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Morning Java: Pirates vs. Adversity, Round IV

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

WASHINGTON — Morning, Lunatics …

>> Arrived in the nation’s capital in the wee hours this morning, here to cover the final two games of Pirates-Nationals for columns each of the next two days.

Good time for a reminder that my work schedule is changing a little to accommodate football.

>> The Pirates vs. Adversity, Round IV … and the Pirates win again. Rob Biertempfel reports on that, as well as the latest on Jason Grilli’s departure and Neil Walker’s return.

Here’s some of what Clint Hurdle had to say on those topics …

So, why Round IV?

Well, by my count, they’ve had two 1-5 stretches and that one four-game losing streak earlier this month. If you want to lump the latter in with a general 2-9 funk, be my guest. But the bottom line is that this team doesn’t bottom out.

You can ascribe that to mental toughness if you like. I’m sure that’s part of it.

I’ll ascribe it to this.

Plain and simple, the pitching never stops. It just keeps the Pirates in game after game after game.

Here are last night’s official highlights from

>> Here, one final time, is yesterday’s TribLIVE Radio show podcast featuring special guest Jose Angulo of the Riverhounds in studio, as well as video of our talk …

>> Peter Laviolette sharing a bench with Dan Bylsma and Tony Granato. The Flyers and Penguins team up for the national cause. That’s just too good. Josh Yohe has it.

>> Marc-Andre Fleury’s star continues to sink, a Joe Starkey column.

>> Two days until the Steelers report. Alan Robinson lays it all on the offense.

>> Dana Holgorsen says it’s time for West Virginia to ‘go to work’ amid much lower expectations than last season. Kevin Gorman is covering the Big 12 meetings in Dallas.

>> The NCAA snaps back at the Paterno wackos. Yet another demonstration of how counterproductive to Penn State’s advancement these people are.

>> All ball the next couple days …

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. The Pirates’ main problem on offense is that, if they are not striking out, they are hitting WAY too many ground balls. They need a different approach, obviously, but the ground ball rate is alarming.

    Still hoping to land Aoki, first choice. (Tabata has returned to being a dog, like I knew he would.)

    A decent bat off the bench, which would be Michael Young, Placido Polanco, or a power bat like Morales, or Ibanez, though Seattle may be a tough team to please, in terms of making a deal.

    What would a guy like Jason Werth command? I realize for the Pirates to be even interested, Washington would have to eat a TON of that contract.

    I think the pitching is not the problem here, because there is depth, and Wandy and Grilli will return, hopefully!.

    I just hope going into the Cardinals series, the Pirates are going to try to cover five games with this bench, as currently constructed.

    At least the removal of Inge, from the equation, was a HUGE step in the right direction.

    • That’s an interesting thought about the groundball rate, Tom. I don’t know what the Bucs groundball rate is, but I also get frustrated watching them hit it on the ground or whiff with a guy on 3b and 0/1 outs.

      But, the Bucs are actually a decent HR team, and when you factor in PNC as a hitter’s park I think they are one of the better HR teams in the NL. I think the bigger issue may be the high K total. That is actually more often associated with free swinging, flyball teams, isn’t it?

      I am not saying you are wrong. I actually agree that we have a problem simply getting the ball in the air when we need a run. I come down on the side of that is tougher than it appears. But, it is one of the Bucs’ failings offensively, for sure.

      I like your idea about obtaining Aoki. NMR and others have advocated that here as well over the past few weeks. He would be a great fit in RF for us. Unfortunately, Milwaukee knows that as well, he is signed reasonably beyond this year, and the trade market right now is an extreme seller’s market. To pry a guy away from a team in your division will take a king’s ransom right now.

      • Considering batting averages on ground balls are consistantly higher than on fly balls, I would be very surprised if hitting more balls in the air would help a club already struggling to get hits. Ground ball hitters have also been shown to hit more line drives than fly ball hitters, fwiw.

        That being said, anecdotally, it is frustrating watching guys roll over pitch after pitch. I just don’t necessarilly believe it would be any less frustrating to watch them lob fly balls to the outfielders, either. Jim raised a good point about PNC, the park fly balls go to die.

        • It is definitely a good debate. My guess is most GMs/Mgrs try to field a team that has a mix of GB/FB hitters.

          I think you are right that GBs produce more hits, and so do liners. But, GBs are almost all singles and a lot of them become DPs. GB pitchers are preferred to FB pitchers because it usually takes 2-3 hits to score against them. That is a big reason for the success of the current Bucs pitching staff.

          FBs hitters generate a lot more bases for your offense than GB hitters, but they also tend to kill rallies with high strikeout totals. Some bad definitely comes along with the good.

          As with most things, balance is probably the goal. St. Louis has a better balance on offense than the Bucs.

  2. Morning Gang.
    Saw some talk this morning about the collector of Ryan Braun’s urine sample being fired. As far as I know, he was not fired. It was Shyam Das, the aribrator, who was fired after he wrongly interpreted the joint custody agreement and let Braun off the hook. Sisyphus, who regularly talks out of his posterior (recall his ‘Gerrit Cole is merely the Pirates’ 7th best starter’ claim) did Braun’s bidding in repeating the latter’s smear of the collector. Something about violating the collection rules and that his “open(ing) the door to speculation concerning tampering…contamination, etc.” Absolutely baloney.

    What the collection rules did was to require was that the collector “must keep the chain of custody intact” as well as “store the samples properly.” The sample was collected on a Saturday night after a game. Since NO FedEx locations anywhere in the state of Wisconsin were shipping out anything until the following Monday morning, and since the nearest FedEx was closed, as were the FIVE nearest as it turned out, it was in the collector’s judgment that the sample was best secured and preserved in his refrigerator until he could get it shipped out on Monday. This happens to be in line with protocol around the world for doping agencies. The double seal ensured against tampering and was so certified after being received by the approved laboratory. Sis’s claims that the joint agreement had specific rules which spelled out doing otherwise is a falsehood. In fact, has anybody but Braun’s lawyer and Sis ever tried claiming any of this?

    DK: You can go after content without going after the person, Ghost.

    • For me, that was showing restraint. ;) But I’ll try harder.

      Won’t be around in the morning to rebut whatever “content” will ensue, but I do have faith in the rest of the Gang to carry the day.

    • Ghost – Don’t worry. There’s the Thunder exception.

      You can skip the content and go right after him.

      It’s not breaking the rules because he’s not a real person.

    • CBS is reporting ARoid could very well be facing a lifetime ban. Where is the precedent for this? And how could it stand up? It would only be his second offense (his first wasn’t even a test, it was admission). According to the current CBA that would mean a 100 game suspension. How does he not win an appeal (unless he agrees to that punishment as Braun did)? And there is no way he would agree to that (unless he could be looking at jail time, I guess).

      One thing that concerns me is that there are other punishments coming. I certainly hope none of them put a kibosh to this exciting season for the PBC. And that even goes as far as giving up decent pieces in a trade for a guilt player and/ or being hamstrung by said player.

      • To clarify what I meant by being hamstrung by a player, I meant being on the hook for millions of dollars of the contract that would still be owed to said player even though they would be suspended.

        • DK,
          What say you on these topics?

        • When players are suspended, they waive their paychecks during suspension… so teams wouldn’t be ‘on the hook’ for any time missed.

          • Cmat,
            Good point with the suspension without pay. Forgot about that aspect. But the loss of our assets going the other way is still a concern.

            • Especially in a case of a rental player, as someone like Kendry Morales or Raul Ibanez would be. Not saying those players are in danger of being suspended, but you get the point.

      • They don’t get paid while suspended. I heard the so-called “lifetime ban ” on Arod really is a two year suspension being contemplated, which effectively for him would be a lifetime ban at 38 (and without PED’s). They don’t want him wearing an MLB uniform again. I also heard they have three times the evidence on Arod than they had on Braun. But that’s a news report/opinion, and who knows what they will get.

        • The Yankees don’t want to pay for him, either. They want a “get out of jail free” pass for their stupid signing of that guy so they can go on a buying rampage again. Their farm system is pretty weak right now. I will be called a conspiracy theorist for saying this, but I think that is part of this. MLB thinks the Yankees must be protected. I was at Yankee Stadium 3 weeks ago, and there were a lot of empty seats – particularly in all those VIP sections. They need to be good to fill their seats, and they need to fill seats to generate enough revenue. I know they have the crazy TV money coming in, but they are still complaining about profits.

