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Morning Java: Now comes the hard part … but fun?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column tries to size up the challenge the Pirates face in the second half that begins very much in earnest tonight in Cincinnati.

I’m especially appreciate of the National League players from other teams who answered questions about the Pirates for this piece and another one earlier in the week. Not everyone is wild about doing that sort of thing.

>> The weekly chat covered the usual cornucopia of Pittsburgh sports.

>> I’ll be over at Riverhounds-Wigan tonight, very much looking forward to an international friendly on home soil. (Sounds so dramatic.)

Tickets were pretty expensive for this, around $50, but it’s tracking toward a sellout, which would be impressive in light of this having been announced a month ago and not being part of the season-ticket plan.

Good show, as they say across the pond.

Loved this shot of Wigan’s training session last night from the club’s official site in the U.K. …

>> I’ll next head over to the Penguins’ development camp this morning and again for the main event tomorrow, the scrimmage at 3 p.m. at Consol. It’s a golden chance — really, the only chance — to see all of the team’s top prospects in a singular competitive setting. And, from your perspective, the scrimmage is free, as is the parking in the old Civic Arena lots.

You will want to arrive at least a little early, though. Thousands will be there.

As always, ignore the forwards and watch the defensemen, kids.

Here’s Josh Yohe’s written report from yesterday, plus his Mister Rogers-esque video …

>> Remember Cam Heyward? Well, he hopes to make a real impression on the Steelers that really keeps him on the field in 2013. Ralph Paulk reports.

One week until the athletes report to Latrobe, by the way.

>> RIP, Simmie Hill. The best basketball tales told in Western Pennsylvania almost always involve the legendary Midland teams in one form or other. Chris Harlan has the obit.

>> I’ll check in with TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m. You’re one click away from doing likewise.

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.

231 Comments

  1. First!!! Will be a great challenge for the Riverhounds tonight. Now in regards to DK’s article…. My goal for this team has always been 82. I won’t even care about the playoffs until they reach that number. This will be sad to admit, but I will go out to the bar and celebrate when they reach 82. I will be ecstatic for them to make the playoffs but won’t feel the kind of deliverance that I will feel for 82. 82 will take away all the frustrations, agony, disappointment, betrayal and indifference that I have felt rooting for this team the past 20 years. I might cry.

  2. The usual tasty column DK. Thank you. A nice mix of stats, interview and opinion and even a challenge. In answer, yes I am ready for whatever the second half brings. I looked at that schedule before the break and started to wince and caught myself. THIS is what most in the Lunatic Nation should want – a knock down, drag out brawl between three teams. We have been dreaming of this. Me, I can’t wait – no matter what is ahead. The baseball will be good (mostly) and the drama will be high. Lets Go Bucs!

  3. I always felt the FO’s macho dismissal of .500+ seasons and claims of only shooting for championships was hooey. Well by Jove, the illustrious FO has, indeed, fielded a team that is going to deliver a winning season. Of course, we want to go deep into October and even dream of winning a WS. But the prospect of the Bucs not making the playoffs, yet winding up with, say, a very respectable 90-win season, would be interesting if for nothing else, for having to hear how 115 Federal St. would spin that. Seriously, they wouldn’t come out and say, “This year too, we have failed. Our goal is nothing less than a championship,” would they??

    I, for one, would be more than happy to let them off the hook from silly boasts of prior years. I want to see October ball and even win a WS. But if 2012 ends after the 162nd game, this season will still go down as a great stride. The FO deserves to pop some champagne corks. Silly bygones can be silly bygones.

    • Someone tomorrow will surely point out how backhanded this compliment was. He or she will surely be right. I now see it myself.

  4. DK: To one in particular but, at the same time, everyone …

    This is an all-sports blog. It isn’t exactly heavily moderated, and it’s got very, very, very few rules. But one thing I’ll ask politely is that this place doesn’t disintegrate into trying to make fans of sports you don’t happen to like unwelcome here. And that applies across the board, whether you hate baseball, football, hockey, basketball, soccer, curling, whatever.

    By bringing in threaded replies — at the readers’ request — I feel like the conversation has really improved in this regard. It’s clearer where a given topic might be going. I hope that’s sufficient.

    But with football right around the corner and (amazingly) hockey not far behind, we’re going to have a ton of overlap, and I’d rather just get this out there right now.

    Makes for a much more open, inviting forum this way, I think.

  5. Really looking forward to the 32nd World Elephant Polo Association (WEPA) World Championship that will be held from November 25-29, 2013, at Tiger Tops’ Kamali Lodge in Nepal’s Badia National Park. I’m thinking that the Tiger Tops Tuskers (Home Pitch Advantage) or Rusty Kukris will win the Championship.

    DK: I hate elephant polo, and anyone who follows it is an idiot.

  6. Play Ball! Not quite an opening day feel, but maybe even better because we’re in a pennant race. Four days off I’m sure was good for the players, but I need my baseball fix.

    Go Bucs!

  7. Just for fun, the Pirates magic number to make the playoffs is 60. (That has a nice ring to it, as in 1960). Here is how I get there: The Pirates have 56 wins. To get to 90 wins, they need 34 more. The Dodgers and Nationals each have 47 losses. If each of them loses 26 more games, the most wins they can have is 89. 34 wins + 26 losses = 60. Lots of baseball to be played between now and the end of September, though.

    • And after having read Dejan’s column, the magic number to win the division is 71 (as in 1971). Here’s how I get there: There are 69 games left. Because the Pirates are a game behind, they need to win two more games than the Cardinals to win the division. My simple calculation was, if the Pirates win all 69, the Cardinals would have to lose 2. 69 + 2 = 71.

