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Morning Java: Letang, Chara and … a schedule!

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Wednesday column identifies two key barometers for how the Penguins-Bruins Eastern final will go, and both are defensemen …

My thanks to Kris Letang for extra time given for this piece, as well as being the special guest on my TribLIVE Radio podcast yesterday. Also on the show was TribLIVE Radio’s Ken Laird checking in from Boston, plus a segment on the Pirates’ ‘invisible’ usage of Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon, and, of course, @suckmeter

Here’s video of the opening rant on how the NHL’s scheduling idiocy will benefit the local team …

Oh, and hey, everyone, HERE’S THE SCHEDULE!

Only in the NHL do they make two teams sit around for a week, only to ram Games 6 and 7 together on back-to-back days.

>> David DeCastro looks forward to what should fairly be considered a true rookie season, given his preseason injury last year. Alan Robinson reports from the Steelers’ OTAs. Also, Mark Kaboly breaks down the latest on the Steelers’ cap issues.

>> The Pirates played all night long in Detroit until Neil Walker homered in the 10th, and Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli closed it out.

Melancon and Grilli have now made a combined 54 appearances, they’ve allowed a total of six runs, they’ve struck out 66 and walked six.

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Grilli, shown above after his breathtaking save last night in which he struck out all three batters including Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, is enjoying the breakout season of a lifetime at age 36. He’s 21 for 21 in saves, has saved 21 of the Pirates’ 32 wins and has 37 Ks against five walks.

For further perspective, I offer …

Previous career K/BB ratio in majors: 1.93

K/BB ratio through 10 years in minors: 1.98

This season: 7.4

Previous career Ks per nine innings in majors: 7.8

Ks per nine innings through 10 years in the minors: 6.7

This season: 13.5

Previous career walks and hits per inning pitched (WHIP) in majors: 1.43

WHIP through 10 years in the minors: 1.42

This season: 0.68

The season is not yet one-third of the way done, but I vote for Grilli right now for Cy Young. I nominate him for greatest 36-year-old reliever in human history. In fact, clear space in Cooperstown. This is amazing, astonishing stuff.

>> I’ll be bouncing around to a bunch of different practices and stuff today. Look forward to hearing from you about the column and whatever else.

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.

509 Comments

  1. Go Bucs (Since the Pens are on hold). Heck, Go Bucs anyways. Great baseball game tonight, Thankfully it wasn’t 17 innings.

  2. The Pirates played http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyQVjGdJ60g in Motown.

    There! Much better :)

  3. Speaking of cramming two games together, how much you wanna bet that the first two games of the Cup finals are Sat and Sun, the 15th and 16?

    Gotta satisfy the network boys.

  4. Nice win for the Bucs tonight, a night when Mr. Huntington can maybe sit back and finally smile.

    Jeanmar Gomez an off season pickup throws seven magnificent innings and has really been the glue keeping the backend of the rotation together and cleaning up the all the early Sanchez and McDonald messes.

    Justin Wilson the 5th round draft pick of Neal Huntington showing signs of being a shutdown late inning guy and possible one day closer going two innings and getting through the heart of the Tiger order.

    Mark Melancon, who continues to make the trade with Boston look like an absolute heist, comes in and does what he has all year, hold a game.

    Jason Grilli a minor league find that the Phillies did not feel they could use and 29 teams did not see enough in to warrant adding to their MLB roster, closing out his 21st game in 21 tries after being handed the closer role fanning the Tigers 3, 4, 5 hitters to do so.

    A night that Neal Huntington deserves to enjoy. This team appears to have more of a mental toughness, the past two games against maybe the AL’s best has demonstrated that. But these games have also demonstrated there is some more work with this club yet to do, I just hope he is game for it.

    DK: Do you think the Phillies released this Grilli?

    • JRay…….

      love the optimism, but did you, NH, or ANYONE foresee the above players doing anything close to this??

      Everyone can enjoy this win.
      But your over-the-top praise of NH is a bit much. Sorry.

      DK: Anyone foresee the above players doing anything close to this?

      • Not over the top praise, clearly stated above a night he could enjoy as key components to the win he had a hand in. This bullpen is large part why the Pirates are 24-1 when leading after 6 and 7 innings and 28-0 after 8.

        Going back to DK and his question above….Grilli in ’11 in 28 games at Lehigh Valley had 1.93 ERA, 1.16 Whip, 11.8 K/9 rate, no I don’t believe they thought they were getting exactly this Grilli but I do think there was enough in those lines to take a flyer and see if it could carry over, which it did in 2011 and has improved in 2012 and 2013.

        So I have to disagree with your assessment of over the top praise, and I clearly stated there is more work yet to be done, but every once in awhile I’m sure in all walks of life when the pieces come together you enjoy those moments.

        And for the record, I’m not a huge NH fan, truly believe this team has to compete all year for him to deserve any more time.

        DK: When the pieces come together, you enjoy those moments.

        • I have to disagree with you also, J.

          You listed 3 players absolutely no one expected to be close to this level.
          And a 4th that at age 36, not many expected to be doing as well as he has.

          Agree NH has done well with these players, and also agree that more needs to be done from him, both to improve the Bucs, and wash away the stink that was his first 3-4 years on the job.

          Have a good evening……. dancing Hippos need their sleep too. :)

          DK: You listed three players absolutely no one expected to be close to this level.

          • Isn’t it the point that he listed a bunch of guys no one expected to perform close to this level?

            I am not a fan of huntington by any means but the whole point is that maybe he finally succeeded at doing what any GM would have to do with the economics Huintington is given to work with. He HAS to try to find guys that no one else seems to have room for but has some glimmer of something that can be coached up and coaxed out. He has to take chances on Francisco Liriano and AJ burnett. He HAS to give Sanchez that contract at the start of this year in the hopes that he can regain his old form. He HAS to piece together a bull pen full of unproven arms with belief they can come through.

            All these guys, save for maybe Gomez have something in common. They were once good players who fell out of grace and were sent packing. These are the guys Huntington has to go for.

            Now, we have seen before that he is great at putting together a pitching staff(or at the very least Searage is great at getting the most out of them.)

            So lets see some position players come through now. Those projects always seem to tank. Rod barajas, Clint Barmes, Nate McOut. All flops. Not a bat in the draft worth speaking of. Not the guts it takes to spin some of this pitching stock into hitting. Stock up on pitching because its easier to trade for a bat. I get it. So when do they trade for that bat? Do we even trust Neil to get an actual legitimate bat out o a trade. Stay tuned.

      • JRay has never been over the top. He is one of the most consistant and unbiased posters on this blog. He gives credit and blame both fairly.

        God forbid we give praise to the GM for a success story. Why not just chalk it up to good luck. Lord knows all the failures had nothing to do with bad luck.

        • Appreciate that.

          • Well said. I have jumped on this GM quite often in the past when I felt it was warranted. But, to not also try to see the other side of things when it is warranted seems unfair. I think NH is growing into his job, as we all do over time. I’m not saying he has made up for all of the bonehead decisions of his first few years, which set the team back in a lot of ways. But, I do think he had a pretty solid off-season and he has done a good job of adding components to this pitching staff for this year that are paying off big time. I think he is earning his pay this year, and I would not have said that in the past. I also think the future is brighter than it has been in quite some time. I could be wrong, but that is how I feel now.

    • I am the first to admit that the Phillies would not have released Grilli had they known he had this type of ability about to explode from his arm. No one could have expected this from him. In fact, no one could have expected this from ANYONE. He has been nearly untouchable so far this year. But, this has been slowly building since he became a Buc. In ’11, he only gave up 24 hits in 32 innings and his K/BB was 37/15. Last year, those stats soared to 45 hits in 58 innings, with a 90/22 K/BB. And, if I recall correctly, he had a better 1st half than 2nd half last year. He was lighting up NL hitters until the All Star break last year, for sure. This year he has been even better, but I think we can expect him to slip back some in the 2nd half while still having a great season.

