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Morning Java: Which Pouncey is the real one?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

NEW YORK — Morning, Lunatics …


>> The Monday column writes off Major League Baseball’s Futures Game, but also off something that happened far away a long time ago.

Here’s some of my talk with Gregory Polanco, the column subject …

And with Dilson Herrera, the Colombian infielder who was the Pirates’ other prospect here …

Things didn’t go so well for the parent club or Gerrit Cole back home. Karen Price reports.

But Mark Melancon became the fifth All-Star, no doubt to render my Sunday column somewhat dated only hours after publication. Rob Biertempfel reports.

>> Either Maurkice Pouncey is an idiot, or he’s really bright. But it’s becoming increasingly clear he isn’t anything in between.

Honestly, I can’t figure him out.

To see him on the field with the Steelers is no different than how he is in the locker room. Exceptionally intelligent at a position that demands it. Exceptionally mature in that he assumed not only the starting center’s job right away as a rookie, but also an unquestioned leadership role. He’s almost like an extra assistant coach, to borrow the football phrase.

But man, this Aaron Hernandez thing, that’s the behavior of an idiot.

That hawking of Pouncey-ware on his Twitter account within an hour or so of the Steelers losing the Super Bowl, that’s the behavior of an idiot.

He and brother Mike have some explaining to do, to be kind. No, this isn’t a crime. Free world, free speech and all that. But specifically where the Steelers are concerned, Mike Tomlin has admonished his players up, down and sideways this offseason to stay the hell out of the headlines. No problems. No drama.

And then this.

Just think, if Maurkice had his way, they’d both be Steelers right now.

Here’s the Trib’s coverage by Mark Kaboly.

>> When you see a bunch of track stars getting busted for dumping in rapid succession, there tends to be more to come. So far, the sport’s been spared the biggest name of all, but that’s kind of the elephant in the room now.

>> WPXI-TV’s ‘The Final Word’ featured Biertempfel and Jerry DiPaola.

>> I’ll check in with TribLIVE Radio today at 11:30 a.m.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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


  1. Always love your stuff with Rene Gayo.

    DK: He’s a good man but a better scout. It’s disappointed me this summer that, for all the singing and dancing that’s been done over the Pirates’ system, the one most responsible for the infusion of elite talent hasn’t been mentioned much at all.

    For that matter, the guy who’s next-most responsible — Bob Nutting, for wisely investing tens of millions into the draft and into Latin America, NEVER gets mentioned.

    Anyone know why this might be?

    I really don’t.

    • Those are darn good points Dejan.

      Howie Haak, sorry if the spelling is wrong was a pioneer in Latin American signing, he never got the credit he deserved until later in retrospect.

      Gayo seems to be on the same basic path, but the difference is 29 other clubs are trying to mine talent there

  2. * Seems few people want to report on it, team doesn’t acknowledge it, and for some fans better story to ignore Gayo in favor of Huntington’s guys. Just my two cents on that one.

    * For all the talk about the Pirates needing to address their bench (and they do) or right field (and they do) or first base (and they do) or another starter (and they might) or a reliever (and they should)… they really… really need a new backup catcher.

    * Things are so bad for good-guy Michael McKenry, the ghost of Rod Barajas could probably catch and hit better. You can’t go into the second half with a .182 hitting catcher that couldn’t throw out a one-legged base stealer. Tony Sanchez really… really needs to get to the majors or they have to find a backup catcher.

    * I didn’t see one pitch today, was up in Erie for the day but I did catch some twitter comments while driving around between stops. Sounds like Keith Law would have been losing his mind seeing McCutchen standing on deck as Tabata ended the game. Ouch.

    * If I had an employee who didn’t live up to the standards required of my organization, he would be kicked to the curb. Amazing how many chances the Steelers have given Pouncey already in his short career and after the directive by Tomlin and assuredly demanded by Rooney’s, this Hernandez hat is just stupid.

    • ( I haven’t read DK’s column yet)

      I listen to the NH Show almost every show. And I often hear him mention / credit Gayo.

      I think that most of the media in this town -excluding DK of course – have no idea who Rene Gayo is. And that is why most fans don’t know who he is. And I am not sure why someone would think that ‘for some fans better story to ignore Gayo in favor of Huntington’s guys’. Who are Huntington’s scouts? Who are his guys? The only one I heard about was the one that scouted (and knew) Grilli. (and I knew that from DK’s column). I have no idea who scouted Cole, Tailon, Mercer, Tony Sanchez, or Justin Wilson.

      Maybe sometimes the organization doesn’t want to go too overboard with publicly praising Gayo because of how their other scouts may take that. They want to be careful in singling out one scout for the spotlight. (just a theory).

    • Fido Eric,

      Don’t understand your critical baseball comments today. Did you notice that the Mets stole 3 bases in 5 innings against Russell Martin and AJ Burnett this weekend, with none caught? Doesn’t matter who the catcher is when AJ pitches. League average is 26 % Caught Stealing——McKenry is at 13 %, with 5 steals coming in one game against Reds with AJ pitching.

      McKenry entered today batting .197 with much fewer ABs this year to gain any consistency. Heck, Martin entered today hitting .232, so not a whole lot of production from starter or back-up. McKenry hit the ball hard today, but hit long outs. McKenry is not killing the Pirates. Overreacting?!?!

      Also I did not understand the Keith Law comment. And Tabata did not end the game with McCutch standing in the on deck circle——Jordy Mercer batted 2nd and made the last out. Tabata batted 5th. No “Ouch!”

      Lots of critical comments (some would call them “cheap shots”) toward individual Pirates today from you, and you did not see or hear game. It’s unlike you to be so inaccurate.

      Of course, if Twitter is your primary source, you deserve to be inaccurate!

      And, even implying that Pouncey should be “kicked to the curb” is hyperbole!

      • McKenry does not have fence power – merely warning track power. “Someone” needs to tell him, so he stops trying to emulate Pedro.

        I would love to see him use his power for the gaps, as he and Barmes did a year ago against Aroldis.

