TribLIVE
Blogs | Sports | News
Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

« Font size »
Decrease | Reset |Increase

Morning Java: Extra time to clean out the garage

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>>The TribLIVE Radio show today — 1-2 p.m. — will feature special guest Kris Letang.

There will also be an opening rant on how the NHL’s idiotic playoff scheduling affects the Penguins, a separate stab about something you didn’t know regarding the Pirates’ usage of Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon, a call from Boston from TribLIVE Radio’s own Ken Laird covering the Bruins’ practice up there and, of course, the local Twitter treasure @suckmeter offering the Suck of the Week.

To listen, just click on the link above. It’s free, easy, no signup. One click, and we’re on. If you’ve got an iPhone, iPad or Android, we’ve got the upgraded TribLIVE Radio app. Also free and easy and everything else.

I want you involved, too …

Email: sportstalk@tribweb.com

Call: 412-320-7925.

>> Spent the morning over at the Penguins’ practice, where, really, it doesn’t look as much of anything will change going into the Boston series. Same forward lines, defense pairings, everything else. Power plays, too. (Still no Jarome Iginla on the first unit. Insanity.)

Here’s our full news coverage from practice, by Rob Rossi.

And here’s a bit of what the captain had to say afterward …

>> The Pirates battled hard to the end but came up short in Detroit, the start of a stretch in which, remarkably, 21 of 23 games are against teams either in first place or within a game.

On the radio show, I’ll focus on Grilli’s role in the loss yesterday. And he didn’t even pitch.

>> The Steelers resume OTAs for the week this morning on the South Side. Alan Robinson and Mark Kaboly will cover. I hope to make it over there tomorrow. There generally isn’t much news from these things, but they’re great for background knowledge.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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

392 Comments

  1. Not sports related, but…

    When I saw this photo tonight I had to do a double-take. Chris Christie sure looks like someone we here all know and love. (Of course, OF COURSE, minus the paunch! :) )

    http://tinyurl.com/p7d7zbf

    DK: As long as this post doesn’t inspire anything remotely resembling political discourse, I’ll take your best shot and move on!

  2. Dejan,
    I am not sure why you are so disturbed by the Penguin Coaching staff decision to leave Iggy off the top powerplay. This is the same group that benched Sid off the top powerplay a year ago because they couldn’t figure out how to use him.

    One thing you can say about the Pens coaching staff they resist change with every fiber of their being. For Sure (with Tyler Kennedy accent).

  3. JAL’s How Fortunate the Man With None Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJm3PLi9o-A

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

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

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

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

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

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

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

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: The Not-So-Great Jordy Mercer Compromise.

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05/first-pitch-the-not-so-great-jordy-mercer-compromise.html

    Prospect Watch: Poor Rehab Starts From Morton and McDonald

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05/prospect-watch-poor-rehab-starts-from-morton-and-mcdonald.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates come up short in 6-5 loss thanks in part to Jose Contreras’ awful outing

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/5/27/4370742/pirates-come-up-short-in-6-5-loss-thanks-in-part-to-jose-contreras

    Pirates place Jose Tabata on DL, make variety of other roster moves

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/5/27/4369954/pirates-place-jose-tabata-on-dl-make-variety-of-other-roster-moves

    7 WHYGAVS

    Happy Memorial Day

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/may-2013/happy-memorial-day.html

    Game 51: Tigers 6 Pirates 5

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/may-2013/game-51-tigers-6-pirates-5.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Run Out Of Rallies In 6-5 Loss

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/05/bucs-run-out-of-rallies-in-6-5-loss.html

    9 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Jordy Mercer: Forcing The Issue

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/05/27/pittsburgh-pirates-jordy-mercer-forcing-the-issue/

    The Pittsburgh Pirates After 50

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/05/27/the-pittsburgh-pirates-after-50/

    Pittsburgh Pirates: 2013 Draft and Future Projections

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/05/27/pittsburgh-pirates-2013-draft-and-future-projections/

    Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington Trades: Win, Lose, Or Draw?

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/05/27/pittsburgh-pirates-gm-neal-huntington-trades-win-lose-or-draw/

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Tigers 6. Pirates 5

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/05/tigers-6-pirates-5/

    • How Fortunate the Man With None Dead Can Dance 1993 Their 6th album included this Bertolt Brecht poem set to music. People have trouble trying to classify Dead Can Dance, calling them neoclassical dark wave, dark wave, ethereal wave, gothic rock, post-punk among other labels.

      • Do you take requests, D-JAL? If so, for tomorrow I nominate Black Angel’s Death Song by the Velvet Underground.

        Seems to fit. Musically, too.

  4. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 New York Daily News

    MLB Power Rankings: Cardinals, Reds and Pirates thriving in highly-competitive NL Central

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mlb-power-rankings-nl-central-article-1.1355610

    12 KDKA

    Tigers Outfielder Don Kelly: Brandon Inge Keeps Things Loose

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/05/27/tigers-outfielder-don-kelly-brandon-inge-keeps-things-loose/

    13 Fox Sports

    Last year’s top hurlers struggling

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/cy-young-award-winning-pitchers-continue-to-struggle-david-price-ra-dickey-jered-weaver-jim-johnson-matt-cain-052713

    14 Detroit Free Press

    Detroit 6, Pittsburgh 5: Curve, consistency help Justin Verlander top hot Pirates

    http://www.freep.com/article/20130528/SPORTS02/305280020/detroit-tigers-pittsburgh-pirates-justin-verlander

    15 Sweetspot

    Verlander getting back in gear

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/36378/verlander-getting-back-in-gear

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates Vs Tigers Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130528_PIT@DET

    17 Altoona Mirror

    Giger: Pirates’ McDonald fails to get out of first inning

    http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/572018/Giger–Pirates–McDonald-fails-to-get-out-of-first-inning.html?nav=751

    18 PBC Site

    Bucs bats come to life late but comeback falls short

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_05_27_pitmlb_detmlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Bucs not willing to take chances with Tigers’ Cabrera

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130527&content_id=48742572&notebook_id=48746106&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20719

    20 Fangraphs

    The Worst of the Best: The Week’s Wildest Swings

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-worst-of-the-best-the-weeks-wildest-swings-6/

  5. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers have the least amount of coaches in the NFL

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/5/27/4370656/steelers-coaching-staff-nfl

    Memorial Day Countdown: Most memorable Steelers wins since 2007

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/5/27/4369628/steelers-history-memorable-games

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Agent Joe Linta Says Ravens Made a Dumb Move Last Offseason With QB Joe Flacco

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/05/agent-joe-linta-says-ravens-made-a-dumb-move-last-off-season-with-qb-joe-flacco/

    Soccer(football) Will T

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Crystal Palace 1 Watford 0: Championship play-off final: match report

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/championship/10082271/Crystal-Palace-1-Watford-0-Championship-play-off-final-match-report.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    Aussie Rules? Football’s growth threatens traditional Australian sports

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/blogs/aussie-rules-footballs-growth-threatens-traditional-australian-sports

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Boston Globe

    Tomas Vokoun holds the fort in Pittsburgh Penguins net

    http://www.boston.com/sports/hockey/bruins/2013/05/27/tomas-vokoun-holds-the-fort-pittsburgh-penguins-net/21rTfTz9q9UJ6pK6khPyyK/story.html

    26 The Republican

    Sidney who? Pittsburgh Penguins relying on depth for playoff run as they prepare for Boston Bruins

    http://www.masslive.com/bruins/index.ssf/2013/05/sidney_who_pittsburgh_penguins_relying_on_depth_for_playoff_run_as_they_prepare_for_boston_bruins.html

    27 NHL Com

    Penguins not buying Lucic’s Heat comparison

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/blogpost.htm?id=17999

  6. I for one am not going to worry about the workload of the bullpen. We’re winning and until the starters can go deeper into games, the relievers are doing what they are paid to do.