      I think what is happening this year is the kind of good fortune that happens for teams once in awhile. But, it is not as if the entire Pirates team is playing over its customary stats. The lineup certainly is not hitting better than expected, overall. I have been saying all along that this is an 85 win team. But, if an 85 win team catches a few breaks, it can win 90+ games. It wasn’t too long ago that a couple of really mediocre Twins teams won the World Series with barely over 80 wins. I say enjoy the ride and see where it takes us. But, barring a disastrous run of injuries, even if the good fortune fades this is still a winning ball club. Seriously, though, don’t you think maybe it is the Pirates year for a few more good breaks than their share? Just my opinion.

    • Of those 4 the major surprise is Gomez, never thought he could take apart a lineup like the Tigers for 7 innings. Melancon not a surprise. He was very good two years ago and reliever often have a down year and bounce back. Wilson also not a big surprise. It has been clear he had great stuff, only lacking control. Grilli a surprise when they picked him up.

      • +2

        Gomez – never saw this coming, don’t think anybody did.

        Melancon- Was a former closer in Houston and in last three seasons ran a 8-10 K/9 rate and 1.15-1.26 WHIP, so had some track record of success even last year was improved after battling injury.

        Wilson – In four brief innings last year Wilson fanned seven. He was minor league pitcher of year, no one questioned his arm the question was could he command and show control if so these are the results you could expect.

        Grilli – His ERA has been 2.48, 2.91, 1.14 with the Bucs, WHIP 1.19, 1.14, 0.67 and K/9 10.2, 13.8, 14.1. Other than ERA his stat line improved in a full season of 2012 versus partial 2011. In fact he had better stats than Hanrahan a year ago when he was in the setup role. The only question was could he adjust to being the closer, the mentality of that role since he had not done it, he has answered that question.

  5. Glad Mr. Bettman finally graced us with a schedule. Cant wait for hockey on the 4th of July!!!

    Pens Hockey……… CANT WAIT !!!

    • It was NOT Mr. Bettman – he is a mere puppet for the television networks, as are ALL of the commissioners of ALL major sports, in this case NBC. I’m sure you know this.

      • Well, in that case, screw NBC!

        • Still better than what it was like in the early 90′s. I lived in Dallas, TX area and you couldn’t get the games down there at home. Had to go to a restaurant to watch the games. Forget who was the controlling network back then, but man did it stink!

          At least now you have the choice of being able to sit at home, provided you get NBCSN in your cable/dish package.

          Kevin

      • You mean Comcast/Fast Eddie Rendell. Since his Flyers aren’t in the playoffs he has to find some way to mess with the Pens.

  6. Great win by the Pirates last night. A great pitching performance by both teams.
    What the Pirate pitchers have done so far to Cabrera is nothing short of incredible.

    AJ the cursed on the hill for us tonight.
    May we break the curse and get him some runs.

  7. I thought the Nyjer Morgan, Mike Easler stories were great. But Jason Grilli at age 36??? Even Jim Morris (The Rookie, wi. Dennis Quaid) was 35 when he had his time in the sun.

    DK: Dennis Quaid.

  8. We’ve already seen that Gaby Sanchez is having a different type season. If he keeps it up, Walker gets untracked, Jones stays consistent, Cutch on fire and Pedro gets his .240, 25 homers and 90 RBIs … Marte and Snider as sweeteners: This thing could get REAL interesting! Big ifs, I know, but hey, nice pitching and timely hitting variables at play. I like it!

    DK: Gaby is having a different type season.

  9. I wonder how a 36-year-old suddenly increases his velocity and becomes and amazing closer.

    • Probably mechanics. To look at Grilli, he is not bulky AT ALL. Insinuating PEDs in this case is ridiculous.

      DK: Mechanics.

      • I would not rule out anything. All sorts of players get pinched for cheating, and lots of times it is guys we thought were totally clean. I would also say that Grilli has had a string of strange injuries in his career. He always had a great arm before and between that, but could never stay completely healthy. Isn’t it possible that he finally just put all the injuries behind him and realized his potential at a later age than 99% of guys?

        • Or, maybe he goes to the same doctor as Ray Lewis. I really have no way of explaining it. I sure hope it is just good old American stick-to-it-iveness.

    • -1000

      DK: -1,000

    • I’m with you Jason. I’m not accusing Grilli of using some kind of PED. However, it’s pretty rare for people to peak at his age. So rare in fact that my suspicions too are raised. I hope to be wrong as by all accounts, he’s a great teammate and nice human being overall.

  10. Knock on wood.

  11. Hoka Hey everyone!
    .
    PROSPECT UPDATE:
    Wanted to provide an ongoing quick update of the last top picks in the Pirate drafts:
    .
    2012: (1st round 45th pick) Barrett Barnes…OF…West Virginia…. (currently on disabled list since May 1) .220/.289/.244 ….0 HR, 3 RBI, 9 K, 4 BB, 3 SB in 10 Games and 41 AB’s (Mark Appel was selected #1 and went unsigned)
    .
    2011: Gerritt Cole…RHP…Indy….3 W, 3 L, 3.67 ERA…..54 IP, 39 H, 39 K, 26 BB, 4 HR…..1.20 WHIP
    .
    2010: Jameson Taillon …RHP … Altoona…3 W, 5 L, 2.91 ERA …..55.2 IP, 53 H, 63 K, 22 BB, 3 HR….1.35 WHIP
    .
    2009: Tony Sanchez…. C ….Indy…. .289/.399/.526 … 5 HR, 22 RBI , 29 K, 16 BB, 0 SB, in 37 games and 114 AB’s
    .
    (Bonus coverage): Stetson Allie continues to impress at West Virginia. His line is .344/.426/.630 … 13 HR, 47 RBI, 62 K, 26 BB, 5 SB in 50 games and 192 AB’s.
    .
    Beat Em’ Bucs !

  12. I know that game.

    When my 20 year old was about 11, he would repeat EVERYthing you said.

  13. There was a Morning Link the other day (thank you JAL) from a Philly paper or blog that said that you can’t blame the Phillies for not keeping Grilli. It listed his stats at the time, his age, and that he was coming off an injury. It also listed 4 or 5 other younger pitchers they were higher on. None of them ever really developed…..except Mike Zagurski.

  14. Mariano Rivera gave up the tying and go ahead runs last night as the Yankees lost to the Mets.

    He also threw out the ceremonial first-pitch.

    So that explains the blown save. He was tired.

  15. With the NHL extending the post season
    to appease the networks, how will the warmer
    weather of June affect the ice at
    Consol Energy Center? And what, if any,
    adjustments are being considered?

  16. Did DK sleep at all last night? His re-inforcing key components of posts happened all night.

  17. JAL’s Stolen Child Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jg-oJKYIinQ

    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: Jeanmar Gomez is the New Kevin Correia.

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05/first-pitch-jeanmar-gomez-is-the-new-kevin-correia.html

    Walker’s Homer Breaks Stalemate, Pirates Beat Tigers 1-0

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05/walkers-homer-breaks-stalemate-pirates-beat-tigers-1-0.html

    Prospect Watch: Oliver and Glasnow Have Big Control Problems; Lots of Power in Indy

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05/prospect-watch-oliver-and-glasnow-have-big-control-problems-lots-of-power-in-indy.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates grind out 1-0 11th inning win thanks to Neil Walker’s homer

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/5/29/4374936/pirates-grind-out-1-0-11th-inning-win-thanks-to-neil-walkers-homer

    Contreras to DL, Morris back

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/5/28/4374374/contreras-to-dl-morris-back

    7 WHYGAVS

    Happy Memorial Day

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

    Game 52: Pirates 1 Tigers 0

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/may-2013/game-52-pirates-1-tigers-0.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Takes All Night, But Bucs Win Behind Pitching & The Kid 1-0

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/05/takes-all-night-but-bucs-win-behind.html

    9 Rumbunter

    Jason Grilli Continues Dominant 2013 Campaign

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/05/29/jason-grilli-continues-dominant-2013-campaign/

    The Amazing Turnaround of My Reliever Vin Mazzaro

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/05/28/the-amazing-turnaround-of-my-reliever-vin-mazzaro/

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 1, Tigers 0

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/05/pirates-1-tigers-0/

  18. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Yahoo Sports

    Is James McDonald’s Career With the Pirates Over?