    • If the Pirates desperately need to get help at five positions, how many must the Reds need?

  3. Well just made it back to Carlisle after an amazing weekend in Pittsburgh. Tough to be bitter about heading into the break taking 2 of 3 from the Mets and winners of 3 of last 4 before break. Certainly a nice bounceback after the brief scuffling.

    Thing about this team I so admire is the play to the end no quit amongst them. The Pirates sent the tying or go ahead run to the plate in the 7th, 8th and 9th to put them in position with one big hit, today that hit just did not come.

    My kids got to run the bases afterwards what a treat to be down on the field afterwards, got to see Neil Walker, Charlie Morton, Bryan Morris and Tim Neverett drive off and chat briefly with Bob Walk as he was headed out, neat underground parking lot for the players.

    I’m sure the next few days will fuel speculation on how to improve the team from bench bats, backup catchers and whether another corner OF is needed (Tabata has looked real good to me since his return). In the interim I’ll enjoy 56-37 and the chance the last few days to get out to that great ballpark and listen to much Bucs baseball talk on the radio.

    Interesting piece on Polanco, after all the reports and eye witness accounts of him certainly look forward to seeing him someday soon. Mr. Nutting should be commended for his commitment to Latin America and improving the facilities, scouting and budget as we not only see the fruits of that with the parent club (Marte) but is a large reason why the depth of the Bucs system has dramatically improved the past five years and is considered a consensus top ten minor league system based on prospect pool.

  4. It amazes me how some of these pro sport athlete’s get through college when you consider how stupid they really are. I mean in the NFL alone you’ve got murders, rapists, idiots like the Pouncey brothers, drug users, gang members, and some all around morons that do stupid nonsense that I can’t even remember.

    I’ve been to college and some of the classes are tough. Are these guys actually passing their courses are are they getting pushed through the college system because they’re exceptional athlete’s? If they’re passing their courses what degree’s are these guys graduating with because there sure are a bunch of idiots among the pro sport athlete’s.

    • I am sure this could be documented, but i don’t trust any big time college basketball or football program.

      How many of these top draft picks actually spend 1 minute in a college classroom after the season is over?.

      I am sure the % is very , very, low.

      The NCAA should make some kind of rule that if you have players who don’t finish out the college semester,they should be punished. Large amounts of $$$ should be taken away from the school, that they received for being in a bowl game/NCAA tourney game.

      In my mind, these guys should be ineligible , and the schools should pay dearly, for letting them get away with it.
      If they don’t make academic “progress”, the school should face the consequences.
      It would never work, as the big schools, like Penn State, would just doctor the records, like they have done on other occasions.

      • Some say that college athletes are considered “amateurs” is a joke. Others point out that the overwhelming majority of these kids will never have a whiff of the pros and are being exploited by the schools.
        For the kid who actually bothers to go to class and get an education, these days that’s about a $200,000 value for a private school or out-of-state public school. One solution would be that for any kid granted a scholarship, the option of returning to school, STILL UNDER SCHOLARSHIP, for a ten year window should be instituted. That would cost $$$, but probably not too much as, unfortunately, many still probably would not avail themselves to this.

  5. What a bevy of conversational material tonight. I too, haven’t even read the Monday column yet. Before diving into that:

    * Pouncy-”ware?” I literally thought I was going to read about Markice’s own line of tableware. “Ware” probably isn’t wrong, but I think “wear” intended.

    * And tracks stars probably aren’t violating the WTO, but rather the WADA (“dumping” > “doping”).

    * (Please excise these first three bullet points once you’ve considered them.)

    * I cannot get into the mind of the Pouncey brothers, but I do not have the urge to “pounce” on them. Margaret Thatcher, love her or hate her, once defended and provided exile for the vile Chilean ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet broke ranks with the rest of Latin America and provided intelligence and logistical assistance to Britain in their war with Argentina over the Falklands. Thatcher felt untold numbers of British lives were spared because of Pinochet’s help and she felt one stand by one’s friends in their darkest hour. You don’t have to agree with her, but comprehend her sense of loyalty. Separately, Franco Harris stood by Joe Paterno to the end. Again, Franco may have been severely in the wrong. But he considered Paterno a like a father and a friend, and his actions and judgement –to his own personal detriment — were governed by his loyalty.

    I am only guessing that the Pouncey brothers are also being blinded by loyalty. They are compartmentalizing their ‘brotherhood’ and feelings for Aaron Hernandez from everything the public has been hearing about this case.

    I would like to think that I, myself, wouldn’t give aid and comfort to someone and odious as Augusto Pinochet. But at the same time, I sure hope that if I have a desperate moment of need that I have a few friends who will stand by me no matter how bleak my outlook is. As long as the Pouncey brothers, themselves, have done no wrong, they can be in Aaron Hernandez corner all they want and I am not going to point a finger at them.

  6. Very tantalizing, the idea that Marte, Cutch and Dave Parker Jr. might someday soon be our outfield. But one impression I get from watching the soft-spoken Polanco speak on video is that he probably isn’t the type to declare “When the leaves turn brown I’ll be wearing the batting crown.” (Parker was great!)

    Incidentally, Dilson Herrera gamely did his best before the camera, though English still is clearly a struggle for him. Wish him the best. Meanwhile, Polanco, though distinctly accented, didn’t seem to miss a beat in the interview.

  7. Dejan,

    Thanks for the column on Polanco. I’ve been really interested in your opinion, since you got to see the raw Starling Marte. I remember well your very in-depth piece on him when you were writing across the river.

    Thanks also for the background story from the eyes of Rene Gayo. That really hits the spot for me.

    I always fear that if Rene Gayo is given too much credit, the BMTIB will can him for “marching out of step with the rest” or hogging credit or some such bogus accusation.

    Just keep signing them and sending them North, Rene!!

