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Sunday column: Pirates’ best left behind?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

The Sunday column looks at three Pirates who didn’t get picked for the All-Star Game but just might — that’s might — be their best position player, best starting pitcher and best reliever.

My thanks to all three for their help with the piece, especially Francisco Liriano for filming this video right after a very loud bullpen session yesterday …

Here’s our full Pirates coverage.

I’m off to New York early this morning, arriving in time to cover the All-Star Futures Game and the Pirates’ participating prospects, Gregory Polanco and Dilson Herrera.

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.


  1. Patrick(ri) says:

    No comment, just an Alpha test, per making your frenzied life more complete.

    DK: You complete me, Patrick. Congrats.

  2. Reading says:

    Lincecum with a no-hitter going to the bottom of the 9th.

  3. Piglegs Robinson says:

    Speaking of Polanco, I sure hope they don’t trade him.
    He is reminiscent of a young Dave Parker. Guys like him come along like once every 30 years or so.

  4. pattonbb says:

    Tim Lincecum just no-hit the Padres, Congrats, Freak, Fire one up.

  5. Reading says:

    148 pitches. 9-0 over the Padres. Weird scene as Padres crowd going crazy with each pitch. Booing ball calls.

  6. pattonbb says:

    They started that early too. It was strange to watch.

  7. Ghost says:

    In your interview Liriano tips his cap to Russell Martin. Jason Kendall had some fine years here as a hitter, but he really didn’t blossom as a signal caller until he got to Oakland. How long has it been since we’ve had as good a defensive catcher and game-caller as Martin?

  8. Ghost says:

    The Padres have utterly collapsed and their fans know they don’t have much to look forward to for the rest of the season. The ones in attendance probably appreciated a historical pitching effort, regardless that it came from the opposing dugout. Have attended games at Petco Park. Even when their team is competitive, SD fans are pretty well-behaved anyway. SD isn’t Philly or New York.

  9. tom p says:

    Can someone explain to be for letting Taillon stay out there and get shellacked light that last night?.

    That line score is something that would even raise J Sanchez’s eye.

    Now that NH has realized what it takes to build a major league bullpen, how about he try those principles, and use them to build a major league caliber bench.

    If Gaby couldn’t catch the ball, he would be totally useless to the Pirates.

    How about a guy like Willie Bloomquist for the bench.
    Aoki as a lefty complement for Tabata , when he goes bad/gets hurt.
    Ibanez, Morse , Headley, or Morneau, to get some meaningful hits from the 1st base position.
    Maybe another arm for the pen, prefer a righty.
    Do you think the Yankees would bite on a Hughes for Sanchez(Gaby), straight up?.
    I have a feeling, the Pirates have been showcasing Tabata, as a decent piece for a somewhat blockbuster deal.
    At least since he has returned, he is making people notice , and not in a bad way.
    Still think he’s a dog!.

  10. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    Literally just got back to the homestead from the 5 hour drive back from PNC.
    Met up with Johnny Ray 3 at the game. Helluva nice guy!
    Good times!!

    If I could get one of you to re-post the Sunday Pick ‘Em for me, I’d really appreciate it.
    No chance I’m going to be awake in time to post it myself.
    I’ll update the standings sometime this evening.

    Total Hits by the Pirates in today’s game
    0 – 4 (DOUBLE ODDS)
    5 – 8 (EVEN ODDS)
    9 – 12 (EVEN ODDS)
    13 – 16 (DOUBLE ODDS)
    17 or More (TRIPLE ODDS)

    GOOD LUCK!!!

  11. John Lease says:

    What, you didn’t enjoy Craig Wilson as a catcher? :)

  12. JAL says:

    JAL’s Baby I’m a Fool Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    5 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    6—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: An Amazing Stat That Shows How Good the Pirates Have Been This Year

    All-Star Andrew McCutchen Supplies Power for 4-2 Pirates Victory

    Prospect Watch: Jameson Taillon Gets Hammered; Blake Taylor Makes His Debut

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Andrew McCutchen gets 2 key hits in Pirates’ 4-2 win

    8 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Why the Bucs should send Gerrit Cole back to the minors

    9 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Bullpen, Cutch Too Much For Mets As Pirates Win 4-2

    10 Rumbunter

    Something needs to be done about the Pirates’ bench

    11 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 4 Mets 2

  13. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 New York Post

    Mets drop second straight to Pirates

    13 Detroit Free Press

    The Lowedown: Jim Leyland’s 1986 Pirates were hardly All-Stars

    14 Beaver County Times

    Perrotto’s Three Thoughts: They’re bluffing

    Mehno: Bucs have bigger problems than Inge

    15 KDKA

    Mercer: Barmes Has Helped Me On And Off The Field

    16 CBS Sports

    Mets vs Pirates Game Preview

    17 Bloomberg Sports

    Lincecum Pitches No-Hitter in Giants’ 9-0 Win Over Padres

    18 PBC Site

    Clutch Cutch, bullpen send Pirates past Mets

    Notebook: Locke scratched from Sunday start, All-Star Game


    19 Amazin Avenue

    Final Score: Pirates 4, Mets 2 — You can take the reliever out of the bullpen, but you can’t take the terrible out of the bullpen

    20 Fangraphs

    Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier, and #2 Hitters

  14. JAL says:

    Baby I’m a Fool Melody Gardot 2009 Contemporary jazz vocalist and songwriter. If you see her perform she be wearing sunglasses due to being hit by a car in 2003 which left her many injuries, including extreme sensitivity to light. Video filmed like a Busby Berkley number.