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/james-mcdonalds-career-pittsburgh-pirates-over-142500018.html

    12 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ Bryan Morris Travels A Lot

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/05/29/pittsburgh-pirates-bryan-morris-travels-a-lot/

    13 City of Champions

    Walking the Plank: Is this finally the Pittsburgh Pirates’ year?

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/05/28/walking-the-plank-is-this-finally-it-for-the-pittsburgh-pirates/

    14 Detroit Free Press

    Pirates 1, Tigers 0 (11 innings): Notes, quotes from Tuesday’s loss

    http://www.freep.com/article/20130529/SPORTS02/305290047/

    15 The Atlantic

    Baseball Doesn’t Need Instant Replay—Just Better-Behaved Umpires

    http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/05/baseball-doesnt-need-instant-replay-just-better-behaved-umpires/276210/

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates Vs Tigers Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130529_DET@PIT/tigerspirates-preview

    17 Sporting News

    Prospect in progress: Stetson Allie’s transformation from starter to slugger

    http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2013-05-28/stetson-allie-pirates-hitter-pitcher-mlb-draft-prospect-watch-ankiel-starter-slu

    18 PBC Site

    Bucs outlast Tigers, score game’s sole run in 11th

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_05_28_pitmlb_detmlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Young Bucs sweep up Minors’ weekly honors

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130528&content_id=48871780&notebook_id=48872012&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The BP Wayback Machine In the Slot

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20743

    20 Fangraphs

    Bullpen Report: May 28, 2013

    http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/bullpen-report-may-28-2013/

  19. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Mike Wallace has no issue with the Steelers

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/5/28/4373742/mike-wallace-comments-pittsburgh-steelers

    Steelers OTAs: Outside linebackers begin sharpening iron for a fierce competition

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/5/28/4373604/pittsburgh-steelers-jason-worilds-linebackers

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey Thinks Outside Zone Will Work Well In Pittsburgh

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/05/steelers-maurkice-pouncey-outside-zone-ota-pittsburgh/

    Soccer(football) Will T

    23 Daily Telegraph

    England v Republic of Ireland: confusion reigns before Roy Hodgson confirms Ashley Cole as England captain

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/england/10085528/England-v-Republic-of-Ireland-confusion-reigns-before-Roy-Hodgson-confirms-Ashley-Cole-as-England-captain.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    Keir Radnedge: FIFA reform process is not all it seems

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/columnists/keir-radnedge-fifa-reform-process-is-not-all-it-seems

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Tomas Vokoun has reduced Marc-Andre Fleury into an afterthought

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/5/28/4373898/tomas-vokoun-has-reduced-marc-andre-fleury-into-an-afterthought

    Boston’s Merlot Line vs. the Pens 4th line

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/5/28/4373024/bostons-merlot-line-vs-the-pens-4th-line

  20. Did it occur to anyone that the NHL was simply waiting for San Jose’s fate before determining their TV schedule? With SJ out, they can plug any of PIT, BOS, LA, CHI or DET into national TV slots, and should find ratings success. If the Sharks had made it, then you’d be seeing a heavy dose of Pens/Bruins on national TV, with the Sharks buried in the 10 pm weeknight slot with football announcers like Kenny Albert working the games.

  21. Hi Guys,

    You have all heard of or about the placebo effect. Some may actually have a dismissive attitude about this effect since conventional medicine usually treats this phenomena as a nuisance. Especially when drug trial results favor the placebo group over the drug. Yet the fact that study participants actually show improvement or are cured simply because they “believe” they are being treated with a drug or procedure is an effect we should not dismiss as some fluke simply because science can’t explain how it works. The phenomena is a real and in fact is even more powerful when the doctors involved in the study “believe” everyone in study is receiving the real treatment or are unaware who is receiving the placebo. When you take a moment or two to think about this effect, and what is going on in a person, that simply believing they are going to get better actually results in getting better, this is an extremely powerful effect that should not be dismissed.
    The story actually has a scientific basis which is being studied, but of course there are many questions. Why do some experience the placebo effect and others in the same study, under the same conditions not believe or get better? This for all intensive purposes is the $64,000 question.
    You may have also heard of epigenetics which in effect says it is not the genes or our DNA that defines genetic expression, but is the environment (anyone interested can google the term or look up The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton/he has a number of You Tube videos).
    What does this have to do with the 2013 Pirates? Listen to their pre and post game interviews, watch their reactions in the dugout during games. Success breeds success and at the moment there is no doubt they believe. I read somewhere a while ago that the difference between professional athletes at this highest level is mostly mental. I don’t discount pure talent and yes for sure some have been gifted with more pure talent than others. Yet belief in your ability, belief in your team mates, and plain and simple believing you will succeed is a very very powerful effect. That can change for sure, and is the other side of the coin if you will, but at the moment there is no reason to doubt this team believes :-)

    DK: Placebo effect.

    • +1

      Rob, if you haven’t already, post your hometown, and Bizrow will add you to the list of Dejan’s Lunatic’s Asylum :)

    • Good post Rob. I disagree that the difference at the highest level is mostly mental. McCutchen has more talent than Alvarez; I do not believe he has a better attitude or is more driven. He’s physically capable of more, with the notable exception of hitting baseballs 500 feet.

    • Maybe something simpler is at play here as well. The Bucs are currently winning a high % of very close games (1 and 2-run decisions). Contrary to popular wisdom, there is a lot of good fortune in determining which team wins close games. Right now, those games are mostly ending as victories for the Bucs, as good fortune has been going our way for the most part. The amazing performance of our bullpen has a lot to do with that, for sure. We are not outscoring our opponents by a wide margin for the record we have compiled. But, the fact is the Bucs are 32-20. That is a very nice thing.

      • Actually, I just read a timely tweet on this subject after writing the above. The Bucs are 22-11 in games decided by 1 or 2 runs. That is what I meant by good fortune. Those games can literally turn on a single play, and way more often than not, they have gone our way this year. 32-20. Enjoy it!

      • I worry about the same thing. Contary to popular belief, good teams don’t win close games; good teams win blowouts.

        That said, they’re tracking pretty close to their Pythagorean projection, so maybe I should be worried at all.

        • Right you are, Sisyphus! The closer the score in a game, the greater the chance the weaker team has of winning. No question about it.

    • Hmmm…I could swear there was a Jose Placebo with the Pirates back in the 70′s. ;)

      • I think Jackie Hernandez beat him out for SS in ’71 and he was never heard from again around these parts.

  22. T-rex on skates? Come on, DK. That’s not even close to accurate. I’m pretty sure he’s got the longest stick in the NHL and you didn’t mention his wingspan. If he reaches out in any one direction, he has half the d-zone covered. If anything, he’s King Kong on skates. That atleast conjures up the images of swatting airplanes out of the sky.

  23. Wow late to the party.. But I bet there are a few teams out there that are going we should have looked a little closer at Grilled cheese. I thought he would be a decent replacement..But WOW

    • Everything Grilli did last year pointed to him being a better pitcher than Joel Hanrahan.

      The only, absolutely only, reason to believe otherwise was the notion that getting three outs in the 9th inning is inherently harder than getting three outs in the 8th inning.

      Otherwise, no reason to be surprised that Grilli is this good.

      Doesn’t mean the stats will stay the same, but this is Jason Grilli. He throws hard, he locates, and he has a plus breaking ball. Pretty good recipe for a reliever.

      • Plus he puts his entire heart and soul into everything he does.

      • I’m with you, NMR. Everything about Grilli told me in the off-season that he was more ready to step up and seize this opportunity than any reliever I can remember.

      • Yes, he acted like the 8th was the 9th last year. He just couldn’t pound on the catcher afterwards.

        • Poor Martin and poor Fort! lol

          • I’m starting to think there is a little known clause in Grilli’s new contract that says the Bucs must not employ a catcher taller than 5’9″. He loves to pound on the chests of our catchers.

  24. CHEESY!!

    Just had to say that this morning!

    :)

  25. Dejan, will you take all your bold key words and draft a column out of them?

    • I can think of some other things he can do with them. ;)

      Just kidding. Not trying to poke the DK. He stated he is not enjoying baseball because of certain snide stuff from other places, so I can feel for him. We don’t need to fuel that fire.