    And Hurdle seems to utilizing a good rule that they can’t be used so many days in a row or if a guy has thrown over a certain number of pitchers.

    Remember the days when Hurdle was criticized for not using Hanrahan enough? They were losing in those days.

    Hurdle is doing what every other manager or would-be manager would do: managing by the Book.

    Leyland brought back Valverde – and did you see him in yesterday’s game? You know why Leyland brought him back and had him in there yesterday? He wants to be able to manage by the Book.

    • You lost me at the end.

      What are they paying the guy to do if he’s supposed to just go out there and play it by the book?

      • Leyland didn’t want to go with the rookie or with a bullpen by committee.
        So they brought back Valverde. The results may not be different than the other options, but at least Leyland has the comfort of saying he was going by the book.

        • Are you speaking from his perspective or your own?

          I don’t take any “comfort” in having a manager mail one in.

        • Not that I think that Clint is a better manager than Jim Leyland, but I like the fact that Clint will play younger guys (and maybe he’s kind of forced to), whereas guys like Leyland (or Manuel in Philadelphia) are hesitant to go to the youngsters.

          I never understood that.

          How are you supposed to gain confidence in a guy if you never give them a chance? From a first impression?

          And, also, about this managing by the book….

          The book is a guide. Not the law.

          • Clint who? Play younger guys?

            • NMR, you may feel that it is ‘mailing it in’. That’s your term, not mine.

              I believe that almost every manager, at almost every occasion, will play it by the book.

              One of those occasions is bringing in the closer during a save situation or having him warm up as it nears a save situation.

            • If you’re referring to the treatment of Jordy Mercer, I’ll agree, Clint has been hesitant to give him a shot (but I feel this is more of an org. view, rather than just Clint).

              I guess I should’ve specified that I was referring to the bullpen.

              Hughes, Morris, Watson, Mazzaro are all recent examples of this.

              IMO, Clint doesn’t have hesitation going to a younger, less-experienced guy out of the ‘pen.

              He looks at his options available, and goes with what he thinks will give the best result. Or who’s arm is the freshest….

              • How could I forget J. Wilson.

                BIG shoutout to that man.

              • What other options does he have this year, Nate? Everyone in the pen except the elder statesman and Grilli are young.

                What about last year when Qualls and Takanashi were coughing up appearance after appearance while Wilson, Morris, and McPherson sat in the pen?

              • Perhaps he realized the error of his ways…

        • I think what TC was saying was Leyland had the option to ” go by the book.” Not that,he was managing always by the book. Sometimes managing by the book is the best option, but it is an option. Anyone who thinks Leyland and/or Hurdle are managing by the book or mailing it in doesn’t know Leyland or Hurdle.

    • I believe they were winning the last 2 years with Hanny. Until the collapse of course.

    • Thunder

  7. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/05/27/deep-penguins-finding-success-with-role-players/YYAx75u10i9CPhnirZAIGP/story.html

    Boston Globe story, Nothing we don’t already know but some of you may like
    “Blysmas Golden Touch”. :)
    GO PENS!

  8. Very good article by Geoff Baker in The Seattle Times regarding the Mariners “plan’ and rebuilding process. The kids are not alright in Seattle. Jack Z may start to feel even more heat.

    There is a link to it on mlbtraderumors.com

    • Seattle and Kansas City should scare Pirate fans more than their own front office.

      Both organizations have one foot in the grave as complete failures in rebuilding, even after being praised in the past for their efforts.

      Rebuilding an organization from within is not easy.

      • You must be new here.

        It is easy.

        Just spend money.

        • Actually, one can pretty easily use both of these cases as a justificaton that a team DOES need to spend some money in order to rebuild.

          The list of organizations that have truly built a winner from within remains very, very small.

          • Of course!

            But I just love the “open the checkbook and sign everyone” argument, as if this would magically make a winning team.

            You need to spend the money wisely, and put together the right group of guys. Ask Toronto, LAA, LAD or the Phillies how deficit spending works….

            Money doesn’t cure all, winning does. But a little money helps.

            • I don’t think anyone, at least on this blog, is arguing ” just spend money and the Pirates will win.”

              • Thank you.

                I think we’re all past that, if anyone was ever there in the first place.

              • I’m not saying they are.

                It’s just I’ve encountered that argument in the past (as I think many of us have), and it’s non-sense.

                I just like to point that out.

                Carry on with the day.

              • So what did this mean?

                “You must be new here.
                It is easy.
                Just spend money.”

              • Well, it was kind of poking fun at the old days…when DK was beat writer for the Bucs on the “other” team.

                DK: Find me ONE example where at any point in any role I ever advocated that the solution to any sports team’s woes was to just spend money.

                Times must be getting tough if you’re reduced to making stuff up.

              • Gotcha. I’ll stick with NMR’s response, then. ;-)

              • You must be new here :-)

              • Not sure what you mean, Sisyphus? Are you saying you believe there are people on here who are arguing all you have to do is spend money?

            • Not necessarily now, but going back over the years since Dejan started blogging, there have been plenty who have advocated overspending as the only solution. You still see one pop up occasionally.

              • But overspending even then wasn’t a solution unless it was spent wisely. I just don’t buy the belittling based on misrepresenting what was being proposed by the people you disagree with.

              • “…There have been plenty who have advocated overspending as the only solution.”
                Plenty? *Only* solution? You’re overstating it. By plenty.

  9. So, the Hawks and the Wings are gonna duke it out with a Game 7. Should be….interesting :)

  10. I’m so bored with this stupid hockey playoff delay that I actually read an article about the Toledo Mud Hens. (gotta love that name!). Let’s drive 4 hours west and give them our support!

    • Oh Lord, for real? Mud Hens?? LOL!

    • Unless you’re coming from Irwin or Points East, you go for four hours, you’ll pass Toledo and end up in rural Indiana.

      I worked in Toledo 99-03. Was there when they opened their new downtown ballpark which, along with Indy’s, are wonderful places to watch an AAA game. ANY game. (If in Indy, try the grassy knoll behind the outfield.)

      I have a Mud Hens warm up jacket signed by Jamie Farr, the Patron Saint of Toledo. Don’t get much use of it down here, especially this time of year.

      • Klinger’s beloved Mud Hens. That’s a cool souvenir.

      • I work a 1/2 mile from mud hens stadium (Fifth Third Field). I actually worked on the souvinear shop inside the park. I did the drawings for it. The architectural firm I work for barely lost out on doing that stadium so they gave us a small portion.

        They just built a wonderful minor league hockey arena in downtown Toledo as well about 3 or 4 years ago.

  11. I heard that one local sportscaster believes that Marc-Andre Fleury should start game one against the Bruins!

    Does anyone else feel that way?

    It’s hard to imagine that they would give the keys back to Fleury after being benched for a month.

    • I think the starter position is Vokoun’s to lose.

      • I don’t see how it could be any other way

        • Not a chance. Not now, at least. If Vokoun gets blistered 2 straight games, maybe. Otherwise, there’s no point. As I have been saying all along, if Vokoun keeps winning and MAF never gets his job back this post-season, it will be an interesting off-season. For now, just keep winning Pens and let that be sorted out later.

    • Who in the world said that?
      If coaching/mgmt had any intention of easing MAF back in, it would have happened by now.
      IMO they intend to ride TV.
      Not sure how long his leash is – one bad game? Two….whatever….MAF is the backup now I think.

