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Morning Java: Fun, fireworks … and fresh Friday notes!

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday notes column takes on the value of the Pirates’ pitching, Dan Bylsma’s review of the Stanley Cup Final and more.

>> Spent the afternoon at PNC Park and thoroughly enjoyed the scene, a house packed to the millimeter — pay no heed to the paid attendance count, it was full — and decked out to enjoy the holiday Downtown once it was done. Between that and the Regatta across one river, the Riverhounds’ complete SRO sellout across another river, and other activities, it was a sight to behold.

Oh, and there were fireworks, as you can see from this pic submitted by longtime reader Mike Darnay

>> The Pirates didn’t win, though. Rob Biertempfel reports.

>> The Riverhounds didn’t win, either. Matt Grubba reports.

Highlights from the latter …

>> The Penguins didn’t play, on the ice or in the now-open free agent market. Josh Yohe reports.

>> I’m working on an extra-length Jason Grilli column for Sunday. Hope you can check it out.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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

Comments

  1. JD says:

    Let’s start a new winning streak today.

  2. Lad9 says:

    Love the notes columns DK and that was a good one. Agree completely on holding on to those two, and probably the other high ceiling arms such as Glasnow, Heredia, and Kingham. Too hard to find.

    Very scared to read Coach Bylsma’s responses. If this staff didn’t see that it wasn’t the lack of lucky breaks that beat them, that it was the unwillingness or inability to get in the goalmouth and absorb punishment for results, then I am truly frightened for next season.

    Jamie Dixon takes a lot of heat in this town for not making a final four. Some deserved. But there are very few coaches in the country that I would rather have running my program. They contend every year and are squeaky clean. Getting a four star recruit at this point in the process is pretty amazing. Looking forward to seeing him reload.

    Oh, and don’t think that you can sneak that last line of the column past the lunatic fringe here. But nice try! If you see what I see ( and I am sure you see quite a bit more), then you quite obviously believe that this group will blow through the 82 win barrier and not look back. It will be nice to put that behind us though and focus on a loftier goal. Go Bucs!

    DK: Glad you liked it, Laddy!

  3. Eric Bowser says:

    * Clint Barmes 0-3… and here I thought he’d go 0-4… glad to know Mercer needed a game off (did pinch hit today) after Barmes started June 30 and no game on July 1st. Hopefully, that’s the last game for a week.

    * Didn’t see much of the game but a few minutes of Gerrit Cole getting squeezed by the home plate umpire, only to have Vin Mazzaro get light up like the Pittsburgh sky on 4th of July…. how appropriate.

    * Pirates need a RF, I’m not buying Travis Snider and Jose Tabata but I figure those two will get the month of July to catch fire or by July 31st trade deadline, someone has to be brought in to provide a better bat than those two. Problem I suspect will happen, they have no money to acquire anyone.

    * A friend told me there’s a rumor of Toronto winger Clarke MacArthur being courted by the Penguins. The Penguins go into tomorrow needing a third line winger to play on a line with Center Brandon Sutter and center/winger Jussi Jokinen. I’d prefer a big winger that can skate, forecheck, and shoot the puck. That isn’t MacArthur, he’s not a big guy. He scored 8 goals, 12 assists in 40 games last season. Averaged 14:54 TOI, virtually zero as a penalty-killer. I’m not sure Shero or Bylsma want a third liner that can’t play on the PK but hey, maybe someone will finally listen to me about getting Malkin on the PK and more for Crosby than a simple faceoff. Finally, Mac had 44 hits compared to Matt Cooke’s 97.. that’s a pretty big change in philosophy for a third liner.

    * Which leads me to this… if Penguins are looking at MacArthur as a 2nd line LW with Malkin and James Neal…. no thank you. That job should belong to Beau Bennett. End of story. Don’t even give Bylsma the idea of playing the veteran over the younger player, he’ll always take the veteran.

    * A few third liners that interest me to play with Sutter and Jokinen would be…
    - Benoit Pouliot, LW – 6’3″ 197, good skater, age 26. Been a big fan of his.
    - Jack Skille, RW – 6’1″ 219, good skater, age 26, another that I like since World Jr’s
    - Eric Nystrom, LW – 6’1″ 193, good skater, age 30, good defensive forward

    * For the 4th line, I suspect Craig Adams is re-signed based on their value of guys who will play on the PK and not do much else. If he doesn’t, here are the others of interest.
    - Max Lapierre, C/W, major agitator could replace Cooke’s place as most hated player
    - Boyd Gordon, C, very good on draws, PK, & ok skills, could allow Vitale to play RW

    * Defense should be fine with Orpik-Martin, Despres-Letang, Niskanen-Bortuzzo, and Engelland as 7th defenseman. I’d prefer to see them deal Niskanen and open up the left defense spot on the third pairing for one of the young defensemen like Brian Dumoulin, Olli Maatta, Scott Harrington, Phil Samuelsson, or Derrick Pouliot. Time for youth to be served as Niskanen and Orpik will be UFA’s after next season and Martin is in two years. There’s been some talk of Rob Scuderi returning but I don’t see a match with finances being as they are and the position depth on the team. Islanders would be wise to go after him hard, which is where I see him landing.

    * It is July and Steelers are barely a blip on the local sporting news radar… it needs to stay that way in July and August and September. Well… ok, I’ll be happy with July.

  4. Reading says:

    But, the Angels did win!! Free loss #2.

  5. WVStarship says:

    This bunch is just as likely to finish to finish 10 games under .500 then to “blow through the 82 win barrier”. These are the Pirates: If there’s any way to screw things up, they will. If they do manage to reach 82 wins, it will be just barely.

  6. Scott says:

    Totally agree with your assessment of Bylsma’s comments. He seems oblivious, which is scary. Maybe he just doesn’t want to admit publicly that his staff blew it with their game plan. He’s a bright guy; he can’t truly be that out of touch, can he?

  7. Ghost says:

    Groovy cool! Even when these Pirates lose, they do it when it’s okay to do it!

  8. Ghost says:

    Emphatically agree that the Pirates must keep their elite young arms right where they are — HERE. The point, “for two such guys over the same six-year span as Cole and Taillon, you’re talking $180 million,” is truly sobering and should make anybody toying with the notion of dealing them away pinch themselves. If Taillon brings half as much to the table as Cole has shown, the rest of the MLB will be seeing nightmares.

  9. Eric Bowser says:

    Bylsma is a stubborn coach. He believes strongly in the way he wants the team to play and it has come at the expense of the franchise winning another cup. There isn’t another franchise, owner, general manager that would not have fired Bylsma after this year’s epic collapse.

  10. Ghost says:

    Of course, then there is Sisyphus, who this evening snuck this little nugget into a thread from two mornings ago:
    “Cole is not one of the best five starting pitchers on the staff when all are healthy. He’s not one of best SIX, and today we once again saw why.”
    (That was a post directed at me, which is why I noticed it.)

    So Cole is, at best, just our seventh best starter I guess… Silly me. Here I was delighted with this kid who turns out to be merely a seventh-best starter. :(

    Some people are just ‘haters’ unhappy with everyone else’s happiness.

  11. Reading says:

    I’m thinking Jose Bautista part III could be gotten for one or maybe two low-end prospects. Yeah, that ought to do it!

  12. Ed says:

    For some reason, I can’t read the article. A bunch of Pirates pictures are blocking the view of the text.

  13. Ghost says:

    Hah! Saw someone, somewhere, yesterday throw his name out as a player Toronto will auction off once they write off this season. But nothing short off the Blue Jays simply trying to bail out of his contract would make this dream come true. And even then, they’d still have to be willing to absorb a nice chunk of that contract. But boy wouldn’t his 19 HR’s, 50 ribbies and .261/.361 numbers be an upgrade for us in right field?(!)

  14. Eric Bowser says:

    I’d love to see Bautista back but I can’t imagine how this team could afford or acquire him.

  15. Ghost says:

    Actually, it would be something like Part VIII or IX for Bautista. David Littlefield allowed him to be snatched away in the Rule 5 draft once, with the poor guy subsequently being bounced between FIVE different clubs that following season. Then, of course, we all know what Neil Huntington did with him in favor of Andy LaRoche.

  16. Reading says:

    I’m hearing that Toronto wants their bag of balls back from the prior Bautista trade.

  17. Ghost says:

    I don’t see how it could happen either. Not only would the Jays have to pick up a significant part of the $14 mil he is owed for each of the next two seasons (not to mention the $7 mil for the balance of ’13), but who could we send to them that they’d want in return? Travis Snider redux?? (I jest.)

  18. Ghost says:

    They ask that then they already have enough.

  19. Ed says:

    OK, that’s better.

    Agree that the Pirates shouldn’t trade Taillon and, of course, not Cole. Tony Sanchez or Polanco either. But I really think they need another quality starter and/or another good bat for the stretch run. If they can get that for some lesser prospects, I’m all for it.

  20. Reading says:

    If, for some reason, the Pirates do trade one of their high-end pitching prospects, then please send him to the American League. No trades within the division. Of course, they’d never trade a key guy within the division; right?

  21. Link says:

    Amazing photo of the fireworks. That deserves to be framed. Great job, Mike.

    It’s always good to get a little slice of home being on the other side of the country.

  22. Thundercrack says:

    I thought what the Pirates did last year was the epic collapse?

    The Penguins had a lot of talent, but they were playing in the conference championship. I don’t think their losing was an ‘epic collapse’

  23. MadTurk says:

    Lad9,
    I like and read what you post, I do have a question though.
    So for Dixon it is ok to come up short and hope that one day he makes the finale four but for Blysma your frightened for next season apparently because he can get the team to the Stanley Cup and win, have one of the best regular win totals, and this past year did make the finale four?
    Wonder how Tomlin would rank in your assessment of coaches/managers?

    This is not a knock on you I just see the standards being different, and please don’t use the talent they have to work with. The seasons lengths are different and the talent levels throughout the leagues are different as well.

    Maybe it’s the expectations for whatever reason?
    I am off to work so will not see your response till later tonight when all have already moved to the new game thread. I will read it when I get home.

  24. JoeyBats says:

    LOL……you ain’t goin’ to get me CHEAP !! ;-)

  25. theplanisworking says:

    Well, when you get swept and make no adjustments………..

  26. JAL says:

    JAL’s Dark and Rolling Sea Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6mwCR_Q9fU

    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

    5 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013draft

    BLOGS and such

    6—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Could the Pirates Have Five All-Stars This Year?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/07/first-pitch-could-the-pirates-have-five-all-stars-this-year.html

    Phillies Use Four-Run Inning off Cole, Mazzaro to Beat Bucs

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/07/phillies-use-four-run-inning-off-cole-mazzaro-to-beat-bucs.html

    Prospect Watch: Four Hit Game For Reese McGuire In Debut

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/07/prospect-watch-four-hit-game-for-reese-mcguire-in-debut.html

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Phils hand Cole first MLB defeat, 6-4

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/7/4/4494474/phils-hand-cole-first-mlb-defeat-6-4

    Four-hit debut for Reese McGuire

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/7/4/4494778/four-hit-debut-for-reese-mcguire

    8 City of Champions

    Gerrit Cole suffers first loss as Pirates fall to Phillies

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/07/big-inning-carries-phils-to-6-4-win.html

    9 The Green Weenie

    Big Inning Carries Phils To 6-4 Win

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/07/04/gerrit-cole-suffers-first-loss-as-pirates-fall-to-phillies/?utm_source=FanSided&utm_medium=Network&utm_campaign=Hot%2BTopics

    10 Rumbunter

    VIDEO: Pittsburgh Pirates First Half Highlights

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/07/03/video-pittsburgh-pirates-first-half-highlights/

    11 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Phillies 6 Pirates 4

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/07/phillies-6-pirates-4/

  27. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Philadelphia Inquirer

    Phillies Notes: Offense came to life during road trip

    http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20130705_Offense_comes_to_life_during_road_trip.html

    13 Des Moines Register

    Bryce Miller: Iowan Tony Watson stars for ‘shark’ bullpen in Pittsburgh.