      Still, that’s three 1-0 wins for us lately. Can’t ignore that.

      Ray Searage for president.

  26. Did something happen on the game blog last night? Why all the over-the-top sarcasm from Dejan?

  27. Grilli’s amazing season really makes you realize how out-of-this-world Kimbrel was last season:

    WHIP = .654
    K/9 = 16.7
    K/BB = 8.29

    Incredible numbers for both guys. I think you almost always have to favor starters over relievers when it comes to Cy Young voting though, and most of the voters seem to feel the same.

    DK: Out of this world. Cy Young.

    • Dejan wasn’t being serious about the Cy Young talk.

      I’m guessing he’s waiting for somebody to come by and yell “ITS NOT SUSTAINABLE!”

    • Pitching staffs need to throw 1,400-1,500 innings per year. As great as a closer may be, 60 innings is a very small % of the total. If you told your top starters they only need to give you their best 60 innings, one at a time and never more than 2 days in a row, I think we would be amazed at how good some of them might be.

  28. BTW–Walker homered in the 11th, not the 10th

    • I saw that but I wasn’t about to correct Dejan…not today ;)

      • Good discretion. After last night and this AM, he seems to need his hockey fix. Just a might testy.

        • Yeah I agree…maybe he needs a vacation in Winnipeg…or something…

          • We could all donate to the cause. Pass the hat and send him up there for some curling and R&R with Dali and the kids. That may ease the stress of hockey playoffs.

            • I can get a Starbuck’s gift card and send it!!!

            • I feel bad for him at this point.

              He clearly has let people get to him. It’s painfully obvious he doesn’t enjoy writing about the Pirates right now and it is hurting his work.

              I’m looking forward to getting the good Dejan back.

              • With you on that.

                Key thing to remember for all of us is that he’s human. I know he says some of that junk doesn’t bother him, but it’s like an umpire or a ref. They have to have closed ears and a tough hide, but it has to get to them sometime.

                They aren’t machines, thank heaven.

              • I image it’s hard ignoring a bunch of dorktards dissing you. But hey, if they’re that envious/jealous of him, that’s definitely a compliment.

              • It is. Still hits the heart, though.

              • Absolutely, guys.

                I don’t blame him at all for defending his work.

                It’s just not a good look for him right now. He’s better than this, we’ve all seen it.

              • Amen, NMR

              • “I image it’s hard ignoring a bunch of dorktards dissing you.”

                I think if you’re a columnist, you have to. And I don’t think he needs to defend his work and I don’t think he should. Ignore the criticism and talk about the issues as it relates to sports, IMO.

              • Definitely have to ignore it, 21. We’re just saying, at times it must be more difficult, that’s all.

                That’s why I use my mechanism on here when the trolls post:

                :yawn:

  29. Just wanted to check in to say how much I enjoyed the column, and that this Grilli stuff is not to be taken for granted. Enjoy him while we can. Read last night something amazing on the Twitter- that Grilli struck out about $420 million worth of baseball players in that 11th inning last night. How great is that?!

    Looking forward to tonight’s puck drop. Last nights game was awesome, a stark contrast to the kind of hockey we are used to seeing out here but no less entertaining. Tonight’s game could be even better!

  30. I wonder why the West will play their game before we do?

    If Detriot wins, they’ll play after just one full day rest. Meanwhile, we’ll have a solid eight days off.

    I know I’m sweating the small stuff but still…

  31. I am kind of surprised that MLB teams are not called out for their abuse of the DL. Its amazing to me how guys like John Mcdonald and Jose Contreras end up on the DL after some lousy perfromances. Shocked that the players union doesn’t raise a stink over these so called injuries.

    I believe Contreras might be in line for a new procedure to help cure Cantfindthestrikezone. The FDA hasn’t approved the procedure yet but the first step is admitting you have a problem and the second step is finding yourself unemployeed.

    • McDonald the SS is rehabbing in Indy. 0-4 last night.

      McDonald the pitcher is in Altoona. It’s obscene to mention his line from the other day. I’d have to repent.

    • When a doctor has to sign off on the injury, I’m not sure how it can be challenged. I’m also not sure why the player’s union would care.

      John McDonald has two injuries.

      • They’ve been challenged in the past and the reason the union would care is for things such as incentives that require innings pitched or plate appearances that would be effected by stints on the DL for iffy injuries. Walker slices his hand and it takes a few days before he hits the DL; Contreras walks 4 batters in an inning and suddenly he’s on the DL the next day. All about holding on to the assests is what Hurdle mentioned before.

        • What assets were going to be lost if Contreras wasn’t DL’d?

          Doesn’t make any sense.

          • Contreras was put on the DL to keep the assets. He had a bad outing and put on the DL to help keep him around in hopes he can work through his control issues on a rehab stint.

            You guys really that blind that you can’t see that? LOL

            • TJ. This is simple. Answer my question before slingling ignorant insults.

              WHO ARE THE ASSETS?

              Names, of people, please.

              • Yes master I’ll answer your question; didn’t realize you ran the blog.

                And NMR if you can’t see who the Pirates believe are their assests I’m not going to sit and explain it to you.

              • Settle down, Teddy Bear :)
                NMR asked a legit question :)

        • “Walker slices his hand and it takes a few days before he hits the DL”

          What’s odd about that?

          Contreras is odd but pitchers have gone on the DL before with tired arm. They could have just used that.

          When a player goes on the DL, it also means another player gets to earn a major league paycheck. FYI, neither McDonald or Contreras have any incentives.

          “Contreras walks 4 batters in an inning and suddenly he’s on the DL the next day”

          I think it’s strange that anyone would walk 4 batters in an inning. Could be due to injury.

          • Someone who sticks 12 years in the majors doesn’t usually have control problems. Could be an injury, CL or not.

            • Sorry not going to convince me that Contreras after a 4 walk outing is suddenly injured. He was put on the DL like I stated above; to keep him around and see if he can’t work through his issues during a rehab assignment. Really can’t believe you guys are that gullible.

              • Who’s saying he was suddently injured. Hey, maybe you’re right. Or maybe this back issue has been around.

              • Your right 21 maybe his back injury has been around; which leads me to ask why you’d have such a long leash on a guy with a bad back. Guess any way you cut this for me it smells.

            • As I said TJ, maybe he didn’t tell anyone about his back.

          • Hahaha, excellent point.

            I think TJ is getting his chickens and eggs mixed up.

            Maybe, just maybe, the injury caused the poor performance, not the poor performance caused the injury.

            • I really don’t know. I also believe players keep their injuries to themselves a lot of the time.

            • I don’t think so NMR. I’d like to hear that one explained if we are sending out an injured pitcher in a game that was there to be won. Perhaps he was injured during the outing; but sorry I don’t buy anything this team sells.

              • Still won’t answer the question, will you?

                Thanks for your contribution today! Come back and tell us how we’re all blind and you’re right again soon!

              • Wow NMR you really need to get a sense of humor here. The keeping the assets quote was direct from Clint Hurdle. And if you can’t see a trend of the Pirates putting players on the DL after poor performances in hopes that they can work out their issues on rehab assignments I don’t know what else I can do for you.

                Anything else you want to demand?

              • Yes, TJ.

                The team has done it before WHEN a specific player was in danger of being lost, a la John McDonald (the “asset”).

                If you cannot name the asset in danger of being lost in this Contreras case, then you’re not applying the theory correctly. That’s fine, I could care less.

                But when you ignorantly call myself and others “blind”, you can be damn sure I’m calling you out on it.

              • If you’re humor was just lost in translation, then I can accept that. No big deal.

                It just hits a nerve when people start getting personal.

              • If he was sent out to get straightened out rather than heal, so what? Every team does it in every sport.

            • “And if you can’t see a trend of the Pirates putting players on the DL after poor performances in hopes that they can work out their issues on rehab assignments I don’t know what else I can do for you. ”

              Take a look around the league the past couple of years.

              • I agree 21 and NMR to answer your question as to the asset I’m referring to yes I mean both Mcdonald and Contreras. Hurdle himself said in an interview that Mercer was sent to AAA because he has options and McDonald does not and it was about protecting the assets.