      But next year you can’t pay a backup 5 mil. So it will get interesting then.

      For now, it’s Vooo’s net.

      • That was Vinny on 93.7.

        • Wow. Makes no sense to toss him now with no work. Was Vinnie speculating or did he have real info?

          • Here’s my guess.

            Sometimes sportscasters try to be provocative just to provoke debate.

            While I’m not suggesting immaturity (it’s often a smart business move), I find that arguing against a provocateur is about as effective as arguing with an 11 year old.

            In both cases, a simple “no” will do.

            • How old are your kids?

            • Oh indeed. Colin Dunlap is Exhibit A.
              Vinnie’s usually a tad more sensible….

              I think the only question in my mind now is the length of TV’s leash….

              • I say that leash is probably 1 bad game + half of another bad game long, Sarah. If, hypothetically, they were to lose something like 5-3 in Game 1 and he did not play well, then fell behind 3-1 early in the 2nd period of Game 2 while again struggling, then I think DB pulls him to try to ignite a spark.

                But, I really don’t see either of those things happening. I think he is steady, but unspectacular, which is often the exact opposite of MAF. I see TV continuing to give up 2 or 3 goals every game vs. Boston. With the Pens scoring ability, that should get us a 4-1 or 4-2 series win. That’s what I’m hoping, anyway.

              • Well hope you’re right Jim.

                Those Bruins lit up Lundquist for 3+ per game. And the NYR play generaly tighter D than the Pens.

                I think it will get a LOT tougher for TV and we’ll find out a lot about him. I do not believe he’ll steal games for us, the question is whether he will be adequate enough that we can out-score the competition.

                That is a tough way to win a Cup and hasn’t been done for many years, and only by teams with a lights-out G.

              • You may be right that this series will be a lot tougher for Vokoun. I know the Bruins are a very solid team, but they are not generally a high scoring team. I also know they lit up Lundquist a couple of times, and he is considered a great goalie. I just think NYR were so screwed up by that idiot coach that they played nowhere near their true talent level all year. It may seem that they play better team defense than the Pens, but I think the Pens are now in the mode of hunkering down and getting it done defensively when the need arises. I don’t see the Bruins lighting up Vokoun. If they do, as I said, I think Dan B will be fairly quick to counter with MAF. We’ll see. I guess I don’t have the fear of the Bruins that a lot of people have for this series because I think something pretty dramatic changed for the Pens after that late game collapse the first night in Ottawa. They seem to have gotten PO’d and decided they were not going to have any more letdowns. That is obviously just a feeling on my part, and I could be wrong. But, that’s how I feel heading into this series.

          • He was only giving his opinion.

        • I don’t know that Vinnie was trying to be provocative. He knows less about hockey than me, and that is not a compliment for a guy who’s business is to talk sports.

          • I will say this….

            his job is to be the on-air talent for a sports-based talk show. He doesn’t have to know really anything about sports. It would most certainly help if he knew his stuff, but it’s not an end-all-be-all requirement.

            It’s entertainment. If he says something about the goalie situation of the Penguins (even though he doesn’t know what he’s talking about), and it generates a ton of callers, then he’s doing his job.

            • It is entertainment, but he does have to be a little above “He doesn’t have to know really anything about sports.”

              Today there is a lot of competition in sports talk shows. If he didn’t really know anything about sports, listeners would catch on quick, not tune in, and he would get fired.
              Cook is probably saving him with the hockey info. Vinnie can get by on his own with football and baseball….barely.

              • I think he knows his stuff when it comes to the Bado’s Pizza commercials.

                If it were closer to me I probably would too.

            • I like Vinnie. All I’m saying is Vinnie stating they should start Flower shouldn’t start a discussion about the finer points of whether that makes any hockey sense. Kind of like me opining about who should start in goal for the Riverhounds.

    • I think its too late to just throw in Fleury to get him some work. They shoulda done that back in the Ottawa series gm4. But, that ship has sailed. And now you have to stick with the guy that brought you there even if Fleury “looks sharp” in practice.

  12. Just read an article from the other paper about Vokoun. He battles OCD. I never knew that. Gotta give the man some credit.

  13. It’s not at all a stretch to suggest Marc Andre Fleury has played his last game in a Penguin uniform.

    • I hope that isn’t true…but no, it’s not a stretch.

    • You mean he’s gonna play naked?

      That’s a gutsy move.

      Or maybe more accurately, a bal…

      No. Just no.

        • Only Drew…lol

          • See? SOMEtimes saying NO to an 11 year old works.

            Sometimes.

            Let’s see how I behave for the rest of the day.

            • LOL 23, 20….and…11.
              Just wow.
              I gotta give you credit, Drew, dealing with that.

              My girls are 30 and 27. My stepson is 23. Most days I just want to throttle him lol.

              I can’t fathom dealing with an 11 year old. No way.

              • My sister’s are 20,17,9 &6. I tell her she has two sets of two kids. And stranger than the ages is it’s all the same husband.

              • Woah Milo, she deserves a medal!

              • I think Drew is the 11 year old he’s referring to. ;-)

              • Since we are all baring our souls (and MAF, even more, to follow Drew’s insight), I want to share how much I enjoy the banter, discussion, innuendo, commentary, observation, light-hearted mocking, etc. that goes on here. I would comment more often, but my wife and I have six kids, ages 23, 20, 17, 14 and two 11-year-olds (twins girls), and that doesn’t leave much time for outside endevours.

              • Perhaps they just got in a slump for a decade or so, Milo. And then they got back on track.

    • That is very plausible, Milo. I thought that immediately when he was replaced. If he never starts again this off-season, how do you put him back in as #1 next year? Do you say to Vokoun, “Thanks for getting us to the final round or the championship, but now go take a seat on the bench?” And, how do you tell the franchise goalie he is no longer the franchise goalie? Who knows how this will play out, but my opinion is that if MAF is not a factor for the rest of the season and Vokoun continues to play very well, I think MAF is moved in the off-season. They will need to groom someone behind Vokoun next year, and possibly the year after.

      I know a lot of fans love MAF, and rightly so for how many big playoff games he helped win. I’m just saying I think they may be facing a crossroads with him soon that fans may not like. All just speculation on my part, though.

      • So who will be the regular season guy who replaces MAF??
        I agree you can’t pay 5mil to a guy who sits.

        But who do they replace him with?

        HAving said that, mgmt’s actions thus far suggest to me they will at least try to move MAF.

        I’m no Cap Geek, but if they buy him out, does that 5mil go back to the Cap to help them keep Malkin/Letang/Duper/Cooke….

        ???

        In any case, I do not think TV will be a 55-60 game reg season starter, So if they do move MAF they need to find someone to be a good reg season guy, Do NOT discount the very solid reg seasons MAF has put in. That is huge. Not easily repalced.

        • The guy had a rough streak and then TV took over and has played outstanding.

          I don’t think you give up on the Flower right now, and not for next season either

          • I wouldn’t give up on him Biz, but it’s a tough sport, and gonna get tougher with the cap coming down. Lord only knows what might happen. Like Jim S says, all speculation.

            • Yeah, I just think he’s too good of a talent to cut

              A trade on the other hand might happen

              • Let me clarify what I meant. I believe MAF has a ton of value, and they would not release but rather trade him – hopefully to the West conference. He has 10 years or more left in the league. A change of scenery might get him right back on track. I think maybe they would try to get a young, talented keeper back and have Vokoun groom him. But, it seems obvious to me that sitting him out the entire playoffs (which could lead to a Cup celebration) and then telling him he is #1 again next Fall would be both confusing to MAF and a bit of a slap to Vokoun if it were to come to that.