  15. JoeyBats says:

    Hoka Hey everyone!
    Pirates win…Pirates win!!! ….LVI wins down, …and XXVI to go.
    Yes, GM Neal and Mgr. Clint ….82 wins DOES make a difference.
    Beat Em’ Bucs !
    PS: Another (expected) awesome performance from the pen…..thanks to Justin, Mark and All Star GRILLED CHEESE.
    PSS: Ready the brooms…..ready the brooms — no better team to use them on, today…….

  16. Jim S. says:

    I don’t think he’s going anywhere. Dreams of 3 great defensive CF all playing the same OF are dancing in Clint’s and NH’s head.

  17. Jim S. says:

    Not in my lifetime, which goes back to mid-Sangy or so.

  18. Jim S. says:

    Something tells me Drew’s boss was on the receiving end of another heckling reminder that these Buccos have no plans to go away any time soon.

    Lance Lynn got lit up in Chicago, while the Buccos were doing what the Buccos do this season in Pittsburgh. So, we’re tied for first place with 70 games to go.

    The vaunted Reds are gasping for air at the moment.

    I said before the weekend that finishing pre-break with 2/3 would be ok. We needed to stabilize things. But, not now. Today needs to be all about breaking out the brooms again.

    Oh, yeah, and not that anyone noticed. But, the fans of Pittsburgh are supporting this team in sellout fashion a lot lately! Great to see!

    Go get ‘em today, Mr. Cole.

  19. Only 148? Wonder if his arm fell off.

  20. Brandie says:

    I like Jazz. Have to check her out. Thanks.

  21. Drew71 says:

    I forgot to do that.

    On it.

  22. radio wave says:

    Plus 1

  23. Drew71 says:


    Though it’s MUCH more fun at 4:00 AM.

  24. Jim S. says:


  25. Brandie says:


    Great piece today. The fact that there is excitement buzzing around this team is a testament to the dedication to build strong pitching and defense. Just got to get that offense a caffeinated Jolt. I sure do wish Russell “Cadillac” Martin was going as he is a fine, luxury upgrade over “The Beer Truck”, but we have 4 selected to the game that are not mercy, sympathy picks. Hooray for progress.

    DK: Thanks, Brandie.

  26. Brandie says:

    Drew!!!!! Good to see you and Jimster!

  27. Bob Hasis says:

    R. Biertempfel quoted CH in this morning’s Trib, “I’ve learned that I’m going to be second-guessed when I get it wrong and second-guessed when I get it right”.

    This is neither of those, just a simple criticism.

    On Friday night when Marte led off with a double late in the game, CH had Tabby sacrifice. It was a perfect sacrifice, but needless and silly. CH had to know(I hope) that Cutch was going to be walked – no matter what Tabby did (other than a line drive double play), so why take the bat out of Tabby’s hand who is a very good right field hitter? A ground ball out to the right side – with a chance of going through for a hit – would have achieved the same result as this bunt.

    The following events occurred; Cutch was predictably walked, a lefty was brought in to face Pedro (who K’d), and subsequently we do not score THE WINNING RUN then, after a lead-off double.

    You can criticize our failures with RISP, but CH didn’t help that cause by eliminating one opportunity with his call for a sacrifice.

  28. Jim S. says:

    Bucs are at 56-36, tied with the storied Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals with the best record in MLB.

    Bucs have now gone .500 since being 16 games over last year. Fell to 79-83 by year’s end, but are now 20 games over .500 this year.

    Ponder this stat that i “Pirated” from a tweet this morning. Thank you, Pirates Prospects! Taking into account every 10-game stretch this year, the Bucs have never gone worse than 4-6. A new 10-game stretch starts every game. So, this isn’t just Games 1-10, Games 11-20, etc. This is Games 1-10, Games 2-11, Games 3-12, etc. I repeat: no stretch of worse than 4-6 all year. That is what consistent teams with good pitching do. They have a chance to win just about every night.

    It doesn’t mean anything for certain for the last 70 games this year, except that this is not a fluke so far.

  29. cherokee23 says:

    Nice 10 game stat……also like the Marte stat from DK, we all seem to worry more about what the kid does wrong(strike out alot), but his overall game is pretty amazing.

  30. JAL says:

    A win today will tie the 1971 Pirates for most wins by the team prior to All Star break. 57 wins would also match the total wins the 2010 team had. To be fair, the 1902 Pirates had an astonishing 67-23 record after 92 games.

  31. JAL says:

    The reason 67-23 does not add up to 92 is because they played two ties in the first 92 games. This was before lights so games could not go into darkness.