      • I’m worried about these upcoming games. I believe the Buccos will not live up to expectations and lose all three series.

        • Well that’s a buzzkill. I hope you are wrong.

          • Well, I’ve been wrong about the Pirates all season long so maybe this is a positive omen.

            • Well in that case continue negative thinking. I would think this team has enough negative thinking over the last 20 years not to need more but maybe you have the magic touch.

        • I look at it this way. The Pirates play the Reds, Nationals, Marlins and Cardinals over the next 15 games. If they go 8-7, the Pirates are 20 games over .500 with 54 games to play. They don’t have to play anywhere near perfect to keep themselves in a position to make the playoffs.

          • I would think 91-71 would get them in the playoffs especially this year with the teams outside the wild card being around .500. Even if one of those teams get hot and goes 45-24 they would win their division and sombody else like Arizona would also have to get hot.

        • I meant all three series in the upcoming weeks against the nationals, cards, and reds.

  8. To DK…..your one statement today really struck me…..” as always, ignore the forwards and watch the defensemen, kids”. Are you saying that the Pens are that depleted in forward prospects that they’re not even worth watching? Not citicizing here but just trying to understand.
    Thanks so much for allowing us to read and post every day.

    • My vague recollection is that DK played defense in hockey, so I took it as a tongue in cheek comment about the relative importance of the position. I could be wrong.

    • That would be one legitimate complaint about Shero. He has only drafted 6 F’s in the 1st or 2nd round of the 8 drafts he has overseen. Tough to build any F depth.

    • With the defensive situation, not many spots to fill, there is a lot of competition. The guys trying for a roster spot should put on one hell of a show.

  9. Nice column to kick things off DK

    I personally hope this ends up becoming one of those great pennant races….playoffs are awesome, but baseball was designed for these races hundreds of years ago. No instant gratification. No live in-bat updates. A radio, a newspaper, and searing heat that turns to an indian summer with cool nights and baseball scores announced over the PA at highschool football games.

    It’s no longer about enjoying the ride…you are right about that DK.

    Neil Walker….does he come off the DL Monday? Is he going to rehab or can he slide right into the show? He needs to wake up feeling strong this second half. Under appreciated lately because it seems like he’s been hurt, but there has been stretches where he’s literally been the offense. With the changes in Pedro. The consistency of Cutch starting to boil over, and the table setting ability of Marte, Walker (and Jones) need to find it fast. That run differential will thank them.

  10. I read in the WSJ that MLB teams make big time money by renting their mascot out to parties or other events. For instance, the Seattle Mariners Mascot makes the team $600 an hour when he rents them out! Cleveland’s mascot makes $500 and the Royals make $400 an hour. None of these teams hasn’t had too much success as of late and yet they still warrant big time money.

    The Parrot however, wasn’t on the list. Apparently, this is a market that the Buccos apparently have yet to tapped into.

  11. A nice vacation and four days off from baseball and you know what?

    I (still) hate the Reds.

  12. I am not predicting 95 wins or anything. Frankly, I’d consider 90 wins a great season, even if it means just .500 or so baseball the rest of the way.

    But, the Bucs don’t need to fear the Reds & Nats over the next couple of weeks. If those teams are better than the Bucs, they sure have a funny way of showing it. What I’m saying is they have their warts, too. And the Cards’ young pitching is showing signs of cracking, to the point where some are saying they are considering acquiring Garza from the hated Cubs.

    I think we can be in this division race right to the end. What piece(s) do we look to add?

    * I say no to Morneau. He’s not the same Morneau any more.

    * I also say no to Schierholtz. He plays good defense, and he has hit so far this year. But, he does not have a track record of hitting LHP. If he is going to platoon with Tabby, that’s fine as long as we don’t give up much. It would not surprise me if he hits less than .250 the rest of the year with mediocre power.

    * I still like the thought of Aoki at the top of the order. But, I think the Brewers would insist on a Top 10 prospect, and I would not go that far. As was suggested awhile back, I’d probably deal a guy like Heredia for him.

    * Ibanez? He’s 57 years old now. I don’t trust him for 70 more games.

    * Morales? He’s a disaster defensively, right?

    * Jones should rebound a bit, and hopefully Walker will as well. We definitely need to solidify the bench, but I don’t think we need a blockbuster deal for a position player.

    * I want no part of trading Polanco or the high end pitchers – Taillon, Kingham, Glasnow.

    * I don’t think we need relief help because guys like Vic Black are ready to help immediately.

    * Bud Norris is ok, but I hope we don’t need to go that route. I think he would cost one of those high end pitchers I mentioned.

    • Oops! Just realized Heredia is in our Top 10. I guess he’d be the exception, if we could get Aoki. That is a gamble, but Aoki would be a nice get.

    • I like Schierholtz if we can also grab Navarro. Schierholtz by himself is down my list. And I like Morneau although his concussion history bothers me. I like him though because he has never played in the NL and I’d platoon Jones and Tabata and I’m hoping that improves the bench as well. I still like Rios and Aoki best right now. I’d let Kingham or Glasnow go for one of them. Cheap option on Aoki for 2014.

      • Kingham or Glasnow, 21? Especially Glasnow, who strikes out over 12 per 9 innings? That is way too steep for me for Rios, who I am not certain is even an upgrade to what we have. US Cellular is a bandbox that drives up everyone’s power #’s. I think that would just be taking the White Sox’s problem and way overpaying for it.