                But, hey, I’m no GM and have not played one on tv. Shero & Bylsma will figure it out better than I could.

            • I wouldnt give up on MAF either.

              Really when you look at it, he was not handled well at all. They brought him in as a teenager to sell tickets and put him behind a crappy team that made boatloads of mistakes. Which did nothing to correct bad habits and probably made them worse.

              He was regularly demoted to WBS to save money, where MT benched him after every mistake, to go to that Vezina-winner Andy Chiodo. Not the best way to handle a kid still trying to build mental strength.

              As for coaching, he’s not the first great athlete/poor technician to come out of Cape Breton. And the coaching/development he’s gotten at PIT seems no better. IMO Meloche is just a legacy hire and has not helped Fleury at all; in fact MAF has regressed since 2009 when he worked with Ty Conklin and got a lot more sound positionally, plus his stickhandling improved such that it was no longer a liability.

              All that’s down the drain since with Meloche.

              If it were up to me, I’d invest in a serious goalie coach and give MAF another year. You can say he needs a shrink more than a coach, but they’re very related. When you get confidence in how you’re playing, your head improves a lot.

              Is Sean Burke available for ex? For the amount of money they’ve invested in MAF, the Pens should really try to get him a professional coach, not a legacy/handout hire like Meloche.

      • Zatkoff is doing rather well in WBS. He was called up for Vokoun’s back-up once when Flower was injured. Who knows what might happen?

        • And Brad Thiessen took over for Zatkoff and was excellent.. helped backstop the comeback from 0-3 to the AHL bruins. We also have Hartzell who is “officially”? the backup backup? Well, he’s on the NHL roster in case Fleury and Voky both injure themselves.

      • “Do you say to Vokoun, “Thanks for getting us to the final round or the championship, but now go take a seat on the bench?””

        Yes.

        That’s what he was hired to do. He’ll still play in 30-40% of the games.

    • Do you really think that they’re going to trade away Fleury and go with a 37 year old with no decent backup? I seriously doubt that’s going to happen.

      • Look how young the goalie is in Chicago. I think anything is possible if you get the right guy back in a trade. I am definitely not saying they would trade him. I am just speculating. But, I think anyone would have to admit that if he sits through almost the entire playoffs this year, and we make a long run, that is one heck of a statement about their confidence in him, and the effects might be tough to undue by just saying next October, “You’re still our guy, Flower. Now, jump back in there and get us through the regular season again.” He might say, “But, are you going to bench me in the playoffs if I struggle for a couple of games again?” I’m just playing the what if game.

        • I think that his lengthy time on the bench says a lot more about their confidence in Vokoun that it does their doubts about Fleury. Vokoun has refused to give Bylsma any reason to take him out of the lineup.

          • True, but if Fleury has lingering confidence issues, this is not helping him put them behind him.

            But, you are right. Bylsma and Shero need to be concerned about winning first and foremost. They don’t have time to worry about anyone’s feelings. If you need to be pulled, you get pulled for the good of the team. Same thing for Vokoun, if it were to come to that.

    • Only in the minds of Pens fans. Shero didnt get to be Ray effin Shero by trading Stanley cup winning, gold medal winning, all star, 40 game winning franchise goalies just to make things harder for himself.

      Franchise goalies arent easy to find. Ask the Islanders, Flyers and Capitals among others.

      Everybody’s salary cap is going down. Not just the Penguins. And dont forget just because the cap says you CAN spend 60 mil doesn’t mean most teams CAN. The lockout was as much about teams at the low end of the cap as the top. There aren’t as many teams with enough room to fit a 5 mil goaltender as you might think.

      Truth is there will be a greater demand for Vokoun than Fluery, for all of the reasons stated in this entire thread. If there is a goalie leaving Pittsburgh in July, its Tomas not Marc-Andre.

      But Shero wouldnt do that unless he HAD TOO. And i dont think he will.

  14. There are no other sports positions that have such a defensive position except soccer. Catchers in BB and safeties have defensive responsibilities but not like hockey. I am sure most goalies have some type of craziness to play that position.

    • nearly every goalie i have ever met has been…shall we say…a bit odd?

      Patrick Roy was a headcase. Hextall was a sociopath. Tim Thomas was/is…well..just google tim thomas…

      They are all nuts.

      • Soccer goalies are the same way. Something about being the hero or goat, with usually no in between that appeals to only a select few.

  15. My 2 cents…

    -Enjoyed the Pascal Dupweeeeee column. Won’t enjoy the Tyler Kennedy column.
    Dejan, do you take suggestions for topics to avoid in your columns? Mine is Tyler Kennedy.

    -It’s such an awesome feeling as a hockey fan to know that the NHL has worked out so many of its PR and lack-o-common-sense issues and we will sleep well knowing that a 2013 Stanley Cup champion may or may not be crowned possibly before the eventual start of the 2014 season; potentially dependent upon outside factors such as summertime natural disasters and NBC scheduling (which can be one in the same).

    It will also be interesting to see how GM’s react to the start of free agency opening up at the 12:14 mark of the 2nd period of of game 3 during the Cup finals.

  16. Here is some bad news and good news.

    JMac had a less than stellar rehab start on Monday in Altoona. In 2/3 of an inning, McDonald allowed two hits, one on a home run, and walked four. He was charged with three runs and left after 33 pitches, 14 strikes. His ERA is 40.50 after one start.

    Too bad for JMac. But, the good news is it appears JMac will not be coming off the DL & joining the Pirates starting rotation (or their pitching staff) any time soon. That points to the Bucs staying in the race a lot longer in 2013.

  17. The MLB draft is coming up next week, I believe? Baseball America did a mock, some catcher named Reese McGuire is the PBC’s first pick. Anyone know anything about the fellow?

  18. Sporting thoughts ona feels-like-a-Monday-but-it’s-really-a-Tuesday Tuesday…..

    * Our group of Buccos actually made a good piece of history. They achieved 15-or-more wins in the April & May, and that’s the 1st time in franchise history. If I’m wrong, blame Root Sports.

    * It was very nice to take 2 of 3 in Milwaukee. Now it’s time to turn PNC Park into Milwaukee’s “House of Horrors”. I never want to see Milwaukee win another ball game again. I can’t stand that team.

    * Who decided that the Pirates should play the Tigers for “Rivalry Week”? I think the Pirates have just as strong a rivalry with the Astros…..

    * Frank Liriano didn’t have command of the fastball at all yesterday, yet could put his slider & changeup [basically] wherever he wanted. Odd. But some days are like that on the mound. I was hoping he could gut through it and gives us 6 wile only giving up 2, but, alas, it was not to be.

    * I’ve seen enough of Jose Contreras. Whenever someone is ready at AAA or someone else gets healthy, he can be released. No need for a reliever who can’t throw strikes. You can’t walk 4 batters. He doesn’t have that crappy 1/3 inning, perhaps yesterday’s outcome is different. Perhaps….

    * Just give me a split in this Tigers series.

    * It seems like these Bucs have an air of “never-say-die” in them. But, I think some of us thought that early last year too. How does the saying go? “Fool me 3 times, shame on BMTIB”?

    * Seriously though, it’s been a fun 1st 2 months of the season for our Pirates. Let’s keep it rolling through June.