                My translation to that comment was that they viewed McDonald as an asset. And in my opinion they used the DL for Contreras as a way to protect an asset in hopes that during this time he can work through his issues before perhaps releasing him.

                Honesly no offense meant; I know we are all neck high in playoff hockey but that comment about “protecting assets” kind of stuck with me and I’ve been critical of some of the moves that have been made since that comment.

                But as 21 pointed out it could have simply been an injury before hand but that type of comment from Hurdle makes me skeptical.

      • Anyone else want James McDonald to be kept around or am I the only one?

      • Other than potentially incentive situations, yes, why would the Union care? They have more members drawing major league salaries. And Im not aware of any incentives that are being affected by McDonald or Contreras being on the DL.

    • Did you ever consider that trying to play through an ailment could be the cause of a poor performance?

  32. Does anyone know of a Boston Bruins blog or something similar to this one that we can look at? I’m very curious what they’re saying about us.
    I tried both newspapers Boston Globe and Herald but sports stuff seems pretty scattered…..unless I’m just not going to the right spots.
    Thanks!

  33. Btw; how about that Jeanmar Gomez? I mean seriously between him and Locke where would this rotation be right now?

    • Think they could have kept him in a bit longer. Pitch count wasn’t even high for him. Should have let him work the 8th at least until he gave up a hit. Not like his spot was up in the order. It’s either Hurdle saying you can’t play everyone, or he goes out of his way to do just that.

      • Probably right, but wrong order. Iginla has to be at the top of that list. :-)

      • Hurdle is on record as saying that Jeanmar Gomez is only good for 75 pitches.

        Last night he finished with 73.

        I don’t get paid millions to coach a baseball team, but it sure as heck looked like Jeanmar had more than two pitches left in the tank last night.

  34. Has anyone seen TJA lately?

    Check in and let us know you are OK.

    • JinO–who’s your avatar. It looks like Diane Lane. Whoever it is, it beats the Blue Devils.

      • It is indeed the lovely Ms. Lane. One year older than me and as fabulous as ever.

        My avatar in honor of the highly anticipated release of “Man of Steel” coming up on June 14. Diane plays the iconic Martha Kent in the film.

      • Thanks. I have to change mine before Saturday (can’t have a Boston avatar), so food for thought.

  35. If you’re like me, you’re probably getting a bit tired of Stetson-Allie-turnaround-feel-good-stories.

    But JAL’s link #17 is a great find and worth a read. Lot of stuff I hadn’t read before.

    “The time arrived for a serious conversation with the decision-makers in the front office.

    “They asked me what I wanted to do,” Allie remembers. “I said I didn’t want to pitch anymore unless I was going to close. And if they still wanted me to start, then I wanted to hit full time. They were like, ‘We feel like you’re too young to be a closer. Try hitting, and if hitting doesn’t work out, you’ll always have a good arm.’ And I was like, ‘Screw it. Let’s hit. I want to do this. I want to do the everyday thing.’ ”

    Love this kid already.

  36. I don’t know of any general manager that makes better use of the Convenience List than Neal Huntington.

  37. Xavier Paul is posting a .400 OBP in over 100 ABs.

    Xavier Paul is posting a .400 OBP in over 100 ABs?

  38. Remember when this place used to be fun ?

  39. I want to pipe up on the schedule too. Is this just NHL pandering to the west coast? Why so late? Both teams are east coast so you gotta figure that those fans would watch anyway. I will just be so pissed off when the first game goes to 3OT’s and I’m up until 1am watching when it could be midnight instead.

    Note to DK: I have not yet seen your podcast on the subject. My pc at work has no sound so cant even watch it at work if I wanted to… hopefully I can find it on my triblive app on my phone.

  40. Sporting thoughts on a what’s-going-on-in-this-world Wednesday….

    * Jeanmar Gomez with another great start last night. I didn’t see that coming as I thought he was due for a clunker, and the Tigers lineup would provide it, especially in their home ballpark. Turns out it was Jeanmar that did the clunking!

    * Does anyone know if the Pirates made any mechanical changes or anything after he [Jeanmar] was acquired? His ERA while in Cleveland was 5.18 over 206.2IP with a WHIP of 1.51 (3 seasons). In 43.0IP so far with the Pirates, his ERA is 2.30 with a WHIP of 1.07. Obviously small sample size, but the results are much different. I don’t expect these numbers all year, but he’s making a case he can remain in the back of the rotation.

    * I wonder if Jose Contreras is really injured. “Lower back inflammation” is a vague injury, but it would certainly explain the control issues. Being a pitcher and trying to throw through back issues is like being a childhood TV/Movie star that grows up normal…it just isn’t going to happen.

    * Huge blast in the 11th last night from the Pittsburgh kid. It’s always tough offensively when returning from hand injuries. Neil has bounced back nicely though over the last 5 games, raised his average to .259 and has the OPS over .700. If he starts hitting to the gaps more, it could be a real shot in the arm for the Bucco offense.

    * Rumbunter’s article on Vin Mazzaro’s turn around is a good read. Again, anyone know if the Pirates made any changes with Vin after he was acquired? I understand he had success in the A’s minor league system, but it never translated to the bigs, and he wasn’t any better in KC. I guess credit to Vin for working hard, and credit to Ray Searage for working with him.

    * Also enjoyed the article from The Atlantic about “Umpire Behavior”. When an umpire tries to be a part of the game, it irks me to no end. They are not part of the game (well, they ARE, but they aren’t, if you catch my drift). They are there to just call the game as it happens. They should have no influence. To many times, I feel, this is not the case.

    * Is it time to promote Stetson Allie to Altoona? I know he’s only at Low A West Virginia, but his line so far is: .344BA/.426OBP/.630SLG/1.056OPS. Out of his 66H in 192ABs, he has 13HRs, 142Bs & 1 3B (28XBHs/66Hs = 42.4%). He does have 62Ks in those 192 ABs (62/192 = 32.3%) but also 26BBs, leading to that .426OBP. I’m just not sure what would be learned by having him face A+ pitching. The kid’s mashing right now. Let’s see if he can mash in AA.

    * It’s absolutely criminal that the ECF is starting Saturday. It should start tomorrow, as both Boston and Pittsburgh have been ready to go since the weekend. As soon as the west is decided, the CF should kick off. If the Pens/Bruins played tomorrow, you could start the WCF Saturday, and have Game 2 of the ECF Sunday.

    * Enjoyed DK’s column today about Letang v. Chara. I was along that line yesterday, saying the series will come down to Pittsburgh’s stars v. Boston’s stars. Usually in a even series, it’s the role players that make the difference (as the stars “cancel themselves out” so-to-speak), but not this time. If the Pens stars outplay Boston’s, they’ll win, and vicea-versa….

    * I’ll stick by what I said yesterday, and end of the same note as DK: Pens in 7.

    HAVE A GOOD DAY ALL! YOU TOO DK!

    ;-)

    • I really don’t understand why people are complaining about the conference finals not starting until Saturday. This series is going to be played. I promise you.

      • Agreed. Besides; seeing all that ice will make the late June summer days feel cooler.

      • Well, I’m complaining for 2 reasons, and 1 is entirely selfish:

        1) I want to watch CF hockey!

        2) I just don’t understand why there isn’t more urgency. I get that it’s all about time slots and ratings, but there should also be the sense that we need to finish these playoffs before July!

        • Yeah but look at how fired up you’ll be when the finally start.

          You remind of when I used to coach Little League. :-) The kids wanted to practice every day in beween tournaments but I wouldn’t let them mostly because I didn’t think it was the smart thing to do for their health and from overdoing it physically and I also wanted to keep them hungry and not have them get sick of baseball. The parents mostly wanted them to practice everyday, btw.

        • If our stars play like stars and their stars play like stars, we win in 5 or 6. They don’t have nearly as many stars as we have, and the stars they do have do not shine nearly as bright as our stars.

          Boston started this season like a house of fire. Remember when they had a better record than the Pens for awhile? They got a nice late lead against us, as I recall, the first time we played them. Then, we jumped on them for the rest of that game and the 2 subsequent games.

