, with a 3.61 ERA that ranks 10th. That’s largely to the credit of A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and, of late, Jeff Locke, Francisco Liriano and even Jeanmar Gomez.

And yet, all of the above pales next to the bullpen, which ranks No. 1 in just about every category, notably a 1.14 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) and 161 strikeouts. That, of course, is mostly due to nothing less than brilliance from Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon.

The relievers have been superlative beyond adjectives, and that’s a credit not only to the pitchers but also to all who acquired (Neal Huntington et al) and are instructing them (Ray Searage et al). Going above and beyond to this degree is never a player-only operation.

Beyond the tangibles, they’ve also shown a team toughness with all the comebacks and close victories, a credit not only to Clint Hurdle but also to the clubhouse leaders.

This team, basically, is A.J. in that regard …

I obviously haven’t seen much of the Pirates directly because of the hockey duty, but I continue to have grave concerns about the sustainability of any of what we’re seeing, and I think that’s perfectly reasonable given the above. I’m especially worried about the heavy usage of Grilli and Melancon. And I’d note, too, that including the rain-caused short start yesterday, the Pirates are now 13-11 when the starter goes less than six innings.

That’s just nuts.

For one, they’ve now had more starts of less than six innings (24) than with six or more (23). No team wins like that over a full summer. None. Even the 2012 Pirates were far better in this area, with 117 games of six-plus, 65 games of less than six.

For another, almost every team’s record is bad in games where the starter goes less than six innings. The 2012 Pirates were 22-43 in those games, 57-40 when they went six-plus. And the bullpen was pretty good last year, too.

All of this sounds like a comeuppance is due, in some form or other. The advanced statistical site FanGraphs does projected standings based on a variety of factors, and right now it’s got the Pirates going pretty much .500 the rest of the way (58-57). I’m having even a hard time with something that promising, if only because this team basically has yet to have a meaningful injury other than Neil Walker’s couple weeks out and the loss of James McDonald, who probably wasn’t long for the rotation, anyway.

But we’ll see.

And again, that shouldn’t take a sliver of credit away from this team being 11 games over .500 on the 23rd of May. It’s impressive, to say the least.

Next up are the Brewers, Reds, Angels, Tigers, Braves, teams a lot tougher than what the Pirates just faced, and it should be a telling stretch in terms of sustainability.

>> Let’s clear this up: Liriano is not pitching for a guaranteed $1 million this season, as I’ve been reading and hearing a lot lately. There was a $1 million risk to his signing, but only if one operates under the absurd assumption that his broken non-pitching arm never would have healed.

Here are all contract details as reported on the team’s official site, confirmed elsewhere.

Put simply, the moment Liriano joined the rotation — three starts ago — every single aspect of the full contract kicked because the broken non-pitching arm, the only injury specified in the deal, has healed.

Thus, he’ll earn roughly $4 million this year guaranteed, and what’s more, he’ll vest an option for next year at anywhere between $5 million-$8 million. For those who don’t know, vesting means the contract kicks in automatically. Yes, there is a club option to the terms, but that’s overridden by the vesting.

Liriano’s been incredible through three starts, and his performance, if sustained, would very much warrant the above money. But let’s not make it out to be some $1 million bargain. It isn’t. Liriano is now assured of making about $12 million over the next two seasons.

>> Joe Starkey’s column, moved to today, looks at the Penguins’ historic offense in advance of Game 5 tonight. Much more on the club on this morning, too, including this Gary Bettman interview by our Rob Rossi.

>> The Steelers sounded excited about their new blocking scheme, according to Mark Kaboly, who loves to write about the trenches.

>> Hope to have you in the chat!

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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

Comments

  1. Mark (@mjc4480) says:

    The sustainability (or lack thereof) you describe I agree with 100 percent. I think if this team is to have any aspirations of making a true run at this I would attempt to do the following:

    1.) Acquire a legit bat (preferably for RF or 1B), not a prospect, or a project, a true legit everyday hitter to place in the middle of the lineup. That not only improves the everyday lineup, but improves the bench (Jones/Sanchez, Snider/Tabata, Mercer and McKenry).

    2.) Acquire, if possible, another starter, someone in the Wandy mold, this truly solidifies your rotation, and can move one of the existing starters to the pen, to help that unit out.

    3.) Get pen arms wherever you can, you can never have enough, especially if regression inevitably sets in as is expected.

    Look, this situation is not at all hopeless, and a true, legit run at something special can be had if tweaks are made. This team has a legit foundation, build on it and they may have something to talk about.

    Just my two cents…..

  2. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    Finally, finally, finally got around to updating the stats for The Window.
    Here they are:

    CURRENT PARTICIPANT TOTALS
    Nor Cal Stlrfanrc (Ryan) ~ 1400
    theplanisworking ~ 1250
    Pucknutz ~ 1200
    JRay3 ~ 875
    tdb1977 ~ 785
    radio wave ~ 625
    fellocolonial ~ 600
    bman ~ 495
    RobertoForever ~ 490
    JohninOshkosh ~ 475
    KJX ~ 375
    EricBowser ~ 350
    Frankie ~ 325
    stickyweb ~ 300
    TK ~ 300
    Nate83 ~ 275
    Karen22 ~ 250
    Boise Bucco ~ 200
    Evan ~ 200
    Arriba Wilver ~ 175
    JoeyBats ~ 175
    JUCOFan ~ 175
    JaxBuc ~ 155
    blazer ~ 100
    Jason81 ~ 100
    Keith ~ 100
    PetroSteel ~ 100
    TCB ~ 100
    mlrgenuine ~ 50
    TJ ~ 50
    tmp444 ~ 25
    Chico ~ EVEN
    DemonDachshund ~ EVEN
    pants-n-at ~ EVEN
    Ruffian706 ~ -40
    cherokee23 ~ -50
    OZ ~ -50
    Bill Born ~ -65
    absolute59 ~ -100
    Dadtackular ~ -100
    Dcpinpgh ~ -100
    Ermine ~ -100
    John in WM ~ -100
    Kevin S ~ -100
    kr70 ~ -100
    steelercrazy ~ -100
    JD ~ -175
    Ghost ~ -250
    Brandie ~ -350
    cmat0829 ~ -350
    Dom ~ -375
    Steve J. Smith ~ -400
    Joey Mellons ~ -495
    Lad9 ~ -500
    pattonbb ~ -500
    cosmo ~ -800
    JMB ~ -800
    stuart66 ~ -900
    Kevin ~ -930
    Jandy ~ -1375
    Bizrow ~ -2300

    ***First Place at the end of MAY will win:***
    (1) PITTSBURGH PIRATES BUMPER STICKER
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323996932466962432

    First Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) BRAND NEW PITTSBURGH PIRATES FITTED NEW ERA 59FIFTY HAT
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323994233155485698

    Second Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) BRAND NEW PITTSBURGH PIRATES EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY HAT
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323994373731794947

    Third Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) PITTSBURGH PIRATES LICENSE PLATE FRAME
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323994796970627072

    Fourth Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) PITTSBURGH STEELERS BUMPER STICKER
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323996576253087745

    Fifth Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS BUMPER STICKER
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323996735837982720

  3. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    TOP 5 IN MAY
    JRay3 ~ 950
    Pucknutz ~ 900
    Arriba Wilver ~ 700
    Nor Cal Stlrfanrc (Ryan) ~ 500
    stickyweb ~ 400
    blazer ~ 400

  4. PI Stingray says:

    Agree with you that the bullpen, if it continues to be used so often, will not continue it’s domination (especially Melancon and Grilli). However, I do see a lot of talent in AAA and in those on the DL. It seems Charlie Morton is very close to being ready and possibly James McDonald after that. This would force Gomez back to the pen (not an awful move), but who else would come out of the rotation (when McDonald is ready)? Do the Bucs go with a six-man rotation, which is unheard of, or do they sit Locke (can’t see doing that at the moment)?

