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Morning Java: A plethora of pigskin

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The next column will be Sunday, covering the Steelers-Chiefs preseason game. The ones I normally would write for today and Friday were pushed up this week to cover the Steelers in D.C.

>> Le’Veon Bell’s mid-foot injury leaves two running backs saying they’re No. 1, per Alan Robinson.

Ben Roethlisberger is getting lots of leeway from Todd Haley.

Richard Mann, the new wide receivers coach, is profiled in Joe Starkey’s column.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

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>> The Pirates scored one run on four singles. Travis Sawchik is in San Diego.

Here’s the rest of our baseball coverage, including some exclusive reporting by Sawchik on Francisco Liriano’s contract vesting for 2014.

Here’s Padres news from the San Diego Union-Tribune and Giants news from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Here are official game highlights from MLB.com.

>> You have to wonder if banged-up Isaac Bennett will be starting in Pitt’s backfield for the Florida State game. There are other options. Jerry DiPaola reports.

>> Penn State’s got a promising tight end named Jesse James. Bob Cohn reports.

>> I’ll visit with TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m.

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.

430 Comments

  1. Four singles. It happens to other teams. But one things for sure: Given us being like 24th in the majors in scoring/hitting, it seems to happen to us more. I think the time is ripe to sign a Justin Morneau-type.

  2. I saw the man,myth, legend Frank C., but this was otherwise another stinker of a game to attend.

    Oh well, there were a bunch if Pirates’ fans in the stands, which was neat.

  3. The Pirates had a chance to sweep a series against a pitcher with a 5.12 ERA. They had a chance to distance themselves from the cold streak. They couldn’t score the 3 runs necessary to win.

    Morneau is 1 month older than Jones. Lee was 3 years older and with worse numbers. Morneau played in the playoffs in 2004 and 2006. He missed the playoffs in 2009 and 2010 because of injury. A veteran who has a resume with something to play for is a good thing.

    Morneau 32 doubles 15 hr 72 rbi
    McCutchen 32 doubles 17hr 72 rbi

    Whatever.

  4. Have to infer that we haven’t acquired Morneau because the Twins are just demanding too damn much. The the Yankees are now rumored to be back in as suitors for Morneau does not help us. Would we really want to pay for a one-month rental with someone like, say, Alen Hanson? I’ve been a proponent of the “all in now” philosophy since before the season started. But not at the cost of being fleeced. Morneau’s value to the Twins essentially expires in a little more than a week. The Yanks probably don’t even have much in their system to offer the Twins. Besides, it would be even more stupid for them to mortgage their future for a one-month rental than it would be for us to do it. The Yanks ain’t winning any titles this year and their Paleolithic roster needs to be blown up by an asteroid. But let them be the ones to overpay if they must. Till then, the Twins can sweat. Time is not on their side; their price will probably come down. Anyway, I’d still like to see an “outside-the-box” type of trade. Still dreaming of Jose Bautista Part IV.

    • Ghost, I’m with you: When it comes to throwing in one of our best prospects for a rental like Morneau, we gotta tread lightly. But I gotta believe we got enough of a minor league stable to interest the Twins in SOMETHING. Maybe we could tell them, “Hey! You already got Sano from us!” Ooh, that was real bad!

    • I don’t infer that. I infer $$$, based on the evidence we have.

  5. Don’t know the pitch breakdown, but Cole threw more breaking balls last night. Certainly, more than when he started out this season only firing fast balls. It’s almost as if (emphasis on “almost”) this outing was used like a spring training game whereby a pitcher works on specific pitches. I know how ridiculous it sounds to even think this in passing as the team is in the middle of a pennant race. Yet, it seemed that way. Especially when you remember how dominating Cole can be with just his fastball(s, which he moves around and varies the speed of). A starter must command more than one pitch, so I view tonight as a necessary step in getting from “here” to “there.” Every game counts, but Cole has bigger games ahead.

    In any event, he proverbially “scattered” 10 hits and limited the damage to 2 runs over six innings. He walked no one. Gerrit Cole was not the problem. The problem was the meager four hits our offense mustered. It will take a lot more than Justin Morneau to fix that.

    • Gerrit Cole was not the problem. The problem was the meager four hits our offense mustered. It will take a lot more than Justin Morneau to fix that.”

      Well said.

      • Yes Milady, and it doesn’t help when you remove 50 BA points from the lineup at SS, and the replacement goes 0-3.

        Jones IS now a problem, which my lips would never have said previously.

        I believe most of our lineup at the plate have no discipline or concentration. They don’t even try to “bump” a little single over short or second with eyes squarely on the ball. No they prefer driving a gap shot or some other more dynamic display – like a warning track HR.

        • it was extremely frustrating and disappointing to watch last night, Bob. After missing the previous games, I was looking forward to it…and BOOM!
          They stunk lol

          • Super glad I was at work for that one! ALTHOUGH, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised when I looked up on our Pizza Hut TV to see Cutch at the plate, hitting that Sac Fly as I was headed out for another DERIVERY (Y’all didn’t know I was Chinese, did you?)! Did not KNOW we have the MLB Network there! DERIVERY times just got lot slower!