        I think our future rotation is shaping up so well that I would hate to see them deal anyone. As I said, I’d probably make and exception and trade Heredia if we could get Aoki. Even that is a tough call for me, as I hate to give up power arms. But, Aoki could be the table setter we need.

        • I’m not certain anyone is an upgrade. They’d still have to perform well over a 2-3 month period. Or maybe they don’t even have to perform well over a 2 month period and other guys have it covered. It’s still a hooeyshoot to me.

          As I said, I put a premium on guys switching leagues for the first time and I think that improves our bench and solves right for next year which hopefully gets Polanco close.

      • Keith Law was raving about Glasnow in his latest podcast.

        And he was very complimentary of the whole Pirate farm system.
        ————————————
        None of these guys who I hear the Pirates are interested in really thrill me too much. I am not sure if they will really make the impact we expect (or might need).

        But I do think they need someone who can come off the bench and get a hit. (or even a walk sometime)

        • I also am starting to come around that if they stand pat…there are a few bats in AAA for roster expansion time that can certainly help….that is if the next week and some change go ok

        • Wasn’t he pretty critical of Josh Bell? Or was that somebody else? Thought I read he thinks Bell isn’t quite the prospect everyone else does.

    • Good post, Jim.

      It has always been my belief that GM’s, especially if they want to be great GM’s, need to believe sincerely that every single player in the organization is tradeable.

      The reason those guys get paid well is to know when to, and when not to, make a deal.

      • That’s true, Osh. I admit, wholeheartedly that I am a guy who tends to value what I have more than what I see out there. I just don’t like giving too much of the future up in our situation. But, I see the other side too.

  13. Good morning Lunatics.

    Go Buccos! Sending as much good vibes as possible.

  14. Nice column, DK. Especially the quote from an unnamed major league executive.
    “The reality is that St. Louis is playing on another level than Pittsburgh right now. The Cardinals are crushing teams.”

    How much, I wondered. And why. Looking at some of the stats, I found this:

    The Cardinals have been batting .290 since early May after an ordinary April when they hit .245, which is still better than the Bucs’ current batting average for the season. Overall, the Cards have scored 105 more runs than the Pirates. That’s 29% more (462 to 357). They do it by getting more hits than the Bucs (9.48 per game to 8.23), but especially with runners in scoring position.

    ESPECIALLY WITH RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION.

    The Cardinals’ team batting average with runners in scoring position is .337, best by far in MLB. For the Pirates it’s .230, worst in the NL and 28th out of 30 in MLB.

    The Cardinal batters just seem to know in advance what kind of pitch is coming at them when they need to score a run. That, or they guess right more of the time. Or are better able to recognize a pitch as it’s thrown. (I suggest the Pirates disguise their signals more carefully, just to be sure.) The team with the next best batting average with RISP is Tampa Bay at .288. That’s a huge difference.

    The St Louis pitching record is third best in the majors. The Bucs’ 3.07 ERA may be the best, but the Cards are close behind at 3.39.

    Areas where the Bucs are better than the Cardinals:

    Fielding: A good part of the Pirates’ low ERA is due to superior fielding. Some of it is the result of smart positioning in the field based on opponents’ hitting charts. But the abilities of players like McCutchen, Marte and the team overall play a big part. For the record, a stat that is often overlooked: Pittsburgh has the best Defensive Efficiency Ratio (DER) in all of baseball: .718. St. Louis is 14th overall, at .694.

    Relief pitching. The Pirates bullpen has saved 34 games out of 43 save opportunities, while the Cards are 28 out of 40. That’s one and two in the NL. In total number of holds, it is 54 to 48 for the Bucs (1st and 3rd best in the NL). Mark Melanson, Jason Grilli and Justin Wilson have unusually high WAR ratings.

    Stolen bases. The Pirates are fourth in the NL with 67 SB out of 91 attempts. The Cardinals are last in the NL with 23 SB out of 36 attempts. Both teams are much better than average in stealing bases, though the Cards have made far fewer attempts. We will not run as well against Yadier Molina, however.

    Molina has thrown out 13 of 29 runners trying to steal, a low success rate for stealers (.552%). (Cruz, the backup, is 1 for 5.) Martin has caught 22 stealers and allowed 24 stolen bases, a stingey .522% success rate for stealers, slightly better than Molina. (McKenry, however, has caught only 5 base stealers out of 40 attempts (.875%). That’s 35 extra bases allowed.)

    It is interesting to note that Cruz has started 11 games behind the plate for the Cardinals, while McKenry has started 24 for the Bucs, more than twice as many as Cruz.

    Our long, hot and delightfully interesting summer of baseball is about to shift into another gear.

    Cheers from the U.K.

    • Good stuff, War!

      I agree 100% on the defensive efficiency stuff. The Bucs are #1 overall in turning balls in play into outs, and they are #1 (as a subset) in turning groundballs into outs. Our defense is pretty solid all the way around, with maybe exceptions at 1b & RF. We are better than St. Louis defensively, no doubt.

      The Cards are a better hitting team than the Bucs. Their guys hit for a higher average and tend to strike out less. I would point out, though, that they are due for some serious regression in their hitting with RISP. Teams do not hit .337 in those situations without a whole lot of good fortune. So, while analysts pointed out that the Pirates pitching has been due for regression, the same absolutely holds true for the St. Louis offense. But, since they have been such a consistently good team almost every year, people just assume they can do super-human things like hit .488 with RISP, as Alan Craig is doing. The inflated RISP is obviously driving up their run differential.

