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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Who will have ‘The Final Word’ in Central race?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

The joint venture between WPXI and Trib Total Media into sports TV continues tonight at 11:35 p.m. with the latest episode of The Final Word.

>> Who’s on: WPXI contributors will be Richie Walsh and Bill PhillipsThe Trib will be represented by myself and Rob Biertempfel. Our topics will by led by the Pirates’ huge week and the Steelers’ camp taking shape.

>> How to participate: Each week, we also take comments from viewers through 20-second videos you submit on The Final Word’s Facebook page, as well as comments to The Final World’s Twitter account

>> Where to watch: In addition to the regular broadcast on WPXI-TV, we have WPXI’s live online stream for Pittsburgh’s many out-of-town sports fans, as well as video podcasts available on both outlets’ Web sites.

Here’s last week’s episode.

Really hope to have you, not only watching but also joining in!

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, recently, 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 country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Ghost says:

    There will be more games like this before we’re done: the starter allows about three runs, the bullpen maybe one more, but the offense can only muster two. STILL have the best record in baseball. Jonesey can be a difference maker if he can just go on one of his hot streaks. Marte is hardly playing poorly, but another dash of his exceptional play from earlier in the year sure wouldn’t hurt either. Significant help just wasn’t available at the trade deadline. The boys are going to have to figure out how to win in the second half on their own.

  2. Ghost says:

    That said, I do have a question I’ve been wondering about…
    Post-waiver deadline trades may be rare, but are the odds higher of a player getting through waivers unblocked if he has a very high salary? Say another team decides on a salary dump in August, but agrees with the Pirates to pick up a good portion of that salary *after* the Pirates successfully claim this player? What am I not considering? Because, to smash two metaphors together, you gotta figure that some of the teams who kept the faith through July will to be having coming to Jesus moments in August.

  3. John Lease says:

    I’m looking for the damn panic button, because I want to push it.

  4. JAL says:

    JAL’s Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    5 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    6—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: The Pirates Have Answered Their Draft and Development Questions

    Rockies Deploy Three-Run Inning to Beat Pirates 4-2

    Prospect Watch: Osuna Goes Deep Twice, Sadler Goes Six Shutout Innings

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Chacin quiets Pirates’ bats. Cole lasts only 5.1 innings.


    Game 109: Rockies 4 Pirates 2

    9 The Green Weenie

    Buc Blow Early Chances In 4-2 Loss

    10 Rumbunter

    Rockies Vs. Pirates Series Preview

    11 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Rockies 4 Pirates 2

  5. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Denver Post

    Jhoulys Chacin mows down Pirates as Rockies win to halt losing skid

    13 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Tipsheet: Pirates have staying power

    14 Boston Globe

    For Holt, a second chance at third

    15 Baseball Nation

    How the Pittsburgh Pirates were built

    16 CBS Sports

    Rockies-Pirates Game Preview

    17 Grantland

    The NL Central in the Clutch

    18 PBC Site

    First-place Bucs slip up against Rox as lead dwindles

    Notebook: Top prospect Taillon earns promotion to Triple-A


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Prospectus Q&A Donald Pries

    20 Fangraphs

    Examining Grips with Dan Straily

  6. JAL says:

    Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ Michael Jackson 1982 Off the Thriller album which was released in 1982 and become the highest selling album in 1984. It remains the top selling album. It was 6th album to reach the top over the 28 years from 1956 to 1984. In the 29 since 1984 no album has outsold. The best selling album of this century is Adele’s 21, released in 2011 and having 26 million sold. Best selling album since 1984 has been the soundtrack from The Bodyguard, 1992 with 40 million copies sold.

  7. Drew71 says:

    One more loss and Neal has to go.

    And Clint.

    And Thunder.

  8. JAL says:

    There will be some August trades and high salary players are easier to get through waivers. Another consideration is that when a team claims a player they can be stuck with him so most teams will not claim a player they do not need. Blocking can happen but it i risky for a couple of reasons. One is what I just mentioned, you can end up with a player you do not want and have no need for. Example of second reason, say Pirates work out a deal for Hunter Pence today and Cards block it by claiming him and Giants withdraw him. Now Cards win a game, Pirates lose putting Cards ahead of Pirates. Cards work out a deal for the catcher they need, now Pirates will block. Might be better for Cards and Pirates to agree not to block each other.

