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Morning Java: It’s preseason … we’re talking ’bout practice

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

LANDOVER, Md. — Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Tuesday column really likes Jonathan Dwyer as feature back. And not just because every other back the Steelers have is hurt right now.

Here’s some of what Dwyer had to say afterward in a cramped, quiet room …

Anyway, the Steelers’ offense laid an egg overall in losing to the Redskins. Alan Robinson and Ralph Paulk do all the actual work from down here.

All I’ll add before leaving the stadium tonight (this morning) is what should be obvious: It’s preseason. Sure, there are signs both encouraging and discouraging on individual, even team levels. But I was hearing all night from people complaining about strategy, too much running, not enough passing, etc.

Come on.

As Ben Roethlisberger acutely observed afterward regarding play selection, “We went out there on that first series just looking to establish the run.”

Exactly. It was a stage set up, essentially, for Le’Veon Bell. Had nothing to do with trying to roll down the field or open up the passing game or even scoring a touchdown.

Man, I hate writing stuff like that because it’s so obvious, but …

>> The Pirates’ bats SCORED THREE RUNS to beat the Padres, but Francisco Liriano took care of the rest. Travis Sawchik is in San Diego.

Here’s the rest of our baseball coverage.

Here’s Padres news from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Here are official game highlights from

>> Driving home overnight part of the way, the rest of the way today. Expect to be mostly out of commission, but I will find time at some point to write another column on the Steelers for Wednesday.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.


  1. Saw the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, tonight. From the Pirates.
    Mr. Ace and Pedro carried the day against a crappy Padre team. Can’t say much else about the rest of the Pirates on this day. (Would have given kudos to Cutch, but he got caught stealing badly, and it was on a change-up, no less. So no kudos for Cutchie-poo).

    But, hey, good teams find ways to win the ugly ones. And that’s the takeaway from this game. That, and the amazing Mr. Ace we have. He is incredible.

  2. Oh, and I am going to scoop everyone and shout out CONGRATULATIONS to Clint Hurdle, who as of tonight is 224 and 224 in his career as a skipper. I know some don’t like him, but, myself, I think he’s just what the doctor ordered for this team. He’s got us now expecting October baseball. Get us there, Clint! And may you also never see the under side of .500 again.

  3. I forced myself to watch the first half.

    The most encouraging thing to me was how pathetic the O Line played. That is not a typo.

    Between youth and last year’s injuries, they have rarely played together. So we saw a lot of ‘holding-hands to face-burned on an inside move’ sequences. It was a decidedly UNgelled line. It may take into some of the REAL games, and some painfully bad football, but one would think they will gel into something far better than what we just saw.

    I have thought that the line was the key to this season. One way or the other. Last night we saw The Other. We’ll see if they can gel into One.

  4. So the other night down in Bradenton, Frank Kremblas challenged Dirty Doug to come out of his dugout. Which DD did. And then he (DD) threw Kremblas down to the ground. Unfortunately, the sole video I could find showed only the aftermath (in which some Marauder player then returned the favor to DD wrasslin’ style). No footage of the Dirty Deed, itself. Oh well. Boys will be boys. Or middle-aged men will be boys, rather.

    In fact, they won’t tell you this but DK and Biertempfel do wrasslin’ up in the press box all the time. During slow stretches in the game, they strip down to their tighty-whities and lock up sumo style. They also have been hazing Sawchick all year long. Sometimes they dangle him over the pressbox ledge until he cries.

  5. Well just getting back to my sisters after an awesome dinner with Bryan Morris and his rep. Nice to celebrate the victory. Wow what amazing conversation and Bryan was such a great laid back guy. Among the topics covered:

