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Morning Java: Bit of a break

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …


>> The Friday column wraps up a rather spirited three-day minicamp by listing three reasons — three athletes, actually — I feel will make the Steelers’ No. 1-ranked defense even better.

Very much look forward to your feedback on this, as well as answers to the following question: Would you start Jarvis Jones right away over Jason Worilds?

>> It was good to see Charlie Morton back on the mound. Big-league players make big money, and Morton’s making $2 million this season, so no one will shed a tear. But that doesn’t change that these Tommy John guys face all kinds of challenges in returning, a lot of them mental.

Besides, I thought he did OK. A little wild, and the Giants had a couple softies, and the velocity wasn’t all there. He can do better.

A handful of other random thoughts from the ballpark: Matt Cain is wonderful to watch. Almost every time. Just a seek-and-destroy mission waiting to happen. … The play in which Pedro Alvarez interfered with the runner was the right call but unfortunate in that Alvarez clearly intended no such thing. The runner being out of the baseline is immaterial if the ump judges that he was out because the fielder forced him to be out. … Mike Zagurski has no business ever putting on a Pittsburgh uniform again. … Starling Marte’s twice had problems in the torso area. If the Pirates’ medical people feel there’s even a chance the incidents are related, he should be shut down immediately. … Michael McKenry can’t throw out a runner to save his life, but don’t look for Tony Sanchez to come up soon. Baseball people who have seen Sanchez in the past week say he’s had a lapse — one would hope it’s temporary — into a case of throwing yips, even getting the ball back to the pitcher. I love the kid and what he’s done at the plate, but he needs to be all together before a promotion.

Unrelated, but here’s a video of Class A hitting prospect Josh Bell that accompanies our report from Charleston, W.Va., by Karen Price

>> Evgeni Malkin will skate forever for the Penguins. Or at least the next eight years.

This is so right for both parties that it’s hard to even form an opinion on this. But I will share one thought: Never take for granted that both Malkin and Sidney Crosby could be making much, much more if not for a) a commitment to this one franchise and b) an understanding that, to win another Cup, money has to be free for elite teammates.

I know this was a massively disappointing playoff, but don’t lose sight of that.

Here’s some of what Ray Shero had to say about the extension …

Also, and don’t miss this, our Rob Rossi expertly breaks down the Malkin signing timeline.

>> The weekly chat covered a whole lot of stuff, Steelers, Penguins and Pirates.

>> I’m taking some time off, as part of time owed from the Stanley Cup playoff run. That was supposed to happen this week, but I didn’t want to miss covering Gerrit Cole’s debut or the Steelers’ minicamp, which not coincidentally were the past two column topics. Next week, the Pirates are on the road, and there’s nothing else happening locally.

The columns and the blog and everything will be back June 24, or 10 days from now.

In the interim, I’ll keep putting up game threads and daily Vacation Java posts so that this place can remain … whatever it is. I’ll also be doing my level best to otherwise shut down. Today, it’s Kennywood with the family. Tomorrow, it’s Riverhounds with the family. Sunday, it’ll be something else with the family.

Be good, and thank you so, so much for being part of our little world here.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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


  1. DK,

    Thank you for letting us be a part of your little world. The interaction on this blog with both yourself and the other folks that post here is like no other blog I’ve been on. The discussions get heated sometimes, but we all find a way to get along which can’t be said of other places like this. Enjoy that vacation, it is well-deserved.

    DK: I’m only a bold-facing squatter here, Jason, but thanks.

  2. What an absolute turd the Pirates dropped last night. The only good thing for me, personally, was that the tickets were free and the view from Sec 125 was nice.

    A few observations:

    Morton wasn’t bad, considering he’s still coming off Tommy John. Hopefully, the control improves and he gets some better defense behind him.

    Speaking of defense, absolutely atrocious! Errors, plus a couple of infield hits for the Giants because of poor execution.

    That call against Pedro really was the point of no return. I guess, technically, the right call but how often do you see that called? I think that was really Crawford doing a good job of making contact there.

    Zagurski has got to go and not soon enough! Surely, there has to be someone at Indy that can do a better job of filling in some mop up innings.

    The Fort has really become The Fart, but I guess we’re stuck with him until Tony Sanchez is ready. Seeing Dejan’s commentary above, sure hope the guy doesn’t become another Saltalamacchia. Seems to be doing well with the bat though.

    My real bone to pick: Bochy making two pitching changes in the bottom of the 7th with a 9-0 lead! Really Bochy? Were you that hard up for a win? REALLY?!?!? I doubt even Tony LaRussa would have done that!

    Oh well, can’t win them all. Just not much fun to be at one that wasn’t competitive.

    Have fun on your break Dejan.

    DK: Made it into the same post as the word ‘fart.’ That’s something, right?

  3. Sounds like a great Father’s Day Weekend. Have fun.

    Thanks so much for providing this forum.

    DK: I have a feeling you’re about to see how very little I have to do with this over the next few days.

  4. DK

    I echo what Jason said. This blog is an amazing place. It draws me in more each day. Thank you for spawning it and for continuing to feed it as it grows into…whatever can cause Pittsburgh’s sports fans to write over 1,200 comments in a day. (I don’t know the record, but that number blew my mind the other day). Thank you and enjoy your down time. Well earned!

    DK: Our comments and, as noted earlier this week, the unique visitors is constantly climbing, which is very much a credit to the community. I don’t know if I can recall that many comments here in one day, but perhaps others might.

    Here’s another neat number: On a daily basis, 21 percent of all visitors to the blog — again, that’s visitors, not necessarily commenters — are completely new.