    It’s always said that you can’t have enough pitching, so I think the Bucs have a “good” problem. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  5. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    I agree with this assessment.
    However….This is where the FO enters the picture, and they are still their own worst enemy.
    If one is a true contender, and wants to win………Prove it, and conduct business as such.

  6. Reading says:

    “I ask for wakeup call. How come no wakeup call!! How come no wakeup call!!!”- a great Conan skit involving a Mother Theresa look-a-like trashing a hotel room.

    Anyway, has the morning blog been renamed? If so, my bad for missing it.

  7. DemonDachshund says:

    If he sustains it, Liriano will still be a bargain at $12M over 2 years.

    Been very busy at work and intentionally ignoring the Buccos so I don’t burn out on baseball by mid-August again this year (though really kind of worked out) but looking so far like I have some apologizing to do to Mr. Huntington.

    DK: If Liriano sustains what he’s done over the past three starts, he’ll also have his own wing added in Cooperstown. It’s been three excellent starts, but it’s still three. It can be appreciated for what it is minus some of the hyperventilating projections and inaccuracies I’ve been hearing and reading.

  8. Ghost says:

    Oh, the Pirates will lose again and at times it will come in bunches. Nevertheless, they now have 29 wins in the books vs. only 18 losses. Those wins count at the end of the year. St. Louis and Cinci also are hot. St. Louis in particular looks tough for the long haul with their starting rotation on this week’s SI cover. But then the Pirates have won these many games and they haven’t even been firing on all cylinders yet this season. At this point, even if they go 57 – 58 the rest of the way, they’ll have 86 wins this year. Squeeze another four wins out of it and I’m thinking … well, I can’t quite bring myself to say the word yet. But Jim Mora did once rant about it.

  9. DennyC says:

    Acquiring additional starter talent is not easy. Too many moves can force the wrong moves. FO is making a lot of good moves on limited budget. This will take time. More winning puts more revenue in the seats

    Bullpen has more than one solid contributor(all-star like), a key to sustainability.

    Dejan, good timing on the Full Credit Due blog post. It’s been a nice 10-2 run but we still have Milwaukee (under .500) for one more series before the tougher stretch.

    DK: The only timing was that I had a day away from the Penguins.

  10. DemonDachshund says:

    IMHO, both Morton and McDonald need to prove they belong in the rotation. I can see either getting a shot over Gomez, because well, he’s Jeanmar Gomez… But I don’t sit Locke for either of those two.

  11. Ghost says:

    Nah, don’t apologize to Neal Huntington yet. He’s still way down on the negative side in the ledger book — even more than I am in Playoffs little black book. Myself, I’ve given Huntington his due, recently. He’s seemingly been making some very good decisions. But he’s still got a lot of mismanagement and ineptitude of recent years past to atone for before he deserves any apology.

    DK: Well, THAT only took 11 comments down.

    Speaking only for myself: What I wrote above isn’t any broader assessment of anything, good or bad. It’s about these first two months, which have been almost entirely good.

  12. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Limited budget?
    They’re still in the vicinity of about $50 mil under the 1st place Cards.

  13. Reading says:

    Cole will be the starter “acquired” at the deadline through a callup. Triple digit speed will bring a whole new dimension to the starting rotation.

  14. DemonDachshund says:

    Obviously he won’t be ending the season with an ERA of 1. Sustain was probably the wrong word to use there…

    If he can provide a solid start more often than not every 5 days and serve as a #3/#4 starter, he’s still a bargain at $12M/2 years.

  15. Ghost says:

    I agree (and have been agreeing) with what you say at the top. Ditto with “it’s about these first two months, which have been almost entirely good.” But darn it, we’ve also had to ‘embrace a lot of suck’ over the last five years. Two months is only two months. They’re not yet off the hook, we’re not yet home free, and all that stuff. Just tempering some of that hyperventilating you mention, some of it found a few comments below by some guy using the same avatar I do.

  16. Ghost says:

    JRay’s got the hot hand. And I think he said he’s Vegas right now. We’ll see if he talks much about his trip when he gets back. ;)

  17. theplanisworking says:

    I dont know if Jandy would trash a hotel room…….. ;)

  18. theplanisworking says:

    Limited budget?
    Dont they, in many ways, limit their own budget? I know they are small market, etc……… but even with similar sized markets, they are still below them.

    So their success may be even greater if they spent a few more $$$ for another bat, or arm. Maybe.

  19. Drew71 says:

    The firing on all cylinders thing brings up another mechanical analogy.

    They could blow a gasket.

    “Cylinders” assumes they will get better. They might.

    “Gasket” suggests they may get worse. They might.

    About two weeks ago I had seen and posted this stat. It makes Dejan’s starting pitching argument in a different, narrower way.

    At the time, Pirates’ starters were averaging 5.0 innings per start. League average at the time was around 5.7. Forget that it placed the Ps near the bottom. Think how it would wear down the pen over a season. Think how the pen wore down last season when the Ps were at or above the league average.

    The offset this season could be future depth. At the time of the 5.0 post, Liriano was rehabbing in Indy. Plus future Morton, future Karstens, future Cole, and who knows McDonald. So I see both sides to the starting pitching scenario.

    So what do I expect?

    - NOT another collapse.
    - But also NOT continued magic. Magic rarely does.

    I expect, eventually, a slow fade.

  20. Drew71 says:

    Wait. I just woke up.

    Who you apologizing to, Dejan?

    This is great. Apologies could replace predictions as what to talk about on slow days.

    And by the way. I’m sorry.

  21. Drew71 says:

    I know you weren’t the one who got Penny in trouble.

    When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong.

  22. Drew71 says:

    Hey Jinxacevic.

    Last time you wrote something like “will never lose again” was something like “Andy LaRoche, who does not make outs”.

    Link THAT.

    So STOP it.

  23. Drew71 says:

    By the way. I keep a catalog of everything you write.

    E-V-E-R-Y-thing.

    DK: Good morning, Drew. You will be struck by space debris today. Take an umbrella.

  24. Drew71 says:

    MOM!! Where’s my medicine??

  25. theplanisworking says:

    :yawn:

    “The Pirates Will Never Lose Again”. Now I know I am still asleep……….
    Sure is nice to see the team playing well. This feels like last year. Starters doing fairly well, bullpen doing well (dont forget it was Grilli and Hanrahan last year), hitting still off. Can this be sustained? With the current roster, no. Callups or trades will be necessary to sustain it. But this Hippo doesn’t play GM, so I wont worry about that stuff.

    Liriano’s contract? Total non-issue. The only way it would be an issue is if he decided to scare his kids again. No penalty in a contract for being like my cousins….. a dorkapponamous.

    May have finally got a clue as to why Starks was not signed this time……….. a change in blocking schemes. That doesnt excuse how he was treated the previous times at all.

    Pens historic scoring…….. good. Just think how scary this team would be if it focused on a little defense? Looking for the guys to win tonight, for some much needed rest.
    Oh, and go Wings!

    After the past few days worth of wins, I am not “firing” anyone.
    Well, not yet anyway……………..

    DK: How would Max not have fit in with the new blocking scheme? He’s done it all with the Steelers, including pulling. But an LT still has one primary task in any scheme: Protect the QB.

  26. cherokee23 says:

    the 5 am hour & you are, how should i say this,…..in rare form, even for you!……LOL………40degrees over night in PA….just sayin!

  27. Dom says:

    Did you all see where Senators’ captain Daniel Alfredsson said he feels his team will “Probably not” win the series.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2013/05/22/ottawa-senators-pittsburgh-penguins-game-4-recap.html?cmp=rss

    We all know they’re going down but I never heard anyone, let alone the captain, state their team is going down.

  28. cherokee23 says:

    I second the Go Wings!…..been fun to watch…….my brother lives north of Detroit

  29. Drew71 says:

    About the same temperature here.

    Celsius.

  30. theplanisworking says:

    I am only saying go Wings because Jonathan Quick scares me.
    He is a goalie that can single-handedly win series.
    And, it would be nice to see the Hawks get ousted.

    Interesting fact…………. only 7 teams out of the 27 winners of the Presidents trophy have won the Stanley Cup.
    Last team to do so was the 07-08 Wings.