    • Good morning to you, too, Ghost.

      “What the collection rules did was to require was that the collector “must keep the chain of custody intact” as well as “store the samples properly.””

      Yes, in a secure location. Your basement fridge does not qualify as a “secure location” by any reasonable definition of the term.

      Have a nice day.

      • I read where it was standard procedure for a collector to keep a collection in his home fridge. Can’t tell you where I saw that but I DID see it.

        • Home fridge seems pretty secure as long as you don’t have people traipsing in and out. Someones going to break into his home to alter the sample? Plus, wasn’t this a basement fridge? “Secure” doesn’t have to be a Brink’s truck.

          • I’m sure it was totally secure. And I’m fairly certain Ryan Braun would have thought it was totally secure if this whole mess had occurred to another player besides him.

            Ok, so he cheated. That’s bad, but he’s not alone. Then, he refused to admit it when confronted. That’s bad, but he’s not alone. Then, he worked the system to get out of his punishment. That’s bad, but he’s hardly alone.

            Then … he insinuated something he knew was not true about a perfectly honest person just doing his job. He didn’t even do that to stay out of trouble. He was out of trouble at that point (or so he thought), and yet he took the added step of aggressively, recklessly and publicly trying to destroy someone else’s reputation and career for no other reason but for misguided righteous indignation. How do you sink so low?

            I hope we find out next year that his true ability is as a .280 hitter with 15-20 HR power.

          • It means, if I remember the reports correctly, a bonded, secure location, which FedEx and other shippers do have for just such shipments.

            The home fridge does seem like a secure location when it’s holding somebody else’s urine sample. How about if it’s yours, and your job depends on that sample? Or, to put it another way, would you store your life savings in your fridge, or put it in a bank?

            • I was responding to “Your basement fridge does not qualify as a ‘secure location’ by any reasonable definition of the term.” If it’s defined in the CBA, I’d like to see it.

              I leave all my urine samples in my fridge.

          • Zactly, Arriba. AND the specimen had 2 seals on it.

          • AW, agreed.
            As long as the temperature was maintained, and the seals werent broken, the sample was handled properly.

        • I didn’t hear that, but I did hear that it was commonly done. If so, big mistake on the part of who ever told them it was okay to do it.

    • Oh, and by the way, if you go back and read my posts on the Gerritt Cole thing, they almost always include the phrase “at this time” as a preface to my statements concerning Cole’s standing in the rotation. At THIS time, assuming that all of the candidates for the rotation are healthy, I’d say that Cole is now the sixth best starter the Pirates have. He’s shown enough to pass up Jeanmar, unless he decides to go back to grooving fastball after fastball right down the pike again.

      Context is everything.

  3. To Brandon Inge: As Chuck Noll would say, it’s time to get on with your life’s work now. Sorry it had to end this way for you, but we had to do it. Best of luck.

  4. I think the Pirates improved by the release of Inge. He stated that he needed more playing time, but how could you play a guy with numbers like that? It was time to move on. It seemed like only 2 years ago that they were holding on to these type players all year to the detriment of the team.

    • Inge needs more playing time. Gaby needs more playing time. That is the life of a guy in MLB who is not good enough to be a regular starter. Some of them accept and adapt. Some of them either never accept their new status or are not able to adapt to irregular playing time. Either way, you are correct Miz. Inge needed to go.

  5. Hoka Hey everyone!
    Pirates win…Pirates win!!! ….LIX wins down, …and XXIII to go.
    Yes, GM Neal and Mgr. Clint ….82 wins DOES make a difference.
    Beat Em’ Bucs !
    PS: Congrats to Mr. Cole last night…..going 7 innings puts less stress on the bullpen.
    PSS: GM Neal used to say “no scholarships” — not sure what took soooo long with Inge? …… .181/ .204/ .238 ….. 1 HR and 7 RBI …. 105 AB ….32 K and 2 BB ; never like to see anyone lose their job, but, this years’ performance speaks for itself …. :-(

  6. I think last night was a nice step forward for Cole. He went 7 innings used his off-speed pitches and generally limited damage.
    The signs are there for the slumbering lumber to wake up but it still hit the snooze alarm. Inge was two weeks to late by my books but he was released. Now the question is who do we get in trades. I’m thinking anyone we get isn’t going to be splashy.
    Power bullpen arms we have and there is more where that came from.

    • He did go 7. However it was almost all fastballs. Which is fine for as long as it works.

      • Itwas almost all fastballs but I think i saw a two seemer, a pretty good slider, and the “change up” thrown much more than he has ever thrown. Especially early int he game. By the 5th inning he was really starting to crank up the heat on the 4 seamer.

      • I didn’t see the pitch breakdown to know if it was a high % of fastballs. I thought he threw a lot of breaking pitches. But, I’ll admit I wasn’t counting nor did I see a graphic to that effect.

        I thought he pretty well dominated Washington. The HR to CF was well struck, but the ball seems to be carrying well there over these few days.

      • Didn’t get a chance to see the game, but the reports I heard said that he was doing a much better job of keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate. If that’s the case he can get away with throwing a ton of fastballs, because he has a very good one.

        • I thought he did stay away from the heart of the plate, yes.

          And, if you get a chance to watch the replay today (not sure of the Root schedule in that regard), it is worth the time. He was terrific.

  7. So if they take advantage of the days off and go with a World Series rotation of four starters, who do they leave off?

    If he keeps hitting like that, Cole will solve the problem. I hear he used to play right field in high school.

    Solves two problems, doesn’t it?

    And with that arm, nobody would try to score on him.

    • I like your thinking, Drew. Might as well let Cole play either RF or 1B on the days he is not on the mound. It worked for me when I was playing back in the early 60s.

    • I believe AL teams have inquired about Cole strictly as a DH option.

  8. So Dejan comes to DC for the final two games, which I’ll be attending.

    Coincidence? I think not…

  9. “I told them, ‘If you really think I’m not good enough anymore and you can find someone to help you, go for it,’ ” Inge said.

    I could have told them that.

  10. Today’s Trib – in the Around the NFL column – indicates Steve Breaston will work out with the Lions. I thought he was coming to the Steelers. Did that idea fizzle?

    • I think we were light on cap space, Bob. I felt like the Steelers wanted him but needed him to take a hometown discount. If he chose more money from Detroit, I don’t blame him. He isn’t a guy who has already banked $50 million.

  11. Nice win. The Pirates certainly have the ability to add to payroll but the question how much or even will they. As I mention 53.5 million is far behind the teams they have to beat. Cards at 116 million and the Reds at 110 million. Think about that the Reds are at 110 million and the Pirates claim little wiggle room at a net 53.5 payroll. Reds attendance to date is approx 300,000 more. That hardly translates to that big a gap. Make a splash NH and if Nutting doesn’t start spending, baseball should take away the revenue sharing.

  12. Thoughts from the nature preserve out here this morning………..

    –DK, you have said repeatedly you have the best job in the world, and you love it. Shouldnt you then say you are changing your “love schedule” ??

    –Pirates have had unbelievable pitching this year. Looking at that graph, they are near the top of most important categories. Coming out of spring training, I dont think even the most ardent FO supporters and uber-fans could have expected this. No one.

    –I am sure Brandon Inge is a great guy, and has all the leadership and chemistry qualities in recorded history………… but that doesnt mean he was a good player. The Pirates waited WAY too long to DFA him, and more players need the same fate. I am looking at you, Misters Snider, Harrison, Barmes, etc. I honestly think the FO refuses to admit they made mistakes with these players, and wont release them due to that fact. Again, great guys, but not Major League players.

    –It is nice to believe in players, and sticking by them when no one else will, but why are Shero and Bylsma sticking with Fleury? He should have been traded in the off-season. Loyalty is an admirable trait, but winning, and putting your best players out there is a better trait.

    –This Paterno/Penn State saga will NEVER go away as long as the media gives credence to it. But that wouldnt sell papers, so …………………….