    Looking forward to building that even more in the heart of the Pirates’ season, then to Latrobe and beyond.

  5. What happened to Marte?

  6. DK,

    Enjoy your time away. Happy Father’s Day. By the way, you are right. The Mike Zagurski Experiment (or Experience)…Epic Fail!!!!!!!!!!

    DK: I have a feeling he’ll get his just desserts soon.

    (Man, I can’t stop with those.)

  7. * Dejan, enjoy the break.

    * Morton was just OK, got no run support, and then…. well, Jimmy Anderson happened or as we call it in 2013, The Mike Zagurski Experiment.

    * I realize Malkin left money on the table but it would have been nice if he could have had the same cap hit as Crosby.

    * I’ve looked at the salary implications of signing Letang to a long-term deal at $7 million, it can’t happen unless they really go young on defense by not keeping Orpik or Martin after their respective deals expire or have wingers in the $3-4 million range like Kunitz or Dupuis.

    * No one is talking about it but Sutter’s $2+ million salary might be just a bit much to pay for a third line center that couldn’t do much of anything beyond the center ice line in the playoffs. I suspect after this upcoming season, that could turn into $3-5 million, again, money this team can’t spend with or without Letang getting paid.

    * This where the lack of a strong draft and player development system hurts the Penguins as it is all lopsided in terms of prospects on the defensive side of the ice and no real talent at forward or even goaltender to step into roles for Dupuis, Kunitz, Cooke, Sutter, and Kennedy.

    • Eric, your last point is gospel.
      Spot on.

    • If the pens trade Letang and keep PM its all over…we’d be a fringe playoff team next 2 seasons. And considering that next season will be 82 games I’d consider fielding offers for kunitz and orpik. Its pains me to say it but for the sake of team depth next season and following season it might be time to sell high when it comes to kunitz and perhaps even orpik. Considering the wear and tear on those 2 and how kunitz wore out in the playoffs it might be too much to expect to have them get thru the season healthy and be effective in the playoffs.

      My 1st preference for now though is to trade PM for cap purposes while his value is sky high then see whats what after you give letang an extension. Trading letang when you can have his services for 3.5M next would like taking out your own knee caps.

      Reading Rossi’s column he indicates that the pens coaches thought PM was there best dman…well that explains quite a bit including our playoff collapses last few seasons so maybe we’re doomed regardless what shero does…but here’s hoping they’re commencing operation pump n dump on PM. No offense to PM but keeping PM and trading Letang would be organizational suicide for next few seasons. But what do I know? :)

    • Sutter was such a disappointment. It makes you wonder what would’ve happened if Shero truly went for broke and allowed Jordan Staal to stay here and play out the last year of his contract. Would Staal instead of Sutter have been enough for the Pens to get past the Bruins and win the Cup? I think it’s quite possible. His defense and timely goals and responsible, lead-by-example style of play certainly could have flipped those last two Bruins games.

      I think Sutter will continue to get better so I’m optimistic about his future. But the way this played out almost makes me want to keep Letang and allow him to play out his last season. It’s not the end of the world if a guy leaves as a free agent. Especially if you win the Cup by keeping him for that last season

      To your last point, I disagree. Defensemen are way more valuable than forwards, so if Shero wants young impact forwards all he has to do is flip some of his young D men in trades. Drafting a ton of defensemen is a great strategy and I hope the team keeps it up.

  8. Thanks for keeping us informed and entertained. Enjoy your Father’s Day weekend. Save some potatoe patch fries, I’ll be there Saturday.

  9. DK……….

    Just wanted to thank You for providing wildlife such as myself the opportunity to come and squat here on a consistent basis.

    Your interaction with the posters is great, and you provide insight, and provide links to others’ insight that is much appreciated.

    Hope you have fun with the family, they must be saints to deal with your insane schedule. Just like you are a saint for dealing with us. ;)

    Enjoy yourself. The blog is in good hands. Cant promise you we will have everything cleaned up before you get back. ;)

  10. Random thoughts from a Hippo that was awakened by the storm…………

    I didnt get a chance to comment on the Shero/Bylsma stuff the past few days. Lets just say I am disappointed Bylsma was retained. I know he gets lots of regular season wins. I understand he won a Cup. I understand LeMieux loves him.
    But the man has insane difficulty adjusting his gameplan. He has been drowned out in the locker room. I think that Lindy Ruff, or Dave Tippett would have been a very good choice to succeed him with a more defensive style of play.
    But that is water under the bridge, or Pond.

    The Bucs laid a huge egg last night, but those things happen. They have exceeded expectations so far this year. But with all the injuries, man things are looking rough. We will see what type of depth they have the next few weeks. If they dont have depth, will they be able to mentally deal with it? That hasnt happened the past few years.

    Glad to have Malkin back for 8 years.
    Now, Shero has to decide who to keep, and who to trade.
    I am flabbergasted he said Fleury was staying. I just cant see a scenario that will work for him. Great guy, but mentally toast.

    Finally, would I start Jones over Worilds? It is tough to start a rookie in the NFL, especially in a Dick LeBeau defense. But, Worilds hasnt shown much, so I say if Jones shows he is ready, then start him.

    Just some random ramblings from the Pond this morning. :D

  11. IF Jarvis Jones does better than Jason Worilds in spring training and the preseason then I would start him. Simple, give it to the person who shows they earned it. If it becomes to much for him during the season then replace him when it’s called for.
    Would be a great learning experience and give him a head start in learning what he needs to do long term to stay as the starter. Spot starting a young player can take longer if you only give him starts to pass rush. Other then rushing the QB he is not learning anything and still needs to learn the other aspects of the position.
    Arguements can be made in either way, this is just my prefered method.

