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Morning Java: What were Reds thinking?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Wednesday column evaluates all that led to the Pirates’ long-awaited trade, including a little story about Dilson Herrera — the prospect sent to the Mets — that I’ve been saving for a while.

Brought that topic up with Neal Huntington yesterday …

Funny, but it also was brought up with the GM if he was surprised that Byrd had fallen to the Pirates, who have among the last waiver selections, without someone else — ahem, Reds — blocking it.

Huntington’s diplomatic answer after a slight laugh: “I have enough to worry about here that I don’t really worry about what other teams are doing.”

OK, then, I’ll say it: What were they thinking?

Forget the Cardinals. If you didn’t know, they actually had lower pecking order than the Pirates at the time of waivers, so they couldn’t have blocked. See St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz’s blog entry on the Pirates’ trade for more.

But Cincinnati is different. According to Huntington, the Pirates put in the waiver claim on Byrd within the previous 48 hours of the actual trade. Even if the Reds’ Walt Jocketty had no interest in Byrd — and you can understand why he wouldn’t, given Ryan Ludwick’s return — they had everything to gain by putting in claims and at least delaying or disrupting the process. Even if the Pirates still end up getting a crack, there would be more pressure to get a deal done by the Saturday deadline to set playoff rosters.

Really strange. And hard to explain.

Which might be why Cincinnati Enquirer blogger Steve Mancuso tried with just one word.

Anyway, here’s news coverage of the trade, by Rob Biertempfel.

Here’s the Mets’ perspective, by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

Here’s the game story from PNC Park last night, by Karen Price.

Here’s our full baseball coverage.

Here’s Brewers news from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Here are official game highlights from

>> It had been a while since Ryan Clark barked at the NFL. Alan Robinson reports on that, as well as how tomorrow night could bring a whole lot of Landry Jones. (Yippee.)

Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer keep talking like the other isn’t in the room …

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

>> This Pitt headline contains the amazing term ‘post-Sunseri era.’ Jerry DiPaola reflects.

>> Bill O’Brien won’t name his QB. Chris Adamski reports from State College.

>> Dana Holgorsen won’t, either. Bob Hertzel reports from Morgantown.

>> My TribLIVE Radio show is today at 2 p.m., featuring special guest Antonio Brown. I’ll have a full blog post up on this at around noon. Hope you can call in for the opening segment!

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. Ode to Joy

  2. & as irishjim says
    Byrd is the word

  3. Good analysis, DK. Thanks for the insight.

    Without stating the obvious, winning teams also find ways to win games like tonight, and those kinds of wins have eluded the Pirates recently. I think they will bounce back. Morton and Cole have pitched well in their last two starts. The Pirates were losing the first game of a series early in the season, but they found ways to win the next two or three. Maybe the addition of Byrd (and to a lesser extent Buck) will give them the extra offense needed to score one or two more runs a game.

    DK: Thanks.

  4. Nice article DK. And a lot of good insight.

    If at the end of March I would have told you that both Andrew Lambo and Felix Pie would be the corner outfielders at the end of the game on August 27 – what kind of season would you think we would be having?

    We should have won this game tonight.

    I thought Locke was decent for the first few innings but he needs his next start skipped.
    And what happened to Garret Jones? Right now he stinks.

    And I saw at the end of the game thread some were criticizing Gaby Sanchez. I hope that guy comes back next year. He is spectacular on defense. And he should start against left handed pitchers.

    • Would quibble only in that Sanchez is not *spectacular* on defense. He misses on some throws and doesn’t snag everything hit in his direction. But he has shown to be a decent defender and his bat has (hopefully) rounded the corner. If he can be re-signed for a reasonable price for 1-2 years, then I agree with you about getting him back. A winning team needs guys who accept role-playing jobs and I sense Gaby is one of those kind of guys.

    • I’m not blaming the loss on Gaby Sanchez, but didn’t I see him fail to corral a fly pop up down the line late in the game?
      I’m always amazed to see how some continually praise Sanchez (a marginal player)….And then turn around and damn Neil Walker.

      • First, he was a utility player.
        Then a super-utility players.
        Then was denied a promotion to the bigs over not running out an infield-fly rule popup!!
        Then, he was a stop-gap.
        Then he didnt have enough range.
        Then he couldnt hit enough to stay.
        Then you cant criticize him because he is “The Pittsburgh Kid”.
        Then he was wrong with his comments at trade deadlines.

        The kid cant catch a break.
        But the same people who have relentlessly criticized him will be the first bit%%ing once he is gone.

        I hope Neil sticks around and has a great career……… just to stick it to his critics.

        • +18 Plan. You nailed it better than I did. Thank you.

        • Wow. We’re really going to start this all over again?

          Nobody criticized Walker’s play. Some of us didn’t appreciate his comments at last year’s deadline and didn’t like them this year either.
          And DK has said that Walker’s comments this year are being misinterpreted.

          But I also think that if you are going to tag up from first you better be safe

          • Wow. We are really going to question this again?

            Look, all I was pointing out was that Neil gets critcized for almosy everything, which includes his words, AND his play. For some “fans”, he can do no right. Neil’s choice of words has gotten criticism from some, which is their right. But, when neal H. says some bad things, he gets a pass from those same people. Dont you find that a bit odd?

