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Morning Java: Buckle up for serious ball

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Monday column digs a little deeper beyond the obvious ramifications of the Pirates-Cardinals series that begins tonight to uncover maybe the biggest compliment of all that can be paid to the home team.

Would love to hear your choice for the second-biggest series ever at PNC.

Here is game coverage of the loss yesterday in Miami by Travis Sawchik.
Jose Fernandez looks like he might be a special one for a long, long time.

If you missed it Sunday, Sawchik broke down Gerrit Cole’s fastball in a fun piece.

And here are official game highlights from MLB.com.

>> Just a reminder: Per my new schedule, I’m off Mondays and Tuesdays. The radio show is Wednesday. The columns run in the Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday papers. The chat is Friday.

Hope that’s not too confusing. Nothing’s changing with the blog. Nothing ever changes with the blog.

>> WPXI-TV’s ‘The Final Word’ had Alby Oxenreiter, Bill Phillips and Alan Robinson join me for a whole lot of Pirates and Steelers talk. This was a really good time.

>> Thorough coverage from Latrobe can be found on our Steelers page.

Here are Mark Kaboly and Ralph Paulk talking about Jason Worilds

>> I’ll be at the ballpark Wednesday, right after the radio show.

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.

665 Comments

  1. Nothing against Jose Fernandez…But he excelled against a team that strikes out more than Tylenol makes pills.
    The letter “K” needs to be lifted from the Pirates daily vocabulary or it will be the death of them.

    • Listening to the announcers during the game, maybe Fernandez should have been the number one overall pick that year.

    • Pirates strikeout 8.57 times per game, the four teams (STL, CIN, LAD, ATL) likely to make playoffs against them have good pitching and more than enough offense to win low scoring games.

      Pitching (K per 9)
      PIT – 7.72
      ATL – 7.50
      CIN – 8.03
      STL – 7.72
      LAD – 7.84

      Hitting (K / plate appearance)
      PIT – 874 / 3860 = 22.6
      STL – 668 / 3843 = 17.4
      CIN – 823 / 4089 = 20.1
      ATL – 889 / 3949 = 22.5
      LAD – 713 / 3913 = 18.2

      • Thanks Eric..it is definitely frustrating when the Bucs whiff so often, but while we are the worst, we aren’t completely off the charts worse than the other contenders…. The Dodgers K’d 20 times yesterday and won 1-0.

        Not saying we don’t need more consistent offense from the core – Cutch, Pedro, Jones, Walker.. and some deadline help…but I’m watching more how our pitching holds up …. on the 5-5 road trip, we really were in every game… lost 2 tight one to the Reds….got ‘walked’ off by the Nats in the crazy game….and lost 2-0 and 3-2 to the Marlins in a tough park to hit homers in.. (and HRs are a big part of the Buc offense)….

    • The Pirates have made many, many pitchers look good this year.
      With the likes of Barmes, McHenry, Snider, Tabata, Harrison, Inge, and some others, its a wonder they have won 41 games, let alone 61.

      And, if it wasnt for this excellent pitching staff, they would be toast.

      3 days for neal to try to do something.
      Its neal folks. Its neal.
      Be prepared to be underwhelmed.

      • Does the bench suck, no doubt but compare the lineups for the 5 possible playoff teams… we’re behind everyday. They need Walker producing in the two hole and find a RH run producing bat for RF to hit between Alvarez and Jones.

        • Spot on.

          Just be prepared to be underwhelmed.

          • …if it wasn’t for my son really wanting to go to the game on 8/4, I was holding off on buying any tickets until I saw what this team did at the trade deadline.

            I wanted to see if ownership and front office were “all in” or was it just more of the same (Gaby Sanchez & Travis Snider).

            This year, rumors seem like high prices (Rios) and teams not willing to deal players (Pence).

            • Eric, I posted that exact same thing yesterday, and a poster decided to take shots at me for having “insider knowledge”. Many teams that would normally dump players now hold onto them, due to the 2nd WC spot, cost controls, etc. Teams want high returns for players, so they can restock their farm systems.

              The aggravating thing with this FO, is that there may be better options in the minors. I was the one espousing in June that Dejesus, Lambo and the like, be given a shot to play, to see what they could do. They would be playing early enough that the FO could see what they needed at the deadline. But they will foever languish in the minors, and we were deprived of seeing if they were upgrades over what we had.

              Like I always say, be prepared to be underwhelmed.

            • “All In”, just words. Words are wind. They sound more like a promise than a commitment. Commitment equals action…let’s see some action!

          • Underwhelmed?

            Like everybody was with Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano, and Mark Melancon?

            I can’t wait to be underwhelmed.

            • In the case of Martin and Liriano….. It just shows that if you spend a few bucks on real MLB players, you tend to see a world of difference on the field.

            • Liriano and Melancon are pitchers. neal did good with them, but last time I checked, they arent everyday bats, and dont pinch hit.

              Martin has been a HUGE upgrade over Barajas, but that doesnt take much. Martin is not quality power bat.

              My point stands. With neal doing the upgrading, we can probably expect more Travis Sniders. But, neal has til Wednesday to do something.

              • let’s not call Russell Martin anything less than a SUPERB and CRITICALLY IMPORTANT signing by the Bucs… otherwise you have diminished credibility at least in my eyes. No doubt the FO track record isn’t great, but it is much improved in 2012 and 2013… not sure going back to 2008/2009 has as much to do with future than 2012 offseason does but we’ll see.

                And as to being underwhelmed at the deadline, be prepared for that always going forward…the landscape has changed, deadline deals will forever be less than what they were.

              • I said Martin was a huge upgrade.
                It is also true anyone is an upgrade over Barajas.
                Please dont tell me you think Martin is a quality, power bat? You have just lost credibility in my eyes.

                I dont understand how you think I said Martin isnt an upgrade.

            • ya, don’t you just love when reality exceeds expectations like that.

      • Pence’s name is back in trade play with the Giants in last place.

        C’mon Neal be bold.

        • If a lesser package gets Aoki then Pence then my preference would definately be Aoki. If the packages are the same I may still prefer Aoki. He seems to fit what this team needs better. He is very consistant rarely strikes out and allows for some of the players on our current team to move to spots in the battting order that match their skill set better.

          • Point 1: I love all of the comments about the Giants not selling and being buyers, prior to this past week’s collapse by the world champs… either Sabean is an idiot or he is a great poker player… probably the latter. Giants need to sell and re-load, this team sucks as it is right now. Same for the delusional Phils…if I read one more “Amaro says he may be buyers’ article, I’m going to throw my laptop out the window.

            Point 2: Have we ever seen one article that indicates Aoki is even available? Sellers typically selll to (1) rid themselves of payroll (2) get something for pending FAs (3) to restock with prospects. I don’t think Aoki fits any of these reasons…

    • A team that is counting on guys like Jones, Sanchez and Tabata does not deserve to make the playoffs.

      Jones is tolerable, but he looks totally overmatched against left handers, and is just average vs right handers, especially this year.

      Sanchez and THE DOG are just useless , in a meaningful situation, especially when there is a righthanded thrower on the hill.

      The teams need an infusion of at least 2 to 3 bats to be seriously considered a play off team.
      Any pitcher with a 90 plus fastball can look forward to their career high in K’s when facing this bunch.

      Like i mentioned before, this probably was a sign of things to come, if this team does not make some type of positive trade.
      Every pitcher they would face in the playoffs will be of the same caliber as this guy they faced today.
      The way the home town announcer talked, this kid should be inducted into the hall of fame, some time next season.
      Bob Walk should find another line of work.
      His in-bat predictions are becoming annoying, especially when they rarely come to fruition.

      • Cardinals tremendous offense : 3 ( thats THREE ) runs in 27 innings against the Braves. Without Tim Hudson.

      • Walk hyperbole or not, Hernandez is very good. And no, not every pitcher on playoff teams has as good of stuff as he has.

        And don’t stay up late waiting for “2-3 impact bats” to be added to the roster… not buying into your ‘logic’ btw, 1 true impact bat would do wonders for this team…but that in itself will be hard enough with the lack of sellers.

    • I’m less concerned about the strike outs in and of themselves, an out is an out after all, and more concerned about lack of walks and the walk to strike out ratio. They are some of the worst in the majors and it’s especially problematic at the top of the order.

  2. Has the sky fallen yet?
    Will we be alerted when it does?
    Can we expect a The Sky Has Fallen column when the official sky falling is occurring?
    Or could we all just KEEP CALM & BREAK .500?

    • Oh, trust me, I am calm.
      I just see a team that needs help, and the incorrect man to do the job.

      Playoffs, be prepared to be underwhelmed.
      Besides, if the sky falls, I will be in my Pond safe and sound. ;)

      • Honestly, I didn’t expect too much out of this team to begin with.
        So for me, this whole season has been a very pleasant surprise.

        The mere fact that with all the doom and gloom that goes on in this blog sometimes, this team still finds a way to remain near the top of the National League speaks volumes to me.

        I’m not ready to write them off and declare all hope dead.
        A 5-5 road trip coming out of the break isn’t the end of the world.

        St. Louis dropped 3 in Atlanta
        Cincy dropped 2 of 3 in LA.

        The next 7 days will show us more about where our season is heading than anything else.
        I’ll let those play out before I start looking for the best bridge to jump off of.

        • The old abandoned one in Shadeland is closed, and high. ;)

          As for the “doom and gloom” on the blog, you just have to understand that this is more than 20 years of lsing creeping in the back of everyones mind. You have to add the past 2 Collapses, the incompetence of the FO, and others.

          Let the people cheer as they want.
          You can always tell the over-positive people, and the over-negative people pretty easily. I call it like I see it, both ways. I understand that will make me a target for both groups, but such is life.

          I just want the best for the team, and that right now is to acquire an impact bat. I just dont see it happening, and I feel that will hurt the team down the stretch.

          • We all feel your frustration, Plan. I may be a bit more optimistic, but they haven’t accomplished anything yet.

          • I have been a Bucs fan since I can remember.. I can remember listenting to the Bucs on KDKA when Milo Hamilton was calling the games.. the Playoff years were my college years, and after Sid Bream’s slide, I just shook it off and figured we’d get back on the horse soon…. and 20 years later I still bleed black and gold. All of that said, I really can’t understand how any of the past history makes one bit of difference into how I enjoy watching the games in 2013 and rooting on the Bucs…. if anything the past bitterness only makes success, even fleeting, incomplete, nervewracking success, tastes so much sweeter….

            I could be part of the majority of today’s fans… jumping from bandwagon to bandwagon…with little regard to locality or loyalty…but i’m not built that way. But I just don’t understand having to color every experience in 2013, including posting on this blog, by what happened 1, 2, 5, 15, 25 years ago, for better or worse.

            Let’s go Bucs.

        • Well said, Playoffs!

      • An incorrect man to do the job? You mean the guy who has built the team that has the third best record in baseball?

        I love watching the bar move.

        • Yes….And also the guy that has yet to finish over .500 in his tenure as GM.
          The season doesn’t end on 7/29.

          • Last season ended already. So did the season before that. So did the season before that. None of them have anything at all to do with what is happening now.

            • Thanks for showing us how to move the bar.

              • I’ve never moved the bar. I want a team that competes for a division title deep into September. That’s what I’ve wanted since 1992. This year is the first since 1992 that my wants and my expectations have been in the same neighborhood, as I predicted that the team would win 86 games.

        • Could you please explain how the bar has moved?

          • It wasn’t long ago that Huntinton was an incompetent and the Pirates had no chance of ever winning with him at the helm. Now it appears that the team he assembled is winning in spite of him. What is left to moan about? Oh yes, he won’t improve the team at the trade deadline.

            Dejan had it right in his recent column. The best trades this team can make are for players already here to play to their career norms. None of the available names impress me at all, even before considering the high prices being demanded for them.