  12. JAL’s Shake It Up Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    5 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    6—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: The Pirates Have Had Some Amazing Starting Pitching Depth

    Pirates Allow Season-High 17 Hits, Collect Only Three in Morton’s Debut

    Prospect Watch: Tony Sanchez and Alen Hanson Each Homer

    Pirates Notebook: Charlie Morton Makes 2013 Debut… Now What?

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton’s starts not as different as they seem

    Charlie Morton returns, but Pirates lose 10-0


    Game 66: Giants 10 Pirates 0

    9 The Green Weenie

    Pirates Sunk 10-0 By Giants

    10 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Rumors: Six Potential Targets

    Pirates GM Talks About A.J. Burnett, Current State of Team With David Todd

    11 City of Champions

    Giants smoke Pirates in Charlie Morton’s return to the big leagues

  13. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 KDKA

    Pirates’ Top Prospect Jameson Taillon Impressed By Gerrit Cole’s Debut

    13 San Jose Mercury News

    San Francisco Giants rout Pittsburgh Pirates 10-0

    14 Hampshire Gazette

    Sizzlin’ Central boasts 3 of NL’s best teams

    15 Baseball Nation

    How much security at the ballpark is enough?

    16 CBS Sports

    Los Angeles vs Pittsburgh

    17 Sweetspot

    Wainwright making case as best starter

    18 PBC Site

    Morton returns with solid effort as Bucs lose to Giants

    Notebook: Mercer staying loose, having fun with Bucs


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Measuring Catcher Framing in the Minor Leagues

    20 Fangraphs

    The Dodger-Diamondback Brawl: Do Unwritten Rules Still Apply?

  14. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers sign fourth-round draft pick Landry Jones

    Charlie Batch was the perfect back-up quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers

    22 Steelers Depot

    - The Terrible Podcast – Wrapping Up Steelers Mini Camp, Talking 3rd Down RB Snaps & More Episode

    Soccer(football) Will T

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Newcastle United striker Papiss Demba Cisse racially abused by ‘English Defence League’

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 13th June, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Pens re-sign Evgeni Malkin

  15. Traveling in time, posted links about 6:55 but blog says they went up at 2:55

  16. Ahh…looks like my post that I typed up was eaten by the blog gremlins. anyway…here’s a short version.

    Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads!

    The Thunderbolt is faster at night!

    Malkin – yah!

    Worilds v. Jones – I’ll take Jones!

    Let’s go BUCS!

    Have a great Friday all.

    Randy in RVA.

  17. Just so you know, the chat link goes to the blog home page rather than a transcript.

    Enjoy your vacation, however many times it includes Man of Steel..

  18. I would start Jones righ away but I dont get fired if he fails.

  19. An overdue respite for you, Dejan…and Happy Father’s Day weekend to all!

    Thankfully, it’s been awhile since the Pirates stunk up the ballpark like they did last night. Let’s hope it’ll be awhile again! And bye-bye Zagurski…NOW!!

  20. Dejan forgot to mention that he would be taking in the Pittsburgh Power football game this weekend where, unlike the Highmark futbol venue, there will be both scoring AND fans in attendance!

  21. 213 DAYS UNTIL 2014 PIRATE SPRING TRAINING———1 Day Since Dejan’s Clock has been Wrong!

  22. Yeah the way I see it is as a person, I’m very happy for Charlie Morton that he’s recovered from TJ surgery and can continue pursuing his dream of being a MLB pitcher. As a Bucco fan I quickly and unfortunately remember that he’s never been very good.

  23. Help me out with a discussion I was having with someone. If somebody were to spend a week in the Burgh, where would you have them go each day?

    I got kennywood, Sandcastle, the science center, the zoo, the Warhol museum, the casino, the aviary.

    Where attractions am I forgetting?

  24. Help me out with a discussion I was having with someone. If somebody were to spend a week in the Burgh, where would you have them go each day?

    I got kennywood, Sandcastle, the science center, the zoo, the Warhol museum, the casino, the aviary.

    What attractions am I forgetting?

  25. Enjoy the time off Dejan! We’ll keep running the asylum in your absence.

  26. Nice video on Josh Bell. Very smart kid with high baseball IQ. Know that he is a bit away from the big club but the sooner he (or Polanco) gets here, the better off we will be.

    Really unimpressed with Travis Snider’s play — .234 from a corner outfielder doesn’t cut it. Way too passive at the plate for my liking. Would like to see him incorporate a little of Marte’s “grip it and rip it” approach. Snider will be grilling his meats on another team soon if he doesn’t pick it up.

    • Couldn’t help but notice how rough Bell still looks, and thats not a bad thing. Kid still has so much room to fill in and learn to use his body. Swing reminded me a bit of a young Alfonso Soriano.

      The very next video is a similar clip on Stetson Allie.

      Orlando Merced is going to make himself a loooooot of money if he can turn these two kids into studs.

      • Interesting that Merced says that Stetson Allie is more advanced than Bell.


        • Judging by their swings in those videos, I’m not surprised.

          I’m blown away at how quickly Allie has shortened his swing. Definitely helps that he’s a bit older and stockier. Less length on those limbs to control.

        • But I still lean towards Bell as the better hitter moving forward. Very encouraging to see him cut down so much on his strikeouts from his brief pro debut.

          Both players seem like they can work a count, too.

          • National Mart of Records,

            I agree with you. I really like the look of Bell’s swing——from both sides of the plate. It reminded me of someone else’s swings . . . . . Chili Davis maybe? Chipper Jones?