  6. Hmmmm… Hippomeister Meisterhippo doesn’t seem to be in. Per chance, could his pond be unattended?
    Alrighty, I’ll just first slip into my brand new ‘armored’ little Fiat (tired of all that buck shot up the gazoo, you see), and now I’ll drive right into his pond, just like in that Fiat commercial. Oh yeah…. Nothin’ like “ventilating” under water. :D

  7. Update on the stat that probably interests only me. To get to 90 wins, the Pirates need to average a record of 10-8 during each of the nine 18-game segments of the season. Last night finished the seventh 18-game segment, and the Pirates records have been 10-8, 10-8, 14-4, 8-10, 12-6, 11-7 and 9-9.

    If they average 10-8 over the next two 18 game sequences (20-16) overall, they get to 94 wins, which is one less than Clint Hurdle’s stated goal of 95 wins at the beginning of the season.

    If the Pirates get to 94 wins, Arizona would have to go 29-8 over its final 37 games to tie, and Cincinnati would have to go 22-13 over its final 35 games to tie.

    • No, that stat doesnt only interest you.

      I certainly hope your math is correct. I just see the offense totally evaporating, and us NOT being able to go 10-8 the last 2 groups of 18 games. The Pirates play the majority of their remaining game son the road.

      The Pirates scored 8 runs Tuesday night. That is an aberration.
      The Pirates scored 1 run last night. That will be closer to the norm.

    • This interests me as well. Keep up the good work, Tom P :)

      • I am concerned about the Bucs going to SF.

        According to baseball-reference.com, the Pirates are 136-191 at SF, since they moved there in 1958. They have also never won at Texas, going 0-6.

        In a race where every win counts, the above arent good numbers.
        Add the anemic offense on the road, well, you see where this is going.

        • Plan,

          I understand. At the same time, the Pirates are 2 games over .500 on the road, the Giants are one game under .500 at home. The Pirates have scored 12 more runs than the Giants, and given up far fewer (121 per ESPN).

          Given those numbers, it is at least a fair fight. Who wins, I don’t know. With the Pirates starters of Locke, Morton, Liriano and Burnett, a split (and the resulting 4-3 road trip) is not out of the question.

        • Giants are a hot mess right now, I’m not worried about this 4 game series….and they better win on Sunday.

  8. Back to a state of depression. A pitcher who was sucking wind, suddenly looks like Tom Seaver re-born.

  9. Well, 8 days or so til the end of the “waiver” trade deadline, and setting of postseason rosters.

    Time to dust off my saying from the non-waiver deadline.

    Prepare to be underwhelmed.

    Oshie-Koshie provided a list of players that have moved, or could be moved to other teams. Many people have wondered why the Pirates havent acquired anybody. The answer is pretty simple, just by reading this blog. The main 4 built-in excuses are in play………………..

    1) The players arent upgrades,
    2) All the players stink,
    3) Player costs too much,
    4) Cant give up a prospect. (GASP!!!)

    If anyone really thinks that no one of the available players isnt an upgrade over Jones hasnt been watching Jones. As for the other 3 excuses, I am just at a loss for their reasoning. If every player truly stunk, they would have never made it to MLB. If a player costs too much, or a prospect can never be surrendered, what is the sense of have a major-league team? I think you win when you can, you dont wait for 2016, 2017. Yes, it is important to make sure there is talent in the pipeline for those future teams, but you dont pi$$ away the chance this year.

    A final thought………….. this 2013 season has been a totally unexpected bonus for this FO, both in # of wins, and $$$$$$ at the gate. I honestly think their plan is to be contending in 2015 and beyond, so this year they will go with what they currently have, and let the chips fall where they may. This way, the FO that hates any risk, wont have to take any risks..

    Prepare to continue to be underwhelmed, guys (and gals).

    • You are correct on all counts. There’s a 5th argument some people have been making: Morneau won’t be a savior, he cant solve all the Pirates’ offensive woes, so therefore he’s not worth getting.

      I cannot even begin to comprehend this logic. He improves the starting lineup, improves the bench, adds playoff experience, and improves the team’s offense overall. Even if these are all just modest improvements, they would make a huge difference with how pathetic this offense (and Garrett Jones in particular) look right now.

      How is adding him to the roster not a good thing?

      Last night’s game – a frustrating one-run loss in which the offense failed to show up – is EXACTLY the kind of game Morneau could have made a difference in.

      This might be the best chance the Pirates will ever have to win a World Series. A lot of “teams on the rise” suddenly stumble and never make it back. Look at the Washington Nationals for Exhibit A. Who knows what the future holds – the Pirates may never again make the playoffs under this regime. Which means they need to do absolutely everything they can to make a serious playoff run, instead of sitting around and making excuses for why they haven’t upgraded the roster.

    • And DITTO that!!

      MUST replace Jones in the lineup NOW. Period. And NO ONE is expecting Morneau or “whoever” to be a savior. But we simply CANNOT go forward with a pitcher in the middle of the lineup! CANNOT!

  10. If you aspire to be a CHAMPIONSHIP team in 2013….you can’t do it by adding Felix Pie to your roster late in August.

    Nutting + Nutting = NUTTING.

    You’ve got to spend some $$$….spend some talent (wisely) …. to add to the roster if you want RUN WITH THE BIG DAWGS in Sept and October.
    .
    Otherwise, be content with >82 wins in 2013…bank the the $$$ from the increased attendance … ;-)….. and enjoy watching the Dodgers and Braves have fun playing championship ball in October.