            • Disagree.

              neal still hasnt produced a winning season. The season doesnt end on July 29th.

              I have never moved the bar with neal. I still think he is the wrong person for the job. Yes, he has gotten better, but it has taken him 6 long, painful years to get here. I dont understand those who dont want to remember any of his collossal mistakes. I just dont.

              • I can understand that, I really can… if you were running the Pirates, you’d have canned NH in 2010… that’s cool, maybe I would have too.

                But he’s here… still doing the job… so what is he supposed to do? Do it the best he can today, hopefully better than he did it yesterday….

                so, I understand your view that any moves NH makes now shouldn’t erase the ghosts of bad moves past….but can you understand my view that current moves that are good shouldn’t be downgraded simply because of who made them?

              • Oh, agreed.

                I just dont have faith in neal.
                I am not trying to make it way too simple, but I guess I am………..

                I just dont expect much, if anything at the deadline.

                And this team needs things at the deadline.

                Catch 22.

              • ha! cutch 22

              • It’s taken six long, painful years for a complete rebuild to begin to show it’s fruits. Feel free to list all of the teams that have done a full blow it all up rebuild in less than six years.

                It’s gonna be a mighty short list.

              • It’s a lot easier to rebuild when you can spend a quarter billion in a season like the Dodgers or the Yankees. Try to do it with a 10 or 15 m increase and a empty farm.

    • Besides, one of those KFC “chicken littles” would taste good right now. ;)

  3. By the way, in case any of you missed it…
    Here are the current, up-to-date standings:

    TOP SCORES IN JULY
    Jason81 ~ 600
    cmat0829 ~ 600
    Nate83 ~ 550
    Nor Cal Stlrfanrc (Ryan) ~ 525
    War Horse ~ 465
    OZ ~ 450

    CURRENT PARTICIPANT TOTALS
    Nor Cal Stlrfanrc (Ryan) ~ 2425
    JRay3 ~ 1800
    bman ~ 1705
    Dadtackular ~ 1600
    Nate83 ~ 1600
    theplanisworking ~ 1225
    JUCOFan ~ 1200
    blazer ~ 1100
    Frankie ~ 1100
    Pucknutz ~ 900
    Bill Born ~ 830
    Jason81 ~ 750
    KJX ~ 750
    fellocolonial ~ 700
    Ermine ~ 600
    stickyweb ~ 600
    radio wave ~ 550
    RobertoForever ~ 490
    tdb1977 ~ 485
    War Horse ~ 465
    Karen22 ~ 350
    Keith ~ 350
    Vette60 (Randy in RVA) ~ 350
    JohninOshkosh ~ 335
    EricBowser ~ 325
    Chico ~ 300
    Irish ~ 300
    OZ ~ 300
    TCB ~ 275
    cmat0829 ~ 250
    BDHumbert ~ 225
    Arriba Wilver ~ 200
    Boise Bucco ~ 200
    Evan ~ 200
    JoeyBats ~ 175
    cherokee23 ~ 150
    Hal Smith ~ 100
    Matt hoffman ~ 100
    PetroSteel ~ 100
    steelercrazy ~ 100
    mlrgenuine ~ 50
    TJ ~ 50
    tmp444 ~ 25
    cosmo ~ 0
    Joey Mellons ~ 0
    Lad9 ~ 0
    pants-n-at ~ 0
    TK ~ 0
    Ruffian706 ~ -40
    buggee ~ -50
    Dom ~ -50
    Ben ~ -80
    absolute59 ~ -100
    Brian ~ -100
    Dcpinpgh ~ -100
    DemonDachshund ~ -100
    John in WM ~ -100
    Kevin S ~ -100
    Ghost ~ -150
    Ryan76 ~ -200
    stuart66 ~ -200
    JaxBuc ~ -300
    Brandie ~ -350
    kr70 ~ -400
    Steve J. Smith ~ -500
    pattonbb ~ -600
    JD ~ -775
    JMB ~ -800
    Jandy ~ -975
    Kevin ~ -1435
    Bizrow ~ -4200

    ***The Most Points for the end of JULY will win:***
    (1) PITTSBURGH PIRATES BUMPER STICKER
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323996932466962432

    First Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) BRAND NEW PITTSBURGH PIRATES FITTED NEW ERA 59FIFTY HAT
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323994233155485698

    Second Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) BRAND NEW PITTSBURGH PIRATES EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY HAT
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323994373731794947

    Third Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) PITTSBURGH PIRATES LICENSE PLATE FRAME
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323994796970627072

    Fourth Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) PITTSBURGH STEELERS BUMPER STICKER
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323996576253087745

    Fifth Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS BUMPER STICKER
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323996735837982720

  4. My pick for second biggest series was the August series with St Louis last year – at the time we thought it was meaningful ball although it was quickly forgotten within a couple weeks.

    The series this week is obviously much bigger even without hindsight. Hopefully the first of many this year that we can say that about.

    • Was that the series where the whole “Pirates Fan Advisor Network” crap came out?

      • I think it was in August as I was out of town in Orlando and didn’t even know about it until after the season was over.

      • Was that when Frank got uber-drunk, and tried to fleece Pirates fans even more?
        I forgot about that.
        Not about Frank getting uber-drunk.
        The Pirates Fan Advisor Network crap.

      • Oh Gawd — completely forgot about that intelligence insulting crapola. Frank really takes the cake. Was that last year, or the year before? My brain thought is had successfully purged that memory.

        • It was last year… that second half was a train wreck with the team struggling, the fan advisor network and let’s not forget our favorite… Hoka Hey.

          • Now see, if we all had purchased that Fan Advisor Network, we could have seen the HOKA HEY stuff live.

            We blew it, guys. ;)

          • Thanks. Incredible…
            Well, at least Nutting must have told Frank to put a sock in it — that, or Frank has joined a monastery — because nary a word has been heard from him this year.

          • Eric

            You know the drill. If anything, it’ll be the least costly solution. Also, by the end of this week, all of us on this blog will know exactly what both the team and BMTIB is all about.

  5. The players themselves probably want a bat added even more than we do. (Well, maybe not Tabby, Gabby, Snider, and possibly Jones. They know they’ll get booted to the bench, if not simply booted.) Guys like Cutch, Walker and Pedro have only known losing as Pirates. For guys like A.J., this is their swan song. Don’t care what A.J. said publically about last year — these guys have got to want the FO to come through and get the missing piece. Like Pence was for last year’s Giants. Curt Schilling was for the 2001 D-Backs. Mad Dog for the ’79 Bucs. One + one = three when the right guy is brought in.

    • 3 of those 4 should be booted from the roster.

      I would keep Jones around, simply for the fact he bats left handed.

      The other 3 are worthless, and are only on the team, because they are relatively cheap, in terms of salary, and they have no minor league options left.

      If no splash at the deadline is coming, i would hope some addition from the minor leagues would be considered.

      Lambo, Pressley, Canzler, and Tony Sanchez could not be much worse than this current group of 3 mentioned.

      Today, i think, was a sign of things to come from this crew, when a somewhat competent major league pitcher , is the opposition.

      The would be lucky to win 1 of these next 5 against ST Louis, unless some roster changes are in the near future.
      At least they made an effort by finally cutting ties with Inge(who i am sure will clear waivers).

      Tabata and Gaby Sanchez should be dealt, or just shown the door.
      The team will get by just fine, without them.

      • The “somewhat competent major league pitcher” you describe is Jose Fernandez, who as a rookie has a 2.71 ERA and a WHIP right around 1.000.

        I don’t think many people are throwing that guy out there.

        And Andrew Lambo and Alex Presley have clearly assumed the titles as the new Steve Pearce.

    • You mean like Marco Scutaro was for the Giants last season,don’t you ? Pay attention,it isn’t the rah rah speeches that get it done !

  6. Since I’ll be at one of America’s great amusement parks (Kennywood), I fully expect something to happen Monday as it is also Dejan’s day off and after Sunday’s little prank by Neal Huntington to promote Alen Hanson to AA and pull him from the single-A game.

    Many of us want Giants outfielder Hunter Pence but team is probably more likely to get Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz, which to me is an improvement for the bench but not the proven playoff performer this team could use right now between Alvarez and Jones.

    Surprised Matt Niskanen hasn’t been traded, the longer this goes, Penguins could be forced to make a buyout decision with him that will cost the team cap space or take back nothing of value in a deal.

    Steelers camp is underway… there was my required comment to keep my Steelers fan card……

    DK: They can trade McCutchen, and I’ll still be off.

    • I’m not sure the Pence magic would work the third time around. The guy was sent to Philly and played hard. Then Philly shipped him off to SF, but that was where he it turns out he was always meant to be. The guy rides his Razor through the streets to the ball park each day, exchanging greetings with fans along the way. If Pence got uprooted yet again, no doubt he would be professional about it. But don’t be so sure he’d be as just as happy, let alone would be able to repeat history, the third time around.

    • DK………………

      please, please do not give them any ideas!!!!!!!!!

    • DK: In the Monday column, I think you meant Willie Stargell, not John Milner, who hit a grand slam in the second to last game of the year against the Phillies in ’78. Milner, and then Ed Ott, hit key Grand Salamies against Tug McGraw and the Phils in ’79. Ott’s I’ll never forget– Pirates started that game down 8 – 0. Milner’s was cool too. He was pinch-hitting for Steve Nicosia, who had been 4-for-4 that day.

  7. Assuming both guys were not retired/injured(?), the Lee-Ludwick acquisitions would look good right now. Unfortunately, two years too early.

  8. Wasn’t a big Stanton fan, but after watching him hit like .800 with two blasts, and basically kicking sand in our Pirates’ fans’ faces all weekend, I’m all for it now. Make the deal Neal. Wait. What? They’re not trading him because they’ll be better than us soon. Never mind.

  9. Last post for the night. Remember reading a few seasons back that in this era of back-to-the-norm offensive output, a reemphasis on defensive prowess was underway. Probably was here that I read that. Well, congrats to management for responding appropriately. Bringing in guys like Clint Barmes and Russell Martin, and implementing the advanced shifts and pitching strategies have worked. Actually, Rod Barajas was supposed to be a defensive improvement, too. It’s just that he wasn’t. But the Pirates have stuck with this emphasis and it’s paying dividends. I also believe reading (again, probably from DK) that teams were realizing that optimizing defensive play was the new “Moneyball,” in that it’s more cost effective to upgrade defensive play than to try and buy more offense.

    Okay, back to the trade deadline and how we still, nevertheless, could really use another stick or too.

    • “…stick or TWO.”

    • You are correct, Ghost. My theory is that teams concluded, initially, that the new bandbox-type stadiums, plus possibly PEDs were going to create an offense-first reality in baseball for the forseeable future.

      So, how did they react? They figured out how to pitch better and develop bigger, stronger, harder-throwing pitchers while also improving on defensive strategies. It was simply answering a need in the market.

      Now, we have the best pitching in the history of the game, I believe. I am not saying everyone is better than Tom Seaver and Walter Johnson. The all-time greats will always be great. I’m simply saying that more guys throw harder than ever before, and they throw better pitches in better locations than ever before as a general rule. There are no bums on today’s pitching staffs. We are quickly evolving to where almost every guy throws mid-90′s. Pitchers don’t throw complete games, but they throw very hard for 6 or 7 innings, and they are followed by several more guys that throw just as hard. That has made it very tough on hitters.

      Now that PEDs are going away (or, at least mostly going away I think), hitters are not as good, and the pitchers are better. Ergo, lower scoring games.

  10. Unseen in these parts since 1978?

    How about NINETEEN SEVENTY NINE??

    August 5.

    The one and same John Milner.

    Tug McGraw.

    Bottom of the ninth. Three on. Two outs.

    http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=197908051PIT

    12-8 Pirates. Playoffs. World Series.

    1978?? Sheesh. Sheesh.