    DK: And how much LESS would Jimmy Howard scare you after what we saw him do to the Hawks last night?

  31. theplanisworking says:

    Is your apology any way connected to your anti-nice posts yesterday? ;)

  32. theplanisworking says:

    64 here in Pa.
    Guess we didnt get the cold front yet……

  33. Thundercrack says:

    I thought I was the one who did that.

    But when cataloging don’t forget what counts and what doesn’t count

  34. Thundercrack says:

    Here is a Q and an A from Keith Law’s recent chat:

    Is it time to advance Stetson Allie to see if he continues the hitting and power surge against better competition?

    K. Law:
    Sure, but the odds are that it won’t. I think his contact rate will drop quickly if he’s moved up, although the raw power is real.

  35. Thundercrack says:

    Next up are the Brewers, Reds, Angels, Tigers, Braves, teams a lot tougher than what the Pirates just faced, and it should be a telling stretch in terms of sustainability.
    —————————————————-
    Not singling out DK for saying that. But remember when everyone was wetting their diapers because the schedule at the beginning of the season was so difficult? And then it was ‘well, now they are playing lesser teams so they better sweep every single series against them’….which also had a dose of “Uh-oh, it’s the Brewers” thrown into the middle of it.

    DK: No one else has to move the goalposts. The season does that itself. The Pirates DID have a tough schedule. They beat it. They then DID fave easy opponents. They beat them thoroughly. Now comes what’s next.

    That’s not narrative. That’s real.

  36. 21sthebest says:

    And don’t forget how losing the Astros from the division was going to hurt us.

    I’m just going to enjoy what’s happening so far and not worry about a darn thing.

    DK: Losing the Astros DOES hurt. You wouldn’t want to face that team 17 times?

    And who suggested anyone shouldn’t enjoy anything?

    I swear, if I ever wrote a piece with 99 positive things about the Pirates and one negative — a ratio I’ve never achieved, mind you — 100 percent of the focus would be on the negative.

    That’s on you, 21, not me.

  37. Drew71 says:

    Yes. I’m sorry I was nice.

  38. Jandy says:

    Pretty much agree with what you say here…especially McDonald. I dunno what it is, but I think he’s broke. let him prove he isn’t.

  39. Jandy says:

    Haha! I HAVE been known to catch a jar of lightning bugs and let them loose a time or two ;)

  40. theplanisworking says:

    + many. Gold, Drew, just gold.

  41. Pucknutz says:

    Ya Dom saw that yesterday, and of course the was a whole lot of chatter about it.

    I am not really sure what to make of it, He has backed up and tried to clarify what he said.(story somewhere in the Trib, I would link it but am too lazy to go back and find it :) )

    On one level it may have just been frustration right after getting their butts wupped in game 4, or maybe not.
    They may really deep down believe that they cannot overcome just how deep the Pens are in world class talent.

    Like you, I have never, in any sport, heard anyone esp the captain say the team was done. First time for everything I guess.

    I do believe they are done, but the Pens can’t take their foot off the gas and let them see any daylight. Pens get up a couple by mid 2nd and it just may be al “all skate” for the rest of the game. At least I hope so.

    GO PENS!!

  42. Jandy says:

    <3

  43. JAL says:

    JAL’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough Morning Links

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

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates
    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

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

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: This Year is Different Because of the Depth

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05/first-pitch-this-year-is-different-because-of-the-depth.html

    Pirates Attack Edwin Jackson Early In 4-2 Win, Sweep Cubs

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05/pirates-attack-edwin-jackson-early-in-4-2-win-sweep-cubs.html

    Prospect Watch: Tyler Glasnow Strikes Out 12 in 5 Innings; Allie Hits 13th Homer

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05/prospect-watch-tyler-glasnow-strikes-out-12-in-5-innings-allie-hits-13th-homer.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates complete sweep of Cubs after long rain delay, 4-2

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/5/23/4360748/pirates-complete-sweep-of-cubs-after-long-rain-delay-4-2

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 47: Pirates 4 Cubs 2

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/may-2013/game-47-pirates-4-cubs-1.html

    This is your annual reminder that Andrew McCutchen is really good even when you don’t notice

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/may-2013/this-is-your-annual-reminder-that-andrew-mccutchen-is-really-good-even-when-you-don-t-notice.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Score Early To Sweep Cubs 4-2

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/05/bucs-score-early-to-sweep-cubs-4-2.html

    9 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Sweep Cubs, Finish Off 8-2 Homestand (Video)

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/05/23/pittsburgh-pirates-sweep-cubs-finish-off-8-2-homestand-video/

    Pirates First Base Platoon Of Jones And Sanchez Doing Well

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/05/23/pirates-first-base-platoon-of-jones-and-sanchez-doing-well/

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 4, Cubs 2

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/05/pirates-4-cubs-2/

  44. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Chicago Tribune

    Cubs can’t dig out of early hole in Pittsburgh

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-spt-0524-bits-cubs-pirates-chicago-20130524,0,7997373.story

    12 Rant Sports

    Questions About Top Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect’s Potential?

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/05/23/questions-about-top-pittsburgh-pirates-prospects-potential/

    13 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Bernie Bytes: The NL Central Report

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-bytes-the-nl-central-report/article_589a6c8d-265d-562c-848e-013398f92cec.html

    14 Rotographs

    Will Gerrit Cole ever be an Ace?

    http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/will-gerrit-cole-ever-be-an-ace/

    15 Detroit Free Press

    Brandon Inge sports Penguins jersey around Pirates’ clubhouse

    http://www.freep.com/article/20130523/SPORTS02/305230098/pittsburgh-penguins-detroit-tigers-brandon-inge

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates Vs Brewers Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130524_PIT@MIL

    17 Beaver County Times

    Madden: For Bucs this year, it’s all or Nutting

    http://www.timesonline.com/sports/pirates/madden-for-bucs-this-year-it-s-all-or-nutting/article_fb4d2537-aea0-5cd8-99e1-7c6fd4b98d04.html

    18 PBC Site

    McCutchen does damage before rain in Bucs win

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_05_23_chnmlb_pitmlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Pirates showing mettle in close games

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130523&content_id=48385942&notebook_id=48386166&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    What Makes a Good Changeup?

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20696

    20 Fangraphs

    The 2013 Cubs: Better Than We Think

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-2013-cubs-better-than-we-think/

  45. Jandy says:

    well, THAT makes up for your nice posts!

  46. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers sign rookie receiver Justin Brown

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/5/23/4360170/steelers-sign-rookie-receiver-justin-brown

    Pittsburgh Steelers Sign Markus Wheaton

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/5/23/4359228/pittsburgh-steelers-sign-markus-wheaton

    22 Steelers Depot

    - The Terrible Podcast – Talking Steelers First Week Of OTA Practice, Injuries & More Episode

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/05/the-terrible-podcast-talking-steelers-first-week-of-ota-practice-injuries-more-episode/

    Soccer(football) Will T

    23 Daily Telegraph

    English coaches seek urgent help from ruling bodies as they look to German model to boost home-grown talen

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/england/10074943/English-coaches-seek-urgent-help-from-ruling-bodies-as-they-look-to-German-model-to-boost-home-grown-talent.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 23rd May, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-23rd-may-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Why Paul Martin Should Be Point on Power Play

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/5/23/4358340/pittsburgh-penguins-power-play-paul-martin

    Pens Points: Alfie’s comments, Kris Letang good/bad, great expectations

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/5/23/4358934/daniel-alfredsson-comments-about-losing-to-pens

  47. Thundercrack says:

    So The Fan is hosting a series of tryouts for people who want to be a sports talk host.
    Here is part of the story that is in this morning’s Trib:

    ‘entrants will vie for an opportunity to host a program broadcast on weekends, and possibly grow into a long-term relationship with the CBS station”

    And here is what the PD said about it:

    He is looking for men and women who are compelling, entertaining, passionate and who possess the ability to hold the attention of an audience. “At the end of the day, it’s show business,” he says.