  8. Watching that Cubs-Cardinals game tonight was depressing. Everytime the Cubs tied the game or took the lead the Cards came right back the next half inning. Key basehit after key basehit. Two outs, no problem. Tied going to the top of the 9th? No problem. 4-run explosion. Cubs gone. No way the Hitless Wonders can compete with that the next 69 games.

    • Don’t worry, help is on the way. “Win or be fired” concentrates the mind wonderfully. And I mean that seriously.

      • Does not leave any wiggle room. Many jobs are like that. I am not sure why this was not the case with the bras in trust in the past, buy we are not here to dwell in the past. Time to push forward, muster the brain trust and address the needs, not only in talk, but in deed as well.

        Good Morning, Ghostie!

    • I agree. It was exciting to see Barney hit that 3-run HR though to tie it. Unfortunately the cubbies are who we thought they were. They still took two away from the cards, right?

  9. RBI? Like octopi? Say it isn’t so. Why are RBIs being shunned?

  10. Love the Gayo articles. I don’t have a problem Pouncey supporting a teammate that is not yet charged with anything. I do believe in due process, and if he is guilty (which I think he is), then we can blast his supporters. I am upset that Pouncey drew attention to a matter that is so polarizing, and really has no other consequence than making him look like a moron. Pouncey is fine supporting a guy that might have killed multiple people over the years. This is something that would be wise to just not get your name associated with.

  11. Good for Polanco and Herrera for being willing to do an on-camera interview in a language that is obviously very new to them. That takes some guts.

  12. Though ridiculous…..I’m not overly surprised about the Pouncey picture.
    NFL players tend to stick together like super glue these days, no matter what has happened.

    I can already see Hernandez walking.
    He’ll probably be back in the NFL by 2015 at the latest.
    Commercials soon to follow…..

  13. Couple of quick comments this morning on social media and stupidity;

    1. Again not saying the jury was right or wrong in the zimmerman case but some of the venom coming from professional athletes is disgusting. Shockingly enough Ray Lewis has been quiet through the whole thing.

    2. The more I see of Pouncey the less I see of him as a true Steeler. There was a time when players wouldn’t dare to do anything to embarrass the team or the Rooney family. My how times have changed. Perhaps the Pouncey brothers can both end up in New England where they can visit Hernandez on a frequent basis.

  14. Which Pouncey is the real one? …IDIOT or REALLY BRIGHT ??
    Aren’t these the same guys that were also “brothers & friends” with Chris Rainey, too? :-(
    Football ability is one thing……making “smart choices???” — YOI !!

  15. I think the Pouncey’s were referring to Jose Hernandez. His 2 stints with the Pirates were refreshing breezes with his constant fanning.

  16. Hoka Hey everyone,

    Just looking at how the Bucc OFFENSE stacks up to the rest of the NL at the All Star break – 15 teams in NL:
    Runs Scored:…..13th
    Total Hits:…..13th
    Home Runs :…..6th
    Stolen Bases:…..4th
    Batting Average :…..10th (.243)
    OBP: …..10th (.319)
    SLG:…..11th (.388)
    K: …..3rd
    BB: …..10th

  17. JAL’s Factory 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: Gregory Polanco Should Be Untouchable

    Cole’s Rough 1st Inning, Missed Hitting Opportunities Sink Sweep Chance

    Gregory Polanco: Futures Game Continues Outfielder’s Breakthrough

    Prospect Watch: Dickerson Has a Four Hit Day and Moving Back on the Prospect Radar

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates quietly lose to Mets 4-2, end first half of season

    Pirates reportedly interested in Nate Schierholtz, Alex Rios

    8 City of Champions

    Gerrit Cole struggles early as Pittsburgh Pirates fail to sweep New York Mets

    9 The Green Weenie

    Buc Bats On Break Early; Mets Take Finale 4-2

    10 Rumbunter

    Pirates GM Neal Huntington Show Recap

    11 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Mets 4 Pirates 2

  18. Tonight could be the most meaningful night of my sporting life.

    It’s all on you, Pedro.

    No pressure.

  19. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 New York Times

    Problems at First Base Are Giving the Mets Pause

    13 ABC News

    Pirates 2013: Pittsburgh Dares to Hope _ Sort Of

    14 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates Should Look To Acquire Michael Young

    15 The Republic

    Pirates’ Cole not ready for his start, takes blame for 4-2 loss to Mets–Pirates

    16 CBS Sports

    Mets 4 Pirates 2

    17 York Daily Record

    Frank Bodani: Baseball’s lessons in patience pay off for Pirates fans

    18 PBC Site

    Dropping first-half finale may be good omen for Bucs

    Big boppers ready to take their swings in Derby


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    20 Fangraphs

    2013 Park Factors Updated

  20. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Reactions to Maurkice Pouncey’s “Free Hernandez” hat

    Punter Drew Butler could be Steelers surprise for second consecutive year

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Overcrowding Not a Concern in Steelers Running Back Room


    23 Daily Mail

    Playboy lifestyle: Legend Ronaldo ‘hoping to buy’ rights to magazine in Brazil

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 12th July, 2013

  21. DK, “He’s got more tools than Tim Allen”.


  22. I gotta say, I am absolutely THRILLED for Melancon :)

  23. Keith Law had someone write in about Geno, said he should maybe be investigated for his practices. I think it was a documentary or something. Anyone know of this or see his chat?

    • I did, and was going to mention it.

      I’m firmly in Dejan’s corner on this one, but he’s also the only guy I’ve seen unconditionally support Gayo through the Pelotero documentary.

      There’s quite a bit of back story to this one.

      DK: Sure is. And as I type this, to this day, I am the only one who knows both sides of the story. Not hyperbole. I’m literally the only one. And the documentary, as even the agent himself has conceded on this very blog and on my Facebook page, told only one side of it.

  24. maybe Polanco can lend/send Pouncey some tools.

  25. “It won’t be long until Marte can shout advice from one outfield corner to another”.

    Nice ending to a good column.

  26. Well, here goes to see if I end up in the right place or any place.


    Good piece this morning on our future Bucco stars. Credit where credit is due to Rene Gay for putting the dream out in front and for Polanco and Herrera for working their tails off to continue the path.