            Anyway, I liked it.

            Too bad he missed that season, but I think he has a WHOLE LOT to build on. He excited me! (as much as one can be excited by a player in low A ball.)

        • I took note of that comment also. Bell is 2 years younger, though. In 2 years, he may be well past where Allie currently is. Too bad for Allie that they allowed him to languish as a pitcher for 2 years. Not that he won’t still make it, but he will be always be 2 years older at each level than he should be.

          • Not true, Jim.

            Allie spent just one season as a pitcher, then converted the next spring.

            Further, the median age of the South Atlantic League is 22.

            • According to Baseball America. Link wouldn’t post for some reason.

              • But, isn’t he 2 years older at least, NMR? That is my main point. I still think Allie makes it to the show, but I just wonder how much farther he may have been along had he not pitched. I thought it was 2 years, but I was mistaken.

                I should know not to get into the weeds on facts with you by now. It usually doesn’t go well for me.

              • I look at Allie this way, Jim.

                If he were to have gone to college instead of turning pro, this spring would’ve been the first time he could’ve been drafted, as a junior.

                Assuming he would’ve signed, he almost certainly would start out for some time in low-A, even with three seasons of ACC college baseball under his belt.

                Nobody would be worried about his age, either.

              • Good way of looking at it. He’s not old for his level, by any means. I do think he has now earned a bump, though. High A soon, I hope.

              • Certainly will agree with you there.

      • The video was Bell batting only from the right side. His swing is much more fluid and natural from the left side.

  27. . . . looks like the times on all the posts are off again.

  28. Three loaded segments covering each of Pittsburgh’s professional teams, all on a ho-hum Friday morning.

    If one word covered Dejan’s work it would have to be prolific. The man truly has set the bar for sports coverage in this region.

    DK: Thanks, NMR, for that and for some valuable advice you offered yesterday that I VERY much took to heart. You’ll see.

  29. I think some of you are insinuating that Zagurski is fat. Like my mom used to say, he’s just “pleasingly plump”. And maybe he has nice teeth.

    But he needs to be pleasingly plump elsewhere, soon.

    And, “if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all”. Another mom-ism.

    Like I said, maybe he has nice teeth.

    My vote is for “The Fridge on the River Kwai”. Loved that movie.
    Didn’t care for “Fridges of Madison County”. Can’t stand adultery, even if it is Clint.

  30. Looking over all the (deserved) commentary about Z’ avoirdupois, I can’t help wondering how you would feel if he could get anybody out? Like Early Wynn, Rick Reuschel, or more recently, the guy with Babe Ruth’s hat?

    One of my all-time Pirate favorites, Smokey Burgess would have made Zagursky look like Heidi Klum. Come to think of it, Stargell was not exactly svelte in some of those years he made trim pitchers sweat.

  31. Take a tour on one of the Gateway Clipper fleet boats. You see a lot. The nationality rooms at the Cathedral of Learning are cool, as is Dinosaur Hall right nearby.

  32. BTW, anyone remember what the pens looked like when letang was out this year? The pens looked like a hungover uninterested expansion team! How bout when PM was out? I seem to remember our winning streak being in tact and our defense looking pretty darn good. Very similar to philly series when Despres and Strait came in for PM and michalek and we won 2 in a row. Accident? I think not…

  33. Have a great vacation Dejan – you’ve earned it!

  34. “Sunday, it’ll be something else with the family.”


  35. Odd start for Charlie.

    Mr Electric Stuff was apparently true to form in striking out five Giants, the most dificult team to K in all of baseball, in five innings. Thats one more than Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano k’d in 12 combined innings.

    If you would’ve said he’d throw 62% strikes, walk only one guy, and get 11 of 15 outs by strikeout or groundout and give up just one extra base hit I would certainly not have imagined the performance would’ve resulted in four runs.

    Either way I think he ends up in the bullpen once Allegheny General releases half the starting rotation.

    • It’s already begun. I’ve already seen a post comparing Charlie’s start to that of Gerrit Cole. And you know what the conclusion was ? They weren’t all that different & Charlie was just unlucky. The go to move by sabergeeks when their stats don’t jive with real world results – luck. Just like that 5.04 career ERA, unlucky. I thought I was just unlucky for having to watch this guy pitch again.

      I have great respect for your baseball knowledge. That’s why I feel better after reading your last line. It’s just that this guy is the modern day Rasputin, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get rid of him.

      • Milo you obviously are untitled to your opinion. I just don’t know how you use the 5.04 ERA as an arguement against him. Yes he earned that and it is not because of bad luck, but his pitching career up until this point obviously has to be looked at as before 2011 and after. He is a completely different pitcher. I don’t think he is a top of the rotation guy but he could easily be a good number 3 or 4 with an ERA that falls between 3.50 and 4.00. He would only go to the bullpen this year to limit his innings after Tommy John and because when healthy they have other options.

        • Your opinion of him is obviously higher than mine & that’s what makes a horse race. They show his starts to prisoners at Gitmo as enhanced interrogation techniques.

          • I’m with you, Milo, on Morton – and I’m somewhat of a SABR guy. Some of the new SABR stuff nauseates me, though. Anyway, I think favorably comparing Charlie Morton last night to Cole on Tuesday is really stretching it. Morton was all over the place. When he missed, he missed by a ton. The one thing I liked about his night is I thought his curve was pretty nasty. I’ll give him that.

            Hopefully, he’ll get it together soon because we now need him. He has not done much in his career. 5.04 about says it all. He’s had flashes. But, he needs to find consistency … and health.