      As for the exec who said St. Louis is playing on a whole other level than Pittsburgh right now? I guess that is true. They are playing on the 57-36 level, while we are way down on the 56-37 level. I’d prefer to actually wait until St. Louis separates itself from Pittsburgh in the standings before declaring the Cards are obviously superior. But, baseball execs tend to say things that they expect to not be questioned on.

    • Cheers back to you. Great post!

  15. ESPN’s Dan Szymborski is suggesting the Bucs need to trade for Cliff Lee. He states they could trade Alen Hanson, Luis Heredia and second baseman Dilson Herrera for him.
    This one kind of surprised me. He’s still owed $50 million on 2 years.
    I know this is just suggestions and speculation, but imagining Cliff Lee in this rotation is.. unimaginable?
    (Sorry DK, I know this babble annoys you!)

    • And we’d only have to give up 3 key pieces of our future – for a guy that is highly overpaid, as all Phils are. Lee’s a good pitcher, but no way do the Bucs make a deal like this. And I don’t think it makes sense for them – even if Philly eats a chunk of Lee’s future salaries. I say hang onto as many of the youngsters as possible and let the Phils rot just like the Yankees.

      Thanks, but no thanks to Dan Szymborski.

      • Jim

        I agree with everything in this post and your previous post. Any available right field pickup is marginally better then Tabata. Don’t make a trade for the sake of making a trade. Aoki is the one player that does solve a lot of the issues but I’m not even sure he is on the block.

        First base needs more offensive production I just don’t think the Justin Morneau’s of the world are the right answer. They have just a good of a chance of Jones getting hot as they do of any of those type of players contributing.

        Bench help is what they need and that can be traded for without giving up much. I hope they stay smart and don’t feel as if they need to make a big splash just to make the fanbase or national media happy.

        • We’re on the same page, Nate.

        • NO F’ING WAY SHOULD THE PIRATES BAIL OUT THE TWINS AND TAKE ON THE FADING AND WEAK JUSTIN MORNEAU. We are in position where we need ‘sure thing’ acquisitions, not players where we are hoping they can recapture their form. If he were free, or close to it, sure take a flyer, but no way do we give up anything of value for that. Jones can get hot and exceed what Morneau can do.

          • +++.

            I’d rather take a chance on Rebecca DeMornay than Justin (De)Morneau!

            • ” Any available right field pickup is marginally better then Tabata. ”

              Respectfully, that comment makes me speechless.

              • But you were still able to post.

                So it only made you marginally speechless.

              • Post but not speak?

              • Any name that has been floated around. Obviously there are better right fielders. Of all the names being mentioned are they hitting for enough power to make up for a worse average then Tabata. None of them project to added wins that are significant. Therefore marginally better. Even Aoki doesn’t improve this team that much over Tabata’s current level of play.

            • Two issues I have with Tabata.

              1. Huge injury risk, IMO
              2. Not reliable mentally.

              • As I read your post, 21, I was reminded of a replay I recall watching from the Mets series. Their guy smoked a ball off the RC wall, and it looked to be directly between Cutch and Tabata. Tabata never moved. Just watched the ball sail to the wall. Cutch immediately got on his horse (fortunately, he had one waiting!) and chased it down quickly. Then, he fired it to the infield for a play at the plate. Tabata had to duck as Cutch’s throw sailed over his head on the way back to the infield.

                Now, I’m not saying for certain Tabata had a chance at that ball. For all I know, he has been told by Cutch and Hurdle to just get out of the way on anything in the gap. But, it just looked like the typical Cutch and the typical Tabby. One guy busting his rear end to save a run, and the other watching the first guy busting his rear end to save a run.

                It probably doesn’t fit in the category of mental lapse. Looked more like a lack of desire … a “You handle it, Cutch, while I relax” sort of a moment.

              • We all know Tabata’s pattern. He has played decently since his return from Indy. But, the BMTIB most likely is working on something to improve the current RF situation.

                What’s the word on the Bucs interest in Kendrys Morales? KM then plays 1B & Jones moves to RF. Tabata becomes the 4th outfielder and a bar off the bench.

      • I have my fill of people on espn.com and other ‘entertainment’ sites playing “fantasy baseball” with these absurd trade fantasies… I will listen to anything a true media type reports (Heyman, Morosi, Rosenthal, etc) and I will also listen to ‘exGMS’ like Bowden just because it gives an interesting insight into how GMs think, but please spare me what some fantasy geek on espn.com thinks.

        Speaking of Heyman, he reports Pirates are strongly interested in Rios and maybe Ramirez from the ChiSox… that would be a ‘go for it’ move for Neal, and if you believe his mentor Jon Hart, Neal wants to ‘go for it’.

        • I don’t know. I see these guys up close and personal, cmat. I think they are mediocre, at best. If the price is Top 50 MLB talent – no way. Jim Bowden might do it, but Jim Bowden doesn’t have a GM job for a reason. I hear him every day displaying the kind of knowledge that keeps him behind a mike and not a desk.

          • Any deal, sports or otherwise, always comes down to price. Zero doubt Rios and Ramirez are big upgrades for the Pirates… both are signed beyond this year, and so it comes down to how much salary we want to take on now and future and how much prospect cost is.

            I know a lot of folks fear that Neal won’t step up and make these types of trades at the deadline, my bigger fear is that we swing big but do the wrong deal…. we will see in 12 days.

            • US Cellular = Hitter’s park. Rios won’t hit many homers in PNC. I don’t see what he brings. He has 32 XBH in 350 ABs in the Cell. Polanco will be here next year. He’s going to be a far better player than Rios w/in 2 years, most likely.