    * Well, looks like I got what I wanted with Boston beating NY over the weekend. Ding Dong, the King is dead. Well, his season is dead anyways…

    * If the NHL is smart, they market the crap out of this Penguins/Bruins ECF series. 2 of their biggest markets on the east coast, with some of the games’ biggest stars on display for the right to go the the Stanley Cup Final. I think Bettman rigged this again…

    * This series with the Bruins is an even match up. It won’t be over in less than 6, and I think it goes 7, with the Penguins winning Game 7. If the Penguins are to win, I think their stars need to outplay Boston’s stars. That will be the difference in the series.

    * No way Fleury starts another game in these playoffs, unless Vokoun poops himself (as Fleury did in the Islander series) or gets injured. It was his [Fleury] job to lose. He lost it.

    * FOOTBALL! (just had to get that in b/c everyone loves the NFL)

    Have a good dayy ALL! :-)

    DK: Pittsburgh’s a big market now? Who knew?

    • Contreras has disappointed me. I thought that was a sneaky good pickup as a veteran sinkerballer to fill up middle relief innnings with groundballs.

      The guys stuff is still there, so age is not an issue. He’s just can’t find the plate. Very odd.

      Liriano getting Miggy to swing and miss at the same pitch three times in the same at-bat was the most impressive thing I’ve seen a Pirates pitcher do all year. Ridiculous, off-the-charts, stuff.

      • His slider and change up were sick yesterday. He was putting those where he wanted. If he had command of his fastball yesterday, I think the Bucs win that 1.

        Can’t be too upset with him, though. 3 good starts and 1 Ok start out of his first 4 as a Bucco.

        This is the kind of “bounce back” performance I’ve been looking for from a veteran signed by Huntington. Hopefully he can do it for the rest of the season.

        So far, so good.

    • Good points, Natesboro. I agree with all them but I wouldn’t discount the importance that the 3rd and 4th lines will have in the Pens-Bruins series. I think that ultimately may be the deciding factor.

      Sadly, I agree 100% with your point on Contreras. He seems like a great guy who has the respect of the clubhouse. I was hoping he’d be a nice pick up, but it’s clear to me he’s done.

      • You watch. Contreras will get picked up by a team desperate for bullpen help like the Brewers, quit walking people, and turn around the group with his veteraness.

        I didn’t expect this, but he’s really only had two bad outings out of his seven appearances. Those two were just really, really bad.

        • That is the big difference between vets and guys with options.

          If Morris or Hughes have control issues they get sent down to work on it–because they have options. I think with guys like Contreras they hope they can work through their problems at the major league level. That’s the only place for them to do it. If they get cut they’re gone.

          Conteras looked bad yesterday. But I am willing to give him one more chance.

          • +1. Very well put.

            He’s gotten the job done for 12 years or whatever. No reason to think his issues can’t be worked out.

            Just don’t want that to cost us another game. Maybe back on the CL for a while would do the trick.

            • Agree with you here.

              For a team that is heading toward bullpen issues, getting rid of a guy with his track record after two bad outings would be rash.

              • Has it only been 2 bad outings? It feels like at least 3. And yesterday was a bit more than bad.

        • I guess it’s just a pet-peeve (being a former pitcher, and American Legion coach), but I can’t stand when relievers walk batters.

          I get the occasional outing where control is not 100%, but when it’s happened in 2 of his first 7 appearances for the club, I’ve had enough.

          • I agree on the walking guys stuff. Contreras may still have decent stuff. I will take the word of the Bucs scouts, minor league coaches, Searage, Hurdle all together on that. But, he’s a vet and he can never struggle so much with his command that he can’t find the plate at all. I guess we can just say it was a bad day for him, but that cost us a very winnable game in which the team really battled. I’m sure Contreras feels badly about it, but he needs to get his act together pretty quick. He has not pitched well. They have plenty of talented arms on the way, and I’d rather see a hard-throwing, talented kid if Contreras is going to give games away. I guess I would agree that they can still give him another shot or two to try to get it back, but I hope they don’t put him in a one run game again any time soon.

    • -”If the NHL is smart…”

      I think that was answered a long time ago.

      -I’m sure the king’s hair got a royal treatment of Vidal Sassoon promptly after the game. If it didn’t comb correctly, I’m sure he yelled at his D-men for it.

  19. Does anyone know if we’re allowed to draft Appel. He has to sign a waiver to allow the Buccos to select him again but I have no idea if this has been done.

    I know he’s projected to go in the first few picks but if he does fall, I’d like us to grab him again. I’m guessing he doesn’t want to come here regardless.

  20. Think Rutgers would be interested in Steve Pederson ? Just wondering (hoping).

    • What did Rutgers do to deserve THAT????????? ;)

    • What was Julie Hermann accused of doing to her team?

      • Some sort of abuse, just like Mike Rice, I think

        • According to her former players, she verbally assaulted them on a regular basis to the point where they collectively drafted a letter detailing everything and saying they would prefer she not be their coach. She met with them, and basically told them she didn’t want to coach them. Then, she went into administration rather than continue coaching. I also read that she fired an asst. coach at one point for (according to the asst. in a lawsuit) getting pregnant. Then, she denied she was even at the lady’s wedding previous to that, and there is video evidence of that. She also denies knowing anything about the letter her former players say they wrote. I guess she deserves the benefit of the doubt, but there are a lot of people lining up against her and saying she struggles with truthfulness.

          Oh, yeah, and Rutgers also replaced Rice with a former player whose bio says he is a Rutgers grad. Only problem is he never got a degree there. So, that is basically why Rutgers is being ripped.

  21. The Penguin UFA’s this year all happen to be playing out of their minds…….especially Cooke and Dupuis. Is this just coincidence?

  22. Harrington and Maata have signed ATO Contracts. Just in time to help WBS in the finals
    http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=672203&navid=DL|PIT|home

  23. Happy Tuesday:

    1) On the discussion on “managing by the book”.. to me it is analogous to playing black jack ‘by the book’. You are just playing the better odds, not guaranteeing an outcome. One of the things I HATE the most is when people at a blackjack table (or those blogging) use the outcome to make their point about “book or not to book”. Typically, the closer pitches when your team is ahead on the road and the home team has last AB or at home in a tie game the top of the 9th, as you won’t need a closer in that game to close out a lead (any lead will be a walk-off win). I think the other times you use a closer would be when he needs work because of too much rest and possibly, on occasion, to get an extra out in the 8th and to pitch in a tie game on the road if he is rested and you have the good part of a lineup coming up for the home team and you want to force another inning.

    2) Contreras is obviously the ‘no confidence’ arm in the bullpen right now, both in terms of the player himself and definitely in terms of Clint wanting to use him. What is odd about the Bucs the past month is that they really haven’t had any ‘low leverage’ bullpen spots to use Contreras..starters are going 6+ generally and the games are close. I think it might be time to cut Contreras loose because the bullpen can’t afford to be taxed because Clint is afraid to use him in a meaningful spot.

    3) Just say NO to any JMAC coming back to the Bucs in 2013. Mercer has earned his spot.

  24. I’m talking about both the pitcher and the SS… no JMACs in 2013, please! As to waivers, pitcher JMac will most definitely be picked up… SS Jmac, I doubt it.

    • You sure about that, cmat?

      Would you pay $3m for a guy coming off an injury who hasn’t been a usefull starter in a year knowing you’ll have to keep him on the 25-man AND give him two more raises through arbitration?

      Sure, there is some intrigue. But you’d have to be pretty hard up for starting pitching to take on that project.

      • “You can never have enough pitching”.

        If they were to cut JMac, there would be at least 2 or 3 teams interested.

        For pete’s sake, we signed Contreras.
        Last year we got Qualls. (I know we “traded” for him).

        If a club believes in its development people, Jmac could be signed elsewhere.