  11. JAL’s California One / Youth and Beauty Brigade Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_ez0KA2aA8

    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 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

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

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Gerrit Cole “Disappointed” Over Pirates’ 2-1 Loss to San Diego

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/08/gerrit-cole-disappointed-over-pirates-2-1-loss-to-san-diego.html

    Prospect Watch: Bell Hits 12th Homer; Strong Starts For Rodriguez and Creasy

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/08/prospect-watch-bell-hits-12th-homer-strong-starts-for-rodriguez-and-creasy.html

    Pirates Notebook: Why Felix Pie Joined the Bucs to Lead Off

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/08/pirates-notebook-why-felix-pie-joined-the-bucs-to-lead-off.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates lose 2-1. But … Felix Pie!

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/8/21/4645988/pirates-lose-2-1-but-felix-pie

    Pirates ‘have some interest’ in Justin Morneau

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/8/21/4643558/pirates-have-some-interest-in-justin-morneau

    6 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Paying Pennies* For Power

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/08/21/pittsburgh-pirates-paying-pennies-for-power/

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 126: Padres 2 Pirates 1

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/august-2013/game-126-padres-2-pirates-1.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Shut Down By Ian Kennedy 2-1

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/08/bucs-shut-down-by-ian-kennedy-2-1.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Padres2 Pirates 1

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/08/padres-2-pirates-1/

  12. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    10 San Diego Union Tribune

    Ian Kennedy grounds Pirates

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/aug/21/padres-ian-kennedy-grounds-pirates/

    11 Through the Fence

    Latino players leading Pirates to postseason

    http://throughthefencebaseball.com/latino-pittsburgh-pirates/36842

    12 San Jose Mercury News

    Pittsburgh Pirates, close to ending playoff drought, visit Giants

    http://www.mercurynews.com/giants/ci_23909468/pittsburgh-pirates-close-ending-playoff-drought-visit-giants

    13 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates Promote Felix Pie; Can He Even Help?

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/08/21/pittsburgh-pirates-promote-felix-pie-can-he-even-help/

    14 Bleacher Report

    The Greatest Pitcher in Every MLB Team’s History

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1744841-the-greatest-pitcher-in-every-mlb-teams-history

    15 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Reds hang on for 10-7 win against Diamondbacks

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130821/SPT04/308180075/Reds-hang-on-for-10-7-win

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates vs Giants Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130822_PIT@SF/piratesgiants-preview

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Cardinals wobble their way to a win

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cardinals-wobble-their-way-to-a-win/article_4600e797-1e91-5eff-9b06-aeb2c8c3d5b4.html

    18 PBC Site

    Cole spins quality start, but bats fall flat

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_08_21_pitmlb_sdnmlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    Notebook: In return to big leagues, Pie starts in left for Bucs

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130821&content_id=57805746&notebook_id=57806950&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Hardball Times

    110th anniversary: Pirates’ all-time record reaches .500

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/110th-anniversary-pirates-all-time-record-reaches-.500/

    20 Fangraphs

    Simulating the Impact of Pitcher Inconsistency

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/simulating-the-impact-of-pitcher-inconsistency/

  13. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Return of Steelers TE David Johnson could seal fate for ILB Sean Spence

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/8/21/4644626/Steelers-David-Johnson-Sean-Spence-TE-ILB-IR

    Former Steelers OG Willie Colon enjoying his time with Jets QB Mark Sanchez

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/8/22/4646748/mark-sanchez-video-willie-colon-2013-preseason

    22 Steelers Depot

    Tape Breakdown: Steelers Versus Redskins Game Notes – Preseason Week 2

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/08/tape-breakdown-steelers-versus-redskins-game-notes-preseason-week-2/

    Soccer(football)

    23 London Evening Standard

    Fenerbahce 0-3 Arsenal: Gunners take advantage in Champions League first-leg.

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/fenerbahce-03-arsenal-gunners-take-advantage-in-champions-league-firstleg-8779010.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    Northern Ireland success offers hope for minnows

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/columnists/norther-ireland-success-offers-hope-for-minnows

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Points 8/21: Letang and Neal Workouts, Top 5 Shero Trades

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/8/21/4643556/pens-points-8-21-letang-and-neal-workouts-top-5-shero-trades

  14. And, I have horrible news for everyone…………

    Students did a test on Oreo Double-Stuff cookies to see if they are really “Double-Stuffed”.

    The result: They arent.
    they are 1.86 times stuffed, but arent truly “Double-Stuffed”.

    I am so hurt by this.

    I would like to see Kovacevic and Olbermann talk about this finding on their show.

  15. I have a dumb question for the masses…
    Do the return players in the trades also have to pass through waivers? If so, what if the return for Morneau is being demanded now, but won’t pass through? I understand the concept of PTBNL, but if Huntington would have to trade someone like Hanson (not that I’m proposing it), wouldn’t he have to go through waivers as well? Might complicate things a little more. Just curious.

  16. Yesterday’s podcast thread was the best it’s been, like, ever.

  17. Teams run up against good pitchers with their best stuff occasionally. It happens in the playoffs almost every game. I am really worried about this lineup in the playoffs.

  18. I noticed Cutch’s shoulders taking a somewhat rounded appearance, from carrying the load alone.

    Our Mighty Casey cannot tote around a .233 BA with way too many K’s, and be honored as many here like to do. If he doesn’t hit a HR, he IS the black hole in the batting order.

    Cutch too will begin to wear down

  19. Love Russell Martin and all he brings to this team. But anybody else feel he made little effort to stop the first Padre run from scoring? Sort of relaxing on 1 knee, no attempt to block the plate, and casual swipe at the ball as it bounced past.

