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Morning Java: When July influences October

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

NEW YORK — Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Wednesday column from Major League Baseball’s 84th All-Star Game touches on the one term that still doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue: World Series.

Feels weird even typing it.

Anyway, the game itself was a dud, including for the Pirates’ participants, but here are what a couple of the locals had to say afterward, anyway …

These five will have the next couple days off, and the group as a whole will get back together Friday in Cincinnati for the first of 23 games the rest of the way vs. either the Reds or Cardinals. Should be a blast down the stretch.

As for the trade deadline, here were my rather bluntly stated views on TribLIVE Radio yesterday.

>> Sounds like the Penguins found a funny one in top draft pick Tristan Jarry. Josh Yohe is covering the development camp all week.

>> The Riverhounds are taking on Wigan AC of the English Champions League Friday night, as beat man Matt Grubba details. It’s a friendly, but to tell you the Hounds’ people are excited about this match would be massive understatement.

>> RIP to any case anywhere attempting to defend Joe Paterno. Done in by his own words.

And no, I will not add a Penn State football blog tag under this item because this just isn’t about Penn State football anymore. Bill O’Brien, his program and the greater part of the university deserve better.

Hopefully, the few hangers-on will let go now, too.

>> I’m flying back home this morning and otherwise taking the day off. There will be a Friday column, and I’m almost certain it will be about baseball. But I’ve also got plans to see Riverhounds-Wigan, followed by the Penguins’ annual camp scrimmage Saturday afternoon.

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. This sure beats back-to-back 100-loss seasons, only to be topped by last year’s enraging meltdown. Those awful teams were further rubbed into our wounds over these years with empty boasts of the Pirates being on the brink of a “dynasty,” and macho talk of not shooting for .500+ seasons because ‘only championships would do.’

    Well, except for Joel Hanrahan, the FO finally stopped sending away our stars and actually started accruing them. Lo and behold! The Pirates have become legit. Funny how that works.

    As constructed, we’re still not a championship caliber team. But the FO now has the right to boast. And they have the right to talk about championships. Firm up the offense over the next few weeks, and come mid-October, just maybe, people will be calling them “the single best management team in all of baseball, maybe in all of sports.” Win a World Series and there will be no irony attached to that moniker.

  2. Listened to the bluntly stated views regarding the trade deadline. Firmly agree that we should not (nor should we have to) trade any blue-chip prospects for somebody else’s rental. In upgrading RF and / or 1B, the bench would be improved at the same time. A 2-for-1. Jones replacing Snider as first lefty off the bench a/o Tabby as first righty off the bench > the automatic crunch-time outs we get right now.
    Just trading for better bats directly for the bench would be okay though, as long as we really are only trading away a few lesser prospects. The Blue Jays once were able to pick up Jose Bautista for a guy named Robinzon Diaz. Maybe the Pirates could be part of a trade like that! Oh yeah…

    • You mean like Charlie Morton & Jeff Locke (and Gorkys; so essentially Gaby) for Nate McLouth? I kid, I kid.

      But I was of your opinion last week, saying the Pirates should pursue Kendrys Morales from Seattle to play 1B. That would still allow Gaby to get spot starts against LHPs, plus be a RH bat off the bench. That also slides Garrett Jones to RF to platoon with Tabata.

      • Naterosbooro,
        Seattle seems sure to be sellers this year, so if Morales can be had for a price that’s reasonable, that’s a good trade that helps both our lineup and our bench at once.

        As for Morton, Locke, etc… yeah, some of these lower-level prospects end up becoming stars (well, Morton remains an enigma). But sure, Even Nate McLouth, for that matter, was entirely off the radar until we looked around one day and realized the kid was hitting bombs at the MLB level. It’s a crap shoot with the kids which is why I value the proven MLB’ers over the unproven names down on the farm.

  3. Dejan, you would be so proud of this Hippo…………..

    Yesterday, in the process of going to Pittsburgh, and putting 650 miles on the junker, I had to kill some time between meetings (thank God for McD’s Sweet Tea). For the first time in over 5 years, I actually read the paper (both of them). I know you always champion reading the actual hard copy as opposed to the online version…………. so I done ya proud. (Ok, ok, I really just looked at the pictures………)

    Go Riverhounds !!!