        I think we are a bit away from that.

        But there is that thing called the trade deadline…………. ;)

        • Teams could’ve had Jeff Karstens for less AND without the arbitration baggage.

          Just sayin’.

          • But teams KNEW Karstens was injured………..
            nobody knew about Jmacs injury.

            I just think JMac and Karstens are both finished.
            Quite sad.

            • So now that teams KNOW Jmac is injured, how would he be any different?

              Remember when everyone was convinced Karstens would be picked up a second after Huntington DFA’d him then got nothing but the sound of crickets?

              • JMac showed a flash of brilliance for 1/2 a season.

                Karstens never showed brilliance…… he was a steady pitcher that did some good.

                But I am done with this……….. JMac and Karstens are toast. It is what it is.
                Hopefully some of the arms in the minors will be ready in August/September.

              • Wouldn’t the arms in the minors be taxed come August/September?

                These guys (minor league pitchers) are usually on strict pitch counts. Some have designated max innings for a season as well. Come that time, some may be burnt out.

                Relief pitching depth is there in the organization.

              • Not so sure the minor league arms would be taxed. They have a shorter season and they are on strict pitch counts. It’s not apples and apples.

      • JMac, the pitcher, is probably done. Maybe he ought to try to resurrect his career as an outfielder.

        • He actually spent time as an outfielder in the Dodgers org, fwiw.

          • NMR

            I knew that about JMac being an OFer in Brooklyn’s farm system up thru 2005. What I didn’t know was his lifetime batting average in his OF stint was .200, 0 homers and 19 RBI.

            The OFer comeback looks doubtful. Another organization will take a chance on him. Maybe he can resurrect his career in Houston since most of their games mean nothing.

      • Sanchez got another shot, so James MacDonald will probably get picked up if/when we dump him. But, I do not want to see him in a Pirates uniform again. I don’t have anything against him, but he is a head case now.

        • I agree with you. JMac seems like a very likeable guy. Maybe things will click for him somewhere else.

  25. I really wish the NHL could get refs that call the game consistently. What is it? Inconsistent messages sent? lack of training? lack of interest? That Frolik penalty shot was crap last night. So, he got wrist-slapped. Atleast he didn’t get his legs taken out like what happened to Malkin early on in the Ottawa series.

  26. I could be wrong but I think if a team waives a player, another team can pick him up for the league minimum and the waiving team still pays his salary. But maybe I’m wrong. And yes, I’m sure, the Astros among other clubs would take a chance on JMac rediscovering his 2012 form.

    • That would be the case only if the player were outright released, a la Jonathan Sanchez.

      Astros could certainly be a wildcard. But if they’re trading AWAY guys with a few years of control like Bud Norris, how would Jmac fit into their rebuilding plan?

    • No, I think the player would have to be completely thru waivers for the club to pick him up for the prorated minimum, if you claim him, you pay the whole salary.

      Could JMac decline an assignment to Indy and declare himself a UFA if he made it thru waivers?

      • I don’t know exactly how these things work, Biz, but that sounds like something I’ve heard happeneing before.

        I just think Jmac has bigger issues than a trip to the bullpen can fix. Needs time in the minors.

  27. Gary Bettman and Don Fehr made a deal with the devil. How else does it explain the NHL after the lockout debacle.

    1. Hawks have an historic winning streak that “saves the game.” Return to form by many NHL superstars.
    2. Two game sevens in the conference semifinals.
    3. Major markets Pittsburgh, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, LA and Bay Area still alive.
    4. Just saw the local ratings for Chicago. Through the roof. I assume the same elsewhere.

    Major advertisers attached with marketing pushes using NHL players.
    Little sex appeal in NBA finals-happens every time the great Spurs are in it (the team with no respect).

    Still chilly here in the Northland. Often feels more like hockey weather than baseball weather.

    Guess the lesson learned by management and labor alike is don’t fear the work stoppage (cue cowbell).

    • It’s 6o degrees and pouring down rain here in PA, Oshkosh. I hate this crap.

    • What compelled the good people of Minnesota to build a stadium without a roof? I guess we just have to hope that the Twins never make the World Series. Or that the Pirates (if they ever get there again) never play them.

      • Have you ever been to the Metrodome? I think the people up there have that constant reminder staring them in the face every day, and there was no way they would do another one. But, Milwaukee pulled it off pretty well. I am not a fan of baseball inside, but the Brewers would probably say it helps their attendance early and late in the season.

        • I’m not saying build another dome, but just like Milwaukee, couldn’t they have built a stadium with a retractable roof?

          Baseball in Minnesota in late October will be nuts! Players will need to be treated for frost bite!

          • I’m not disagreeing at all, Nate. In fact, I think Milw did about the best they could with a dome. I just think the reputation of that monstrosity in MSP is so bad that no one would sign off on another one.

    • You forgot to mention the two original-6 matchups in the conference semi-finals. NY-BOS and DET-CHI = ratings gold. Another good thing, no canada teams left (ottawa was last one out). That seems like more a deal with the devil because everyone thought the leafs were “absolute locks” 50 mins through gm7 of the BOS-TOR series.

    • That may be the first time I’ve seen Pittsburgh listed as a “major market” for anything.
      Except maybe Pierogies and jagoffs. :-)

  28. Above Dejan wrote that it’s “insanity” not having Iginla on the 1st PP unit.

    2 things…

    1) Who do you take off the 1st unit? It’s not exactly like any of those guys are chopped liver. I guess it would be Kunitz you would have to take off, but can Iginla be a net front presence? Or can Geno be the net-front guy (as Iginla would go to the point)? I don’t think so in either case.

    2) Doesn’t his presence on the 2nd unit make it more formidable? Moreso than adding a Kunitz? Having Iginla on the 2nd unit makes the other team respect it that much more IMO.

    Sometimes there is a method to the madness….sometimes.

    • If you are to put Iginla on the PP, I think you move James Neal to the 2nd unit, stick Iggy on the point and let Malkin roam a little bit.

  29. If the speculation above is correct, and the Bucs use a #1 pick on a catcher, then is Sanchez officially a bust?

    • They also drafted a catcher, No. 2, I think, last year.

      Look how long though it is taking Sanchez to be ready for the big show, and he was a college choice.

      It’ll be a while before a high school pick, either this years No. 1 or last years No. 2, would be ready to replace Sanchez

    • Picking a catcher would have absolutely nothing to do with Sanchez.

      Travis d’Arnaud entered 2013 as the top catching prospect in all of baseball and was drafted out of high school in 2007. Mike Zunino, the guy who most believe is the best catching prospect right now is struggling with AAA pitching as a 22 yo and probably won’t be worth much until at least next season.

      Basically, there’s gonna be a looooong time between now and whenever this kid will reach the big leagues.

    • He’s batting .280 with a .500 SLG. I wouldnt call him a bust yet.

    • I think it is just speculation, first of all. These mock drafts change every week. I don’t think they’ve given up on Sanchez, and he probably gets the #2 slot next year with an eye toward replacing Martin the year after a la Jordy right now. If you have noticed, there seems to suddenly be a lot of heat on the Fort to throw better. He doesn’t have a horrible throwing catcher in front of him any more. Fort’s bat gets the job done, but catching is a defense-first position, and with Barajas being replaced by Martin it is easy to see Fort needs to improve.

      I think in the draft most teams just take the best talent available with their first pick. Even the top picks come with a lot of risk, unlike in a sport like football where you can usually hit the target with your #1. They can’t pass on the best player at their slot just to take a position of need. I think they start going by need a few rounds in. At least, that is what I keep reading. Seems to make sense.