    Ha! Nowhere does he say that you actually have to know what you’re talking about!! That explains a lot on that station. It also confirms my suspicion that the PD never conducts ‘air-checks’ with his on-air ‘talent’.

  48. JAL says:

    Ain’t No Mountain High Enough Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell 1967 Written by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson but first recorded by Gaye and Terrell Their version hit number 19. In 1970 Diana Ross recorded a version that went to number 1.

  49. Jandy says:

    50 here in Duncansville, PA
    I’m not complaining. As long as it’s not 32.

  50. Jandy says:

    :thwap:

  51. theplanisworking says:

    Mornin, goofball!
    What did those bugs ever do to you? ;)

    Today I am a Hippo with insomnia. Not incontinence, insomnia.
    Woke up, couldnt go back to sleep, here I am. Tired of swimmin’ in the Pond.

    Excited for the Pens game tonight……. Bucs in the House of Horrors………. maybe with all the momentum, they will do well this weekend.

  52. Thundercrack says:

    21,
    I heard you nervous about what NH will do at the trade deadline and won’t sleep until August 1.

  53. Jandy says:

    dorkapponamous. Priceless!!!!

  54. theplanisworking says:

    Gaye and Terrell, Ashford and Simpson, and Ross.
    5 classic, wonderful singers.

    As opposed to what we get for music today………….. sheesh

  55. Thundercrack says:

    a ratio I’ve never achieved, mind you

    It is always on our mind.

    And now let me add this, :-)

  56. theplanisworking says:

    Dont get anyone started…………….

  57. theplanisworking says:

    Someone in my hometown said it snowed last night.
    In Pa. Really.

  58. Thundercrack says:

    I agree with you about the goalpost and that it’s real.

    But if we wanted to we could find a reason to bite our finger nails off because we’re nervous about any stretch of games.

    DK: That’s how baseball seasons are SUPPOSED to feel!

  59. Jandy says:

    Jandy says:

    May 23, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Love the last line, Patrick.
    I guess Alfredsson said it all when asked about making a comeback and winning 3 straight. He basically said he couldn’t see that happening with the depth the Pens have.

    Yup, I said that in yesterday’s morning java….Alfredsson is a whining, diving, choking dog. My apologies to dogs ;)

  60. theplanisworking says:

    DK:

    Quick has done this for years now, and won a Cup.

    Howard has done it for 2 series now.

    So yes he does scare me less. But you are correct, both are scary good.

  61. Jandy says:

    What would YOU do, TC, if you were making the decision? Bring him up or let him where he is?

  62. John Lease says:

    Dejan, don’t be so jinxy with headlines like that! You know how we are, always afraid.

    Or at least I am. Don’t wake this sleeping dog, let it continue to pile up wins and series victories.

  63. Jandy says:

    I think you ALL need some Starbucks ;)

  64. Jandy says:

    isn’t that the truth? so easy…

  65. Drew71 says:

    Stop that.

  66. theplanisworking says:

    DK: …… from the article you linked……

    “The Steelers shuffled personnel during the offseason in order to better fit the scheme. They moved on from their big, lumbering linemen like Max Starks and Willie Colon.”

    This is going to be a speed line. Starks wasnt speedy. Says so in the article. I have never equated “lumbering” with “speedy”.

  67. Jandy says:

    if you’re complaining about Seether and Five Finger Death Punch, well, I have an issue with that.
    If you’re complaining about Rap and Hip Hop, then I agree :P

  68. Drew71 says:

    Really, Jandy?

    I thought that WAS nice.

  69. theplanisworking says:

    Glad you liked it!

  70. Jandy says:

    I heard he (the PD) went to the gas station to the air pump, put it to his ear, then said “Thanks for the refill” and left.

  71. 21sthebest says:

    I don’t even know how to respond to that trainwreck Dejan other than to say you’re very presumptuous.

  72. Jandy says:

    ha! I’m fighting Biz for the loser’s post ;)

  73. theplanisworking says:

    I am pretty open to most music.
    Love hard rock/metal.

    I was just saying the 5 people JAL listed are truly 5 of the greats.
    Both in terms of songwriting, and voices.

    But 5 Finger Death Punch is an all-time hilarious name for a band.
    And Slipknot.

  74. Jandy says:

    I LOVE lightning bugs. The last time that happened, I had a couple shots of Goldschlager, and well….it was silly time! I have no idea what the hotel staff did with those bugs LOL.

    Get yourself a hot cup of tea with a shot of whiskey in it. You’ll sleep :)
    I’m gonna try to be on the HOCKEY game thread tonight..I’m soooooo pumped!!!!
    Go Pens! Go Bucs!!!

  75. Jandy says:

    :*

  76. 21sthebest says:

    What do you mean that’s how they’re supposed to feel?

  77. Jandy says:

    Try again, Drew Dahling <3

  78. Jandy says:

    Maybe at Seven SPrings lol

  79. theplanisworking says:

    I would bring him up to see if he can do it at a higher level.

    Keep him where he is at, you will never know.

  80. Jandy says:

    Spoken like a true Hipposter!

  81. theplanisworking says:

    :thwap:

  82. Jandy says:

    UH-OH, IT’S ON!!!! ;)

  83. theplanisworking says:

    No, north of New Castle.

  84. JohninOshkosh says:

    Excellent work in our great neighbour’s capital, Dejan. Like most Canadian cities, it looks like a neat place

    Welcome back.

    DK: Thanks on both counts.

  85. Jandy says:

    yup. I also love, love, love Shinedown. Man, can Brent Smith sing….

  86. theplanisworking says:

    Fun fact Jandy………..

    Hippos can straight line run at speeds over 30 mph!!!

    But for the most part, we are lumbering!

  87. Jandy says:

    See? He comes back and there’s already altercations in the blog lol. Makes for good comedy early in the morning :)

    I was in Toronto years ago…beautiful city. Clean. Friendly.
    I imagine Ottawa is about the same.

  88. theplanisworking says:

    +1

  89. Jandy says:

    LMAO! :P

  90. theplanisworking says:

    Ducks for cover back in the Pond……..

  91. Jandy says:

    There’s mountains north of Newcastle? I think they were hallucinating…

  92. Jandy says:

    Wow, I can’t run that fast, I’m staying out of your way ;)

  93. Thundercrack says:

    I tend to like keeping players at a minor league level for an entire season or until it becomes a case of ‘man-against-boys’ and the player absolutely dominates.

    I don’t see it with any of our minor leaguers. I don’t see it as a sign of failure if a player isn’t moved up quickly.

  94. Thundercrack says:

    Hey Jandy, I’m the one that added the :-)

  95. theplanisworking says:

    Forgot about them.

    Disturbed too.

    I think you summed it up best a few days ago…………….. Hippo Rock! ;)

  96. theplanisworking says:

    Jandy, I think you need something stronger than coffee today!

    The northwest part of the state got the cold air first last night.
    And there are a few hills in New Castle, but definitely no mountains.

  97. theplanisworking says:

    I think they only use that type of speed when confronted by predators, and when they are chasing off predators.

    You are neither to me, so you are safe. 8-)

  98. Jandy says:

    Hipposter my friend, here in Duncansville, we are 20 minutes from Blue Knob Ski Resort, and 5 minutes from Cresson Summit, where it’s icy even when it’s 45 degrees at my house. And it was 49 degrees this morning at 5:30 am. So, no, I don’t need more than coffee (even if I’d like to). I can’t see snow there, sorry. But hey, what do I know? ;)

  99. Jandy says:

    <3

  100. The Gunner says:

    The Bucs don’t have a prayer at continued success if McDonald gets put back into the starting rotation. It is time to cut ties with JMac, he has no options left. Another team will take a chance on him & the best return we get back in a trade will be some marginal prospect. Sounds like a logical move to me.

  101. Jandy says:

    Thanks, TC. I’d feel bad if Allie were moved up, and FAILED. The kid has defied the odds so far, give him the chance to succeed. Prolly better to leave him where he is…for now…

  102. theplanisworking says:

    I think the low was 35 last night in NC.