            My post wasnt directed toward any one poster, it was a general statement. But it is curious how some get offended when this subject is brought up.

            Unless your first line is being directed at me just to be contrarian.

            • Going all the way back to when Walker was called up and when he was labeled a utility player.

              And I thought it was NH who took the criticism for that back then.

      • Daq

        I was there and had a real good look at Gaby chasing that pop up. There is no possible way that he could have put more effort into than he did. It would have been an unbelievable play had he made it. No issue with him not getting it.

        As for Neil, I agree and don’t understand why he takes some of the heat he does. He is such an intelligent player. Yes he got thrown out tagging up and it was a mistake, but he took a chance. He made a wonderful play getting Segura at third. I have been watching baseball for a long time and I have no memory of ever having seen that happen. And the HR was killed and it was clutch. He is a good solid player, I love him settled in the 2 hole, and I am glad he is on my team. I m sure many other teams would also be thrilled to have him. Now if he can fix the righty hitting….

      • If you are talking to me I didn’t criticize Walker’s play in the field. He had a great game.

    • As soon as I saw gabby sterp in against a rigt handed pitcher I knew the game was over. Dude can’t hit righties. I would definitely bring him back if they can find a platoon for him other than Jones. I really like Garrett but he is just putrid right now.

  5. Walker’s comments being misinterpreted as him being unhappy about the trade?

    I like Neil and have always wanted him to see him succeed, but Dilson Herrera moving out as one of our better infielder prospects — even if a couple years away — only enhances Walker’s value to the team over the longer term. I suspect Neil is pleased.

    DK: Wow. No. Just no. See below.

    • I gotta believe Walker was referring to Tony Sanchez and whomever else will be removed from the 25-man.
      Perfectly understandable sentiment, if not exactly media-savvy.

      DK: It was EXACTLY media-savvy in that he recognized a question he felt could be turned against him with the wrong answer and immediately balked.

      Is this still really being discussed?

      He didn’t want to celebrate two teammates LOSING THEIR JOBS. These guys aren’t fans. They’re friends and teammates.

      This is NOT complicated.

      • I entirely get why he would feel this way: I said so in above post. But his remark was obviously NOT media-savvy, precisely because this did become a topic of conversation. A more savvy response would not have included the words, “I can’t say I’m happy…”

        Now, I wasn’t around today so I have no idea how much or little it has been discussed. The first I heard of it was your mention of it in the column. But I can immediately see how this would have become something that titillated some. I thought my above post made it clear that I, myself, have no problem with Walker’s sentiment towards his teammates.

        • Should add that I don’t think it’s easy for athletes to spontaneously answer difficult questions, or that I, myself, could have done any better. That was a classic scene in Bull Durham when Crash Davis instructed Nuke LaLoosh on how to answer reporters’ questions with boilerplate phrases.

    • I can’t speak for anybody but me, but I thought Neil said the wrong thing today. But at least for me it is a misinterpretation of my criticism to say I interpreted it as him being unhappy with the trade. I didn’t think that at all. Like Ghost says, it wasn’t media savvy IMHO. Didn’t suggest cutting him, benching him, didn’t call his parents names, just thought it was the wrong thing to say. And I doubt I’m alone in that thinking or in not thinking he was upset. I was surprised when I read DK’s interpretation of the criticism, but I don’t tweet. Maybe I have a thing with Neal’s/Neil’s and their communication with the media. But Neil’s usually much better. ;-)

    • I understand Walker was referring to two players on the major league roster and expressing sentiment for them (which was not the focus of my comment). However, it’s time to put on the big boy pants, realize this is what happens with competitive teams at the major league level and then have the resolve and mental toughness to produce (like last night) because we’re in a division race. He’s had a disappointing year although he’s improved since the All Star break. He needs to keep it going and his confidence level up.

      Neil is at a crossroads. A few years ago he envisioned himself in a small group of core players that the team would build around long-term. The club rightfully has taken a wait-and-see approach and which I believe has shaken a bit of his confidence. Having less internal options down the road (like Herrera) enhances Walker’s value, which should please him (my only point).

  6. Dejan, great column as always.

    Interesting to see the question of what were other teams thinking……..

    Personally, I dont care what other teams are thinking.
    Or doing. Or not doing.
    I care about what the Pirates do or dont do.
    Yesterday was good. A little late for most peoples tastes, but…………..

    Now that we have addressed the bat issue, I am concerned going forward with the pitching. Not exactly building confidence with some recent perfromances.

    Pirates are 6-11 in their past 17 games.
    4-4 in their last 8……. against 3 bottom feeder teams.
    With the additions of Byrd and Buck, the pitching issues must be immediately addressed. Get Locke out of there, put Cumpton or Gomez in. The expansion of the rosters to 40 for September will help the pitching.

    Now, its time to win some da$n games.

    • Agreed about other teams.
      I’m glad to see Huntington do something, but it should’ve been done this time last month.
      I just hope it isn’t too late.

      • I’d agree that if I would have preferred to see this precise trade (Herrera + a PTBNL for Byrd and Buck) made a month ago. It seems pretty likely this iteration of the trade wasn’t available a month ago.

