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Morning Java: So it’s Liriano and … who else in playoff rotation?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The weekly chat will take place right here on the blog at noon. As soon as you see the post get published, you’re free to submit entries. All topics welcome.

>> No Friday column. My apologies. Rough day. Back at it today.

>> Clint Hurdle dropped his first few hints about the Pirates’ pitching into the playoffs yesterday, making clear they’ll line up Francisco Liriano to start either the season finale in Cincinnati — on short rest — or the wild-card game.

That’s wonderful. Liriano’s been my choice for weeks. He’s the guy on the staff most capable of outright greatness, he’s shown it more often than anyone else, and his simply being left-handed could neutralize either the Reds’ best hitter or the Cardinals’ entire lineup. In any single-game setting, you’ll take every edge you can find before the fact. Liriano gives you that in nearly every category.

From there, the current rotation leads logically to A.J. Burnett being next. Sure, he’s been tagged for five or more runs in half of his past eight starts, but his continuing strong K rate — seven or more in six of his past 10 starts, eight in the most recent — against only 19 total walks in that same span powerfully suggests he’s holding up just fine.

Besides, at the risk of going all intangible on you … he’s A.J. There’s nothing barring injury that should keep him from starting in the playoffs. The man’s earned it, and he’s done so in part because of his fierce competitiveness. He’s exactly the type you’d want to take the ball for a fledgling playoff participant.

It gets a little murky after that.

Do you go with a three-man rotation and tiptoe through the playoff schedule’s built-in off-days?

Not me. Remember, all those September callups vanish, and you’re right back to a 12-man staff. Assuming Jeff Locke and Jeanmar Gomez are the long men, you could go with Charlie Morton as No. 3, Gerrit Cole as No. 4 — or flipping the two based on matchups or other circumstances, doesn’t really matter — and still keep everyone fresh with six other relievers.

Cole’s not a clear-cut case, even after that sensational 12K showing yesterday. It’s great that the Pirates no longer are limiting his innings, but it also holds true that he is now the only pitcher in the rotation to have pitched continuously since the opening of camp. Locke had been the other, but he recently was given that week off to recover. Cole hasn’t had that. And even if you toss aside injury concern — never smart — it’s worth weighing in the broader sense that he’s more likely to hit a wall than anyone else.

If Cole goes fourth, there are two benefits:

1. He keeps fresh.

2. He’s shown quite a bit lately he embraces the stopper role. In the event of trouble, Game 4 is as good a place as any for a pivoting point.

3. In a desperate situation leading into a Game 7, he could be available to piggyback.

Would love to hear your thoughts. List your four starters, in order — regardless of a wild-card game — as well as your eight relievers.

I didn’t even mention Jason Grilli, who could pose one of the most difficult questions of all.

Anyway, back to the current world …

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The Pirates showed their resilience again. by avoiding a four-game sweep by the Padres. Travis Sawchik reports from PNC Park.

Tony Sanchez made the dugout catch of … what, the century? Karen Price focuses on that.

Here’s our full Pirates coverage.

Here’s Padres news from the San Diego Union-Tribune, Reds news from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Here are official game highlights from MLB.com.

>> Ryan Clark discusses the Steelers’ immediate goals. Ping pong beat writer Alan Robinson reports.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage, including a Le’Veon Bell update.

Here’s the latest on the Bears from the Chicago Tribune.

>> Speaking of the Bears, the Penguins and Blackhawks will take over Soldier Field in the winter, but what about facing the Flyers at Penn State? Rob Rossi inquires from Chicago.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage., including a strong effort from Sidney Crosby in the shootout win over the Stanley Cup champs last night.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> Pitt’s seeking more takeawaysJerry DiPaola takes it away.

>> Penn State and West Virginia will meet again … when we’re all a lot older. Chris Adamski looks way ahead.

>> I’ll join TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m., a half-hour before the chat. Hope to have you aboard.

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.

413 Comments

  1. Not terribly worried about Cole wearing down ala Locke because unlike Jeff he has that workhorse pitcher’s frame. His last fastball today clocked in at 96-97 on his ~95th pitch. He’s shown no signs of wearing down and doesn’t have goofy mechanics like Strasburg did pre-Tommy John days so I don’t see any real risk of injury beyond the standard.

    Cole is a Verlanderian specimen. Give him the ball when it’s his turn and let him do what he does.

    • Amen to that. Cole is simply a moose. His legs are like tree trunks. When your pitch count is in the 90′s and you are still hitting 97 mph effortlessly with excellent mechanics then the worries should be limited. I think that is why the Pirates have little concerns about Cole’s innings.

  2. Maybe I’m just being sentimental but I think Grilli has earned a prominent role. Factor in some adrenaline and I think he will rise to the occasion if given the chance.

    Absolutely agree with Cole 4th. He’s exactly the guy you’d want out there if you find yourself needing to turn the momentum if you’re down 2-1 in a series. Or if you’re up 2-1 and you give him the chance to turn out the lights.

    • One thing to keep in mind with Grilli, even before the injury, if it wasn’t a save situation he would get hit some. What to do about it I’m not sure. Not comfortable putting him back in closer role, unless teams have figured out Melancon. Guess that’s why Hurdle, instead of me, gets paid the big bucks.
      As for my playoff rotation: Liriano, AJ, Ground Chuck, Cole Train.

  3. I’m not sure you keep 12 pitchers for a postseason series.

    Starters: Liriano, AJ, Morton, Cole
    Bullpen: Melancon, Watson, Wilson*, Mazzaro, Gomez, Grilli*, Farnsworth (*if fully healthy, Morris, Johnson, Pimentel, Locke all options if not)
    C: Russ, Tony
    1B: Morneau, Gaby
    2B: Neil, Josh
    SS: Mercer, Barmes
    3B: Pedro
    OF: Marte, Cutch, Byrd, Tabata, Jones

  4. Not much debate…

    Liriano-AJ-Morton-Cole
    Locke-Gomez
    Watson-Wilson
    Grilli-Melancon-Mazzaro-Farnsworth

    I trust Farnsworth more now than I do Morris. And I only use Locke as a last resort long man.

  5. Playoff Rotation: Liriano, Burnett, Morton, and Cole…

    Weak organizations ban ping pong… “OBVIOUSLY”, I’m not surprised by this…

  6. My rotation is based on playing in the NLCS: Liriano, Cole, Burnett, Morton. If playing at LA or ATL, I want Burnett pitching first game back home in game 3 and also a veteran playoff tested guy throwing in game 7 if necessary.You can’t have Cole/Morton go in game 3 as that would set them up for a game 7 start.

    Here is my 25 man playoff roster:

    Rotation: Liriano, Cole, Burnett, Morton

    Bullpen: No need for Locke as Morton could be stretch guy w Gomez if necessary.
    Gomez
    Farnsworth
    Mazzaro
    Grilli
    Melancon
    Watson
    Wilson

    Bench:
    Tabata
    Barmes
    Pie
    Harrison
    Jones
    T. Sanchez

    Lineup:
    Marte
    Mercer
    Cutch
    Byrd
    Mourneau
    Alvarez
    Martin
    Walker
    SP

  7. With the way the schedule sets up for the Wild Card and then Division Series, Liriano could pitch the WC game and then pitch game 3 of the NLDS on his normal rest. He would also then be in line to start game 1 of the NLCS if the team moves on.