    Great to see the Pirates win last night, especially after learning Grilli would be out for at least 15 days, probably longer. I guess the SEAL stuff and HOKA HEY business really worked this past year, eh?? ;)

    Happy fackin Camel day to everybody !!!!!!!!

  13. From the tv last night it looks like John and Dejan will have lots of support from a bunch of Bucs fans in D.C. Meanwhile, my Arlington based daughters will be there, too. The older one called and said they would be at the Nats game on Wednesday. I said, “No, you’ll be at the Pirates game on Wednesday.” She laughed, but I hope that we all get the last laugh tonight!

    • Yes, I saw lots and lots of Bucco fans there last night. Good to see :)
      Hope your daughters bring good luck for a W

    • So are you implying that your daughters are Nats fans?

      If so, we need to talk.

      And by the way.

      It’s not “John and Dejan”. It’s “John A.K.A. Dejan”.

      And not the other way around.

      • Ok, I get it – one and the same – I’m there with ya.

        The older kiddo is a Nats fan, the younger one is a Bucs fan. But please be kind, the Pirates have been – how should I say this – less than great for most of their lives and they grew up in Central Pa., unlike me. I still have hopes for all concerned, including the team.

  14. JAL’s We Will Rock You 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: Huntington’s Underrated Trades, and the 2013 Deadline Challenge

    Prospect Watch: Glasnow and Heredia Have Great Outings; Meadows Heating Up

    Gerrit Cole Rolls Through Nationals in 5-1 Pirates Victory

    Top Performers: Joely Rodriguez Continues To Impress This Season

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Gerrit Cole, Pirates defeat Nationals 5-1

    White Sox reportedly turn down Carlos Martinez for Alexei Ramirez


    Game 98: Pirates 5 Nationals 1

    9 The Green Weenie

    Bucs, Cole Handle Washington 5-1

    10 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Adversity Opens Door For Opportunity

    11 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 5 Nationals 1

  15. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Washington Post

    Sloppy Nationals fall to Pirates, 5-1, for fifth straight loss

    13 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates trades that will never happen, but should

    14 Beaver County Times

    Coles fires; Pirates win third straight

    15 Bloomberg Sports

    Minor League Park Factors (2010-2012)

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates v Nationals Game Preview

    17 Washington Times

    Nationals drop fifth straight with loss to Pirates

    18 PBC Site

    Given early cushion, Cole cruises in nation’s capital

    Grilli on DL with forearm strain, to undergo more tests


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Ryan Braun, Biogenesis, and Betrayal

    20 Fangraphs

    The Split Personalities of the Cardinals

  16. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    10 questions about the Steelers entering training camp: Part One

    One advantage Jonathan Dwyer has over Le’Veon Bell is the historical lack of success of Steelers running backs

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers 2013 Undrafted Rookie Class Faces Long Odds


    23 Daily Mail

    Van Persie injury leaves Moyes sweating over possible United striker shortage

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 23rd July, 2013

  17. when you score 5 runs you tend to win more games….when they get those 5 runs that early, it takes pressure off the SP and of course when they turn it over to the sharktank, then we all know how it goes from there. The bucs dont need to score a ton of runs all the time, but 5 goes along way with this staff.

    • NL avg. RS/G is 4.06, MLB is 4.22.

      In games in which they score 4+ runs they Pirates are 38-9.

      In games they score 4 runs 7-6.

      In games they score 3 runs 9-3.

      In games they score 5 runs 31-3.

      So they don’t even need an average offense. Their record when scoring 3+ runs is 47-12, an absurd .796 win%.

      Theoretically if they scored a mere 3 runs a game, every game, they would win 122 games.

      • Great points, Patrick. I believe they mentioned on the game last night that we now have 15 or 16 wins in a row when scoring 5 runs.

  18. Quincy Latimore signed with the Washington Wild Things.

    1) That is the guy NH traded for Jeanmar Gomez
    2) NH did not draft Latimore (4th round pick in 2007)

    Neal Huntington for GM of the Year!! :-)

    In the recent past it seemed like we were signing guys from the Wild Things to play on our major league team.

    • Not meaning this facetiously, but I had forgotten all about the WWTs.

      Anybody know what’s going on in their world?

      • I know the other paper in town lists their game scores and recap, and their record.

      • We get to a couple of games a year. Our neighbor’s son plays for them and Junior has former teammates on other teams we try to see when they come to town. Those games really are fun.

    • I think that is a realistic assessment of NH this year, Thunder. Many of the decisions of the past few years are now paying off. Even the staunchest of NH detractors have to give him credit for this year, I would think.

  19. Been busy of late and not expecting much of a letup . . . so, just catchin’ up and will check back when I can.

    Good to have Melancon ready to step up, and the bullpen will be ok still?

    A lot of games left with the Cards and Reds and they play each other a lot, too. I think all we need to do is hold our own, and the rest of the schedule pretty much favors us — Marlins, Brewers, Rockies, and Padres a lot, Giants still struggling, Rangers and Cubs look like the toughest of what’s left.

  20. -As bad as he was I’m surprised the released Inge, if for no other reason than they didn’t find a replacement. I guess there is Harrison..who can …um…run faster? I guess?

    -I’m shocked people are shocked that Braun lied. I’ve read several articles in which media members and players were suprised and shocked he would get behind a podium and bold face lie. Really? You believed that staged, scripted presser complete with faux outrage and moral indignation? Really?

    -Holtby over Fluery? I know he’s had a few bad springs but c’moooon…

    -Last night I had a minor epiphany. For the first time in my adult life I am more confident in the Pirates ability to make the playoffs than I am the Steelers. It was very disorienting.

  21. I’m glad Hurdle used Melancon last night despite the 4 run lead. The middle of the line up was coming up and the last thing this team needed after 2 collapses was to blow a lead the first game following their shut down closer getting hurt. All the guys in the bullpen are capable but Melancon is obviously the best so in this particular case it I think it was the correct move to get the win and move on.

    • Also probably a good low-pressure way to get in his first game finisher as the closer.

    • I agree. Go for the win – use Melancon.

    • Down playing the adversity and making it business as usual is the best way to handle things. That way, there is no wiggle room for excuses or collapse.

    • MM has been there before. Granted, its a small sample size and been awhile, but the mentality of this guy is of a closer, I believe, and you dont just lose that.

      That being said, I have no issue with MM being used last night now, but later on down the road (September, if Grilli isn’t back) lets use him when needed.

  22. My moment of angst in last night’s game – I saw Josh Harrison with a helmet on and bat in hand in the dugout, apparently getting ready to pinch. PLEASE let this be the next move. With Walker back, what is Harrison still doing up here? Our bench is Sanchez, Barmes, Snider, McKenry, Harrison – 3 backup infielders and 1 OF? (I know Harrison plays some outfield. Like Delwyn Young played outfield.)

  23. The Nats have lost five games in a row. They’re four games below 500 and eight games back in their division.

    This was the team that was one out away from going to the NLCS.

    Stephen Strasburg is getting the start tonight after being benched before the playoffs began last year as they were concerned of the Tommy John surgery he had the previous year.

    Brace yourself! I have a really stupid question.

    Why didn’t the Nats just simply bench Strasburg at the first 1/3rd of the season or so, subsequently making him available when the playoffs rolled around?

    • I don’t have the answer, Dom, but that’s not stupid question.

    • You gotta get there first, Dom.

      Think about the outrage if the Nats would’ve missed the playoffs completely by a game.

      The 2013 Washington Nationals are the reason all baseball fans are masochists. Absolutely no reason that team should be as bad as it is. Has to be driving fans crazy.

      • What’s crazy is Edwin Jackson could have excepted the Pirates contract and he would be pitching poorly for us instead and we never would have gotten Liriano. There is a lot more luck to this game then some like to admit.

        There are very few sure things in baseball and even those sometimes are not sure things. For instance Pujols, Hamilton and anybody playing for the blue jays right now.

        • EXCELLENT point!

        • You know I’m really not sure about that. So many pitchers have had career years and comebacks recently that maybe, just maybe, Ray Searage is just THAT good. Maybe he knows how to fix broken pitchers.

          Not to take anything away from Liriano, he’s been great. And give him more credit if he was willing to take coaching if that is indeed the case. But so many pitchers have had career years with the Pirates lately…..maybe Jackson would have,too.