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130704/SPORTS/307050030/1003/SPORTS/?odyssey=nav%7Chead

    14 The Kittanning Paper

    FRIDAY – SPORTS ZONE: Making A Case For The All-Star Game

    http://www.kittanningpaper.com/2013/07/05/friday-sports-zone-making-a-case-for-the-all-star-game/38441
    15 Fox Sports

    Is McCutchen a future Hall of Famer?

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/boys-in-the-hall-andrew-mccutchen-pittsburgh-pirates-070413?from=foxsports/home/moresports

    16 CBS Sports

    Cubs-Pirates Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130705_PIT@CHC/piratescubs-preview

    17 Time

    The Pittsburgh Pirates Are The Best In Baseball. In July. Wake Me In September.

    http://keepingscore.blogs.time.com/2013/07/04/the-pittsburgh-pirates-are-the-best-in-baseball-in-july-wake-me-in-september/

    18 PBC Site

    Phils hand Cole first big league loss

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_07_04_phimlb_pitmlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=pit

    Notebook: PNC Park buzzing as big crowds roll in

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130704&content_id=52683884&notebook_id=52684456&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Feature Focus Team Tracker, Advanced

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21094

    20 Fangraphs

    60th anniversary: Robin Roberts’ 60th straight complete game

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/60th-anniversary-robin-roberts-60th-straight-complete-game/

  28. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Signs of the NFL Apocalypse

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/7/4/4490522/signs-of-the-nfl-apocalypse

    Offensive defense: Attacking today’s spread offenses

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/07/steelers-mike-adams-right-tackle-2013/

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers Hope T Mike Adams Gets It “Right” In 2013

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/07/steelers-mike-adams-right-tackle-2013/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Mail

    REVEALED: What happened on Giggs and Neville’s first day in United coaching roles

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2356458/Ryan-Giggs-Phil-Nevilles-day-Manchester-United-coaches-revealed.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 4 July, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-4th-july-2013

  29. JAL says:

    Dark and Rolling Sea, Al Stewart 1975 Off his 6th album, Modern Times

  30. Patrick(RI) says:

    Perhaps the asylum is evolving as evidenced by the near absence of “doom & gloom” in response to a loss? It is fun to read the notes column. Few people can embellish a thought better than DK, and even fewer can cut to the bone as well as he can.

    It is also noted that there is an angel in the blogasphere who looks after the aged.

    Beautiful photo!

  31. Thundercrack says:

    Does that make the collapse ‘epic’?

  32. Karen22 says:

    Neat column. Again, I have to agree. Hands off the stud arms!

    I’ll be MIA this weekend, so the Bucs will just have to do it without me (I wasn’t much good to them yesterday). Good luck to them, and God bless my way cool son and his beautiful wife-to-be as they begin life’s journey together. :)

  33. Jim S. says:

    Good observations, Mad Turk.

    I would say that it is not ok for Dixon to not break through to the Final 4 at some point, although Pitt never has had Final 4 talent. Then, again, it is the coach’s responsibility to acquire Final 4 talent. So, that is on him. My issues with Dixon are more that he cannot keep getting knocked out in Rd 1 & 2 most years. That is unacceptable. I also would like to see him bring the offense out of 1985, which he appears to be doing with the new players he is acquiring. His teams need to run and be athletic more. Maybe these new players are a sign he will try to do that in the ACC.

    I think this year’s 3rd Rd collapse by the Pens is totally on Dan B and staff. Outsmarted by a Bruins team they had handled in the regular season.

    Count me as one who is skeptical of the greatness of Mike Tomlin and of the Steelers mystique at the moment. It pains me to think we are heading into a season with so many less impact players than at any time recently. But, that is my take. I believe they recognize they are getting very old, and are trying to retool on the fly. But, it may take awhile.

  34. Jim S. says:

    Love the idea of Joey Bats playing for the Bucs. But, I don’t see how he could be gotten cheaply. Plenty of contenders would want that bat.

  35. Jandy says:

    Nah, it just means they got their a$$es handed to them.

  36. Jandy says:

    who wizzed in YOUR wheaties?

  37. Jandy says:

    MacArthur is a Penguin killer. He must have gotten all 8 of his goals against US! So, sigh him so he can’t score on us? lol

  38. Jandy says:

    There’s a good bit on negativity on the blog many times. Don’t let it bother you, Ghostie :)

  39. Jandy says:

    Atta boy, stick to your standards ;)

  40. Jim S. says:

    DK, great article! Also, the fireworks photo is more testament to the beauty of Pittsburgh. Stunning!

    The Pirates have several very high end talent arms, and that is their only chance to truly become a dominant team in the near future. I do not trade Cole, Taillon, Kingham, or Glasnow. There are some who are convinced that Glasnow is the most talented of the bunch. Think about that for a moment. None of them, of course, is a sure thing at this point. They are all still young and developing, and this is baseball where the skill set must be refined more than other sports to reach stardom. But, that is precisely why I don’t get rid of any of them: They won’t all become stars, so let’s maximize each opportunity. Heredia has huge upside also, but if I could get the right upgrade (Bautista or some other RF) I might consider him.

    Cudos for even mentioning the Pitt basketball program. It will be very interesting to see if Jamie can and will adapt to the up and down, athletic style of the ACC and, really, all of NCAA hoops now. The first step was that he needed to retool the roster to compete athletically in the ACC. He needed shooters and slashers. He has gone out and acquired both, it would appear.

    Now, will he let them be what they are? Or, will he take those players and continue to insist that they grind through every offensive possession for close to 30 seconds before even considering a shot? If that is a case, he will be reloading every year as disillusioned, unhappy players leave to find schools that do play modern basketball. I like Jamie, and his character and the way he represents the school are off the charts. But, he needs to move forward with his coaching philosophies to take Pitt to the next level.

  41. Jandy says:

    Good luck Karen, and totally enjoy each and every moment :)]

    God bless your son and new daughter-in-law!

  42. Drew71 says:

    That’s right. Easy. Not cheap.

  43. Al says:

    Yes it does because you have to look at it collectively from the last 3 years–Montreal, Tampa Bay, Philly….all lesser seeded teams.
    And what really stings this year is that the Pens were EXPECTED to win because of all the talent brought in at the trade deadline. No one knew how/when/where to play these guys.
    Toews/Kane and company got it done because the Hawks were talented, organized AND very well coached.

  44. Stuart says:

    +100 on this, especially the Steelers part!

    I’ll have to take your word on the potential replacements for Cooke, but I think he will be hard to replace. He is one of the few that give 100% all the time.

    Nice concise comments Eric.

    Stuart

  45. Jandy says:

    3 seasons does NOT = 20 seasons

  46. Jandy says:

    ZING!

  47. Jandy says:

    Agreed, Stuart, on Cooke. He was one of few players who gave all this past playoffs.

  48. Stuart says:

    Me 2 Ghost. What Jandy-girl said. When I read some of the chicken little – sky is falling comments, I sometimes wish the commenter would just culminate his/her unhappiness by self-immolation.

    Stuart

  49. Drew71 says:

    Ah, Marriage.

    (That’s all I got.)

  50. theplanisworking says:

    Goes together like a horses rear and carriage??? ;)

  51. theplanisworking says:

    The Hippo. ;)

  52. Tom P. says:

    By keeping pace with the Cardinals despite winning only 1 of 3 against the Phillies, the Pirates provide evidence of the old adage, “You don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the rest of the campers.”

  53. Jim S. says:

    Good points throughout, Eric.

    I think you are correct that the Jose/LunchBox duo needs to step it up this month, or they may be replaced at the trade deadline.

    I was frustrated by the game yesterday, and thought it really turned quickly. It seemed to me the ump really wanted Ryan Howard to have that walk with one out in the 6th. If he had given Cole any one of a few calls there, Howard is gone and Cole has 2 out, none on. As my wife tends to remind me, though, I sometimes see the games with “Black and Gold” glasses, though. So, there’s that slim possibility, I guess.

    But, I really thought Cole had much more left in the tank there, sitting at 78 pitches. I love how CH has handled the team this year in about 95% of the decisions he has made. I just wish he had allowed Cole to work through that inning, for his long term development. I think this one may go higher than CH, though. I’m just speculating, but maybe part of protecting Cole this year while he pitches more innings and throws more pitches than ever before is that they are going to yank him around the 80 pitch mark, regardless. That might be an organizational decision that they all agreed upon. For the first time, I think it backfired and cost them a game. I really do. Cole was visibly upset in the dugout, and I was glad to see he was nowhere near finished competing. The bullpen was not needed yet.

    This is a tough call for the club. We have kicked it around here for awhile. When do you pull the plug on Cole this year? Is it 160-ish innings, which would be more than 15% over prior year? Is it 180, but also making sure he never gets to 100 pitches in a game? Since we are contending and need him, they need to make every start count for him. I do believe this is a tough call for the team, and not everyone here will agree as to what should be done.

    That said, I love this team. I have tickets for Saturday & Sunday here at Wrigley, and I will also make the trek to Cincinnati to watch them 2 Sundays from now. After that, I will bring the family to Pittsburgh to watch an August series and reconnect with Grandpa & other relatives. We can’t wait to make our annual journey to the greatest ballpark in America. We’ll also be glad it will be full to capacity. Go Bucs!

  54. Jim S. says:

    What you both said, Stuart!

    Cole is a stud. Anyone who saw his frustration in the dugout at being taken out early could see that. This kid is a competitor – a 22 year old competitor with a huge arm. Not one of the 6 or 7 best starters? Please! He should be 5-0. I’ll take that.

  55. Jandy says:

    LOL good job, Hipposter!

  56. Jim S. says:

    The Real Joey Bats has spoken.

  57. Jandy says:

    +many

  58. NMR says:

    I think you’re misinterpreting that comment, Stuart.

    Saying that Gerrit Cole is only the 7th best starter on this team is almost certainly a compliment to the team as a whole. Not negative.

  59. NMR says:

    The team has more than enough to send, just a matter of what they’re WILLING to give up.

  60. NuseUSMC says:

    Byalsma sounded like he didnt learn from wht the Hawks did against the bruins. Gave team credit for getting opportunities and not getting any luck. Sometimes you have to make your own luck and that is what the Hawks did. They worked hard fought to get in the difficult areas and made their own luck. Good luck is always a product of hard work and preperation

  61. theplanisworking says:

    Mornin’ Jandy!

    Off to make up lost time due to the holeeday.

    Will be back later for the Bucs game.

    Hippo out. :)

  62. Jim S. says:

    Good for your family, Karen! I like when you pop in. You always have positive things to say. Anyone with a heart-shaped baseball for an icon is ok in my book.

  63. Pucknutz says:

    “EXPECTED to win because of all the talent brought in”

    In hindsight – was not really all that much “talent”, Hmmmm………..