    Maurkice Pouncey had a look at me moment. We looked at him, confirmed supreme idiocy and bad taste, now let’s move on.

    Looking forward to more juicy tidbits when the Steelers begin camp!

    • Yes, we should move on. Pouncey, however, still has the slight matter of having to face Mssrs. Tomlin and Rooney. Should be a hoot.

  27. OK. When has control of Romper Room today?

  28. Anyone else feel that our farm system really improved over the last year or so? We can deal Hansen and Kingham for Ibanez and over pay for a bench guy by dealing someone like Jin-De Jhang and still have a top ten farm system.

  29. Usually when I get busted for dumping in rapid succession my coworkers just complain.

    • Lyndon Johnson used to receive guests to the Oval Office while doing *that.* Is this the secret to how you win at negotiating, too?

  30. I appreciate Dejan supporting Gayo, I do.

    But not sure what more he wants as far as people giving Gayo more credit. When was the last time any other scout was mentioned on the blog?

    The guy who found Tyler Glasnow? Nick Kingham? The major league scout who recommended Mark Melancon?

    That’s the nature of the business.

    And as for Nutting, once again, thats called the cost of doing business. Don’t give me the bologna about patting him on the back for doing his job.

    • +1

      Especially on the cost of doing business comment.

      DK: And now you guys know exactly what I meant. There was a lot, lot, lot more to that process than cost of doing business. Some of it I’ve documented. Some of it I haven’t. It was well above and beyond, trust me.

      But again, the same people singing songs and writing poetry about others in the front office won’t give credit anywhere else.

      Couldn’t have illustrated that any better than these two replies. Thanks.

      • Dejan, who are you talking about?

        Just say it.

      • DK, among other things, are you alluding to why certain scouts left the organization over the last year or so?

      • Drew seems to be the only person that writes songs and poems.

      • DK:

        I think the implication from NMR and Nate83 was that the spending record amounts on guys like Taillon, Cole, etc. don’t show any special initiative. If you pick those guys, then you recognize you have to pony up or take the PR backlash. Considering how much flak the Pirates have gotten in their time, and especially after the Moskos / Wieters fiasco under the previous front office, paying up for those guys can be seen as “the cost of doing business.”

        That said, you’ve mention that some of the moves involved go “above and beyond” but haven’t been documented. If it was information given to you off the record, then it’s no wonder that it hasn’t been reported. But I don’t think it’s very fair to bag on these guys for not having the inside information that you do.

      • DK

        Your welcome. However I can help you convince your loyal readers that Front office is bad and for some crazy reason Nutting not so bad.

        I know there is a ton of stuff that we don’t know but until those tell all books come out I have to judge by what is reported by everyone and not just you and what I see.

    • “…thats called the cost of doing business.”
      I agree. Apparently the Pirates Latin Academy turned out really nicely, and it’s now yielding favorable results. So I’d give it a nod for that, as far as it goes. But yes, this is something most MLB clubs do/have, if I’m not mistaken. We should never have had to play catch up in this area.

      • It is something that EVERY major league club serious about building a team from the ground up is doing.

        And besides, this is exactly what the Front Office said it was diverting money from the major league payroll to do.

        Now we’re supposed to pat them on the back? Have we forgotten about 2009, ’20, and ’11?

        • Well, you may want to pat them on the back for the results they are getting from their efforts in Latin America.

          • You mean result. Singular. As in Starling Marte.

            • What about the guys DK wrote about today?

              • Those aren’t “results” in my book. They’re part of the process.

                And I still don’t believe four guys (Polanco, Hanson, Herrera, and I’ll even unclude Heredia) on the radar to POSSIBLY help the big league team in the next three years is anything spectacular.

                Again, not criticizing, I just believe that these successes are magnified under the scope of never doing a damn thing up to this point.

        • Good points all. And no, I for one, most certainly still have the first five years of this management team on the brain.

          • You mean those five years that they spent building the team and farm system that they have right now? Yep, I’ll always remember those five years fondly.

  31. In my opinion Rios would be an interesting player to add. His cost is high so hopefully if the Pirates are willing to take on most or all that salary it wouldn’t cost to much in prospects but I imagine one top 10 not named Taillon, Polonco or Hanson would be needed.

    If the sox want too much for him then Nate Sherholtz would seem to slide in nicely and shouldn’t cost to much. He seems like the type of player that won’t hurt you. Very well rounded and does a lot of things well. Rios could be high reward but also seems to have the possibility to give us nothing.

    • According to the Trib, the Pirates are in on Schierholtz and Rios.

      Buster Olney mentioned it in his blog, speculating that if Schierholtz is moved, it will be closer to the All-Star break. I’m inferring, then, that the White Sox might wait until closer to the deadline to move Rios.

      Personally, if Tabata can continue to perform, then I’d be more than pleased with Schierholtz. He’s not really great at anything, but he’s pretty good at most things and not bad at any.

      • Nate Schierholtz is a .321 lifetime hitter at Wrigley Field. This season he’s hitting .311 there. And a whopping .229 on the road. Be careful.

          • Exactly. No thank you.

            Ibanez, Byrd, or Kendrys Morales sound like good options to me.

            • To be honest with you, I say go for Morales AND Schierholtz.

              Someone said he’s strictly a platoon type. That’s fine. The Pirates have gotten next to zip from Jones, even against righties. Schierholtz could be an improvement on that immediately. Whichever one is hitting better goes in right.

              Meanwhile, Morales comes in and holds down the fort at 1B. Jones can come in and hit righties, Morales lefties…or, if the story of this season continues, Morales remains full-time.

              If you have to pick one or the other, go to Morales. But all the same, I think Schierholtz is an upgrade.

              • And darn it, I keep forgetting about Tabata.

              • The Garrett Jones-Gaby Sanchez platoon has a higher OBP, SLG, ISO, HR, and RBI than Kendrys Morales.