          • Very good point Patrick. I thought maybe last year was just luck for Searage because in the second half some of the pitchers fell apart. I was willing to wait and see what happened this year and man has he proven me wrong.

            The guy seems to have the trust of his pitchers and is really good at knowing how to get them confident. He makes minor changes to get them to where they need/want to be. He is really good at letting them be the type of pitcher they want to be and simply working with that and improving it.

          • Ray Searage…The Pitcher Whisperer. Coming to a ballpark near you! (read in dramatic movie trailer voice).

          • I think a lot of people discount the reduced stress on a pitcher going from AL to NL. They get to face a pitcher vs. a slugging DH, plus SS in the NL is more of a defense-first position than in the AL still. Overall, it has to be easier facing NL than AL lineups. I’m not taking anything away from Liriano, or to a lesser degree, Jeanmar this year. But, the switch in leagues is a factor.

      • Excellent point. Maybe they should have let him pitched in the playoffs if he was willing to do so.

        Strasburg’s long term career might have been jeopardized but the Nats might not have ever had that chance again.

        • He was definately willing. He has the same competative drive as Cole. He would pitch 400 innings if you let him. What happened to Mark Prior and also what the doctors where telling them was best for 1 of their 2 franchise players is what made the decision.

          I have to believe it honestly was what they thought was best for him. Davey Johnson has very little time left in this game and won’t have many chances at winning a World Series. If it truely wasn’t what they strongly believed was best for him and the team they would have went for it.

    • They didn’t know they would be in the playoffs at that point. Nothing they did the previuos 2 or 3 years suggested they could compete for the playoffs without Strasburg. They probably feared if they didn’t play him the first 1/3 of the season they wouldn’t be above .500 when he started playing.

      In retrospect that would have been the right thing to do but they had no way of knowing that at the time.

    • Attendance played a part, I think. They would deny it, of course.

  24. I will comment one last time on the Penn State Mess…

    I can understand why the Paterno family participated in the lawsuit. It is hard to see the reputation of someone you live and respect become annihilated due to poor judgement and lack of follow up, but, let’s face it. Lack of diligence was a major contributing factor in this mess going on as long as it had/has.

    Also, if Mike McQueary went to the police as he said he did, where was the follow up on their part especially in light of the fact that Sandusky was being investigated for this kind of behavior dating back to 1998.

    I said all of that to say this…I feel badly that it all ended so horribly for Mr. Joseph V. Paterno after all of his hard work. I feel badly for his players in having their efforts and wins vacated. I feel badly about those young men whose lives are forever affected due to that monster’s actions.

    As I have said before, this is not about football and Penn State somehow being the “whipping boy” for the NCAA. It stopped being about football when the abuse claims were not followed up. It stopped being about football when those who were in charge either turned a blind eye or passed the buck along the “chain of command”.

    Lastly, this stopped Bering about football when Jerry Sandusky indecently assaulted his first victim and did not decide to get help for his sickness or take himself out of the human race for such abhorrent, deviant behavior.

    Here is hoping the Buccos have tremendous success tonight.

    Sorry for my lack of brevity.

  25. So, here’s what I saw last night:

    * Cole is really good some nights. Some day he should be really good almost every night.

    * Marte is lost at the plate right now. Looks to me like his mind is not clear at all when he goes up there. Just guessing and hacking. He did hit a couple of balls pretty hard last night, but he is giving up too many ABs right now. He did make a couple of nice plays in the field.

    * Gaby got a key AB vs. a LHP and he laced a shot to the gap. Imagine that!

    * The play on the sinking one-hopper by Jordy was stellar. He’s not Barmes with the glove, but his bat seems to be getting back on track. I actually have a feeling that Jordy might turn into a decent starting SS in this league. For some reason, he seems like a pretty confident player to me. I just have the feeling he will learn and grow, and become a JJ Hardy-type player.

    * Both Monday and yesterday, Night-Dro started squaring up the ball, and going to LF when appropriate. I think he could be headed on a nice run again.

    * The more I hear guys like former GM Jim Bowden say that NH “absolutely has to address the bullpen through trade”, the more I realize he doesn’t need to do that. Some retread like Gregg of the Cubs or K-Rod who was acquired by Balt. last night are necessary to this team? Please, no. Give me Black or any of about 3 options from Indy first. And, hopefully JG will be back spitting fire within a month.

    * The ChiSox supposedly told the Cards no to an offer of Martinez, their #24 rated MLB prospect (pitcher) for Alexi Ramirez straight up. Don’t know if that is true for certain, but if so, all I can say is “Wow!” This is an extreme seller’s market. Hold your ground, NH.

    • With me here is the thing about guys like Bowden, they probably read everything on the internet and watch a bunch of highlight shows. But they don’t watch the Pirates’ games or follow them as closely as local fans do. ( Bowden watches a lot of west coast teams, especially the Dodgers).

      So they read/see that Grilli got hurt and their knee-jerk reaction is “their closer is hurt, there is a hole in the bullpen —go fix it”

      • Which just means they don’t know jack ;)

      • I agree, Thunder. It is difficult to not only follow the MLB rosters of 30 teams, but to also know what they have in the minors. But, he also talks about texting all of these GMs & front office guys every day. So, maybe NH is blowing smoke at him to throw him off.

        My take is that Bowden wings it a lot, especially with teams like the Bucs. I think if you don’t know, you shouldn’t force an opinion. You are right that he lives in LA. I have no idea why he moved there, but he is constantly talking: 1) Dodgers; 2) Angels; 3) Reds.

        • Bowden winged it when he was a GM – why change now.

          Good point on Marte, Jim. A couple of times this year CH has given him some down time and he has come back well after it. Might be time to sit him for a game against a tough righty. Would like to be able to stick Alex Presley in there for a game, but can’t have that right now…

    • That play Jordy Mercer made on that hopper made my draw drop. Flat out beautiful! The more his confidence grows,the better he gets. His bat is getting better as well. Yes, I have hope for him too. Keep on keepin’ on, Jordy!

      • For me, it is just the eye test on Jordy. And I admit, the eye test can get you in trouble with this game. But, he looks comfortable and pretty confident to me. I think those kinds of guys develop and eventually get as much out of themselves as they can. He has a ways to go, but I think Jordy can stick as a decent starting SS in this league for several years.

        • As long as the expectations of Jordy are semi-low, he can be the starting SS for the next couple of years.

          Meaning; don’t expect a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, or a batting title.

          He is average defensively, range wise. Slightly above average with his arm.

          However, that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute or be a solid player for a few years.

          • I think that’s true, Ryan. If you look around the league right now, there are not a lot of hit + field + run shortstops.

    • “Night-Dro” sounds like something you use to treat a head cold or the name of a PED. Good to see him coming around on the hitting.

      Marte will have growing pains as he develops, then loses, then develops plate discipline. Seems cyclical with him.

      Good to see both Marte and Mercer bringing the leather.

      • I think (imagine that!) that maybe Marte needs a game or two off. Kinda like to clear his head. He’s trying too hard now.

      • Yes, Brandie, there have been many faces of Pedro over the last few years. There is Day-Dro, which is traditionally when he hits best. Last night we saw the re-emergence of Night-Dro, where he goes deep after sundown. We have also seen Double Play-Dro in the past, although that version has disappeared much of this season. That is the version of Pedro that insists on pulling everything to RF, regardless of pitch location.

        All kidding aside, though, I hope the past few months are showing that this guy is really developing. He is so strong, and when he goes the opposite way he can be lethal. He still needs to make contact more often, as we have seen Mon/Tues. When Pedro puts the ball in play, he puts it in play hard – and with good results.

    • I strongly agree with every point you made. Especially the last one. Ramirez is not much of an upgrade over Mercer. I wouldn’t mind a right fielder to simply bolster the bench and hedge against a Tabata regression because you can’t just have a black hole offensively at that position.

      Players that may be available that I think they can get without giving up much to fill that need are below. Aoki may cost a bit more and Rios depending on the amount of the contract they take on may cost even more.