  64. Jandy says:

    I’m off today, vacation day. Enjoy your day, as i will enjoy mine :)

  65. NMR says:

    Couldn’t agree more on Hurdle, Jim, although I’m not sure about the 80-pitch-limit-thing since he was frequently over that in AAA.

    My little lady treated me to some excellent seats to watch Cole work and that Howard at-bat was atrocious. Didn’t need the fancy strike zone thingy on TV to tell that at least two of those balls were strikes. Just had to watch Martin’s glove.

    Not only was that a quick hook, but Hurdle doubled down on boneheaded moves by inserting the teams 6th best reliever into the most crucial part of the game. Can anyone explain what sense that makes? And no, “ever other manager would do it” is not an explanation, its an excuse.

    Anyways, enjoy the upcoming ballgames, buddy!

  66. Dom says:

    I know trivia question/answer in the column was in regards to the other major sports, but if the Royals do not have a winning season this year, they’ll be in the lead with 10 straight losing seasons.

  67. Jim S. says:

    I agree about the compliment part, NMR. But, there are 6 guys you’d rather have on the mound than Cole? And, for the record, I have been consistent that I don’t even think he is the best of the 4-some that includes Taillon, Glasnow, Kingham. But, he’s pretty good, and with 100 MPH stuff that should only get better, the sky is the limit. And I don’t think his sky will fall.

    AJ
    Wandy ???
    Liriano
    Morton ???
    Locke
    Gomez ???
    Cumpton ???

    Who are these 6 guys who are a better option than Cole?

  68. Dom says:

    In fact, if they didn’t have a winning season in 2003, when they went 83-79, then they would only trail us by one year.

  69. NMR says:

    Certainly would not agree with the 7th best starter comment, Jim, but is there really anything Cole has done that makes him any better than the teams, say, top 4 starters?

    The guy is just very, very hittable. Doing a great job of keeping the ball down and limiting walks, but teams aren’t getting “excuse me” hits off this guy. They’re tagging line drives.

  70. Bob Hasis says:

    This amazing group of sports gurus used to critique us that Alex Presley did not run “good routes” in getting to the ball.
    In just two days of having the laziest player ever back in Pittsburgh, we had visual – and accurate – evidence that Tabata is lost.

    In plain sight on Wednesday, Tabata broke toward the line on a ground single just through the second base hole, even raising a comment from Steve Blass, then yesterday he misplayed the blooper which cost us the lead (and the game) by taking an “S” to the ball toward the line – AFTER GETTING NO JUMP ON THE BALL at all, then pulling up while the ball dropped within 4 feet of him.

    This guy cannot play. JHay would have caught that ball, because he is quick and faster

    Presley, before we lose him to the option fiasco, must play. Tabata should be out.

  71. NMR says:

    Never said I agreed with the comment, Jim, just that it wasn’t anywhere close to negative regarding the team as a whole.

    But since you asked, I don’t think there is any doubt that – right now, on July 5th – AJ, Wandy, Liriano, and Locke are better pitchers.

    I’m also not sure I – or many other people for that matter – would put Cole squarely ahead of Morton based on this season alone, without Morton’s past struggles or Coles prospect hype in mind.

  72. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, NMR. Looked like a fun game to be there watching. Nice of your wife to come through with July 4th tickets. Is she a SABR-whiz also?

    I really don’t know if Cole is always being removed in the context of winning the game. I do believe they are taking him out to try to squeeze out extra innings later, and figuring if they can hold a lead when they take him out now that frees up innings for later. Yesterday, as I said, was the first time it backfired. You are correct about him throwing more pitches in AAA, but then they weren’t sure about the extent he would be needed in Pgh. Now, I believe they know he is needed so they are trying to cobble together a plan to keep him up as long as needed, without over-working him. But, I have been known to be wrong before … a lot!

  73. Jim S. says:

    I would say your statement about him being the 5th best starter right now is much more accurate, yes. 7th was a bit silly, I thought.

    I think he is somewhat hittable, but haven’t they been mainly singles? I think he is executing the organizational plan of pounding the zone low and hard to force teams to string 3 hits together to get one run.

    I would say that with Cole, though, the arm is different and they need to understand that. Going forward, he should be focusing on swing & miss dominance. He is not like all of the other pitchers who need to work that formula. His development needs to be different simply because of 100 MPH not growing on trees. For all I know, the plan is for him to develop 9+ K per 9 stuff – a la Glasnow and Taillon. But, maybe they told him this year is about getting experience and helping this team get to the playoffs, so just give us 80 hard pitches. Seems overly simplistic, but who knows? It has worked fairly well up to this point.

  74. Stuart says:

    DK,
    Definitely one of your best “notes” columns, especially the Steeler comment.

    This time last year I heard enough Mike Wallace to last a lifetime!

    Stuart

  75. Dom says:

    I’d hate to trade any of those guys too. Since we can never make a play in free agency, we really cannot risk losing too much of our future for the present.

    However, I wouldn’t say that we should avoid any trade that would include parting with Kingham or Glasnow, especially the latter. Since Alex Rios is picking his game up, I might be willing to pay a high price for him.

  76. NMR says:

    Haha, she’s unaware of my guilty pleasure.

    You make a good point about Cole’s plan adjusting. Definitely made me rethink my opinion.

    And yeah, I don’t want to sound like I’m piling on Hurdle. He’s had the magic touch thus far. But that specific move is one of my biggest pet peeves in baseball.

    Most crucial part of the game, and his solution is to send out Vin Mazzaro? Really? That’s the answer? Ugh.

  77. Dom says:

    Indeed. I really like the notes columns. It’s got something for everyone.

  78. Dom says:

    Ignore that “Especially the latter” part of my post. Like most, I’d rather keep Glasnow over Kingham.

  79. Jim S. says:

    I hear you on your take on that original comment on where Cole stands in the rotation.

    I am coming around on Morton, NMR. I think he has looked good so far. He caught a bad break last Sunday with the rain. I want CH to trust him a bit more now. I have always liked Charlie, but I admit to souring on him because of all the setbacks. I want that to be behind him.

    Wandy might be a better pitcher than Cole right now, and I’m not certain that is true but it is certainly a good question. But, he may not pitch again this year, and surely not any time soon. So, I don’t see how he could be considered one of 6 guys currently better than Cole.

  80. Jim S. says:

    Got it, Dom. These are all good points to argue, and no one is right or wrong. I would say that I’d add a 5th high end, but farther away guy into the mix. That is Heredia. He could be a beast, but has a lot of developing yet to do. I’d part with him as the key piece for an impact bat like Bautista. I wouldn’t like it, but as they say, you have to give something up to get something.

    Not being a GM, I don’t know if Heredia and other fringe prospects gets you JB. I would also not touch Polanco or Hanson, either, for the small market rationale you gave. And certainly not the 2 young first rounders. I see, BTW, that McGuire (sp?) had 4 hits (2 of which were doubles) in his debut yesterday. Actually, when I read that the game was still going on. For all I know, he may have gone all Rennie Stennett and finished with 7 hits! So, if the bat is behind the glove/arm defensively with him … very interesting.

  81. NMR says:

    You’re right, Jim.

    He’s limiting damage by keeping the ball down in the zone. And should be praised for that since one of his knocks as a prospect was his inability to consistantly do so.

    But one thing that has stuck out in my mind during both times I’ve seen him in person was the QUALITY of contact. Hearing the ball come off the bat is something that isn’t always picked up on television, and that is what has stuck out to me in person. The seeing eye single in the 6th was the only ball I remember NOT being squared up and struck hard.

  82. Nate83 says:

    I saw adjustments made after game 2. They played much better and stretched the ice and forechecked a lot better. It’s hard to blame them for not adjusting after game 1 because they were hardly outplayed. After game 2 was the appropriate time.

    It is OK to give Boston and Rask credit. They played great. It is also OK to blame the players. I’m sure the coaches wanted a net presence but hardly nobody ever got a body in front of Rask to create deflections and get rebounds. I’m also pretty confident the plan wasn’t to beat Boston’s active sticks by making cross ice passes in their own zone but they continually did that.

  83. Jim S. says:

    Bob:

    I was agreeing with you on everything. And, then … you said JHay would have caught that ball to Tabata in short right. Actually, DK and others at the game said it was evident to those attending that the ball was not catchable. I agree with you that it sure looked catchable on TV. But, I guess it is fair to argue. But, Harrison is not a right fielder. I saw a few balls last year where he was spinning like a top, back and forth, and backpedaling on balls over his head. You can’t learn RF defense by shagging balls pre-game very easily. He also does not have an OF arm. I don’t want to see him in RF again any more than I want to see (Cr)Inge out there. The ghost of Clemente shudders at novices being thrown into RF.

    Your larger point about Tabata, though, I think is on the mark. That play where he ran toward the line on a ball in the gap – I’ve honestly never seen anything like that at any level of baseball. Totally bizarre. He needs to start hitting immediately, and so does Snider IMO, or I go get a RF this month.

  84. Eric Bowser says:

    Here’s some stats that shouldn’t be all that surprising but buyer beware as the NHL free agency begins today. If you are a Penguins fan, don’t be bummed out if Ray Shero fails to sign a 30-something free agent, the statistics don’t like.

    As you’ll see, these stats are just one reason why I am not a fan of Shero’ recent work signing aging forwards like Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis to lock them onto the team for the next four years.

    Players 19-29 last season
    Median ‘Goal versus Salary value’ was 1.0196
    Median ‘Adjusted Corsi value’ was 0.725

    Players 21-25 last season
    Median ‘Goal versus Salary value’ was 1.308
    Median ‘Adjusted Coris value’ was 1.58

    Players 30-43 last season
    Median ‘Goal versus Salary value’ was -.022
    Median ‘Adjusted Corsi value’ was -0.505

    Players 30-35 last season
    Median ‘Goal versus Salary value’ was -0.004
    Median ‘Adjusted Corsi value’ was -.58

  85. Jim S. says:

    I believe the fan base senses a mediocre season, and turned their attention for the moment (rightly so) to: a) Pens playoffs; and b) Bucs contender status.

  86. DJ says:

    On the Pens, interesting comments by Dan B. Although I like him as a person, it seems clear he’s lost his way since 2009. When he came up from Wilkes-Barre I loved him for his energy, innovation and enthusiasm, but all I saw from him this past year was the tired and predictable, particularly in the playoffs.

    When we had an opportunity to develop two young players in the regular season — Bennett and Depres — he instead opted for the safe path of playing the vets. Would anyone have really cared if, by playing those two all along in the regular season, we had lost say an additional 2-3 games through their mistakes? And if they had been further along come playoff time, the “trust” factor we heard so much about likely would not have been as much of an issue for him.

    And what about those playoffs? From the drop of the puck against the Isles it was evident we needed speed/stickhandling over the perceived “toughness” of certain players. Yet he was slow to react in that series and, once he did, he failed to consistently stick with what was working all the way through to the Boston series. We thought we had to outhit Boston when we should have been outskating them, as Chicago ultimately did.

    The make-up of the lines and deciding upon where the new pieces best fit, determining who was going to man the power play (based upon performance, not egos), and having playing time / line combo repercussions when players did not do as instructed (giving the coaching staff the benefit of the doubt that driving to and staying at the net was demanded, not optional) — all of that is on the coaching staff. This year in particular I feel that staff decidedly let the team down.