    What he heard on players NH tried to acquire and what cost was….shocking, didn’t seem unhappy with team standing still
    Cutch is just an amazing person, teammate
    His version of the Valdespin incident
    His journey through Lynchburg, Altoona, Indy, from starter to reliever
    Teams he feels he and team best matchup with
    Just how aware he is of standings and positioning (they pay attention)
    Spoke about NH, thinks he has drafted really well and says there is a lot of talent in the system
    Thinks Tony Sanchez will one day hit like Martin, likes him, defended his draft position
    Spoke about his admiration of Ray Searage, bullpen coach and high praise of Andrade
    Tony Watson his throwing partner and how in last two years went from 88-94 and change in mechanics, deceptive delievery
    How PNC gave him chills during Cards series, chants for Pedro unlike anything he heard before
    Talked about how the nickname shark tank has helped get Bucs pen on map, talked about nationally versus just being a good bullpen
    Says on the road many fans from other teams tell him they are pulling for Pirates.
    Team is focused on getting on a streak, really want to put this division away
    September should help pen with Reid, Black, Welker, Johnson and said a position player might have thrown if AZ game went much longer
    Talked about house he recently bought, vacations, human element items
    School, his wife teaches english, and our kids school
    Favorite cities on road, the offense, Dusty Baker and the Reds
    And talked about the movie City Slickers that was playing in restaurant, blast from past

    Such an amazing time and experience, a keepsake memory for sure. You can tell this team wants it, it wants to finish this off, these guys will fight and give every ounce of effort they can. Fun group and team to get behind.

    • Good Job.

      You didnt ask any of the questions Thunder gave you, did you? ;)

      And congrats for not getting stuck in the marine layer.
      Bad job awaking the troll last night, but this made up for it!

    • Assuming you don’t work for Tony Bosch, I nominate JRay to have dinner with a different Pirate after every game.

      He’s our new good luck charm.

      Now that Thunder has been fired.

    • Nice read first thing in my morning, JayRay Tre…thanks so much!

    • Thanks, JRay.

    • Thanks, JRay A delightful read this morning.

    • Amazing stuff JRay! Thanks for giving us some insite from a member of this year PBC.

    • JRay


      That one word makes everything you said before that very intriguing. I know you won’t tell us what it means but I won’t be able to get that out of my mind the rest of the day. Is it shocking what was being asked for in trades or shocking how little was needed to make the trade? It hurts my head just thinking about it. I wish you would have left the first comment off all together.

      Seriously thanks for sharing. Very interesting things to hear. Especially liked the comment about Cutch, some of the coaching staff and the teams focus.

      • I took it as he was saying what was asked in return for mediocre players was ridiculous, Nate. But, I guess we’ll have to see.

        A few years ago, when the Bucs were always “sellers” at the deadline, it was routinely reported by the national baseball media that the demands of Littlefield and then Huntington were outrageous. How dare they ask for anything of value in return for helping teams like the Yankees and Red Sox win the pennant? In fact, it was practically the Pirates civic duty as a perennial door mat to cough up what little talent we had in exchange for nothing.

        Now that the shoe is on the other foot, and the Pirates played the role of “buyers” and a documented genius like Theo Epstein was asking for a king’s ransom for his middling talent, again the Bucs are idiots for not bending to his demands.

        I’m not saying I know for sure the proposed trades were not worthwhile, but a lot of buying teams seem to be saying the demands were ridiculous.

        • Jim

          I was thinking the same thing but only JRay knows for sure what that means and he correctly should keep it to himself. It was a private conversation and I’m just happy he shared as much as he did with us. It’s interesting to hear the thoughts of a person actually experiencing playing for the Pirates.

      • I don’t want to delve to deep into this as I was surprised actual names were brought up on both sides and I only got one individual account.

        But I will add, shocking to hear how much was wanted for individuals that would have been just three month rentals.

        I will also add that coming from a pitcher that is a part of this top ranked pitching staff that works off a small margin of error, knowing that a piece or bat could help this offense it is pretty telling that he seemed fine with managements decision and in agreement to not pay the asking prices. For whatever that is worth.

    • Wow. Thank you JRay. Very cool to get a little peek inside the inner sanctum. I like the chat idea. We could call it “Say Hey to JRay”. Or not….

    • no offense, I hope Tony Sanchez one day hits like Spanky. Gamewinners aside, Martin doesn’t hit that well.

      • As long as he does not run like Spanky. :-)

      • Spanky wasn’t all that great of a hitter. I’ll take a Russell Martin comparison.

      • I was thinking you were wrong, Ryan, but looked at 1990 to 1992 stats, and his best year was ’91 with a .711 OPS. Martin’s at .751 now. I think many of us maybe remember him as hitting better than he did because he was supposed to be the defensive catcher and Don Slaught the offense guy. Spanky was somewhat of a surprise, and if I recall correctly Slaught had a hard time staying on the field.