              As for Ramirez, I guess he’s an upgrade to Jordy. He’s not a star, but could solidify SS for a few years. I don’t know exactly what his salary situation is, though.

              If we could de-couple Ramirez from this deal, I’d be more willing to take him on depending on his “years of control & cost.”

              Zero interest in Rios.

              • I think Rios brings stability in right until Polanco is ready. And he’s pretty good, IMO.

              • I think I’d bring in Schierholtz to replace Snider and go with him in a Tabby platoon rather than take Rios. I think that would require less in terms of prospects.

              • Ramirez is owed 20 million thru the 2015.

              • Polanco is liekly two yeas away. Second half of next year at best. bucs move guys along SLOOOOWWWW,

              • I’m not sold that Polanco is as good a prospect as some are trying to promote him.
                If it comes to keeping Polanco or getting over the top (AKA the right deal) and into the playoffs this year….I believe I’d trade him.
                Though I agree with DK that you don’t mess around with trading anyone on the current roster….I’d be very tempted to include Tabata in the right deal.
                However, I don’t think they will do that because of the “right deal” they have on paper with him.

              • Regarding Polanco he has went from an off the radar prospect to a top 12 in all of baseball. He seems to be about as well rounded as anyone that has come through the system in the last 10 years. Doesn’t strike out much, walks more then average, hits for power and average, steals bases and he is hungry. This is literally his dream and he didn’t evan know it was possible 6 years ago.

              • I’ve seen him rated 52nd recently in the prospect list I browsed.
                Power? ……30 HR’s in five minor league seasons.
                By no means would I give him away, but I’d certain consider it for a deal that helps to get this club over the hump.

          • I should have clarified that I meant I would stay away from Rios and Ramirez, who Bowden was also touting. He basically said Polanco, Taillon & Kingham, I believe, for those guys. That would put a serious dent in our next 5+ years for being marginally better now. I don’t like it.

          • Jim S, I agree with you regarding Bowden.

            He offers some insight on what a GM might be thinking – or the type of pressure he may have from an owner.

            But he also strikes me as someone who gets too emotional in regards to always ‘going for it’.

            • Well put, Thunder. If he was as excited about making big deals when he was a GM as he seems to be advocating for them now, that is scary. I get that he is on a radio show, talking to fans. But, some of this stuff he proposes just seems crazy.

    • Yeah, I read that too. I didn’t even bring it up because it was the worst kind of page-view grabbing BS.

    • ***ATTENTION***
      New posters, and lurkers….we want to chat with you!
      If you post your hometown, we’ll add it to the list of Dejan’s L:unatics’ Asylum.
      Don’t be shy, we don’t bite :)

  16. Rangers look like they’re close to winning the Garza sweepstakes.

  17. As to trading deadline, how many players do you think is realistic for the Bucs to pick up? I can 2 or 3, but anything more than that is a bit too much change perhaps…. both in terms of value we are giving up but also in terms of team chemistry, etc….

    So, if they were to pull trigger on Rios/Ramirez deal, then add a pitcher, they’d be done, I’d think. Or if they don’t do that, I can see them adding a 1B/RF upgrade, a bench piece and a pitcher…

  18. ***ATTENTION***
    New posters, and lurkers….we want to chat with you!
    If you post your hometown, we’ll add it to the list of Dejan’s L:unatics’ Asylum.
    Don’t be shy, we don’t bite :)

    • You make it sound like eharmony for sports fans

    • Is there a list we can view somewhere?

      • I’ll post it on the game thread tonight, thanks for signing up btw ;-)

      • Yes, Mr. Rick in Crete, thanks for joining the Asylum :)

      • bizrow says:

        July 16, 2013 at 5:12 pm

        Welcome Lunatics, if you don’t see your current location below, please add a reply to this post