    On the Bucs, totally agree on keeping our prospect arms. I would add Heredia and Glasnow to Taillon as three I would hope Neal would regard as untouchable. On Heredia, he could provide a needed infusion further out, when it may be most needed to round out our then existing staff.

    On Tabby and Snider, did not see much of the game yesterday but did see two plays. The Tabby non-catch off the looper to right field was pathetic. Saw some comments on the blog yesterday about that ball not being catchable. I strongly disagree and those who don’t should watch the replay. His failure to timely break on that ball and then his path to the ball once he did (not direct but circuitous) are the two things that made it uncatchable — but only for him.

    Snider lazily whiffing on three pitches in the ninth only further confirmed what I have been seeing from him virtually all year. Setting aside the big slam and maybe one or two other hits, he is just too incredibly passive at the plate. I think a lot of it is mental with him and I see him only going further south with less playing time.

    Borrowing a Hurdle-ism, Snider doesn’t go up to the plate with “bad intentions.” First pitch belt high, center cut and he takes it. Are we looking to force a higher pitch count there in the ninth with two outs? Given the public acknowledgement by the manager that your playing time is going to be reduced now, how about stepping into the batter’s box ready to go and with a display you are at least looking to rip it? Again, a nice guy (like The Fort) who just isn’t cutting it.

  87. Patrick(ri) says:

    Here is an odd thought. Why not switch Tabata to left, Marte to right, and shade Cutch to left? I do not recall Tabata getting as much flak when he played left, and you would get a Clemente-like cannon in right?

  88. Jim S. says:

    Yes, the contact is getting harder against Cole.

  89. Arriba Wilver says:

    Vin WAS coming off 5 perfect innings. Of course, there is always the idea of reversion to the mean. But it sounded like Hurdle had a lot of confidence in him after the 5 innings.

  90. Agree with moving Tabata, Patrick.

    My suggestion would be to another team.

  91. Nate83 says:

    First of all I love Cole and think he is going to be great, but the excuses from everyone has to stop. He is what he is at this point. He has an ERA close to 4. He has been hit reasonable well and hard in most of his outing. He is good enough and smart enough at this point to know how to minimize the damage. He is good enough to be a top 5 pitcher for this team but so are 7 other guys with 3 of them being ahead of the rest in AJ, Locke and Liriano. In my opinion Wandy, Cole and Morton all give us about the same chance to win a game they start. They will all have ERA’s around 3.5.

    The hype on Cole seems to be skewing everyone’s perception of how he actually is doing. Which isn’t bad but hardly great. I for one have no problem if Wandy eventually comes back healthy in a month sending Cole down when considering other factors like maintaining the same bullpen and player options. I don’t see why Morton doesn’t give the Pirates the same chance of winning as Cole.

  92. NMR says:

    I’ll add another notch to your comment on the ball that dropped in front of Tabby.

    Nobody catches that ball.

  93. Jim S. says:

    I think, Patrick the thinking is that PNC is flipped from a lot of stadiums. What I mean is you generally put your best OF arm in RF because of the longer throw always needed for 3b, and sometimes home plate (depending on the configuration of the stadium).

    In PNC, the distance to the RF is shorter. So, that takes some of the advantage of your best arm in RF away. The bigger issue in PNC is covering the huge amount of ground in LC, due to the notch. Marte and Cutch have to be in LF/CF. Many would say flip Cutch and Marte. But, neither of them can go to RF in PNC because LunchBox and Tabata could not handle the gap in LC.

    You could also argue that Marte should go to RF for away games. I guess they figure that is too much moving around – not so much for Marte as for Snider/Tabata. Marte could easily adapt.

  94. NMR says:

    You had me vigorously shaking my head in agreement – until the part about sending Cole down.

    There are not 12 better pitchers in the organization than Gerrit Cole, even with everyone healthy.

    If losing someone like Gomez or Mazzaro is the price to pay for keeping your best pitchers on the roster during a pennant race, I’m more than comfortable doing that.

  95. Stuart says:

    DJ,

    Have to say I agree in general, and specifically bout the Fort. I’d like to see Martin with the maximum time to mentor Tony Sanchez. I like Michael, but would prefer to see Sanchez right now.

    I think it’s also time to give Lambo an extensive shot at the bigs. A one month try out might clarify what is needed at the deadline.

    Stuart

  96. Jim S. says:

    Great post, DJ. I especially like the comments on Snider. He has to be thinking “if I get something center cut on the first pitch I am crushing it.”

  97. NMR says:

    With all that being said, Jim, I actually planned on coming in here and praising Cole.

    That changeup he showed in the first few innings is the kind of pitch that makes him a future ace. Don’t know where it came from or where it went, but I was very, very impressed while it was there.

  98. DJ says:

    It is difficult when at the game to take in the stroke of the bat, the direction where the ball is headed and to see how the outfielder has reacted to that point, and then draw a precise conclusion about catchable versus uncatchable.

    The looper to Tabby in right was eminently catchable once you see the replay which takes in each of these factors. He could have caught it standing up with a proper break and path to the ball.

    He’s a terrible fielder and reminds be of the so-called “5-tool” (no tool) imposter that we got from Washington a few years back, the former Met whose name escapes me at this moment.

  99. Jim S. says:

    Wandy is not coming back any time soon, if at all. And, if he does come back in, say, a month, there is no guarantee he will be anything near peak performance for another few weeks after that at the very least. Best case scenario is he will have been out for about 2 months with an arm injury. I think it is asking a lot to expect him to not skip a beat. We can hope for that, but I’d say the chances of it are less than 50%.

  100. Patrick(ri) says:

    Precisely why I labeled it as an “odd” thought, an experiment. I just recall that Tabata seemed more comfortable in left. The dimensions are intimidating, though.

  101. Karen22 says:

    Love my family…love my friends…love baseball…Oh, and you lunatics are pretty cool, too! Hold down the fort! :)

  102. Dom says:

    Would Bautista be available at the trade deadline? Although the Jays are in last place, he is under contract till 2016. It would seem like they’re throwing in the towel for this year, next year, and the following.

    Beyond him, there is Rios but I question how much better he is over a rental. I now I brought this up before but we gave away really nothing for ½ a season of Derrick Lee in 2011 and since it might be a crapshoot of who will perform in August and September, I might prefer we take someone with a lower ceiling.

  103. NMR says:

    I was directly behind home plate, which allowed me to see the pitch, swing, and Tabby in direct view. Somebody televison cannot do.

    The ball was not catchable.

  104. Jim S. says:

    Lambo is intriguing, Stuart. But, it took him a long time to master AA. He is also pounding the ball at AAA now, and I like that. But, the big leagues is a whole other thing. I would not bring him up to the pressure cooker right now. He is not far removed from a couple of struggling AA years.

    I would, however, give Presley some of Snider’s ABs right now. Presley is no star, but he has some pop and he will give it everything he has. If we catch him on a hot streak, it could at least build a bridge (vs. RHP) to a possible deadline deal in 3 weeks. Maybe it would also send a signal to Snider that he needs to not be so passive at the plate.

  105. NMR says:

    How’d that work out for him?

  106. Jim S. says:

    Refinement is what Cole needs. He needs to have consistency and confidence in 3 pitches to become Harvey-esque. He is not there yet, and that is ok.

  107. Thundercrack says:

    I heard this on a local bloggers’ podcast, regarding the backup catchers :

    The Fort only has one option left. It makes better sense not to burn it this year and save it for next year.

    Tony Sanchez can be the backup in 2014 and you can send McKenry to AAA. the Fort would be the depth in the system in case of injury. If you send him down now he wouldn’t have an option left and he would have to stay on the big league roster or pass through waivers. Catching depth is thin throughout MLB…I think it is wise to try to keep him around as long as possible

  108. Jim S. says:

    I don’t know the price on JB. That is a good question. I think he is available, but if there are several suitors the price would likely be higher than I would pay.

    I just don’t like Rios in a short stint. I trust JB much more to be an impact bat.

  109. Nate83 says:

    I agree about Wandy and that is why I think both Morton and Cole will remain in the starting rotation.

    NMR I understand your logic but injuries always happen and I would hate not having one of those two men who have pitched more then adequate for the Pirates all year. Wandy won’t be back if at all until much later and Cole can come back up shortly when the rosters expand and fill the same role Price did for Tampa Bay his first year.

  110. DJ says:

    I know a lot of people on this blog dismiss Lambo as a possible answer. I only saw a few of his at bats last year and was unimpressed, but the sample size was too small for me to say he couldn’t be an upgrade. Only thing I do know are that Tabby and Snider are not answers if we are thinking about a deeper playoff run.

  111. NMR says:

    When is it ok to do something crazy like – GULP – play the best players you have?

  112. Jim S. says:

    Lastings. Milledge.

  113. Jim S. says:

    I think we can all agree, hopefully, on the ball on Tuesday (or was it Wed?) that was hit over Walker to the RC gap. He took several steps toward the RF line. It was more than odd. I can only conclude that he simply was not paying attention, and then just started running.

  114. Jim S. says:

    Ha Ha! Different definition of moving.

  115. Nate83 says:

    I agree about Presley and Snider. He doesn’t ever seem to hurt the Pirates while being out there. You really don’t notice him much (unless it is for his hussle) and that is a good thing.

  116. Arriba Wilver says:

    I don’t see any way that Cole will be used like Price. No way. That’s just not in Huntington’s and Hurdle’s DNA. And that’s not a knock, just an observation.

  117. Drew71 says:

    Yes. Please.

    Hold down the Fort.

  118. Jim S. says:

    Also, a lot more balls are generally hit to LF due to 2/3 or so righty hitters. I like the out of the box thinking, though Patrick.

  119. Thundercrack says:

    I believe in long-term and short-term roster management.

  120. NMR says:

    Nate, the way I understand it is that you – and others – are worried that IF injuries happen, not having one of those pitchers would presumably increase the chances of losing more baseball games.

    Wouldn’t having inferior players actually playing the games as we speak also, presumably, increase the chances of losing baseball games?

    What am I missing?

  121. The Gunner says:

    Vin clearly didn’t have it yesterday & CH messed up, NMR. Let’s hope Clint’s crystal ball comes back to life in Chicago.

  122. Jim S. says:

    There is no doubt in my mind that Sanchez would be the back-up right now if not for the dreaded yips. He needs to prove he is over them, or they won’t make the move for the reasons Thunder cited.

  123. NMR says:

    For Michael Mckenry? Or John McDonald?

    At what point do we start outsmarting oursleves?

  124. Bob Hasis says:

    It “appeared” that Tabby got no jump whatsoever, and did not run with urgency toward the place where the ball was dropping. And his route to that spot was not a straight line.

    Typical Tabby.

    I didn’t intend to infer that JHay is a RF, just simply much quicker – and faster. I will defer to those of you who were at the game in saying that the ball was not catchable, but. . . . . .a slightly more honest effort by Tabby would have been appreciated

  125. Nate83 says:

    Besides not playing what has Tabby done this year that is not average to above average for most teams 3rd outfielder. I think he should get 90% of the at-bats from now until the trade deadline and let him play himself into or out of the Pirates long term plans. He still hasn’t turned 25 years old (insert fake age comment here).

  126. NMR says:

    This yips thing kills me. One comment in a column and now all the sudden Tony Sanchez can’t catch.

    If this problem is so serious, why doesn’t every team send runners at will?