    • Merci from an insider! I missed this, JRay, but how do you know him?

      • My wife works with the PTO at our kids school with a guy who also serves on it. Jim was always asking my wife why she wears Pirates shirts as he knows she is not a sports fan. She tells him about me and how close I follow them.

        Last week at the school Luau I meet Jim, who primarily reps musicians, and he tells me he represents Bryan, and that he was going to be out there in SD Sun night, Monday game to meet with him. He found out I was going to be in SD for series, asked my plans for Monday and invited me out with them after game for dinner.

        As he told Bryan last night he really knows my wife. I had chance to spend some time with Jim before game at Bub’s and feel like I made a new friend, however I owe this experience to my wife….and she knew how excited I was. Really just a small world story, with my interest of a sports team, a network of people with one that just so happens to rep Bryan and was going to be at same series as me.

  6. I always wonder why I dread preseason football and yet spend three months yearning for spring training baseball. Even the spring PRACTICES at Pirate City.

    Must be the methadone.

  7. Hoka Hey everyone!
    Pirates win…Pirates win!!! ….LXXIII wins down, …and IX to go.
    Yes, GM Neal and Mgr. Clint ….82 wins DOES make a difference.
    Beat Em’ Bucs !
    PS: Congrats again to Frankie Liriano…he has that Cy Young look….;-)
    PSS: The Steelers have an AWFUL look so far….. :-(…….and, everytime we say & think LeVeon Bell…..are we going to assoicate the word “injury prone” ?? …BAHH.

  8. I suggest Dejan just write about the Steelers from here on out. It seems to be working.

  9. JAL’s California Dreamin’ Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: The Reason the Pirates Could Be Successful For Many Years

    Prospect Watch: Kingham Strikes Out Seven, Polanco Picks Up Three Hits

    Liriano Dominates, Alvarez Scores Himself Twice in 3-1 Pirates Win

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Francisco Liriano trounces Padres in 3-1 win

    The Collapsening . . . or the Panickening?

    Justin Morneau not an ideal fit for Pirates

    6 Rumbunter

    Pirates James McDonald Roughed Up In Gulf Coast League


    Game 124: Pirates 3 Padres 1

    When ‘should win’ becomes ‘have to win’

    8 The Green Weenie

    8/19: Hans, Frankie Frisch, Kiner & Hopp, Jim Rooker, 19 Innings…

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 3 Padres 1

  10. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    10 San Diego Union Tribune

    Bucs Liriano, relievers fan 17 Padres in win

    11 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle: Mad genius or just mad?

    12 Minor League Ball

    Prospect Note: Vic Black, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

    13 Sporting News

    MLB odds and picks – Pirates, Reds, Cardinals battling for NL Central

    14 KDKA

    Should The Pirates Pursue Justin Morneau?

    15 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Reds top Diamondbacks, 5-3, in series opener

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates vs Padres Game Preview

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Tipsheet: Lagging Pirates need offensive jolt

    18 PBC Site

    Liriano K’s 13 as Bucs take opener at Petco

    Notebook: Rodriguez feels off after bullpen session


    19 Sports on Earth

    A Beautiful Swing Slows Down

    20 Fangraphs

    Sunday in Umpiring: Four Decisions of Varying Egregiousness

  11. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers injury report: Running backs set the tone once again

    Steelers vs. Redskins: Pittsburgh takes a step back in second preseason game

    22 Steelers Depot

    Steelers Versus Redskins – Winners And Losers


    23 Daily Telegraph

    New season, fresh faces and Alan Shearer speaking sense. Wonders will never cease

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 19th August, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Fixing the Penguins Penalty Kill in 2014

  12. Liriano struck out 13 batters last night…and he pitched FOR not AGAINST the Pirates.

    • Oh, the sheltered life you live in Al-Tuna, Jandy.

      Sadly, this didnt even register with me……….. it happens more than you think, just not every victim is famous, or an athlete.

      Prayers to this man’s family.

      • I guess it is much more sheltered here than in say, Pittsburgh. But it’s still shockingly clear that the youth of this country has major problems if they think it’s ok to just shoot and kill someone because they’re bored.

  13. The Pirates are once again tied for the second best record in baseball, with the Tigers. The Pirates magic number to eliminate Arizona is 31, to host the wild cared is 36 (vs. Reds) and to win the division is 38 (vs. Cardinals).