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        District of Columbia
        Florida – Palm Harbor, Orlando, Valrico, Gainesville, Daytona Beach, Oviedo, Tampa, Jacksonville, Sarasota, Palm Beach Gardens, Cape Coral, Coco Beach (Major Nelson and Mary Ann), Niceville (Red Neck Rivera), St Petersburg, Pembroke Pines, Ft Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach
        France – Strasbourg
        Georgia – Marietta, Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Acworth, Savanna
        Germany – Leverkusen/Cologne
        Hawaii – Honolulu
        Idaho – Mountain Home, Coer d’Aline, Mountain Home AFB*
        Illinois – La Salle, Peru, Payson, Chicago, Palatine (3 inmates there), Lincoln Park, Grayslake, Algonquin, Chicago, Naperville
        Indiana – Indianapolis, Burns Harbor, South Bend, Bicknell, Ft Wayne, Westfield, Munster
        Iowa – Bettendorf, Humboldt
        Ireland – Dublin
        Japan – Tokyo
        Kentucky – Louisville, Bowling Green, Lexington, Georgetown
        Kuwait – Relyks76*
        Louisiana – Slidell
        Maine – Bangor
        Maryland – Arnold, Odenton, Severn, Baltimore, Waldorf, Hagerstown, Chevy Chase, Hampstead, Elkridge, Frederick, Bowie
        Massachusetts – Boston, Tyngsboro, East Gloucester*, 617 Strong*, Medford
        Mecca – Slienmann*
        Michigan – Kalamazoo, Eaton Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor
        Minnesota – Yinzer, St Paul
        Mississippi – Biloxi
        Missouri – St Peters***
        Montana
        Nebraska – Omaha
        New Hampshire – Barrington
        New Jersey – Chesterfield, Princeton, Roxbury, Lebanon, Lincoln Park, Berkeley Heights, Somerville, Hammock, Barrington, Delran, Pennsville, Hammonton, Mullica Hills, JERSEY SHORE – added 5/21
        New Mexico – Mike, Albequeque, blazer
        New York – New York, Smithtown, Manhattan, Long Island, Nyack, Brooklyn, Buffalo
        Nevada, Las Vegas
        North Carolina – Asheville, Hickory, Charlotte, Raleigh, Wilmington, Chapel Hill, High Point
        Ohio – Cincinnati, Columbiana, Westerville, Green, Hilliard, Toledo, Louisville, Columbus, Perrysburg, Pickerington, Youngstown, Cleveland, Olmsted Township, Liberty Township, Warren, Oregon, Wintersville, Austintown, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base*, New Philadelphia, Powell, Canton, Salem, New Albany, Bloomingdale, Powell, Howland, Grafton
        Oklahoma – Tulsa – OKLAHOMA CITY/MOORE – added 5/21
        Oregon – Roseburg
        Pennsylvania – Downtown, Hopewell, Indiana, North Wales, Franklin Park, Forest Hills, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Du Bois, Reading, Crafton, Arnold, Wexford, Mt Lebanon, Canonsburg, Lancaster, Huntington, York, Boiling Springs, Philly suburbs, Morningside, Harrisburg, Lawrenceville, Bradfordwoods, Norristown, Hanover, Clearfield, Sewickley, Plum Boro, Slippery Rock, Wilkes-Barre, Sharpsville, Bessemer, Greensburg, Washington, Imperial, South Side, Duncansville, Newville, Sheppton, Grove City, Butler, Allentown, Ross Township, Blairsville, Flood City (Johnstown), Overbrook, Danny’s Hoagies, Baldwin, Economy, Sharpsville, Erie, North Huntington, Bellfonte, West Mifflin, Kennywood, Pleasant Hills, Beechview (Mad Turk, No 200), Macgunie, Mechanicsburg, Uptown, Cambria County, Mon Valley, Salisbury, Coraopolis, Emsworth, Cranberry Twp, Garrett, O’Hara Township, McCandless Township, 115 Federal Street, Bethel Park, Harrison City, Penn Hills, Kittanning, Dover, Lebanon, Upper St Clair, Rennerdale, Oakland, Scranton, Moon (RMU), State College, Erie, Penn Twp, Stowe, Elizabeth, Hermitage, Easton, Carlisle, Finleyville, Belle Vernon, Madison, Sellersville, Waynesburg, Warren, Beaver Falls, Chambersburg, Green Castle, East Freedom, Leechburg, Banksville City, Ellwood City, Hollidaysburg, Bethlehem, Mars, Verona, Phillipsburg, Phoenixville, Hippos Pond, Oil City, Verona, Hookstown, Squirrel Hill, Greencastle, Natrona, Charleroi, FREEDOM, Denver, Midland (the home of good food and many bars)
        The Phillipines
        Rhode Island
        Singapore
        South Carolina – Duncan, Longs, Columbia, Bluffton, Greensville, Charleston
        South Korea – Seoul, Mike
        Sweden
        Switzerland
        Tennessee – Smithville, Nashville
        Texas – Tyler, San Antonio, Belton, Houston, Katy, Plano, El Paso, Cedar Park
        United Kingdom – Haslemere
        Utah – Salt Lake City, Provo
        Vermont – North Bennington
        Virginia – JAL, Hampton, Rescue, Richmond, Front Royal, Woodbridge, Suffolk, Warrenton, Springfield*, Virginia Beach, Fairfax, Arlington, Yorktown, Henrico, Aldie, Manassas, Newport News, Clifton, Glen Allen, Roanoke
        Washington – Seattle, Nine Mile Falls, Spokane, Sammamish
        West Virginia – Martinsburg, Morgantown, Wheeling, Mt Olivet, Huntington, Parkersburg
        Wisconsin – Madison, Oshkosh, Hortonville
        Wyoming – Caspar, Lander
        Unknown – killa_cam7*

        374 locations represented in the blog,
        Lunatic Nation Hall of Fame, people that have, in our opinion, made a difference, either thru talent or character or deeds.
        Nominations are always welcome
        Any Allegheny, Pirate, Crawford, Gray, Steeler or Penguin player in the League’s Hall of Fame, although if Jagr makes it some day, we gotta talk
        Stan “The Man”, from Donora
        Beano
        Lemonade Guy
        The Gunner, Mr Bob Prince
        The Great One, he stays regardless
        Mike Lange
        Myron Cope
        The Honorable Mayor Richard Caliguiri
        Kevin Mcclachety
        Mike Emerick
        Commander Hadfield, courtesy of the Space Station
        Fred Rogers
        Mario Lemieux, ditto to the Great One, he stays as an owner
        Chuck Noll
        Eddie Johnston, aka EJ
        Badger Bob
        Chuck Tanner
        Dick Groat, the best darn multi-athelete and announcer from Wilkinsburg
        Steve Blass
        Danny Murtaugh*
        Rocky Blier*
        John Challis – Courage + Belief = Life
        First Responders***
        22 countries
        46 states, plus the District of Columbia, missing 4 states, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alabama, and Kansas
        Two planets, at least confirmed, and the Space Station
        Honorable mention, England – London – Lisa
        “Terrorists will always lose in America, the sooner they figure out, the better”- truer words have never been spoken
        Asterisks denote confirmed hero’s, military, police officers or firemen/ladies
        7/16/2013 5:09 PM

  19. Here is the one question that I have to my fellow lunatics…

    Is there a hitter available that would instantly transform this streaky lineup into an every day threat? If so are you willing to pay the price to get that hitter?