  11. JAL’s Jamaica Farewell Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFFlWtlDRqk

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsjN0zO-DxI0dHVOMzdPYm9wUEJtdVJ0WWUzVWhFc2c#gid=0

    5 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013draft

    BLOGS and such

    6—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Using Hanson and Polanco Helps to Predict Future Promotions

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/07/first-pitch-using-hanson-and-polanco-helps-to-predict-future-promotions.html

    Marlins Win the Battle of the Young Aces; Wandy and Snider Updates

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/07/marlins-win-the-battle-of-the-young-aces-wandy-and-snider-updates.html

    Prospect Watch: Shaky Outing For Heredia, Dickerson Continues Hot Streak

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/07/prospect-watch-shaky-outing-for-heredia-dickerson-continues-hot-streak.html

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Jose Fernandez dominates as Pirates lose 3-2

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/7/28/4565700/jose-fernandez-dominates-as-pirates-lose-3-2

    Bucs Dugout Podcast: The playoffs and the trade deadline

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/7/28/4565430/bucs-dugout-podcast-the-playoffs-and-the-trade-deadline

    8 WHYGAVS

    Game 103: Marlins 3 Pirates 2

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/july-2013/game-103-marlins-3-pirates-2.html

    9 The Green Weenie

    Stanton Homer Carries Marlins To 3-2 Win

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/07/stanton-homer-carries-marlins-to-3-2-win.html

    10 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington Show Notebook

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/07/28/pittsburgh-pirates-gm-neal-huntington-show-notebook/

    11 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Five things to know about the Cardinals

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/07/five-things-to-know-about-the-cardinals/

  12. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Miami Herald

    Miami Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez resigns over allegations of abusive behavior

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/29/3527423/miami-marlins-hitting-coach-ready.html

    13 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates series preview

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cardinal-beat/cardinals-at-pittsburgh-pirates-series-preview/article_d0af89f2-6f6a-51ed-b3db-45ff4311d7fa.html

    Bernie: Cards, Pirates have different takes on big series

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-cards-pirates-have-different-takes-on-big-series/article_16dff9d0-9779-5b1d-80cd-869e84516eee.html

    14 News and Observer

    Minor league promotions and giveaways keep fans coming back

    http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/07/28/3065572/minor-league-promotions-and-giveaways.html

    15 Joplin Globe

    Schremmer: Patek a class act

    http://www.joplinglobe.com/sports/x596958095/Schremmer-Patek-a-class-act

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates v Cardinals Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130729_STL@PIT/cardinalspirates-preview

    17 Wall Street Journal

    Enough Already About A-Rod

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324170004578634322568847146.html

    18 PBC Site

    Quality start, career high in K’s not enough for Cole

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_07_28_pitmlb_miamlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Prospect Sanchez provides Bucs catching depth

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130728&content_id=55049872&notebook_id=55049394&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The BP Staff Tries to Trade, and Trade For, Jake Peavy

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21375

    20 Fangraphs

    Dodgers Could Be Last Team To Strike Gold With Local TV Deal

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/dodgers-could-be-last-team-to-strike-gold-with-local-tv-deal/

  13. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    The Renegade—A Complete Look at the Upcoming Season in 26 stories

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/the-renegade

    Questions regarding Polamalu’s future in Pittsburgh are out there

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/7/28/4564986/questions-regarding-polamalus-future-in-pittsburgh-are-out-there

    22 Steelers Depot

    - So Far So Good for Jarvis Jones

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/07/so-far-so-good-for-steelers-rookie-lb-jarvis-jones/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Mail

    Let me go! Bale left in turmoil by Spurs chief Levy after WORLD RECORD £82m bid from Real Madrid is rejected

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2380178/Gareth-Bale-turmoil-Spurs-reject-world-record-82m-bid-Real-Madrid.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 26th July, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-26th-july-2013

  14. Arriving in Pittsburgh in about five hours. Can’t wait!

  15. I don’t know if this is the most important series in PNC Park history, but it’s sure shaping up as the most over-hyped. I’ve actually heard people arguing about how many of these games the Pirates “have” to win.

    The most important thing for me this week will be to see how this group reacts to the pressure of playing meaningful games later on in the season.

    There will still be 2 months to go after the Cardinals leave town including another visit by St. Louis on Labor Day weekend. Hopefully That will be the most important series in PNC Park history.

    • Well said, Milo.

    • Yep, it will be the most important series until it overtaken by another, and another, and another. Playing 14 games against the Cardinals in the last 59 games will do that.

      Not sure my heart could take it but a repeat of the Barry Bonds HR against Lee Smith to win it would be outstanding drama.

      • “Yep, it will be the most important series until it overtaken by another, and another, and another.”

        I feel like I just tuned in to ESPN.

        • When does the new FOX sports station debut???

        • 21:

          It will be the most important series until it is overtaken by the next Yanks-BoSox series.
          – ESPN

          Don’t lose track of reality. Jeter is back. Jeter is back. And he hit a HR!

          • does anyone have an audio link of Sterling/Waldman radio broadcasting the second coming of Jeter yesterday? It’s probably priceless….something like…..

            John: And here it is Susan, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…. oh, yeah verily, our captain, our captain, Derek Jeter, El Capitan, is back in the Bronx… the sun is brighter, the sky is bluer, the beer is fresher, the girls are more…um…..

            Susan: OH MY GAWD JAAAWWWN, DEREK JETER IS BACK ON THE FIELD… MY GOOSE BUMPS HAVE GOOSE BUMPS..> GET OUT YOUR CAMERA FANS YANKEES FANS YOU WILL WANT TO COMMEMORATE THIS MOMENT… WE WILL NEVER FORGET WHERE WE WERE ON JULY 28TH, 2013….

            Sterling…. There is long drive to right field, it high, it is wide, it is GOOOONNNNNNNN…. A solo home run to right center by Jeter and the Yankees lead 1-0. EL CAPITAN with a Moon Shot on “Jeter Opening Day”…. the captain can, the captain can…. let’s all have a Captain and Coke… Jeter’s Second Coming sponsored by First Adventist Church of Staten Island.

    • This series doesn’t mean squat. The only thing that matters is playing good baseball, which they aren’t playing right now and haven’t the whole month of July. The next time Burnett starts, I’m not thinking about winning a game, I’m wondering if the team can field a groundball or execute a rundown.

      The first 3 months the Pirates lost 3 series against sub .500 teams. In July they have lost 3.

      Tell me the Pirates are going to go 5-1 against the Rockies and Marlins and I will sign for 2-3 against the Cardinals.

      The Marlins series reminded me of the games against San Diego last year. The requisite opponent worship about their record from a certain date and apologizing for losing by the broadcast pre and post game shows. Reminded of that repeatedly the whole series. Killed by Stanton just like we were killed by Headley. Somehow I see that the Brewers swept the Marlins after the All-Star break by a combined 9-0 score. 3 straight shutouts.

      I looked up the Marlins record against the NL Central just to remind myself that they are indeed terrible and I am not crazy for wanting to smash inanimate objects for the horse flop performance.

      PIT 2-1 .667 9-9
      STL 2-4 .333 26-31
      CIN 1-6 .167 16-40
      CHC 1-3 .250 13-15
      MIL 1-5 .200 7-29

      Last year, after the Pirates won 2 of 3 in St. Louis and the last game was a 19 inning win the Pirates went to San Diego and got swept. 1-5 record vs San Diego cost them a winning season.

      Tell me that the Pirates are going to open a can on the Marlins when they get to town and the Cardinals can have this series.

      Beat the Cardinals and the scrub teams too? That’s even better. Good baseball can start here. Good baseball can’t end here.

    • Good perspective, Milo!

  16. gurndy morn-dee!

  17. What is the Cardinal kryptonite????

  18. My Lord, boys. Looked at the posting times – don’t some of you sleep? Or is it this series that’s keeping yinz awake? The Cards haven’t exactly made like General Grant in Atlanta, so let’s see what happens. I think we’ll take three of five, but I’d like to see a deal from Neal even if its in the middle of the series.

  19. Neat piece by Travis and the Trib staff on Cole in print yesterday.

    But they lose bonus points for using a graphic of Cole throwing a breaking ball in an article explaining his 100 MPH fastball. Details, boys. Details.

  20. The Buccos website our pitcher for Thursday is TBA. Who do you think will get the start? Locke?

  21. I’m impressed. No traffic problems on the commute with those hours – and more time to blog in prime time. I count on snoring from midnight to 7, however. So Jandy – how many of these five are we gonna take?

  22. Bottom line folks;

    The Bucs have to acquire a righthanded bat that can platoon with Garrett Jones in right or first base. Tabata is not that guy at this point of his career. If that doesn’t happen, the division is out of the question. The postseason maybe, but forget about catching the Cardinals.

    They also need a major upgrade off the bench. If the front office has any thoughts of making any impact in the playoffs, the talk of picking up someone the likes of Rios OR Schierholtz has to be changed to add BOTH of those players (or players of that ilk, or better).

    • The Pirates already have the best righthanded platoon bat available. You will not find a guy on the market that hits lefties better than Gaby.

      • There seems to be a bit of a mental block to accepting that fact.

      • Correct, NMR. I said last week that Gaby is a player who is simultaneously in a hot streak AND a slump. He can’t hit a lick vs. RHP, and he is raking vs LHP. We have to find a way to get him out of the lineup vs RHP.

    • Bottom line is that there is no right handed bat out there that hits left handers better than Gaby Sanchez has hit them this year.

      • Sorry about that, I tried to shorten it & I still misspelled it.

      • I’ve been saying it is actually a left-handed bat to platoon with Tabby that they need the most. Schierholtz is a good fit, but I have no doubt Theo and Co. are asking way too much for him. I would not give the Cubs a prized prospect, either. Aoki is not available. I haven’t scoured rosters, but I’m sure there are others that are better than our current alternative of Presley – although I think maybe it is time he got another shot.

        But, my point on the lefty hitting RF. That limits Gaby to starting vs. LHP, and it limits GIJ to playing only 1b. Gaby and GIJ actually make a nice platoon. Gaby only looks like he stinks because CH is playing him against so many RHP, and he just is not a competent hitter vs RHP.

        • One thing that is for sure, Cubs WILL trade Schiertholtz… I think that’s the move really guys… Nate for RF platoon, Jones/Gaby at 1B…. not to say I don’t want a bigger splash, just being realistic.

          I do think NH wants Pence from SF, if they can get Sabean off the hallucinogens long enough…. he is a FA rental, after all.

      • Strange and unusual how some come to the defense of Gaby “I only get a hit when it doesn’t matter” Sanchez.
        At this point in time, he’s a PH against LH pitchers and a late game defensive specialist.
        I see no other use for him…..

        • So you’re saying he’s a platoon 1B with Garrett Jones?

          My god man, you’re a genius!!

        • You’d rather see Garrett Jones haul his lifetime sub-.600 OPS out to first against lefties?

          No thank you. I’ll take the guy who is killing lefties. But I’d stop sending him out there against righties.

    • Thank you – NMR, Jandy, Wilver & Sys. My head is going to explode.

  23. Unless the Sox are willing to eat a nice portion of Rios contract next year, no way the Pirates are in that hunt. Secondly one of the few guys who fits what the Pirates are interested in is the Mariners baseman. But it is unlikely NH meets that price of acquisition

    • If not him, then who?

      • Rios has 10 HR the last I checked. I don’t know if he hit any this weekend. But, that is 10 HR as an everyday OF in a very hitter-friendly stadium. That does not translate well to hitting HR in PNC as a righty hitter. I’m not sure Rios is all that much better of a hitter than Tabby right now. He goes through funks, and periods where reports are he just isn’t very motivated. The word is he is in one of those periods right now. Maybe the excitement of a playoff chase would get him juiced, but I would not count on it.