      Kevin Frandsen of the Phillies
      Nate Schierholtz of the Cubs
      Aoki with the Brewers
      Chris Denorfia with the Padres
      Alex Rios with the White Sox

      • I was on Denorfia early on as well, Nate. He is a slightly lesser version of Aoki, but from the right side. Both of those guys are reasonably priced, so their teams will ask for far more than they should be worth. Only the Texas Rangers right now seem to continually make deals like that. Aoki would be a great “get” though.

        Rios could help, but I think he is inconsistent and also bats righty. I think we need a lefty to compliment Tabby. I guess Rios could take over full-time in RF, but I just don’t see him as much of an upgrade over a platoon set-up with Tabby. I would not give up much for Rios.

        Schierholtz is a good platoon guy, who would be good with Tabby. Epstein will ask for the moon and stars for him as well. And MLB reporters will call Epstein brilliant simply for making outrageous demands. When NH drove hard bargains the last few years, well, he was just an idiot who had no idea what he was doing according to those same reporters.

        I need to research Frandsen a bit.

        • Agree on the Theo and NH comparison. I just feel like they need something/anything just incase Tabby completely disappears or gets injured. I’m a Tabata fan but in this case I think you have to look at worse case scenerio and play the what if game. Do we really want Snider sharing right field starts with Presley or Lambo if something happens to Tabata.

          Other option is to get a first baseman through trade and move Jones to Right Field because his bat is coming around. The problem is servicable first baseman do not come cheap.

        • It’s hard to fault the Rangers. They have been so close the last 2 or 3 years and have a great nucleus that is built to win now. They also have/had a great farm system to use as trading chips. Them and the Tigers are kind of in the same mode right now. Win right now and worry about tomorrow when it come.

          • It also helps to have a $100m payroll that allows you to fill in for those prospects you give up through free agency.

            • Exactly, NMR. They play in a different league (and I don’t mean the AL) than the Bucs. They can wallpaper over mistakes of trading prospects away by signing high priced free agents. My guess is they are planning on re-signing Garza if he pitches well. So, in their minds, that was a long term trade. We would have almost zero chance at resigning Garza.

      • I don’t get the love for Schierholtz. When the Cubs trade him that will be the third organization he has flushed out of by age 29. He doesn’t hit that well outside of Wrigley. He doesn’t play everyday for a club that is young and not that good.

        If they make a trade, I hope it for an everyday player.

        • I think it’s all in context, John.

          Nate’s always shown to be a decent platoon guy, which is nice but not great.

          Similar to how Garrett Jones always seems to end up in trade rumors, without anybody ever willing to give up something decent enough to make it worth moving him. If the Pirates had a better all-around player to replace Jones, you can almost guarantee he would’ve been shipped out.

          The Giants replaced Schierholtz with Pence in that trade, and Ruben Amaro Jr is an idiot who thought Delmon Young was the better player.

          • That’s what I meant about Schierholtz, NMR. He is strictly a platoon guy to me – the lefty half of a Tabby platoon. And he is very good defensively. I would not give up a lot for him, but I’d kick the tires. I think he could help. He’s a tweak, which is what I think we need.

            To me, Tabby/Schierholtz is preferable to someone like Rios alone. Far preferable.

          • Ask any Phils fan in my office and they are livid about that move. Just flat out cut the guy. Insane.

          • I have been a Nate fan for a few years, after watching him come up with the Giants.

            I agree he is the platoon player in RF. He is an offensive and defensive upgrade over Snider.

            My thoughts on acquiring Nate, who I have mentioned numerous times, is for an inexpensive platoon.

            I always wanted Nate to get his shot at a full time gig, but numbers don’t lie.

            Pence was a huge upgrade and I would’ve done that deal in a heartbeat.

    • Good stuff, Jim.

      I’m afraid that the word on Marte is that you really don’t have to throw a strike to get him out right now – he’ll chase. Would love to see him show more discipline, which will hopefully come with time.

      The play by Mercer was prime rib. The kid needs to play; he’s on the rise. A no brainer, I think.

      • Change “right now” to “ever” and you’d still be correct.

        Marte is not a bad ball hitter, he’s a bad ball swinger. He completely relies on pitchers making mistakes in the zone to get his hits.

        The good news is that he’s really, really good at it.

        The bad news is that when they don’t, or when he gets a bit off – as all hitters do – he provides little to no offensive value.

        He’s shown zero sign of trying to change, so this is the guy he’s going to be.

        It’s a shame since this approach also completely drains any value he provides on the basepaths, but at least he’ll always have the glove.

        • Do you think he can be as good as Vladimir Guerrero who swang at just about anything or is the difference in the two that Guerrero actually hit those balls and Marte just swings at them.

          I personally agree that he will always have below average plate discipline but it’s to early to say that he can’t improve in this area enough to not be what we are seeing currently. He still has fewer then 500 major league at bats. He doesn’t have to become Frank Thomas just improve incrementally at his plate discipline over the next 2 or 3 years so it’s not as big of an issue.

          • Vlad is borderline HOF, Nate. I don’t think he’ll ever hit like that. But, there is plenty of room below Vlad to still be a very good player.

              • I could be wrong but swinging at pitches out of the strike zone would seem to be the definition used “around baseball” for bad plate discipline. I find any other definition to be odd.

            • Agree Jim. My point although not exactly stated that well is that a player can be very good or even great with bad or even horrible plate discipline in Vlad’s case. I do think Marte can improve in this area to the point that it’s not as big an issue but even if he doesn’t he has shown enough for me to like we may have in left or center field over the next 5-10 years.

              • Except that Vlad didn’t even come close to having bad plate discipline.

              • Yes he did. He had tremendous hand eye coordination so maybe he didn’t strike out a lot but he swang at more balls out of the strike zone then any player I ever saw. Below are comments that came straight from his Bio. Free-swinging is not a term used for players with plate discipline.

                Scorn for Guerrero’s free-swinging ways changed into admiration in 1998. While he continued to swing at pitches that were clearly balls.

                Despite his freeswinging style, Guerrero has never struck out 100 times in any season.

              • Nate, look at the numbers, not the narrative.

                You simply cannot sit back and say that a guy who walked almost as much as he struck out had bad plate discipline.

                If he was good enough to hit pitches out of the zone, then by definition they were not bad pitches. He matched HIS skill to HIS zone.

              • NRM

                I have seen many narratives and heard way to many people comment on his free-swinging and I have watched it with my own eyes. You seem to like to use stats when they support your side of the arguement but then you dismiss them when they go against you.

                He was an amazing hitter with incredible hand eye coordination that rivals Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs. That skill hides the fact that he had horrible plate discipline.

              • Nate,

                What stats am I dismissing? I’m glad to say I was wrong on Marte. I didn’t think he’d be nearly this good.

                The problem here is that we have different definitions of plate discipline. You seem to believe that “free swinging” is synonymous with “bad plate discipline”. For what reasons, I don’t know, because you’ve never stated them.

                I believe plate discipline is the ability to command the hitting zone in a manner that produces quality contact. The quick and dirty numbers to judge this are obviously the rate at which a guy walks and strikes out, but it goes much deeper.

                I’d love to hear your definition.

              • It’s pretty simple. My idea of plate discipline has nothing to do with contact. It has everything to do with swinging at pitches that are in the defined strike zone as defines by major league baseball. Ryan Dunn has great plate discipline but strikes out a ton.

                Just to be clear I in no way think that Marte is the same caliber player as Vlad. I was simply asking if you thought he could become a player like Vlad that still put can put up good/great numbers despite having bad plate discipline. Obviously if you do not agree that Vlad had bad plate discipline then you can’t give an answer to that question.

                However Vlad wasn’t Vlad before he was Vlad. We don’t know what Marte will eventually become. His minor league numbers are very good and consistant across the board. What he has shown so far with horrible plate discipline leads me to believe he very well could be a perennial all-star if he improves in that area. He almost made the all star team this year.

              • oops I meant Adam Dunn not Ryan Dunn. I assume Ryan Dunn has horrible plate discipline as he sadly and unfortunately had very little discipline at anything he did in life.

              • Hahaha, I knew who you were talking about, but your correction was well worth it.

                Glad we cleared up the definition since yours is so much different than the standard one used around baseball.

                Thats clearly where our difference in opinion comes from.