    So, for the rotation, I’d go with this:

    WC Game: Liriano
    Division Series: Burnett, Morton, Liriano, Cole, Burnett

    As for the rest of the roster:

    Bullpen: Gomez, Wilson, Watson, Morris, Farnsworth (if eligible), Grilli, Melancon
    C: Martin, T. Sanchez
    1B: Morneau, G. Sanchez
    2B: Walker
    SS: Mercer, Barmes
    3B: Alvarez
    Util: Harrison
    OF: Cutch, Byrd, Marte, Tabata, Jones

    If Farnsworth isn’t eligible, I guess you go with Locke and hope you’re only using him in an emergency.

    • I think you nailed the rotation if the Pirates do have to play the wild card game. That would be the perfect setup.

      I’d hate to see Locke not make the roster after what he did for most of the season, but you have to go with your best players right now. Still, I might lean towards Locke over Morris in a bullpen role, depending how he performs in his final start.

    • Farnsworth isn’t directly eligible as he wasn’t on the 25-man roster or on one of the major league DLs on August 31, but they could use him with one of the “flex spots” they have to replace a guy currently on the DL since he was in the organization on August 31.

      The problem of course is that you can’t just willy-nilly remove guys from the roster; they have to be optioned off or DFA’d. If you DFA a guy, he’s gone.

      So while it is possible T. Sanchez is on the playoff roster, it’s unlikely John Buck gets booted since he was on the August 31 roster (and NH acquired him specifically for catching depth). I could see optioning Jeff Locke to make room for Farnsworth and maybe optioning Morris to make room for T. Sanchez.

      I see little point in posting a roster though that doesn’t include John Buck. He’s going to be there, even if only as the emergency catcher and situational pinch hitter.

      http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/08/mlb-playoff-roster-9-important-points-you-should-know.html

      • I figured with Farnsworth that he could be used in that flex spot to replace Wandy, but I don’t think it’s a 100% certainty that he’ll be there.

        As for the catchers, if you feel Buck is on the roster no matter what, do you carry 3 catchers? And if so, what player do you remove…Harrison? Jones?

          • There was a reason he was the last name on the list. Already have a left-handed first baseman in Morneau, and Harrison can fill in out in RF in a pinch.

            • I am back to defend the retention of Jones on the playoff roster….homeruns kill in playoff baseball. He can hit them

              • To me, and again, it’s just one opinion, I’m definitely not saying I’m right and everyone else is wrong, the decision comes down to this. Jones, Harrison, and Buck. Pick 2 of the 3. Some people would say the choices are Jones, Harrison and T. Sanchez and that’s fine.

                It certainly is nice to be having discussions like this in September. Beats the normal discussion about the Pirates at this time of year…NOTHING.

  8. G. Cole has NEVER faced the Cards or Reds. (He mentioned it in his post game interview today on The Fan.) Why not then use him in the Wild Card game as an element of surprise? I would give this serious consideration. I think he could dominate either team without having ever faced them.

    • That is a very interesting thought but I can’t imagine a team that has been absent from the playoffs for 20 years would hand the ball to a rookie for a one and done winner take all game.

    • Great point, Mike. If we get into a series with either of those teams, I’d definitely use him.

  9. Say Pirates and Cardinals tie for the division, then there is a one game playoff for the division and loser plays Reds in wildcard playoff game. Do you pitch Liriano in the division tiebreaker or save him for the one-game wildcard game?

  10. Liriano
    Burnett
    Morton
    Iginla

  11. Alright, I’m having one of those “Is it me, or is everybody else here acting weird?” moments. (Don’t answer that!)
    Yes, Charlie Morton had a great game, last time around. But the time before that he lasted only five innings. The time before that, only 1.2 innings. Cole meanwhile, has pretty much turned in quality starts all season long except for those two hiccups the first week in August.
    I’m really happy in what we’re seeing from Morton. And may have turned the corner, but nobody really knows. Cole is my No. 3 starter all the way. Not even close. That was even before last night.

    • Not gonna mention the six consecutive starts going at least six innings and giving up two runs or less before the two you mentioned?

      It’s you.

      • Yeah Ghostie, Charlie has been solid…gotta give him credit.

        • I do, Jandy. I do. Should have been explicit about that. He’s done a great job coming off two surgeries. I just think Cole’s been even *more* solid and that his and Charlie’s order should be switched. That’s all. ;)

      • Or I could have mentioned the too lesser starts he had just prior to those six of yours. That wasn’t my point. My point was NOT to bash Morton or shortchange him on anything he’s done this season. He’s given us more than we could have hoped for coming off TJ surgery AND his hip surgery. And like I said above, he may have turned the corner. But we knew coming into this season that it would be an up and down, unpredictable one with Charlie. Tell me you didn’t hold your breath when he left the game early and had to go back to Pittsburgh with an injury, just two starts back. You can stop playing your silly “gotcha” games because my post was not anti-Morton, it was pro-Cole.

    • I’m with you that I’d take Cole over Morton, but it matters little. It would only matter if they make it to the NLCS or World Series with their rotation ready start at #1 (Liriano) for Game 1. Neither guy is getting a 2nd start until maybe Game 1 of the NLCS at the earliest unless you put one of them in front of AJ, and Hurdle’s not doing that.

      Unless of course they go with a 3 man rotation, but I doubt they like their chances of picking between a rookie who’s never throw this many innings or a vet still just 2-3 months removed from his 1st start after Tommy John surgery.

  12. A.J. is my No. 2 also. But the bullpen has to start loosening up in the fifth, and be ready to go at a moment’s notice in the sixth on. If A.J. finds another gear for the playoffs, great. If he only can give us five and a half or six A.J.-like innings — then Clint makes a timely switch — I’m more than happy with that, too. Our bullpen is our great advantage over other teams and the post-season becomes more of a sprint than the marathon that 162 games is. Pull out all the stops.

    • The assumption, of course, is that it’s a close ballgame and the Pirate bats are doing their usual AWOL number on A.J. Obviously, not as urgent if they actually give A.J. some nice run support.

  13. I’m with DK – Liriano, AJ, Morton, Cole — but I also like Jason81′s setup a ton w/ Liriano going in the WC game and Game 3 of the NLDS.

    Here’s my question – Watson or Grilli in the 8th? I think right now it’s Watson. With the way the bats are going (save yesterday of course), the two best relievers must go in the 8th and 9th. Right now, that’s Watson and Melancon.

  14. I never put the cart before the horse.

    Need to focus on winning as many of the last 9 games as possible.

    All 9 would be really nice.

  15. With 9 games to go, the Pirates magic number to clinch the second wild card is 4 (vs. Nationals), to host the wild card game is 9 (vs. Reds), and to win the division is 11 (vs. Cardinals).

    Series of interest this weekend: Reds at Pirates, Cardinals at Brewers, Marlins at Nationals, Dodgers at Padres, and Braves at Cubs.

    If the Pirates beat the Reds 4 out of 6 games the next two weekends and beat the Cubs once at Wrigley next week, they can do no worse than host the wild card game.

    The Cardinals finish at Brewers and home against Nationals and Cubs.