  9. Bob Hasis says:

    No need; CH will do you that service repeatedly as we go through the pressure games which are underway.
    i.e. bringing in lefty Justin Wilson (a reasonable idea most of the time) to face the sensational right-handed bat of Troy Tulovitzki with runners on first and third and one out. CH may have stats on this (stats are that protective veil which CH hides behind) but Wilson couldn’t get his 98 mph blazer past him – until a real funky result occurred.

    I didn’t want to stomach the post-game presser, but I’m sure he had an explanation, if in fact he was asked about it. But in truth, the righty-righty philosophy he always uses was ignored.

  10. JAL says:

    The other thing to keep in mind is that you can only put a player on revokable waivers once in a season. So if you put a player on waivers and then withdraw him and then put him on waivers again, any team claiming him gets him and you lose the ability to trade him

  11. Milo Hamilton says:

    The high salary angle is one to keep an eye on. No one is going to claim Alex Rios.

  12. Thundercrack says:

    I didn’t realize the loses counted against my percentage.

  13. Bob Hasis says:

    There is another aspect to this game; too many failed AB’s with RISP, too many WP’s or PB’s, too many DP’s, too many seeing-eye grounders Colo. got and we didn’t.
    It was not our finest performance.

  14. 21sthebest says:

    It doesn’t but it improves your xWARsnark.

  15. Thundercrack says:

    Lacking command of secondary pitches, Hurdle said, allows batters to sit on Morton’s sinker and wait for him to leave one up in the zone.

    “He didn’t throw a changeup until the 70th pitch,” Hurdle said. “That’s another topic we’re trying to challenge him with, to get the changeup involved as well as the breaking ball. We encourage him to stay with his strengths. (from the PG)
    Why doesn’t Charlie realize that already by now?

  16. Drew71 says:

    Well. At least it improves something.

  17. Drew71 says:

    Because pet dogs reduce brain cells.

    Trust me on this.

  18. Drew71 says:

    See? I can’t even get “Reply” right.

    Remember. I have four (4) [IV] dogs.

  19. Eric Bowser says:

    If I’m the coach, I tell Morton he’s not allowed to shake off any pitches.

  20. Eric Bowser says:

    He’s probably the one player that could be traded in August due to his high salary.

  21. Bob Hasis says:

    I would like to be counted into the camp of “get Rios now”. His stats are worthy.
    My only caveat is not at the expense of Presley – but of Tabata.

  22. Naje says:

    Right… but it’s all Hurdle’s fault.

  23. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’ve been of the belief that Martin has to catch him. But he kills the catcher. Having to dive all over the place to try & block pitches. Especially fastballs. Do you know how hard it is to block a fastball ? You kind of expect a fastball to be in the general vicinity of the glove. Not Charlie. He has absolutely no idea where it’s going. Kind of hard to set your defense too.

  24. Bob Hasis says:

    You said that – not me.

    You seem incapable of accepting when CH pulls a blunder. Am I right?

  25. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    As DK said in his chat yesterday, it’s not going to be easy to work out a deal now with waivers, etc.
    It’s funny that you mention Jose Tabata.
    I think the Regime’s still hopes (with that Nutting friendly contract) that Tabata will secure the RF job.
    Maybe they hope for that too much….

  26. We weren’t gonna win that game the other night no matter who was pitching unless they threw a shutout, too.

    They ought to go to school on it and consider giving Charlie’s rotation spot to either Cumpton or Gomez and try Charlie out of the pen or somewhere else.

    This is not time for him to work things out in a bona fide pennant race. Maybe next year.

  27. Thundercrack says:

    Always seems like “wait until next year” with Charlie

    And I don’t think it is a case of asking him to learn how to throw a new pitch. It seems to be more of the mental part of pitching.

  28. Thundercrack says:

    Granted I realize that injuries have also played a part in the “wait until next year” with CM

  29. Patrick(ri) says:

    A dog is key to the good life, but “the only thing that makes life worth livin, is a guitar that’s tuned good and a firm feelin . . .” Charlie may have the important things under control, notwithstanding his fastball?

  30. bizrow says:

    We went to the game last night, I don’t like the way they played that one inning, too sloppy.

    One thing though, about a half a dozen people asked me after the game who won. They were coming out of the theater.

    I don’t remember that ever happening so much before after a ballgame. And folks seemed genuinely disappointed with the answer.