  14. Just read Travis Sawchik’s review on Liriano’s pitching last night. Man, what a gem. 13 SO’s. He’s really come up huge for the Bucs. Nice job, Francisco.

  15. Well, the marine layer has rolled in. Oh yeah, that’s just plain old fog here.

  16. “We don’t have any food for you”

    LOL! Priceless, Hipposter and Playoffs ;)

  17. So, the Pens have their new goalie coach…right from in the organ-EYE-zation.|PIT|home

    Bales has worked with Zatkoff.

    So, hopefully he’s a breath of fresh air for Marc Andre Fleury.

  18. Well, my building enthusiasm for the coming season was tempered greatly by that horrific performance by the offensive line last night. This had nothing to do with scheme or lack thereof. Individual players including our all-pro center were beatne badly on a repeated basis. They threw in plenty of drive killing penalties on top of things. Granted some of these guys haven’t played a lot but these aren’t a bunch of fresh faced rookies either. They really miss Heath Miller and his blocking ability I think. Hard to judge the rest of the offense. Saw some good things on defense including a rare Lamar Woodley sighting.

    • Pre-season is for working out bugs and building some chemistry. I’ll reserve judgment until I see the first regular season game…that said…it wasn’t encouraging last night.

      • Better call terminex; this team was infested with bugs last night. Yes its still preseason but wow penalties were bad.

        On the positive side the WR’s looked to be in mid season show boating form.

  19. Morning all -

    Wow what a night of sports in Pittsburgh last night

    Thank God its only preseason for the Steelers!

    Watching the Pirates last night and yes I stayed up for the entire game; it was great to see a Pirates win and Liriano have a great performance. But while he notched 13k’s versus the Padres I’m wondering how many he may have racked up against the Pirates lineup.

    Its great to get the W and great to still be in first but the late night and watching Franky got me to thinking about something. I think we are all resigned to the fact that there is not going to be a deal made for offense for one or all of the following reasons according to NH:

    1. Players available are not better than current roster
    2. Return required for said player or players
    3. Salary of said player or players

    The comment was made on the deadline special by one of the analysts that the Pirates were still 1 or 2 years away in their plan; which at the time was news to me because I did not know of a time table.

    If in fact the Pirates are holding firm with an approach of 2015 being when they want to start getting serious I offer this idea. Trade Liriano now or trade him in the off season.

    He has a 2 year deal and his value will never be higher than now or the off season. If the Pirates are just going to keep riding it out with the intent of having the deepest pipeline to keep supplying Pittsburgh then trade Liriano today, tomorrow, next week or this off season. If they aren’t serious about giving this team everything they need to win this season while they have a chance then what good are they doing by holding onto assets that won’t likely repeat a season like they are having now and are not signed into 2015 any way.

    Of course 99.8% of what I just said there was sarcasm but it was also sarcasm directed at NH in the mindset if your not going to help the team for now why not do what your making it obvious you want to do which is build your all prospect team and get more prospects for a guy like Liriano.

  20. I see JMac had a nice start in the GCL yesterday, 2 runs, 2 hits and a walk in 2/3 innings.

    Whats the scoop on Wandy? Per the FAN this am, there are mixed reports on how his throwing session went?

    And any word on Marte’s contusion?

  21. On the Steelers, I don’t want to criticize them too much in the pre-season. However, I was pretty down on where I thought they were headed by the end of last year. So, I think this has been coming for awhile. They have earned the right to not be criticized too heavily until the games really matter, but I see a lot of things that don’t look good to me.

    * O Line – Why repeat it? It is there for everyone to see right now. Mass confusion and lack of execution. That will take awhile to fix.
    * Running Back – Did we draft a talented kid who can’t stay on the field? Dwyer looked very good, though.
    * Receivers – Wheaton was a blur on the one long ball, and Sanders made a couple of tough catches. I think we’ll be ok there.
    * Tight End – I sure hope Heath is coming back soon.
    * I thought all of the top drafted rookies did some nice things in the game.

    I get that we should not be too worked up about the play selection and decision to run the ball early. But, isn’t the goal to maintain possession in order to run more plays? It was so predictable on that first possession that I knew we would only get a handful of plays. To me, that was more establishing the punt than establishing the run.