          I’m not saying the Bruins are not a good team, and I’m not saying the Pens should or will take them lightly. I realize anything can happen in playoff hockey. I’m just saying we’re better, and after we got that ugly late loss in Ottawa out of our system, I think the Pens are now shifting into another gear.

    • Id say if Allie continues this play for another month at the most, he should be promoted to Bradenton and not Altoona. Why do you feel he should skip Bradenton.

      • B/c I’m not sure what more you’ll learn by seeing him in Bradenton vs. WV. I think the level of pitching between Low A WV and High A Bradenton is marginal.

        I want to see how he does with better pitching.

        If he struggles, it’s not like you can’t move him back down to Bradenton to readjust. I also don’t think this would kill the kid’s confidence, as he’s already had to deal with a ton of expectation and adversity so far.

        If that were to happen (struggle at Altoona so have to be moved down), I think he’d see it as another step in the process.

        I like the mental makeup of Stetson, and think that could carry him through our system just as much as his hitting talent.

        • In my opinion, someone who has only been at the plate for a few months should be taken as slow as possible.

          • Well, he’s only been at the plate for a few months…

            as a professional.

            He hit all throughout his amateur career, and would’ve been drafted as a 3rd baseman (albeit not a 2nd rounder, but probably top 10 rounds), but the Bucs took a flier on his big arm in the 2nd round.

            I think the kid can hit, and he’s showing it. I think it’s time for a new challenge.

        • It’s an interesting question, but I side with not skipping High A due to the amount of developmental time he missed while pitching. I would like him to get to High A very soon, though, to see if he can progress quickly from there.

      • Because his strikeout rate tells me that AA pitchers will eat him alive.

        • You may be correct.

          But…

          Does that mean you don’t think he can make it to the big leagues, or that more time in A/A+ will lead to him cutting down on the Ks?

    • Jeanmar is exactly the same pitcher he was when the team acquired him.

      The only difference between now and with the Indians is that he’s getting more groundballs and his infielders are catching them.

      • Yes, but why is he getting more ground balls? Did he learn a new pitch? Different grip on an existing pitch? Different release point? etc.

        I’m not saying you’ll have this info NMR, and it may not even be any of this (it could be as simple as you say, guys are just hitting it on the ground more).

        It’s just when you make a point like that, it just raised a whole bunch more questions in my head!

        • Nate, you can never, ever ask me too many baseball questions.

          If I had to take a guess, I would say better pitch selection is to blame for his improvement.

          He’s always relied on his sinker to get groundballs. According to PITCHf/x, he’s throwing it 10% more often than at any point in his career. This probably accounts for the 5% increase over his highest groundball rate. His second highest season for both categories (2011) also hapened to be his best as a major leaguer (4.47 ERA in 57 IP).

          Certainly not a scientific study, but decent enough correlation for me.

          Same carpenter, just using different tools.

          • Well then I have to give credit to all involved here. I’d say to Ray Searage and Russell Martin, for gameplanning and calling the pitch selection. And to Jeanmar for his execution so far this season.

            I’d like to think though that his turn around is strictly from me removing his smiling face as my avatar and going back to the BMTIB one.

            It’s been night and day since I made the switch! *smashes wood as hard as I can*

          • Great analysis. I would add that he must also be locating the pitches better as well. Probably a bunch of things added together, sprinkled in with a little bit of good fortune.

        • The Tiger announcers last night said it was because of his fastball control. He changed his delivery slightly to a little more over the top. I believe that is what I heard them say. I was working and watching at the same time. They would know they saw him pitch while in Cleveland.

          I heard the same thing said about Liriano and his delivery, but I also have heard his control isn’t sustainable because his legs are all over the place at the end of his pitch. I hope that is wrong. He would be a great 3rd or 4th pitcher if he can keep it up.

    • Nate this isn’t an attack directed at you.

      But one of my pet peeves is how fast people want to move prospects through the system.
      Why can’t guys just play…and not worry so much about the level. Learn the game, get at-bats, develop pitches, etc…

      Stetson Aille is 50 games into a position change. A bit one. I think he should stay there until the very end of the season, then maybe move him up for a couple of weeks.

      I think a player should only move up fast if it is a clear case of man-against-boys.

      • My reason is simple (as I can’t really speak for others)…

        I want them in Pittsburgh as quickly as possible, contributing for the big club.

        • Good reason.

          I just think too many players are rushed through the minors-throughout baseball- and sometimes (maybe a lot of times) putting the brakes on is not a bad thing.

          • Defo.

            And, as you stated above, it may be beneficial to leave him in West Virginia (or maybe the slight callup to Bradenton) to work on his play at 1B.

            That’s a whole new position for the kid. Nothing wrong with getting seasoning in the minors.

            But he’s also 22 now. The clock is ticking.

            With the way he’s been hitting so far this year, I just think his bat needs a new challenge.

          • I side with Thunder. He missed a lot of developmental time. Missing more now could be disastrous.

      • Could always wait till they are 27 like Mercer will be by the time he becomes a possible regular

        • That’s my thing TJ. Allie is 22 and in Low A. As the article from JAL’s links says, that’s old for that level. Now, I understand why he’s there (as he’s changing from a pitcher to a position player), but, he’s also 22.

          If he’s a legit MLB player, he should be up by 24 (25 at latest), otherwise, I’m afraid, he’s destined for AAAA status.

          • Why worry about an arbitrary age deadline for a player with such a unique history?

            Makes no sense to me to rush a kid because of age. When has any team ever done that?

            • Yeah, maybe his biological clock got stopped at 20 due to inactivity, which could mean it would be normal for him to get to the big club at 26. That usually means you won’t be a star, but for a guy like him it might be totally normal now. He does need to cut down on the K’s, though, or he won’t continue to progress.

              DK: Maybe his biological clock got stopped.

      • At the moment, we look to be buyers at the trade deadline. Let’s not ruin his solid prospect status by promoting him before it is too soon.

  41. Mariano Rivera has something to say about Grilli being the best 36 y/o reliever of all time.
    List of relief pitchers (0 GS 1871-2013) ages 35-37 sorted by WAR:
    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=rel&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2013&month=0&season1=1871&ind=1&team=0&rost=0&age=35,37&filter=&players=0

    • There is no article with that link.

    • I think what jAKE is showing with that link is that Mo’s name appears several times in the top 30 (I think that’s how many were listed on that 1st page) and Jason Grilli’s is none to be found. Although, we’ll see if Jason can get on that list after this season!

  42. Grilli is on steriods. His agent was a user and his numbers have magically gotten better.

  43. -Hats off to Jeanmar Gomez for last night’s efforts. He has done well as the #5 starter and if he continues to impress, will make the upcoming decisions on the rotation difficult. -Good problems to have.

    -Rick Porcello really pitched well also. His stuff was amazing. Curious about his stats and why such a high ERA, it seems he had one bad outing (AJ type) and gave up 9 runs. I think I saw one other outing where he gave up 5, but other than that he seems to have been doing pretty well. All the grief everybody was giving about him yesterday was rather unwarranted and I would love to have him in the Pirates rotation. Last night was probably the first time I’ve seen him pitch, outside of MLB Network or Baseball Tonight programming. What a curveball.

    -Jason Grilli did a remarkable job last night, striking out Cabrera and Fielder.

    -I give a lot of the credit to the pitching coach and catcher. The last 2 games possibily the best 3/4 combo in baseball was shut down. Excellant homework done by all. Detriot has a very potent lineup and probably better than most NL lineups the Pirates will face. Hats off to those guys.

  44. How ’bout this: Gomez’ 7 innings pitched v. the Tigers and not one of those guys reached second base. Not one Tiger hitter reached second.

    BUT:

    All of the pitchers are due for a regression, especially Grilli. DK, and Grilli’s Hall of Fame stats so far, say so.

    • Agree, 21 for 21 in saves so far, well, he’ll blow some sooner or later

      WIth others though, sometimes the lightbulb goes on, maybe Gomez and Locke are lighting up?

      Just sayin

      • Exactly. Both Jeanmar and Locke are still young. There will be some dropoff in their #’s, but let’s not excuse the possibility that they are still improving at 25 or so.

    • Dejan’s stats are flawed because he failed to differentiate Grilli as a starter and a reliever.