    DK: Always appreciate hearing from anyone who gets our print copy. We appreciate the online, too, but the print still steers the truck.

    Thank you.

  4. I once dated a RiverHound-Wiccan.

  5. Fine column today, DK. Watching the game overseas, the highlights for me were: the on-air interview with Grilli during the game, his excellent 9th inning stint on the mound (symbolic in the sense that he took it over just after Mariano Rivera left it), and Cutch’s steal of second base.
    You can warn the Riverhounds that they will be taking on a very tough team in Wigan A.C. which is on a nine day tour of the midwest and trounced a team in Dayton, 6-1, this week. Wigan played last season in the English Premier League against top clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, but was relegated to the lower Championship League by virtue of its losing season. (I wonder what would happen if such a rule existed in MLB?)
    Anyway, watch for Wigan’s forward, Grant Holt, who is number 9, and also the team’s goalkeeper, Scott Carson, a former player for the English national team. I dare you to ask him during the warm-ups if you could try a few penalty kicks against him.

  6. JAL’s Think You Can Wait 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: Giving Some Perspective to Trade Rumors

    Prospect Watch: Dickerson and McGuire Keep Putting Up Multi-Hit Games

    Prospect Watch: Heredia Hit Hard, Bradenton Goes 19 Innings

    Pirates Have Four Fangraphs Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects

    DSL Prospect Watch: Regalado Has Been Dominating With Impressive Control

    7 Bucs Dugout

    DSL Pirates1 win two on slow day

    8 FanSided

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Can They Remain Dominant?

    9 The Green Weenie

    Bucco All Stars

    10 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Are Giving Fans Reason To Believe

    Is Jose Tabata The Pirates Answer In Right Field?

    11 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Matt Garza A Possibility?

  7. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Beaver County Times

    McCutchen isn’t just an All-Star; he’s a superstar

    13 Sports on Earth

    NL Second-Half Preview

    14 Bleacher Report

    Selecting a “Snubbed” MLB All-Star Lineup for Each League

    15 Yahoo Sports

    Mark Melancon’s sweet All-Star ride: A mini-van

    16 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Daugherty: All-Star game brings back memories

    17 Time

    After the All-Star Game, Baseball’s In For A Rough Second Half

    18 PBC Site

    Cutch, Grilli team up in ninth to cap ASG experience


    19 Sweetspot

    Best deadline deal ever: Cubs

    20 Fangraphs

    MLBPA Chief Michael Weiner With Potential Game Changer On Biogenesis

  8. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Drawing the line between topics of discussion and points to avoid on a news site

    Steelers Madden 13 Review Part I: Roster breakdown

    Steelers Madden 13 Review Part II: Game strategy

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Training Camp Battles: Drew Butler vs Brain Moorman


    23 Daily Mail

    Rooney wants out! Striker ‘confused and angry’ with United over his future… so will Chelsea and Arsenal up the chase for star?

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 16th July, 2013


    25 Bleacher Report

    5 Pieces of Pittsburgh Penguins Trivia Every Fan Should Know

  9. JAL, thanks for the last link, I never heard of Wren Blair…until just now…

  10. I listened to DK’s rant and agree with him.

    It seems to me that there are two season: the season when the actual games are played, and the trade season.

  11. Interesting that Pedro called Pittsburgh home and he said he was ready to get back home, instead of saying he was playing at home.

    Good man.

  12. Later today, heading up the coast to steal my car.

    No kidding.

    Someone cue the Bad Boys music.

    We let our youngest son, who’s in college drive an old, extra car. It is older, banged up and hardly worth selling so it’s more valuable this way than for the few hundred it might bring.

    Except my 20 year old son currently isn’t driving it. A 37 year old woman is. LOOOOONG story. Short version: she didn’t steal it. But she has it inappropriately.

    The car is registered to my wife and me. So the car insurance and liability flow to us, not her.

    And I have an extra set of keys.

    What Ya Gonna Do When They Come For You?

  13. In some ways the All Star game was a perfect representation of this Pirate season: A nice pitching job, two strike outs and a pop-up from the offense, and a young player on the bench with no chance to get in the game.