    Beat Em Bucs, Go like 60

    Off to KWood with the grandkids today

    Looks like it might turn out to be a nice day, weather wise…

  31. 21sthebest says:

    I thought that game could have changed on a dime if Walker comes through with second and third, 2 outs, down 4-0, and Cutch on deck.

  32. Thundercrack says:

    For a second there I thought ” I didn’t know that Biz was friends with Kerry Wood”


  33. 21sthebest says:

    ” And folks seemed genuinely disappointed with the answer.”

    Hey, why wouldn’t they!

  34. Bas says:

    Tabata is both a head case and injury prone (I questioned his being injury prone–as oppose to being soft–until I saw how his arm swelled up after get hit w/ a pitch). To me, he looks like he feels unliked or unwanted (does he read the papers?)–perhaps even by his teammates–and that as a result he seems almost sullen, and doesn’t play w/ any confidence. If that is so, can he somehow turn it around (he looked awfully good when he first came up, up until his first injury the following year)? I hope so, but maybe somewhere other than Pittsburgh. But in the meantime, he’s gotta play, against lefties.

  35. As they do every year.

  36. Chuck H says:

    Take a chance and bring up some position players. Who knows, we find another Puig in one of them. Did the Dodgers know what they were getting when they decided to give
    Puig a try? No, probably not, or they would have done it sooner. Let’s not wait until it’s too late for a pennate run. We won’t win many games with the pathetic batting order we have
    and the pitching turns less reliable. GO, BUCS!!!

  37. Naje says:

    I don’t think there was a blunder at all. You do. All the time. And it’s quite repetitive, predictable and boring.

  38. Thundercrack says:

    I think the Dodgers did know what they had in Puig. I think he made their club out of spring training – or was the last man cut. Maybe they didn’t think he would have these types of numbers but they knew he was really good.

    Lambo is not near Puig. And the Pirates know that.

    But I do think they will bring Lambo up and give him a shot.

  39. Lambo was 0-4 with 3 K’s last night. His average is .268 in Indy.

    I, for one, have sung his praises. But how does that translate? Who knows until he gets a chance? That’s all I’d like to see. The guy get a shot.

  40. kr70 says:

    I doubt the dodgers waited because of salary and years of control issues.

  41. theplanisworking says:


    You and I have been the only ones stating he should have been brought up in June, so he wouldnt have to be thrown into a pennant race.

    Now, its August, and we still no more about him than before.

    neal fiddles while Pittsburgh burns, I guess.

  42. pattonbb says:

    No, they called Puig up straight from AA because they had all 3 of their starting OF’ers on the DL.

  43. cmat0829 says:

    Bob, you need to square the facts with your analysis… The powerful right handed hitter was lucky to reach base with a weak chopper of the plate (something Presley and Marte should learn how to do)… with the way the bullpen has been used, coming in that early, CH tagged Wilson as the one who could give multiple innings… too early for rightie/lefty there.

  44. pattonbb says:

    Puig has a $42m contract. Most scouts agreed that he was the most talented player to come out of Cuba in recent memory. The Dodgers out-bid 11 other teams to sign him. They knew what they had. It’s not like they found some diamond in the rough. They only let him get 200 at bats in the minors before calling him up. From AA, at that.

    I understand the point you’re trying to make, and I agree. Give Lambo a shot in rf and lets see what he does.

  45. cmat0829 says:

    guys, the facts aren’t hard to find on this… Puig was signed as an international player to a multi-year deal worth $42M dollars…. so (1) the Dodgers definitely knew what they had (2) they don’t have any issues with salary/years of control…..

    Not sure why on every single topic people need to find a way to ding the Pirates approach or I should say the approach of every team in the league pretty much.

    As to Lambo, the only thing we are putting hope on is that his AAA performance translates to the majors… I agree it’s worth a try, but hardly a ‘no brainer’ that it will…there are plenty of examples (most notably Presley and Snider in the current RF mix) where is does not. Again, worth a try, but let’s please no compare Lambo to Puig.

  46. Arriba Wilver says:

    Yes, he got 3.7 mil last year, he’s guaranteed 3.7 mil this year and he’s guaranteed 3.7 mil next year. And the Dodgers do have a gazillion dollars to spend with that TV contract. Totally irrelevant to the a pirates’ situation.

  47. Arriba Wilver says:

    On the other hand, Lambo’s from their system. :-)

  48. There’s nothing to compare Lambo to right now. There is zero sample size. No ML sample to compare anything.

    As far as “potential” or whatever it’s called these days, I don’t think anyone has compared him to Puig. Closer to Jeff Clement or someone like that.