  127. Jim S. says:

    If Lambo could do better than Snider and Presley right now, then I’m all for it. I’m sure they are considering this possibility right now. There is no babying of a 22 year old prospect going on with Lambo. He’s pushing 25 now, and if they feel he is the best LH hitting option in RF, I think we’ll see him. If we don’t see him soon, it must mean they don’t think he is a better option.

  128. chethejet says:

    Tabata has to hit better to stay out of the dog house. This is his time to show he belongs. My guess is he simply is not instinctual enough to get beyond his mundane approach. Shero has lost a lot of juice with me. But the owners have confidence in him and that is all that matters right now. Bylsma is one more passenger in the streetcar named good intentions on its way to coaching hell. He simply is not good enough. I suspect the players know that and just go along to avoid him being even doing more damage. Rios is a expensive journeyman who parlayed a bandbox stadium Toronto into a over priced contract. 12 million no thanks. PS his D is borderline Tabata. Snyder has the instincts of a another Jason Thompson at his peak.

  129. jefft says:

    Dejan…great article, but just as good of a pic of the city.
    OK, so now that the name Jose Bautista has appeared in here, and now that Dejan himself has brought up the trade topic over the past couple of days, I’m going to propose that the Pirates package James McDonald, Clint Barmes and Vin Mazzarro to the Blue Jays for Bautista. It’s a no-lose scenario, right? (:-))

  130. Patrick(RI) says:

    Good point about hit breakdown, but one last odd thought, would moving Marte to right virtually eliminate 1st to 3rd runners and limit the hit & run play?

  131. Arriba Wilver says:

    I didn’t interpret Coles mini-tantrum in the dugout as being upset at Clint for taking him out. That would surprise me. I thought it was either at himself or at the ump.

  132. Jim S. says:

    I don’t disagree that Tabata has talent, Nate. But, he has strained every muscle in the human body over the past 3 years and he takes longer to heal than an old man. Plus, there is the thing about not seeming to have a clue sometimes in the OF (heading to the line on a ball in RC). We’ve all just seen too much of this act to have any faith that it will change.

  133. NMR says:

    Yeah, really surprised at the amount of negative comments about the guy after coming back and going 3-7.

    If you aren’t comfortable with him due to his health, I think thats completely reasonable. But what he’s done in limited playing time this season has to be commended.

    Andrew Lambo is going to come up and do better than .284/.344/.420?

  134. Nate83 says:

    Well Gomez and Mazzarro currently have lower ERA’s then Cole and have middle relieved before in their career. It’s a role they are comfortable with and have excelled at. They are not replacing Legurski but guys who most teams would love to have right now. The combined current 12 man team ERA is something ridiculous like 2.2. I think but am not sure that Cole may have the highest ERA of the 12. If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.

  135. DJ says:

    I would say this is that year. I wasn’t sure if The Fort had even one option left. Since he apparently does, I would be sending him down for Sanchez. The Martin tutelage factor could be profound. Having him learn what it means to be a true professional could raise his level of play, particularly defensively given reports on Sanchez’s recent struggles.

  136. The Gunner says:

    I love the idea about the possibility of Bautista coming back here – it sure would change the thinking about Skinflint Nutting.

  137. Jim S. says:

    I didn’t mean to imply that he was disrespectul of CH, Arriba. I meant in a “I want the ball because I’m a competitor, and I have it under control” way. I think it is a good thing when a pitcher feels he can give the team more when he is taken out if he truly believes that. He also had to be a bit miffed at the ump for handing Howard a veteran walk there.

  138. Arriba Wilver says:

    It’s more than one comment in a column. Neal had an opportunity on the Fan to put it to rest. He DIDN’T. And while dodging the “yips” he acknowledged that he had been experiencing throwing problems. And, when Sanchez was brought up, he did not catch. It’s not imaginary.

  139. The Gunner says:

    I already sent Ms. Gunner an email asking that she gets her rosary beads out in the hopes it helps us reacquire Joey Bats. She replied she would do her best!

  140. Nate83 says:

    I agree. I think he hates to lose. I really like that about him. I would love for all players on the team to have that fire. As long as he can control it and stay focused on the mound. Which in the short amount of time I have seen him he seems to let the competitiveness fuel him and not hinder him.

  141. Patrick(RI) says:

    +1 I thought that was CH’s announced plan. He seems to be hitting pretty well (enough that I thought to pinch-hit for him was a bad call — it might have been nice to have Jones instead of Snider in the 9th). One last real opportunity to be a regular is the right move — I would settle for 80%.

  142. Dom says:

    If JB is available, I bet the Blue Jays want Polanco and Taillon in addition to someone like Marte to in exchange for him. Even if it would take fewer prospects, they certainly wouldn’t make that deal in exchange for only minor leaguers.

    I’m not sold on Rios either. I just think he might be the best of what’s available.

  143. Nate83 says:

    Plus it doesn’t matter because Wandy will more then likely be out for the entire year or until expanding rosters so all arms will be needed (Cole, Morton as starters and Gomez, Mazzarro as relievers)

  144. The Gunner says:

    Hey Bob, he had 2 hits yesterday and appears to be making more solid contact. But, we know what we are dealing with here – he’s a bum. Presley is a much better solution than Joggin Joe, Scabata, Flabata etc. etc.

  145. NMR says:

    Who said it was imaginary, AW?

    I simply suggested that it may not be as bad as it is being made out to be, if for not other reason than nobody here has really seen just how bad it is.

    And if you hadn’t noticed, Mckenry ain’t exactly doing much with the arm, either.

  146. The Gunner says:

    I agree with you on Flabata, Lucky. He can’t be long for the Pirates.

  147. Jim S. says:

    +1.

  148. Jim S. says:

    Only his contract.

  149. Arriba Wilver says:

    Oh, I don’t disagree the fire is good. And he has all the confidence in the world.

  150. Jim S. says:

    You are definitely correct about the stronger arm between LF/RF typically going to RF, and it is because of throws to 3b. So, depending on how high of a value you place on throws to 3b would dictate whether Marte should play there. I believe they have concluded, and I would agree, that covering the huge LF area at PNC is a greater priority.

    It will be interesting … and very fun when Polanco gets here – if he is as good as the org. thinks he can be. The OF we will have then should easily be the best in MLB in a long time. I’m not counting the chickens, yet, on that. Just considering it, and liking the possibilities.

  151. Naterosboro says:

    Notes on Notes on Notes on Notes….

    * Absolutely there’s no trading of Taillon. No ifs, ands or buts….

    * Sucks to lose 2 of 3 to the cross-town rivals, but the season series belongs to the Pirates at 4-3. Suck it, Philly.

    * I don’t mind giving Tabata a shot for the next month in RF. And by that, I mean giving him the majority of ABs until the trade deadline. If he can hit steadily, I don’t think the Pirates need to make a move for RF.

    * It’ll still be necessary to get starting pitching help, especially with Wandy shutdown for 3 more weeks [at least] and James McDonald now shutdown for another 2-3 weeks. Say what you want about James, but if he’s healthy and right, he’s pretty good. And could’ve been an arm to help ease the injury crisis.

    * I was a little miffed by the decision to remove Gerrit Cole in the 6th inning with 2 on and 1 out, and he had only thrown 78 pitches. No disrespect to Vinny Maz (as he’s done pretty good work out of our ‘pen this season), but I’ll take Gerrit’s arm in that situation. You need the ability to get a strike out or ground ball there.

    * Dan Bylsma affirmed my view that Tuukka Rask played out of his mind in the ECF. He also affirmed my view that the Pens virtually got 0 bounces (or luck) in that series. Sounds like a recipe for 4 straight losses.

    * The previous statement is a large reason I’m not a “puck nut”. Yes, I like to watch hockey. But, it’s kind of hokey. And don’t get me started on a sport that actually ALLOWS fist fights……

    * I think the buzz with the Iginla deal was that Pens fans saw this as a piece to solidify the cup run. It didn’t happen. And Iginla looked every bit the 35 year old he is in those playoffs. He looked worn out by the ECF. That’s why I don’t think you hear a lot about him not returning. Add in the fact that the Penguins have inked Kunitz, Letang & Dupuis, and there’s just no more brain room to spare for Jarome.

    * Not sure why Flyer’s fans are ripping the Letang deal, but yet going crazy over the Lecavalier contract (at least that was the initial reaction I saw on twitter). I can understand ripping the Letang deal (some feel an annual cap hit of $7.25mil is way too high (and I’d counter this is a Norris trophy finalist that is only 26 years old)), but 4years/$22.5million for a declining Lecavalier? Who’s been on the decline for about 4 years now? Why not just bring back Briere? Score another 1 for Homer (Paul Holmgren, Flyers GM)….

    * Big Ben was at the Big Ben. I guess just scouting out Wembley for the Steelers trip this season.

    * I hope everyone had a great 4th of July. America’s birthday. I guess we have to call it the best day of the year. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!

    HAVE A GOOD 5TH ERRYBODY! START THE WINNING STREAK AGAIN! BEAT ‘EM BUCS!

    :-)

  152. Bob Hasis says:

    AW even considering your infallible ESP and prescience, how are you able to ANALyze Coles mind set at that moment

    CH never gave the guy a chance to win – or lose – his own game.

    The score when Cole walked off of the mound was 2-1 Pittsburgh and he had thrown 78 pitches

  153. DJ says:

    Cole’s post-game comments about being taken out inched towards him being miffed at Hurdle at being pulled, and then he wisely pulled back and said it was his fault that he gave him a reason to.

    I’m with Nate that Cole’s competiveness — that bulldog mental toughness — is the kind of thing this team has lacked since AJ came aboard. The more we add to that with guys like Cole, the better. No more putting a happy face on a failure to produce (JMac, Barmes and others). No more time for excuses.

    Speaking of excuses, didn’t Tabby offer one up before he returned to the line-up, something like he wasn’t 100%? I guess some wouldn’t fault him for his honesty, but I would almost rather the player not offer any comment in that situation. It’s almost like he wants to diminish everyone’s expectations in case he doesn’t meet them right out of the gate. I don’t think we will ever see anything like that from Cole, or Taillon from what I have heard from him following his losses. You gotta’ love their mental toughness.

  154. pattonbb says:

    Andrew McCutchen has never hit into more than 9 double plays in a season. So far this year, he’s already hit into 7. Not sure why I mention that, just caught me off guard.

    Tabata has been aggressive at the plate in his first two games. I think that’s a good sign for him. Unfortunately, his defense still needs some work. Initially, I said he should’ve caught the bloop that fell in front of him yesterday. I was wrong about that. He’ll never make that play.

    I think there will be trades made. I think they will get a RF. And I think it will cost them a couple big prospects NOT named Taillon or Polanco.

    Hope everyone had a good day yesterday.

  155. Kevin says:

    I care that future hallafamer Iginla’s gone. Unfortunately, Crosby didn’t want him… and we re-signed his two wingers instead. And frankly, Iginla didn’t belong anywhere else on this team. We tried to put him on the wrong wing of Malkin and that failed miserably. At this point, I’d rather see them try to bring back Morrow to put on Malkin’s wing as a net-front presence.

  156. Arriba Wilver says:

    You’re right, NMR, I’m the only person on this board who hasn’t noticed that about McKenry.

    May not be as bad? So bring up the guy who hasn’t caught one major league game? When they feel he’s ready, I’m sure they will bring him up.

  157. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, Snider is scuffling. Maybe Presley could infuse some energy for a couple of weeks.