    I take it you and the hubs ski?

    Hippos cant ski……… no coordination.

  103. SJB says:

    Never lose again? lol When do the Pirates get the Padres?

  104. Jandy says:

    Sad to say it, but I agree. Just have a bbbaaaaadddd feeling about JMac.

  105. JAL says:

    The thing about stats is they are a snapshot in time. You never know if current picture is better or worse than what the next picture will be. Take the number of starters going 6 or more innings. That was a problem but the Pirates weathered that stretch well. Now take a more recent stretch–AJ has gone 7 his last 4 starts, Wandy went 6, 6, 6, 7 his last 4. Locke went 6,6,7 his last 3. Liriano went 7 his last start If the starters continue at that pace the number of starts that go 6 or more will increase.

    So far this has been an odd season statistically Pirates and Yanks are both +23 in run differential–Yanks 28-18 and pirates 29-18, Nats are -26 in run differential and 1 game over .500.

  106. Jandy says:

    Nooooooo! Won’t get Mother Theresa on skis…no way! I don’t even LIKE snow…lol

  107. theplanisworking says:

    But if you did………….. you could heal all the sick, and people with injuries there!!! ;)

    Ok, out of here for a while.
    Talk later.

    Oh, and dont poke the bear!!!

  108. Dom says:

    It certainly feels that way being a fan of this team.

  109. Dom says:

    Maybe you should tryout tc. I see in your avatar that you have experience being in front of a mic.

  110. kr70 says:

    Dejan says the Pirates won’t lose again….He must have forgot where they are going.

  111. Jordan White says:

    If this topic has been covered already and I missed it, I apologize.

    I didn’t like seeing Brenden Morrow benched last game. I know he’s not playing up to his capabilities, but it just didn’t sit well with me. I like having that grizzled veteran presence in the lineup at all times in the playoffs. We’ll definitely need it next round if we play Boston.

    Also, if Brenden Morrow is going to earn healthy scratches, Ray Shero lost that trade. Just sayin.

    Won’t be able to reply to others comments as I’m off to work, but I will be able to read the blog.

    Just re-read my post and it comes across more negative than I intended. It’s meant to be more of an observation than a strong opinion.

    DK: Morrow is injured. See chat.

  112. BillyBaduka says:

    I think he was playing possum to an extent.

    The odds are stacked against Ottawa. He knows it, the Sens know it, everyone knows it.

    they got beat 7-3, in a game where they supposedly had momentum after the OT?

    Maybe he hopes Pens hear it and think series is over. Ottawa’s best chance is Pens being over confident. Plus maybe it riles a few Senators and they play better.

    I think the Senators will come to play and Pens have to beat them in game 5. Pens can’t let the fireworks of game 4 lead to being complacent.

    LET’S GO PENS!!!!

  113. The Gunner says:

    Jandy, we are on the same page. Maybe a change a scenery will be good for JMac – send him to Houston and he can experiment all he wants to there. We don’t need his erratic ways screwing up our chances of a winning season here.

  114. No. 9 says:

    Sustainable or not . . . a simple fact is this: I’ve experienced 45 May 23rds in my life. And May 23, 2013 is the first time in my life that the Pirates have posted 29 wins by that date. Like the talent or not; like the front office or not, the Pirates are off to one of the best starts in team history.

  115. BillyBaduka says:

    I agree Hipposter and said the same thing on yesterday’s blog.

    I like Max. I wish we kept him. He is a good pass protection LT. And that is thief main role as DK points out.

    I gotta disagree with DK that Max could move and pull. Max was not mobile and was rarely seen blocking on the second level or in secondary. Did it happen, yes. But the Bus broke a few long ones too and he wasn’t fast. I compare to Bettis to make it clear this is not a knock on them.

  116. AL says:

    Great article. I’m glad the man is a different player this year but I’m still trying to figure out how the turnaround occured. Was it the pairing with Zybenik Michalik that kept him back? Was it physical? Was it mental? I know Shero said he would move him if he really wanted to go. Maybe it was all of the above?

    DK: Better shape.

  117. Thundercrack says:

    JAL,
    I would like to nominate this for tomorrow’s Song of the Day

    Feelings

  118. BillyBaduka says:

    The main role, not thief….

  119. Drew71 says:

    If they just, you know, suck, you never have the privilege of feeling this nervous.

    So in other words…

    I’m just going to enjoy what’s happening so far and not worry about a darn thing.
    (Glad I wrote that)

  120. JAL says:

    Don’t think that fits this week’s theme, which is mountains

  121. Jandy says:

    I’m really not sure, Al, I’m betting it was a combination of things, tho. Maybe Eric Bowser has a good answer. Hope he sees this.

  122. Jandy says:

    like

  123. Jandy says:

    OK I’ll let you off the hook then ;)

  124. Jandy says:

    <3

  125. JMB says:

    I’m greatly enjoying the season so far, but as many posted during spring training, where this team is on Sept. 1st (and then Oct. 1) is what really matters.

    In May 2011, people thought that NH was a genius, and in the summer of 2012, people thought NH was a genius.

    It’s funny how much sucking up of NH the announcers do on the air every game.

  126. 21sthebest says:

    Apparently, we are the only team in the division that lost the Astros. And I guess we’ve missed out on the playoffs.

  127. chethejet says:

    Charlie Morton is Kris Benson who seems to always have upside and promise, but never really fulfills those projections. Injuries aside, does anyone think Jmac and Morton are mentally tough enough to win consistently? I like the compete level of the starters and not sure I move to guys who are just inconsistent and always working on their approach.

  128. Right. We have the “list” and it goes beyond 79-83.

    And I’m glad he didn’t write a column today.

    8-)

  129. NMR says:

    Question for those worried about Grilli/Melancon getting overworked…how are you making this projection?

    Assuming a basic ratio of IP over games played then projecting that over a 162 game season? That’s the only method I’ve seen so far.

    If so, isn’t this forgetting that closers/setup men are specialists? They do not have consistent, predictable work like position players. Look at closers around the league.

    If we are predicting Grilli/Melancon will be overworked, we are also predicting the Pirates will be really, really ridiculously good. No other way .

  130. NMR says:

    Great post, JAL.

  131. What did that have to do with what you said?

    Head-scratching emoticon.

  132. gregenstein says:

    I agree they need more offense. They have 3 positions of which are basically the offensive dead weight, being 3B, SS, 2B. I could see getting a RF, or I guess a 1B since Jones can shift to RF, but honestly, Gaby Sanchez has hit lefties well, so I’d narrow the list down to someone who can play RF. They don’t really need a 1B as that platoon, when properly deployed, has been very productive.

    Now if you can get a shortstop who can hit like Jordy Mercer…

    :-)

  133. Exceptional as always, JAL.

  134. Jandy says:

    obviously it’s a very sensitive subject. ;)

  135. chethejet says:

    The theme of mountain songs. Shill be commen round the mountain when she comes is an old C&W favorite. Of course the old joke of Monaco and Grace Kelly as this song was the new national anthem of Monaco lasted a couple of weeks.

  136. JohninOshkosh says:

    Happy 72nd birthday to a true genius, Bob Dylan.

  137. Maybe Morton has matured a little through all this adversity he’s faced.

    Hope so. He needs to go from that kid with his dog on his baseball card to the guy in the above with the 34 on his back. Remember he has……better not say it.

  138. Jandy says:

    +1

  139. Jandy says:

    20% or 40%?

  140. Jandy says:

    I don’t believe it was covered. I like Morrow, hope he’s not injured.

    Have you given Bizrow your hometown so he can add it Dejan’s Lunatic’s Asylum?

  141. Jandy says:

    JAL, the voice of reason :)

  142. 21sthebest says:

    Lucky, I’m not sure to who or to what you are responding.

  143. The term is “electric stuff” J-girl. But he does have a high percentage of “downward plane”.

    :D

  144. To you and DK’s answer.(trainwreck) It didn’t fit what you said.

    But, as I’ve said before ad nauseum,
    I’m too simple-minded to read between the lines sometimes.