                Gaby Sanchez hits lefties better than Morales, and Garrett Jones righties.

        • What is that old saying? Let the buyer beware? That could be said for anyone.

        • I don’t know why Schierholtz couldn’t have success at PNC Park.

      • Schierholtz seems to profile just like a lot of guys we already have: Tabata, Jones, Snider.

        He seems to be another platoon -type player.

        • Huntington & Co. have made a lot of shrewd moves of late. But their handling of right field has been less than effective. Hoping they hit the jackpot when they trade this time. That, or Tabby finally keeps it going. But along with Snider and Gabby, don’t forget Jerry Sands was another of their July gems. More of the same will not do.

        • + 1, if you are going to make a move, be sure its a real upgrade

          • I guess my thought is, it doesn’t appear that the game-changing bats the Pirates need to really upgrade the line-up are out there and available. Other than Giancarlo Stanton – and is he even still on the block? – they don’t appear to be out there.

        • By that same token, Rios hasn’t been very good either. He’s pretty ordinary against lefties and righties.

          Schierholtz has been compared to McLouth – which of course can be a mixed bag. His batting numbers are heavily skewed towards Wrigley, but he does have an .862 OPS against righties, .825 against righty starters.

  32. According to Biertempfel, Terry Collins was quoted as saying that he thinks David Wright underperformed in this series because of the constant booing. I have no idea whether he truly believes that, but if it’s true, it not only vindicates those doing the booing, it establishes a blueprint for how to get Wright (and perhaps other “good guy” players?) off his game for the rest of his career. Something to think about…

  33. Here’s the thing that scares me me. Huntington panicked at the deadline last year.

    Hurdle was out there last week saying that they could have had Pence or Victorino but they would have to deal Marte. Sure other teams asked for Marte but in the end, when Pence & Victorino were dealt, nobody near the pedigree of Marte was involved. Instead of waiting, Huntington panicked & settled for Snider 16 hours before the deadline.

    As an aside, Schierholtz was involved in the Pence deal. Sure, go ahead & trade for Schierholtz today if you want to. But as a bench player. That can’t be all.

    • Not sure I buy that two and two equals four there, Milo.

      Hurdle’s comment was about big names in general, not JUST Pence and Victorino.

      And unless you were in the room (which actually might have happened), you don’t know how much salary the Pirates were willing to take on. That makes a difference in terms of prospects, obviously.

      • You’re right. But in the end, all things being equal, no one “like” Starling Marte was included in any of those deals. That’s just the reality of the situation.

        • The other reality is that those deals weren’t made with the Pirates. Could be that the Pirates were told Marte or no deal, I don’t know. Neither does anyone else who wasn’t in the room. That’s one of the reasons I hate to discuss trades that weren’t made. The fact is, the only way you know what was being demanded on both sides is if both GMs come out and say the same thing, and that never happens.

          We do know that Pence and Victorino didn’t do much after they were traded, though, so just about anything we would have given up would have been too much.

  34. Rene Gayo is certainly the man. My question is that he has been with the system for nine years. How come he signed so few big names in 2004-2006?

    I know he signed was in charge when we signed Marte, Hanson, Polanco, and Heredia but all of those gentlemen were obtained in 2007 and beyond.

    Did Bob Nutting have something to do with this when he became the majority owner?

    DK: Hopefully, Dom, someone can dig up some links to stuff I wrote back then about what a deplorable mess Latin America had become under Kevin McClatchy and Dave Littlefield. Nutting and Gayo worked closely together to change it, along with others in the Pirates’ organization right down to those responsible for facility construction. It was an extraordinary effort.

    And it’s more than Marte. Look at the top 10 of the Pirates’ system, and it’s Gayo’s kids dominating.

  35. One of the reasons Gayo does not get much much praise may be the movie Pelotero. Although it may not have been fair Gayo was shown in a negative light as a liar and the main reason there was little interest in signing Miguel Sano by most of MLB. Recently in a Keith Law chat someone asked how Gayo even has a job anymore.

    So in short praise of Gayo might create a lot of backlash nationally because of the Sano situation.

    DK: See above reply.

    • I’ve always thought NH had more to do with the Sano fiasco than Gayo.

      Things like finger wagging in the agents face?

      • NH had nothing to do with what “Me” is talking about.

      • If I recall (but we’re talking four years ago), NH tried to bypass Sano’s agent, Rob Plumber, and negotiate directly with Sano’s mother. This is a big no-no, for obvious reasons. But some of us here — including me — then accused Plumber of putting his own hurt feelings ahead of the best interests of Sano in steering Sano away from the Pirates and to a last-minute deal with the Twins. Plumber actually came onto the blog and discussed this with us. He swore up and down that the only determinant was that Pirates were holding fast to their offer of $2.6 mil, while the Twins offered $3.15. Therefore, in was in Sano’s best interests that Plumber recommend he sign with the Twins, and it was for this, and no other reason (such as spite) that Plumber contended he counseled signing with the Twins.

        “Why not allow the Pirates to counter-offer?” some of us then asked. Plumber said that he was not going to take offers from teams and then play them against each other. That would be detrimental to dealing with teams in the future. Teams made their offers and he then presented them to his client. The Twins put in the superior offer, Sano signed with the Twins. Or so Plumber explained to us. His explanation sounded reasonable enough to us at the time. Don’t know what other background has since come to fore, such as in the Pelotero doc.

    • I agree with you about the whole story part, but the fact that the movie came out means that it is a battle that neither the Pirates or Gayo can win. I think their plan is to try to just let the story blow over rather than let it escalate. The fact that they did not make the PR move a get rid of Gayo shows how much the Pirates value him.

  36. When we talk about the “cost of doing business” in Latin America, besides building an academy/ facility, isn’t the cost much lower than here in the US?

    Look at the signing bonuses those kids get. LOT smaller than what most of the draft picks get….especially the top four or five.