        Given Byrd’s production this season, the small amount of money he was owed, and the fact he comes off the books after the season I’d have to think he was an attractive option for quite a few teams, not just the Pirates. That he wasn’t traded, in combination with Sandy Alderson’s quote, in which he said it would take an overwhelming return for the Mets to move him, I have to think the asking price was much higher pre July 31. Also it seemed like the Mets wanted to remain as competitive as possible for the remainder of the season, so as to not lose their fans, etc. I wonder if the lose of Matt Harvey changed there thinking at all?

        In any case if the Pirates had given up more in return I may have liked the trade less. Dilson Herrara is a legimate prospect, albeit it not an elite one. I hate to lose him, but it’s what had to be done. Since we don’t now what it would have taken to get these guys a month earlier it’s impossible to specualte.

        Ultimately they have them now. The Pirates are still 1 and a half games out of first with quite a few games left against St. Louis. Might they be in first with more of a cushion had they acted sooner? Possibly. But barring a tremendous collapse they’ll at worst be the second wild card and in the playoffs with Byrd on the squad and Marte and Grilli back in the fold.

        I’d prefer they were able to avoid the one game playoff because of course anything can happen in one game. Had they slid out of a playoff spot entirely over the last month I’d probably be frustrated they’d not acted sooner. But they’ve managed to more or less hold serve. I feel like reasonably optimistic about this lineup/staff going into a post-season series:


        Liriano, Burnett, Morton, and possibly Cole

        I’ve not been a huge advocate of trading for Justin Morneau as he’s not been significantly better than Garrett Jones over the course of the entire season. But given the way Jones has played of late it seems like more of a pressing need.

    • “…the additions of Byrd and Buck…”

      You just like them because they remind you of bird shot and buck shot.,550×550,white.jpg

    • TOUCHE!! And good morning to all!

      Excellent column. One bat need addressed (but still need to get Jones off of first and OUT of the lineup entirely)…on to some pitching issues, of which Locke is MAJOR. I was shocked he actually got yesterday’s start after his consistently dreadful 2nd half. He needs to sit for a good, long while. I believe his confidence is presently completely shot, and we cannot go into the final stretch with him on the mound every 5th day. CANNOT.

      Oh – and that goes for Jared Hughes and Bryan Morris in the bullpen. I don’t want to see either of them coming when the game’s on the line!

  7. Yes DK, you struck just the right note in your column. I too, was content with Huntington’s patience at the non-waiver deadline. He was beginning to make me squirm as this month’s last-chance deadline was quickly approaching and these losses in August were adding up. But he rewarded my new-found faith in his stewardship as he did, in fact, pull the trigger once a sensible move was in front of him.

    I also have always sensed that as the expiration date on any trade value for Justin Morneau draws nearer, Twins just may talk real turkey. I still wonder if Morneau has had cold feet about coming to the Pirates. And I do wonder about the abrupt influx (and “out”-flux) of too many players into the club house. But for now, I gotta believe that Marlon Byrd is going to be warmly welcomed, and that Byrd, himself, has to be pretty happy being sought out as a difference maker.

    DK: Thanks!

  8. Tough loss again tonight.

    What has happened to Jones?

    Tabby should have had that ball.

    Pedro & Neil heating up?

    Hoping the PTBNL is JMAC.

    Feeling very positive about the trade.

    Very nice column DK!


    DK: Thanks, Stu.

    I love some of the PTBNL names that have been floated. It’s always the absolute least favorite player on the roster.

    It’s actually Zagurski!

    • DK, if true it must be that they admire Ron’s “svelte-itude”. it certainly wouldn’t be difficult to assemble a long list of PWHIWB (players we hope it will be).


  9. * Sigh….. at the thought of Jones or Sanchez needing to come up with a hit when this thing gets real.

    * My expectations of Byrd are quite simple. Continue to play like he did in New York and be a professional. Same with Buck.

    * Whenever I see or hear the name Ryan Clark, I’m immediately ready to turn the page, turn off the radio or tv.

    * Since no one in Pittsburgh seems able to stay healthy at RB for Steelers or Panthers, maybe both teams will come out throwing the ball more than we think.

    * USA Olympic hockey jersey….. I mean really, can Nike just keep to shoes and stop screwing up jerseys, helmets, logos, etc.

    * Have to end this on a positive note… Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker had themselves quite the offensive performance last night against Milwaukee. Nothing sweeter than Walker’s swing and crack of the bat on his HR that went out of the ball park.

    • They did pretty well defensively, too. Some nice plays.

      • I’m negative…. shocker…. didn’t like Tabata’s attempt that ultimately ended Locke’s night and really needed Sanchez to catch that ball in 8th but yes, Pedro had a nice play diving to his left and Walker’s decision to throw to third base.

        Oh yeah, there was also the Mercer drop on a gimme double play.

        • I was at the game and was 11 rows from where Sanchez missed the pop fly in the 8th. It was an extremely tough play.

          And no one called for it. Not Walker, not Sanchez and not Lambo.
          I was that close.

          • ” And no one called for it. Not Walker, not Sanchez and not Lambo. ”

            This brings up an interesting point. As far back as Little League, players are taught to call for fly balls, so you dont go crashing into each other. I wonder if this play in particular is another example of lack of fundamentals? Someone should have called for that. And, I am not criticizing Gaby at all. That was an extremely difficult play for him to make.