  14. Keep fueling your personal bonfire. The sooner someone realizes your failings as a columnist and moves you back to human interest stories (what you do remarkably well) the better.

  15. I might be jumping the gun by a bit but I’ll be awfully infuriated if the Buccos are in the world series and we do not have home field advantage b/c the NL lost the all star game. Is there a worse commissioner than Bud the dud?

  16. #19 on JAL’s links brings back an awful lot of bad memories.

    I was so angry when we dealt Ramirez for essentially nothing back in 2003. As much as I blamed Littlefield or McClatchy for the situation of our team over the past decade, I never once blamed them for this deal. As bad as those two were, nobody would be stupid enough to make that deal unless it was due to financial reasons. That deal was a prime example of what is wrong with the economics of baseball.

    • 1. SOMEBODY was at fault for putting the team into that financial mess in the first place. Owner and GM would be two pretty decent places to start looking.

      2. Even if one accepts Aramis Ramirez being traded as inevitable, why Kenny Lofton as well?

      3. Even in salary dumps, the guy with the best player ALWAYS has leverage. Nobody will ever convince me that Bobby Hill and a prospect was the best Littlefield could’ve done for Ramirez and Lofton.

      • #1 is a valid point but I thought that they were going to attempt to make a run at the playoffs that year so I can understand why they had such an inflated payroll. In fact, I think we only exceeded our 2003 opening day payroll once since then. On paper we didn’t have a bad team and I believe we were underplaying our ability at the time we made that trade.

        The fact remains, that if the Buccos had an extra $10 million to work with we’d still have a low payroll and they wouldn’t have made that deal.

        In regards to #2 and 3, I also feel it is hard to imagine that we couldn’t have done better but at the same time teams are going to lowball us offers knowing we’re trying to dump salary. Personally, I’d give DL the benefit of the doubt that he did his due diligence and made the necessary calls to obtain the best deal. Even DL wasn’t THIS incompetent.

        • The legendary 2003 team! Just checked into Baseball Reference to see what other memories I could drudge up:

          - Kip Wells, the centerpiece of the similarly legendary Todd Ritchie trade, was 10-9 with a 3.28 ERA and threw 197 innings! As I recall, the bullpen blew leads in something like eight of his games. Jeff Suppan was 10-8 with a 3.57 ERA before being traded to Boston, where he promptly fell apart.

          - Brian Giles had a .951 OPS before being traded to San Diego, where he had a ~.900 OPS. I still say good riddance, but I forgot he was one of the best hitting outfielders in the NL in that era.

          - It’s very possible that the bench – which included Craig Wilson, Matt Stairs, Rob Mackowiak, Abe Nunez, and Tike Redman (who hit .330 in 250 AB that year!) – is better than the one the Pirates have now. Wilson, in particular, could MASH.

      • Funny thing about 2003, we finished that year 50-48 and traded Ramirez, Lofton, Suppan, Giles, and Benson went down with the shoulder injury.

    • (P.S. I appreciate the conversation starter on a slow news day!)

  17. Bucs and World Series do not go hand-in-hand as the roster is presently constructed. To be 56-37 with the way they have stunk offensively is a true testament to the entire pitching staff. If they stand pat with the stiffs in RF and 1B, they will be one and done in the WC playoff. As a long-time sufferer, I will take it. The need to banish the 20 yr losing streak is necessary beyond belief.

    The next few weeks will once again prove me right when I keep saying the owner has two priorities:

    1. Being fiscally sound and profitable
    2. Winning, but only if the first priority is followed.

    If they could make a deal for a bat without involving Polanco or Taillon but dont do it for fear of giving up a Kingham, then shame on them. If they could get a Stanton but dont because they deem Polanco or Taillon untouchable, shame on them. Stanton is a proven slugger – there are no guarantees for players in AA to become all-stars.

    Live for today!

    • According to stuff I’ve read, it doesn’t sound like Stanton is available any longer. Of course, he may still go, but the Marlins are trying to make him the centerpiece of a young core with a few other guys.

    • Stanton was never available. That was a hypothetical written by someone at ESPN (David Schoenfield?)