  16. I thought that Vince Williams played well on Sunday. He was on the field for less than 1/2 the time but still managed to record a solid seven tackles. Does anyone think he could be our long term answer at ILB?

  17. Hope all is well, Dejan.

    Liriano, Burnett, Morton, Cole. But…

    If they end up playing the Dodgers or Cards, serious thought has to be given to pulling Morton from the rotation. Overall, Charlie has absolutely “earned” a spot. But when we’re talking about single game match-ups that could decide a playoff series, I don’t know how you can trust him against lefty-heavy lineups. He still simply cannot get them out.

    Not only would he have to deal with tough righties like Puig and Hanley Ramirez, but also lefties Crawford, Ethier, and Gonzalez. Same goes with Jay, Beltran, and Carpenter of the Cards. Good luck.

    • This is a very good point, but I don’t know if Jeff Locke is a better choice to be honest with you, and that’s what you’re faced with. At this point, I live with Morton unless he’s hurt.

  18. Morning to All! Oh, fun day at the ball-yard yesterday…love day baseball and it was just a special day yesterday, Important win, too. I am just getting caught up this morning on the blog: You know, it still amazes me that we are talking about playoff baseball and
    lineups and such. The Pirates. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Twenty years. Still hard to get our heads wrapped around this. Have a good Friday, everyone.

    • hey TJA, you sure got a treat yesterday :)
      TGIF

      • It really was, Jandy. An afternoon date with my wife…nice lunch…Pirates win…good day indeed. Only complaint was parking. A real issue on the North Shore. Indeed, this Sunday with the Pirates and Steelers going…should be very interesting.

        • Heads up to anyone worried about parking Sunday…use the garages Downtown and the lots in Station Square and take the T to the North Shore.

          • Righto, NMR. Very good advice. My wife I parked at a lot near the Western Ave, area (near CCAC) and walked to PNC Park. Parking around both PNC and Heinz Field was crazy. MOST of the lots are prepaid.

          • Good advice. And the “trouble” with weekday day games for parking is the lots that are normally available for Events are filled with everyday commuters. Not much parking space. And not much they can do about it.

        • Ohhhh yeah!! PARKING!! We ALMOST just had to give up and drive HOME! Got to the ramp next to Heinz Field at 11:30. Got to our seats just before the first pitch at 12:40!! UNBELIEVABLY frustrating…Finally found a spot over a mile away. AWFUL situation.

          • Hi Karen – We were frustrated, very much, too, but once the game got started that took the “parking sting” away, a bit for me. I do agree with you.

    • It sure was, JA!! And a happy morning to all in the asylum! :)

      Hubby and I are 3 for 3 at PNC Park this season…ALL Gerrit Cole wins! So I don’t care WHERE he pitches in the postseason, somebody had better give me a ticket to attend!

      • I wish my wife and I were 3 for 3 this year. Unfortunately – we are 9 and 13 this year. Not the best of records but we have definitely had some great memories this year. Have one more game this weekend – Sunday – so hopefully we can get to the 10 win platform.

  19. JAL’s My Old School School Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj9Rs56u8YY

    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

    First Pitch: Gerrit Cole Starting to Look Like an Ace When it Counts

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/09/first-pitch-gerrit-cole-starting-to-look-like-an-ace-when-it-counts.html

    Pirates Plow Padres, 10-1

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/09/pirates-plow-padres-10-1.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Cole, Tabata, Walker key Pirates’ 10-1 win

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/9/19/4749704/cole-tabata-walker-key-pirates-10-1-win

    6 Rumbunter

    Pirates GM Neal Huntington on RumBunter Podcast

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/09/20/pirates-gm-neal-huntington-rumbunter-podcast/

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 153: Pirates 10 Padres 1

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/september-2013/game-153-pirates-10-padres-1.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Feast or Famine Buccos Chow Down on Padres 10-1

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/09/feast-or-famine-buccos-chow-down-on.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 10 Padres 1

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/09/pirates-10-padres-1/

    10 City of Champions

    Pirates powered by Cole, lumber in blowout win over Padres

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/09/19/pirates-powered-cole-lumber-blowout-win-padres/

  20. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Reno Gazette-Journal

    Pittsburgh Pirates on verge (finally) of MLB playoffs

    http://www.rgj.com/usatoday/article/2832199

    12 San Diego Union Tribune

    Bucs finally beat Padres at PNC Park

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/sep/19/padres-mlb-pirates-win-at-pnc/

    13 Washington Post

    Bryce Harper three-run home run sparks Washington Nationals to 3-2 win over Marlins

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/bryce-harper-three-run-home-run-sparks-washington-nationals-to-3-2-win-over-marlins/2013/09/19/d30abd52-2198-11e3-966c-9c4293c47ebe_story.html

    14 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Erardi: Wake Reds fans up when September ends?

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130920/SPT04/309200060/Erardi-Wake-Reds-fans-up-when-September-ends-

    15 New Yorker

    Why Everyone Should Root for the Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/sportingscene/2013/09/why-everyone-should-root-for-the-pittsburgh-pirates.html

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates v Reds Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130920_CIN@PIT

    Pitching lined up for Pirates, Reds as showdown begins in Pittsburgh

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/writer/scott-miller/23735116/pitching-lined-up-for-both-pirates-and-reds-as-showdown-begins-in-pittsburgh

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Cardinals KO’d in 15th round

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cardinals-ko-d-in-th-round/article_8309e42c-1de7-5be1-aab2-41154c0db1f4.html

    18 PBC Site

    Cole’s career-high 12 K’s help end three-game skid

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_09_19_sdnmlb_pitmlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Liriano could be busy man down the stretch

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130919&content_id=61069934&notebook_id=61070338&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Billy Hamilton and Getting Excited Responsibly

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21845

    20 Fangraphs

    The National League’s Most Unhittable Starter

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-national-leagues-most-unhittable-starter/

  21. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Trent Richardson trade: The post-24 hour mark leaves the picture a little bit clearer on the Browns intentions

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/9/19/4748666/trent-richardson-trade-browns-colts-analysis-reasons

    Why all the injuries in the NFL?

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/9/19/4745440/injuries-steelers-maurkice-pouncey-ike-taylor-offensive-line

    22 Steelers Gab

    What The Bears Are Saying About The Steelers

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2013/09/19/what-the-bears-are-saying-about-the-steelers/

    Soccer(football)

    23 London Evening Standard

    Tottenham 3 Tromso 0: Defoe at the double but injuries mar Spurs’ group-topping victory

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/tottenham-3-tromso-0-defoe-at-the-double-but-injuries-mar-spurs-grouptopping-victory-8827934.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 19th September, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-19th-september-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Points Friday: Looking Back at the Win Streak

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/9/20/4748242/pens-points-friday

  22. I’m good with whatever lineup wins us the World Series.

    WC Game: Liriano
    Division Series: Burnett, Cole, Liriano, Morton, Burnett

  23. Notice the posts about playoff rosters–couple of tings to keep in mind

    1–You change the roster from series to series. For example if Pirates win a 5 game series to move to the championship series they can change the roster for the upcoming series.

    2-Pirates will have some flex spots for their players who have been on the 60 DL more than 60 days. That mean they can make players eligible for the playoff who not currently on the 40. It get very confusing.