    I don’t see one player available that is going to correct all the issues with this offense. And since we are past the half way point I think its silly to assume that these issues are going to begin to correct themselves. Anyone that assumes that the offense will start to come around should be reminded that it would be just as easy to assume that our pitching is bound to drop from the levels its currently at.

    In my opinion we have an issue in RF and a middle infielder. Would love to see a guy like Utley acquired along with either an OF or 1B and move Jones to the OF if it is a 1B that is acquired.

    This isn’t a one trade fix in my opinion.

  20. I think the Phils trading Utley is akin to the White Sox trading Konerko. He’s the face of the team in the eyes of the fans. I just don’t see it unless the haul for Philly is gigantic. Plus, are you assuming Walker will not get healthy and rebound? If he does, what do we do with him?

    I think you are right about RF, TJ. I think we need some LH hitting help there, and we need an upgrade to the super-sub role of Inge – someone who can hit lefties a lot better than Inge and Harrison.

    • Jim I don’t know if Utley is as big a face of the team as you might think. You are talking after all about the team that traded Victorino who I would say was a bigger fan favorite.

      As for Walker I am assuming he’s not going to get healthy. Like I’ve stated before; he seems to be the Jose Silva of this team. I wouldn’t mind a middle infield of Mercer and Utley with Walker coming off the bench as a switch hitter.

      To me we are starting to walk down that path with Walker that we did with Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez before; hit for average but not showing the power and if he has back problems who knows how much power he may have lost. I don’t want 8mil a year wasted on a guy like that whether he’s from Pittsburgh or from a cross in Jerusalem.

      • Those points are hard to argue with. I guess I thought Utley was more the fan fav in Philly than anyone else, but I wasn’t sure.

        I, too, am concerned about Neil’s health all of the sudden. I don’t like backs and sides acting up so frequently. Some guys are just not built to keep playing 6 months of baseball into their 30′s. I hope Neil reverts back to his old self, though, for down the stretch. We could really use about 8 more HR and a .290/.360 line from him for the rest of the year. We could definitely use a guy who hits lefties and plays 2b as a back-up. Inge and Harrison are not that guy. Jordy might be, but Barmes won’t hit enough at SS.

  21. For all the out of towners that have Direct TV. I belive there is free baseball for the week starting tonight.

  22. DK, I know you and Mark Madden are aquaintances, but I have to say that when I heard him say that the Pirates front office HAD to go get a bat for right field or it would show that they don’t care about the fans or winning (paraphrase), I became POSITIVE that the Pirates should do NOTHING at the deadline.

    No disrespect, but when it’s baseball and Mark is adamant about anything, I subscribe to the George Costanza “do the opposite approach”. It’s gold Jerry, Gold!

    • I got to agree with Madden. We have to get at the very least either a RF or a 1B. That is one reason why I want Ibanez as he has played both in the past but hasn’t first in a while. Hopefully, he wouldn’t be uncomfortable playing it again.

      • Ibanez is a waste of space. He’s ancient. His best use is off the bench. Definitely wouldn’t bring him in as a starter. Play him as an every day guy and he will get injured and it will be a wasted trade. say no to raul!

        • I know his production will most likely decline in the second half but he does have 24 homers. Who would you prefer?

          • That is a lot of HR, Dom. No doubt about that.

            I was going to say he doesn’t do much else. But, then I decided that would be like Buddy Ryan not wanting Chris Carter because all he does is catch TD’s.

  23. Hey Yohe:

    The playoffs are over. You can shave now.

  24. Pictures of my brethren:

    (Geeks of the world, unite!)

    http://www.twcc.com/entertainment/galleries/comic-con-2013-costume-photos#/0

    I always wish I could have gone to it before it became the corporate monolithic monster it has became in the last 10 years.

    I love the picture of the guy in the Spider Man costume going up the escalator. As the great William Shatner said on SNL, “Have you ever kissed a girl ?”

    So happy baseball is back!

  25. NHL finally released the schedules….Pens open at home vs. NJ

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebymonth.htm?team=PIT

    • Winnipeg trip is not until April 3 DK. Takes the fun out of it some. The temperature will be up to -5 by then…..

      DK: Actually, I’m told Winnipeg is a completely different kind of beautiful that time of year, so that will be a first for me. Looking forward to it, as always.

      The only possible conflict that week would be baseball, which is to say, I’ll be there.

    • Metropolitan division? Not feelin’ it.

      • yeah kinda dumb eh?

      • I agree….you don’t really think Pittsburgh, Carolina or Columbus when you say “Metropolitan Division”. The Met Division….nope, doesn’t work either. I’m sure it was a NY guy who came up with that.

        DK: Just got home and saw this. Wow.

        • Or Bettman himself smh

          • Hey – good call! See below:

            From what I’ve been told, Commissioner Gary Bettman pushed for both the geographic names and specifically for the Metropolitan Division as a solution for a basic problem: How do you name a division that covers Canada to Florida?

            One thought: Keep the Atlantic the Atlantic and rename that Frankenstein’s monster-of-a-division as the Eastern Division. But that would have clashed with the conference name.

            So Metropolitan was seen as the way to go, with Atlantic being the catch-all geographic distinction for the other division.