  158. The Gunner says:

    I don’t like Tabata but, let’s give him one last chance to seize the RF opportunity. He appears to be in good shape and not worthy of the Flabata name at this point. But, if the same old Jose surfaces, DUMP HIM!!!!!

  159. Jim S. says:

    That has been my take on it as well, Arriba. More than just a little bit of throwing issues.

  160. Eric Bowser says:

    Again, Captain Obvious here…

    Players 19-29 averaged 3.617 games injured
    Players 30-43 averaged 5.694 games injured

    So… not only are 30+ players less productive, there is a higher risk of injury. I’m not breaking ground here but figured on a day when fans will lose their mind because a free agent wasn’t signed, remember why a good GM would be wise to know these stats.

  161. AJS says:

    I will praise cole for his stuff and for his work ethic. But I have a hard time considering him any more than a great talent at this point. Measuring talent alone he may be the best pitcher on the staff. But as far as actual pitching goes, he’s at best #5. Locke, Burnett, Wandy, Liriano. Those are your top 4. At least for now. We’ll see what happens with Locke as the season wears on.

    Gomez and Morton have similar ERAs to Cole’s. They are definitely craftier. Cole probably gets the edge as the number 5 strictly using talent as a tie breaker.

    Cole will be awsoem if he continues to develop. If he hits a wall he will be looking at balls flying over the wall with great frequency.

    As the league lears his tendencies he will have to learn to adjust.

  162. NMR says:

    I don’t see why Cole SHOULDN’T be upset at Hurdle for taking him out of that game.

    The whole reason for this new, more efficient Gerrit Cole is to pitch further into games. He entered the 6th with just 67 pitches, I believe, which is exactly what has been asked of him. He proceeds to get squeezed by the ump and battle back from a 3-0 count before giving up a weak seeing eye single through the hole only to get yanked before even giving up a run? For Vin Mazzaro (who was already warming up before Howard’s walk, by the way)?

    If Gerrit Cole is any type of competitor, you can be damn sure he was upset about not being given the opportunity to work out of that situation. As he should’ve been.

  163. NMR says:

    Agreed, Gunner.

  164. I’ve seen enough, Gunner. Many see more in him than I do, though and I defer to them.

    I’ve been wrong plenty of times before, and I don’t mind admitting it.

  165. AJS says:

    i don’t know why you put so many question marks by Gomez. his results as a starter are similar to Cole’s even if by doing it in a less eye popping way.

    I’ll take all of those pitchers except Cumpton. he needs some time. I will also put a caveat on Morton. I’ll take him when his sinker is moving and he sticks with it. unfortunately we are seeing less and less of that.

    So there are 4 guys I would put ahead of Cole and 2 that I think are right there with him from a results stand point. that’s 6. so arguing he could be the seventh best really depends on how you feel aout gomez and morton. which you obviously aren’t very fond of.

    in the end Cole should be a much better pitcher than either of them. But for now, the outcome of the games he pitches and their performances in them aren’t all that different save for the 100 mph heat Cole tosses up there.

  166. NMR says:

    AW, when he’s ready, just like Jordy Mercer?

    Or does Mckenry have to get injured first like John McDonald?

    Jim, so whats the worst case scenario? Teams run successfully on Sanchez? How would that be any different than what is already happening to Mckenry?

    If you don’t think Sanchez can top Mckenry’s .200/.258/.344 performance at the plate, then sure, keep him in AAA. But if its throwing that you’re worried about, I’m not sure how it can get any worse?

  167. Jim S. says:

    I have said, he needs to hit … he needs to stay focused on the field … he needs to show some urgency … and he needs to stop breaking down every month or so.

    Tabata doesn’t get injured barreling over catchers or diving for balls. He keeps getting injured simply by running or swinging. Those are core requirement sof his job. He needs to be counted on to not get injured over and over on seemingly innocuous plays. Maybe he just has one of those bodies that breaks down. If so, then it is time to replace him.

    And the manager and GM both questioned his focus and effort last year, which got him sent to Indy. Maybe he is over that. But, some of his plays in the field already don’t seem to reflect it. The rest of the team will not stand for that if it continues, and neither will the Manager. I thought the Tabby coddling by the team ended last year. I put a lot more stock in all of his performance than just his ABs.

    I have no faith in him, but am open to having my mind changed over the next 2 weeks. After that, get someone else in there.

  168. AJS says:

    Teh only thing that could bring him here is his wife. She’s originally from the area. i actually went to HS with her. But I believe her family has since moved out of town and thus that draw probably isn’t even there. It would have been a long shot anyway.

  169. DJ says:

    On McCutchen, I think it is obvious. He’s trying to pull the ball too much instead of taking the outside pitch to the right side. The spray chart Wehner put up 5 or 6 games ago confirms it. The fact that he only has one triple this year is further proof. It’s cost his average 10-15 points as well.

    There is no more beautiful sight in baseball than watching McCutchen take the outside pitch to the right field gap for a triple. Unfortunately I have seen it only once this year.

  170. Arriba Wilver says:

    NMR–so, you don’t think they know what they’re doing with Sanchez? Maybe they haven’t noticed the Fort’s having difficulties, either.

  171. AJS says:

    I saw it on TV and thought it was uncatchable. Just out there in no mans land.

  172. Naterosboro says:

    Absolutely. I was talking with a friend of mine (who’s a Phillies fan) and we were talking trade deadline. He asked me if the Pirates have enough to give up to get players they need.

    I assured him they did. That’s 1 thing I’m not worried about. There are enough quality players down on the farm that acquiring ANYONE shouldn’t be a problem.

    But, again as NMR points out, we’ll have to see who they’re WILLING to part with.

  173. Naterosboro says:

    Where is Robinzon Diaz these days?

  174. Arriba Wilver says:

    And I don’t think you want to bring up your designated catcher of the future and risk him not being able to throw the ball back to the pitcher.

  175. Jim S. says:

    This is not a particulary important comment. Just something I found interesting when I read it. The Mets need to make an annual lump sum payment to Bobby Bonilla of $1.193 million in July …. and every July until 2035. It is good to be Bobby Bo. It is really good to be Bobby Bo.

  176. Reading says:

    I suppose the stats won’t bear this out, but my impression watching the game yesterday was that Cole was throwing too much offspeed stuff. He only hit 100 once that I recall and seemed to be throwing mostly low to mid 90s. I know that MLB hitters can supposedly lay waste to 98-99 mph heat if it is thrown too ofyen, but that high heat is Cole’s strength in my non-pitching coach opinion, and I wanted to see more of that yesterday.

  177. Bob Hasis says:

    Your operative phrase (sentence) is, “He’ll never make that play”. IMO others could have. Also IMO, he lacks desire and is lazy.

  178. AJS says:

    That’s a hard call to make for me. Cole seems like the kind of guy who can come in for a couple innings and just blow people away making him a great fit for the pen. But at the same time is his future as a top of the rotation starter better served by going through the day to day routine of a starting pitcher? Going 6 or 7 every 5th day with bull pens inbetween to work on developing his other pitches?

    i don’t know. i go back and forth.

  179. Personally, I wouldn’t trade Taillon, Polanco or Heredia for anyone in either league right now.

    That may sound ridiculous with all the great ball players and talent out there, but we have to look down the road as well as to the playoffs and streak-ending this season.

    Those 3 and Marte, Cutch, Cole, Pedro, Walker and others will keep this team in the thick of it for years. Not to even mention, Meadows, McGuire, Glasnow, Kingham, Bell and some others.

    No more Pirate jokes and longest-losing streak punch lines.

  180. Tom P. says:

    +1

  181. NMR says:

    AW, no, I actually have no problem with how they’re treating Tony Sanchez.

    Kids hit the ball well for three months in AAA. I’m fine with leaving him down until September, given Fort’s miniscule playing time.

    I simply disagreed with the comment that the “yips” are the only thing keeping him from winning the backup catcher job.

  182. DJ says:

    Yes, thank you.

  183. NMR says:

    See, thats what I’m talking about, AW.

    What possibly gives you the idea that the “yips” are THAT bad?

    How many games have you seen Tony Sanchez catch this year?

  184. AJS says:

    It is funny how just two years ago we were looking at essentially the same roster we have now and using the phrase “Free XXXXXX!” for any minor league guy who had a good week. Matt Hague anyone?

    How things change in two short years.

  185. Scott says:

    “I’m sure the coaches wanted a net presence but hardly nobody ever got a body in front of Rask to create deflections and get rebounds.”

    This is a pretty damning statement, don’t you think? If the players have stopped listening to the coach’s instructions, the Pens are in big trouble going forward.

  186. Patrick(RI) says:

    Yes! Watching him “downshift” when he sees a potential triple is wonderful to watch. The way he can end a slide so abruptly is also a sight to behold.

  187. Arriba Wilver says:

    I agree on Cutch getting the triple–beautiful. Haven’t seen such a fun thing since Clemente doing it. It did remind me, though, of something that’s been banging around in my head. Even if Marte is clocked faster sometimes, Cutch just looks faster (on the basepaths). Something about how he runs, and when he kicks in the extra speed. It’s like when I was driving my Dad’s old 442 and I’d kick in the 4 barrel.

  188. The Gunner says:

    Lucky, we are in the same camp on #31. Hopefully, this time is his farewell tour. Presley is definitely a better option.

  189. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1 Scott

  190. NMR says:

    I guess I should’ve clarified that in my scenario, Cole stays in the rotation over Gomez and Morton (if and when everyone gets healthy).

    Logic being that Cole can go deeper into games than Gomez and Morton’s control issues and bad lefty splits can be minimized out of the pen. Not necessarilly saying that Cole is heads above those two right now as a starter (I agree with your post above), but that the other two fit better in the pen in this specific scenario.

  191. DJ says:

    NMR: Did you watch the replay when you got home? If so, did you think that: (a) he had a quick and proper break off the bat; (b) that he proceeded directly to where the ball was about to land; and (c) he did so with constant speed and not one eye on our first baseman, thinking there might be a collision or that the first baseman might take him off the hook by fielding the looper?

    Regardless of your seats, the eye is not picking up all of these elements simultaneously. With the benefit of replay, and seeing it more than one time to focus separately on pitch, bat, fielder breaks and paths towards ball, it was clear to me it was catchable.

    If think someone earlier said it best that it was not catchable for Tabby, a point I do agree with.

  192. AJS says:

    I somewhat agree with this. Cole needed to start mixing in his other pitches to keep hitters honest. But it may have been a little too much yesterday. I have no pitch counts to back that up though.

    Getting squeezed on Howard was rough. But the next three pitches were nowhere near the zone. A hard call to take him out right there. but I can see why it was done.

  193. Arriba Wilver says:

    I always thought it was a cardinal sin in professional sports to suggest (at least publically) you lost because of bad luck. Cowher and Tomlin wouldn’t even do it in a one game playoff.

  194. 21sthebest says:

    I’ve never seen anyone cut bases better than Cutch.

  195. The Gunner says:

    2 weeks of Tabata should tell the tale, Jim. But, I think he will screw it up somehow & his plug will get pulled quickly. I am open to giving the bum ONE LAST CHANCE. They are probably trying to showcase him as the trade deadline approaches.

  196. 21sthebest says:

    Honestly, I don’t think he’s trying to pull as much as we think. I just think his timing is off. The pitches I think he’s pulling are the offspeed stuff down the middle. You can see him pulling off the ball and opening his left shoulder too quick. Tons of grounders to third on that pitch lately.