    • I was upset at that one. Hubby told me I was over-reacting.
      pffft!

    • Disagree. The ball bounced three in front of him, the worst kind of a throw for a catcher to field, with a runner bent on mayhem bearing down.
      The bounce needs to be 10 feet away to give him a logical real chance to catch it.

  20. I think it is time to ignore the leftee-rightee thingee with Jones because he can’t seem to hit ANNNYYYYBODDDEEEEEE

    He’s not the type, but if he tried to punch the water cooler, he’d miss.

  21. *****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 :)

    • Hi Jandy, long time lurker. Niceville Fl is current hometown; yes it is”nice”! Grew up in Leetdale, joined the Air Force and retired in Florida. Never lost my love for my orginal hometown sports teams!

      • Welcome, Bigchinook! Thanks for listing your hometown, friend :)
        Come visit us more often, jump in the conversation. You’ll find Bob Hasis and Stuart too long time Pirate fans as well :)

      • Ain’t no Chinook’s in Niceville…….Unless they are the flying kind, which doesn’t make sense for an AF guy.

  22. The Pirates lineup stinks!

  23. Jones now 0 for his last 18? Average down below .240?

    The other thing that I really hadn’t considered was an injury. If that injury is to Jones or Gaby then not a big loss. But you take someone like Marte out and boom you are stuck with Sanchez and Jones in the lineup. Seeing them back to back in the lineup made me vomit in my mouth a bit.

    That was a big opportunity yesterday that was blown. We’ve lost them before and will lose them again but coming off this game with 4 hits having to go to SF and have to face Cain, Bumgarner, and Lincecum over the next 3 make for a tough task.

    • Last night was my breaking point with Jones, TJ.

      I’d been willing to wait him out since he had an OPS over .800 in July and had actually been striking out less and walking more in his August slump. I figured a couple hits dropping could spark one of his runs.

      But you see a guy take at-bats like that last night and you throw out the numbers and theories. The guy just looks beaten. Give him some time off and let the man regroup.

  24. Buccos are reversing 20 years of bad drafting and player development. Lack of cash put this franchise so far behind the better run franchises, it is remarkable they are where they are. AJ, Francisco, Grilli, and others have exceeded expectations. Wandy offsets that to a degree, but one just can’t expect for a complete championship caliber team right now. As good drafting and the numbers/talent in the system grow, then the feeder system will provide the level of talent needed to have options. But the Pirates are closer to that goal than five years ago so progress is their most important product.

  25. Good pitching usually triumphs over good-hitting, so the experts have said. Then would it be fair to say that average pitching will beat mediocre or poor hitting?

    If those statements are true, then what will good pitching do to poor hitting?

    We may find out in San Fran.

  26. Anyone else feel the Frimt Office got off easy for mismanagining the major league roster. Seems inexcusable to not have any other options other than Cherry Pie available when Marte and Tabata went down. Designating both Lambo and Pressley within the same 10-day window was a risk and they got caught with their pants down.

    • Well, Pie is their third option – not their first.

      They may have mismanaged the roster a bit but also what caused them to get caught with their pants down was the need to call up Kris Johnson because the bullpen got blown up the past few series. (especially Saturday night with Locke)

    • When the team totally destroys its bullpen with a bad start in one game and extra innings in another you have no choice but to call up an additional pitcher. Then you waste him in his first game and send him out.

      The Pirates could have gotten around the Pie situation if Tabata or Marte were put on the DL. Pie got on base twice yesterday; which is more than I would have expected out of Lambo or Presley.

    • I understand what you are getting at here, but Pie had 1 of the Pirates 4 hits, was able to draw a walk, and scored the Pirates only run. Doesn’t seem to me like he was the problem.

    • You sir win the prize for that very astute observation. They gave themselves no options by not having Presley at least, available. So they bring up a journeyman who hadn’t been in a major league line-up for two years, and he’s now your lead-off man. Unfair and dumb.

      NH and CH need to have that question asked of them – why and how could that happen – , but no one will dare. One did it – the other permitted it. Unless of course they are not talking. It seems that way some time.

      They’d have their locker room pass yanked for such a forthright question.

      • Bob;

        It could have been avoided if the injuries were bad enough. Can you predict when the Pirates are going to get stuck having to cover 7 innings because the starter is pulled or when the team plays a 16 inning game?

        How many major league games had Lambo played in when he was called up?

        • Well perhaps you were among those calling for Lambo to be brought up, and then because of circumstances he gets returned – along with Presley to Indy.
          I thought Kris Johnson was magnificent and did exactly what they needed him to do. To make room for him someone had to go, however as it turned out both Presley and Lambo were gone. As the announcers said, we were one bench player short.
          I say that is a critical mistake for a team fighting for a championship.

          We know how unpredictable Tabby’s health is, and were surprised by Marte’s unavailability.
          Better vision, intuition and planning by those who are paid very well was lacking.
          It’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

          • Maybe it shows the lack of a so called pipe line that we are expecting to carry this team in 2 years.

            Taking a look at the others in AAA there isn’t anyone else worth calling up; now even the infamous Jerry Sands.

          • People had been clamoring for weeks to bring up Lambo. They finally do and send Presley down.

            THEN the bullpen blows up.