        A lefty bat combined with Tabby might be a lot better. When you look at the indivdual stats of platoon guys, they don’t jump out. I never understand why most fans automatically think a better option to a pretty good platoon combo is a mediocre everyday player. Rios is not a star and neither is Pence. They look like they have more power simply because they play everyday. Those guys are nothing special. I agree we need an upgrade. I’m just not buying that either one of them is a sure fire upgrade to Tabby + a decent lefty hitter.

        • And, Dom, I’m not taking a shot at you. I think we all recognize an upgrade is needed in RF. We just disagree on how to approach obtaining it.

        • On August 1 or hopefully earlier, I’m hoping to never see Tabata start a game again. I’ll take my chances on two months of Schierholtz starting practically every game. His career numbers against LHP are decent but lousy this year (only 32 ABs this year against LHP). I’ll take my chances that Rios will be better than Tabata and perhaps he could be a ton better. We can’t keep running Tabata out there.

        • I think you misunderstood my question. I was simply asking what other options were available. I agree with you for the most part on Rios but I suppose I would make an offer if there were no other options available.

          • That’s fair, Dom. It is true that when he is motivated, Rios can hit. I am just not seeing that right now.

            We would still need left-handed hitting help, though.

    • The theory from Jack Z. in Seattle is that his job is on the line next year. He can’t afford to tear down and rebuild because he can’t field a bad team next year.

      I saw a tweet yesterday that said the trade market is so inflated, the Giants are asking for a major league-ready starting pitcher for Javier Lopez, who will do nothing but face one lefty bat a game a few times a week.

      That says to me, “You know what? Maybe it’s not worth it.”

      • Yeah, I’m starting to think that way as well.

        • Sadly, me2.

          But I still want Pence if the price is right.

          • As do I, and the rumors I’ve seen is that they’re hot to trot on him as well. Provides power, is familiar with the division, etc.

            • Sabean is delusional. Pence is a pending FA… so why not trade him for what you can get and then try to re-sign him in the offseason? And if he is traded to Bucs, you can rest assured we likely won’t resign him, so you don’t lose anything if you are the Giants.

              And as to a ml starting pitcher to Lopez, keep on dreaming Brian!

              But let’s read all these articles with a grain of salt…what do you want the GM to say…. “um yea, Lopez, what do we need a LH specialist for? we suck? so yea, we’ll take a useful AA filler for him…just give me a call”

      • I always hear that about GMs, Sean. And, I agree that his job is on the line. But, that doesn’t mean the owner says, “Well, you have one more shot to get us a winner. Go do whatever you want this year. If it doesn’t work you are fired.” What I mean is he still has to get everything approved. No owner in his right mind would let a desperate GM make desperate decisions. Of course, it could be argued that some owners are not in their right minds.

        • “Of course, it could be argued that some owners are not in their right minds.”

          haha! priceless!!

        • “No owner in his right mind would let a desperate GM make desperate decisions.”

          Ahem.

        • “No owner in his right mind would let a desperate GM make desperate decisions.”

          Matt Morris.

          • I did include the “It could be argued” line at the end. I don’t think Nutting had any idea what he was doing at that point, and he put way more faith in his hire as GM than he should have.

    • Rios is a nice bat, but not a great bat and I wonder how much of a difference maker he would be. (but compared to the current RF production…maybe a good one).

      But what I can’t understand is why people want to trade for a guy that has a ‘history’ of under achieving —and was recently pulled from a game for not hustling.

      • Jeromy Burnitz would be an upgrade. And I mean Jeromy Burnitz now, today.

      • Because they couldn’t pick Alex Rios out of a lineup to save their life.

        He’s nothing but numbers on some web site to them. Thats about the only way Alex Rios looks good.

        • I’d take my chances on Rios.

          • It’s not your money, right?

            • Not sure what your point is.

              • You said above that you hope to never see Tabby start again.

                If you expect to see a better level of effort from Rios, be ready to be disappointed.

                At four times the cost.

                But it’s not your money, right?

              • I can’t imagine Rios would be worse than Tabata and I think he’d be worth the money.

          • But, at what cost, 21? Who would you give up for Rios?

            • It’s easier to comment if there was a deal in place. Lots of places you can go here including how much, if any, the Sox would be willing to eat of Rios’ contract.

              I definitely wouldn’t include Taillon or Polanco.

              • Polanco and Taillon should be untouchables.

              • Thanks for small favors.

                I wouldn’t include anybody in the top 10 or 15 prospects, and I’d think awful hard before dealing more than a bucket of balls.

                You hate Tabata because you don’t like his attitude, as it was displayed over a year ago. Rios has an attitude that is the equal of Tabata at his worst, only he has it RIGHT NOW. Also, right now they are practically identical as far as offensive productivity goes. Given a choice between the two, I’d keep the one that is still young and has some chance of improving over the one that can only get worse.

              • “You hate Tabata because you don’t like his attitude, as it was displayed over a year ago.”

                Thanks for telling me what I think Sisypus. I didn’t say a word about Tabata’s attitude. I’d take my chances with Rios over Tabata. Derrek Lee was average a meh year with the Orioles (.706 OPS). We traded for him and in 101 ABs his OPS was .982.

              • “having a meh year” that should have read.

              • Sorry if I confused you with another poster.

                Alex Rios is no Derek Lee, not in his wildest dreams.

        • I would have to agree that Gabby is a good right handed platoon at first base. He hits at or near .300 against lefties and plays well defensively.

          That said, Rios would be an upgrade in right field. I am more than a casual fan and recognize Rios has been known to dog it. He may also be reinvigorated by this team and manager.

          And my original comment was not to target Rios, but an upgrade to someone of his pedigree .

          A major void would be filled if they can get a right handed right fielder who can hit righties and lefties. That would mean you could have Gabby/Jones at first.

          And they would still need to add a bench player on top of that if they are to make noise in the postseason.

      • Supposedly due to Pujolz injury, Angels are in a selling mode right now

        Howie Kendrick? (Plays 1st and 2nd and is not a rental)

        • Erick Aybar also. A shortstop that’s won a gold glove & doesn’t strike out.

        • Erick Aybar. Younger and cheaper than Alexei Ramirez. Controlled through 2016.

          Having a down year on a team with possibly the worst farm system in baseball.

          Great candidate to make the classicly flawed quanitity over quality prospect trade to flood the system.

          • Get Aoki & Aybar you completely reconstruct the top of your order. And think of how much faster you just got. First & third them to death.

          • Great point on Aybar, NMR. And great job of pointing him out.

            But, I wonder how the Angels got the worst minor league system in MLB. Oh yeah, they gave away all their prospects to get their current team. Their next SS appears to be playing for Milwaukee, courtesy of a trade for 2-month rental of the overrated Z Greinke.

            • Awful drafts and completely neglecting Latin American might have a bit to do with that, Jim.

              If one trade wipes out your farm system, you didn’t have a farm system in the first place.

              • I think they have had a series of mis-steps over many years. But, they do not seem to value their farm system much now. They have a team with a lot of free agents, and that is hard to sustain.

              • But you just said they gave away all their prospects to get their current team?

              • Yeah, they have a bad system because they gave away a lot to get some of their players who have not panned out (Greinke, for one). And, they also made bad free agent signings
                (Pujols, Hamilton, for two).

            • I’d definitely be dialing up Jerry DiPoto, one of the most questionable GMs in the game right now…
              Kendrick will be costly in terms of prospects but he is a great hitter…I guess he can play 1B vs. RHPs and 2B vs. LHPs and let Jones play RF vs. RHPS….

              Aybar would be good but might cost Mercer…we willing to do that, plus a prospect?

              • Just Mercer and a prospect?

                That prospect is going to have to be prettay, prettaayyy darn good.

                And yes, I have zero worries about getting rid of Mercer considreing Aybar is a far better shortstop.

      • Rios is not a nice bat. He once was a nice bat. Now he’s an average bat. There is value in having an average bat around, but not in the every day lineup in right, not when it comes with an attitude that has already gotten the guy benched for loafing, and not at the cost of anything above average prospects.

  24. 2nd biggest series was probably that exhibition series vs the Mets before the 1st season.

  25. Good Morning Loonies! To answer your question, Dejan: The second most important series in PNC Park history, for me, was when the Red Sox were here in in 2011. I am not a fan of interleague play in general, but the excitement of that weekend and the Pirates were playing really good at that time….well, baseball was coming back and turning the corning in our town. _____________________________________________________
    I have tix for tonight’s game and this kind of reminds me of 1979 when the Pirates and yes, the old Expos were beginning there 2 month battle for first place and the pennant. Those games, if I recall, wwent to another level and I think this week will, too.

  26. This is a reminder; even in this blog today, there is griping about the bench. Some weeks ago, before Mercer “ascended to the starter”, as a “bench player” he was put in the lineup, got three hits and next game was benched for Barmes who collected 0.

    Just in the last week JHay, another bench player, was in the lineup and got three hits and next day was benched, then Fort played against Miami got four hits and was benched maybe because of the knee?

    My point is – and I am very happy to lay this on the snake oil salesman CH – if your bench gets in a game and is hot, why immediately relegate him back to the bench? Stay with the hot hand just to see if that one day can be repeated. Who knows?

    For all of you who idolize CH, these are incompetent and unwise decisions. But as you know, he has made numerous silly moves with his pinch-hitting decisions, “need” to bunt, etc.

    Just my opinion, so don’t lay all of the blame on NH.

    I repulse at CH’s post-game pressers where he fires baseball lingo, clichés, adages and all of the right words at the questions, but chokes in the game.

    He is way over-rated. And you’ll see several “panic” moves starting tonight.

    I resent CH for his insistence on keeping Leyva at third, for over-using Barmes, for needlessly replacing Jones with Gaby, for his naivete in playing Snider and not trying Presley, for his blindness about Tabata’s lack of ability, for not using JHay’s hustle more (as well as Presley), for not having his batting coach or himself teach just where the strike zone is, for not demanding patience at the plate, for keeping Marte at leadoff amid this strike out epidemic he is in, etc., etc., etc.

    Fear not, CH will find a way to get us out of the playoffs.

  27. It says above that I have a comment awaiting moderation. I get it, I’m new here.

  28. The great NMR has said it on several occasions: This blog is at its happiest when the Pirates stink.

    • More to b*tch about ;)

      • They have the third best record in baseball, and if there has been any falloff in the griping I have failed to notice it.

        Some people are only happy when they are miserable.

    • And what do you say to Pirate fans who passionately want the team to improve?

    • I just learned yesterday that the Pirates strike out a lot, and today that Clint stinks.

      :-)

    • “The great NMR?” C’mon, Osh! I was trying to eat a bagel.

      Just kidding, NMR. Saw an opening and seized.

    • Man. alk about a fan base teetering on the verge of a mental break down. Everyone is on pins and needles after a sub par performance against the Fish. I get it.

      But we are just finding everything possible to complain about today. Can we at least wait and see for a couple weeks here how things go before we all start running for cover from the debris caused by a Pirates collapse? I get July was not a great month. I also think the Bucs are way under performing right now. Nowhere to go but up. Walker has shown some signs of life as has Jones. Get marte out of this funk and things will get a little better here. Would still love to have a bench bat. Or even an everyday right fielder.

      It does bother me that we are starting to see the same excuses again though. Asking prices too high. No one wants to trade. blah blah blah. Heard it last year too. And some of that is true. But keep asking Neil. Prices go down as the deadline nears.

      As for being “underwhelmed.” This of all years I don’t think being “underwhelmed” is necessarilly a bad thing since I am not expecting a whole lot. I mean anything is an upgrade in right field right now. And bench bats should be able to be had for a dime a dozen here. The good news is the Bucs shopping list shouldn’t cost a mint to begine with unlike the past couple years where they were worried about 2 or three STARTING positions that would have cost a ton to fix and instead they had to resort to throwing a bunch of reclaimation projects and “blocked” prospects at the wall and hoping one sticks.