        • I heard David Wright came up with that name (Metropolitan Division). One more reason to not like him. (This is where I would put a smiley emoji if I did that sort of thing.)

  26. “I’m fat. Fat people sweat.”

    John Kruk analysis today on ESPN Radio.

    Now THAT’S the kind of analysis we need on the Final Word

  27. So Jon Heyman is reporting the Pirates are after Rios and might try to get Ramirez as well from the White Sox….

    If the Pirates take on the contracts; knowing that AJ and Wandy come off the books which is roughly 16mil what would the Pirates realistically have to deal to get BOTH?

    Also Pens signed another defenseman; yes he’s a 2 way guy but still another guy for SWB

    • To do it, the PBC would basically have to add prospects so the Sox would eat some contract. Thats what the club did to pick up Wandy

    • Not sure about Wandy coming off the books. It has been my understanding that we have him at least through next year, with continued help from the Astros on salary. But it has been a little confusing since the beginning. Maybe someone can clarify this.

      • I’m pretty sure when Wandy was traded, the option for next year turned into a player’s option. What with Wandy on the DL, if he doesn’t come back strong, he would be silly not to pick it up. That being said, I think Houston has to eat some of the contract if the option is used. I’ll go check Cots

      • Sorry you are correct Arriba he is not a FA until end of next season. AJ and Barmes are the only 2 coming off the books unless you count the following

        James McDonald – 3mil
        Jeff Karstens – 2.5mil

        Still close to 18mil coming off the books

        • But there are other increases that will be occurring. Tabs, Cutch, Martin, Liriano and Grilli account for total increases of approximately $15M. And there could be other increases for arbitration eligible players.

        • Yes but Martin’s contract increases and so does Lariano’s. Plus some first year arbitration players will increase payroll.

  28. I know this question is kind of out of left field (or should I say right he he he) but why is Roger Maris not in the hall of fame?

    I know he had a .260 BA but so did Bill Mazeroski. I thought he would be a superior choice over some of the other who were nominated in the last 50 years.

    I would have thought anyone with two MVP awards and four all star appearances would have been more than enough to get in.

    • I have a lot of respect for Maris, but the two times he won the MVP award he wasn’t even the most valuable player on his own team. Twelve seasons is a pretty short career by HOF standards. As a corner outfielder, if you have a .260 lifetime batting average you need to have way more than 275 home runs to get in the Hall. Darned good ballplayer,though. Never did have a really bad year, and put up three great years.

    • Only 275 career HR’s, 1325 hits and 850 RBI’s. Not known as a fielder. I don’t think he is even close.

      The Cobra on the other hand was .290 hitter with 2712 hits, 339 HR’s, and 1493 RBI’s. Early in his career he was a good baserunner and fielder. All this and he is borderline.

      • Maris was a very good defensive right fielder, maybe a bit better than Parker over the course of their careers.

    • Maz may have been the best fielder ever, at any position.

      Maz hit the most historic HR in baseball history.

      More offense is expected of RF than 2b.

      Oh yeah, and Maz finally made it because he is Joe Morgan’s idol and Joe was in charge of the Old Timer’s Committee.

  29. The new NHL divisions are now named:

    Atlantic, Central, Pacific, and the Metropolitan Divisions.

    The Pens are part of the Metro Division.

    • We’re with the Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Caps, Flyers, Hurricanes, and Blue Jackets.

    • Metropolitan?

      I wish they had just gone back to the old Patrick division etc.

      • Yeah, that does sound silly. Apparently those eight teams are the only ones located in a metropolitan. Cities like Los Angele, Phoenix, Anaheim, Chicago, and Toronto are in the middle of nowhere.

        • Well when you consider that New Yourk has three teams in there coupled with Philly that really is almost one giant Metro area with not a lot of non metropolitan space inbetween. The other cities you mention are pretty much blips in the middle of desert of pharm land, Los Angeles and Anaheim being the exception. But the pacific is more spread out geographically rather than having 4 teams within what? 100 miles of one another?

          i don’t much care for the naming of the division, but i get it.

      • Muck the Fetropolitans!

      • Meh. i would prefer that too. But the NHL is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The die hard fans want old school divisions. But their goal is to grow the sport, which should be the case for any major sporting league, and you aren’t going to garner new fans whenever your divisons don’t do a dang thing to tell you anything about who might also be in that division.

        For instance, the B1G decided to go with some stupid competetive balance nonsense and called them Leaders and Legends. Everyone scoffed and wondered why they didn’t just use geography and label the divisions as such. the NHL does this and die hards want it the old way.

        Now the issue for the NHL is they are fighting an uphill battle as far as winning casual fans which could be used as an argument to just give into the die hards and go back to the good ole patrick, Smyth, Adams, and Norris days or it couldbe used as a reason to do anything possible and switch. Catch 22.

    • Awful. I reject these names. Try again Bettman.

  30. I don’t know if this has been brought up before but it was announced today that the NHL will take a two week brake this upcoming season for the Olympics.

  31. In regards to Cam Heyward, I would rate him in the top three most important young players that “must” pick up their game heavily for the Steelers to succeed this year.
    I personally think that Heyward should’ve gotten alot more playing time last year, and perhaps he would’ve been able to take over for Brett Keisel this season.
    It’s going to take some strong performances from Heyward, Hood and Cortez Allen on the defensive side (not to mention Worrilds and/or Jarvis Jones).
    On the offensive side, it all starts with a young OL.
    It’s a bit disappointing that both Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Adams have gotten off to shaky starts off the field in the past month or so.

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