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Vacation thread: 6-20

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

On break all week. The full column/blog/etc. schedule resumes Monday.

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. Tough loss last night. You just knew when the Reds tied it in the 9th the Bucs would lose it eventually.

    Hard to believe this offensively challenged team can be a contender.


  2. This team takes the term “offensively challenged” to a new level.
    They are right near the bottom of the NL in almost every important offensive statistic.
    If they don’t get some added help soon, there’s no way they can continue to contend.
    Call a doctor!……

  3. JAL’s Sky Pilot 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 Need to Upgrade the Offense, and Right Field Stands Out

    Jeff Locke Shines But Reds Win 2-1 in 13 Innings

    Prospect Watch: Lambo Homers Twice; Gomez Throws Five No Hit in Rehab Start

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Jason Grilli proves human in 2-1, 13-inning loss

    Luis Heredia officially assigned to West Virginia


    Game 72: Reds 2 Pirates 1

    9 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Lose In Thirteen, 2-1

    10 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Rumors: Bud Norris

    11 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Reds 2 Pirates 1

  4. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Yahoo Sports

    The Pittsburgh Pirates Show They Aren’t Intimidated by the Cincinnati Reds

    13 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates Finally Go To Jordy Mercer

    14 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Has James McDonald’s time run out?

    15 Pittsburgh City Paper

    Two new biographies run different basepaths to Willie Stargell

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates vs Reds Game Preview

    17 Sporting News

    Hot Corner: Low payroll teams soar while the big spenders flounder

    18 PBC Site

    Grilli’s first blown save spoils Locke’s start in loss

    Notebook: Strikeouts glaring for struggling Pirates offense


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Sexy, Sultry San Jose vs. MLB Complaint

    20 Fangraphs

    The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects

  5. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    The Ultimate Intangible: the Steelers Cycle

    Terry Bradshaw: “It’s a terrible combination, having ADD and having to sit down and study”

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers Rookie WR J.D. Woods Knows Just How Important Special Teams Is To His Future


    23 The Independent

    Alan Shearer ‘sickened’ after appointment of Joe Kinnear makes Newcastle a ‘laughing stock

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 19th June, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Restricted free agent profile: Tyler Kennedy

  6. June 20

    Jeff Locke’s ERA is 2.01

  7. In Spring Training I meant to predict that there would be a point in the season that we would be wanting Genmar Gomez to get healthy and hurry back to the starting rotation—in Pittsburgh.

  8. The top 3 ERAs in MLB for starting pitchers

    Clay Buchholz, BOS 1.71
    Clayton Kershaw, LAD 1.84
    Jeff Locke, PIT 2.01

    • Those other 2 guys, Kershaw and Buchholz – flashes in the pan! Locke is the real deal. Everyone knew that all along. Kidding, of course. But, he really has grown up quickly. Confidence is a beautiful thing.

    • If things hold up in the standings and the Pirates have to play the Reds in a 1-game wild card playoff, who would pitch that game (assuming all the starters are healthy)? The easy answer would be who was hottest through September, but I’m guessing they’d still say AJ would start.

      Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of things, but just a thought….

  9. I know we lost a tough one last night. I guess we can’t continue to win all of those types of games all season (although it would have been nice). But, I felt it was a game we had in the palm of our hand, and let get away.

    I would like to hear the opinion of others on what I felt was the turning point in the game. I have said that I feel CH has had the Midas touch all season, and I am glad for that. He has had the pulse of this team all year, and he keeps pulling the right strings. I would have done one thing differently last night, though. I thought there was a different path to take at one key moment.

    When Jeff Locke came up to bat in the top of the 6th, with the Bucs leading 1-0, if you recall, the bases were loaded with one man out. The bases were loaded because the Reds chose not to pitch to Jordy Mercer with a man on 3rd & 1 out, I believe. That, in itself, is a nice development for the Bucs. Teams are no longer going right at our #8 hitter, knowing he is a defense-first player. So, that part is good. We have some pop throughout the lineup.