          • As a matter of fact, I believe it is called “Charlie-boarding.”

        • I do the same with Morton nate. His mechanics were completely overhauled prior to the 2011 season so as far as I’m concerned, prior to that doesn’t matter to me. .

      • Ha, first, you give me far too much credit.

        But yeah, one thing I absolutely cannot stand from the saber crowd are wonky terms like “luck”. Even if in the grand cosmic scheme of things there was nothing Gerrit Cole or Charlie Morton did to make their grounders go to a fielder or through a hole, reducing it all down to “luck” just reeks of an excuse.

        I loved your Rasputin line even though I personally fall on the opposite side of the discussion. I don’t know if I’m right or wrong, but I think Charlie, post 2010, is as close to a completely different pitcher as the same guy can be. We’re not talking about somebody coming into spring training in the best shape of his life, we’re talking about a completely reworked delivery and repetoire. I just can’t find sense in judging the guy moving forward based on something he no longer is.

        I could very well be the sucker in the long run, but I’m far from ready to say a team like the Pirates cannot use an arm as cheap as his in some fashion for the next year and a half.

        • And make no mistake, they need him right now.

        • I see it as this:

          Luck had nothing to do with it. His pitches, for the most part were effective but found holes. That’s baseball.

          He was a little wild, but I expect him to gain some control of that. He had to have some butterflies going into this start. Now that its out of the way, he’ll be OK.

          I thought his velocity was ok and his secondary pitches were working again, just a little wild.

          Nothing to do with good or bad luck.

          • One walk BUT three hit batsmen is one of the wierder lines I’ve seen in a while.

            • Exactly.

              I thought he was throwing too many pitches in the first couple of innings, but must’ve tightened it up a little on my way home from work.

            • Several other close calls as well. He was wild, no matter how we slice it. That is how I saw it. But, it was a first effort. Hopefully, he’ll be a good control, grounder machine. I have learned not to count on anything with this guy, though. Been disappointed plenty, both in performance and his endless rehab stints.

        • I got to watch the Giants announcers perspective on Charlie. They remembered him as a Brave.

          Mike Krukow, who was a former MLB pitcher as well and the best color guy in all of baseball, mentioned how his delivery s completely different from before. Said that he used to be a completely over the top kind of pitcher.

          In essence, Charlie is a different pitcher now than he was when the Pirates first got him.

          When you replace the engine in your car, the cars mileage is still there, but the motor miles start over.

      • Reminds me of the start where Charile got hammered, and NH said, 5 feet here, 5 feet there, would have been a quality start…..

      • I saw Cole’s start. I didn’t see much of Morton’s start

        But I am fairly certian that the starts were not similar.

          • I can give one reason…command. Cole did not walk or hit a batter in 6.1 innings of work.

            Morton hit three batters and walked another. Cole knew where he was throwing the ball, Morton at times had no idea where the ball was going.

            • He’ll get there

              • He just might…I have no problems with keeping Morton around, especially at his salary. I like him as a potential “swing” guy, starter when needed like now with guys on the shelf, long reliever option out of pen.

                Team needs him now, however, when guys are healthy I personally don’t think he should be one of the teams’ regular rotation guys. New Morton, old Morton there is no track record of consistent success, in fact outside of that one brief glimmer he gave back in early 2011, the results have been far less than positive.

                Got to have guys that give you chances to win top to bottom in rotation.

              • See, you aren’t alone in saying this so don’t think I’m calling you out personally, but I don’t understand this “brief glimmer in 2011″ talk.

                His 1st half ERA was 3.80. His 2nd half ERA was 3.86. What am I missing?

                As for 2012, I believe it’s been reported that he wasn’t able to use his sinker/curveball combo as much due to his right elbow being shredded. I’m inclined to give him a pass on that one.

              • Ok let’s break down Morton in 2011:

                1st 10 starts – 68 IP, 19 ER, 2.51 ERA (there is the glimmer)

                2nd 10 starts – 50.1 IP, 31 ER, 5.54 ERA

                Last 6 starts – 32 IP, 20 ER, 5.62 ERA

                He dazzled briefly in 2011 and than became a detriment to the rotation most times out. The stats clearly show that. He was unable to keep up with his start or even keep it remotely close.

              • I don’t know whose numbers those are, but I do know they are not Charlie Morton’s.


              • @ NMR – Those numbers are Charlie Morton’s taken right off of his 2011 game log.

                His first ten game numbers – fantastic actually went 5-2 in those starts in April, May of 2011.

                His next ten starts were not that great and included giving up 6 ER’s three times Jun 10, 20 and Jul 19 versus Mets, Orioles and Phillies. In addition gave up 3 ER’s twice on five innings of work and 4 ER’s in a loss to Houston in that stretch.

                His last six starts:

                Aug. 25 STL 4.1 IP, 5 ER LOSS
                Aug. 30 HOU 5.1 IP, 4 ER LOSS
                Sep. 4 CHC 4.1 IP 3 ER LOSS
                Sep. 14 STL 7 IP, 3 ER, LOSS
                Sep. 20 ARZ 6 IP, 0 ER, WIN
                Sep. 26 MIL 5 IP 5 ER ND

                Those are his numbers, not sure what is lost in the translation. Fact is he had a great opening 10 starts and than fell off the cliff.

              • Into the abyss.

                Just kidding. Trying to stir NMR up, as if that’s ever needed.


              • JRay,

                Charlie made 29 starts and pitched 171.2 innings.

                Your numbers add up to 26 starts and 150.1 innings.