      To use one of his own favorite lines, you won’t find five guys in baseball who would combine a pitchers performance as both a starter and reliever when projecting what he may do in the future. Apples and oranges.

      DK: Apples and oranges.

      Starting/relieving comes with some difference in measurements, especially in K rate. You’ll find that the overall numbers otherwise pretty fairly balance out.

      • Interesting…

        How about the Tigers only getting two runners to reach 2nd base in 11 innings? And Jeanmar not allowing a runner past first…??? Incredible performance.

      • WOW. NMR got Dejan to say more than just mimicking what was posted. Good job, NMR!

      • I still disagree, Dejan.

        Grilli, as well as most relievers, has only two pitches. This limits the ability to role a lineup over multiple times without hitters adjusting.

        Isn’t it fairly common knowledge that pitchers usually begin as starters and are converted to relievers when they can’t cut it?

        How would it make sense that their numbers, outside of strikeouts, “balance out”?

  45. Interesting stats to chew on today.

    The Pirates record versus teams currently in a playoff position: 10-6

    vs Reds 3-0
    vs Cardinals 3-2
    vs Braves 3-1
    vs Dbacks 2-1
    vs Tigers 1-1

    At this point a year ago the Bucs were: 26-26 (team is six game ahead of last year)

    Date in which the Bucs won their 32nd game in 2011: June 14th

  46. Bizrow, a couple newbies on the blog today. One from Washington, PA and one from Frederick, MD, who lived in Monroeville for some time. See above.
    (Just doin my second job) ;)

  47. NHL – One Game 7 down, one to go.
    My bete noir, LAK are still alive.

    And that was quite a display of goaltending by J. Quick last night. Worrisome.

    We’ll see what Hawks Wings brings tonight…..

  48. From the Pen’s morning skate:
    PRACTICE DEETS
    Kunitz was the only player missing from the Pens practice. Iginla took Kunitz’s spot on the power play, along with Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Neal.

    Update: The Pens scrimmaged, but the combos and D-pairings were all over the place. A lot of experimentation and different players working together.

  49. Question: if DK says it, that means the opposite will happen, right?

    Just want to figure out which of the opposites we need to happen: the unsustainable numbers or the hall of fame thing… whew, that’s a lot for my noggin today.

  50. JRay3, NMR, JoeyBats, Naterosboro, JAL, just to name a few…you guys are all good with posting the numbers/stats thing. While stats aren’t everything, they are a part of the total picture. Just wanted to thank you guys for helping an ol’ lady follow the Buccos :)

    • Well thanks for the kinds words, you are most welcome and glad it aids in your fandom of the Buccos.

      I enjoy the numbers, statistics part of the game, it makes for maybe the most scrutinized over analyzed sport out there.

    • Stats certainly aren’t everything, but, in baseball, they mean a lot.

      Before it used to be the “eyes” vs. “numbers”.

      Now it’s turning into “old numbers (W/Ls (for pitcher) ERA, Ks, BBs, BA, OBP, etc.)” vs. “new numbers (or sabermetrics (your WARs (what is it good for?!) xFIP, UZR, etc.)).

      I find sabermetrics to be interesting and maybe provide a little more insight, but most of that stuff goes way over my head. In those cases, I usually just revert back to the “eyes”.

      Thanks for the shoutout Jandy. As always, love the discussion with YOU PEOPLE…

    • Baseball is the most humbling game in the world, Jandy.

      I’ve always been cursed with the urge to try and figure out meaning and logic in a game that often times happens randomly.

      I’ve also long since realized that I’m an engineer, meaning I’m not employed by Major League baseball. This tells me that my eyes probably are not the best judge of what happens in the field of play.

      Thus, stats are my way of trying to explain the unexplainable knowing full well I’ll never succeed.

      • But it’s fun to keep on trying to figure it out, isn’t it, NMR? keeps you on your toes…engineer or project manager…we’ll leave Architect outta this ;X

      • I agree with you, NMR and I know all that stuff is necessary.

        I guess I’m just a purist in some sense. I liked pizza before they put cheese inside the crust and fruit on it.

        Keeps me wondering how guys like Ruth, Gehrig, Clemente, Stargell, Brooks Robinson, Maz, Feller, Bob Gibson and many others would have benefitted by all these metrics, etc.

        All they ever did was hit, throw, field and pitch with heart and determination and use and develop the talent God gave them.

        (God Bless America and the theme from The Natural playing in the background)

        • Nothing wrong with that Lucky.

          And if every ballplayer was a Ruth or Gehrig, I’d have no need for statistics either.

          To me, its the other 99% that makes it “interesting”. You know the Pirate player I research the least, by far? Andrew McCutchen. He’s good. Damn good. Even my eyes can tell me that.

          • Agree on Cutch. No reason to look. Excellent point.

          • I’m glad you said that, NMR. I was on here on Mem Day night during and after the 1st game with Detroit. All I kept reading was that Cutch has lost it, he isn’t driving in enough runs, he’ll never be the same, he’s overrated, he stopped playing when he got paid. It was nauseating. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. Cutch is darn good, and getting better. Taking too bad games and projecting that out as though it is the new Cutch is silly.

        • “Keeps me wondering how guys like Ruth, Gehrig, Clemente, Stargell, Brooks Robinson, Maz, Feller, Bob Gibson and many others would have benefitted by all these metrics, etc.”

          I don’t think it’s a question of players benefitting from the metrics so much as it is the guys who have to decide who to draft, sign, trade, extend, etc.

          • That’s what I meant. Would they have been drafted, signed, etc. in this day and age?

            • Oh sure, I would think so. But as to contracts, I think the advanced stats could help with for how long and for how much. But mostly, based on my understanding of what Billy Beane tries to do, he tries to find value in players that nobody else really sees. Your Scott Hatteberg’s, Brandon Moss’, etc. I never really thought there was a whole lot of use for the studs.

              • Your reply illustrates how little sabremetrics have actually changed the game.

                Anybody with cursory knowledge of the rate at which players regress with age would never in a million years authorize 90% of the big money contracts handed out to veterans.

                Mangers still bunt without regard to the anticipated runs lost over time.

                Closers are still used in low leverage situations while middle relievers are called upon for important outs.

                Sabremetrics have barely caused a blip on the trajectory of the game as a whole, yet people act like they’re ruining the game.

              • Gotcha. I saw the movie. Never read the book.

              • What I always thought was interesting was that the Red Sox hired Bill James and still spent the second most over the past 10 years.

              • And Billy Beane does that because he, himself, was a stud athlete who was a top pick and kept getting pushed through the system w/o being a very good player. He could never understand why. He said he looked at Dykstra and saw a ballplayer, but no one in the Mets organization wanted to ever promote Dykstra because he didn’t look the part like Billy Beane.

                Of course, Dykstra has since pretty much ruined his life, but that’s another story.

        • NO FRUIT ON PIZZA!!!!!!!!!! EVER!!

  51. Another lively morning on the reliably lively blog. My contributions:

    1) For all the things to gripe about the Pirates FO, putting players on the Disabled List, or Convenience List, really isn’t in the top 1000 is it??? If indeed the Bucs are putting non-injured players on the DL, for competitive reasons, then GOOD! It’s about time they did what every other team does. And Tiger Woods twittered he is in support also. Geeze.

    2) Fact. Grilli’s performance this season is remarkable. On par with the game’s best, when they’ve been their best. Like 2012′s Craig Kimbrel. Probably mid-90s Eric Gagne. Certainly any season in the past 12 of Mariano Rivera. FactII. This many games in, the increased performance is definitely due to something Jason has done coming into this season… mechanics, approach, etc. That said, I think we all agree he as incredibly good as a set-up man the last 2 years also. It isn’t like he has gone from being Chris Resop to this season’s Jason Grilli. No offense to Resop. FactIII. He can’t keep up this pace, so the Bucs better be prepared to do what they need to do to live with a very good, but not out of this planetary dimension, closer.