  197. theplanisworking says:

    My only concern with Cole is his temperment. When he didnt come North in ST, he lashed out. Yesterday, when he didnt get the calls, he became visibly upset. I like the fact he is competitive, I worry he is too emotional………….. leading to bad outings.

  198. Bizrow says:

    + 1

  199. Jim S. says:

    Here’s my thinking, AJS. I put question marks by Gomez because he has a very spotty past, and the Manager says the reason he keeps pulling him at 75 pitches is because that is when he loses effectiveness. I think Gomez has been huge for this team this year. I am not down on what he has done. But, I think if the 75 pitch thing is accurate, he is a valuable long reliever.

    Morton has been injured an awful lot. over the years, and is coming off major surgery. He has been effective, at times, when healthy throughout his career. But, he also has approx. a 5.00 lifetime ERA – so he has his issues. I like his stuff, and I think he can be valuable the rest of this year – maybe moreso than Cole. But, a sure thing as a starter?

    Wandy is not on this team’s active roster now, and he won’t be for at least a month. He could be done for the year. I hope not, because he is a solid veteran lefty. But, why do people keep saying he is more valuable than Cole when he might be done for the season?

  200. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  201. Jim S. says:

    Something to be monitored, for sure Plan. Could be a maturity issue. Searage needs to work with him to harness it. He is far from a finished product.

  202. theplanisworking says:

    Hopefully that will go away with time.

    I just see a kid that needs to control the fire a little bit.
    He IS a top-notch talent…….. something the Bucs have been better at getting.

    Oh, and whatever happened to his college teammate? Bauer or something? Werent there fans wanting him over Cole?

  203. Jim S. says:

    I doubt it. I think the sides have lined up pretty firmly on that one, Gunner.

  204. Nate83 says:

    I actually agree with your statement Scott and almost put something like that as part of my post. My bigger problem is not with Blysma’s game plan but with it not being implemented. They are an extremely good team when playing with discipline. It seems as if they are not listening you either have to change coaches or players. This off season has seen them do neither.

    3 years with the same players running into the same wall. I’m not sure why they think running into that wall a 4th year will net differant results.

  205. Jim S. says:

    And, btw, there are about 99% on the “he’s cheap” side.

  206. NMR says:

    DJ,

    Not disagreeing with you.

    With the benefit of replay in which one already knows exactly where the ball will end up, what trajectory it will take, and how fast it will get there – Tabby did not excecute the play perfectly.

    That being said, players don’t get the benefit of replay for do-overs.

  207. Jim S. says:

    Maybe if she and Jandy could work the beads together, we might have something Gunner.

  208. Arriba Wilver says:

    I hope it isn’t his farewell tour, because a good Tabby is wayyy better than a good Presley. But, in any event, he needs to show he can stay on the field and keep his “mind right.”

  209. theplanisworking says:

    +1

    Agreed.

    Goes to the “excuses are for losers” line.

    And, you make most of your own luck.

  210. Bizrow says:

    IMO, you don’t throw a rookie who has never caught in the show into a pennant race, there is plenty of time next season to let Sanchez learn from Martin.

  211. Jim S. says:

    But, because of lefty vs. righty hitters, Gunner, the question is Presley vs. Snider. Don’t you think? Presley won’t hit LHP for any length of time, IMO.

  212. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’ve already explained this, NMR. See above.

    If we can’t comment unless we’ve seen it, especially at the minor league level, then most of us, including me and you, should just shut up.

  213. Eric Bowser says:

    TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Pens are about to sign Rob Scuderi to 3-4 year deal for $3 million per season. I like Scuderi but what does this say about Despres and Bortuzzo? Has to mean the end for Niskanen right?

    Soooo much for getting younger on defense and roster…

  214. NMR says:

    I think there is truth to this, but I also think that at least as much comes from approach as well.

    Think about that bases loaded at-bat yesterday. Worked the count in his favor and got a juicy belt high fastball which looked to be middle-away from my vantage point. What does he do? Swing out of his freakin’ shoes trying to hit the ball to Penn Hills.

    Fast forward a few pitches and we get the grounder to third you speak of.

  215. Kevin says:

    why can’t Kunitz & Dupuis be the exception? They are playing with the best player in the world afterall. (as far as production)… as far as injury-risk, totally agree. most important, a healthy Sid.

  216. Jim S. says:

    True. And I like these discussions about internal options more than anything a year or two ago.

  217. NMR says:

    If only you took half the advice you offer others, AW.

  218. ‘Mawwiage”

    ——from The Princess Bride

  219. Jim S. says:

    NMR:

    I am growing more and more frustrated with Fort. He has not had that great hot streak this year that he had last yr. That streak made his sieve-like defense easier to tolerate.

    I am for Sanchez, if and when he is ready. I believe they know Fort is not getting it done. If they truly thought Sanchez was ready, he’d be here.

  220. Arriba Wilver says:

    ?????

  221. Jim S. says:

    He’s not cooperating on the showcase part, unfortunately.

  222. Arriba Wilver says:

    The ??? We’re to NMR’s comment about “If only you took half the advice you offer others, AW.”

    Are we having a discussion about Sanchez or are we just taking shots?

  223. pattonbb says:

    Just saw the Pens said there’s nothing between them and Scuderi, which means he’s probably on his way to Pittsburgh.

  224. Naterosboro says:

    Just a little update, retweeted by DK:

    ” ‏@RobRossi_Trib 2m

    #TribHKY Told there is nothing firm between #pens and Scuderi yet. They are a top destination if nothing done with #LAKings. Others in mix.”

  225. Bizrow says:

    Just got a tweet from Dejan – nothing firm, but a top option if things can’t be worked out with LA – this came from Rob Rossi

    Maybe they will deal Orpik?

    Interesting, one would think defense would be a strength with this club, and they’d be looking for Cooke/Adams replacements

  226. Jim S. says:

    Good catch on the Tabby statement that he is not 100%. I think he said he wakes up not feeling so good, but once he gets treatment at the stadium he feels fine. If you feel fine when the game starts, why tell us about how you felt before you had your first cup of coffee. This guy has maturity, focus, effort, toughness issues, IMO. One of the worst moves by NH was the long contract, even though it is not a ton of money.

    Clock is ticking, Tabby. Please prove me wrong. I’d like nothing more.

  227. I agree with Wilver Dornel.

    Lowside, Presley is better.

    Upside, Tabata is better. I hope this is not his Farewell Tour but his Coming Out Tour. He is needed.

  228. Jim S. says:

    Pragmatic, Lucky.

    If I had to make a quick estimate, FWIW I’d say at least 80% of the posters fall in the camp of holding prospects in order to compete for the longer term.

  229. Arriba Wilver says:

    Good to see my two favorite posters on the same page.

    bob— I’m not. That’s why I said it was my interpretation, not fact.

  230. Except Pittsburgh Power, who draw more fans——6700/game in 3 seasons, 5700/game this season——than those boys who run around in shorts over by the river.

  231. Jim S. says:

    You beat me to it, DJ. You nailed that earlier in the week as well.

  232. DJ says:

    OK, but I think he played it into a single. I was therefore curious as to what made you conclude it was not catchable, either by Tabby or any player.

    The overhead shot from Root convinced me it was since you see each of these elements unfold from above, which affords a better perspective than sitting behind home plate. Although not as good as the Root feed, this MLB link to highlights (lowlights for us) offers some perspective, although more limited than the Root replay I saw last night.

    http://wapc.mlb.com/play/?content_id=28603937&topic_id=8879974

  233. NMR says:

    I just don’t understand where all this newfound confidence in the Front Office’s readiness evaluations has come from.

    Have we forgotten about last month when Jordy Mercer wasn’t a major league quality shortstop?

    Or when Gerrit Cole wasn’t ready to be a successfull major league pitcher?

  234. Jim S. says:

    Need to fight through bad breaks. But, they can and do affect outcomes.

    The game is so long and there are so many plays to be made that any one play can generally be overcome.

    On that point, though, NFL fans are the worst when it comes to whining about one play here or there totally affecting the outcomes of games.

  235. NMR says:

    What I find interesting is that this sentiment among fans has seemed to reverse since last year.

    Not sure why, and don’t even necessarilly disagree with it, but different nonetheless.

  236. 21sthebest says:

    I thought that was a good, hard swing. Mechanics were fine, IMO. Pitch was just a little up.

  237. Arriba Wilver says:

    I, personally, didn’t make even a little deal about either of those. Maybe you should be conversing with others about that.

    My point was that there is more evidence than DK’s column reference that Tony is experiencing something more significant than an inability to throw out runners at second.

  238. Jim S. says:

    Marte is fantastic between 1st and 3rd. But, Cutch is the best in MLB. Maybe a homer on this, but they may be 1/2 in MLB.

  239. Arriba Wilver says:

    Or at least was.

  240. Jim S. says:

    I think Cutch has the quickest bat through the hitting zone I have ever seen.

  241. DJ says:

    I would normally agree with you if we already had even a marginally competent back-up catcher, both behind the plate and at the plate. I don’t think we do. This is one area where I would take a “risk”, if you even want to call it a risk.

  242. Jim S. says:

    I guess I effectively argued both sides there. Sorry.

    Meant to say that bad calls can & do affect outcomes at times, but you have to find a way in all of the things that go on in a game to fight through bad calls.

  243. Arriba Wilver says:

    +10

  244. Naterosboro says:

    I think it’s cause you’re seeing the fruits.

    Cole up and has pitched pretty good so far.

    Taillon throwing well in AA and in the WBC before the season started.

    Polonco, Hansen, and others continuing their development.

    I think when you add in the fact that the team is playing well, Bucco fans have a more optimistic outlook on guys from our minor leagues playing well.

    In the past, we were depending on Bryan Bullington’s and the such (a proclaimed #3 when drafted like 1st overall haha!) to get us there. The difference in talent in our minor leagues is worlds ahead of where it was in the past.

  245. 21sthebest says:

    Quickest hands I’ve ever seen.

  246. DJ says:

    Totally agree, Jim. In my view, we have coddled and babied a few players the last couple years only because there were no better options. No time or reason to do that anymore.

  247. 21sthebest says:

    I think he’s a prima donna with a long way to go. In maturation that is. I think he let the ump get to him, and I think hissy fits in the dugout are reserved for veterans. And when you’re told you’re starting the year in Triple A and you’ve barely pitched there, shut up.

  248. DJ says:

    Agreed. A lot less desperation from Bucs fans. Seeing certain pieces fall into place this year like Locke, Liriano, Cole, Martin and, to a certain extent, Mercer, brings a sense of calm, not panic.

    Those things at the major league level and a pipeline of very respectable minor league talent that will be under our control and therefore affordable (appreciating a good portion may not / will not pan out) helps establish a “Let’s do our best to win now but not forsake the future” mentality.

  249. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think it’s called taking new facts into consideration. Seems like a good thing.

  250. Bizrow says:

    This is indeed a change in opinion from last season.

    To me, unless you are going to make a real splash, why just go and get someone very similar to what you have right now.

    And the club will have to overpay for any acquisition, regardless of the level of talent that comes back to us

  251. AJS says:

    You didn’t ask who was more valuable. You asked who was a better pitcher. Value wise no one is more valuable than Cole. i was setting injuries aside and going strictly by who gives them the best chance to win. If you take out Wandy due to injury then of course Cole moves up.

    i also have my reservations about Morton. He can be so good and then so bad from one start to the next.