    I haven’t studied the numbers, and I’m sure the competition to sign these kids is great, but it also seems like it could take less money to sign a lot more players. A lot more players. So your chance of landing a good player is greater. The downsize is that you sign them at such a young age and you never are really sure how they will develop.

    (these comments are no way intended as a slam to Gayo or his accomplishments)

    • “The downsize is that you sign them at such a young age and you never are really sure how they will develop.”

      The thing I find most ironic about Dejan’s indignation towards these nameless people singing songs and dancing is that the development system deserves far more credit than Rene for “Gayo’s kids”.

      He even said it himself, in Dejan’s own article.

      These LA signings come in as little more than athletic bodies. They’re turned into prospects. Does Rene coach, too?

      • “…little more than athletic bodies.” Little more than? There’ s nothing little about that. The raw talent you start with is still the single most important ingredient. Especially with the way many players coming up through our system are shown to be weak in the fundamentals.

        • ” Especially with the way many players coming up through our system are shown to be weak in the fundamentals.”

          What evidence is there of this claim? The SEAL stuff? I agree with you that raw talent is important, but development is equally, and the Pirates seem to be doing an OK job of that right now.

          • “Many” might be an overstatement since few players have actually graduated to the big leagues (I apologize if you are talking about minor league games you’ve seen, Ghost), but to his point, are Pedro, Starling, Jordy, and Tabby really the kind of guys that demonstrate strong fundamentals?

            • What are these “fundamentals”? I guess that’s what we need to determine here.

              Are we talking physical? Mental?

              I guess maybe if you could describe what you think they are “weak” in maybe I could respond.

              I just think the players you note above aren’t necessarily the best example. They are more than holding their own at the MLB level.

              • Great point, Nate.

                This is one of those topics that are hard to discuss because there are no defined criteria (what IS fundamental?) or measureables.

                You seem to be of the opinion that as long as the overall result is ok, then the fundaments must be as well.

                I strongly disagree.

                Pedro was a dreadful fielder and his hitting mechanics and approach hardly could be considered fundamentally sound. He’s also still an awful situational hitter.

                Marte has terrible discipline, at the plate, on the basepaths, and in the field.

                Jordy, by my eye, has defensive deficiencies that go beyond range.

                And Tabby, well, yeah. Tabby.

              • With what you cite above, it’s a wonder how the Pirates have the record they do. ;-)

                Pedro will always be a terrible situational hitter b/c of his inconsistency with contact.

                You know my feelings on Tabata. I think his injury history gets in his way (or in his head, how ever you want to look at it).

                Mercer makes the routine play, but will boot a ball from time to time. Show me a SS who doesn’t. I think his arm is above average, and that’ll help.

                Marte, well, I’ll give you the base path stuff, as he does run himself into some outs. But you could put that down to being “aggressive” rather than poor fundamentally. Yes, his plate discipline is suspect at times, but he’s a free-swinging man from the Domincan. You take the bad with the good.

                Maybe it’s just a difference in the graders. You seem to be a lot tougher than me.

                I feel for your intern…. ;-)

              • Still think he’s an awful situational hitter NMR? Seems like it depends on the situation but overall, I think he’s done a lot better situationally.

              • Haha, aw come on.

                I agreed with parts of what you AND Ghost said. That’s fairness, isn’t it?!

              • @21

                He’s struck out 8 times in 25 attempts with a runner on third and less than 2 outs.

                He has six hits, which is good, but in this conversation about fundamentals, his inability to advance runners stands out to me.

              • The 25 attempts are plate appearances. He’s batting .300 in those situations. Not bad. Obviously needs to cut down on the K’s in those situations, hit lefty’s better.

                Overall his RISP is just about at his batting average which I’d call decent. Good with the bases loaded, good with just a runner on third (.417 in fact), bad with a runner on first and less than 2 outs.

                So as I said, I wouldn’t call him awful in my estimation. He’s getting there, IMO.

                Overaall as to fundamentals, it’s frustrating but I watch a lot of other games and we’re no better or worse than just about every other team, IMO, except for a couple.

              • In my opinion, fundamental situational hitting involves way, way more than just hits.

                Base hits have more to do with skill, of which Pedro has plenty.

                The ability to understand the situation and move runners accordingly, while certainly taking skill, better demonstrates fundamental hitting. Pedro has four times as many strikeouts as sacrifices in the runs scoring situation I referenced above.

                But again, this is a perfect example of why “fundamentals” conversations are difficult. Everybody has a different definition, no more correct or incorrect.

                I do agree with you regarding fundamentals league wide. To my eye, the Pirates aren’t much better or worse.

            • Yeah I’m definitely a little disappointed that he hasn’t had more sac flies but hopefully as his average increases, that changes too.

              • I’m with you there. I still think that he’s going to become a better all around hitter with age and experience.

              • How many sac flies do we have as a team? It seems like we’re unusually poor in this area. I find myself saying “Just hit a fly ball” a lot during these games, only to be disappointed by strikeouts and weak rollers to 2nd.

  37. Hey guys, Chase Headley is available.

    • Yeah, but it’ll take McCutchen & Cole. Just ask them.

    • Is he still hurt?

      If he had the kind of second half that he did last season, we’d hit 82 early and it would be all up from there.

      • I fear Headley was a flash in the pan last year.

        • And you are probably right. He could come in and hit .200 with 1 homer like Snider or none like Matt Diaz.

        • Disclaimer: I’m firmly in the camp that believes the Pirates should trade from their depth of prospects (anyone other than Tailon and Polanco) in the RIGHT situation.

          But man, Chase Headley looks to be quite the case study.

          Think of Chase Headley (and Pence, and Victorino) next time somebody says they want to trade prospects because they’re no “sure thing”. As if veteran players ever are.

          Also think of Headley when trading for guys at peak value (Ibanez, Schierholtz). Good chance you’re paying for more than you’re going to get.

          • Very well put.
            And I agree with your point further up that, ultimately, our Latin prospects haven’t proven anything until they have proven themselves at the MLB level.