  30. Just read the Trib article about Brandon Sutter and I have to say that I did not realize that he was playing as well as he is. He truly is the shut down third line center that the Penguins needed. I know stats don’t say everything, but Sutter has been on the ice for only two of the 28 postseason goals scored against the Penguins and he only has 4 PIM.
    Not to mention that he has been doing a pretty decent job in the faceoff circle most nights as well.

    He may not score like Staal did, but I am incredibly happy with the way he is playing right now.

    • thats the one article I have yet to read… not totally bought into the Sutter thing yet. I just hope its the Sutter that scored those two gigantic goals on boston during the regular season.

    • it’s not always all about the goals one scores…but the ones that are prevented.
      I’m fine with Sutter. he’s very reliable all over the ice.

  31. Pedro update…

    Through 45 games in 2012, Pedro had 167 PA, 31 H, 8 HR, 13 BB, 56 K

    Through 45 games in 2013, Pedro has 169 PA, 30 H, 10 HR, 13 BB, 55 K

    • When Petey had the 2 RsBI (just another petpeeve…people write RBIs, when really it’s RsBI), and went to 27…

      I said to myself, our .199 hitter is leading the team in RsBI.

      What the heck is going on?

      • ha RBIs! Ribbeys!

      • Just leave the S off the end. :D

      • Example #279568 for why the RBI, as counted, is a pointless statistic.

        • True. If you get enough chances with enough guys on base you should have a big # of RBI, even if you are not doing well.

        • Maybe not the be-all-to-end-all statistic, but meaningless? Methinks not.

        • Sorry, NMR, but all your book learnin will never convince me that RBI are meaningless.

          • Do they still decide who wins or loses with runs ?

            • Nope. It’s all metrics-based. :-)

              • Dungeons and dragons.

              • I believe at the annual owner’s meeting they are going to vote on implementing a rule that the team whose pitching staff has the best xFIP gets 5 wins added to their regular season total.

              • I said it last season that they should just have the team’s accountants submit the lineups before the game and the team with the most aggregate WAR total wins.

                Then Dejan dropped a teaser to Milo about something Bobby Cox said about a metric stat that he could not repeat in mixed company. Still would love to know what was said.

              • John,

                It’s about Charlie Morton’s xFIP if I remember correctly.

              • I’ll go with the xFIP, whatever that is, only on cloudy days with months ending in ER.

                Beyond that, it’s just numbers.

          • Think about it, John…

            Do they give the batting title to the guy with the most hits? No.

            They give it to the guy with the most hits PER opportunity.

            Why should RBI be any different?

            What sense does it make to judge Player A as being better at driving in runs than Player B when we have no idea how many chances either guy had to drive them in?

            It’s a really, really simple argument that people constantly turn into an anti-sabremetric rant.

            • The problem, though, as I see it, is that you go from “it’s over rated” to it’s meaningless. It’s not meaningless. If a guy hits in 130 runs, that is meaningful.

              • Interesting.

                So you don’t disagree that the RBI is a poor judge of personal performance, just that it isn’t meaningless.

                Goes to show that two people can be seperated by language more than meaning.

            • Come on, Milo. You too.

              Care to answer my question?

              Or satisfied to do another ignorant drive-by.

            • I’ll stand by my drive by.

              Just kidding. Look, I understand your point, intellectually. You are forceful and articulate with your arguments as well, NMR.

              It’s just sabermetrics often attacks the very core of my baseball belief system. Runs scored, RBI, strikeouts, ERA, wins, batting average etc have all been deemed irrelevant or meaningless. Well, these are the very things that were taught to me as important when I was a young-un. Part of the reason I grew to love baseball.

              I get it that they are flawed but I choose to enjoy baseball and follow baseball within the context of what I was taught to believe was meaningful.

              I understand that I am a different generation from you and that you choose to draw meaning from a different contextual environment. That is fine. And you are good at explaining it. I also try to keep up with the new ideas. I have never uttered, nor will I ever, that things were better in the old days and wasn’t my generation great.

              I’m just not prepared to say that a ballplayer who hits .300, has 35 home runs, doesn’t strike out, and drives in 100 RBI is not a good ballplayer because of what his metrics might suggest.

              • Well said, Osh! Personally, I come from both eras. I was still pretty young when the SABR stuff really took hold. But, I was also taught the game by my older brothers and dad before any of that. I try to appreciate the beauty of knowing a guy like Clemente was a great player (even though he was before my time), even if his OBP was not high enough for some people in the SABR world. But, I also recognize why so many love the ability of a Votto, who may be the ultimate SABR hitter.

                I think it is great that arguments can be made to support either guy as a great hitter, although they are much different. I love that people are passionate enough about baseball that they can argue their points and still respect the other side. At least, that is how I think most people approach it here.

              • Well done, John.

                Like I said to AW, perhaps its more the language I use that turns people off than the argument itself.

                I work with statistics in my professional life, which is where “meaningless” comes from in this regard. If I have a function that gives me more information than another at work, the lesser one does me no good.

                You present it as an attack on your baseball beliefs, which evokes much stronger emotion than I gave credit. I can completely understand you taking offense, even in a very small way.

                Most of all, I appreciate discussion without using ridiculous ad-hominem.

    • Talk about a mirror-image. Hope he finishes with 30 HR and 85 RBI this season. Average will work itself out.

    • That’s eerie.

      • He is who we thought he was.

        Hopefully puts a bit of the “what to do with Pedro” talk to bed.

          • Can you tell what kind of pitchers he hits his home runs off? I still think he is a VERY weak hitter against average to excellent pitching, but my opinion may be skewed by selectve memory (watching him flail away at slow stuff, miss high hard stuff and watch crner fast balls).

            • I don’t think you’re going to find anything shocking about a guy who has yet to break .200 struggling with excellent pitching.

            • I read something yesterday that showed the top pitchers absolutely own him this year.

              I am coming to the conclusion that he will get to 30/90 with a .240 avg. That isn’t so bad, but sometimes how he gets there is so infuriating.

              • Really surprised with all the advanced metrics presented these days that one for something like “expected RBI” or “RBI efficiency” isn’t readily available.

                I know studies have been done on the topic, so the math is out there.

              • That is a really good point. Fielder has 47 RBI, or somewhere around there. Miggy has almost 60. We know Miggy is having another season for the ages, and my guess is Cecil, Jr. is doing great also. But, it would be nice to know. I’m sure he gets up a lot of times with a bunch of guys on base. Lots of chances.

    • Today, that is true, if he continues and ends up with what he had last year, OK for us. But I wouldn’t fret over whether to even try to sign him up long term. Boras will be difficult In any event, but we ain’t talking Willie Stargell here.

      • Oh, absolutely not. But thats big picture stuff.

        For today, next week, next month…you keep treating Pedro just like you have been treating Pedro.

      • I’d take it further, AW. I don’t think it’ll be worth it for the Pirates to keep Pedro past his second arb year.

        The guys hits homeruns and racks up RBI, two stats that play a big role in arbitrated salaries. I can easily see him near the $10m range by his last year of team control. Thats a lotta cheese for the Pirates to eat.

        • You know NH (that is if he’s still GM) will be citing BAvg. and Ks (and the lack of BBs) in those arb. hearings!

          • He has to cite the guy’s weak points. Otherwise, just give him what he asks for, no?

            • Absolutely. It’s just funny to me these arb. hearings. All season, you root for the guy to do good, and help your team win.

              Then it comes to arbitration, and these same execs just poop all over those players, trying to pay them as little as possible.

              It’s kind of a ridiculous situation MLB has set up. But it wouldn’t be the first time.