    In other words, I agree with you.
    :-o

  145. Iceman says:

    Man was Howard looking good last night. Wow! Oh and Jonathan Toews is falling apart. No goals. Second period saw 6 penalty minutes and only 6:14 on ice. Babcock truly is a coaching genius.

  146. Iceman says:

    I have a lot of respect for Alfredson. He has proven to be a very good captain and is still competitive at 40 years old. Not many can claim that.

  147. Patrick says:

    I’d be slightly more worried about Quick if only because he has shown the ability to do it before. This is uncharted territory for Jimmy Howard. Though Quick has yet in these playoffs as potent as Chicago. St Louis and San Jose both ranked in the bottom half of the league offensively.

    Obviously Chicago was 2nd. So what Detroit is doing is pretty impressive. So i guess chosing between Howard and Quick is picking a bullet or poison.

  148. Bizrow says:

    Actually, I thought I was in worse shape

    Are there mulligans avaliable ;-)

  149. Dom says:

    My biggest fear for the Buccos is the lack of position player depth. If we lose a key guy like Marte/Cutch or if someone like Martin/Tabata/Snider drop down in terms of talent we really do not have anyone in AAA who can replace them. Just like DK said, our only injuries thus far have been to Walker and JMac so we really haven’t been tested in this regard.

    On a related note, when is it too early to start the trade talk? Our system is loaded with candidates to deal for rentals. The only guys I would want to deal are Cole as he could be used later this season and maybe Taillon for possibly the same reason. Omitting those two guys, we still have Polanco, Hanson, Heredia, Bell, Glasnow, Kingham, the two first rounders we’ll be drafting this year, and let’s not forget we will probably obtain a supplemental first/second round choice in the 2014 draft which can also be dealt! I would take just about any of those guys over the ones we got for our rentals over the past two decades. Since Huntington’s job is on the line this year I would expect them to be VERY active on the trade market this year.

  150. Iceman says:

    Not that we would hear it from the team, but I’m pretty sure Morrow is hurt. He left the ice during one of the off day practices and someone (not sure if it was a Trib writer or someone else) said that he looked like he was favoring his shoulder. If he is injured, with the depth the Pens have, they should give him a chance to let that heal so he can play his best.

  151. 21sthebest says:

    Got it Lucky. I just couldn’t tell with where your response was positioned.

  152. Bizrow says:

    I think Morrow might be dinged up, remember he left practice early before the last game and was working with the trainers

  153. Milo Hamilton says:

    The completely useless Ultimate Zone Rating.

  154. Bizrow says:

    Kinda hopping here today and its early.

    Looking at the numbers in Dejan’s thread, some of them don’t seem to add up to 162 games??

  155. Bizrow says:

    Unless the rules have changed, we would not be able to trade this years draft choices for a year.

  156. Jandy says:

    I did afterwards say that Iceman. While I don’t like him, he runs circles around some of the players half his age and is competitive on the ice. Gotta give him credit.

  157. Jandy says:

    That’s what I was thinking. Even tho he isn’t scoring, he’s still a physical factor. He’s very competitive.

  158. Jandy says:

    +1

  159. Jandy says:

    I stand corrected ;)

  160. Sarah says:

    We’ll find out a bit tonight.
    The Pens have something of an issue closing series at home the last 5 yrs.

    Like an O-fer issue.

    I hope they put that behind them, with a No Doubt performance tonight.

  161. Milo Hamilton says:

    Never let the facts get in the way of a vendetta.

  162. Dom says:

    I meant we’ll deal our 2014 competitive-balance draft pick and not supplemental draft choice when/if we obtain them. I also mean we can trade our two first rounders in this year’s draft after we of course select them next month.

  163. Iceman says:

    I don’t know if anyone else heard it during the game last night but Walk and Brown were talking about nominating Huntington for GM of the Year. I laughed out loud at that one. That said, the pickups are doing pretty well this year.

    I see alot of people saying that they want us to pick up a right fielder. I don’t know a ton about baseball and do not follow religiously, but Lunchbox has looked pretty good recently. He is hitting the ball hard and is hitting the ball into empty space. He also made a great throw yesterday to get out someone trying to stretch a double. Maybe I’m wrong and I probably don’t know what I’m talking about, but…

    (on a side note, the face down, helmet over the face Zoltan “Z” was pretty good)

  164. Jandy says:

    He musta not had his Starbuck’s before he posted them ;)

  165. Jandy says:

    I second that emotion!

  166. Sarah says:

    Well, we have a couple things to do between now and then, one of them being Close out a Series at Home for the first time under DB, and the other being Beat BOS. The Bruins will make the Sens series seem like a walk in the park IMO. TV better sharpen up on puck tracking and net front coverage better improve.

    And re West, no matter who comes out we lose every goaltending match-up except possibly Niemi. And I doubt the Sharks are coming out of the West.

    Oy – didn’t mean to be a Debbie Downer in the morning!! Sorry Loons, bad week!!!

  167. You were half right!

    ;)

  168. Iceman says:

    Be careful sharing that one. Someone might come around to say that Paul Martin is a pylon.

  169. Milo Hamilton says:

    I really think a lot of the “sky is falling” people on this matter have never actually followed a winning team day to day. The Yankees don’t sit Mariano down for two weeks in the middle of a hot stretch because they’re afraid he might get tired in October. And he’s 160 pounds soaking wet.

  170. Jandy says:

    Trolls and dorktards, maybe ;)

  171. Dejan — the pirates didn’t play 182 games in 2012 (check your number above). Their record when the starting pitcher went at least 6 inings in 2012 was 57-40 (not 57-60). Alas, they were 22-43 when the starter did not go six.

  172. Jandy says:

    being realistic isn’t being a Downer.

  173. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I don’t give Tyler Kennedy credit. I like to think of it as due process.

  174. Milo Hamilton says:

    By that I mean the 12 year olds that run the Pirates blogs/fan sites. And the 10 year olds that believe everything they say.

  175. Patrick(RI) says:

    This team is winning on effective pitching and widespread, and thinly spread, offensive contributions (even Pedro and Walker have sneaked in game-winners) and “luck” (eg, the “Immaculate Deflection”). It is also a very happy team, which you can see via the selective Root shots. Stuff keeps happening (such as Clint’s resistance to the bunt urge) which makes me think this is the year.

    If you accept an assumption that Walker and Alvarez cannot be as bad as they look, the offense should get better. It looks like Marte will make adjustments and continue to contribute. Barmes will come back to earth, and I worry about Martin’s health and infield defense (errors & range) and those factors may hurt, but I think this team has enough heart to come through later in the season.

    Final prediction: some September day, JAL will select the old Joe Cocker song, “Up Where We Belong” (I think that is the name, but like both Joe and the song, I am old and the memory . . .).

  176. Patrick(RI) says:

    +1

  177. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Isn’t RF the one position we have a plethora of fairly capable players? Don’t we have 3-4 guys right now to fill in at any given time (if not more)?

  178. NMR says:

    Exactly!!!

    When was the last time a closer has been overworked? Ever?

  179. SeanAY says:

    They’re selling postcards of the hanging / They’re painting the passports brown / The beauty parlor is filled with sailors / The circus is in town

    Here comes the blind commissioner / They’ve got him in a trance / One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker / The other is in his pants

    And the riot squad they’re restless / They need somewhere to go / As lady and I look out tonight / From desolation row

    - “Desolation Row,” by Bob Dylan

  180. Jandy says:

    Where do we old farts fit in????

  181. Jandy says:

    Brad is indeed back ;)

  182. Milo Hamilton says:

    Kent Tekulve threw over 100 innings as a closer 7 times. 1,050 games pitched. Looks like his quality of life after baseball has turned out just fine.

  183. SeanAY says:

    I was five the last time the Pirates had a winning season. I say pitch Grilli until his arm falls off if it means a winning season.

    If it means playoffs? Pitch him until he drops dead on the mound.