  24. *****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 :)

    • I have posted off and on on here before, so I am not sure if I am a ‘newbie’ or not. I do read everyday. Nonetheless, I love the blog, and I like coming on here. My hometown is Bradford, PA.

    • Greetings, I am a newbie and a Pittsburgh native now living in upstate NY, Hoosick Falls to be exact. I grew up with Maz and Bill Virdon and Jim Pagliaoni and oh yeah, Roberto and Pops too. I’m normally hesitant to read these comments sections after being poisoned by the chicken littles at he p-g site but love the positive vibe I’m getting from the posters here. Go Bucs! Go Steelers! Go Pens! Go Panthers!

      DK: Gregg, welcome! But do me a favor, please and copy and paste this onto the most recent thread up top. Thanks!

  25. Check out #15 on the list of links. Excellent find Mr. JAL.

  26. Here is my roster.

    Rotation – Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett, Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole

    Long Relievers – Jeff Locke, Jeanmar Gomez

    Middle Relievers – Vin Mazzaro, Justin Wilson, Kyle Farnsworth

    Late Inning Relievers – Tony Watson, Mark Melancon

    Closer – Jason Grilli

    Lineup vs RHP

    1. Starling Marte, LF

    2. Neil Walker, 2B

    3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

    4. Justin Morneau, 1B

    5. Marlon Byrd, RF

    6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

    7. Russell Martin, C

    8. Jordy Mercer, SS

    9. Francisco Liriano, LHP

    Lineup vs LHP

    1. Starling Marte, LF

    2. Jordy Mercer, SS

    3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

    4. Marlon Byrd, RF

    5. Justin Morneau, 1B

    6. Russell Martin, C

    7. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

    8. Neil Walker, 2B

    9. Francisco Liriano, LHP

    Bench -

    Clint Barmes, R

    Gaby Sanchez, R

    Garrett Jones, L

    John Buck, R

    Jose Tabata, R

    Thoughts -

    I love that rotation, I think it will have no problems. I like Locke and Gomez as my long guys who can eat some innings if needed. I think Farnsworth has beat out Bryan Morris for that other bullpen spot at this point. I like Morris a lot, but I love the veteran Farnsworth. Late innings, Watson has been as good as anyone, with Melancon. I think Grilli should be your closer! I like Melancon just fine in the closer role, don’t get me wrong. But I think Grilli is healthy, and he thrives there. He is a team leader who shows great energy in the closing situation, and I love that.

    The offense and defense, there is nothing I put down there in terms of the lineup that is too noteworthy. I am putting Mercer as my main guy at SS, though I like Barmes too, and have no issue with either one. And I want to see Morneau stay in their vs lefties. The bench is tough. I like Tony Sanchez, but I think Buck and his experiance is better in the playoffs. Tabata is a great 4th outfielder, and Garrett Jones being your only lefty bat is a concern, but I think your going to have to go with it. I still love Garrett by the way, always a favorite of mine. Gaby is great against lefties, and I like Barmes’ experiance. The only question I have is Josh Harrison, but I am leaving him out. I think he is just the odd man out.

    That is my postseason roster. I have never posted anything this long before, don’t know why I felt like it now, haha. Good blog post too, Dejan.

  27. Extremely cool article on Reds speedster Billy Hamilton. Looking forward to seeing this kid live.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/majors/just-how-tough-is-it-to-throw-out-billy-hamilton/

  28. Looks like two teams from California are classless. Padres don’t help Tony Sanchez and the Dodgers clinch the division and go swimming in the pool in Arizona’s stadium.

    I saw most of the comments about the Sanchez play yesterday. I would have liked to have seen the Padres make just a little more of an attempt to make sure TS didn’t get hurt. I think it is a little too much of ‘old school baseball rules’ that says you get out of the way on a fly pop near the dugout.

    And I do think what the Dodgers did was wrong. Show some class/respect.

  29. Interesting Steelers facts I heard this morning. 31 total rushes in the first two games and only 7 total rushes in the second half of 2 close games. That is just amazeing and to think a lot of people were concerned that the Steelers would just line up and run the ball last week just to be stubborn.

    I’m not sure what the answer is but you can’t be one dimensional on offense unless you have the talent to support that. The Steelers don’t seem to have the talent to overcome defenses just lining up know the pass is coming. You have to have more balance then 7 rushes over the course of two games in the second half. These were both close games and if not for turnovers winnable games.

    • The problem, Nate, is that it is usually 3rd and 8 after 2 runs. But, I agree with you. They need to find a way to not have defenses just focused on taking Ben’s head off. That will happen in short order.

      • Have to try to establish the run so the Defense will respect play action. Right now no one respects the run game, so play action isn’t working. I would like to see a couple more screens pass’s to utilize Jones speed. We could also use:

        HEATHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

        • Jim I agree and I’m not calling for them to run 60% or even 50% of the time but you have to have more then 7 rushes in what equates to an entire football game in the second half of the first two games. They have both been close games.

          Cutler has been known to throw interceptions. This team can’t win if they lose the turnover battle. Hopefully they can force a few this weekend.

          • I understand what you’re saying here Nate, however, there is one problem. They can’t run the ball!!! I understand you have to run the ball for play action to work and all that, but when you are only averaging 2.4 yds per carry as a team, running the ball just isn’t working. That 2.4 yds doesn’t take into account all the bubble screens they have run that have resulted in 0 yds either. This team cannot run the ball so I can see why they aren’t running when they are down in the second half and they need to move the ball.

          • I’m not disagreeing at all, Nate. I just think the problem is they can’t establish the run by getting stuffed in the backfield.

  30. So the Dodgers had a pool party. In a pool, no less! A centerfield pool gets what it deserves, imho.

    • I would stay out of that pool for a day or so . . .

    • A real baseball field does NOT have a pool. I am way too much of a traditionalist…Fenway…Wrigley…Camden..Dodger..even our own PNC…etc. Don’t like the fountains and pools and rocks and much of the stuff we out there…

      • HAHAHA, yes!!! Thank you!

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks it is ridiculous for a player to claim it is classless for another to jump in their pool as celebration.

        You have a friggin’ swimming pool in your friggin’ outfield. THAT is classy?

      • Batman,

        Does a “real baseball field” have cute hedges that spell out their team name in center?

        Sort of like junior high girls who write their boyfriend’s name all over their tablet covers!

        Love the palm trees in Dodgerville, love the fountains in Kansas City, love the pine trees in Denver, love the rocks in Anaheim, love the PIRATE hedges in the Burgh . . . . . . and love the bikinied girls sitting around the pool in Phoenix! Think about it, Batman: can’t have the bikinis without the pool!

        I am a hedges, fountains, rocks, and pool supporter! I also like fireworks after homeruns!

      • Let me also throw in you dont need amusement park attractions in your stadium like Comerica has. No need for a ferris wheel on one baseline and a marry go round on a other.

  31. Watched the Pens game last night and I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how Bortuzzo looked out there. He had a little rust to shake of as this was his first preseason action, but he played with grit, speed, and his reach is just ridiculous. If he plays like that, he is looking like he should make the team as a bottom third pair defenseman.

    Also, as much as I hate to admit it, Engelland looked better last night than he did all last year. I do not envy the Penguins coaching staff in making decisions about who makes the team as a defenseman.