    Hopefully, the important progress is taking place in practice and things are not as bad as they appear.

  22. Much needed win by the Bucs. Liriano is in the mix, IMO, for Cy Young. I know Kershaw, Harvey, etc. are having great years. But, what this guy is doing is truly amazing. He is the definition of stopper.

    JRay, I think it is so cool that you got to follow through on the offer made to you and have dinner with Bryan Morris and his agent. He sounds like a really good, level headed guy.

    Pedro hit that ball a mile. And his 2-run homer was nice also!!!

    We need to start stacking wins again to fight off both the Cards and Reds. The offense must improve in order to do that. 5 or 6 hits won’t get it done.

    Need a shutdown game from AJ tonight, as I expect another low scoring game.

  23. Morning everyone! Nice win last night – as usual, FRANKIE! (I said that in the same tone of all those Bobbie Soxers who use to swoon over Francis Albert Sinatra in the late ’40s!)

    OK, AJ … time for you and the rest of the guys to right some ship, too!

    • I thought it was an interesting moment in the dugout last night, after Frankie finished the 7th and AJ came over to congratulate him. I wonder what he said after the congrats. I think it was something to the effect of “Boy, you are a tough act to follow, Frankie.”

      You have your marching orders tonight, AJ. This is not the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. You can hold this lineup down for 7 innings tonight. Get it done! We need it.

  24. I’m thinking after win 82 Greg Brown should drop a “Noooooo doubt about it” in tribute to Lanny sitting through 16 years of losing.

  25. *****ATTENTION*****
    Newbies and lurkers, we want to chat with you! If you post your hometown, Bizrow will add it to the list of Dejan’s Lunatics’ Asylum.
    Don’t be shy, we don’t bite :)

  26. I am on Central time, and still it is hard for me to stay up for the west coast games. I can’t imagine how you Eastern time folks will hold up this week. I had to skip my morning workout today to get back an hour of sleep from staying up past midnight. I hate skipping my morning workout.

    I thought about going to bed last night, but once I get invested in a close game for the Bucs, I can’t just go to bed and fall asleep. I lay there and wonder what is going on instead of falling asleep. Pretty soon, I’m headed back down stairs to watch the end. Happens all the time with the Steelers on Monday Night Football as well.

    Good luck this week, loonies!

    • I won’t stay up, won’t even start watching it, so I don’t get hooked. 4am comes too early. I’ll watch tomorrow when the game is earlier.

    • My morning workout came at 130 am when I got up to use the bathroom after listening to Michael McKenry reference the world series for the 3rd time during the post game show on ROOT. Amazing how much more difficult that walk to the bathroom is at 130am and no I wasn’t drunk or I would have had some rambling post on here about Liriano losing another shut out in the 9th.

      • Speaking of losing the shutout, how fast is that outfield grass in San Diego? That ball looked like a single past Jordy, and then it went all the way to the wall. If Marte were playing, the shutout would have been intact for the Bucs. Actually, though, Liriano didn’t lose his shutout. He went 7 scoreless.

  27. Uhh so David Dejesus was traded to the Nats yesterday eh?

  28. My observations from the Steeler game.

    Disappointed, but not surprised by the O line’s play. This is going to take a while, likely into the first part of the season to get worked out. There are 3 new starters and one playing out of position. That’s why BBR was quoted after the game and was emphatic about pointing out that there was no game plan, other than to get the run game going. And pass blocking is actually more difficult to choreograph, with switch blocks, line stunts and blitz pickups. Nobody that posts here knows what the blocking assignments are…it ain’t always the closest guys fault.

    Rod Woodson nor Mel Blount was stopping that TD pass, let alone Gay. Good route, great throw and very good one handed catch. Give credit where’s it’s due.

    Don’t know if Bell reminds me more of Eddie George or Greg “Hamstring” Hawthorne…yet, but Dwyer’s made the team.

    Wheaton will play…a lot. Intrigued by Moye.

    Anybody watching Paulson at TE now knows why the Steelers didn’t sign Dallas Clark. He seems to have decent hands, but appeared to get destroyed when “trying” to block.

    Jarvis Jones not only has to replace Harrison, but also has to be good enough compensate for not drafting Effiert. First impression…he might.