  184. Milo Hamilton says:

    Right here. And we welcome right thinking youngsters as well.

  185. JohninOshkosh says:

    I remember you wrote last year that Strat-O-Matic defensive ratings are just as useful as UZR. I agree. Probably more accurate, actually.

    I never play it online either. Some things are too perfect to be defiled by the internet.

  186. Milo Hamilton says:

    I need to get on your list so I can read your press releases. :)

  187. JohninOshkosh says:

    Born in the great city of Duluth, Minnesota and raised in frozen Hibbing.

    As unlikely an American story as there ever was.

  188. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I just don’t buy into the fear of overplaying guys. That’s what they’re paid to do. Play. Many people don’t blink twice if Divaberger plays when he has an injury. I usually hear from the media, “If he can play, then he should play.”

    Why should baseball be any different? What will Hurdle be saving guys for? The playoffs? Need to get there first. This whole season should be a playoff mentality for this team. Not “how tired am I,” or “he’s pitched a lot so we need to rest him.” This team has had plenty of rest time for the last 20 years come October.

  189. tdb1977 says:

    Totally agree with that statement Drew. I’m enjoying this moment. Enjoying live at the now. I’ll worry about the later as the season goes on. Its this simple. There are 162 games to play. We have played 47 of those games and won 29. I’ll worry about tonights game at 8:00 PM tonight when first pitch is suppose to happen. I’m not a player, I’m not the owner, I’m not on the BoD, I’m not anything on this team. I’m just a fan. A crazed lunatic fan of this team. End of story.

  190. SeanAY says:

    They’re pretty bland, comparatively speaking.

  191. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Yeah, but he does have to talk to Paul Alexander sometimes.

  192. Milo Hamilton says:

    What’s Cutch, a one or a two ?

  193. Damon says:

    Of all the positions, the Pirates need outfielders the least I think (Marte, McCutchen, Tabata, Snider, Jones with Presley in the minors). If they were to add anyone, it would be in place of Mercer or Inge. With the O’s and a few other teams looking for starting pitching, now might be the time to sell high on Jeanmar Gomez….not sure he’d bring anything back beyond a Mercer or Inge type though.

  194. NMR says:

    We’re getting into new territory.

    When talking about being a legit contender, you have to do better than capable.

  195. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    True. But I’m thinking more in terms of there are other positions that should probably be addressed before RF in the grand scheme of things.

  196. JohninOshkosh says:

    Can’t remember off hand. I’m at the office. And by office I mean McDonald’s getting ready to head to Milwaukee later for the game and then to the in-laws in Dubuque tomorrow for a weekend of guilt trips and recriminations. ;)

  197. Milo Hamilton says:

    Enjoy the game at least.

  198. Jandy says:

    Grilli drop dead? never…even when he DOES die, he’ll be twitching. That man is crazy!

  199. Jandy says:

    Oh heck, just flash them….a “Z” ;)

  200. JohninOshkosh says:

    I kid. They’re good eggs. Going there for my nephew’s baptism. They foolishly wanted me to be the Godfather. The priest and assembled faithful better be prepared for me saying, “may he be a masculine child.”

  201. 21sthebest says:

    I don’t know Jandy….. Right now I just want to win tonight. And after tonight’s game, I want to win tomorrow. Etc. I’m not worried about anything. When issues arise, you deal with them and you make responsible decisions to try and prevent them, IMO.

    And I don’t know how a baseball season is supposed to feel. But I do know teams morph over the course of 162 games. Some improve, some fall apart, some don’t change much, some teams trade Zach Greinke then go on to play their best baseball of the year, and some acquire Josh Beckett, Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez and don’t get any better if not worse and miss the playoffs.

  202. Bizrow says:

    No, I think draft choices have to stay in the organization for 1 year after they sign

  203. Bizrow says:

    +1

    Agree, hope, but you know, kinda expect after 20 years or so of being taught the latter ;-)

  204. Couldn’t agree more. He might need a day off after a 34-pitch inning, which he got, and he was right out there yesterday with 2 K’s and a save.

    After all, he is a grizzled, old 36-year old.

  205. Damon says:

    When is the morning skate today for the Pens – I’m interested if Kunitz or Morrow will be missing….

  206. Patrick(ri) says:

    Come to think of it, Joe’s song was in the form of a prayer.

  207. Bizrow says:

    + 1

  208. Naterosboro says:

    I’m 15 thank you. And I don’t believe EVERY thing….

  209. Bizrow says:

    All players took the ice, Kunitz on Crosbys line and it looks like Morrow was not skating on a line

  210. Milo Hamilton says:

    Both are on the ice. Kunitz is skating with Crosby, Morrow isn’t skating with any of the top 4 lines.

  211. CoachWard says:

    You should follow @timwilliamsP2 for the latest on Cole. Not the most glowing of reports coming from scouts about him. Control issues and not handling himself with much poise on the mound.

  212. Sisyphus says:

    How does the Cardinals revenue compare to the Pirates revenue?

  213. Damon says:

    wow….I guess Morrow must be still hurt because I wouldn’t think he’d fall that far down the pecking order.

    Are the lines the same from game 4?

  214. Milo Hamilton says:

    Once again, refresh before posting. Sorry Biz.

  215. CoachWard says:

    “Let them win or let them be fired” – DK

  216. Bizrow says:

    No problem Milo, it happens all the time

    Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis

    Jarome Iginla-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal

    Matt Cooke-Brandon Sutter-Tyler Kennedy

    Beau Bennett-Jussi Jokinen-Craig Adams

  217. Reading says:

    Or alternatively, a.k.a., the “Poor Man’s Roy Halladay.”

  218. Damon says:

    Thanks!

  219. Jandy says:

    And I’M Mother Theresa :P

  220. Reading says:

    Love seeing Cutch drill that first pitch during several at bats yesterday. No need to flail at that 0-2 waste pitch in the dirt when you aggressively attack early pitches in the wheelhouse.

  221. Jandy says:

    21, I’m with you. How can we, as Pirates fans, be expected to KNOW how a season is SUPPOSED to feel? Heck, it’s been a long a$$ 20 years of frustration. But, like you, I want to win. I want to see them do well, and succeed. I don’t FIND something to worry about. I want to ENJOY these games.
    Our boys seem to be “morphing” into a good team. I hope they continue to “morph” even if it’s a notch down, then back up again, into a BETTER team.
    As they say in hockey, “Could this be the year?”:
    We can hope.

  222. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    How about the D?

    Is Miss-kanen in there?

  223. Sisyphus says:

    Eight of those sub-six inning starts were by Sanchez and McDonald. Not likely to see many more starts from either of those guys.

    Comparing team statistics across leagues is silly. Eleven of the teams who have higher OPS than the Pirates use the DH. The Pirates rank 9th in the NL in OPS. Definitely needs to improve, but mediocre is a lot better than bottom third.

    I am also worried about injuries to key players, but that pretty much applies to every team. Just cross your fingers and hope for the best.

  224. Bizrow says:

    Haven’t seen anything on that

  225. Bizrow says:

    Orpik-Martin
    Eaton-Letang
    Murray-Niskanen
    Engelland/Bortuzzo-Despres

    1st PP unit: Malkin, Crosby, Letang, Neal and Kunitz/Iginla
    2nd PP unit: Niskanen, Martin, Morrow, Jokinen, Dupuis/Kennedy

  226. Damon says:

    Iginla on the 1st PP…..nice.

  227. Drew71 says:

    Mountains,
    Woh-oh-oh mountains
    Woh-oh-oh mountains
    Again in my heart

  228. Sisyphus says:

    Ultimate band name: Squirrel Nut Zippers.

  229. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Thanks, Biz.

    I’d much rather see Engelland or Despres than Miss-kanen again. I think we can still win if he plays, but he’s been less than good in the playoffs.

  230. 21sthebest says:

    I think that’s a defeatist attitude Biz. Every year I have hope and I expect us to contend for the playoffs. When we don’t end up contending for the playoffs, I hope for .500. When .500 isn’t going to happen, I hope we’re better next year.