    • That said, Engelland did take two stupid penalties and Bortuzzo does what Engelland does but better (well Engelland is a better fighter,but I don’t really care about that).

      • Bortuzzo is playing like he belongs.
        period.

      • I thought despres and that mikkelson dude looked good too. I can see mikkelson and Harrington being the top 2 call ups in case of injury. Def tough decisions on the roster. I’m sure shero and the coaches figured someone would get hurt and things would work themselves out but either way I believe pens need to go out of their way to get despres, bortuzzo and dumoulin nhl experience early so they’re ready for the playoffs.

    • Kumbaya! :)

  32. You can pretty much throw a hat over the season stats of our 4 starters that would be considered for postseason duty. The WHIPs are reasonably close. For me, Liriano is my #1 starter, particularly for any game in PNC – if I have the luxury of setting it up any way I want. Since the most likely scenario is a series vs. Cincy, he’s my first game starter against their heavy lefty lineup (Choo, Votto, Bruce). A lefty can shut that group down, and Liriano has shut everyone down in PNC. I would try to avoid Morton vs. the Reds because he does not handle lefties so well. I don’t care what AJ has supposedly earned over the last 2 years. I think Cole has earned more over the last 2 months, and I’d be inclined to go with him over AJ. The goal is to win the series, not give out lifetime achievement awards.

    So, against either the Reds or Cards, I would go with: Liriano, Cole, AJ, Morton.

    I’d fully expect the consummate professional AJ to go ballistic at the mere thought that the rookie would get to start ahead of him, and that would be a huge distraction. AJ can save his tantrum, though. I seriously doubt Clint would start Cole over AJ in Game 2. He’ll play the “playoff experience” card, and I suppose there is some merit to that.

    For me, though, with the way Cole is pitching right now, he has to be my starter in Game 2. I would also say there is a lot of time between now and the playoffs. These guys will mostly get 2 more starts, and maybe 2 starts vs. the Reds, in fact. Clint may jockey things up down the stretch. We don’t know how they will perform the rest of the way. That could still change things dramatically.

    • ‘I’d fully expect the consummate professional AJ to go ballistic at the mere thought that the rookie would get to start ahead of him, ‘

      Would a consummate professional go ballistic?

      • That was my point, TC. I don’t think he’s been anyting near the consummate professional, but he is often described that way. I think AJ has proven to be pretty selfish most of this year. What he wants for AJ comes before what the team needs.

        • Couldn’t disagree more.

          Is Locke paying AJ to mentor him?

          • So, standing next to Locke in the dugout made him a good pitcher for the first half of this year?

            I didn’t say everything about AJ is bad. Lashing out every time things don’t go your way is the sign of a selfish and immature player. We don’t need that.

            • I would also say that if AJ has some useful mentoring to do, Cole should be the guy he mentors. I can’t say he isn’t doing that already, or even if Cole is receptive to it. But, AJ as a young pitcher profiled a whole lot more like Cole than Locke. Locke could be an afterthought in 2 years. Cole won’t be.

      • I think you missed the sarcasm.

        Jim apparently does not hold AJ in very high regard.

        • I did miss it. Sorry Jim

        • I actually did for a long time, NMR. I’m actually still a fan of AJ. But, I think he has had some disturbingly selfish outbursts lately. Showing up your Mgr by ignoring him, just for taking you out of a game where you have lost your effectiveness, staring down and scolding a SS for where he is positioned by the coaches then denying it later, intimating that fans are not doing their part to come to games, losing your composure at times because you don’t like the calls of umps. Should I go on?

          There is a fine line between being a competitor who keeps his team fired up and one who harms the team with his selfishness. I don’t think AJ realizes that this team is a lot more competitive this year. They don’t need his outbursts.

  33. As for the everyday lineup, I hope Clint is done experimenting with whether Morneau can hit lefties well enough to start everyday. More importantly, since we are not likely to face a LHP starter in a series vs. either Cincy or St. Louis, I hope Clint realizes he needs to pinch hit Gabby for Morneau in a late inning, high leverage situation. Gabby has hit LHP his whole career, and Morneau has not hit them well in a long time. In the even that Cingrani does start for the Reds, Gabby must be our 1b.

    I don’t want to see John Buck at all in the playoffs. I’m going to just leave it at that.

    Mercer is my guy at SS. This team needs help on offense most nights, and Mercer is a lot better hitter than Barmes. CB is my late innings guy when I have a lead.

    A tough call is how much playing time Tabby gets. Unfortunately, Marte has not had a chance to get rehab at bats, and I think he is struggling recognizing pitches right now. San Diego pretty much dominanted him with curve balls. (Congrats, on the baby, BTW Starling. I hope everything turned out well.). Anyway, I would give strong consideration to Tabby getting a start or two over Marte, simply because of the rust factor. Hopefully, Starling can make that a moot point by the end of the season. But, suddenly, Tabby is a dangerous bat. I like that insurance.

  34. I wonder how many hit batters we will have tonight?

  35. In case anyone missed it, St. Louis blew 1-run leads in both the 8th and the 9th innings before losing in 15 innings to Colorado yesterday. The game included Matt Carpenter being picked off first when he stepped off the base to dust off his pants without calling time.

    I guess it rains om the just and the unjust.

  36. If Jeff Locke isn’t starting for you in the post season, and he won’t be, there’s no reason to have him on your active roster at all. Have a reliever fill a reliever’s spot, or take an extra position player.

    • Agreed. Unless he somehow pitches lights out the next 2 starts, which I don’t expect, I would not allow him to pitch in Oct. I’d go as far as to say that if he doesn’t pitch well this weekend, I would replace him for his last start. No medals for effort in a pennant race.

    • I just had that discussion with someone and said the same thing. The only chance he’d pitch would be a blowout or a long game so it’s not worth having him on the roster.

    • Gotta disagree.

      Think Tim Lincecum last year.

      There is always a need for pitching. And it ain’t like the Pirates are overflowing with valuable position players.

    • If Jeff Locke pitches in a WC play in game, then I don’t think we will have to worry about the postseason roster.

    • I get where you guys are coming from, and it makes sense. But that would be a VERY tough call. Maybe the info JAL mentioned above about being able to change the roster for each series provides some flexibility.

  37. I thought the swimming pool stuff in AZ by the Dodgers last night was bush league. Makes them even easier to dislike, if you ask me.

    Some people compare them to the Yankees of the last 15 years or so because of their huge payroll and ability to fill whatever roster needs they have. Well, I think there is a big difference. I never saw the Yankees put on a display like that in another team’s park. I doubt that sat very well last night with Mattingly.

    • I’m having a tough time criticizing the Dodgers for this. I’m not sure the Yankees had an opportunity to celebrate in a park wth a swimming pool or anything similar.

      Heaven forbid if a team clinches something in PNC Park, I won’t criticize them for playing in the kiddie playground near the river walk.

      • maybe we could just suggest they all just jump in the river?
        ;)

      • What was the point? Kind of like spiking the ball on the Cowboys’ star or stomping on that Terrible Towel by Cincinnati. I know it really doesn’t mean anything in the big scheme of things. But, I just think there’s no point other than to rub in your victory, and I have never been high on that.