            Who should they have sent down to make room for K. Johnson?
            I don’t view it as a mistake. I view it much more a victim of the circumstances. (the starters forced the bullpen to blow up)

            I don’t want to Marte on the 15 day DL if he’ll be ready in 5 days.
            Tabata –who knows.

            • I can agree with this, but it is still ” a can of worms” in the end.
              Circumstances – sure.

              I believe, as I stated yesterday, that Marte has a problem about which we are not being told.
              He could have been DL’ed – possibly

          • I’m still thinking we should get Rajai Davis back regardless if anyone else is acquired. No sarcasm intended

            • I’d bring back Rajai Davis just to come full circle on correcting one of the egregious mideeds that defined the last twenty years.

              I’m also willing to light candles, consult a shaman, and whatever else it takes.

  27. I’m not going to dare blame umpires but man oh man do the Pirates seem to go up there and look at called 1st strikes quite a bit. And over the past week I can’t count how many were actually out of the strike zone.

    I look at Sunday’s last at bat. Johnson has a 2-0 count; 3rd pitch out of the zone called a strike; whole at bat changed and game over.

    Happens to both teams but some of the calling behind the plate lately has been suspect at best.

    • Unfortunately, many of the called strikes are actually strikes, some right down the pipe.

      That is what happens when the entire team’s hitting “philosophy” is waiting for your pitch.

      Pirate hitters also make a “choice” of what part of the plate they will cover, always leaving one part of the plate uncovered.

      “See the ball, hit the ball” is more than simplistically profound. A good hitter should be able to hit a ball as well as a strike See Clemente, Roberto.

      Stuart

      • Should they swing at every pitch over the plate?

      • You do understand the inherent silliness of saying that any good hitter should be able to do the same thing as the Hall of Famer with 3,000 career hits, right?

      • My observation is, at least regarding Pedro, Jones and Martin….the either watch strike 1 then swing at the next pitch, usually OFF the plate (and miss) and then they are 0-2. OR they swing at a lousy first pitch and watch strike 2…either way they are 0-2 and the at bat is essentially over. Not 100%, but a really high %.

        The opposing pitchers are NOT that good….the alternative being?

        And before I hear (read) it…yes I know Pedro has 31, the bigger picture is he is hitting 10 points higher than Barmes, so his contribution (while leading the league in errors) happens too infrequently to be batting 4. The alternative, based on this line up…none.

        • And that is the problem with analyzing baseball through observation and not statistics.

          Pedro Alvarez has been in an 0-2 count in just 11% of his plate appearances.

          Is that your definition of “really high”?

          • No it isn’t, but I have a real lifeand chose to spend it observing rather than pouring over statistics. I save that for work.

            And the main F* reason I said OBSERVATION.

          • You know what’s really funny, NMR?

            If I’m figuring this right – and it’s quite possible I’m not – there have been 6,419 0-2 counts in the National League this year. Also, there have been 71,821 total plate appearances for National League batters this year.

            You know what percentage of 71,821 6,419 is?

            Why, it’s 11.04 percent. Give or take.

            • Ha, thats great Sean.

              One thing about baseball that amazes me is how much synergy exists when you look at the big picture.

              The really really good guys almost always balance out the really really bad guys and you’re left with a pretty solid baseline for which to judge.

          • Without observation how are we supposed to watch the games?

            :-)

          • I would be interested to know what per cent of those 0-2 counts becomes a K, what per cent grows to 1-2, and becomes an out of any kind and more importantly perhaps, become a base hit.

            My ultimate thought is in this exchange of opinions is to determine with stats, that it isn’t real good as a batter to be in the hole.

            • You’ll love this one, Bob.

              Petey strikes out 65.7% (!!!) of the time after going down 0-2. His OBP in at bats in which he faces that count is just .073.

              I don’t think you’ll get any argument from Sean or I that it is better to be ahead in the count than behind. The difference of opinion comes in what should be done about it.

              I do think Pedro needs to be more agressive, but by no means do I think he should start swinging at significantly more 1st pitch strikes.

              Pitchers know he’s one of the most dangerous power hitters in the league. Nobody is consistantly throwing him first pitch fastballs over the heart of the zone. They’re throwing him breaking balls and fastballs on the outer half.

              Judging by Pedro’s ability (or lack there of) to hit those pitches in question, I don’t see how he any more productive trading weak contact (or none at all) for a called strike.

              They give you three of them, after all.

      • Well, the way MOST of us stat-challenged fans see it, these guys are whiffing too much.
        But what do I know? :D

        Carry on.

        • Well that observation isn’t as hard to figure out as true.

          The Pirates have the second-most strikeouts in the National League. I’d say that’s not a good category to lead, although curiously, the red-hot Atlanta Braves actually lead the NL in that category.

          • I’m wondering now, if the braves have so many strike outs, that means they have a LOT of hits if they’re winning, right?
            Pirates need to hit the ball more…a lot more.

            • Not necessarilly a lot more hits (team batting average is only .008 higher than the Pirates), but a lot more home runs.

              • ahh..something Jones could arguably be helping us with :)

              • Bingo!!

                Starling Marte is a culprit of this as well (and before anybody jumps, I’m not saying his overall game is a problem).

                11 homeruns from a guy striking out almost a quarter of the time he’s up isn’t the power/strikeout tradeoff you want to see.

              • NMR

                Do you think Marte’s appoach would be diffenent if he was moved down in the order? Maybe he hits closer to 25 home runs. Sadly he probably would also strike out more. Even more the Pedro.