    The next exhibition game is a more critical test.

    Then I switched to the Pirate Game….they REALLY need AJ to follow this up with a strong start.

    • Everyone keeps saying AJ needs to follow up with a strong start today….

      He had a strong start his last game… then the 4th inning came. But the start of the game was good…lol

    • If Mel Blount was in there – before the Blount rule was enacted – that receiver wouldn’t have had a prayer. He would have been stalemated at the line.

      • I would agree in 1975.

        • You didn’t specify a date originally, but I’d suggest virtually his entire career. He was 6’5″ 220 stronger and faster and tougher than ANY receiver he faced. Do you know what the Blount Rule is in the NFL?

          • That’s the rule that you have to hide a joint in a cigar before you smoke it, right?

            Isn’t that the one Santonio Holmes relied on?

          • Yes I actually do. If you look it up he is/was generally listed at 6’3′ and 210, which was still large for a CB.

            Obviously, I meant under today’s rules, most of the CBs and a lot of the WR’s couldn’t or wouldn’t play under the rules of the early ’70s. In today’s football, a perfect pass and catch is largely not stoppable and that’s what happened on the play I referenced.

            And for info purposes only, because I was a big fan of his….Cliff Branch toasted him more than once and even got him benched in a playoff game….even the best do get beat.

            • If Branch did that to him multiple times, it proves he’s human. I always thought otherwise, that Blount was super-human.
              Further, Blount’s ability to cover, freed up the safety for other responsibilities, which made the Steelers defense extremely difficult.
              When you display such skills that causes rules changes, you deserve a bust in Canton.

              Branch too was a “Best in Class” competitor.

              • I’ve been to a couple places where Blount was, and that hat was always with him. He still seemed in playing condition.
                I’m 6’5″ and he seemed to be that tall.

  29. Looking thru the box score, I got a warm and fuzzy. Ronny Cedeno is still a major leaguer, and he’s playing short for the Padres. Life sure is funny.

    • Chuckling. I was thinking of asking Playoffs to put in a supplemental line for the next couple of games. The line would be a simple yes/no : If Ronny Cedeno bats with the bases loaded, will he bunt? :)

  30. Thank you Buccos. First time in ages I don’t give a rat’s patootie about the Steelers’ preseason.

  31. Anyone else now content with Tony Sanchez as our backup catcher?

    Why, oh, why couldn’t No Deal Neal have made a deal for a backup catcher?

    • Sanchez has done OK. And you can bet he has the job next year, I think McKenry will be arbitration eligible.

      • I like Sanchez. He just runs funny. So does Neil Walker, though. Sanchez’ run looks more like a Fox Trot. I bet the boy’s in hog heaven catching Liriano. You can tell he goes out to the mound, and Liriano just gives him one of those veteran “Punk, just get back there and catch the ball!”

  32. Just wow…
    Videos of three of Kris Letang’s workouts….amazing…now if he could his smarts all together ;)|PIT|home

  33. The blogosphere is entertaining today. Good day all.

  34. The “your comment is awaiting moderation” monster is back…………….

  35. Was just looking at Caesars lines: their book has the Panthers as 10.5 dogs to the Seminoles.

    Could it be Vegas isn’t buying the Jameis Winston hype?

    BTW, please put a sawbuck for me on FSU!

  36. I guess what’s taking baseball so long to discipline Ryan Dempster is that they’re trying to decide whether to suspend him for hitting A-Rod, or for missing him three times.

  37. If only we could magically rejuvenate Libido’s arm so he could pitch everyday. I’m convinced that the key to beating everyone is to holding them to just 0 or 1 run.

  38. Hey Biz,

    I was looking at your list of honorees and didn’t see George Benson.
    I want to officially nominate George ‘Breezin’ Benson to your list of honorees.

  39. Would Rajai Davis be worth adding for the bench? The guy has 36 stolen bases this year and caught only 3 times.

    • I would have never believed Davis would have had the serviceable career he’s had. Guess that’s what speed plus base stealing ability will get you – in the right scenario. He’s had a career .270 batting average, and this year, he’s been on base 73 times with either hits or walks – and swiped 36 bags! That seems pretty incredible to me.

      • That leaves you with Pirate management, who actually gave him away AND took on that contract that shall not be named.