        • The point was to celebrate. People say it’s a kids game. They acted like kids. Didn’t bother me. Stomping on the Terrible Towel doesn’t bother me. It’s a towel.

          I don’t view it as rubbing anyone’s noses in it at all. They were just celebrating together as a team after months and months of hard work.

          • You had me until you mentioned stomping on the Terrible Towel. ;-)

          • I guess we’ll agree to disagree on this one, 21. Celebrating is popping champagne bottles and spraying each other with it in the clubhouse. What they did was to say, “Hey, we hate these guys. What can we do to really PO them and their fans?” I really don’t think it had anything to do with celebrating.

            If you’re ok with that, fine. I’m not, and I don’t want my kids thinking that is how you celebrate.

            And I really don’t think Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera would have ever thought that.

        • Rub in their victory?

          In front of a mostly empty stadium and home dugout?

          It’s not like they sprinted out after the final out.

          • How about this, the Arizona organization asked the Dodgers not to celebrate on their field. There’s one sure fire way to prevent that, isn’t there.

          • At least they didn’t pull their shirt tails out.

          • I am certainly not ‘anti-celebration’.

            I just think that the whole ‘spray champagne’ thing is getting old. Plus they do it for the division title, then 2 playoff victories.

            If you win the World Series — go at it.

            And I do think there is something wrong with running across the field and jumping into a pool at your opponent’s field. Something wrong – that I can’t seem to put into the right words.

      • If you don’t want them celebrating on your field, don’t let them beat you!! Simple solution, yes. Always acheivable, no!

        Also, don’t state that you don’t want them to swim in the pool if/when they clinch the division. Why give them the idea.

        Just for the record, I don’t like the Dodgers. I live hear and have to put up with all their annoying fans as well.

  38. A New York State of Mind…

    - Bars open early AM. Not just hard-liquor-for-hard-men places. But the 45-rotating-taps-of-European-ale-pinkie-finger places that I like. Breakfast of Champions.

    - Trying for a NY transportation grand slam of sorts. We’ve walked to destinations, rickshawed (man powered), taxied, executive car’ed, and hope to horse-carriage, subway and train it while here.

    - This isn’t a NY thing but boy was I surprised to see a Front Page, A Section, Above-the-Fold, continued-on-page-2 cover story in today’s USA Today, um, today about the freaking PIRATES.

    - Despite my first sentence, there are few artists as cringeworthy to me as Billy Joel. (Saying that can get you beaten up in NY.) Don’t know if it is the grating voice or dissing Christie Brinkley. Maybe both.

    Off to Times Square because we’re…sigh…tourists. Me and Times Square is a lot like Dejan and the Beach. But I’m not as huffy about it.

    Well. Maybe I just blew that huffy thing.

  39. Playoof pitching?

    1. Liriano.
    2. 3. 4. Choose any between AJ, Morton, Cole. All have their good and bad points. Just hope AJ doesnt have another temper tantrum in the playoffs.

    Tony Sanchez with a catch for all-time yesterday. While some people debate classlessness or no, Sanchez took an extremely high road, stating he was just concentrating on the ball. Wonder if the people bitching today would feel the same way if the teams were reversed yesterday? Nah……….

    I never thought I would see the day that the Chiefs looked much better than the Steelers, but they do.

    I would like to see at least 2 bean balls tonight………….. one at Phillips, one at the Toothpick. Just sayin. And Skyline chili sucks…… cant hold a candle to anything I can make, or they make in the Burgh.

  40. This is the 1st time ever, I’ll say that again – EVER, that the Steelers & Ravens have been home dogs the same week.

  41. 1. Liriano
    2. AJ
    3. Morton
    4. Cole

    I dont think there’s much arguement. Though I haven’t read the above entries, I’m sure there’s some arguing going on.

  42. I am off to a meeting and training for the remainder of the day. You guys and gals are great! Been a fun day in the Loonie Bin…as always. Have good weekend and Go Bucs! Let hope we can bring that playoff spot home this weekend…with a little help from the Marlins. Would be great to do it in front of the fans at PNC. Later all…

  43. What happens if this takes place…

    With the forecasted 1 to 1.5 inches of rain coming in starting later tonight and going through tomorrow evening, what happens if the field is too wet to play baseball tomorrow night. Do they go with a doubleheader on Sunday and really add more misery to the traffic on the north shore Sunday? Play Saturday’s game in Cincy next weekend and have the Pirates be the home team and Cincy is the away team? Do the off days match up where both teams are off next Thursday where they can come back to Pittsburgh and play? Play the game on September 30th, and push back any play in games that are needed to Oct 1st and then play the WC game on Oct 2? Has MLB thought this out yet?

  44. I am off from work today.
    Just finishing my list of questions to submit to today’s Chat at noon.
    I’m at 48 questions.
    That should make the moderator happy.

    While comprising my list I am listening to Billy Joel. Just as my own protest to another certain someone.

  45. Groat makes the chat!

    Comment From Groat2Maz2Strangeglove
    Although I’ve not been a Tony Sanchez supporter, he has even me noticing his new found pitch blocking, his improved game calling, and, of course, his over-the-top defensive play yesterday. Any inside info on his chances to make Playoff roster over John Buck?

  46. Isn’t it interesting that, after all the handwringing and discussion/arguing for last 3-4 weeks (2-3 months for Clemson Travis) about the selection and organization of pitching rotation for Wild Card and Playoffs . . . . . . it comes out exactly as they are already ordered!

    (unless of course, Liriano goes on 3 days rest for last game of season matchup for Division Championship)

    1/ Liriano/Burnett/Morton/Cole, without one guy having to pitch short rest or skip days.

    2/ Is Clint Hurdle so smart that he had this set up long ago . . . .
    . . . . or is Hasty Bob right and Hurdle is just lucky?

    3/ Bye bye Jeff Locke. Maybe they’ll still let you wear the uni and sit in the dugout like Wandy if you don’t make the Playoff roster. If I were you, I would make your last outing of the year Sunday a doozy!

    Despite National Mart of Record’s protestations, Morneau will win Bucs more games in Playoff series than Gaby Sanchez.

    • I do not think it was a lucky mistake at all. If you decide that Liriano is your man no matter if it’s for a 1 game wild card or a series it’s not hard to line him up to do that. He has been the obvious choice for a while. You just work backwards from game 163 and figure out how many games you are off with like 40 games to go and then you come up with a game plan to make up those games.

      Maybe you have Cole go on 8 days rest so that you essentially have a six man rotation for one time through the rotation. You also could have a 4 man rotation one time through the rotation if you have some off days.

    • +1 for Morneau. Still a big fan… if only for choosing #66 for a reason that is very different from the one in my head.

  47. Extra security needed at Macy’s this weekend.

  48. Thunder makes the chat:

    Comment From Thundercrack
    Is AJ really a leader or is he just a veteran player?

    • and the answer:

      Trib Total Media:
      You don’t play a prominent role in changing the attitude of a 20-year loser without being a leader. A.J. is actually more of that than most people will ever know, not least of which in terms of how he’s handled the Pirates’ folks OVER his head.

      • That selfish b*stard!

        • Me, DK, or AJ?

        • Is it wrong to read this in a pirates voice?

          Especially with what yesterday was.