              • Sometimes I’m a little slow, but with patience, I get the drift ;)

              • Honestly, Nate, no. No I don’t.

                For all the talk, I don’t think Starling’s approach has actually changed much at all. I think he’s adjusted to big league pitching admirably, but I don’t prescribe to this notion that his spot in the batting order is somehow limiting his potential.

                If we want to make him a home run hitter, we’re going to have to accept him hitting a lot more fly balls. A lot more fly balls is going to mean a lot more chances to utilize his speed.

                I, personally, just don’t see that as an overall improvement.

              • Sorry, Nate. I meant a lot LESS chances to utilize his speed.

              • I think I agree with you on this. His approach would probably be the same no matter where he hits in the order. His walk rate couldn’t get much worse. Just wanted to see your thoughts.

              • ‘preciate the conversation, as always, Nate!

          • Led by Uggla, who is now out having an eye operation.

            Maybe a few of our “breeze creating batters” wouldn’t mind a checkup by the team eye doctor.

            No Pedro, that first big letter at the top of the chart is an E

            • Even if this was meant facetiously, I actually think you’re 100% correct.

              I’ve wondered why more hitters don’t have corrective surgery.

              So, so much of hitting is just picking up the ball. Seems crazy that these guys will take PED’s and spend countless hours in the weightroom adding muscle, yet step up to the box with less than perfect vision.

              • You know, now that you two have brought this up, Jones SQUINTS interminably at the plate. I’ve said many times I swear he can’t see well enough to hit the ball.

              • No I think Uggla is done for the year.

                The rest was intended humor. However, Walker is forever squinting at bat, opening his eyes wide so as to enlarge the pupil (so I’m told), and Marte, well he just doesn’t look at the ball so obviously he can’t see it – and whoosh – strike three.

                My good friend Barmes habitually takes the first pitch – usually a good one – for a called strike.

              • Yes my dear Jandy, I mentioned Walker and forgot Jones.
                You are right for sure

              • We agree, Mr. Hasis :)

              • Great OBSERVATIONS, guys!

              • I thought I read or heard Walker wears contacts, which could account for the things with his eyes at the plate. I think that’s why he wears the sunglasses in the field, to combat the dust.

              • I wear contacts too. if you’re squinting that hard, something isn’t right. Just sayin…

              • Could be, I was more “focusing” on opening the eyes wide and the squinting could be part of that process in getting the contact comfortable. I know EYE look like a goofball when mine are out of sync. And the guys with corrective lenses would be having regular check ups. I know EYE do. Not disagreeing with the concept at all.

              • I believe Jones is a contact wearer……

              • I think so too, Ryan. He squints more than Walker lol

        • Nobody is arguing that they don’t, Jandy.

          And you certainly don’t need stats to prove it.

  28. Good morning … Loonies! (See Monty Python & “The Holy Grail” … “You’re a LOOnay!”)

  29. On a warm fuzzy moment. David Ortiz backs Arod; disapproves of Dempster. Thick as thieves.

    Guess we know PEDs are thicker than water.

  30. Anyone seen 21sthebest lately? I don’t think I’ve seen him on this blog for a week or so.

  31. Just over the horizon, perhaps hidden by the curve of the Earth is a revisiting of the “Win or be Fired” approach to the BMTIB.

    I think that even the most diehard Pirate fan’s glass is half empty right now.

    Stuart

  32. You guys are all missing the bigger picture here… The Bucs finally won a series against an NL west coast team that has given them fits for years. Yes, the bats were silent last night, but I will only chalk up the entire series as a win. Sounds to me like no one on this blog is never satisfied.

    Cole was not the problem. Pie was not the problem (actually, Pie was one of the only bright spots all game). This is baseball, guys. It happens to every team. Kennedy had a great pitching day…no more, no less. Be happy with the series or you might give yourselves a coronary.

    • Thats a good point George. Take any series win vs a West Coast team

      • Also…just so you all know, The Cards run into the buzzsaw that is the Atlanta Braves next series. I like the outlook there…Bucs vs. Giants is much more positive than what the Cards have to deal with. I like our chances…

        • Good points all around, George. Sunday night, people would have been happy with 2 of 3 in SD. Once the Pirates won the first two, some folks (me included) get a little greedy. Any series win is a good day.

    • And was it Meatloaf that said “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad?” If Meatloaf said, it’s gotta be right!

    • Actually, George, I, and I’m sure plenty of others, see the SD series exactly like you do. Don’t misinterpret “loud” as the majority view. ;-)

      BTW, I wanted to tell you that I realized you were right about the Leyva call on Walker, as well as his input into the defensive positioning, after DK’s column on the “unsung heroes” last week. My bad.

    • Winning the series is the name of the game. The goal should be 3/4 from SF too. A sweep is awesome, everybody loves that, but not reality either.

  33. 1. I’d like to see James Conner start at RB for Pitt. I know he is a true freshman but he has taken a lot of snaps from Tom Savage in camp. Savage is new, Conner is new. But the tandem has worked on exchanges far more than Savage and Isaac Bennett. Isaac has some experience, but not sure having a banged up back taking the majority of hand offs is a wise move against the caliber of a team like Florida State. The Panthers really need to survive and move on from this one. I wish they had a patsy before jumping into the fire with the Seminoles, but it’s good to get the program on exclusive national television. Almost game week for Pitt! Very exciting. One week from today, schools start playing for keeps.