        Rajai Davis did more to get Dave Littlefield fired than I did, so I owe him at least a drink.

  40. And now I’m bored……..reading through all the comments today and work is semi-done. (not really)

    Didn’t see the Steelers game last night. One disadvantage to being on the west coast is the MNF times, plus, its a pre season game. Who cares? Apparently some do.

    Honestly though, I don’t see the Steelers as a playoff team. I said that in the beginning of last year as well. I saw the other teams around getting better and the Steelers either staying put or declining.

    I did see the Pirates game, however. Thought Liriano was outstanding again. When the dude keeps the ball down, almost unhittable. Best off season signing in MLB.

    I’m still trying to figure out Tony Sanchez. I do see him as a future Russell Martin. He’s very nonchalent behind the plate, which I’m OK with. He blocks the ball really well, just haven’t seen him tested on the base paths yet. I’d like to see a throw down. He comes out of the croutch quickly on bunts and makes a strong throw to 1st. Overall, I think he does very well defensively. His offense is still suspect, but I believe has a higher upside than the fort. I’m not a fan of his stance or leg kick, but who am I to tell a professional hitter what works best for him. I did notice, that when he gets his foot down early enough, he makes solid contact with the ball. His 1st AB (I think) when he got the single, I noticed on the foul balls he had that his foot was coming down too late, thus the foul balls. Got it down early, put good wood on the ball. Obviously needing some consistency there, but I think its there for future gains.

    IT was nice to see the baseball Gods shine on the Pirates for once. If Denorfia doesn’t make that error, that game mightve only had 1 run in our favor. Who knows what happens then.

    This offense is still weak, but if they can count on Pedro, Cutch, Walker every once in awhile, then they can get things done. Not every team has .300 hitters on it.

    Walker was hitting the ball hard, just right at guys, he has really had a great few weeks and exactly what this team needed to step up. His new stroke is better than what they could’ve found on the trade market. Jones on the other hand? Not impressed. He and Gaby have done OK as far as production over the course of the year, but have really hit a wall recently.

    I expect AJ to step up tonight. He really hasn’t had a bad year, though is record itself doesn’t support that. Should be another high strikeout game for the Buccos starting pitcher. Challenge this lineup at their park. Fly balls (unless hit by Pedro) go to die there….just ask NW.

    • Whats up, Ryan.

      I’m not ready to put much stock in Tony Sanhcez’s numbers right now. Hard enough to break into the league, even harder to do it when you’re getting starts sparingly. I do think your mechanical analysis is logical, though. Contact ability seems fine, bat speed seems fine, biggest issue looks to be timing. Could be why he has a history of starting slow once moving up a level before figuring it out.

      Really can’t fathom how anyone is disappointed with AJ Burnett. All the guy is doing is having a career year in his age 36 season. Think about that for a second.

      I don’t fault the Pirates for not trading for a guy like Justin Morneau to replace Garrett Jones, mostly because he also stinks. I fault them for doubling down on Garrett Jones instead of selling high. What Jones is doing this year looks much like what he did in his first two full seasons. Thinking last years production was closer to his true talent, and could be sustained in his age 32 season, was obviously a mistake. Fun to think how the dominos would have fallen if that Jones/Hanny for Smoak/Jaso or Iglesias/Dubrount trade would have happened.

      • +1.

        And, welcome back.

      • Dearest NMR,

        Thank you for your sound, cogent words. It just goes to show us all how much of a crap shoot betting on the skills of players, both prospect and veteran alike, really is.

        Who would have thought Jones would have the kind of year to make you say “Hmm. Was he worth the monetary investment over the long haul?”. For everyone crying out for Justin Morneau (include yours truly), how would he be over the long haul? He has hit decent as of late, but, because of age, he is not the player he used to be. What if he slumped and slumped hard? Trading Jones or prospects or some combination and getting the equivalent of Jones minus would not be a wise move to support the win now and in the long haul mentality. I do not envy the decision makers.

        Good to see you back, sir.

        • Thanks, Brandie (and plan!).

          Got sent out on a project and haven’t blogged (or slept) much at all. Hopefully will make it back to Pittsburgh by seasons end.

      • Hey NMR, what’s shakin?

        Looks like we agree, as per usual I’d say. Good point on Tony’s slow starts.