    But, I was thinking at the time that Dusty Baker was helping us out by adding another base runner to load them up with 1 out for our pinch hitter that would be coming up to bat with a chance to break the game open – or at least get the all-important 2nd run in. But, alas, Clint allowed Jeff to bat there, he grounded out to SS for a force at home, and then Starling was retired on a ball to CF.

    I know Jeff was pitching great, and I know probably more than 50% of you will say you have to leave him in there. I take a slightly different stance. All I would say to counter that is Jeff had already thrown, I believe, low 80′s in pitch count. So, by my math, we might have squeezed 2 more innings out of him but most likely only 1 more inning. So, I was thinking, how do you let the pitcher bat there when it probably kills your chance to tack on a few more runs and that pitcher can only give you 1 more (or 2, at most) innings? And we also have a manager that showed, just the night before, that he’ll take a starter out with as little as 61 pitches thrown. And we have an awesome bullpen.

    Anyway, we didn’t get any more runs, and there is no guarantee we would have added on by using the pinch hitter there. Also, Jeff pitched a really quick 6th inning and so he was able to also pitch the 7th – another brilliant performance by that young man. This is not a huge beef of mine. Just something I would have done differently. Feels like a nitpicking Thursday for me.

    Did anybody else have the same thought as me?

    • I would have had Jeff bunt. Very seldom you see someone bunt into a double pay.


    • It was a 50-50 decision. Unless Locke hits into a DP you still have Marte up who is better hitter than anyone you have used as a PH. Most likely the thought was that Locke is pitching great so save most of the pen and use Melancon and Grilli to close it out, as they have done all season. It has been a winning formula but didn’t work out his time

      • Exactly.

        Plus, the Pirates were AHEAD of the Reds, with three more turns to bat.

        I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been critical of Hurdle for his game management at times, but this one didn’t even register for me.

        • But, struggling to score. This was a chance to break through.

          • Ha, we’re thinking the same thing, just from different angles.

            I was concerned about the pen holding up another four inning outing with the possibility of no run support.

            Both of our decisions came down to lack of offense.

      • And I think a lot of the pen was unavailable, or at least Clint was reluctant to use them, because of recent use. At least he didn’t hit into a DP.

        • Maybe if he had allowed Charlie to pitch a bit longer the night before.

          Like I said, I’m nitpicking. It was just a tough game, and you don’t win all those. We have delivered similar tough, late losses to the Reds at our park. Nothing different last night, except our turn to face the music.

        • I didn’t question anything about that, but I did think that a great call with Mercer obviously getting nothing to hit, would have been for him to try to lay one down halfway into the at-bat…if for no other reason then it was clear that Hurdle was not going to go away from Locke at that point.

          Again, that’s not a call that you make when you are thinking rationally, but knowing that a.) bats are sleepy and b.) Dusty Baker manages in ways that force opposing managers to make mistakes with their pitching staff (probably because he is prone to it himself)…it felt like a great time to get crazy, inject some life, and play chess with Dusty.

  10. As Donnie Iris once said, “It’s a tough world, ain’t it a rough world?”

    We’ll get them today.

  11. James Gandolfini dies at age 51.

  12. Cutch and Walker are now 0-18 since Macho Man Charlie Morton exacted his revenge.

    Thank god they’re no longer intimidated. Now if they could only hit…

    • Cutch looked totally defeated in his last at bat last night.

      • Chapman put the voodoo on him.

      • Here’s what drives me crazy:

        Late in the game, especially when it is tied, the announcers are saying ‘this is the time of the game when everyone tries to hit a 500 foot home run’.
        This plays out with every batter that steps into the box.

        So who is in the dugout telling the players “Hey, don’t try to do too much. All we need is to string together some hits. Singles are OK”

        Happens all the time.

    • Lambo is starting to heat up at Indy. Ave. is up to .243. He hit 2 HR’s yesterday and has 4 with 13 RBI since being promoted to AAA. This is his second stint there and he’s only 25, so maybe he could be an alternative to an empty lunchbox.