    2. I like Tiger Woods to win the Barclays. He took it easy in the pro-am yesterday citing back and neck pain. That usually means he will go out and fire a 64 on Thursday. Despite his failure to win a major this year, he has had a decent year. I think winning the playoffs have become a priority for him heading into next season.

    Every time i see the shots of Lady Liberty from beautiful Liberty National, I can’t help but think of The Godfather.

    • I agree with you on Conner. I will be interesting to see how he stacks up against what we saw of Shell last year. They at least appear to have similar styles. haven’t seen enough of Bennet, but if he is just barely running now…playing against FSU is somewhat problematic.

    • I was surprised during the PGA that Tiger was ranked #1, either in the world, or the US. Not that I have any idea what those rankings are based on, but . . .

      • A number cruncher’s dream – based on a rolling average where points for tournament finishes decline over time. Tournaments have different values – Majors and near Majors have top value with the others determined by strength of field.

  34. The loss last night won’t be a problem, if the Pirates win the series against the Giants. If skidmarks show up in their collective underwear, it’s a problem.

  35. Great read on Adam Dunn and beating the shift. Guy is a way better hitter than I’ve given him credit for.

    http://www.csnchicago.com/white-sox/shift-against-sox-slugger-all-dunn

    • He draws a lot of walks. Between him and Martin they would see a lot of pitches and cause pitchers fits. I really like the idea of adding him instead of Morneau but I don’t know what the White Sox are willing to do.

      • I think the walks, even by a guy who doesn’t have much speed, are important for this team. At this point, they’re obviously not hitting well enough to put runners on base. Gotta get guys on some other way.

        Judging by Rios, seems like the White Sox are willing at this point to simply shed salary in return for a decent prospect. Leury Garcia wasn’t nothing, but he also wasn’t anything the Pirates can’t afford to give up.

        Crazy to think the White Sox traded Crain, Thornton, Peavy, and Rios and got just one top 100 prospect in return.

        • I also have a hard time beleiving they weren’t offered more for Rios at the deadline then what they ended up getting. Maybe they played chicken and ended up holding a 14 million dollar contract they didn’t want because nobody blinked.

          • I was thinking the same thing.

            That being said, thats probably not the reason ;-)

          • More than that, Nate, they didn’t want to simply pay the remainder of this seasons salary.

            I can’t imagine Rick Hahn isn’t smart enough to know that simply waiting until the off season would’ve allowed all 29 other teams to bid on Rios, not just one.

            Salary dump, and a poor one at that.

  36. Sorry if my post was interpreted to be a do nothing to improve the roster. My point is getting a marginal improvement may look good, but the Pirates are in rebuilding mode and will be better able to be “all in” when the better players replace those who presently are on this roster. This year has been a success by most measures. I do however expect management to make a move as it does call for it. Whether they can is another matter.

  37. Biz, you around, friend?

  38. “Unknown” team has claimed David Dejesus off waivers from Washington

  39. So the Rays claimed DeJesus off waivers.
    Which means the Pirates didn’t even bother to put in a claim.

    I can’t wait to hear about how this had nothing at all to do with $$$.

  40. Watching Reds / DBacks on line. Rooting for injuries.

  41. Baseball? Apple Pie? Not even Jandy’s cookies or Karens wine will do next Sunday in Latrobe. Just read that Dole is sponsoring a National Banna Split day, Sundae(y). I expect all you locals will attend!

  42. All this talk about October baseball, makes me think about Halloween.
    Halloween makes me think of pumpkins.

    Hippo this one is for you buddy!

  43. Wonder if Ryan Braun & Brandon Phillips are buddies ?

  44. May I suggest a logo for the blog (thanks, Milo):

    $$$

    • It can refer to both the PBC’s thrift or the money lining Dejan’s pockets after his recent contract.

    • Speaking of $$$$$, how are things up there in relation to Ryan Fraud?
      Any restless natives?

      • This is what will happen (based on years of precedent from innumerable locations):

        1. Tearful apology, preferably standing with fiance with a forlorn look on her face.

        2. Interview with a cupcake interviewer-either a star struck local Milwaukee babe, or Kelly and Michael on the national level. Usual culprits will be blamed-pursuit of fame, hanging around wrong crowd, parents, etc. Any apology will be a qualified one.

        3. Announcement at spring training that he will answer questions (not really) only today and will not address the situation the rest of the year so as not to be a distraction for his beloved teammates.

        4. Initial plate appearance at Drunker Park will be met with mostly applause and some boos.

        5. Will hit home run and never hear a boo again at the home park.

        6. Some idiot opposing pitcher will bean him thus galvanizing the Brewers.

        • Thanks for this.

          I was maybe thinking that the Milwaukee faithful would have a clue.
          I guess not.

          Fraud and A-Fraud will help to destroy a game we all love.
          If they would have just accepted their penalties, this may have blown over.
          Not now.
          And, the longer this drags out, the more harm done.

  45. Crap Reds just took the lead, 2-1 in bottom of the 8th

  46. Sorry for being late to the party……….again.

    Commenting on comments that happened 6 hours ago is always fun.

    I think I’ll just continue to the bottom of the page to see what’s really being said.

    “see the ball, hit the ball”

    I am in a foul mood today, wish it was a fowl mood, either way…..I’m deeply despressed that the Pirates won’t be going 162-0 this year. FIRE EM ALL!!!!!!!