    I guess my problem…not really a problem…but reservation with Cole is he gets hit hard. The ERA isn’t there. At least not in comparison to his peers. I love to watch the guy pitch. eye dazzling stuff. i just don’t see how he is head and shoulders above a couple of the other guys.

  252. AJS says:

    Have you been paying attention to teh past two seasons? Defense is a strength? In what way? Depth? Does a bunch of guys who have never put on an NHL jersey before really count as depth?

    They have a bunch of offensive minded vets and some way young POTENTIAL shut down guys. And Orpik.

    LeTang is interesting in that he plays purely on instinct and skill. Should be much better on offense than he is and his defense can be good if he wants it to be.

    Orpik is all defense and very good at it.

    Martin you have to take the good with the bad and he seems to be the only guy who can lug the puck on the power play.

    Despres I don’t know what to make of. haven’t seen enough. Some very good, some very bad. Maybe more geared to the offensive zone.

    Niskanen – this guy gives me fits.

    Engelland – just a thug. No real defensive or offensive skill. Toughness is needed but this guy drives me nuts.

    Bortuzzo – Dude trips over his own skates.

    I like Eric’s idea about getting younger on defense. But that is a lot of youth all at once if you are going to rely on guys like Pouliot or Samuelson.

    Scuderi is a real shut down type guy. I would put him in the line up over Niskanen or Bortuzzo or Engelland almost any day of the week.

    The pens aren’t going to go on a youth movement anytime soon. They will keep plugging in vets with marginal pay to try and fill out the roster and get just enough role players to keep near the top.

    It is hard to argue with keeping possibly the two best players in the world around and a Norris trophy finalist for a few years now. But of the three I would have let Letang walk. Especially in light of possibly bringing in Scuderi.

  253. 21sthebest says:

    I’m not sure anyone is saying to get something similar. I think there are a lot choices to upgrade right. What exactly is a splash anyways? I mean how good is a splash? Seems vague.

    I also see a lot of this sentiment since Dejan wrote his column Wednesday.

  254. DJ says:

    McCutchen’s kick 15 feet before second base through the shortstop position on his way to third is worth the price of any ticket in the house.

  255. DJ says:

    Saw and thought exactly the same thing, NMR. And he should have been thinking South Hills and not Penn Hills.

  256. Bizrow says:

    Yes, defensive depth is the strength of the system, look how many draft choices and additions have been made there.

    Now, look similarly at the forward positions

    Just sayin

  257. DJ says:

    I would put him and Bonds in the same category, of those I’ve seen in my lifetime.

  258. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  259. Bizrow says:

    ESPN is reporting Scuderi is “very close to a decision”

  260. Lad9 says:

    Not taken as a knock and on the surface it does seem like a double standard so I understand the comment. First, I was not in the pitchfork and torch parade on Bylsma. I like him and I think he is a pretty good coach, particularly in the context of who is better and also available as a replacement. My thoughts on him were strictly confined to what I considered a disturbing lack of awareness around the fact that his team got swept by what most would see as an inferior collection of talent as compared to his team. If you don’t learn from a failure in sports, then you are not growing as a coach. I hope I am wrong and his comments were the kind meant for the great unwashed masses – say something but say nothing. Like a lower body injury diagnosis.

    Tomlin is a quality NFL head coach with a Super Bowl win, another Super Bowl appearance, and a .656 regular season winning % and a .625 post season %. He does things the traditional Steeler way, and by any objective measure is a great success. I have my nagging doubts about stubbornness and personnel evaluations, but I can’t argue with the results. Still I feel a little bit like Jim below.

    As far as Jamie Dixon, it is my belief that the best is yet to come. (Stress my belief) While not a perfect comparison because he had no chance while at Army, it took Mike Krzyzewski until his 11th year as a head coach to make a final four, and he didn’t win one until his 15th year. Duke fans wanted to run him out of town on a rail after year 3. Dixon is entering his 11th year as a head coach, albeit at the same school. Doesn’t mean he will make it this year – just drawing a parallel. My statement about wanting Dixon to run my program though, is based as much on the man and his quality as on winning. While I of course want to win, in college sports I would not want to do it with a Barry Switzer/Kelvin Sampson type, who apparently viewed the NCAA rules as ” suggestions”.

    Turk your comments are fair and I recognize that I could be in he minority in my feelings about college sports. Also my perspective is undoubtedly skewed as I have two close relatives working in college athletics and I have some idea what hoops they have to jump through for some of these other coaches that are not of the same caliber as Coach Dixon. Thanks for your invitation to comment. Will check back here tonight.

  261. Kevin says:

    the “piece” is coming back to Pittsburgh?.. holy cheese and crackers.

  262. pattonbb says:

    +22

  263. NMR says:

    Haha, excellent geographic reference.

  264. DJ says:

    Some maturation needed, sure, but prima donna is a little strong.

    I like the fact that he was pissed, and I also could not fault Hurdle’s explanation after the game for taking him out. I think both were reasonable. I also think this will serve as a good step forward for both and that Cole will be better for it the next time out. Part of growing up at the major leagues.

  265. pattonbb says:

    Scuderi is coming back to Pittsburgh. Done deal.

  266. Bizrow says:

    4 years for 13.5 mm

    Surprising as all get out

    Baseball thread is up

  267. Eric Bowser says:

    Pens have signed Scuderi, 4-years $13.5 million per…. very surprised they are spending this kind of money on a defenseman with Orpik and Niskanen as UFA next summer, Despres cheap at $900k, Bortuzzo cheap and all those young D coming up.

  268. Lad9 says:

    Saw a guy with a Lastings Milledge jersey on at the game on Wednesday. I think he even took the wrong route to the beer stand – and then dropped I! :)

  269. Bizrow says:

    + 1

  270. DemonDachshund says:

    The money part should be a no-brainer… That contract is very reasonable for a player like Bautista, and the revenue stream increases should more than help pay for it. Yes, it bumps their payroll up significantly, but that’s the cost of contending.

    That being said, I have to believe the Bucs would have to give up a top prospect to get him, and I’m positive they won’t do so. And for a 33 year old, I can’t really say they’re wrong.

  271. DemonDachshund says:

    Hey, if I can change my opinion of NH, I can change it on BN.

    I seem to remember something along the lines of “we’ll spend when the ballclub plays well enough to warrant it”. Well, this ain’t last year, when there were 3 or more glaring holes in the lineup. There’s one big gap in right field that could sure use filling.

    If it’s prospects preventing the move, fine. While I still think the overvalue those guys, I can live with it. If it’s money, that’s a bigger problem, unless we’re talking one of those crazy $20M+ a year guys.

  272. DJ says:

    Ughh, 4 years. Two would have been my limit, particularly given what we have coming up.

    This is probably a sign they are looking to move Nisky.

  273. tpbco says:

    Jim-

    I dunno. I watched every game, every second. IMO, the Pens did not get a bounce the entire playoffs. They were just good enough to get through the first two rounds that way…in other words they DID fight through it as long as they could.

    Islanders- From the crazy bounces off the bank boards that chased Fleury to having to get reorganized when Sid came after the game one 5-0 shutout. No question it was a bad match up on top of that after GMRS retooled the team. They won the series – I give them a pass for lack of “style points”.

    Sens- They were just better and nothing else mattered. NO ONE wanted to play them after the last two games when they outcored the Sens 13-3.

    The came Boston. Let’s remember that there were still 18 guys on the team that won the cup 2 years prior. I do not believe the talent differential was that big to easily offset the cohesiveness of the Bruins. Also, again IMO, that week off FAR more benefited the Bruins than the Pens, they were gassed and beat up AND had they time to insert the defensive system that they employed. And then came the posts…Sid hit the post 20 seconds into game 1. THAT, could have changed the series all by itself. By the time the series reached the end of regulation in game 3 (while it still mattered) the Pens had hit, by my count 10 posts to 2. Including 87 AND 71 hitting the post late in game 3. I watched a lot of hockey and more in the playoffs than ever and saw nothing even resembling that. Yes, the Bruins hit a few post atpcofter that, but the series was over and it mattered little.

    I firmly believe to win a championship at the pro level in any sport, where talent is relatively even…you have to play well, get the calls, avoid key injuries AND get the bounces. We can go through Pittsburgh sports history since 1970 and pick examples in every sport to support this, including the Imaculate Reception, because remember…if that ball didn’t bounce perfectly, it didn’t matter what Franco did or didn’t do on that play.

    Just my opinion, with the benefit of hindsight, and also being over the emotional investment from the Pens playoff run.

  274. tpbco says:

    No doubt more moves coming.

    HOWEVER, we beached and moaned when they didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t match the offer when Scuds went to LA and every playoffs since…NOW we will beach and moan because we DID sign him, because we gave him too much.

    Ain’t it great to be a fan?

  275. TJ says:

    I would like to officially apologize to Milo for our back and forth earlier this week concerning Shero’s comments about wanting to get younger. I fought long and hard to prove that our veterans were not much different in age than the ones in 09. Then Shero goes out and gives a 4 YEAR deal to Scuderi. How long is that compliance buyout good for? Is it able to be used any time during the length of the new CBA?

    As for Shero’s comments on getting younger I’m going to say that maybe he was speaking of himself and not the team. Who wouldn’t like to be younger?

  276. Lad9 says:

    Jim above

  277. MadTurk says:

    Wonderful stuff, Thanks for responding.
    I like Dixon as our coach and would not want a change. I like Bylsma as our coach, no one has been better during the regular season. I know there are things others and I can point out that could/should be different but as I see this past run the players needed to step up no matter what the game plan is. Two goals in four games with the best so called talent in the league does not make it the fault of the coaches alone.
    The players we brought in were not a fit for our system or speed we like to play at. Although Shero is considered a God by some I believe he failed in bringing the type of players we needed. Some on here want Bylsma fired, I do not, I want the type of players we had during the last cup win. We don’t have them. That is mostly on defense where we need the help in my opinion. Now as well on the wings. What’s the old saying? You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it. Same is true for a good coach in some respects. He can lead them to the playoffs but the players have to step up and score. Hockey to me is one game where they so called play is a starting point. the shots taken are hardly ever the shot drawn up on in the playbook. Scoring is on the players they have to make it happen.
    We hit a lot of posts and did not put the limited rebounds in the goal when we did have that chance. I think people took Bylsma words about the luck out of context. Tell me a coach (see Tomlin) that ever says anything that is straight (comprehensible)?
    I am still holding out on Tomlin, he has not lived up to the standard he keeps repeating over and over. This year will be a telling year for him as a coach. I am in wait mode.
    Thanks for your feedback.

  278. MadTurk says:

    PS Jim’s reply was good as well. Although I don’t buy the it’s all on the coach (hockey), different sport different people in charge of the hiring and firing.

  279. MadTurk says:

    Great Post

  280. MadTurk says:

    Like and agree with the post Like and agree with The Biz man below as well (forwards are needed).

  281. MadTurk says:

    + a gazillion

  282. Lad9 says:

    I think we are basically on the same page Turk. And I do agree that the Pens got zero breaks against the Bruins. I just believe that it is important to recognize what you didn’t do well, and my take on Bylsma’s comments was that he didn’t. You are probably right in that I took them out of context. I would like nothing more than to see him have a long, successful run at the helm of the Pens. Thanks for the great exchange!

 
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