            • If you’re giving chase though and feel you can’t make a play on the ball, you don’t call it. You only call the ball if you think you can catch it.

              Sounds like the ball was hit in a perfect spot between 3 of our fielders.

              It happens.

              I do not think the Pirates did anything wrong fundamentally on the play (if it is as described here by other posters; I did not see the play in question).

          • Sometimes you just have one of those pop flies that a bunch of players go after figuring that someone might have a better shot and nobody ends up calling it. Not a fundamental problem, IMO, but I put this one in the That’s Baseball category.

        • Wasn’t clear, but I was referring strictly to your last paragraph about Alvarez and Walker.

        • Walker also bobbled that same ball before he passed it awkwardly to Mercer.

    • Re: Byrd — “…play like he did in New York and be a professional…”

      Every time he comes up to bat, he’s going to sliiiiiiiide into the box just like Morris Day and the Time did performing “The Bird” in Purple Rain.

      DK: John Buck will hold his mirror.

  10. DK

    I have now read the column twice and still feel like I could go back and pull a few more items out to chew on. You put a lot of content in a small space, and I really enjoyed this one. Thank you for switching your day off to get this to us, and for packing this column so chock full of tasty nuggets.

    As a nice side benefit for you too, the next time someone accuses you of not being objective in regards to the Pirate front office, just link to this column. It may not shut them up or convince them, but then again, the OJ jury acquitted him too. No satisfying some people.

    For my part, thank you once more for your hard work and for your outstanding writing. I am a lunatic and proud of it!

    DK: Thanks, Lad. There are exactly 46 people, by my count, who accuse me of the objectivity thing. Amazing how a tiny, tiny few can be so squeaky and noisy, but that’s the number: 46.

    Really appreciated your line, in particular, about stuffing a lot in there. Reminds me of what all I chopped onto the cutting-room floor.

    • Yep, spend hours to days running down a story and then have to condense it into a few hundred words on a deadline.

      Imagine putting all that lost information into a place that supplement the reader… the beauty of social media… and at the same time, exactly what many fail to understand in the microwave society that those 46 or other “fine” bloggers think their hour of typing an article derived from the hard work of others. I think that’s why folks are beat reporters… beaten to death….

      ….I wonder how many of them could handle reporting under a deadline and offer news, opinion, etc. without seeming repetitive and mundane in their writing.

    • I think if DK is accused of not being objective, he should just completely ignore that criticism.

    • I hope you’re not counting ME in that 46.

      That is, as long as we’re just talking about being objective. And not about occasionally being grumpy, snippy, over the top talking building-like.

      But no. Not questioning objectivity.

      There. Glad I could offer my support.

      (Why does this feel like a family thanksgiving dinner discussion?)

      • Could you please pass me the mashed potatoes?

      • I don’t know if I’m on the list, I don’t know if there even is a list. I don’t really care if there is a list.

        I will only say that it takes two to tango and I have been accused by DK himself of not being objective and blindly supporting the GM. When he does that it frustrates me because I have questioned and disagreed with many moves made by the GM. Just because my opinion does not agree with him on most things GM doesn’t mean I don’t think he is being objective. It also doesn’t mean I’m not being objective and should get a bold text response telling me I will stop at nothing to support the GM instead of just sticking to the one topic or move we may be debating.

        Trust me when I say this was meant in no way to speak badly about DK. I love his columns and agree with almost everything he writes. It was just to point out that sometimes I have felt he has done to others what he thinks “46″ are doing to him. Just my two cents which I think will probably get at least a couple dimes thrown back at me really hard.

        • Not from me you wont. I have no coins. ;)

          On a serious note, maybe it is possible for posters to constantly agree/disagree with something, then when they are called out for it, they do an about-face and deny everything?? I have seen that many times on here. Not pointing you out, but I have seen it from some.

          I think the fact that some of the “46″ are maybe looking for an angle to support their positions, that they accuse DK, and others of not being objective? I dont know, but sometimes I feel that way.

          Like I said, no coins at you…… I’m broke.

        • Better dimes than quarters, they won’t hurt as much ;)

  11. DK,

    Thank you for the great read. No doubt Neil Walker has mixed feelings about the business of baseball…happy to be in a playoff race, but not happy about some of the moves made to jockey for position.

    Once again, thank you for going the extra mile.

  12. I’m GLAD Neil Walker said what he said. Now if the season crumbles, we’ll have someone to blame.

    We’ll call him Operation SitTFDown.

  13. With 31 games left, the Pirates magic number to eliminate Arizona is 24, to host the wild card is 28 (vs. Reds) and to win the division is 33 (vs. Cardinals).

  14. So, everyone who thought I was panicking for no reason when the tankage started, what say ye now?

    It is ALWAYS time to panic, when it comes to the Pirates. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t panic.

    • I’m not panicking :)

      • Last year in September, Pirates went 7-21.
        2011, Pirates went 10-16.

        Just sayin’

        • there si just too much pitching for this team to have a repeat performance of last September. Liriano is a better than 50% chance of shutting a team down. AJ is fins as long as he is yanked before he does something stupid. Dare I say Morton has even looked good over hi past several starts. 7-21 is not on the horion.