      • Hey AJS, how are ya? I like to complain on Mondays, Mondays suck :)

        One thing I will say tho, is I feel Marte should sit a game or two. Focus on concentration. Quit chasing those friggin outside pitches. I can’t fix the line-up, tho, so don’t ask me to lol.

        Our Buccos will be fine. But I’ll still be biting my nails (figuratively) of course when they aren’t doing so well.

        • I’ll be there with you. I’m not to the point of panic yet though that a lot seem to be today. Talk to me on Friday morning after the Cards series ends and we’ll re-evaluate that.

          Oh and my nail biting is likely to be more than figurative.

          As for Marte, i agree he needs a day or two off to go on that little hitting clinic that Clint through Barmes, baraja, and Pedro into last year for a while. The effects seemed to be temproary but they all came back mashing for a good week or two. Who have to think for someone of Marte’s skill set the effects would last a little bit longer at least.

      • “Man. alk about a fan base teetering on the verge of a mental break down. Everyone is on pins and needles after a sub par performance against the Fish. I get it.”

        Can’t entirely blame folks for being on pins and needles. It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had anything worth rooting for, and it’s really hard to preach patience to folks who have already waited so long. Nevertheless, I say try to be patient, and please don’t sacrifice the next 20 years by going overboard trying to improve the current team.

  29. ***ATTENTION***
    New posters and lurkers, we want to chat with you!
    Bizrow keeps a list of all us loonies in Dejan’s Lunatics’ Asylum. It you post your hometown, we’ll add it.
    Don’t be shy, we don’t bite! :)

  30. Has anyone mentioned that there is a rumor out there that AFraud and the budmeister are negotiating on a suspension for AF? All of this year and all of next year, but then he will not be banned for life?

    Take two years off? He’ll never be back.

    • I hope he never comes back. Loser.

      • +

        • AROD wants one thing… the $60M or so remaining on his contract. The Yankees want on thing…for ARod never to play for them again and to collect insurance on this season and next season’s salary. MLB wants one thing…BLOOD.

          I’d expect Arod to be fighting hard to plea his deal to work the suspension down some and offer to retire… maybe settle with the Yanks on what is left after the suspensions…..

    • Brian Cashman’s fingers are crossed….

      • The Steinbrenner boys are salivating at the thought of saving all that stupid Pay-Rod money.

        BTW, the Yankees had their 2nd sellout of the season yesterday. I watched a lot of baseball yesterday. Michael Kay said that. He’s a good announcer, btw. Very honest. Said the only reason the Yankees sold out was the return of Jeter and the retirement for the Japanese OF. I think they need money. A bit over-extended, shall we say.

  31. TIgers just picked up Jose Veras from Stros,

  32. I didn’t mean any of what I said, just wanted to see if you’re paying attention – and awake

    Well, continue to stay alert

  33. I heard a stat last night on the Cards-Braves game. If the Cards were to go hitless in their next 238 at bats with RISP, they would still have the highest avg. in the league with RISP. The all-time record for a season for a team hitting with RISP is something like .308. The Cards are at .337, I think.

    I know St. Louis is a very good hitting team. But, if anyone doesn’t think they are catching a few breaks on offense, I’ll eat my hat. Wait … I ate that last Thursday when JHay went all Hank Aaron on the Nats.

    My point is, let’s not accept that the Pirates are lucky to be where they are but St. Louis is not catching a break or two along the way.

    • Great point Jim…..baseball is a funny game.

    • Any team that is hitting .330 with runners in scoring position is catching a TON of breaks.

      To bring back a word from earlier in the season, such a pace is unsustainable. It borders on the miraculous that they’ve kept it up this long.

      • The Cards are also relying on a lot of young pitchers who have never completed seasons at the major league level as well as a first-time closer that is pitching way above his pedigree…. they also have not had a slump this year…they are GOOD, to be sure, just not THIS GOOD>

  34. Anyone seen any lists of 3rd base coaches available ?

  35. Ok, trade deadline thoughts on a trade-deadline-is-coming-up-Wednesday Monday (these are moves I’d make if I was GM)….

    * Take on as much salary as possible (in the deals made). I know this has to come with an OK from the owner, but I’d try and make it a possibility. By taking on salary (and we know the Pirates have room to do so), it allows you to pay less in terms of prospects.

    * A starting pitcher is a must with no real positive news towards Wandy’s return. I would still go after Phil Hughes from the Yankees. He’s being shopped, so he could be had for a decent price. He’s also pitched very well away from The New Yankee Stadium (this year), and could be a guy that needs a change of scenery to the NL.

    * I’d make 2 deals with the Philadelphia Phillies. I’d acquire Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Utley would be a rental (as he’s a free agent after this year and I wouldn’t look to resign him) and could play 1B, 2B and DH in AL parks. Rollins has 1 year (and an option) left [after this season]. He would fill the need for a starting SS. That would push Mercer to the bench, and designate Barmes.

    * If you make the deal with the Phillies, I’d start Utley at 1B (and platoon him with Gaby) and push Garrett to RF (and platoon him with Tabata). That’d give you a starting lineup of Russell Martin-C, Chase Utley-1B, Neil Walker-2B, Jimmy Rollins-SS, Pedro Alvarez-3B, Starling Marte-LF, Andrew McCutchen-CF, Garrett Jones-RF with a bench of Tony Sanchez (or McKenry; I’d designate McKenry evemn with his 4-5 against the Marlins), Gaby Sanchez, Jordy Mercer, Jose Tabata and *Travis Snider (I’d ideally like to acquire an OF bat for the bench (Schierholtz maybe?) but right now Snider is the option unless he stays on the DL, then I’d go with Presley).

    * Even with Grilli out 4-8 weeks with the flexor strain, I still don’t think the Pirates need to acquire a bullpen arm. Yes, if the right deal is available then you make it, but there’s no need to overpay with the quality of arms we have in AA and AAA. Jameson Taillon could pitch in the bullpen in a pennant race (for example). You’re already seeing Vic Black.

    To summarize: I see the biggest needs as starting pitcher and bench help. I acquire Phil Hughes from the Yankees to fill the need for a starting pitcher. I acquire Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies to improve the bench (see rationale above; Utley in platoon role w/ Gaby Sanchez and Rollins pushes Mercer to bench. It pushes Garrett Jones to RF so there’s no need to acquire a starting RFer). I’d also kick the tires on Nate Schierholtz (although, not going to overpay the Cubs). The biggest thing is to take on as much salary as possible in these deals (with owner approval) to try and mitigate the cost of prospects (I’m like other GMs in baseball; I value my top prospects very much so).

    I AM THE ULTIMATE ARM CHAIR GM! I AM THE BEST MANAGEMENT TEAM IN THE INTERNET!

    Have a good 1 all! Let’s Go Bucs! Beat dem Redbirds!

    :-)

    • yeah but can you coach 3rd base???? :P :P

    • I like Hughes as well, Nater. I think we would get a better pitcher than his AL stats show. But, the Yankees probably want help now, right? I wonder what we’d have to give up? They need pop badly.

      • So which one of our currently above average starting pitchers (all five of them) gets demoted on the off chance that Phil Hughes improves after leaving the AL East?

        • i agree with thsi. I made the argument a while back that when Wandy comes bac I would send down Cole to let him work on developing his pitches since in reality his ERA and “liklihood to win” isn’t that much better than Charlie or Jenny. But with no signs of Wandy coming back soon, I don’t mess with that starting 5. Morton had a rough go the other day but the infield has to do a better job for him when e’s pitching. A couple errors hurt the other night.

        • Which one gets demoted when Wandy comes back? It’s the same issue.

          I want insurance.

          As Milo notes below, he can pitch in the bullpen.

          • It is the same question with different implications. IF Wandy comes back you make room for him in the rotation and no one is sent packing from teh franshise at any level. Addition without subtraction.

            If you trade for a Hughes then you have a situation of giving someone up just because a guy who has been injured for some time now, and hasn’t been all that missed may not be coming back. So you give up some young players that could be either A) Used in a more important deal or B) mke a real contribution to the big club some day all because you paniced and were worried about pitching depth.

            In the case where Wandy doesn’t come back and one of the starters gets hurt, I’m OK with 5 innings of Jenny and the current make up of the bull pen.

            • I don’t think it’s panicking to acquire more depth when AJ, Wandy, Charlie & Francisco have all spent time on the DL this season (with Wandy still there). Not to mention James McDonald and Jeff Karstens who are there for the rest of the season. I think even Jeanmar Gomez had a stint on the DL this year.

              Injuries happen. And they’re going to happen down the stretch.

              • Sure. But if more then one of those guys gets hurt and any given point in time then I don’t think it matters who you bring in. You aren’t going to bring in a guy who is a decenst starter and stash him in the pen just in case. I can’t think of a whole lot of teams that carry 7 startig pitchers on the active roster.

                It is definitely true that there is not a lot in the cupboard healthy in AAA but there is enough there to limp into the play-offs where you only are going to typically use 4 guys anyway.

        • A large % of pitchers appear to improve after going from the AL East to the NL, NMR. And, if they go to Pittsburgh, their numbers may improve even moreso. Park factors come into play, I would say. And AJ was not very good as a Yankee, so we have some evidence there.

          My thought on Hughes is that if they eventually pull the plug on Cole due to innings increase vs. PY, which might be looming even though it has not been brought up lately, and Wandy continues to have soreness, do we really have 5 above average starting pitchers? I think Hughes would fare better in PNC than in the AL East and Yankee Stadium, as AJ did/does.

          I still don’t think the Yankees are a trade fit. And I don’t think starting pitching is our biggest need necessarily (Cole innings are the wild card), but I think there would be a good chance Hughes’ numbers would improve.

          • It was a simple question, Jim.

            I’ll repeat: which one of our currently above average starting pitchers (all five of them) gets demoted on the off chance that Phil Hughes improves after leaving the AL East?

            • Read my comment below. Phil Hughes is a better pitcher than Charlie Morton, and always has been. Performance-wise, health-wise, you name it. Charlie Morton has had one decent season, and he gets hurt a lot. But, I am ok with Charlie continuing this year. I am pointing out that Hughes is better because he is better.

              Hughes would be great if/when Cole gets pulled for innings. If Cole is not getting pulled for innings, then I would not advocate going after Hughes. In fact, I did not advocate it in the first place. All I did was agree with Nate that I like Hughes, but that we don’t match up with the Yankees.

              • Thank you.

                And you’re right.

                Phil Hughes has had many more mediocre seasons than harlie Morton.

                Where do I sign?

              • We are still talking about the same Phile Hughes who landed on the Disabled List in ’07, ’08, ’11, ’12, and ’13 right?

            • He started 29 games in 2010. Started 32 last year (2012). Started 20 games this year.

              He’s only a rental for the rest of the season (unless you look to resign him; he’s eligible for free agency next season).

              I think it’s naive to think the Pirates couldn’t use another SP. Hughes is the best name on the market right now, and wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg (just an arm probably).

              As Jim points out though, it looks like the Pirates aren’t great fits to trade with the Yankees, as they need offensive help (and the Pirates can’t afford to trade any).

          • Don’t start making an issue of Cole’s innings when no one has ever mentioned it would be an issue. It is his rookie year yes, but he isn’t coming off of any type of surgery that dictates an inning count like Strasburgs. If they decide to limit his innings it will likely be through pitching him no more than 5 or 6 innings per game or monitoring his pitch count in the 80 pitch range or so. Either way I don’t think he is getting “shut down.” At that point the concern becomes injury which I think jenny can handle.

            • Well, for prized rookies, innings usually become an issue AJS. I think one thing that weighs in Cole’s favor is that he has been fairly efficient. He gets through his 6 or 7 innings in under 100 pitches. So, maybe they are looking not just at innings, but at stress and workload within the starts. He had one long inning yesterday, but got out of innings efficiently otherwise.

      • NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

        Please, trust me on the Yankee guys. I didn’t steer you wrong on AJ or Martin did I ?

        • I want Phil Hughes so that he can make my boy Charlie Morton look good at preventing homeruns.

          • He’s a relief pitcher. That’s all.

          • So, you don’t think the short porch at Yankee Stadium has anything to do with that?

            Hughes this year:

            6.02 ERA at home vs. 3.02 on road
            14 HR at home vs. 6 on road.

            Career:

            4.84 ERA at home vs. 3.95 on road
            73 HR at home vs. 35 (in 362 innings) on road.

            Phil Hughes, like all Yankees righty pitchers, has a difficult homefield disadvantage vs. lefty hitters.

            Phil Hughes also faces 9 hitters pretty much every game. In the NL, he would face 7 or 8, at most. We often hear about the wonderful emotional transformations that pitchers make when changing from AL to NL. I would say that usually it is just going to the NL that is the biggest factor. When you also throw in leaving Yankee Stadium’s RF behind, that is a double whammy of good fortune.

            • “Phil Hughes, like all Yankees righty pitchers, has a difficult homefield disadvantage vs. lefty hitters.”

              You have seen PNC Park before, correct?

              • Yep, once or twice. I would say, ask AJ about the differences in fields. Short porch to RF in PNC, but with a very high wall. It is a good HR field. But, PNC gets back to average HR friendliness quickly in RC, I would say. I think Yankee Stadium stays HR friendly, whether by distance or wind pattern or something, farther to RC than PNC. Whatever the case, Yankee Stadium is an extreme hitter’s park to RF/RC. Did you see Jeter’s pop fly HR yesterday? Have you see all the pop fly HRs he has hit there in his career?

                There are a couple of things at work. The first is that it is obviously easier to pitch to NL lineups than AL lineups. I think the last 40 years have proven that. The second is that Phil Hughes is not unusual as a RHP giving up a lot more HR and runs in Yankee Stadium than on the road. He has given up nearly 70% of his HR at home in similar # of innings. More than a coincidence.

                Sometimes the reality does not fit the narrative. You say that a lot, NMR. The narrative is Hughes is not a good pitcher. I have not watched many of his starts, but the data suggests otherwise. He’s a pretty good pitcher, and has been pretty consistent. I think he would be better in the NL.

              • “He’s a pretty good pitcher, and has been pretty consistent.”

                Why are we in the market for pretty good pitchers again?

              • Depth.

                That has major league experience.

                And a decent track record.

              • Improving depth for the POSSIBILITY of an injury while making the rotation worse RIGHT NOW is the definition of outsmarting yourself.

              • “Improving depth for the POSSIBILITY of an injury while making the rotation worse RIGHT NOW is the definition of outsmarting yourself.”

                1) Contingency plan. As we know, the best laid plans of mice and men….

                2) How is it making the rotation worse right now? Removing Morton (he’d be the odd man out in the scenario; unless you sent Cole back to AAA or to the ‘pen)? As you know, I like Charlie, but he’s not exactly Cy Young. And I think you get the same production from Hughes that you would Morton.

              • Hughes is being treated like the shiny new toy on Christmas morning.

                Only exciting because it’s different.

              • Look what I started with this Phil Hughes stuff.

                I don’t even think he’s a target the Pirates are considering.

                Just who I’d consider.

                I guess it’s safe to say if I were GM, you would not be a fan of my moves.

              • STINKS.

              • That’s a bit of an over-reaction.

                AVERAGE

                is more like it.

            • Road ERA, by year:

              ’13: 3.02
              ’12: 4.76
              ’11: 4.14
              ’10: 3.47

              • Yeah, under 4.00 overall. An AL pitcher under 4.00 is pretty good. Never said he was great.

                Charlie Morton’s career ERA is about 5.00 – and he can’t be counted on to stay healthy. I am hopeful he is over the hump on both counts. But, Hughes has been better so far.

              • Hughes has been hurt more than Morton, Jim.

                And until Charlie goes back to throwing over the top, using pre-2011 stats mean nothing to me.

              • Hughes is 27 and has pitched 747 innings and given up 736 hits. He has a 3.95 career home ERA. He gives up less than half the HR at home than on the road (35/73), even though he has pitched more home innings in his career. His road ERA is approx. one full pt. below his career ERA (4.84 to 3.95). He pitches in the AL.

                Charlie Morton, who has more apologists than any pitcher I can ever recall, is 29 and has pitched 516 innings with 586 hits given up. He has given up 19 HR at home and 28 on the road – yeah, amazing, isn’t it? He has a career 4.24 home ERA and 5.57 on the road, with a combined 4.94 – worse than Hughes at home or road while facing easier lineups. Charlie should than his lucky stars he gets to pitch in a pitcher’s park.

                Hughes is better and younger. I have hopes that everyone who advocates so strongly for Charlie year after year is eventually correct. I have nothing against him, and was a big proponent of him for years. If everyone is correct that he is changed, I’ll be thrilled. But, the evidence from past years does not support it. He has been pretty good in most starts this year. I hope it keeps up.

              • There it is!

                Finally got Jim to lose his cool with his first “apologist” crack. Welcome to the blog!

              • I must have missed the part where I lost my cool. I read all the time from people here and elsewhere that Charlie is unlucky and never catches a break, etc. You don’t have the market cornered on that theory, NMR. You are in good company there, I think.

                I try to argue my points factually. Sometimes, I am right and sometimes I am wrong. And sometimes I’m sure I do advocate positions with my heart rather than my head, but I try not to. I try to admit it when I am wrong. I try not to take anything personally as long as other people act the same way.

              • It was a compliment, Jim. First time I’ve ever seen you come close to getting personal (“apologist” isn’t usually a term of endearment).

                I just think that calling other people apologists while trying to put liptstick on Phil Hughes might be the definition of irony.

              • Jim, NMR is the Master Baitor ( I mean that in a non-sexual way and totally fun). Consider yourself caught at taking the bait ;)

              • Yes, I know that Jandy. Thanks for the heads up.

                I don’t have any issues with NMR. He argues great points, and knows his stuff. No worries here.

              • Awww c’mon Jim, I was jabbing at NMR, and you took the wind outta my sails. I like NMR too, he’s an Engineer tho, so I gotta get him every now and then ;)

              • Your sails still have plenty of wind behind them all on their own, Jandy.

              • Looks like I picked a good time to get some work done!

                Jandy keeps me honest. I’m staying clear of her size 9′s from now on. :)

    • *enters “Force Trade” mode*

      • They gotta do something. I’ve thought about standing pat b/c the trade market looks so disgusting right now. Plus add in the fact that I think our pitching (barring more injury) will be very good all year. But, not to say losing 2 of 3 to the Marlins “put me over the edge”, it clearly shows that this team could use reinforcements.

        • I think it showed that the Marlins have the best or 2nd best young pitcher in the league in Fernandez, and that the kid who pitched on Friday is also very good. That team did a number on St. Louis in St. Louis recently. The Marlins are on the rise.

          That points to another situation where a team gave up just about their whole system in a “go for broke” moment. That team is Toronto. I like the Marlins’ immediate future a whole lot more than Toronto’s right now.

    • Has Utley played some 1st or is that strictly an “anyone can man the bag” kind of move? Does it create a big defensive liability there?

    • Nate,
      I didn’t read your entire post, but this certainly jumped out at me.

      I’d acquire Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.

      Can you tell me who exactly you would trade to Philly to get these two player.

      And I’m sure you read all the baseball news I do, so you know Amaro really wants to keep Utley as a Philly for the remainder of his career. So if Utley is traded to any team at the deadline, I will be you a beverage of your choice at PNC Park.

      • Again, these are just hypotheticals that I think would ideally help the Pirates, all things being equal.

        Basically, any player from the minor leagues is on the table not named Taillon, Polonco or Hansen (and depending on the deal, I may make exception…for example, if you traded for Stanton of the Marlins and they wanted Polonco, I’d absolutely include him (maybe Taillon too)).

        I think Amaro wanting to keep Utley is either a ruse to try and create value (as he’s only got half a year left on his contract and will be 36 or 37 next year) or is extremely foolish in keeping together an aging core of players the keep regressing.

    • Rollins was quoted in Philly.com yesterday as saying he will not accept a trade anywhere.

      • Obviously these are just hypotheticals. If Jimmy wants to stay in Philadelphia and finish 10 games under .500 and basically “play out the string” for the rest of the season, that’s his choice.

        I’d still enquire about him though and see if I could work out the deal and convince him to come to Pit for a playoff push.

  36. Flawed hitting approach.

    The bmtib seems to be teaching that batters should look for a specific pitch in a specific location. But other teams have reams of “tendencies” also. They know what locations to avoid. So the Bucs end up taking way too many strikes, and probably face more 0-2 counts than any other team.

    What ever happened to “See the ball – hit the ball”?

    IMHO hitting is reactive rather than cerebral.

    Not sure who is responsible for current “philosophy”? I’m betting it’s not necessarily the hitting coach.

    Stuart

    • The management team has nothing to do with teaching hitters how to hit. And the coaches who do the teaching don’t swing a bat. Pedro Alvarez looks at more strikes and swings and misses more than most anyone in the big leagues. Yeah, that’s on the coaches.

    • Switch “bmtib” to “every team in baseball” and your first sentence is still correct.

      You’re essentially advocating our hitters swing at pitches opposing pitchers WANT them to swing at. Because they’re good pitches.

      • No, I’m saying they should be able to hit a strike instead of waiting for a specific pitch in a specific location.

        When I played, I couldn’t hit a high and tight (but still a strike) fast ball to save my a$$. So I wouldn’t swing at that one unless I had two strikes. Even then, I tried to spoil it rather than hit it solidly.

        When our BMTIB talks about “plate discipline” I think it mostly translates to “take until you get a strike”. I have no actual statistics for this, but it’s my impression that our hitters face more 0-2 counts than other teams.

        I’ll bet some of you remember Roberto sticking out his butt and extending his arms to hit a pitch outside the strike zone. He, and some other “bad-ball hitters on past teams, could hit the ball hard no matter where it was pitched.

        I just think we pass up too many hittable balls.

        Stuart

    • The Bucs take more first strike than I have ever seen. That is teener league nonsense. The reason to take a first strike is to show that you are going to be patient and make them come to you. In teener ball this is great as pitchers do’t have the pin poit control that these big leaguers have. You draw more walks, get more base runners and see more pitches in the zone to hit.

      In the bigs if they know you are taking a strike no matter what they just have to throw it outer third and then they are in control. Total BS strategy in the bigs. remember how whn Clint came over we all thought the offense would take of because of what he did with the Rangers? Even with out the star power the rangers had his presence had to have an effetct right?

      My thought is that he is not near as involved with hitting instruction as he could or even should be. When he pulls guys from the line up for a couple days to work intensively on hitting they come back with some spark. Why can’ a little bit of that instruction be part of everyone’s every day routine? There is enough hitting talent on this team that is under performing that someting has to change.

      • As I said, I watched a lot of baseball yesterday. Here’s a little nugget I got from the Cards-Atlanta game:

        Freddie Freeman of the Braves swings at 44% of first pitches.

        Anyone want to guess as to whether that is a high rate or low rate?

        • I believe it’s the highest in baseball, is it not? I thought I heard this stat from ESPN when the Braves were on their national broadcast a little while back.

          • I think they said he is about 4th, Nate. The point is most players take the first pitch nowadays on most at bats.

            I think they want to see if they can: a) get ahead in the count; and b) have longer at bats, because they are instructed that getting rid of most starting pitchers early is a good thing overall.

        • I’m not advocating for swinging at every first pitch. If it is a marginal pitch or a definitive ball then of course you don’t swing at it. I just know there are tiems where it looks like the first strike thrown to a batter on 0-0 or 1-0 counts for Pittsburgh are fastballs between the knees and belt that are outer half. That isn’t a strike you can let go like that all the time. Walker, Cutch, Jones, Gabby, Martin. I see it from every one of them. And Pedro, well who knows what Pedro is doing half the time. Belt high heat goes past for strike one, then he swings at everything that is outer half and down or even way out of the zone and down.