  32. Dave G says:

    67 + 23 = 90

  33. Dave G says:


  34. Drew71 says:

    Ah. A Notre Dame fan.

  35. Drew71 says:

    Brandy Cocktail and Jim (Holy) S the Jim Rat!

    Unfortunately Drew IS my nickname (for Andrew) and it’s pretty dull.

    Some guys were calling me Sally Field yesterday but I’m kinda hoping that doesn’t stick.

    Though just Sally is fine.

    Good morning!

  36. Drew71 says:

    Holy Crap

    Rust Never Sleeps

  37. Irish says:

    Maybe not, but a fine man he is!

  38. Brandie says:

    Hello, Irish!

  39. Brandie says:

    Nice Zinger, fellow alum.

  40. Irish says:

    Hi Brandie! My wife is also 5’3″… dyno-mite!

  41. Brandie says:

    Better than “Nancy” Drew!

  42. Drew71 says:

    I’m mostly not a fan of bunting so I agree with letting Tab hit.

    That said, in fairness, the other argument has some logic and should be shared.

    1. Bunt, man on third, one out.
    2. Clint probably assumed Andrew would be walked
    3. Bringing up Pedro who, when he doesn’t K, is the Pirates most likely fly ball hitter.

    In other words, playing for the sac fly.

    Ok. THAT said, it would not be my choice. #1, the bunt, requires execution. So it is a risk. If you could guarantee a successful bunt, I buy it. But since reality exists, I let Tab hit.

  43. Brandie says:

    Lad 9 gave me a good handle. I also go by Branimal, Mini Muppet, and Midget Muppet as well as Brandy Cocktail apparently.

    Got yourself a good woman then! 63 inch chicks unite!

  44. Drew71 says:

    Don’t mess with JAL, Dave. He was there.

  45. Drew71 says:

    Mine is 59 Inches Of Scrap Iron.

    Friday night, we drove from different directions to meet at a restaurant. I arrived 40 minutes before her (to test the beer for poison). I also ordered a water.

    The waitress had no idea that my wife was coming. (The waitress was cute.)

    When my wife eventually arrived, waitress quickly came to the table.

    My wife looks at her with one of those fake Iron Butterfly smiles, points to my water and says with tone, “May I have my OWN water???”

    Welcome to my world, cute waitress.

  46. Drew71 says:

    Well. There’s always Drewella Deville

    Which I kinda like.

  47. Bob Hasis says:

    Pedro is the most likely K with a lefty pitcher.

    CH aided and abetted the Mets strategy – knowing Cutch gets walked and Pedro faces a lefty.

    Those are the overwhelming odds in favor of the Mets.

    Oh CH could also have hoped for a wild pitch too. He just got out-maneuvered.

  48. Thundercrack says:

    *148 pitches from Lincecum last night. It will take him a year and a half to recover from that.

    *Rodriguez told the Yankees he was too worn down to go to Buffalo and join their AAA team. Hey, I’ve heard all the jokes about Buffalo, but they guy is being paid a butt-load of money. I get ‘worn down’ from mowing the lawn. That dude is a ‘trained athlete’, plus with know..enhancements, and he is worn down?!

    *DK going to NYC to cover the All Star Game. Does he know it is the baseball all star game? But hey, maybe he can interview the Statue of Liberty and see what she’s been up to lately.

  49. Bob Hasis says:

    CH takes the bat out of Tabby’s hand, Mets take the bat out of Cutch’s hand and Pedro now must face a lefty. Three excellent bats lost = less chance of a hit with RISP.
    In the end – WE WON. We’ve been doing it all year

  50. chethejet says:

    This team is second to the 1971 bucs in wins before the All Star game. Now you tell me, If this team remotely compares to that team? Oliver, Willie the Starge, Roberto, Hebner, Cash, Manny for starters. That team could heet the ball, play defense and had six batters that were not Punch and Judy hitters. I dothink the back end of the bullPen is better than the 71 bucs, and I give the edge to the 1971 staff as they were veterans of post season play.

  51. Drew71 says:

    I think it is a CREDIT to the current team that they are almost tied with ’71 yet don’t match their talent.

  52. Thundercrack says:

    Very nice article about Pedro in this morning’s Trib. Bob Cohn did a nice job.

    One of the many good quotes that jumped out at me, was this one from Pedro:

    “I would credit it to playing time, experience and getting repetitions.”

    – some might argue that he should have gotten more of all those in the minors.

  53. Vette60 says:

    Morning all.

    Great day and nice column as well. Bucs keep finding a way to get it done.

    Looking forward to listening to today’s game. Can’t believe that the Bucs are going for win 57 today to match the total from 2010.

    Take care all and have a good Sunday.

    Randy in RVA

  54. JHadar says:

    Probably Spanky

  55. pattonbb says:

    Tony Pena

  56. Dave G says:

    I was typing my math as he was posting his explanation for the difference. JAL’s clarification was up just before I clicked my ‘submit.’

    So my ‘gotcha’ meant ‘I understand,’ not ‘nailed ya!’

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