        • STOP IT! ;)

          I will admit to having deviated from my agenda this year regarding the Pirates: NO expectations; enjoy the games ONE day at a time; I’ll be happy if they just play consistent, good baseball and break the streak this year.

          I don’t want to panic, so I’m trying (desperately) to recover that mantra. You’re not helping, Mr. Plan!

      • I’ve never seen any good come out if panicking, so I don’t.

    • Depends what are we panicing about? 82 wins? Missing the playoffs? Not winning the division?

      They will get 82. They will even still likely make the playoffs. I was talking to a totally objective observer today who thinks as longa s they go better than say 10 wins the rest of the way it will be very hard to blow an 8 game wild card lead.

      I don’t see them being much worse than a .500 club the rest of the way.

      Those are the 2 things I care about. I am far from panicing over either of them.

  15. Some thoughts as I woke up too early a while ago:

    Boy did we miss Marte in left last night. The Brewers ran on Tabata’s arm and he missed at least one Marte would have had easily.

    It’s hard to lose when you get 15 hits and six runs, but its hard to win when you give up 14 and seven. Nine left on base again. Overall, an unusual game for the 2013 Bucs, the hitting was better than the pitching. A “man bites dog” story.

    Glad for the trade, but I have no problem with Walker’s comments. Byrd and Buck haven’t been in the battle with the team for the last six months like some guys who will get moved out – at least temporarily.

    If I’m a Brewers player, I wouldn’t like the way Kyle Lohse showed up teammates when things went wrong for them a couple times. Maybe he’s gone this week.

    Morneau could be the next Ludwick if he doesn’t really want to leave Minnesota. I’d be very wary of him if I were Neal.

    Thanks to DK for his column and for getting us stirred up once again!

  16. I know this is probably 21 years of frustration and conditioned response talking, but I’m going to make two predictions based on what I’ve seen over the past couple weeks of this season: 1. The Pirates will struggle to win 90 games this year. In other words, I don’t expect them to win more than 13 of their remaining games. Tonight, the cracks in the bullpen were the final straw. 2. There will not be any playoff games played at PNC Park in 2013. A “One and Done” in Cincinnati is what I foresee. Hope to be wrong…but I’m not optimistic. Again, after the last 20 years, how can I be anything but a pessimist.

  17. JAL’s Tin Man Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Trades Are Graded on a Different Scale For Contenders

    Pirates’ Comeback Attempt Fails in ‘Strange Game’, Lose 7-6 to Brewers

    Prospect Watch: Taillon Strikes Out Six; Polanco Hits 12th Homer

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Locke has another tough outing, Bucs fall to Brewers 7-6

    6 Rumbunter

    Pirates Bag Byrd, Buck


    Game 130: Brewers 7 Pirates 6

    8 The Green Weenie

    Brewers Second Wind Blows Past Pirates 7-6

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Brewers 7, Pirates 6

  18. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    10 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Why pitching will determine NL Central Crown

    11 New York Daily News

    Mets trade Marlon Byrd, who just had promotion day at Citi Field, and John Buck to Pirates for SS prospect Dilson Herrera

    12 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates Make Great Move Acquiring Marlon Byrd

    13 Baseball Nation

    Pirates-Mets trade: Bucs add Byrd and Buck, Mets get a lot younger

    14 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/b>

    Aramis Ramirez lifts Brewers over Pirates

    15 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Reds fall again to Cardinals, 6-1

    16 CBS Sports

    Brewers-Pirates Gam Preview

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Bonus Bytes: Trade boosts the Pirates

    18 PBC Site

    Bucs lose ground in Central after Locke’s rough start

    Notebook: Marte able to avoid surgery on right hand


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Reworking WARP The Overlooked Uncertainty of Offense

    20 Fangraphs

    Pirates Land Marlon Byrd, as Upgrade, in 2013

    A.J. Burnett’s Not So Secret Weapon

  19. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    NFL looking to ‘take action’ on low hits, Steelers Ryan Clark reacts

    Guard Ramon Foster has earned Steelers respect

    22 Steelers Depot

    Rotation Gameplan at Outside Linebacker Evident


    23 Evening Standard

    Theo Walcott: Tottenham are still not better than us

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 27th August, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Points 8/28: The Skinny on Pouliot, Letang’s New Year Resolution

  20. Oh, and BTW…What were the Reds thinking? They were thinking that the Pirates are not a legitimate threat…and they are probably right.

  21. Maybe this offseason when they are taking a break from carrying telephone poles in the sand, they can have a session or two on how to handle the media? ;) Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

  22. Where are we now ?

    - Since August 9th the Pirates are 6-11 and have lost 5.5 games in the standings (Only 6 of those games were against teams with winning records).

    - Last year starting on August 9th they went 5-12 and lost 6.5 games in the standings.

    This needs to end now so I can stop looking this stuff up.

  23. OK Loonies, got tons of paperwork, I’ll check in later on….enjoy the morning :)

  24. Great article DK. No issue with Walker’s position.

  25. I have a bad feeling about tonight’s game.

    A Bad Karma thing.

    In nerdy Star Trek terms, almost as if matter and anti-matter are coming together. Same place. Same time.

    Nerdy is right.