      Other than that, what everyone said above is true. We need these guys to start to hit and hit in key situations. Shame to waste such excellent pitching on losses.

      Ray Searage for president.

      • Good call on Lambo, Lucky. He is heating up, and seems to be figuring things out. Also, I thought he was only 24, which would be even better.

      • Woof. Bell and Hurdle need to sit Lunchbox down in fron of a video moniter and get him straightened out. That swing is all sorts of different from early this year.

        His near miss homerun last night, while exciting, was a severe red flag. That ball wasn’t even painted on the inside corner and Snider had no chance in Cleveland to keep it fair. His hands are overextended, he’s never getting closed off, and his hips are flying wildly open. Coming around every ball he hits. Simply impossible for him to strike a ball cleanly on the inner half and keep it fair.

        He’s frustrating, for me at least, because he truly put a Major League swing and plate approach together for about a month and a half this spring, yet somehow has lost it entirely.

        • You are right on there NMR…he’s got one of those swings (like Pedro) that becomes disassembled at times. I have no doubt that what you are suggesting is probably already under way as Presley will get some mileage here over the next several I bet. Snyder has earned a chance to be at the very least a late inning clutch guy if his days as a starter are numbered

      • Injury bug is running wild right now…lambdawg might be pressed into action without having to force that issue

    • Cute, NMR, hope you feel better now.

    • Really, NMR? Back there?

      • If you would rather stick to your narrative than follow actual performance, thats your choice.

        • . . . . . . . . . . .

        • Sheesh! For the millionth time, no one said plunking anyone would make the Bucs hit better.

          The “strawman” called, and he insists that you stop interjecting him into arguments where he doesn’t belong.

          • You need to go back and read that thread if you think nobody said it would help the offense.

            Thats just plain wrong.

            • We can agree to disagree on that, NMR. But, I don’t think it really matters at this point. It just turns people off to go back there, and there are so many other things to discuss that can be done in a lighter tone. Driving people away would be the result of re-stoking those flames, and I don’t want that because that weakens this forum.

              A lot of people (in fact, all the people) that are here regularly were here a long time before me. They built this thing into a great forum, and they quickly welcomed me into the fold. It is totally fine with everyone here, in my opinion, to have differing points of view. But, sometimes continuing to beat a horse that is long since dead serves no positive purpose.

              I love your points of view. I just can’t go back to that one again.

          • Save it Jim, a bully never stops.

            • The thing is, NMR knows his stuff, so does SeanAY and a few others in here. The problem lies in that they cannot respect an opinion that isn’t theirs, and have to make fun of others which is just wrong on all counts. Especially when they KNOW better. Then to just keep adding on is so childish. I’m so disappointed in some of these guys, it’s pathetic. So Jim, I appreciate your efforts, but save your time, it’s not worth it. The bullies don’t care about you or anyone else as long as they look good and have the last laugh. SO be it.

              • Its always someone elses fault with you, Jandy.

                THAT is a trend.

              • Like Butch in The Little Rascals?


              • The trend is YOU’RE ALWAYS right and you’re an overbearing bully.

              • I don’t respect people’s opinions. Beautiful.

              • Yeah Sean. Coming from the person who said this yesterday: “Well said, Brandie. That beaner by Morton certainly set the tone.”

                But we don’t respect peoples opinions and keep bringing it up again.

                Just boggles my mind…

              • See? You can say what you want, but I didn’t mean an argumentative statement by that YESTERDAY. I also think anyone would agree it did make a statement. whatever.
                But here YOU go again. You never thought anyone was intimidated, but you just HAD to start chit.

            • Please, Jandy.

              You know damn well I’ve stuck up for you several times on this very blog. If you can’t get over one disagreement, then there’s no need for us to converse any longer.

              This is sports talk. Relax.

  13. After reading that Puig’s 27 hits in his first 15 games was #2 since 1900 (to #1′s 28 hits in 15 games), I looked up the guys who led the list.