              • Put this reply in the wrong place above. Makes more sense here.

                I could be wrong but swinging at pitches out of the strike zone would seem to be the definition used “around baseball” for bad plate discipline. I find any other definition to be odd.

              • NMR definition for plate discipline taken directly out of a glossery of terms for baseball is below. I’m guessing they didn’t ask those “around baseball” when creating this definition.

                plate discipline[edit]
                A batter shows “plate discipline” by not swinging at pitches that are out of the strike zone or at pitches that are in the strike zone but not located where he can get the bat on the ball. Such a batter might be described as a patient hitter.

              • I could be wrong but swinging at pitches out of the strike zone would seem to be the definition used “around baseball” for bad plate discipline. I find any other definition to be odd.

                Poor plate discipline goes beyond swinging at pitches out of the zone. Poor plate discipline is swinging at ptches that you are utterly incapable of hitting. i would not describe Vlad as being undisciplined. I have never heard anyone actually call im that. I have heard him calld a player who had an uncanny ability to hit pitches that were out of the strike zone resulting from long arms and excellent hand eye.

              • Nate,

                You seem to be talking about patience at the plate.

                Saying plate patience and discipline are the same thing is like saying pitchers control and command are the same thing. They are not. This is the mistake Verducci made in that awful article he wrote a couple months ago.

                Certain guys are high ball hitters. Lefties are notoriously low ball hitters. I can’t think of why you would say those guys have bad discipline for swinging at pitches they clearly can hit, yet praise them for swinging at a strike up and in or low and away.

              • Do a search for Vlad and bad plate discipline and you will find more then a few references to it. If you actually read some of the columns you will see in most instances they acknowledge he is the one odditiy in that his rate of swinging out of the strke zone did not match with the contact he made. The ball sixteen column is a really good read and analysis.

              • No I am talking plate discipline. It is literally the actual definition of plate discipline I copied and pasted. How is that confusing at all.

              • The confusion comes from the fact that your definition literally equates patience and discipline. You wrote it, yet somehow you missed that part.

                What was your source?

                I can’t find a single publication with that description.

              • I didn’t write it I copied and pasted it out of the first thing I found after typing in definition of plate discipline. The first thing it says is the show good discipline by not swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. Therefore bad plate discipline would be swinging at balls outside the strike zone. Any logical person who watched Vlad play would agree that he swung at pitches outside the strike zone way more often the the average player.

                What are the definitions you are finding? Did you look at any of the many columns that talk about bad plate discipline and use Vlad as an example. Many of them call him the best bad plate discipline hitter ever. Which I agree with.

              • I’ll ask again, Nate, what sense does it make to condemn guys for swinging at pitches they clearly can hit just because they are not in the strike zone while praising them for swinging at pitches they cannot just because they are?

                Thats why your definition doesn’t make sense to me.

              • Regardless, we’re allowed to have a different definition.

                Thats the whole reason I brought it up in the first place.

              • Who said I was condemning? The entire point of everything I have said is that you can still be a good player with bad plate discipline.

                When is swinging at a pitch that would have been a ball ever a good thing? I am sure Vlad’s batting average when swinging at balls that are strikes is better then his average when he swung at balls out of the strike zone. In his case those numbers may be closer then it is for others because of his skill set but it still doesn’t make it a good baseball play.

                Please take a look at the ball sixteen column it is very interesting and compares a lot of “bad plate discipline” hitters. One year Vlad made 80% contact whe swinging despite only 33% of his swings being at a strike. That truly is unbelievable and unsustainable by anyone not name Vlad Guererro.

              • “When is swinging at a pitch that would have been a ball ever a good thing?”

                WHEN IT RESULTS IN A HIT!

                Seriously, just think about that question for a minute.

                Don’t you think there is a reason that every single site that references plate discipline statistics ALWAYS has a contact component?

                If it were as simple as counting the balls a player swung at inside the zone and outside the zone, why bother collecting all the extra data?

              • Wikipedia, Nate? Really?

                Regular ole baseball experts.

              • So you are telling me that players have a batting average over the course of the year better when swinging at a ball outside the strike zone. Your statements are just crazy. Instead of asking me to think about what I am saying why don’t you think about what you are saying.

                Please show me supporting data the shows swinging at pitches that are balls is a good idea over the a period of time. Not going 1 for 1 during an at-bat. You know full well that the debate is not about 1 at-bat. How silly to make such a comment.

                I’m still waiting for your definition from that come from the industry standard.

              • Look NMR there are plenty of columns out there that suggest that Vlad had bad plate discipline. I’m not the first person to say this. I didn’t make it up out of thin air. I have heard past players and managers as well as announcers say he had the worse plate discipline they ever saw. It is silly for you to continue to pull one sentence from each of my post attack it instead of taking it in the context of the entire post. If you ask people to answer true or false Vlad Guerrero had bad plate discipline I think a majority of the people would say true.

              • “So you are telling me that players have a batting average over the course of the year better when swinging at a ball outside the strike zone.”

                No, but I’ve been around long enough to know baseball is not a one-size-fits-all game. Player A can be successfull at hitting balls Player B cannot.

                And I also know that all balls outside and inside the zone are not created equal, something you don’t seem to be accounting for. Pitches over the heart of the plate, but a bit high or low, are absolutely going to be easier to hit than one that hits the corner up and in or low and away.

                You cannot tell me that a guy is showing good plate discipline by swinging at a ball painted on the corner (obviously with less than two strikes). That is exactly what the pitcher is TRYING to get him to do.

              • Seriosly just do a search of Vlad Guerrero and plate discipline. Don’t even put the word bad in there and see what comes up. It is actually amazing how many people have mistaken him for having bad plate discipline. Maybe you should make it your lifelong quest to change those people’s mind. I think you can do it. I know you will never admit that he does have bad plate discipline so you have the chance of them giving up like I am about to.

              • I guess you either did the search and found to many other opinions that supported me to any longer argue your point you made above.

                “Except that Vlad didn’t even come close to having bad plate discipline.”

                or you haven’t had a chance to do the research. Regardless I am disappointed in my own debate discipline which reached for this one which was way outside the zone and let it go on way to long. Sorry to all other bloggers who had to scroll past all of this. I have work to be completed.

          • Guerrero and Marte aren’t close to being the same hitter.

            Guerrero would swing at anything, but he still had an 8% career walk rate and was routinely over 10%. Marte swings at anything AND everything.

            Guerrero also struck out HALF as much as Marte.

            And yes, Guerrero was actually good (relatively) at making contact when he extended the zone, also unlike Marte.

            Vlad Guerrero was a CAREER .318/.379/.553 hitter. I’ll be extremely surprised if Marte ever puts that up in a single year.

            This is not to say that I don’t think highly of Marte, I do. But the Vlad Geurrero comp is wishful thinking.

            • Vlad was pretty unique. Guys like him that hit so well, and swing at some pitches so far out of the zone just don’t come around often. His talent was off the charts. Hitting-wise, he was pretty much Clemente-like with more power. Think about that comparison. Clemente, of course, was the better runner and defender. I’m not comparing overall games here, just hitting.

              Can I say I think you are both correct? NMR is correct that Vlad was different than Marte in that he chased pitches, but he hit them hard and so he probably didn’t thnk he was “chasing” anything. In that sense, he had command of the plate for sure. He did not strikeout a ton for a power guy.

              But, to nearly every person who watches baseball, watching him for the first time you would have to say Vlad was crazy for swinging at low and outside pitches, high and inside pitches, etc. It didn’t seem disciplined at all to my eyes. But, the results were undeniable and long lasting.

              Remember when the Bucs used to develop all sorts of Latin players who could get by with low walk totals because they were such pure hitters that they hit .300+. Guys like Clemente, Sangy, Stennett?

              • “But, to nearly every person who watches baseball, watching him for the first time you would have to say Vlad was crazy for swinging at low and outside pitches, high and inside pitches, etc. It didn’t seem disciplined at all to my eyes.”

                This is what I’m talking about when I say narrative, Jim.

                Those hits he golfed out of the dirt and tomahawked at his eyes are the ones people remember, because they were incredible, which creates the narrative that he swung at EVERYTHING.