          Be selective sure, but when I see strike one at the belt and swinging strike three on a pitch that darn near bounces on the plate it just gets tiresome.

          • I agree with you on this, AJS. They don’t have to all be so predictable. What works for one guy might not work for others.

          • Cutch, Jones, Gaby, Martin, and Pedro all struggle with balls on the outer half.

            Pitchers throw them pitches there for a reason.

            Take that pitch for a strike and you still get two more.

            Swing at that pitch making weak contact and your at-bat is done.

            • This i a fair point. They just look so juicy sittin there though. That is the pitch I used to like to drive to the opposite gap. And at least in McCutchen’s case it seems like he at least used to like to do that too. No he’s pull happy and struggles with that pitch.

              • I do get your point, though.

                Ben Zobrist gave one of the best explanations on this topic I’ve ever heard. The gist of it is that there is not one right answer. Pitchers will always adjust, so the hitter better as well.

      • + many. Too much teener league philosophy.

        Stuart

  37. Fire them all!!!

    Oops….am I too early?

  38. So far, this has been the most boring trade deadline ever.

  39. d make 2 deals with the Philadelphia Phillies. I’d acquire Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Utley would be a rental (as he’s a free agent after this year and I wouldn’t look to resign him) and could play 1B, 2B and DH in AL parks. Rollins has 1 year (and an option) left [after this season]. He would fill the need for a starting SS. That would push Mercer to the bench, and designate Barmes.

    Are you nuts?..Rollins is done and no way any one takes him in baseball with a brain with that contract. Utley will be extended by the Phillies.

    • Rollins has a no trade clause.
      Rollins isn’t going anywhere.

      • Utley and Rollins will remain in Philly. Charlie Manual will be gone at end of season…and this team will not contend until 2016 at the earliest, if they don’t start the purge soon.

        • Whoever replaces Charlie Manual will be heralded as a genius if he can simply cobble together an intelligible sentence from time to time.

          I know the players always love Charlie, and I recognzie there is a ton of merit to that. But, he is painful on my ears.

    • Teams have been informed that Utley is off the market and the Phillies are looking to extend him.

    • Rollins has 1 year [after this year] left at about 11million (that was the avg. of the contract (3yrs/$33mil)) after this season.

      For a starting veteran SS in the MLB, that’s about going rate.

      Would you say Clint Barmes is worth the $5mil he is making? I’d say not, but that’s market value. You could do much MUCH worse as a starting SS in MLB than Rollins.

      As far as Utley being extended by the Phillies, that’s their mistake then. If they give him 2-3 more years, they’re just prolonging the inevitable. Personally, I think Amaro is trying to create a bit of value for Utley (as being a rental and 36 years old, there’s not a huge amount of value for the team trading for Utley), but also working on an extension b/c he refuses to give his young player Cesar Hernandez a shot at the fulltime 2B job.

      Again, though, those were just deals I would make if all things were equal. Not taking into account Rollins saying he won’t waive the no-trade of Amaro saying Utley is off-limits.

      Most likely neither of those deals (or the deal I suggested for Phil Hughes) will happen. I was simply playing arm chair GM (of which I am #1 in the internet!)

      BMTII.

  40. OK gotta get some crappy paperwork done. Catch ya’ll later on.
    be good ;)

  41. Where is Zane Smith for Moises Alou when you need it?

  42. BTW, if Gaby didn’t cut the ball on Jones throw to the plate, we nail Stanton by 5 feet. As I stated yesterday IMO, Stanton is very slow and that play should have been a no-brainer, especially if Martin didn’t yell CUT.

  43. Is that lack of preparation, or player indisgression?

  44. Did anyone see that Brian Cashman told the media that he did not want Soriano but was overruled by Hank Steinbrenner ?

    The best reality show on television.

    • Yeah, that was a riot.

    • Don Corleone: [dismissive] I have a sentimental weakness for my children and I spoil them, as you can see. They talk when they should listen. Anyway, Signor Sollozzo, my no to you is final. I want to congratulate you on your new business and I’m sure you’ll do very well and good luck to you. Especially since your interests don’t conflict with mine. Thank you.
      [Sollozzo leaves]
      Don Corleone: Santino, come here.
      Don Corleone: What’s the matter with you? I think your brain is going soft with all that comedy you are playing with that young girl. Never tell anyone outside the Family what you are thinking again. Go on.

    • Every guy named Soriano. The Steinbrothers want them, Cashman doesn’t.

    • I didn’t see that. Can you imagine having to accept being overruled in your job – a job you have prepared your whole career for – by the whims of Hank Steinbrenner? Well, I guess he does get paid a couple $mil per year for that privilege. So, there’s that.

  45. Some people in here have been asking when bartolo Colon is going to get his biogenesis punishment. The word around the league is apparently that Bartolo will not be punished for the new Biogenesis information because it is likely that his involvment with Biogenesis is what lead to his failed test and the 50 game ban he already has served. The evidence is from teh same time frame so they are considering it new evidence in an old case that a verdict was already handed down in. No double jeopady in PEDs.

    If that is the case i can see not suspending him.

  46. Meeting Johnny Manziel for lunch. Should be back by Thanksgiving.

  47. Everyone knows Jones can’t hit lefties well but should a 27 HR guy only have 18 plate appearances against lefties after 103 games?

    If you go back to 2010 before they decided it was foolish for him to even hit against a LHP he hit .220 with 6 HR’s and an OPS of .621.

    Tababta still has an OBP of .325. He is their best RF option. I don’t want to see them make a move for a Pence or a Rios type. If you make a move it has to be for a difference maker not a “sort of an upgrade we think” type of player.

    • Pence and Rios are both upgrades to Tabata. Same obp, but with much more power. Corner OF has to bring some pop to the lineup. Tabata brings none.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think either one would cure what ails this lineup. But they’d both be upgrades to Tabata.

      • I think they are both upgrades to Tabata as well, patton. But, are they upgrades to Tabata + a decent lefty bat?

    • “If you go back to 2010 before they decided it was foolish for him to even hit against a LHP he hit .220 with 6 HR’s and an OPS of .621.”

      You’ve just proven why they decided it was foolish for him to hit against LHP.

      That line is barely passable for a shortstop, let alone a 1B or RF.

      • Do you want to examine platoon splits for the “Pittsburgh Kid” (.190 0 HR’s) or Pedro (.225 and 3 HR’s). I don’t see either of them getting lifted in the 7th inning so McHenry or Harrison can pinch hit for them.

        Garrett Jones is the Max Starks of the Pirates. The Pirates don’t want him but they can’t figure out his replacement.

        • So your argument is to bat Garrett Jones against lefties, even though he sucks, because two other Pirates bat against lefties and also suck?

          • my point is how do you constantly hit for Jones with worse hitters because they want to protect him from lefties.

            he had a good 2012 and management would still not prefer to have him on the team.

        • A lot of us have said it is time to platoon Neil, John. Many have suggested the same for Pedro. This is a flawed offensive team, for sure.

  48. 461 comments at noon, and the worlds problems still arent resolved.

    We need to fire people.

    And be underwhelmed. ;)

      • Welcome back.

        I say we make YOU GM. I would have much faith in you.
        With the help of some posters here, of course.

      • Welcome back.

        I say we make YOU GM. I would have much faith in you.
        With the help of some posters here, of course.

        • ehhh..l’d sit Marte and Walker, then someone would have to fire ME ;)

          • Not a chance.

            You are our Director of Blessed Miracles. ;)

            Speaking of which…….. I asked Lucky to bless the animals like they do at some Catholic churches, he said he couldnt do it.

            I am asking you to bless the animals (especially Hippos).

            And…….. havent seen Lucky recently.

            • I was asking after Spunky up ^^ there when Stormy Pimento’s name came up. Where is he???

              Speaking of animals, hubby and I were walking our Pitt/lab mix and our full blooded pitt at Canoe Creek State Park Saturday morning. Both are always on leashes. Some moron with 4 dogs…and NO LEASHES came down the same trail. 3 were small mixed breed mutts, but the fourth was a german shepherd…and it attached our 12 year old pitt/lab mix. Within seconds our Abbott had the shepherd down and clamped on and wasn’t letting go. After about 2 minutes of commanding him to stop (he refused) I went around behind him and pulled his tail until his hind legs were in the air…still didn’t stop. SO I had to use drastic measures…I kicked him in his PUD sack 3 times and he finally let go. I AM prayin for that shepherd. I do believe his wounds were mostly superficial, but he had a long 4″ tear in his hide. Definitely needed stitches. I started to berate the owner, but hubby butted in and told him to get his dogs and f**kin leave.
              Not a good Saturday morning.
              So, yes, I will pray for ALL animals, Hippos included.

              • Sorry to hear that.

                I hope your dogs, his dogs, and Lucky are ok.
                Not calling Lucky a dog…………………

              • Well, I wanted to punch the owner in the face, but I had to hold my other pitt back, you know ;)

                Yeah I dunno where SPunky is….miss him tho!

              • Hopefully I will see you and some others in the game thread tonight.

                Until then……….. underwhelmingly later !!!! ;)

              • Later on Hipposter! :*

              • Jandy, AKA The Dog Whisperer.

              • LOL Jim. had to think of something…fast! Abbott wasn’t letting go.
                I love animals, and hate to see any dog hurt because of it’s owner’s stupidity.

          • Wait a minute; you declared your next purchase of a jersey will be #6.

            Oh I get it – it’s in honor of Stan “The Man” Musial

  49. Good day all…

    Happy Pi$$ and Moan Monday. Can’t wait for the Pirates to win so we can complain about how they win!

  50. I read that the SF Giants nixed a trade for Pence to us a few weeks ago but since they’re doing so poorly maybe we nab him.

    I also read that they could be in need of pitching so if we dealt Stolmy for Pence, would everyone be all up in arms about it? I know I might be in the minority but we have to get someone and in order to do so, we got to part with someone.

    • The end of my last sentence was supposed to be, “we got to part with someone to get someone.”

    • I’d be thrilled on that one, Dom. But, they would want a lot more. If NH can slide that one through after the deadline, he is GM of the year. Stolmy was had for next to nothing by us last off-season. He has pitched well, but I doubt he has the value to other teams that he has here right now.

  51. go.com/espn.mlb/story/_/id/9518562/milwaukee-brewers-distribute-10-vouchers-august-games

  52. As to the 5-game series vs. STL, that starts in about 6 hours… for some perspective:

    Right now the Bucs trail STL by 1.5 games (thanks Braves for sweeping the Cards in ATL, makes the sweep we suffered in June not look so bad)…..

    If STL sweeps, we’d trail by 6.5 games.
    If STL wins 4-1, we’d trail by 4.5 games
    If STL wins 3-2, we’d trail by 2.5 games.
    If PIT wins 3-2 we’d trail by .5 games.
    If PIT wins 4-1, we’d LEAD by 1.5 games.
    If PIT sweeps, we’d LEAD by 3.5 games.

    If is HIGHLY unlikely one team will sweep the series, the DH is difficult for any team to win both ends….. I’d put my money on 3-2 one way or the other….which means this ‘biggest series ever’ really would only move the standings ONE GAME.

    It is a BIG series, no doubt… but it will only be a BIG impact if one team goes 4-1 or better….and I wouldn’t bet on that, either direction.

    Let’s go Bucs…prove me wrong…take 4 of 5!!

    STL goes to Cincy after this series, always great when the other 2 contenders play each other….and I think the Dodgers vs STL coming up soon as well.

    • good way to look at it cmat…but I still want to win as many as we can :)

      • IMO as they are home games, anything less than 3 of 5 would be a loss/a bummer

        • well I see this in 2 stages:

          Win TWO to quiet the “COLLAPSE III” crapola….