                Something is clearly wrong there.

              • But as long as we’re picking arbitrary samples, how bout looking at his ERA by month?

                3.00, 2.06, 8.50, 4.97, 2.84, 4.43

              • You are right there were three additional starts Aug 8, 14, 20 where he pitched well got two no decisions.

                Point is he is a career 23-46 pitcher with a lifetime 5.04 ERA, 1.557 WHIP, and 5.8 K/9 rate.

                He showed a glimmer at the beginning of 2011, didn’t last. Hardly a pitcher good enough to be a #5 guy.

                I’m happy he is still here as team needs him and I think he is a better option than JMac at this point, but team is in trouble if he is one of the five regulars in rotation and not just a fill in when needed.

              • How about this for you- Ross Ohlendorf fill-in for Nats until they get healthy and Morton career:

                Ohlendorf 19-32 5.05 ERA, 1.469 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 6.3 K/9 1.84 SO/BB

                Morton 23-46 5.04 ERA, 1.557 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, 5.8 K/9 1.58 SO/BB

                Eerily similar that is who Morton compares to. Ohlendorf is not long for the Nats rotation and hopefully Morton is not long for the Bucs.

              • JRay, I won’t tell you how to think, but until Charlie Morton goes back to throwing four seamers overhand his career numbers prior to 2011 mean nothing to me.

                Completely different pitcher.

                Stats don’t come close to telling the whole story.

              • Well the one stat that truly matters to me is wins. Just hoping no matter how he throws the ball, overhand, side arm, underhand he can improve his ability to not allow as many base runners as he historically has.

                Last night’s seven hits, one walk, three hit batters in five innings is a recipe for disaster.

                Here’s to him having a better showing next time out.

            • Well stated, JRay.

              • Until Charlie Morton can take the mound and be the pitcher he was in 2011 again, he is of not much use to the Pirates. He has had one decent season in his MLB career. I guess you could say a lot of this was not of his doing because of injuries. But, that’s life. He has a 5.04 career ERA and he is injured an awful lot. I have hope that he can do better as this year goes along, but we have no track record to expect that from him.

              • Really surprises me Jim that you treat Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton completely different.

                Not sure I understand why.

              • Well, because Jeff Locke is 25 and seems to be figuring it out. Morton has not been reliable. He is always having surgery, rehabbing, and then not pitching great when he is healthy. I have hopes that Morton will straighten himself out going forward, but I have been disappointed so often with this guy. I guess I don’t see the results of his stuff, and he’s not young any more.

              • Very understandable, Jim.

    • Morton pitched well! He had his “backfoot curveball” working well——literally——as he only got in trouble by hitting two guys with that curve/slider on their back foot.

      The other two runs came from the Keystone Cops rundown the Pirates did at third. Poor fundamentals, even before the Pedro interference turned into 2 unearned runs. Too many throws. ONE THROW!! ONE THROW!! ONE THROW!! Bucs deserved the interference just by being stupid! And . . . Pedro threw the ball to the pitcher before getting called for interference.

      Fundamentals drive me crazy!

      Morton should have turned over a 2-0 game to the bullpen.

  36. I have to disagree with the host on the interference (not that it matters). Crawford was all over the place. You can’t give the runner 5 feet on either side of the foul line.

    The Fort seems like a great character guy but I have never seen a catcher move around as much as him when he is just catching the ball. Everytime he does the big jump up on a slightly high pitch I have visions of him deflecting it over the screen. If he would just quiet down his movement he would improve greatly as a receiver.

    Overall for Morton, ok. Hopefully as he gets a few more starts his command will improve.

    I hope they find a way for Letang. He is a good player even if he is undisciplined. The idea of moving Martin is ok but you have to find someone willing to commit to $10m for Paul Martin. I can’t believe that will be an easy task. I will continue my campaign to encourage the Pens to move Orpick. He is at a point where he adds nothing that they don’t already have.

    Good to see another starting pitcher hit the DL. I am not sure this is the best way to manage assets, but I guess it will work for now.

  37. I don’t see how Pedro came anywhere close to forcing the runner out of the baseline.

    On the throw home, the runner looped back over the chalk line to head back towards third and out of the baseline, IMO, before ever realizing where Pedro was. Maybe Pedro was supposed to peel out after making the throw but he didn’t force the runner out of the baseline. He already was out of the baseline.

    • Baseline extends 4 feet on either side of the actual line.

      Once Pedro gets rid of the ball, he is no longer a “fielder” and is responsible entirely for being in Crawford’s way. When Crawford veers in rundown and contacts Pedro, Pedro is responsible.

      Lousy play——correct call.

      • It’s 3 feet on either side from where the runner establishes the baseline to be which is from the runner in a straight line to the base he is attempting to reach safely.

        I think it’s a completely incorrect call. The runner started on the foul side of the chalk line and was even in the grass on that side. Then the runner looped to the field side of the chalk line when Pedro threw home and was clearly greater than 3 feet from where he established the baseline to be, which again was on the foul side of the chalk line and should’ve been called out at that point. The runner isn’t allowed to go wherever they want.

        • in my opinion, the right call would have been NO CALL… clear to me that Crawford was out of the baseline, even the 4-feet perimeter…and yes, Pedro after he throws needs to get out of the way… he didn’t intentionally stay in the way, however….so, no real clear party in the wrong, so best call is NO CALL and let it play. UMP overreacted

        • I was listening in the car, and Brown & Walk did such an awful job of describing this that at first I thought it was a good call, then a bad call, and then a good call again. Didn’t exactly paint a picture for me. I was going to watch it on the recording I made when I got home. But, the 10-0 final sealed the fate of the recording.