    Top of the list was Irv Waldron, who I never heard of but should have.

    He played just one season, the inaugural 1901 American League season for Milwaukee and Washington. Started off on fire, as noted – 28 hits in his first 15 games, and “cooled” to end the 1901 season with a league leading 141 games and 598 ABs, and fourth most hits (186), with a .311 BA.


    • Ha! A disappearing act…

    • When I was at the game on Sunday afternoon I kept thinking: The Dodgers put that 22 year old kid right in as the cleanup hitter.

      And the Pirates are still ‘protecting’ Pedro by having him bat 6th.

      Granted Puig may be much more of a contact hitter than Pedro….but still

    • He probably became a doctor or something. Like Moonlight Graham … who actually did exist.

      • And played in 1 major league game.

        • I was the backup catcher in high school to a guy who had a Moonlight Graham career. One inning caught and no at bats for the Red Sox.

          At least it was on the Saturday NBC Game of the Week.

  14. Said all along not enough hitting to stay in the hunt. Pitching can be good if AJ and Wandy can comeback healthy and effective. Snyder and Tallion to the Marlins for Stanton as Pirates desperately need a middle of the order bat as Pedro is just never going to be that threat. His defense is better and hustles more now, but he still looks bad against really good pitching.

  15. I know our bullpen needs a rest, but these mid-day games on hot days often turn into slugfests. Keep the ball down, Cumpton! Could be a launching pad atmosphere in Cincy today. The Bucs are one of the better HR teams in the league, but have not hit any in the 3 games so far. In fact, the Reds are out-homering them 5-0. We may turn those tables on them today. We may need to bludgeon this team to win, and then head to the West Coast in good shape again.

  16. Heard an interesting stat during last night’s game.

    No team in the history of Great American Ballpark has ever gone 3 consecutive games without hitting a home-run there.
    Until…….the Pirates showed up this week.

    • why doesn’t that surprise me?

    • That is interesting. And I think one of their fielders stole one from Cutch, so it was that close.

      • That ball would not have mae it over the wall. Replays show it. sorry, it lucky it may have mae the yellow line. That’s about it.

        • Gee my typing in this forum stinks. and I should have looked at the other comments as well. But I don’t think the ball would have made it over the wall.

    • Donnie Iris and a very interesting factoid. Outstanding stuff, Sir Window!

    • I believe Tim Neverett also said on the broadcast that if Jay Bruce didn’t hit that one, it would only have been the 4th time they went TWO straight games in that park w/o a HR. Amazing!

      Shows me two things about the Reds: 1) Their hitting is not as great as advertised; 2) Their pitching is better than advertised.

      Park effect is a huge factor in stats. The Bucs are the reverse to some degree, in that PNC truly suppresses offense and HR.

      • Neverett said a lot of things last night.

        • According to Neverett’s orginal calls there were many HR’s last night. Everytime a player drives a flyball Tim thinks it is going over the fence.

          • But, then, strangely he and Wehner refused to say the ball by Cutch would have been over the yellow line. I thought it was over, pretty clearly. They must have carefully said that it “might” have been a HR about 5 times. Not that it mattered, as Bruce caught it anyway.

    • I believe that comment was that either of the 2 teams did not hit a homer in 2 consecative games. not one of the 2 teams.

  17. Presley down, Welker up.

  18. Stanton is an intersting case. If Miami is trying to rebuild why wouldn’t your own 23 year old power hitting RF be the centerpiece of your efforts?

  19. I wouldn’t trade Jameson Taillon for anyone not named “Yadier Molina” or “Miguel Carbrera”.

    But that’s just me. I’ve said all along that I think he’ll be better than Cole, or any other arm we’ve seen wearing a Pirate jersey over the last 25 years. That kid is special.

    • I’ve said I think Taillon will be better than Cole – and I like Cole a great deal. I also think Glasnow is going to be a monster. He is toying with most of the hitters right now, and they are older than him. He’s a man child. But, so much can happen. The usual disclaimer and fine frint should always be attached.

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