          Win THREE and you are ‘taking care of business’ at home… win FOUR and you take the division lead and spark the rest of the fan base that has been not activated yet…… win FIVE and it’s off the charts!

          I’ll most definitely take 3… but first I want that collapse crap to quiet down.

          • Its a big series, but its still July

            I honestly haven’t seen the collapse stuff mentioned today

            That being said, you aren’t the first one to voice that concern though.

            Many miles still to go in this season, no matter what happens these next few days. Of course a RedBird sweep could torch things though division chanp wise

            • that dreaded “C” word hasn’t come up a whole lot…once in a while. But you’re right, Biz, I didn’t see it today.

              But it sure would be sweet to beat the RedBirds 5 out of 5…

              • I do think the Collapse 3 talk is pretty rare around these parts now. It is more of the “do something to ensure we have a legit shot at a WS run” variety, IMO.

      • Been gone all weekend. Looks like the bats have, too, except Sat.

        We need some sticks to support this excellent pitching, which is the understatement of the season.

        Nine runs allowed in 3 games and we lose 2 of them.

        Atrocious.

    • Good analysis, cmat. It would be nice to win tonight. Then if the Pirates split the doubleheader tomorrow (which is plausible), then they only have to win one of the next two to split the series. If the Pirates lose tonight, then they have to win 3 of 4, a tougher task.

  53. Our collective prayers have been answered!!!

    Jason Bay has been DFA’d by Seattle……

  54. Also read on ESPN that the WhiteSox want two top prospects plus a middling one for Rios

    That ain’t gonna happen

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/page/rumblings130729/white-sox-jake-peavy-trade-likely

    • I also heard they don’t want to pay any of the salary owed. If this is what “buying” GMs are facing right now, it is no wonder few trades look reasonable. My guess is ChiSox might give in a bit on the salary side in order to get good prospects, but it is still ridiculous. Their GM should have a mask and a holster on when he makes those demands.

      So, I’m thinking they want something like Hanson, Glasnow and Stolmy? For Alex “10 HR in US Cellular & just got benched for not hustling” Rios. No way.

      • This is the reason so many deals don’t happen until 4pm on July 31… many bloggers near and far have wondered…”why don’t we just pick up the guys earlier so we can get more out of them”…and the answer is until the deadline, there is no pressure on the selling team to do anything but ask for a King’s ransom. Then, the true sellers will collapse like a house of cards right at the deadline (see Pirates at the deadline 2009-1993) and take what they can get.

        If a team is ‘truly selling’, then the prices will come down. Until then, thumb your nose at the jackals who ask for ridiculous bounties… and tell them to call back when they are done playing ‘fantasy baseball’.

        • Exactly, cmat. Until right before the deadline, the sellers hope to play one buyer against another. Not many teams, other than Texas as usual, are willing to take the bait so far.

    • I’m starting to get the feeling since the asking prices are very high (supposedly), there is a chance the Pirates do not make a major move at this deadline, but maybe wait until late August for the next deadline (a la Shawon Dunston in 97).

  55. If these prices stay high, then 1) I hope the selling teams rot under the weight of the veteran contracts and 2) i hope the Bucs pick up Schierholtz to platoon with Tabby; pick up a Polanco type to be the utility guy; pick up one bullpen arm to bolster the ranks and that’s it.

    I think Theo is realistic in terms of deadline deals so we can get Schierholtz for a reasonable return…. and utility guys/bullpen arms should be readily available.

    The only player at this point I’d overpay slightly for is Pence, simply because I think he makes good contact…and the Bucs don’t need any ‘power bats that K a lot’…they need contact guys who can get sac flies and put the balls in play…. Rios might be that, not sure, but Pence is likely better… I seem to recall him being able to swing and hit most anything, from his toes to his ears….

    • I might be the only one, but I think it is interesting that Pence and the outfielder the Giants traded for him (Schierholtz) seem to be the Pirates top targets.

    • “that’s it” Just three moves. No big deal. And I’d be interested to know what you think Polanco can be had for? You willing to give up Hanson for him? I bet you’d have to.

      • Placido? Are we talking about a different Polonco? I don’t think you’d have to give up a Top 10 prospect for Placido Polonco, let alone Top 5 that is Hansen (I believe).

      • Extreme pitcher’s park in Miami, as we just saw. Extreme for everyone not named Stanton, that is. But, Polanco only has 10 XBH in 282 at bats. I sort of like the idea of him coming off our bench rather than JHay. But, he should not cost too much.

        Pence is hitting .277/.320/.457/.778 – not bad #’s. He is hitting .320 vs LHP and .263 vs. RHP. So, he would be an upgrade over Tabby alone, for sure. But, the question still is, would he be an overall upgrade to a combo of, say, Tabby/Schierholtz? 75% of our ABs this year, approximately, have been vs. RHP. Since Pence only hits .263 with negligible power (8 HR in 308 AB) vs. RHP, that is not much better than Tabby would do against just RHP. Pence does not hit LHP as well as Schierholtz, and Nate is the better OF. Pence is one of the only OF past Little League I can recall who throws side arm.

        • More on Schierholtz:

          vs. RHP – .289/.338/.570/.909

          39 XBH (14 HR) in 249 ABs.

          Nate is mashing RHP.

          He and Pence both whiff approx. 1/6 ABs.

          • For good measure, Rios:

            .272/.325/.427/.752

            12 HR in 393 AB, 35 XBH.

            Pence is a far better option if the decision is a full-time starter.

            Schierholtz/Tabby might be the best option as a continued platoon.

            I disagree that Theo won’t ask for much for Nate. He is not killing the Cubs in salary. They can live with keeping him if they don’t get a good return. I think they will ask for a lot.

  56. So, anyone want to predict tonight’s lineup??

    I’m guessing:

    Marte LF
    Walker 2B
    Cutch CF
    Pedro 3B
    Martin C
    Jones 1B
    Tabata RF
    Mercer SS
    Liriano P

    • Going with…

      Alex Cole – RF
      Jay Bell – SS
      Andy Van Slyke – CF
      Barry Bonds – LF
      Orlando Merced – 1B
      Jeff King – 2B
      Mike Lavalliere – C
      John Wehner – 3B
      Bob Walk – P

      Oh wait… that was the lineup for July 29, 1992.

    • Here is my effort;
      Cutch (most of his HR”s are bases empty anyway)
      Pedro (maybe he’ll understand that his job is to hit the ball)
      Marte
      Walker
      Martin
      Jones 1B
      Mercer
      JHay RF
      Liriano

      Remember they laughed at Edison and The Wright Brothers too

  57. Thursday’s game will be the MLB “Showcase Game” on MLB Network. Vasgersian and Verducci will have the call.

    I’m not sure if RDS in Quebec is carrying the game.

  58. Here’s a question…

    if the asking prices remain crazily high through the deadline, then why not make the big deal (ala a Stanton)?

    If you’re going to have to pay high prices anyways (in terms of value received; think what White Sox are apparently asking for Rios right now), why not at least acquire something really good?

    • Only way they make the “big” deal is if they are getting players under contract beyond this year.

    • Because something really good will cost 14-20 million per year for his arbitration years and hasn’t shown he can stay healthy. There is only one player on the team evan making half that money (that the Pirates are paying) and that is just barely.

    • Now ask yourself this…If the Sox are asking THAT for Rios what must you have to give up to get 4 years of Stanton? Two top prospects and a lesser for Rios for 2 years means 2-3 top prospects, 1-2 B prospects, and a C prospect for Stanton…and he is on a team that doesn’t seem to have any inclination to sell him because they think they are moving in the right direction and he can be that center piece. He’snot going anywhere until he nears free agency. He’s their Jason Bay. Bay played o some real crap teams but they never would have thought about trading him with 3 years of control left.

      • They can ask for whatever they want; kind of like the Pirates were said to have done in years past. Shoot for the moon; if you come up short your still in the stars.

        No way the White Sox will get that for Rios.

        • I posted his stat line above.

          Rios – .272/.325/.427/.752

          12 HR and 35 XBH in 393 ABs. He’s a dime a dozen with a bad ‘tude.

          Pence is hitting much better. 42 XBH. But, Pence only hits .263 vs. RHP.

          If you can live with Tabby still playing vs. LHP (25% of the time), Schierholtz is the guy. He is crushing RHP to the tune of .289/.338/.570/.909 with a whopping 39 XBH (14 HR) in 249 ABs.

    • well, um, one reason is the MARLINS aren’t trading Stanton.

      • everyone has a price.

        You blow them away, they’ll trade him.

        This was all just hypothetical anyway.

        In the same mold if you went after CarGo out in Colorado.

        I’m playing arm chair GM, and I’m simply the best.

        • I do agree with you though…the ONLY way I’d part with multiple top prospects is for someone like Stanton…. problem is we won’t be able to have Stanton AND Polanco…so I kinda think it’d suck come 2016 not to have 4 more years of inexpensive Polanco and be watching Stanton play for the Yankees….

          • That’s what my original question is based on. Now, I do agree with you on Greg Polonco. I have high hopes for the boy patrolling RF as soon as next May or June.

            But, at least you understand my rationale behind the question. If you had 100,000 to buy a car, and a compact was going to cost you 65,000 vs. luxury at 90,000, why not just go luxury? Same principle.

            I’m really starting to think the Pirates should stand pat (unless they make the splash deal).

            The market sucks, and there’s no reason to overpay for someone else’s garbage.

            • Except that isn’t how supply and demand works.

              If supply of players is so short that the compact is expensive, then the luxury is going to be exponentially more.

    • I can see the Pirates giving up a good/very good prospect not named Taillon or Polanco for a rental and paying 5-6 million this year for 50 games. I just don’t see them commiting 50-60 million to Stanton over his 3 arbitration years. They have never done something like that before. I don’t see them starting now.

  59. Tonight’s lineup, tweeted by the Trib’s Rob B.

    “@BiertempfelTrib 44s

    #pirates lineup for BIGGEST game ever!! (Until tomorrow) pic.twitter.com/Noyj2J9tze”

    Incase you can’t get the pic:

    1) Tabata – 9
    2) Walker – 4
    3) McCutchen – 8
    4) Alvarez – 5
    5) Martin – 2
    6) Jones – 3
    7) Presley – 7
    8) Barmes – 6
    9) Liriano – 1

    And also if you can’t see the pic…

    GET ON TWITTER!

    • Interesting….

      1) No Marte, though for me, this is the right move… it isn’t helping the offense to have him K 2 or 3 times a game… let’s give someone else a shot.

      2) Elvis is back, Fort on DL… we need a spark from Alex

      3) Barmes at SS, not Mercer… part of this is Clint swinging a better bat, part is he is the better glove…

      DH tomorrow so Marte will likely get back in there for 1 game at least..

      • Your logic is disheveled;

        Mercer and Barmes have virtually the same # of AB’s, and I defy you to find one advantage Barmes can claim. Not even in SB’s or BB’s. Oh there is one, more K’s.

        And you say defense is better, with his less quickness and less range and weaker arm.

  60. Mike McKenry on the 15 day DL.

    • a few days ago I would’ve said “GOOD”, chance for Tony to show his stuff…. then his bat gets going and now I’m nervous about how Tony will control the running game….

      • I’m nervous about everything right now…The DL is getting crowded, and no upgrade moves appear imminent. Egad.

        • Either Biz, or Playoffs say……………..

          KEEP CALM AND BREAK .500.

          :)

        • I got you, but this is all about the CORE and whether they will STEP UP or SHRINK again… Walker/Cutch/Pedro/Jones/Martin plus our pitching holds the key…. it is fun to commiserate about Barmes vs. Mercer, Tabby vs Elvis, why JayHey is still around, etc. but that is the icing on the cake. There will be no cake without the CORE getting it done.

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