                If you followed his career, that is simply not true. All those walks didn’t just appear out of nowhere. I don’t know how he did it, but he knew when to swing and when to take. That is undeniable.

              • I guess we can check, but I bet he also had a lot of intentional walks too. The guy was a great hitter. That’s for sure. You can’t be a great hitter if you don’t have an idea what you can hammer and what you can’t. I think you made that point for sure. But, he was unconventional, and I think that was what Nate was saying.

              • He did swing at everything. 67% of his swings where at balls outside the strike zone one year. It’s not narrative it is fact. He is a great hitter. I am not debating that. Hitting those balls does not make him a disciplined hitter.

              • I’d say it makes him a lucky SOB!

              • Ha, it made him both a lucky and wealthy SOB. One of the most entertaining players to watch ever.

        • I don’t know about him not trying to change, NMR. He’s 24. He’s had good success. When he scuffled early on this year, I recall they talked a lot about him trying to let the ball get deeper so he could go to RF. He was doing that in batting practice sessions with Bell. It actually worked for awhile, and he got back on track. I think he has now lapsed back into his old habits. But, habits that always worked through the minors are sometimes hard to leave behind for young players. I would not give up on him developing a bit yet at the plate. Still only 1 year into the mission as a MLB player. I’ll take .270/.320 with 15-18 HR & 40 2b/3b, 30 steals from him – especially since he is already rated near the top of all MLB OF defensively. If that is all he ever becomes, it is still solid in this post-steroid (Braun and others aside) era. Put the whole pkg together and it is a pretty good one, I think.

          I have hope that Polanco will be even better, given his advanced plate discipline. After last night, Polanco has already drawn more walks at AA than at High A in less ABs. That is a good sign that he is a quick study. He is facing some pitchers who will be in MLB w/in 2 years and not letting them get him out easily. He’s only hitting .260, but he has a ton of potential.

          • Jim, I’ve followed Marte since before he even broke out as a prospect. If only I had a nickel for every article I’ve read about Marte tweaking his approach.

            Sometimes, a guy is who he is.

            And again, I think I’ve been clear in saying that Marte, eve with his faults, is still an awfully good player.

            • Sometimes they are what they start out as. Usually, in fact. Every so often, one of them adapts and becomes better. I think you are most likely right about Marte’s free-swinging ways.

          • I am not at all disappointed with Marte’s on base percentage right now and as long as he’s dedicated to learning, I think he’ll improve year after year. Many players who have had long careers say they never stop learning.

            • Better hope he makes a career out of getting hit by pitches at ridiculously high rates.

              • As I said, I don’t see why he can’t improve his plate discipline annually for the most part while he’s playing in the major leagues.

              • Could happen, 21. And, as NMR said, Marte’s a very good player in a lot of ways already.

                Joey Votto’s a butcher in the field – homefield scoring decisions aside – and he can’t run a lick. But, he is still a great player because of his offense.

              • I think I should make myself more clear.

                Of course I think Marte “could” develope better plate discipline. But the number of guys who fit his profile and actually have improved seem to be very, very rare.

                Marte is having success. That cannot be questioned.

                The reason people like myself questioned – and continue to question – his plate discipline is because you can count on one hand the number of guys who match his profile and have had sustained success over the last 10 years.

                If Marte turns out to be the next Adam Jones or Carlos Gomez, I could care less if he ever changes.

                I’m simply playing the odds.

              • Well said, NMR. Sustaining hitting success with Marte’s profile at the moment – not easy.

    • Nice notes, Jim.

      -Cole did not disappoint even the lofty expectation I had for him entering the game. Glad AW and I didn’t jinx him!

      -This trade deadline is turning into a perfect storm of sh*t.

      The only two clubs that are truly in “sell” mode (‘stros and Cubs) have been sucked dry. The extra wild card has teams playing Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber (“so you’re sayin’ there’s a chance”). And now selfish GM’s are putting themselves before their franchise in hopes that merely a bad season, as opposed to an awful one, will somehow show favorably.

      • Excellent observation, NMR. The additional WC spot has dried up the market. GM’s are less likely to move anyone with that carrot still dangling in front of them.

      • I love some of these guys. I just saw a headline – Mariners Not Selling At This Time. As they’ve pulled to within 8.5 games of the wild card with an 8 game winning streak. Who are they kidding ? I expect that stance to change with the good old fashioned 5 game losing streak that’s sure to follow.

        Remember all the buzz about the Jays about 3 weeks ago ? They had an hour long players only meeting before BP last night that spurred them on to blowing an 8-3 lead last night. Their 6th straight loss.

        I expect a lot of this bluster to fizzle the closer we get to the deadline.

        • Ha, excellent.

          You know, I’d completely agree with you that a lot of this is just talk and these guys will start dealing before all is said and done, but looking around at the guys at the table, I don’t know if I trust any of them to be smart enough to get out of their own way.

          And I also think there is a group of guys who are being pressured by their owners to squeeze as many tickets out of their fanbase as possible, regardless of what it means to the future of their teams. No other reason for Milwaukee, San Fran, and Philly not to sell at this point.

          • And besides, who does Jack Zdueiencik have pictures of anyway ?

          • I don’t know about dealing with Doug Melvin. His head is spinning right now. I don’t think either him or Attanasio could have anticipated the reaction to this Braun thing. Not only have the national media crucified Braun, but so have the Wisconsin media. That management is in the cross hairs and being dissected like the Zapruder film right now.

            I would love to get Aoki but I’m not sure the Brewers can afford to get rid of, what appears to be, a stand up guy.

            • Honestly didn’t even imagine that as a ramification of Braun’s suspension.

              Melvin trades Aoki/Gallardo/Lohse/Ramirez and they could end up 500,000 tickets short of last years sales. Maybe even worse next year.

              That is serious change for a franchise already admittedly in the red.

        • Classic Milo. Right on the money, and immediately to the point.

  26. Once again I’ll throw this in for those who may have missed it. Nate Schierholtz is hitting .237 away from Wrigley Field & .189 in July. His career average at Wrigley is over .320. This is a one trick pony & there are only 3 more games to saddle him up.

    • I’d rather them wait for August & see if the Cubs can sneak Ryan Sweeney through waivers after he comes off the DL.

      • I like the plotting Milo.

      • Back to the Pence discussion, Milo.

        I’d rather see them get someone that can be an impact player now and down the road, not just a 5-minute rental.

        I wanted Pence when the Phils got him.

        Never thought about a guy like Sweeney.

        • And all kidding aside about minor league guys, I’m not trading someone that I expect to be an all star someday for a 2 month rental.

          Mr. Aoki.

            • Agree with Milo and Revvie!

            • All that said, any way we could get Cliff Lee ? I think he could be the biggest difference maker out there.

              • Kind of the D’Back’s route to the WS?

              • Exactly. Put him on this staff in the playoffs. Legitimate World Series contender. I don’t care how little they hit. He’s the one guy I’d go the extra mile for.

              • That’s a hell of a lot of money to commit. I think he’s due something like $25M in each of the next two seasons. I think he’s the second-highest paid player in baseball.

                If the Phils ate a good chunk of salary, then I’m all for it. It’s the only way an ace would ever come to Pittsburgh.

              • I think there might be an ace or two already coming to Pittsburgh.

                But, I love Cliff Lee. He’d be great for 2+ years. I would not give up Taillon and Glasnow and more for him, though. I think it would take an awful lot. Philly has more money than prospects.

                Isn’t Aoki signed beyond this year?

              • One more year of control for Aoki, then he can elect free agency.

                Not a terrible situation considering Polanco’s time table.

    • Agree completely Milo and NMR. The names out there in general conversation are mostly dreck. Not a big fan of taking other team’s problems like Rios and Soriano, or those guys that look good on the surface like Schierholtz and Alexi Ramirez, but really don’t do anything to help you win when you dig down. If NH gets someone, here is hoping that is not a name we have been tossing around. I don’t really want any of them.

      • The Pirates do not need A Butter-Face player…Ex: She has a beautiful voice and personality, but her face…

        Say no to other team’s problem children.