  231. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    However it compares, I fail to see why it would equate to a $50 mil difference in payroll.

  232. SeanAY says:

    I’m greatly enjoying the Pirates’ run so far this season. In fact, I’m thinking of trying to find a way to sneak over to Detroit to catch the game on Monday.

    That said, what the Penguins are doing is infinitely more important right now. Big opportunity to close out this series tonight and set themselves up.

    At the same time, glad to see the Rangers extend that series against the Bruins, even if it was on the flukiest of fluky goals imaginable. Let them beat each other up for one or two more games, then pick the bones.

    My friends in Kalamazoo are already clamoring for Wings – Pens, Round III. I’d love the opportunity to see it.

  233. No. 9 says:

    +1
    Also, the difference between #5 OPS and #9 OPS is marginal. While it is fair to conclude that regression may occur with some on the pitching staff, it is also fair to note that progression can be expected with the bats – McCutchen’s poor start, Walker hitting .230, Alvarez barely above .200 (each are potentially huge contributors).

  234. JaxBuc says:

    Priceless!

    Spitting parts of my lunch onto my desk as a read that.

  235. Thundercrack says:

    +21

    If you were here 21 I would hug you. (man-hug).

    I feel the same way. Except with me when they don’t make .500 I have a two week period of deep, dark depression. Then I start hoping for next year.

  236. Thundercrack says:

    Brad, +100

    Milo, Teke has put on some weight since his playing days. I contribute that to over use and a heavy workload. Plus a few too many slices of pizza.

  237. 21sthebest says:

    “(man-hug).”

    Glad you cleared that up.

  238. likeabugonarug says:

    Have been thinking about that rubber match, too. Especially since I will be in Michigan on vaca the week of the 24th. Am thinking the last week of the series will be at that time.

    First things first, of course. Gotta get to 4 tonight.

    Kevin

  239. Jandy says:

    aWWWW. how sweet :)

  240. Jray3 says:

    +1

    Glad you pointed out the trend recently of starters going six plus which seems to be more the norm of late.

  241. Jray3 says:

    Wow nice to see I am having equally as good a May as the Buccos are having.

    Just got back from Vegas last night from a work trip but can add I was able to take home a little more in my pocket thanks to the Bucs win yesterday and the Red Sox win over the White Sox on Wednesday, so not a bad few days at all.

  242. likeabugonarug says:

    Better not let Drew see all this “liking” going on.

  243. Iceman says:

    Not sure if anyone else saw this from the Hockey Night in Canada opening sequence, but this is absolutely fear inducing.

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/a30f68e32d50d300964eda705cb4799f/tumblr_mn95r55Ke71qfrw7to1_400.gif

    If I’m Ottawa, Chris Neil in particular, there is no way I’m going into the corner with that Crankshaft. Wow!

  244. Jandy says:

    That’s not cool, JAL, you have to join to finish reading…

  245. Jandy says:

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  246. JAL says:

    You can still see who is number 1

  247. cmat0829 says:

    Great blog discussion today… there can be no doubt unless and until the Pirates prove they can finish good starts to seasons there is going to be concern for sustainability. And I appreciate your thorough review DK of the statistical reasons of concern.

    However, I respectfully point out that the post made no mention of areas that the Pirates figure to get improved production from — say, for example, Cutch not hitting .275ish all year; ongoing starts from Liriano and perhaps Morton vs. earlier starts from Sanchez and McDonald; better production from Neil Walker (he is hitting .230ish); likely a bit more from Pedro Alvarez.

    Again, sustainability is a concern and I’ve noticed that Clint seems to be much more attuned this year so far to our deficiencies, even in winning so far… for example, too many taken called 3rd strikes with RISP; starters going for Ks and not getting quick outs; overuse of Melancon and Grilli; Marte falling into bad habits due to fatigue; Pedro sitting more vs. LHPs; Walker hitting lower in lineup vs LHPs and perhaps sitting more… there have been many more moves taken this year to not accept the same-old deficient results and to plug in other players…

    I think the only folks ignoring sustainability issues are some fans who want to wag fingers a bit early…

  248. Another good one. Had forgotten that, since Halladay is having a rough season so far.

  249. It doesn’t go that far. Is it Grilli or Melancon?

  250. Jandy says:

    thanks, Lucky, I thought maybe I was missing something…but yeah those 2 came to mind..

  251. Bizrow says:

    I hope you folks saw this on the chat today

    1:02 [Comment From Jeff Jeff: ]
    Huntington deals for..?…at deadline?

    Friday May 24, 2013 1:02 Jeff
    1:02 Dejan Kovacevic: I wouldn’t rule that out.

    I nominate that as the chat response of the year ;-)

  252. Iceman says:

    Thought you would appreciate that one :)

  253. JohninOshkosh says:

    +1 Few people I “know” have the quick wit Dejan possesses. Truly a gift.

  254. Jandy says:

    darn right!!

  255. Jandy says:

    He’s definitely gifted…got a chuckle from that

  256. Damon says:

    I think the difference between this year and the past two is this team still hasn’t achieved its full capability yet, and it has depth. The last two years it was more of them overachieving. Another player that could be available in a month or so is Cole. The rotation has the chance to be dominant once all the pieces are in there and healthy, and if Cutch keeps up his May hitting and Pedro and Walker come alive, there should be no way they can’t be there at the end of September battling for a playoff spot.

  257. Damon says:

    Ha – I just got that one….I’m a little slow Friday before a holiday weekend.

  258. Bizrow says:

    “Slow” is my way of life anymore ;-)

  259. That ranks up there with the John McKay comment:

    “Coach, what are your feelings on the execution of your offensive line?”

    McKay: “I’m for it”.

    Milo loves that one, too.

  260. Jandy says:

    priceless lol

  261. JAL says:

    Melancon–based on a stat called shutdowns, win probability added.

    Melancon has 17

    2 is Edward Mujica, Cardinals (15)

    3 is a tie between Jesse Crain, White Sox/Mariano Rivera, Yankees (14)

    5 is 3 way tie Aroldis Chapman, Reds/Jim Johnson, Orioles/Addison Reed, White Sox

    as for Grilli, article says

    “What of Melancon’s Pittsburgh teammate, Jason Grilli? The first-time closer has been outstanding as well, leading baseball in saves while sporting an excellent 32-5 K/BB mark of his own. But for as great as he’s been, Grilli ties only for just 18th in shutdowns since many of his saves have come with him starting a clean inning with a lead of a few runs, leading to low WPA. Melancon, on the other hand, has been in the thick of tight situations all season.”

  262. Jandy says:

    Thanks JAL, you had me wondering there.
    Good for Melancon :)

  263. JAL says:

    Best line about Melancon is “Melancon has been a revelation with the Pirates, posting an otherworldly 26-1 K/BB ratio”

  264. Kevin says:

    right there with both of ya :p

  265. theplanisworking says:

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

  266. theplanisworking says:

    How about “Go Tell It On The Mountain” for tomorrow?

  267. theplanisworking says:

    But……………. ;)

  268. Sisyphus says:

    What if it’s $75M more?

  269. Kevin says:

    dont talk about -blankety- I just hope we can win a game!

  270. Kevin says:

    I prefer Anti Niemi to both of those goalies…

  271. Jray3 says:

    Pirates lineup tonight in Milwaukee as they look to make it two straight at the House of Horrors:

    Marte, Snider, Cutch, Jones, Walker, Alvarez, Martin, Barmes, AJ

    Good lineup to tee off on Estrada.

  272. Jandy says:

    +1 Go Bucs!

  273. Dom says:

    Anyone know someone who is trying out for the 93.7 the fan radio host?

  274. Kevin says:

    ha! sizing him up.. you’re right, that’s terrifying.

  275. Kevin says:

    hoping for a penguins – sharks cup final… probably unlikely but still possible.

  276. Kevin says:

    and oh yeah, my prediction for today’s game. penguins win 4-1.

  277. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    And what if in reality it’s actually $10 or $20 mil?….Or even $30 mil?

 
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