      Of course if you make the right deal, he could be had.

      If I’m trying to acquire Stanton though, I’d definitely include Polonco. But not Taillon.

      Young power arms are too valuable to a club like the Pirates that really cannot acquire them on the free agent market.

      • It was either Schoenfield or Bowden. It doesn’t really matter which, because they’re both in fantasyland.

        Bowden, as we recall, thought the Pirates should trade Polanco and Mercer for Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox. With that deal, the White Sox get to save money, add a high-end prospect, and a young shortstop. The Pirates…get mediocre-to-good hitting from those positions and absorb a metric ton of money?

        Yeah, that’s OK.

        • I have a feeling that whatever moves the Pirates make won’t be ones that anybody sees coming.

          They can claim to be hot on Rios, but I don’t know how anyone can trust that guy to be the consistant bat we need. Never has been, and this season is no different. Unfortunately, he’s the belle of the ball.

          Sometimes its the deals you don’t make (coughHEADLEYcough).

          • You know, Kevin Frandsen wouldn’t be a bad add to the bench. My only fear is that the Phillies are rumored to want to insert him into the starting line-up to replace Utley after a trade.

            It stinks that most of the great pinch-hitting bats are on teams that the Pirates will be competing with for a spot.

            A bench bat, another back-end of the bullpen guy, and someone that could be inserted into RF/1B would do wonders. And really, only one of those could/should be expensive.

            • Greg Dobbs in Miami should be the bench upgrade we are pursuing.

              Key words: should be.


              • I just checked on Baseball Reference. He’s hitting .211 as a pinch hitter. Am I missing something?

                Comparatively, Frandsen is hitting .375 as a pinch hitter in nine more at-bats.

                And I apologize: Frandsen would replace Michael Young, not Utley.

              • Is that because of something you’ve seen from him?

                I admittedly couldn’t pick Dobbs out of a lineup, but I don’t want any player that can’t find playing time on a team like Miami.

              • He should be cheap (cheaper than Frandsen) to acquire and has a career pinch hitting avg. of .257.

                SeanAY is correct that he’s hitting .211 as a pinch hitter this year.

                I think that could increase for 2 reasons if traded to the Pirates:

                1) Looking at career avg., you’d expect him to get a few more pinch hits to get closer to that career avg.

                2) A change of scenery (and situations) from Miami to Pittsburgh.

            • Absolutely.

              The problem right now is that there just aren’t a ton of teams selling, and two that are happen to be in the division.

      • I don’t deal Taillon or Polanco for anybody in baseball that I can think of off the top of my head. There aren’t a lot of guys who I would deal any of our top 11 prospects for.

    • There’s no guarantee that Stanton won’t step in a hole and wreck his knee, either.

  18. I had heard about the controversy of a San Francisco News Station reporting fake names of the Korean Airlines crew of that Ariana plane that crashed, but I hadn’t seen the names reported until last night.

    The first one was Captain Sum Ting Wong. Really? Nobody caught that was not a real name?

    DK: How about “We Tu Lo?”

  19. OK, here goes. Did you know …

    That from game #101 on, in 2011 & 2012. A total of 124 games. The Pirates longest winning streak was 2 games. 3 times in 2011 & 5 times in 2012.

    For me, Opening Day is July 26th, game #101. And I’m looking for a freaking 3 game winning streak !

  20. Thoughts on a post-all-star-break-slow-newsday-Wednesday…

    * They 2 position players I’d target if I’m the Pirates are Kendrys Morales of the Mariners and Greg Dobbs of the Marlins. Morales would start 1B, and Dobbs would fill the utility role that Inge is now (with Inge being waived, cut, or traded) & Jones would go to RF to platoon with Tabata.

    * For the post All Star break roster, they need to waive, cut or trade McKenry and bring up Tony Sanchez to be the backup catcher.

    * If done, this would leave them with a bench of Sanchez, T., Sanchez, G., Dobbs, Barmes & Tabata. I think that’s better than what is currently there. It would make the starting 8 Martin, Morales, Walker (if healthy), Mercer, Alvarez, Marte, McCutchen, Jones.