      • My point on Schierholtz was to take him on as a platoon partner with Tabata. And I said I would not give up much for him, although Theo the Great would ask for a ton because he’s so smart. I just think he is an upgrade to Snider offensively and defensively. A decent upgrade tweak is all. He and Tabby are far preferable to Rios alone, if that is another option. In fact, I think Tabata/Snider or Presely is better than Rios given his $$.

        As for Schierholtz, he has a career .270/.321/.425 line. He has batted just over 1,500 times and has 94-2b, 18-3b and 36-HR. So, divide those all by 3 for his rates over a 500 AB season. He’s not a stiff if used properly.

        He has always been a platoon guy. He has hit RHP well enough over the past few years to be an upgrade over Snider right now, and is a plus defender.

        Batting Avg. & OB% vs. RHP:

        2013 – .281/.333
        2012 – .287/.360
        2011 – .288/.340
        2010 – .227/.297
        2009 – .242/.280

        Just saying, if he can be had reasonably cheap, he is not a bad option. I’d wait until the last minute or squeeze him by after the deadline. I am not really a Schierholtz guy, but in researching I found he is better than I thought.

        • I agree with you most of the time Jim, but not on this one. For me, Schierholtz does not pass the eye test at all. He is a little bit better version of Travis Snider, and his numbers this year have been boosted by Wrigley, which seems to be his favorite venue. I’m not feeling it I guess…

    • Not that I like Schierholtz that much, last year he hit .274 on the road with an .838 OPS. I think he’s better than doing nothing.

      • This is what I meant, 21. I feel like Snider is slipping fast. Schierholtz is just one option to consider. I’m not touting is as a franchise-saving deal. But, he has been pretty consistent against RHP for 3 years running.

        I’d still much rather have Aoki. I’d probably even send Tabby back for him, as I think Aoki is everyday material.

  27. Anyone heard from Aaron Rodgers lately ?

  28. 7 hours before game time.

    I’m nervous. I so want to see Strasburg get lit up. The ad nauseum talk here about his first game against the Pirates, and he struck out 14!, gets super, duper, Ooper old.

    I’d like to see the Bucs light him up in an epic meltdown, but I’m going on a free ticket with a friend who is a Nationals fan.

    I’ll be rooting like the GM in the first Major League movie…

  29. All of this talk about cheating aroused my curiosity about the worst cheating scandal (besides Pete Rose) in Major League history – the Chicago White Sox 1919.

    I just “googled” it and the third item on the opening page (about 10 paragraphs or so) gives quite a revealing explanation, and most interesting.

    The owner, Charles Comiskey, must have been a real prince (oops I misspelled that), and it’s no wonder those cheaters were so motivated to do so.

    It is a very interesting read if you do not already know the details of the story.

    Included there were LIFETIME banishments – which I am in favor of today

    • I believe the office of the Commissioner was specifically created to deal with the Black Sox scandal.

      • He was obviously the first commissioner, and under his rule helped restore the credibility of baseball to the people’s trust.

        My entry was intended to draw attention to the players and their contrivances, and in this case IMO, the ownership was a contributing culprit, because of the way they treated those players.

        There was no justification to cheat, but as you state, there was no overseeing commissioner, until then.

        Judge Kennesaw “Mountain” Landis was his name, and we have the Budster Selig now

        • Yeah, Shoeless Joe got a lifetime ban…….. he was illiterate, and was easily swayed.

          Comiskey was a rotten dirty so* ** * ***** , and he helped get Landis in there to do the owners bidding.

          In my humble Hippo opinion, I think Comiskey should have been forced to sell the Sox, as an equal punishment for what the players got.

      • Eight Men Out does a decent job of portraying that story, I think.

        That scandal led to Landis, and I believe he told them he would not take the job unless he had absolute authority to deal with it.

        Joe Jackson did hit .375 in that series, and he had 0 errors – although some people say he had a few glaring miscues in that series. He also took the money.

        Buck Weaver got screwed.

    • I agree on the lifetime banishments. I think Braun, and any other that get popped for this should be banned for life.

      I believe they have done more harm for the sport than Pete Rose and the Black Sox of 1919.

      • I think I lie somewhere in the middle on this. It is hard to ban for life because so many guys have gotten away scot free. I don’t like that aspect of it. But, the last 65 games of a lost season for what Braun did? No way. I’d put him down w/o pay until at least this time next year.

  30. I have a strong feeling a Pirate win tonight, and it will be the end of the Davey Johnson era in D.C.

    Get Aoki!. No Cubs!.

    Maybe it’s time NH give Anaheim a call and see what it would take to land a guy like Trumbo, or Bourjous.

    Trumbo would be awesome in a Pirate uniform.
    He can play 1st base AND RF.
    Kills 2 birds with 1 stone.

    • Maybe Keppinger of the White Sox would be a decent fit for the bench also.

      I would stay away from dealing with Theo, if i was NH.

      Let him keep his downtrodden club intact.

      3 players is all the Pirates need to reshape this roster in a positive way.
      They absolutely can not stand pat, and i don’t think they will.
      Again, cutting Inge was a HUGE step in the right direction.

      • Just looked at Keppinger’s pinch hitting numbers, and they’re solid. He also smacks lefties around, which solves the Neil Walker problem.

        • If Kepp is tradeable with that contract, then getting somebody to take Tabby should be a breeze.

          • Oh wow, hadn’t even looked at the contract. Yeah, that’s not a good deal for the Sox.

            NMR, how do you feel about Mark DeRosa? Just saw Bipolarman on Smizik’s blog mention him as a righty platoon candidate for Walker. I like the .281 career pinch hitting average, myself.

            • Hm, can’t offer much of an opinion on DeRosa. Can’t remember seeing him play since his Cubs/Cards days, and that was a while ago. Although he does seem to be hitting well in the situations you mentioned for the Jays this year.

              Off topic a bit, but I don’t think you’re going to see Neil Walker accept a platoon role during a pennant race.

              • Why would Walker have a say? He hasn’t done anything to warrent complaining about such a move. He is a good player but hardly good enough for the team to worry about hurting his feelings. That being said I think there are other needs more important then finding a platoon for Walker.

              • Why would Walker have a say?

                It took two months too long to cut Inge because they didn’t want to mess with “chemistry”.

                If Walker throws a fit about being benched, I personally think Hurdle would think twice about doing it.

              • Good point at the end. Still, can’t imagine he’d be an expensive buy if the Jays continue to fizzle.

              • Walker is way too fragile. Let him get upset.

              • NMR:

                I’m usually in sync with most of your thinking, or at least I’m close. But, I don’t see any history of Walker being a bad teammate – other than maybe being reprimanded at 23 in AAA for a week or so.

                Yesterday, I think you cited his unwillingness to stop switch hitting as possible evidence that he can be difficult. How many guys have ever decided to stop switch hitting in the middle of a season? I don’t even think the Pirates would let a guy do that. Very risky in-season. Could screw up his lefty swing, which is 75% or so of his ABs this year, probably.

                If Clint tells Neil he won’t be playing in the 10 or so games left vs. a LHP, I see no evidence that he would throw a fit.

              • Jim,

                I don’t know how many guys have ever stopped switch hitting during a season, but I would guess its very small since most guys don’t completely suck hitting from one side as opposed to the other. Kind’ve the point of switch hitting in the first place.

                I can’t see how the ball coming from one side as opposed to the other would mess with his swing. If anything, I would think this gives him more time to focus on hitting from the left side(which hasn’t exactly been stellar). But you could certainly be right.

                Throw a fit might’ve been too strong. I don’t thik thats in Neil’s nature.

                But getting benched when he clearly doesn’t feel anything is wrong seems like it wouldn’t exactly go over well with him. Players who aren’t happy usually aren’t the best clubhouse guys. Just human nature.

            • NH is great at not taking on all the money. Maybe he could do that again.

        • Good observation, Sean.

    • I feel the Angels will have no motivation to get rid of productive, young players like Bourjos and Trumbo for anything less than the moon and stars.

  31. It looks like Mrs. Laviolette will have to buy Pete a red, white and blue tie this Christmas instead of the traditional orange (tip of the cap to Milo).

    Really looking forward to the Olympic hockey tournament. I gotta say Sid broke my heart when he buried that goal in Vancouver. Just want to see the American flag rise up in the center of the flags above Olympic ice one more time before I go.

  32. Game thread is up

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