              • I think you described it exactly. I heard Bill James talking about it once, because he used to be the star witness for a a bunch of the cases ever year. He said it was exactly as you described.

    • if only he can get that batting average up.

      • Pedro needs to learn to hit the ball the other way when the pitchers are limiting him to outside corner to 8 inches off the plate outside. Cutch took off when he stopped trying to pull everything and went ahead and went to RF with authority. Pujols is amazing opposite field (though he is now a shell of his former self, good luck Angels with the next 8 years of that stupid contract)… Pedro can be too… tough to pull a pitch that is on the outer edge and usually offspeed. Degree of difficulty in timing that pitch and movement and to pull it with authority is out of this world hard.

        Great example is what GI Jones did late in the game yesterday.. struck a solid double down the line by taking what the pitcher gave him…

        • The frustrating thing to me is that he does that very thing when he is going well. But, for some reason, he goes away from it again and ends up with all the 4-6-3 or soft F-9′s on pitches that should be driven to LC.

  32. Oh, one point of clarification on the MLB “natural rivalries” and why the Pirates-Tigers are matched. Now that interleague play is year-round, and divisions all balanced at 5 teams each, MLB is instituting more standard interleague schedules (one of the big complaints was the imbalance of years past). Each team plays their “natural rivals” 4 games and then 16 games against the same opponents in one division. This year the NL central is matched against the AL West.

    To make sure it is as balanced as possible, all natural rivals are in the same division… i.e for the NL central, it is vs. AL central teams. Cards/Royals, Reds/Indians, Brewers/Twins, Cubs/Sox, Bucs/Tigers.

    It isn’t perfect but at least they have taken away the horrible imbalance of years past.

    • And hopefully, it would mean you could see each AL club once every 6 years at PNC.

      But that is probably too much common sence for MLB

    • I get it cmat, just wondering who decided the Pirates should be matched with the Tigers in that scenario? I’d say either Cleveland (for the Pittsburgh/Cleveland rivalry, even though it’s not much of a rilvary as it is dislike between the 2 cities) or KC (as the Royals and the Pirates have had a similar track record of success over the past 2 decades).

      But no…

      The Buccos have to play by far the best team in that division.

      Whoever made that decision sucks!

      If you’re out there Suckmeter, I’ve got a candidate for next week’s Suck-ofthe-Week….

      • For whatever it’s worth, MLB feels the Royals natural rival is the cross-state Cardinals (and I think there is good evidence of that one)… and the Reds feel like their rival is the Indians (cross-state)..you can make a case that Cleveland/Pittsburgh trumps Cleveland/Cincy it is hardly a no-brainer.

        I can see where Cincy/Tigers and Pirates/Indians would be perfectly fine pairings but don’t think it is outlandish the way that it is.

        • The Pirates tried to designate Cleveland, but when push came to shove, the Tribe went with the in-state revenue and sided with Cincinnati. We aren’t left with a geographical rival, with Wash stealing Balt and the Phils also in the NL. But, it is not right to have us play Detroit and act as though it doesn’t matter. Bud, would not have forced his beloved Brew Crew to play the Tigers this year. Made sure the Twins are their rival.

      • I second that candidate!

      • I’d go with Pirates-Cincy as the best rivalry because of the 70′s through the early 90′s, especially moreso than either team with the Indians. But the New York and Chicago teams control these “rivalries.”

      • The good taxpayers of Ohio paid for those millionaire sandboxes in Cleveland and Cincinnati. State deserves the financial benefit of the two teams playing each other instead of Cleveland/Pittsburgh match ups.

    • I’ll admit they are trying, but it still sucks, though, that our natural rival is designated as the Tigers while the Cards draw KC. That is not fair.

  33. Here’s Grantland’s all-bargain team:

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/63416/meet-mlbs-all-bargain-team

    2 Pirates on this list, Russell Martin & Jason Grilli. No complaints with the list, but I do have a problem with this statement:

    “There are those who would argue that Martin, like fellow former Yankee A.J. Burnett, has seen a career renaissance largely because he’s shifted from the tough AL East to the easier-to-navigate NL Central.”

    Did the Cardinals not win the World Series in 2011? And have they not been 1 of the most consistent franchises in the MLB over the last decade? The Reds have been a pretty good ball club since 2009. Same with the Brewers. The Astros were good in the early and mid-2000s, but now they’re terrible and not in the division any more. Even the Cubbies will give you a game.

    Where does this rep. for the NL Central come from? Is it literally the Pirates rep. over the last 20 years that is dragging this division down?

  34. Someone in my office said the Pens game will be on Saturday.

  35. Simply presented as a point of reference…

    AAA Pitcher #1: 10 GS, 52.1 IP, 4.13 ERA, 1.376 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 4.0 BB/9
    AAA Pitcher #2: 10 GS, 54.0 IP, 3.67 ERA, 1.204 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 4.3 BB/9

    Pitcher #1 is Mets top prospect Zack Wheeler, rumored to be called up as soon as he clears Super-2 status.

    Pitcher #2 is Pirates top prospect Gerrit Cole, rumored to need the entire season to work on his stuff at AAA.

    • The Mets are 10 under and 10 out. They have Harvey and garbage. That’s the difference. The Pirates don’t need Cole at this point. Would it be nice to see him up now? Sure, but why mess with years of control when your team doesn’t need him yet? If they were struggling sure, make the call.

      • I think we have already passed the “years of control” thing for this season, Ermine. If he comes up now, or two months from now, our control years don’t change. Maybe someone else can verify that, but I think that is accurate.

    • I think it’s the Ks/9 (that are down) and BBs/9 (that are a bit higher) that are scaring people with Gerritt Cole.

      Also, factor in that it seems the Mets need all the help they can get right now, whereas the Pirates have guys performing right now.

      Cole should still be up in June. I don’t care what his numbers are at AAA.

      With an arm like that, we need to see how he does against major league hitters.

      • With the new rules on Super 2 in the CBA, he won’t be up before July, no matter the circumstance IMHO.

      • I’m all for sticking Cole in the BP as well after he’s first called up. I like that strategy.

        The Rays did it with David Price and there are many other examples similiar to that philosphy.

        However, if a starter is needed, then yes of course, put him in the rotation.

    • Now with Karstens shut down and on the 60-day, Morton coming along slowly in rehab starts and Contreras most likely on a shorter leash, it may be Cole to the rotation and Gomez to the pen that will be the answer.

      They were considering Karstens for the pen before, so Gomez would be the righty if Contreras continues to struggle.

      Morton and his electric stuff and 2 million dollar deal would be the decision to be made.

    • Also, Shelby Miller of St Louis, who might be steamrolling toward the NL All Star team was struggling for most of last year in AAA, I believe. Sometimes, and this is just a guess on my part, I think the teams have them working on cleaning up the last one or two items of the check sheet before they get promoted, and it ends up that it kind of screws up everything for them for a few months. Then, talent takes back over and they get it together again.

      I would also add that learning to overcome a little adversity before getting to the show can be a good thing for a guy like Cole. We don’t need a guy getting to Pittsburgh having never had to overcome tough situations.

  36. Game day thread is posted

  37. So, Loons, any predictions for LAK v SJ tonight?
    I suppose I have to go with Kings, no home team has lost yet…
    But man I hope the Fins find a way to win.
    Quick scares me….

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.


Other Blogs
Sports: Dejan Kovacevic | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | Sitting Ringside | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports | H.S. Sports Insiders
News: This Just In | Trib List
» Top TribLIVE.com Sports
» Top TribLIVE.com News
» Top TribLIVE.com Breaking News