    * Just a little change is needed above: The Riverhounds will be playing Wigan Athletic FC (Football Club), who play in the Championship (English 2nd division) after being relegated from the Barclays Premier League after last season. They did have a magical FA Cup run, culminating in a 1-0 win over Manchester City in the final.

    * I enjoyed the fact that Melancon used the term when. Confidence is very important in sports, especially pro sports where talent level can be almost equal. If you don’t believe you can do something, well, you may as well not even try because it ain’t gonna happen. The 1st step is belief, the next is execution. They apparently (or at least Melancon does) have belief, and their execution (as evidenced by a 56-37 record at the break) has been good so far. Need to keep it going now.

    * Here’s a starting pitcher I don’t think has been mentioned as 1 the Pirates can pursue: Phil Hughes, NYY. The Yankees are shopping him as they need help at C and infield. He’s sporting a mid 4 ERA right now, but that’s down to him being trashed in Yankee Stadium. I think his ERA on the road is in the Mid 2s. PNC park could be the perfect destination.

    That’s all I really have today. Slow news day. Maybe someone will pick it up with some snark.



  21. Good Mornin’ Romper Room.

    Sorry to see the All Star Game was a Real Snooze Fest. Good to see our Pirates went as deserving picks. Good that our Pirates and contenders cash be mentioned without the customary, obligatory “spit take”.

  22. Here’s the Grilli SI cover from Rob B’s twitter acct.

    “@BiertempfelTrib 1m

    #pirates fans rejoice … unless you believe in the #CoverJinx″

    If the link doesn’t work, just copy and paste “″ into the URL.

  23. Well, Jared Staal is signed to a two-way contract with the Hurricanes. I wonder how long before they pry Marc away from the Rangers????

  24. Based on this map, the Pens have it mighty easy travel-wise compared to all the other divisions:

    Also Jim Bowden from ESPN has on his trade buzz the Pirates, Rays and Yankees are all interested in Justin Morneau. That’d be a nice bat to have in the line up.

  25. I would guess that 1 or 2 of the players NH acquires will be a total shock to most members on this board.

    In order, i would like the team to acquire a RF- Aoki, a lefty/righty hitting 1st baseman-Morales, a backup infielder- anyone from AAA or Willie Bloomquist/Ryan Roberts/Jeff Keppinger.

    And another decent arm for the pen, prefer it to be from the right side.

    Shouldn’t have to rape the farm system to get this done, and if so, the Pirates have a real shot to do some post season damage.
    I still believe, Wandy shall return!!!.

  26. The ESPY’s have proven that it was not his charm that allowed Christ Ponder to win the hand of the lovely former Samantha Steele.


  27. I had heard references to Mark Melancon having to drive to the All-Star Game, but only now saw that it was in a mini-van. That’s great! We have to somehow incorporate this into a nickname for him or even as appropriately unpretentious symbolism for the 2013 Pirates. The Steelers used to “hop on The Bus” to put games away. Now, come the eighth inning, we can roll out “The Mini-van.”

    Mini-vans for the whole team if we have a parade in October!

  28. So is that competitive balance pick the Pirate’s received today, eligible to be shopped/traded/ in an upcoming trade?

    Maybe its time to call the Marlins again, and give them another shot at one?.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Morrison in a Pirate uniform, if the bigger ticket items can’t be had.

    The ultimate idea would be to pick up 2 switch hitters for the bench or RF/1b.
    A guy to replace Inge, which possibly be at AAA currently, but won’t get a chance , if they are under 34 years of age.
    Maybe a guy like Jeff Keppinger would be a good pick up, or even Willie Bloomquist, who seems to have fallen out of favor in Phoenix.
    I am always skeptical, and not much seems to be brought up on this subject, but i think it matters.
    Even though inter league play is rampant, i think a player going from one league to another, usually goes through an adjustment period, which is often ugly.
    Can the Pirates afford to wait? I would like to see some minor bench tinkering before the team hits the field friday.

    Do something NH!!! Show the fans and the team you care!!!.

  29. Tony Sanchez with an opposite field 3 run homer, in the AAA all start game.

    He hit it off Cosart, who last week had a no hitter vs Tampa for 7.

    It got out quick!!

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