        I have always been a Justin Smoak fan. He played at USC (the east coast version) when I used to live in SC and he did very well there. Of course, so did Steve Pierce.

        I think with AJ’s case, people always just look at the W/L record. Nevermind his Runs for stats. His ERA is down and his strikeouts are up.

        • Smoak is the reason I want to see Travis Snider given a real chance to hold down right field.

          OK, I couldn’t even type that with a straight face.


        • I think people are a little concerned about AJ’s last couple of starts and ERA of 5.21 ERA so far in August, especially in light of last August’s 5.18 ERA in August. Yep, VERY small sample size, but not based on W/L record at all for most, I would think. People are just raising a little concern. Haven’t seen anyone trash him or say they are disappointed.
          (But there are always a few on anything) But what do I know?

          I was actually thinking maybe he’ll settle down a little with Liriano in the lead role. I know it sounds a little weird, but think about it.

      • Don’t think about it too long….career years at 36……not a popular position at the moment.

        Sanchez will have to overcome his draft slot AND why he was drafted there until some people will give him any credit. I know I’m guilty of that and I also know it’s not fair. If he’s a career backup tho’….

        Morneau/Jones…they’re the same guy to me. I thought one the reasons for drafting all the pitchers that they have the last couple of years was for trade bait. They did nothing off season or at the deadline (No- I do not care what other teams did or didn’t do) to address the holes in the batting order. I know I would like their chances one helluva lot better if Pedro was 5th and Martin was 7th and a legitmate bat was at 4th and 6th playing 1B and RF.

      • I have been a Justin Morneau guy for quite some time, but more last year, than this year.

        I do think he’d improve the lineup though, but by how much? That I dont know.

        • The Pirates haven’t had that much luck bringing in position players like that…Martin has been one of the better ones…so I guess it depends on what they would have to give up.

          That being said…I just killed my own argument from above…except he (Martin) just cost some of Nutting’s money.

        • He very well may, Ryan.

          But you take one week out of his season in which he put five balls in the seats and he looks like Jose Tabata.

          Nobody would be ready to hang Huntington if that one week didn’t happen.

          I just personally can’t expect Morneau to recreate that one week again, since he hasn’t in three years, thus I can’t get all worked up about him not being a Pirate.

        • Anyways, good catching up. And go Bucs!

  41. Me thinks it is coming down to $$$ more than anything else at this point.

    Morneau would be here by now IF the Bucs assume what is left on his contract.
    Have to assume the same would be true for David DeJesus (remember he was linked to the Bucs at the deadline).

    The Cubs let him walk for a player to be named.
    The Nats did have to assume what was left on his contract, and are on the hook for his buyout if they don’t pick up his option.

    Now the Nationals have him on waivers as well.

    Have to figure at this point the only thing holding back the Bucs from landing some of these August pieces is nothing more than $$$.

    Who controls the Bucs purse strings again?

    • Makes you wonder about the money currently being paid to Jose Contreras, Jonathan Sanchez and Brandon Inge at the moment.

      How nice it would be to have some of that cash lying around to pay for an August pick up or two.

      • My Dear Friend Mr. Playoffs by 201_; did you leave off of your wasted money list (Contreras, J.Sanchez and Inge) a guy who is making 5 mill and lost his job to a rookie?

        Anyway, it is ALWAYS about the money – especially with the BMTIB. However, it is right to say that NH doesn’t “control” the money, but I believe that he being entrusted with making the critical business decisions (or at least – recommendations), must have some consideration of the money.

        I remain one of the people who felt that most of the moves being considered or rumored, were merely horizontal or worse – so money entered the equation.

        I’m glad we stood pat, other than the moves made within, and some of those I opposed. i.e. Presley going down

      • I don’t think those 3 really amount to much, in baseball economics anyhow. I believe they were all minor league deals.

    • This blog would have you believe Huntington controls the purse strings. Somebody needs to look at the org chart.

    • It’s not me, that I can assure you.

    • And I think that’s the biggest difference in the trade deadline. I think there’s more negotiations going on there with money than anything else. I don’t see too many high priced guys changing hands. It seems to be all or nothing.

      • The bottom line is no pickups.

        I still say there was nothing out there exciting or worth it, unless you did a blockbuster/knocked the socks off of someone.

        Miles to go

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