    3) To praise or not to praise. JRay is right, NH can enjoy that players he picked up have made good contributions this season. There are certainly any number of examples of pickups that have not contributed that we certainly do not attempt to show constraint in our complaint. C’est la vie, else it turns into another episode of Front Office Apologists vs. The Mob. I guess I don’t understand why we pay such attention to things like “Wow, how can that team(s) have given up/traded/released/not drafted “Player A”"… sometimes players blossom in new environments, could be the way they are used, could be the lineup surrounding them, could be the ballpark effect, sometimes its AL vs NL, could be just a fluke, but is it productive to bash or celebrate either end of that equation? Bucs trade away Bautista, he becomes 21st century Hank Aaron, Pirates FO sucks big-time. Phils don’t sign Grilli, Bucs take a flier, he becomes Cy Young closer, Phils FO sucks big-time. I may be naive but I don’t see it that way. Stuff happens. Pirates gave Joey Bats lots and lots and lots of chances and he didn’t bloom. Now he has. Good for him. Grilli is on fire (fondue?).. good for him. I don’t see a need to probe deeper…but for those that do, give out the praise equal to the criticism and vice versa.

    DK: Approach.

    • I pretty much agree with what you said. But I do think they whiffed on Bautista and am not willing to give them a pass. I will give them inexperience as an excuse, but not a pass. To be fair, I think Philly whiffed on Grilli. No pass there, either.

      • It seems like almost every team has their share of whiffs, with the exception of St Louis. Or so it seems anyways.

      • The only thing that bothers me about the JoeyBats trade was it was due to a personality clash between the FO and him (If I remember correctly).

        That type of decision cannot happen at that level

      • So, Arriba, to paraphrase DK from earlier… did the Pirates trade THIS Jose Bautista? And yes, the FO and the player had a personality clash, but the on-the-field performance at the time was such that we weren’t trading away an all-star. Nothing close to the trade of Justin Upton from AZ.

        • They traded away a guy who led the major leagues in homers. Forget DK, how do you justify that?!

          • Traded for NOTHING I might add. This ain’t rocket science,

            • My point, and DK’s point, is that hindsight is 20/20. Jose Bautista did not hit 50 HRs as a PIRATE and then was traded away. His “other worldly” stats (still waiting for his regression to his mean) came AFTER the Pirates traded him away. And Grilli’s 21 for 21 saves as a closer with unreal K/BB stats came AFTER the Phils let him go to be signed by the Bucs. And yes, none of this is rocket science…

              • Not sure why DK is the fulcrum in this debate. I don’t base my opinions on what DK writes. I think the Bucs messed up on Bautista and the Phillys messed up on Grilli. Any response?

      • Pirates weren’t the only ones to whiff on that either though.

      • They got nothing for a guy (Bautista) that had value. He was a decent player as a Pirate. Certainly not the star he would become, and I don’t blame them for not seeing that. Even Bautista doesn’t blame them for that. He knows what happened for him was totally unpredictable. But, they got a nothing catcher for him who was dumped very quickly. Some moves are the front office’s fault, and that one was. But, as I have said, NH is doing pretty well now IMO. I know some don’t like to hear that, but I try to see each situation for what it is worth.

        • Thats fair, NH has done well so far this season

          My name is Biz and I’m a Pirates fan, I’ll take his success, thank you very much ;-)

    • Dejan, is approach in direct opposite of reproach????

  52. I’m with 21 here.

    Don’t understand the issue of the conference schedules at all. I like sports on TV. I like being able to watch sports on TV. I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to make money-whether it be the corporate monolithic networks or the players who financially benefit from the association with said networks.

    Networks provide the service of showing the games to me in bumf*** Wisconsin which I enjoy immensely. If the league and networks want to schedule their games in a manner that financially benefits all involved, then God bless, and thanks for bringing me the games.

    My name is John and I am a capitalist.

  53. Are the conference finals actually on the big boy station of NBC or are they relegated to OWN or Spike?

  54. From Yahoo’s Puckdaddy blog, story about Kris Letang remembering his best friend, Luc Bourdon (who was killed in 2008 in a motorcycle accident):

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/kris-letang-remembers-best-friend-luc-bourdon-5-161121812.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  55. I would like to congratulate the Pirates on their 2nd excellent use of the Convenience List this season.

    JAL doesn’t believe in the Convenience List, huh? I can’t believe he never picked up on our discussions about it from last year.

    JAL, I’ve got an oceanfront house in Morgantown I would like to sell you. And I totally believe you that no doctor would ever sign off on a phantom injury either. I also believe all those doctors on late night TV: they are going to help my sex life. As a famous American once said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice . . . . . . and you won’t get fooled again!”

    • I think the first time I heard the “fool me once . . .” thing was during the first StarTrek series run. I think Scotty (William Doohan) said it.

    • Scene in PBC clubhouse after Contreras’ last outing

      NH – That was a pretty crappy outing Jose, is your arm hurt??

      JC – No, I just had no control tonight.

      NH – Well it sure looked like your arm was hurting, is it?

      JC – No, I feel fine

      NH takes two by four and thwacks his right arm ala Jandy

      NH- how about now?

      JC – um, yes

      NH – I can always tell, tell you what, we’ll put you on the 15 day DL

      JC – k

      • LOL I use my size 9 wides, Biz!

      • I know you’re kidding around but a number of people are implying that the Buccos are placing guys on the DL that shouldn’t be there. Is there any truth to this? I’ll ask DK in his chat tomorrow.

        • Dom, do you hang out much with JAL?

          • To be fair, I think the Convenience List jabs are thrown around without much accuracy. More of a joke than anything.

            I remember people saying that Charlie Morton was CL’d last year. Then he got a new ligament in his elbow. Oops.

          • I agree with JAL. I don’t really feel like injuries are maufactured. but rather I could see players trying to play through things and when they’re stinking up the joint, management decides it time for some extended healing. Maybe they’re conveniently put on the DL but not fraudulently, IMO.

            • You can’t disprove a person has discomfort somewhere, even if tests are negative

              Its like migranes, just gotta take the persons word for it.

              • Migranes aren’t like muscle inflammation or ligament damage or sprains at all. A lot of the time, doctors can feel those easily. Or even see them. Obviously unlike migranes.

            • I doubt they’re totally manufactured also. But the idea that you couldn’t get a doctor on the payroll to sign off on a borderline injury is bunk. The Workers Comp system would save lots of money if there was only one ” medical” conclusion. No need for any hearings.

              • On a borderline injury, I agree. My overall point has been that an organization and a player are probably not conspiring to make something up out of thin air just as a player is struggling.

              • You call Uncle Junior’s doctor from Soprano’s. His office was always available for clandestine meetings.

              • My comment was directed at JAL. But there is lots of evidence that the Bucs are, at the very least, taking advantage of the DL when necessary. I don’t know how anyone can argue differently. Too many ” coincidences.”

              • + 1 on the coincidence thoughts

        • Do owners have a convenience list? Perhaps that’s how we got the SEAL…

      • Thought he went on the DL for his back……….interesting conversation.

    • I still always see Craigslist with the CL remark……some of these guys might need to go on craigslist.

    • HAHA Torts is a dorktard

    • really? surprised? After he said after gm7, “we just were not ready”? After all his tantrums and bs? meh.. I thought it was expected. On the other hand, if the penguins had lost to the isles and Shero had fired bylsma, that woulda been a surprise. Also think it would be a surprise if the Sharks fired McClelland after failing again to make cup finals.

      • He sure wore thin didn’t he?
        Not just on us, but I am certain on his players….

        • I’ve heard his players LOVE how he bashes the media.

          But yes, if he’s just halfway like that with the players, I’ll bet it does wear thin.

          Keenan was like that – wearing out players over time. Both guys can coach. Both guys seem to wear out their welcome at some point.

  56. Last 5 teams remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs are the last 5 Stanley Cup winners. If Chicago wins tonight, it will be the last 4 of 4 teams. Therefore, atleast one of those 5 will have one 2 cups within 5 years. Not sure if this is significant or not.. Just saying.

  57. Great stat courtesy of MLB Stat of the Day:

    Neil Walker is first Pirates player to break 0-0 tie in 11th inning or later since Ed Ott on April 26, 1978.

  58. Wow, almost 480 posts so far today, on a slow day news wise at that..

  59. Game thread is up

  60. I would not be surprised to see Ruff or Vigneault end up in New York.

  61. Up here, Everybody!

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