            Gotta check out for now. Am sure I’ll be missing great stuff till I can get back..

    • Who would want him?

      Would have loved to have had him for the second half last year, though.

  38. Mr. Aoki.

  39. Anyone know how this years crop of LA signings stacked up?

  40. Monday morning thoughts…

    * The Pirates break the voodoo curse, and take 2 of 3 from the Mets. They head into the All Star break at 56-37. 2nd most wins in franchise history at the break. Not bad.

    * I will be flipping back & forth from the HR Derby tonight, just to catch a glimpse of Pedro. Frankly, I don’t care about the rest of the HR hitters, just El Toro. Do us proud tonight Petey, and win the whole damn (this is a family blog!) thing.

    * The Pirates MUST get a dependable starting pitcher on or before July 31. With Jeff Locke now missing Sunday and the All Star game with back stiffness, that could be another man on the DL. I’m not sure Indianapolis has that many arms left…

    * I think Kendrys Morales is the player you go after. He allows for Gaby to still come off the bench for a spot start and to face LHPs, and he allows Garrett Jones to move to RF, and platoon with Jose Tabata.

    * Schierholz would be a bench upgrade. You’d have to send Snider the other way.

    * I don’t get the backlash at Maurkice Pouncey. He’s supporting his friend and former teammate. I don’t care how anything looks, we need to let all the facts come out (if they ever do) and let the judicial process take its course for Mr. Hernandez. Innocent until proven guilty, right? Maybe not so much nowadays….

    * Even though the Pirates are playing good ball, I’m still interested in the start of training camp for the Steelers. This is a weird year. The Steelers are trying to re-tool and get back into the playoffs, while the Ravens won a Superbowl and then lost half their team (to retirement or free agency). The Bungles are the Bungles, and just when you think they’ll turn a corner, they take 5 steps back. The Browns…well, we’ll just stop at Brandon Weeden. Even with their issues, I think the Steelers can win the division this year.

    Let’s enjoy this All Star Break and enjoy our 4 players in the game. Will be rooting for the NL to win it. The Pirates are gonna need that home field advantage ;-)



    • There are plenty of ways you can support a friend who is arrested and is in jail. The way Maurkice Pouncey is ‘supporting’ his friend makes him look like a total idiot.

      The facts that have come out sure make it look like Hernandez was involved with a murder.

      • “@penguins 54s

        The #Pens are pleased to announce the addition of Teddy Richards as assistant equipment manager. He joins Pittsburgh from @WBSPenguins.”

        What’s his cap hit?

    • Who are these “dependable starting pitchers” you speak of?

      Unless its Garza, aren’t you downgrading the current rotation in fear that they MIGHT suffer an injury at some point in the future?

      • Well, I was thinking Wandy is already on the DL, with an uncertain timetable on his return. Locke now has the back stiffness, which could land him on the DL. McDonald has already gone to the 60 Day. Karstens is out long term as well.

        Jeanmar can go back into the rotation, and maybe you call Cumpton up again, but, for the back end of the season, I’d like someone who has a better track record.

        • I understand the logic. My question was who?

          Who is worth acquiring just for the chance that “back stiffness” keeps Locke out for an extended period and Wandy isn’t able to come back?

          • Well, you cite Garza, who would work. I think Bud Norris has been bandied around in this space too. I’d have to look around at some of the other rosters, and I don’t have time here right now. Maybe I can address this in my thoughts tomorrow morning, or later this afternoon.

          • Garza. Bud Norris wouldn’t be bad, and in fact he’d be under team control for a couple years. That, however, would probably make him a pricey acquisition. Might only be worth it if you think both Burnett and Rodriguez walk at the end of the year.

            Other than that, I can’t think of much that’s out there.

            • My point exactly.

              Seems like there’s either the best – and most expensive – guy on the market or guys who wouldn’t even improve the rotation.

              I’d take Norris for the bullpen, but not to replace any of the starters currently on the roster.

              • I still say don’t give up too much.

                It would be nice to have Garza, but we’ve got a chance to possibly, and I stress possibly, to be good for many years to come.

                2013 will be the tip of the iceberg and, prepare for the even more warn-out cliche’, we can’t mortgage the future for the present.

                If we can get anybody for the C+ group, fine, but I’m looking forward to this for years to come.

  41. Just saw this tweet from Mark Melancon. One word comes to mind. Awesome.

    “@Mark_Melancon_ 3h

    I literally cannot sleep. I feel like a 5 yr old on Christmas morning. We have @HRDerbyGame 2night and the @AllStarGame @MLB 2morrow night!”

  42. Pouncey apologized! Yay!

  43. Very much looking forward to the start of training camp and this Steelers season. Nice to see the Pirates’ success but I’m just not a baseball fan.

    Pouncey still has a lot of growing up to do.

  44. I hope playoff puts up a wager tonight….

    Which will be higher…

    Pedro’s HR total or the goals the Pens scored against the Bruins

  45. Pouncey brothers to be featured on a celebrity version of “are you smarter than a 5th grader”.

  46. DK,

    Will there be a thread posted for the HR Derby tonight?
    Or for the All-Star game tomorrow?


  47. Wonder who Pedro will have pitch to him? His dad? College coach? Boras?

    • He picked Boras but Boras filed a grievance against MLB saying it was asking too much for the players to pick

    • Personally I would pick the guy who delivers the PEDs. He’s a guy that knows how to deliver the goods

    • David Wright without the L screen? I saw this Friday in the Trib (Online version. Didn’t buy it.)

      Alvarez chose Rudy Pena, a former coach with High-A Hickory (2008), the Gulf Coast League Pirates (2009-11) and High-A Bradenton (2012). Pena is the nephew of former Pirates catcher Tony Pena.”

  48. OK I gotta get my work caught up. Try to check in later.

  49. “@penguins 54s

    The #Pens are pleased to announce the addition of Teddy Richards as assistant equipment manager. He joins Pittsburgh from @WBSPenguins.”

    What’s his cap hit?