  26. HAHA on the Red’s blog someone actually made the statement that Walt Jocketystrap didn’t block the Byrd trade because he could have been stuck with him and as a result might have had to cut Xavier Paul loose???

    I hope Xavier Paul doesn’t pull a Sid Bream on the Bucs in that one game playoff or, better yet in a division series….but Xavier Paul???? What is it that I am missing? OBP in the .300′s but can’t steal bases….strikes out quite a bit….is he still clutch as a late inning bat off the bench?

    • I kinda liked Xavier Paul but geez. And just like what will happen here, whoever you cut you can bring back on Sunday.

    • Yes they would have been “stuck” with a well above average defensive right/left fielder who hits for both average and good power. I wish we were stuck with such players. Wait a minute……when Marte come back we will be stuck with 3 of those guys.

      I like the move. Hopefully they can get a first baseman as well or Jones somehow figures it out.

  27. ESPN reports that the Pirates’ two moves to make room for Byrd and Buck on the 40 man roster are to DFA Russ Canzler and to put Kyle McPherson on the 60 Day DL.

    The corresponding moves on the 25 man roster will be announced today. Seeing as rosters expand to 40 on Sunday, the moves will only result in a short demotion for two people. My guess is those two people are T. Sanchez and Lambo.

    Because rosters expand on Sunday, it might be time to give Cumpton a start in place of Locke. I like the saying that players make the lineup (by performing), and Locke just hasn’t give anyone a reason to put him in lineup for awhile.

  28. Come on, Pirates! You’re STILL 21 games over .500 at just about the September mark but the .500 winning percentage since July 1 really makes us feel like LOSERS again! We like to keep it REAL in Pittsburgh. The overall record, matched up with the way things REALLY are has us feeling like we’re the good guys stepping out with one of those sorority girls in Animal House! Let’s win this thing going away!

  29. Known and sanctioned PED user comes to town. Everybody excited. No cute nicknames like “Lying Ryan.”

    Guess I know the answer to Dejan’s Pirates and PED question posed earlier this summer.

    As Jerry Seinfeld observed, you are cheering for laundry.

    • When was Byrd using PED’s, Oshkosh? I’m asking because I don’t know his history.

    • Nothing really rhymes with Marlon.

      And I think those situations, while not different, were certainly handled differently by the two players. Byrd accepted responsibility and has talked about it, almost to death. Lyin’ Ryan is a piece of $%!@ that still refuses to admit anything wrong happened.

      Are we suppose to Boo every known and sanctioned PED user now? I thought we weren’t supposed to Boo anymore. These rules are so confusing….

      • Yes I know they are. That’s why I am sort of coming around to Naje’s way of thinking. Just legalize the stuff.

        I get the Lyin’ Ryan stuff. It’s funny too. But isn’t a cheat a cheat ?

        • I do think a cheat is a cheat. I just don’t understand why PED use is the only form of cheating we’re supposed to be disgusted by. What about a guy who takes a base when the ump thinks he was hit by a pitch, but really wasn’t? Is that cheating? Stealing signs? Trapped balls? Sliding into 2nd or 3rd with spikes up? Framing pitches? Hidden ball trick?

          Where does the line to cross start or stop?

        • I often agree with you John. (I don’t always agree, even with me). But if Braun had gotten caught last year, served his suspension, admitted he took it, even said it was accidental or whatever, I wouldn’t think of him any differently than Byrd (because of the suspension). What he did AFTER getting lucky with the technicality makes all the difference to me. No comparison.

      • Darlin’ rhymes with Marlon.

  30. What if JMac turns out to be the ace in the hole on the back side of the stretch! YEAH, RIGHT, BAY! That would be a split-finger no one would see comin’!

  31. What’s the answer at first?

    Jones and Gabby stink.

    I saw that Morneau was 2 for his last 19.

    Kornerko’s #s are similar to the guys we got.

  32. Tom Gorzelanny’s last 2 starts:

    8.1 IP 16 H 12 ER 12.96 ERA

    Uh oh.

  33. welp, I think no matter what, the FO is absolved of any poor outcome to the rest of the season. The great off-season and now a trade to address NEEDS before September.

    The pieces are there… its up to them to start performing.

    Wouldn’t it be funny for our hitting to start coming around with Pedro, Neil, and Cutch, (and Byrd), and now our starting pitching to start crumble? Well not funny… but, our iron man of the 1st half, Locke, has been unlocked. Even our new staff ACE, Liriano, has shown some holes lately. And like someone said above, can’t believe Morton is now the pitcher in which we rally around.

    Sustainability and the law of averages coming back to bite us with all these 1-run losses. And we’re finding different ways to do it too. Which is just fantastic. Hopefully with Grilli coming back, we’ll get back the best setup/8th inning pitcher of the year (Melancon) and that will swing the equation back to our favor.

    • Good points all around Kevin. I think Locke needs to skip a start and then be on a short leash after that. He has clearly shown he more then likely will not be part of the rotation for any playoff series we might play. The 6 or 7 starts he has remaining are important games. Gomez and Crumpton have both proven capable of doing enough to warrent not pitching Locke the rest of the year if he doesn’t show signs of figuring it out soon.