        • See, the thing is, when you disagree and someone puts forth some specifics, it is nice to counter those specifics with more than just “he doesn’t get paid to mentor Locke.”

          All I said was AJ has a tendency to be selfish. I pointed out several examples. I even said that I like AJ in spite of it, and that he’s still a good pitcher – but, that it is not helpful to the team when he acts the child. Never read a rebuttal yet. Easy to take cheap shots. Harder to win arguments like an adult.

          • I didn’t respond because there is nothing to debate, Jim.

            “Tendency to be selfish” is far from ALL you said up there.

            You’ve personally judged events to be something they weren’t. AJ did not call out Barmes or fans. If we can’t even establish a baseline of factual events on which to discuss, what is the point?

            You think he’s selfish. I strongly disagree.

            That’s a boring conversation to me.

            • Now, that’s a reply :)
              I’ll let you two duke it out.

              I have to get this darn paperwork done, or I’m in hot water.

              Be good, guys :)

            • I think he can be selfish, yes. And he does it quite often. Please tell me how what he did to Barmes was not being selfish. Just because he comes up with another story after the game doesn’t make it not so. And, even in the case of Barmes and the shifts, if it was not Barmes he was showing up, then it was his boss he was showing up. It was unprofessional, and we all know it.

              Turning away from Clint when he takes him out of games when he’s obviously lost his effectiveness – does that fall under great leadership or unselfishness? How about his arguments with the Manager in the dugout while the game is going on? There have been several games where AJ could easily have been taken out sooner, and maybe we would have survived his big inning. But, I think Clint tends to defer to him because he knows a fit is coming if he doesn’t.

              How about getting into disagreements in games with umpires almost every night? Calling out fans for not attending to the level he would like? I’ll bet he has not paid a dime to attend a sporting event in his adult life – certainly not a baseball game.

              I think AJ is a terrific pitcher, and I have been a fan. But, I think he detracts from the team when he acts like a spoiled brat. I wish he would not do it as often. The team would be better off, in my opinion. It is possible to think someone is a good player but also recognize that they have some character issues. “That’s just AJ being AJ” is getting old for me.

              • Jim , not to get in the middle, but isn’t

                ” But, I think Clint tends to defer to him because he knows a fit is coming if he doesn’t.”

                kind of disrespectful to Clint? I don’t think that at all.

              • You’re right on that, Arriba. I am a fan of Clint. I think, for awhile, he was allowing AJ to act badly in some situations because he knows all of the positives of AJ (great competitor, very good pitcher, mentoring of Locke, etc). So, I thought he was sort of acting like, and this may not be a great analogy but is the first one that came to mind, that mom we’ve all seen at the mall whose kid is more than ready to go home but she has a bunch more shopping to do. She can either have it out with him right then and there, or let him act out a little in hopes he does not have the full meltdown in front of everyone that would keep her from getting her shopping done.

                I think we have seen at least one occasion where Clint has said, “Enough is enough” and sternly let AJ know who is steering the ship. But, sometimes I think he believes that he can’t just confront AJ on the spot, as his instincts are probably telling him, because it might cause a scene that is not beneficial. One of the great things about Clint is that he is mature enough that he doesn’t feel he needs to ascert his control all the time.

                I think the way Clint handles the team is maybe the part about him that I appreciate the most. A different Manager might not have gotten as much out of AJ as he has.

                And, I hope I have not made it appear that I think AJ is not a huge part of this team. He was their best pitcher last year, and he has been very good this year. He was exactly what we needed last year.

              • Thanks, Jim. You were talking about ” my boy.”

                :-D

    • Cracker,

      Don’ be busting on AJ!

      Actually, good question———and excellent answer from Day-shawn.

      • Thank you. I had submitted a much longer version of the same question. Glad DK picked it and answered it.

        I believe DK – because DK is around these guys. But I still am not totally sold that AJ is the leader of the team…or how solid that notion really is. I think winning has done a lot to change the attitude, too.

        I think AJ is a good pitcher and totally appreciate what he has done on the field and what he may have done off the field. But I also think some of it is an act. One which I don’t care for at times (showing up the manager and shortstop during a game).

        But when I hear guys like Kaboly and Mark Madden on The Final Word saying that AJ is the leader of the team and he should pitch the wild card game, I just laugh and wonder when those two have actually been in the Pirates’ clubhouse or interviewed AJ Burnett.

        • “But I still am not totally sold that AJ is the leader of the team”
          That’s the catch, TC. AJ isn’t THE leader of the team, but he is A leader of the team. Just one…not THE.

          “I think AJ is a good pitcher and totally appreciate what he has done on the field and what he may have done off the field. But I also think some of it is an act. One which I don’t care for at times (showing up the manager and shortstop during a game).”

          Agreed!

        • FWIW, don’t forget Dejan’s answer in last weeks chat:

          “A.J.’s ruffled a whole lot of feathers with the Pirates — way more than Clint Barmes the other day, believe me — but there’s also a genuine recognition and appreciation for what he’s done. He’s got to be a priority, as is the case for anything related to starting pitching.”

          Being likeable isn’t a requirement for a leader. In fact, often times its the opposite.

          • National Mart of Records,

            “You know I love me some nerdy stats and whatnot, but this series is exactly why the whole run differential/pythogarean concept is bullsh*t. Baseball just doesn’t work that way.”

            I just read your comment here listed from yesterday about an hour ago.

            Of the 760 some comments yesterday, I appreciated it the most!

            • I’m sure some could read that and think I pick and choose stats arbitrarily depending on my argument, but that is not my intention. I’m just skeptical of accepting ALL these sabermetric assumptions as fact.

              And this whole idea of throwing all runs scored and runs scored upon into an equation and having it spit out your “real” record just seems ridiculous.

          • This line reminds me of AJ “When you meet an a-hole in the morning you met an a-hole. When you meet a-holes all day long, maybe you are the a-hole”.

            This is not a bad thing. He can get all fired up and show emotions as long as it doesn’t interfere with his play or others. I don’t feel like it does. Everyone on the team knows Hurdle is the boss and everyone know AJ’s competitive fire. They know that what he does during the heat of battle stays in that moment and doesn’t carry forward into the next week, game or even inning.

            I for one like having a few guys on the team with over the top emotions. It’s much more entertaining having STFD then please take a seat sir.

          • But, a leader needs to be more than just a guy who always opens his big mouth. A leader needs to be unselfish. AJ has some leadership qualities, for sure. But, I don’t think he’s any sort of pied piper on this team. Not this year. They don’t need him telling them how to act. And Clint doesn’t need young pitchers thinking it is ok to turn your back on the Manager when he takes you out of a game.

            Just pitch well, AJ. That’s all I think anyone wants at this point. This is not that young of a team now.

            • Reporting from the Pittsburgh Pirates clubhouse, Jim S.

              Over and out.

              • Reporting from the real world is more like it.

                Just saying I’m wrong about him being selfish and then taking your customary cheap shots (which you do to everyone and I do to no one) is really immature.

              • Reality? Immature?

                Jim, you’ve never met AJ Burnett. You’ve never met someone who has met AJ Burnett.

                You watch him play a game. On TV.

                And you not only find this enough to make personal judgements of his character, but also decide what actually happens behind closed doors.