    • Don’t know how you can’t see that. Pedro was taking up THE ENTIRE BASELINE. Extremely poor fundamental play. Correct (though rare) call by the umpires. And, of course, Tim Neverett had NO CLUE what was happening…

      • Pedro was caught between a rock and a hard place and not his fault, IMO. I think the runner went out of the baseline when he turned around to go back to third.

  38. I thought Charlie did OK. Should get better.

    Your observation of Matt Cain was spot on. He doesn’t mess around at all. Pinpoint accuracy and has been phenominal over the last few starts, except for one epic inning against the Cards.

  39. So, what the heck does the club do with JMac?

    He’s on a 30 day rehab, what do they do when that time is up and he still is stinking up the place?

  40. Nothing really to contribute this morning.
    Just taking a little break from my yard work and stopping by to say hello to all my fellow loonies.

    Still slightly depressed about the Pens loss but, gettin over it.
    Bout a 1,000 things I could comment on about the Pens but 2,000 of em have already been said on the blog this week!! LOL

    After I am fully detoxed I may post a few of my theory’s that are rattling around in my head.

    Everybody have a nice Fathers Day weekend!

    • hey Puckers, yeah I feel the let down/depression from the Pens ouster too.
      it will pass.
      Hang in there ;)

      • As do I. So, obviously, we need to draft yet another defenseman again this year.
        Keep stockpiling those poker chips. Maybe next year Shero can parlay them to whomever has the first overall pick so we can draft Connor McDavid!
        (just wishful thinking).

  41. Wife is treating me to “Man of Steel” tonight. Rotten Tomatoes has the critics tracked at 59 % and the audience at 82 %. (Yes, even films have metric nerds). Most of the critics I respect have given it a tepid review.

    I am not a huge Zack Snyder fan, but we shall see. Plus my wife is brave to take me to a movie featuring my fantasy inamorata, the resplendent Diane Lane! I would watch a Heinz industrial film on the making of ketchup if it starred her.

    Very good write up in USA Today about the history of Superman, for those interested:

    I think Greinke pitches Sunday for the Dodgers, right ? Greinke vs Cole on Father’s Day. Does not get much better than that. I used to drive down to Milwaukee just to watch him pitch. One of my favorites.

    • What’s that Diane Lane movie with Richard Gere? STEAMY!!

      Listen Oshkosh b’gosh, if you’re going to keep bringing her up, put her back where Fish is now!!!!!!!

      • Probably thinking of Unfaithful (2002), Groat.

        • I also liked “Lady Beware,” shot in Pittsburgh. She was a window dresser, and they shot some of the scenes at the old Hornes Department store.

        • Dat be da one. I’m shaking my head thinking about it. Dang!

          What? Is Diane Lane from Madison, or Iowa, or something?

          Or does she just remind you of your wife?

          • No. She is from NYC-born and raised. Her mother was a Playmate of the Month in the 50′s, if I recall correctly.

            She does remind me of my wife, however, sometimes you just like attractive actresses over other attractive actresses.

            “Who can explain it, who can tell you why
            Fools give you reasons, wise men never try” ( Ezio Pinza still has done the best version).

            Have not seen “Lady Beware” in a long time! I did not realize it was filmed in Pittsburgh. Thanks, AW.

    • Could Greinke be suspended today? MLB sure is dragging its feet on this. Maybe Torre is hoping if he waits long enough we’ll all forget and he won’t have to come down too hard on Donny Baseball and the Boys. He’ll whack AZ hard, for sure.

  42. Ahoy mateys, happy Friday… some thoughts:

    1) Have not heard much mention of the fact that the SF Giants are a very, very good offensive team, third in the league in hitting…. and they don’t strikeout much, nor do they swing for the fences…tough matchup for Charlie.

    2) I do think Charlie had some encouraging moments, but biggest thing he has to start to do is throwing strikes… he still seems afraid of contact, his ball moves so much, he has to start it out higher in the strike zone and let it move downward…. otherwise, teams can lay off and get hitters counts too often.

    3) Z-Girth has got to go. Funny that the Yankees scouts thought he was worth asking the Bucs about, I guess the Pirates aren’t that much out of the mainstream in terms of talent evaluation nowadays…. maybe there is a beer-league slow pitch softball team that needs a pitcher……

    4) Fearless prediction… either today or after the game, Girth DFA’d and Andy Oliver called up to make the start tomorrow.

    5) Mercer…. great to see Clint voice the fact that he is pretty much playing Mercer vs. LHPs now and will start him against “some” RHPs… seems to me the position is 70-30 Mercer with the chance for more…..

    6) We are almost 70 games into the season, and does anyone need any more evidence to support the Martin signing at Catcher (even if we paid a $1M or more than some intrepid armchair GMs seem to think we should have)? The gap between Martin and the Fort is embarrassingly big…. maybe Sanchez isnt ready and I like the Fort as a person and don’t want him to go, but let’s keep his playing time to an absolute minimum, shall we?

    7) JMac…. if I were GM, I think I’d find an injury relapse so we can reset the rehab timetable…. he doesn’t belong in the Burgh right now and I do think someone would claim him on waivers…the Blue Jays are on their 13th starting pitcher and the Nats are starting Ross Ohlendorf. But no biggie either way….

    8) I think if AJ is only serving a short term on the DL, then we will only need Oliver or whomever to make 2 starts… and it may be that Jeanmar is ready to come back for the 2nd start… so let’s hold our breath and see what happens….

    • Jeanmar threw a rehab start last night and not a very good one.