  34. With all of the goings on last night in a poorly played game, and IrishJims Byrd Song,
    I forgot to ask this question;
    Why was Tabby in left field – not right field – when Ramirez scorched that shot over his out-stretched glove to drive in two critical runs?

    Was that an “automatic” decision by the “Manager of the Year in waiting”? Tabby has enough trouble in right, so don’t tell me left is better for him.

    That little misjudgment was very damaging to our best interests in last night’s game

  35. Arizona’s only 5 games behind the Reds. I’ll stop there.

  36. I hate to be the truth squad who cleans up after others here make mistakes, but we have to stop calling John Buck “a backup catcher,” even though he may be used as one by CH. Buck has been anything but a backup for the Mets this season and throughout his career. This year he has played in 101 games, had 397 plate appearances (368 AB + 22 BB), hit 15 HR and 60 RBI. If that’s a backup catcher, I’m a monkey’s uncle. The Mets’ backup catcher has been Anthony Recker all season. So let’s get it right before it becomes a habit. You, too, DK. Buck is not, as you wrote today, “a workmanlike backup catcher.”

    • Man o’ War,

      Since Mets brought up Travis D’Arnaud, their best Minor League prospect, obtained from Blue Jays for RA Dickey, John Buck has been designated the “back-up catcher.”

      Mets may still pursue Buck as D’Arnaud’s back-up for next year.

      At the trade, John Buck was the back-up.

      • Groat: Yes, you’re so right. “At the trade, John Buck was the back-up.” So that earns him the published description as a “workmanlike backup catcher” eh? After ten years in the majors and over 1,000 games as a starting catcher, Buck will henceforth be known as “a workmanlike backup catcher” because he was replaced as the starting catcher for the NY Mets 10 days ago (August 17th), when Travis d’Arnaud made his Major League debut. Does a little dexterity with semantics once in a while make you a full-time serious analyst? Methinks not.

    • so you’re saying Martin is a backup catcher? that would be hard to imagine that our MVP would suddenly be relegated to backup…or are you just saying we now have two starting catchers?

      • All I was saying is that John Buck has been a starting catcher all his career and that calling him “a workmanlike backup catcher” was incorrect. I said that CH may use him as a backup, but nevermind. You don’t know how to argue intelligently and I won’t waste my time with you.

        • Man o’ War,

          As a 33 year old catcher who has batting numbers since May 1——7 HR and around a .200 batting average——similar to Rod Barajas last season,
          and who had been replaced as starter on his team by a raw rookie . . . . . I would think Dejan’s description of Buck as “a workmanlike backup catcher” is just about right on the nose.

          I’m not sure what you were so upset with Dejan about.

          If he beats out Russell Martin and his .240 average, I’ll call Buck “starter.”

        • Wasn’t even trying to argue, sorry if it came off that way… was just trying to understand what point you were making. Thanks anyway for clearing it up.

          • Kevin, My apologies for sounding off so sharply. Of course Buck will be backup for Martin this season. I didn’t make my main point clearly enough. I wasn’t upset with DK. I am one of his admirers. I was merely correcting what I thought was an off-hand description, using the past tense, as if to indicate that Buck had been a backup catcher in the past, which he clearly was not. Buck is a first rate catcher who has been a starter for 10 years and 1,000 games. We are fortunate to have both Martin and Buck and their experience behind the plate for the final month of the season.

    • Are you in England, War Horse, or is that a different guy?

  37. Does anyone know (from Twitter, for example) when Dejan is going to be on Olbermann ? I assume he will be on in the first segment like Whitlock and Kornheiser were.

    I saw the first episode and Dejan doesn’t have to do much to beat Whitlock in terms of wardrobe!

    I wish Dejan had been on when Olbermann ripped newspapers. Dejan has always been an eloquent defender of print media while simultaneously channeling the new media effectively. I get that the Daily News reporter needed to be chided but Olbermann’s inclusion of the entire print media in his chastisement was beyond the pale.

    Olbermann hardly broke new ground last night with Kornhiser suggesting that college athletes are exploited and need to be paid.

    I would be more impressed if he laid into ESPN for its pulling out of the PBS Frontline documentary. I guess I’ll rely on Deadspin for that criticism.

    • Oshkosh b’Gosh,

      I like Keith Olbermann as a baseball guy.

      I did not like last night. It took him a long time to get anywhere, and no new ground was unearthed. Kornheiser was extraordinarily lame.

      Last night belonged on Current. This show might not last long enough for Dejan to don his tie and sportscoat.

  38. Here’s an excellent review of the first Dobermann show by the NY Times TV critic, Alessandra Stanley:

  39. I have 1 question pertaining to the PTBNL in the Marlon Byrd/John Buck trade.

    Since it is obvious both teams know who this player is, can the Met’s insist that this player no longer plays in games for the Pirates or any of their affiliates ?.

    Technically, this player is now property of the Met’s, and besides having a spy/scout/doctor in the stands, he can’t really give any instruction to this guy.

    I would say watch the guys on the minor league rosters, especially on the 40, and see who is riding the bench for the remainder of the season.

    I can only imagine the Met’s would not be too happy if the player they plan on acquiring, would get injured, or if it’s a pitcher, suffer an arm injury.