                Take a step back and think about this, man.

                Talk about needing a reality check.

              • So, this is not a blog anymore where people express opinions about what they see? People speculate about what they see? Again, this part keeps eluding you. I pointed out several specific instances that I feel point out how he can be selfish, and that maybe he is not always the leader some writers and fans make him out to be.

                Are you saying you have not speculated about traits of guys you’ve never met on the Pirates? I’m only pointing to things he does ON THE FIELD. I didn’t say he was a bad guy away from the field.

                Please try to stick to the argument. I’d hate to be a kicker trying out for a football team you coach. I’d never know where the fieldgoal posts are from one day to the next.

              • You’re going to really take that cop out, Jim?

                I never said you couldn’t express your opinion.

                I just used my own to express how ridiculous it is to personally attack a man’s character, of which you don’t have the slightest idea.

                Any more argument cliches you wanna throw in there? Ad hominem? Strawman?

              • I called him out for being a selfish jerk on the field quite often, NMR. ON THE FIELD being the key point that you keep leaving out. I, in no way, hinted that AJ is a bad guy off the field. I actually have been pointing out a lot of good things he does on the field as well.

                Lots of players are probably great citizens, fathers, husbands, friends away from the game, but don’t carry those traits over in the heat of battle. I won’t argue it any longer.

          • Speaking of Dejan’s chat answers, I agreed with this one:

            That was a strange outing the other night. It was very clear from the entire San Diego series that the Padres’ advance scouts — to their considerable credit, being well out of the race — did terrific work against a non-division foe. With Melancon in particular, it’s evident they instructed their right-handed batters to go inside-out on him, meaning to drive a ball that’s running away from them into right field. That’s all you saw, too, dink, dink, dink into right field.

            In fairness, Melancon got a little stubborn and kept feeding that, maybe defiantly, but he’ll need to adjust.

            • Weren’t we talking about this before? I know Arriba was in on it.

              I’ve definitely come around on the “stubborn” part, although I think our conversation put more of the blame on Buck for the pitch calling.

              • Yeah but I wasn’t part of the who to blame discussion. I just thought he kept putting the pitches out there which puzzled me.

              • I was, and I put the blame on Buck to the extent that if Martin had been in he might have called something different. But I have no idea whose idea it was to keep throwing out there. Honest! ;-)

              • Well, you convinced me, and I like Melancon, therefor Buck must be a bum. :)

              • It’s easy for me to blame the new guy, especially since he hasn’t distinguished himself. But Melancon being stubborn never even crossed my mind. Not to say I buy it without more. I mean, he came up with the “shark tank.” ;-)

            • I thought it was getting obvious, after the 2nd hit the other night, what the strategy was for San Diego. But, it was not an “inside out” strategy. It was simply a going with outside pitches strategy.

              Melancon has been pitching righties out there all year, with great success. None of those balls were hit particularly hard. They just found green space.

        • Agree totally, TC.

  49. Dejan said he hit a wall yesterday. Maybe writers block.

    NEED MORE COWBELL !!!!

  50. You know, I will never say this again . . . . . but I would trade Tim Neveritt even up for the announcer I hate most in the world: Milo Hamilton. I’d even throw in a PTBNL (or ATBNL)!

    I actually shuddered as I typed that, Milo!!

    The guy talks and talks and talks and TALKS and TALKS and TALKS———about anything but the game!! You hear the bat hit the ball but he keeps on talking about NOTHING!!

    Did you ever go to a sportsbar or restaurant to watch a game and the guy sitting next to you wants to prove how much baseball or sport he knows . . . and he talks right through plays, important plays? Timmy N.

    • I would like for them to bring back Lanny………You’re right about Tim.

      Especially when they play the Rockies in Colorado.

    • I would trade Neverrett for an expired groupon, if it got him out of town.

      That saucy babe from SD would be a great trade too. ;)

    • I really like Greg Brown, especially compared to Neverett. I think Tim’s problem is that he isn’t a good conversationalist but that’s the style of announcer he tries to be (I guess that’d be the Vin Scully model, not comparing him in terms of talent but approach)….

      Better given his skillset to just focus on the game and the facts and just set up the color analyst to do more of the talking…. he also needs to employ something other than saying the player’s last name as he swings and puts the ball in play at varying degrees of excitement… ends up being, more often than not, wrong. Better to just say something like “in the air to right, drifting back Denorfia to make the catch, one down” than “WALKER SWINGS AND HITS IT TO RIGHT FIELD, in front of the warning track Denorfia makes the play”… suggestion for Roots execs… put Neverett on a word count… if he goes over, he pays a fine (for fun or charity)… I think it would improve his performance a lot.

  51. Cubs host Atlanta and then Pittsburgh.

    Good chance both clubs will clinch playoff spots at Wrigley on successive series.

    Maybe someone will run out and water the ivy?

  52. My two cents on the postseason roster (how cool is that to be talking about a postseason roster for the Pirates!!????!!!)

    Rotation: Liriano, AJ, Morton, Cole. Pretty clear to me that is what it will be. Charlie has earned it. My personal order is AJ 4th but I fear his tweet in response so I will just keep that amongst us chickens.

    Bullpen: Melancon (closer). Watson (setup). Morris. Mazarro. Gomez. Wilson*. Grilli* (*IF BOTH ARE HEALTHY AND CAN PITCH TO THEIR LEVEL). If not: Farnsworth & Locke (lefty).

    Agree that there is NO NEED to carry Locke in the bullpen. Love the kid but no need for his skillset. I begrudingly list him as replacement for Wilson if he isn’t 100% as we need another lefty option in my opinion. As to Grilli, if I’m Hurdle/Searage I say, Jason, we are gonna give you a chance to pitch over the next week..if you can get that velocity back, then you will be in the pen for the playoffs…if not, sorry, we have to go with other options. I won’t protest much either way as he is a key part of 2013 success, but just like with Locke, it’s a ‘new season’ and you have to go with your best.

    That would be 11 pitchers, so I’d go with an extra position player for flexibility.

    I’d go with Sanchez over Buck. Not sure I see the Bucs doing that, though.

    Bench for me is : Harrison, Barmes, Gaby, TSanchez, Jones, Tabby.

    WILDCARD: Not out of the question the Bucs have the same “Grilli” discussion with Marte… if he can’t swing the bat with authority, they’d have to seriously consider his place on the roster… I give a slight lean to keeping Marte on the roster even if he is just a pinchrunner and defensive sub, but Pie/Snider might be considered.

  53. Sorry, everyone. I actually don’t like side fights here. That was not my intent in originally stating that AJ can be and is often sefish on the field. NMR and I disagree, apparently vehemently, on that point. That’s the purpose of a blog – to agree and disagree.

    But, I don’t want to be part of anything nasty or distracting to others. So, I’ll just say, let’s agree to disagree, NMR. I consider you one of the more knowledgeable people on here, for sure. I actually agree with you a lot more than I disagree, and I enjoy your posts.

    • Wasn’t distracting to me. But I tend to agree with you on most if not all of your points. He is acting now almost the same way he was acting in NY his last year there.

    • Now do you understand why I didn’t want to engage in the first place?

      Like I said, no good conversation to be had.

      Hope you can understad if it ever happens again.

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