  47. Tiger Woods -3 through 7 at The Barclays.

    Wish my back hurt that much when I played.

    BTW, it’s fun to both say and write, “The Barclays.”

  48. I find it somewhat shocking that we are now clamering for David DeJesus.

    He gives the Pirates NOTHING in the way of improvement and will cost more money next year if kept. Unless the Pirates pull a Nats and just try to pass him around to the league.

    I’ll take the old, fat, injured Tabata, the 3 AAA guys (even AP) and a slumping Garrett Jones over this dude…….Hell, I’ll take George Jones, but he’s……..busy.

    On second thought, I’m not really shocked.

  49. I fail to agree with those commenting here who make excuses for last night’s sorry performance in San Diego, as if everything will be OK because our guys won two out of three against the Padres–a West Coast team we have a record of having trouble with before. The record means nothing right now. Has anyone considered the consequences of playing ball like last night for the rest of the season? The issue is this: if we are going to be in the playoffs, we are far, far better off playing at home against any opponent. Assuming that some combination of two teams from the Pirates, Cardinals and Reds have to play off for the wild card spot, the team with the best record plays at home on that one day. The division champion from all three divisions with the best season’s record plays the winner of the wild card contest at home for games 1, 2, and 5. And, in the seven game series for the NLC, the team with the best record is at home for games 1, 2, 6 & 7. My point is that winning every possible game between now and the end of September may make the difference between playing the Wild Card game and the other playoff games including the NLCS at home or away. Does anyone on here want to play a five or seven game series with three or four of them in Atlanta? Why make it more difficult to win in October when you can have the home field advantage by winning more games in August?

    • Winning 2 out of 3 on the road against any MLB baseball team is a good result. I don’t think many are making excuses. I think most are saying it’s no big deal. You are going to lose some road games and you are going to fail to hit the ball in some games.

      The Cards and Reds who are better offensive teams then the Pirates have put up 0,1 or 2 runs against teams like the Cubs, Brewers and Diamondbacks on the road just in the last week. It happens. That’s baseball. I think most are not making excuses just saying there is no need to panic. I feel like every game they lose from here on out we are going to have talk half the fan base of the ledge.

      • I thought they were already on the ledge dude…….

      • “That’s baseball” is one of the weakest arguments in the language for poor play, weak effort and stupid thinking, in or out of the dugout. The fact is, the organization blew it–from top to bottom–last night in San Diego. Go on thinking like Pollyanna. I doubt that the first team players are.

        • So the Padres had nothing to do with last nights loss?? Talk about weak thinking.

          I don’t care what the pitcher’s ERA was before the beginning of the game, the fact is he threw very well and quieted the Pirates bats..

          But that’s just baseball……….

          • Blaming the opposition’s pitching for a truly poor performance by your own team’s hitters is the excuse of apologists with small minds and weak analytical skills. Ian Kennedy was less dominant than the Pirate team was in bad form. Since July 4th, Kennedy had given up 28 earned runs in 60 innings. He had lost to the Dodgers, Brewers, Giants, Rays and Mets. The only game he had won was against the Yankees. Last night he went 7 innings against the weak bats for only the second time in two months. The team was unable to score more than 1 run against Gregerson and Street, who pitched the 8th and 9th. That was not the mark of a strong contender for the playoffs. Making excuses for them is another form of wishful thinking. I would rather have the scouting report on where some of our players went in San Diego on Tuesday night, how much they drank and sniffed, and how late they went to bed.

            • Let me put my small mind and weak analytical skills to work here.

              I don’t care about what Kennedy did earlier. He’s a talented pitcher with a pedigree, not some AAA call up. Do we stink lots of times with the bat? Sure. Did he pitch a good game yesterday? You tell me, but not based on other games. That seems . . . No, not going to go there.

    • Must. Win. Every. Game.

  50. Were there any Steeler posts above?

    Nice to see Thomas describe Clark and Polamalu as “brothers”.
    He just needs to play like them, and he will be ok.

    The more I read about it, the more I think Le’Veon Bell will be an IR candidate this year.

    Oh, and GO RIVERHOUNDS !!!!

  51. The first installment of this is on the Pirates……………

    http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2013/08/22/fox-sports-1-and-mlb-productions-collaborate-for-mission-october/198955/

    Think “Hard Knocks”, or 24/7 for baseball.

  52. Jawn just asked Suzyn why Jayson Nix was placed on the 15 day DL with his broken hand instead of the 60 day. She didn’t know. They obviously don’t read us.

  53. I just replied to a post waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy back up ^^^^^^^^^^ for some reason, so I’ll throw it down here.

    Our next opponent is the SF Giants. They are a freakin train wreck right now.

    The Pirates face Cain, MadBum, Lincecum, and Vogelsong.

    In the past this would be deemed a sweep. What was once a great staff, are struggling with the best of them………or worst.

    All 4 are still VERY capable. this will not be a push over team. Well, depends which ones show up.

    That said, without looking at the numbers, their offense is worse than ours. The hottest hitter is Brandon Belt, their 1B. Outside of that and the steady Buster Posey, there’s not much to worry about.

    This teamn has lived and died by its pitching over the last few years.

    I will be at the game on Sunday with my family, looking for a good win get to see AJ, should be pretty cool.

    I expect the Pirates to win 3/4, with the loss coming against either MadBum or Voggy.

  54. Marte out of lineup once again tonight, this injury is really starting to linger on a bit.

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