    • Corresponding move:

      “@pgshelly 6s

      The other half of the equation: #Penguins assistant equipment manager Paul DeFazio goes to WBS of AHL as head equipment manager. Congrats.”

      I knew they had to get under.

  50. Golf clap for the much-maligned Clint Barmes who is hitting .381 in the six games Walker has been out.

    Not sure he’s the guy who you want pinch hitting down the stretch, but the Clint Barmes who hit .269 over the last two months of last season would be pretty, pretty nice bench depth to have up the middle.

    • He will be dealt for Chad Qualls and a international signing slot

    • Pinch hitting? Well, it seems like if you play for the Pirates, you’re just poor at that. I’m pretty sure we could bring in the league’s best pinch hitter right now (Kevin Frandsen, Phila.) and he’d then become awful at it.

      He is a good defensive replacement, and spot starter however, which there is something to be said for.

      Pitching and defense (and timely hitting) will be the staples of this team if they make a run. Having Clint at SS in the 8th or 9th inning isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    • I bet John Vander Wal is available.

      Ty Wiggington and Pedro Ciriaco could be had

  51. Interview w/ Melancon on being named to his 1st All Star game:

  52. Good Afternoon All. Regardless of your feelings on the All-Star game, I hope everyone takes the time to enjoy seeing several of our Buccos featured in a national spotlight over the next two days.

    A few Pirates thoughts:

    Glad this team has a few days to rest and unwind. Alot of tired looking at bats over the weekend. Too many weak swings at pitches out of the strike zone.

    Hope the Pirates can now stop pretending that Tabata is the answer at RF. He’s not, and neither is the combo of Snider/Jones.

    Sad to say, but McKenry’s time has got to be about up. He is looking more and more outmatched every time I watch him. Had a nice run, filled a role when needed, but it’s time for a change.

  53. MLBTradeRumors reporting Garza will be moved by Saturday, lists the Cards as one of the suitors along with three other AL teams.

    • Interesting to note that the reporter claims Theo isn’t afraid to trade within the division.

      • He shouldn’t be. There is quite a bit of talent in that division on ML and minor league levels. No slouch teams, other than the Brewers now.

        Plus the fact, they won’t be competitive for a couple years, anyway, at the very least.

        Why limit yourself at the risk of another team improving?


        • Couldn’t agree more, Lucky, on all points.

          Same goes for the Brewers this year.

          • Speaking of the Brewers, do you think they’d deal Ryan Braun? PED suspension supposedly coming down….maybe we could get him on the cheap??

            Probably foolish for even posting this, but I’m just trying to make the team better (although, if he actually does get a long suspension, that decision may prove suspect).

            Maybe I’ll take DK’s advice and not think about BIG deals.

            • I’d rather get Hart if they’d dump him. Although he’s always hurt and hurt now, he’s a better person than Braun.

              Can hit with some pop, too.

              I doubt they’d let Braun go. They’ll build around him, even with his sordid past.

              • I’m really disappointed that Hart’s out for the year.

                He would’ve been the absolute perfect acquisition for this team, IMO.

                Slugging 1B/RF in contract year with above average OBP and no more K’s than whichever guy he’d replace.

              • It’d be tough to strikeout more than we currently have.

                Ryan Howard is on the DL.

              • Ibanez and Byrd would do the trick.

            • Never.

              He’s the face of the franchise, and I think the whole PED issue has actually galvanized fan support, as crazy as it sounds. JohninOshkosh could probably chime in on that.

              I like your idea, though, and have had similar thoughts about Padres SS Everth Cabrera.

      • Hey NMR

        What do you think of this Kendrys Morales guy? I just looked up his lifetime stats and they look pretty good. At $5 million a year, looks affordable. Assuming the BMTIB doesn’t have to “sell the farm”, he looks like a good fit for 1B.

        What am I missing here?

        • Just don’t let them pile on him if he hits a walk-off HR, Gunner. He missed a year the last time with a broken foot or some such thing.

          • His stats look pretty decent, better than what we have now anyway. I see where he has just played 28 games in the field in 2012 and 26 in the field this year – could this be a cause for concern?

        • Then what do you do with right field?

          And he’s a right handed stick, you could platoon him at 1st with the Legend I guess, and cut Gaby

        • How’s it going, Gunner?

          I think Morales is a fine hitter, and good enough with the glove to pass.

          The reason I would not go after him is that I personally don’t think Garrett Jones is finished as a ballplayer. I’ve been as critical of him as any, but I still believe he’ll pull himself out of this slump, as he always does. If that assumption is correct, then the Garrett Jones-Gaby Sanchez platoon is better than what Morales could do on his own.

          Now I could see a situation where you’d want to sacrifice defense for offense by moving Jones to RF and acquiring Morales for 1B, but thats a little too much like robbing Peter to pay Paul for my likes.

          • I agree with you about Jones. He started the year really strong, and has a history of being streaky, so I wouldn’t focus on him as the problem, despite what he has looked like for awhile now. Maybe a candidate for a good second half, at least for half the time.

  54. I have to wonder, did TJ skip his meds today? :D :) ;)

    OK, back to work for me…later…

  55. Bochey was asked Harvey’s blister.
    His reply was, “We’ll limit him to 100-120 pitches tomorrow.”

    That’s good stuff.

    • You know, if I was a Cards or Reds fan, I’d be a bit miffed that Harvey didn’t take his regular turn vs the PBC, but then starts the AS Game.

      Of course, I am a grumpy fellow

  56. And if you believe this one, I have some valuable swamp land in Jersey you might be interested in acquiring

  57. I vote IDIOT because he has to be as dumb as a bucket of bolts to wear that hat. Henrnandez is going down for the absolute worst crimae against humanity – MURDER ONE. And, the Pouncey brother want to support that???????????? They are clearly twins & cut out of the same cloth. Niether of their elevators are going all the up to the top floor. And niether is the the sharpest knives in the drawer. Stupid is as stupid was. This explains a lot to me.

  58. Home Run Derby thread is up

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