  40. OK, I finally read the Wednesday column. I get what Walker said. Really. He’s darned if he does and darned if he doesn’t. But yeah, how about “I’m not happy for the guys who will be out now, but excited to see what Byrd can contribute.”
    Anyone nitpicking this is just looking for a chance to do just that.
    And *I* have blasted Walker for being wussified for the times he’s sat out games for minor injuries.

    I do have one question, tho. In the picture I see Byrd wearing No. 6. Marte currently is wearing No. 6. What is protocol here?

  41. –The Pirates’ won-lost record from April to the end of June was 51-30.
    –In the last two months, July & August, it is 25-25, and in the last 2 1/2 weeks it’s 6-11.
    –The team’s hitting in tight ball games has been atrocious, especially with RISP. That we all know. But the hitting as measured by BA has improved marginally in the past two months. If you look at the stats month by month, the team BA has gone from .245 to .251. Overall run production has been consistently poor. But it was OK earlier in the season because our pitching was the best in the majors.
    –Now, though, the won-loss record is going downhill fast because the quality of the pitching is in decline.
    –From July to August, the collective ERA of all Pittsburgh pitchers has gone from 2.77 to 4.05.
    –The number of runs given up has balooned from 81 to 107 (and still counting in August).
    –Opponents’ BA has gone from .228 (similar to April-July) to .279.
    –And, finally, WHIP has gone from 1.17 to 1.42. Those last two stats are both the worst in the NL for the month of August, to date.
    –If this trend continues, the decline in the W-L record will follow.
    –It’s time to take a closer, more critical look at what’s happening to cause these poor performances by the pitching staff.

    • How about the following for the decline of the pitching staff:

      –they’re dominance as a collective group was based on the several (at least six) pitchers pitching way beyond career norms…probably more than just six.

      –those pitchers, specifically Locke, Morris, Wilson, Cole, Burnett and now Liriano, have regressed either quite a bit or just enough to notice.

      –the bullpen has had to eat a lot of innings since the ASB and without Grilli, everyone in the ‘pen has been asked to step forward and take on bigger, higher leverage situations.

      –the team has used 26 pitchers this year… injuries, setbacks, flameouts, etc… that’s a LOT of pitchers for a team that is 21 games over .500.

      –They’re tired… worn down from dealing with an anemic offense every game. Much of that fatigue goes to the extreme slumps of Alvarez, the absolute awful at bats Jones has had in the past six weeks (and for most of the season), the lack of hitting from anyone hitting behind Alvarez (Jones, Martin, Snider, Sanchez, Lambo, etc) and an awful bad habit of striking out as well as not hitting worth a darn with runners in scoring position.

      That just about takes care of the dropoff in the pitching staff, doesn’t it?

      • Yes, Naje, it does. Excellent analysis. Just add to that the fact that Locke may have spent a little too much time and tried too hard to be A.J.’s protege. He was doing brilliantly on his own for a while.

    • “In the last two months, July & August, it is 25-25″

      I wonder if anyone knows what the North American record is for consecutive sub .500′s in July and August.

    • So rememebr all the conversation at the begining of the year about the over use of the bull pen? So uh ya.

    • Thank you, War Horse … I’m thoroughly depressed now. As long as we haven’t collapsed. That’s not what we’ve done, is it? But as I alluded to above earlier, I think I’d rather us be good or bad. Hate the inbetween stuff!

  42. Apparently, Grilli to rejoin the team September 1 pending the outcome of today’s sim game.

  43. Anyone with word on Juan D. and his visit to Dr. Julie Andrews? Oops…. James.

    Any word on Locke going to DL? He has lost MPH off his pitches recently………..

  44. Any of you Tweet Freaks hear who was sent down to add Byrd and Buck to 25-man?

    I’m guessing Tony Sanchez and Lambo, but I guess it could be Cherry Pie.

    Probably send Sanchez to Indy to catch in playoffs; Lambo to Altoona to get him back to Pittsburgh sooner, since no playoffs there.

  45. Great column DK.

    As you mentioned in the game thread NW’s reaction was overblown. He’s right, he needs to support his teammates. That’s what leaders do.

    This is a great deal for the Pirates. Byrd is an automatic upgrade and Buck is an upgrade to the back up position. I like what Tony Sanchez brings to the future, but the Pirates should not have been relying on him for a playoff run. Too much added pressure on the guy. He has enough of that. This run will be a good learning experience for Tony. 2 proven veteran catchers to learn from.

    Good move. Now its up to the players to perform up to their expectations.

    Justin Morneau??

  46. Watching a little bit of the Cubs/Dodgers.

    Dale Svuem ejected in first inning for arguing about a check swing.

    Frustrated, much ?

    At least we get to debate about how the Pirates can maintain a playoff position. Cubs fan have a first base man signed to a long extension that looks mediocre. Their star shortstop, once a can’t miss, has batted in the eighth spot recently. They have Edwin Freakin’ Jackson signed to a long, expensive contract. They can’t come to an agreement on an extension for their best pitcher. Lots of empty seats at their ballpark attraction.

    Oh, and they haven’t even won so much as a lousy pennant in 58 years.

  47. Harrison

    Sanchez sent down. Haven’t seen the other move yet.

  48. OO0= OO0= OO0= OO0= OO0= OO0= OO0= OO0= OO0=
    Game thread is up ~~~~~~~~~~>

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