      3 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 3 K’s. 64 pitches, only 36 strikes.

      Not terrible, but not ready for prime time yet.

    • I agree about Martin. I think it is safe to say his contributions are great even if his average falls to .225.

      Why start Fort over Martin on Morton’s first game back? It would seem to make sense to have Martin back there but maybe he hasn’t caught Morton before and Fort was a more confortable catcher for Morton.

      • Yeah, I couldn’t figure that out either.

        Not that it made any difference last night though

        Awful game

      • I know I’d be more comfortable with runners on base while the Fort is catching.

        No sense worrying about holding runner. May as well put all my attention on the batter.

        • I didn’t hear anyone complaining while the Fort was having a hot hitting streak last season.
          Give him some starts.

          • Martin is no Barajas.

            • Amen.

              Fort is a classic losing era Pirate. Looks great next to slop, not so much next to real MLB talent.

              • And Martin is what a real catcher looks like. Not thrilled with his hittig of late, but the pitchers seem more confident with him behind the plate as well.

                The Fort seems like an awesome guy and I have nothing against him personally. I wish he was Russell Martin, but that’s not the case.

          • Defend him, JandyGirl!! You tell ‘em!!

            Fort’s HR per AB is much higher than Martin’s.

            Even Martin does not get the runner on the only stolen base last night.

            • Fort DOES hit a long more dingers. Martin is better behind the plate. Still, gotta give Fort some starts.

              While Martin is clearly a better catcher postionally, Fort can do a decent job. Don’t want him to get too rusty.

          • If you recall last year, I was all over the Fort just prior to his hitting hot streak and that was also with Barajas. Over Barajasjas, yes, he starts, he needs to start the bare mininum over Russell Martin. Clearly the better catcher.

            A catcher’s defense is a lot more important than his offense.

          • True, Jandy. But, then again, the comparison point last season was Rod Barajas. Fort looked like Pudge Rodriguez in comparison to him.

            • Still Rod Barajas or no, he still hit 12 dingers. He also got on base. I’m not a numbers geek. I’m sure Martin has numbers just as good as far as getting on base. But, you don’t let your back up get rusty. Why have him at all then?

              • You have him to give the starter a rest. And Martin, IMO, Is playing at a level where you want him starting as much as possible.

              • Yes. Fort is definitely still above average as a hitter for a catcher, Jandy. He has pop. But, he just can’t throw anyone out now. We have a few guys (Charlie and AJ immediately spring to mind) that he cannot be paired up with as a battery because every baserunner becomes a double.

                I am advocating for at least seeing what we have in Sanchez very soon. I suggested dropping a couple of those donut bat rings on Fort’s foot. Nothing too bad. But, maybe we get a little time to see what Tony can do. I’m just kidding about an intentional or faked injury, of course.

              • See below, JimS on the “Yips” that Sanchez had picked up ;)

      • Isn’t it time Sanchez got a shot in place of the Fort? Someone mentioned that last night and Dejan said something about Sanchez having known issues to resolve with his development first. I thought I read he was MLB-ready from a defensive standpoint at least a year ago. And, he’s hitting well and with more power this year at Indy. Seems worth a flyer for a couple of weeks to me. Some CL time for Fort might be in order. Can’t someone drop a couple of donut batting rings on his foot or something? We only need Sanchez as a competent defensive back-up.

  43. MLB suspends Ian Stewart 10 games for throwing at Greinke’s head.

    In related news, Mark McGwire got 2 games for his actions during the resulting melee. So….he gets suspended 2 games for acting like a bully during all of this, but he’s never been suspended one game for his admitted steroid use.

    Bud Selig is a joke.

  44. I want to be a good blogger on this community and extend an olive branch to Groat. Over on Travis’ blog we all had a good, spirited debate about when Polanco could or would arrive in Pittsburgh. When Groat responded to me, he provided a nickname for me (Sweet Jimmie) that I thought was an attempt to be intentionally insulting at the time. As NMR pointed out to me, I mischaracterized Groat’s intention, and that he has a habit of giving people nicknames in a friendly way during this banter. So, I apologize Groat. I didn’t mean to be overly sensitive, and I hope I didn’t offend. Thanks, NMR, for setting me straight.

    I must say, though, I thought my former stage name had been buried successfully over the past few years. Oh well, the past is hard to live down. Ha ha!

    Now back to your regularly scheduled discussion of Michael McKenry’s defensive flaws.

  45. This is pretty funny…some guy is posting as Dejan in the comment section of this FanGraphs article and trolling all their readers.

    FanGraphs needs to stop this guy from embarassing Dejan.

  46. OK, got things to do, maybe catch you all later on. Thanks, guys, again for bearing with me on this baseball stuff. Absorbing more every day.
    Hope to join in the game blog…have a great one everyone :)

  47. Brandon Cumpton on the bump tomorrow according to P2.

    “Cumpton, 24, was already scheduled to pitch Saturday for Triple-A Indianapolis. Since being promoted from Double-A, Cumpton has a 3.31 ERA, 49 strikeouts and 22 walks in 65.1 innings. The right-hander is coming off his longest start of the season, allowing two earned runs in 7.1 innings against Norfolk. His fastball reached 96 mph in Spring Training.”

  48. I’m hoping this Sanchez “yips” stuff is more technique than mental. That is what I am reading right now. I sure hope so.

    The guys I remember having the “thing” are Blass, Sax, & that annoying infielder for the Twins then Yankees, whose name I can’t recall right now. Oh, and the catcher was Mackey Sasser, wasn’t it? Maybe the historians can chime in.

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