    Hopefully not.

  49. cmat0829 says:

    exactly… one thing I do trust the Pirates management on is prospect readiness…. I can’t think of many examples when they have been slow to advance a prospect and they have set the world on fire…the only one that comes close in my mind is Neil Walker and I don’t even think that was a major gaffe…..

    The most visible ones where fans have clamored for the promotion have been Pedro (and he was clearly NOT ready when they called him up); Cole (and he has been good but definitely showed the things he still has to work on); Marte (and he definitely still is working on the issues the FO identified)….Hague (who was a bust)….

    Can Lambo be better than Presley (another one that is rightfully in Indy for the most part), Snider (who has struggled to get above AAA in both Toronto and here), Tabata (who also can’t seem to get it together)? Maybe yes, and for that I do call for his promotion. But did Lambo earn that call up before now, before he put the numbers up this summer after missing almost all of last season and struggling in 2011…before Snider got a long look….before even Presley got some at bats and starts? Not in my view. Next up, Lambo, and let’s give him a try… maybe he’ll catch lightning in a bottle…would be awesome if he came on like Garrett Jones a few years back…

  50. twentytwo22 says:

    I’m gonna leave this right here

    AAA stats
    2013 24yo 205pa .268/.333/.568 .902ops 14hr 41rbi 18bb 55so
    2012 24yo 246pa .335/.423/.598 1.021ops 13hr 56rbi 34bb 42so

    2013 Andrew Lambo
    2012 Travis Snider

    In lieu of trading a prospect, who may go on to become an average major leaguer, for a known quantity we’ll cling to false hope for another year.

  51. Arriba Wilver says:

    I highly doubt wanting to keep Lambo prevented even one deal, if that’s your point. He’s more popular on this Board than anywhere else, I expect. But I don’t read all the rumors.

  52. All good points.

    I think the clamoring, myself included, has a lot to do with 28 HR’s between AA and AAA. He could hit 2 or 3 and it would be more than Snider and Tabby.

    We’re due for Lloyd McClendon’s lightning in a bottle, too, after the Snider, Tabby, etc., etc. last few guys.

    Presley may still be OK, but those other 2 just haven’t cut it.

  53. Thundercrack says:

    Was Lambo in AA or AAA in June?

  54. Arriba Wilver says:

    There’s an article entitled “Andrew Lambo (finally) promoted to AAA Indianapolis” dated June 7. From one of the dreaded 25-30—Pirates Prospects.

  55. Patrick (ri) says:

    My real fear about promoting Lamborghini is not his proclivity for strikeouts but, rather, a much greater fear of what Greg brown will do with his name.

    Of course, I mean Lambo, but my wife’s iPhone has higher aspirations

  56. JRay3 says:

    Bucs lineup today- Marte, Mercer, Cutch, G Sanchez, T Sancjez, Tabata, Walker, Harrison, Liriano.

    Need Frankie to be Frankie today.

  57. cmat0829 says:

    interesting… they are really cutting back on Martin’s starts… I think that is a good idea, he seems to be favoring the knee a bit and we can’t risk losing him…. also I think good to sit Pedro tonight, he has not been on…. this lineup will need to string a lot together but maybe that is just the ticket…..

  58. cmat0829 says:

    not sure another “could hit a HR or two or three but will K a lot in the meantime, left-handed hitter” is really what this offense needs…

  59. BreakTheStreak says:

    6 pitches to T Sanchez and he swings at none of them. He and Gabby look at called : strikes. Happens WAY too much with this line up

  60. DoubleDeuce says:

    Do you accept suggestions for the daily song? I have a good one for your daily links entry tomorrow.

  61. Ghost says:

    Since this was a post from two days (and two games) ago, I’ll update it with this:
    There’ll be more games like THIS too, because the Pirates are beginning to look like a team hitting its stride. The offense will still give us fits on occasion, but the five runs they scored today paired with starts like A.J.’s last two or Liriano’s last two can beat anybody in baseball.

  62. Ghost says:

    Thanks for all above, JAL.

  63. Arriba Wilver says:

    Did you see the score?

  64. Bas says:

    Conceivably (I didn’t see it), there was just one pitch of six that Sanchez should not have taken: strike three. Of the other five, three were balls (well taken), and the first two strikes may not have been “his pitch.” And maybe strike three was a terific and/or borderline pitch. One at bat means nothing.

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