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Morning Java: Who can? Cam can!

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The TribLIVE Radio show today — 2-3 p.m. — will feature special guest Cam Wright, the soph guard who’s been Pitt basketball’s brightest spot in the early going.

Before that, in the opening segment, I’ll present to listeners a question: Is any team in professional sports more detestable than the Flyers?

Call me at 412-320-7925 or email sportstalk@tribweb.com

To listen, just click on the link above. If you’re mobile, try the TribLIVE Radio app.

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>> Made it over to the Pete last night for Pitt’s zoning out of overmatched Fresno State. Kevin Gorman has the game story, and here’s some of what Wright had to say afterward …

Random randomness from the event: There’s so much to like about Wright’s upgraded game that I’ll save it for the radio show. But I’ll drop a hint here that he had one whale of a summer, and not just in the gym. … Talib Zanna is going to be the key this year, no matter what other distractions pop up. Pitt needs a big man underneath, and he’s as big as they’ll get at 6-9 and plenty strong enough. But, as Jamie Dixon put it afterward, “He’ll need to finish more.” … Watching a Dixon team in a zone defense is almost as striking as watching them try to push the attack. The latter, for the record, has a long way to go. … Lamar Patterson, pictured above, keeps showing top skill, keeps making you think this could be the year. But sorry, after seeing that fade two years in a row, he’s in a Marc-Andre Fleury classification for me. Let’s see how he does when it counts. … The competition is dubious, and it’s so early even in the team-building process, but I’ll say right now that I like this team more than I thought I would. They’re bigger and more athletic — overall, not at center, obviously — than last year’s team. They’re tough, too. It’s clear that Dixon thinks a lot of them, as well, in trying the zone, something he addressed candidly after this game. But an identity? A real personality to take into the ACC? We’ll see.

>> Clint Hurdle is National League Manager of the Year. Rob Biertempfel reports.

Here’s some of what Hurdle told reporters …

Marlon Byrd leaves for the Phillies.

Our full Pirates coverage is here, including the latest on A.J. Burnett and Jay Bell.

>> Mike Tomlin wants to start ‘stacking wins,’ by beat writer Alan Robinson.

Some of the coachspeak …

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Lions news from the Detroit Free Press.

Here are official game highlights from NFL.com.

>> Kris Letang + Olli Maatta = We’ll see tonight. Beat writer Rob Rossi has it.

Sidney Crosby reached out to Steven Stamkos. He wasn’t alone in the hockey world.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Flyers news from the Philadelphia Daily News.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> Pitt looks ahead to North Carolina. Jerry DiPaola reports.

Tom Savage earns respect. A column by Joe Starkey.

>> Here are winners from of our first weekly write-your-own-column Tuesday entries, all responses to the following three questions, all limited to 150 words:

1. The Steelers are 3-6 and only two games behind the 5-4 Other Jets for the final wild-card spot. Should this be the focus in favor of more future-based concepts such as playing more Jarvis Jones and other youngsters?

James Tompkins writes …

Your Pittsburgh Steelers’ 23-10 win over a listless Buffalo Bills was an exercise in regaining dignity, nothing more. We’ve seen sufficient evidence that this team, right now, does not have the composition or preparation necessary to stand with this season’s top tier. And if the objective of winning a Super Bowl – heck, if winning an AFC North division title – isn’t attainable, then what is gained from starting incumbents to win a chance?

If “the standard is the standard” as we’ve been told oh so many times, let’s see what “the standard” is with guys who have a greater chance of being here next fall. Potential can’t reflect “the standard” by taking the field with potential alone. It comes of potential tempered by experience. And if the result of younger players learning on the job doesn’t produce the desired “standard”, we have a whole slew of longer-term problems to deal with.

2. What, if anything, should the Penguins do about Evgeni Malkin’s slump?

Wild Bill writes …

Having James Neal back at the wing will help a whole lot. Teams have been defending Malkin by pushing him out along the wall in the offensive zone, or by attacking him with two players at the center of the blue line – at least this is what I’ve been seeing. Better wing play, like what Neal brings, draws some of the defensive attention away. Better offensive play in general will draw more penalties and will give Malkin more power-play chances to score, as well. This could happen with a trade for an additional offensive threat.

I would like to see what Malkin could do if given a chance to be the power-play guy in front of the net at times. His strength could serve him well there.

3. Play devil’s advocate with the National League MVP finalists and make a case for either Paul Goldschmidt or Yadier Molina. If your best case isn’t good enough, that’s fine.

AZBucsFan writes …

I grew up in Pittsburgh, but I have lived in Phoenix for the past seven years and change. I also work for MLB.com doing pitchf/x during the season at Chase Field, so I understand what Paul Goldschmidt means to the Diamondbacks. His 36 HRs tied for the league lead. He lapped the NL field in RBIs. Batted .302 with an OPS of .952. Plus, he only made five errors playing a full season at 1B. Without his monster season, a D-backs team that lacks great pitching and power at most other positions easily finishes with 100 losses.

Yes, Andrew McCutchen is a great player, but he played for a team that pitched its way to a winning season and the playoffs. His numbers were simply very good.

>> Hope you can listen — and call in — to the show!

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.

269 Comments

  1. Hurdle—what a bright, engaging, humble, talented, tremendous person and manager.

    We’re lucky to have him.

  2. -Congrats to Hurdle. Well deserved. Although some of his in-game strategy moves are at times, head scratchers, no way the Bucs win 94 games without him. Great person off the field to, by all accounts.

    -AZBucsFan makes a great case for Goldschmidt for NL MVP. At one point, late in the season, he was my favorite to win.

    But Cutch is just as deserving. The Pirates wouldn’t have been a 100 loss team, but losing season #21 would have been an almost certainty without Cutch. He’s the national face of the team and a key cornerstone in resurrecting a historically long dead franchise back to it’s proud tradition.

    • Goldschmidt is more of an impact hitter, although RBIs for a #4 hitter in a better offense, in a better offensive park should be expected. But, I give Goldie the nod there.

      But, Cutch goes and gets the ball as well as just about anyone at the #3 defensive position on the field. Goldschmidt plays a much lower priority defensive position, although he plays it well. Cutch saves a lot more runs on defense. A lot more.

      Cutch takes tons of extra bases with his legs. Goldschmidt is unable to do that.

      Limited players, such as Goldschmidt, should not win the award over guys that do everything well. The superior power of Goldschmidt cannot make up for all that Cutch brings to the table.

      • I may have been wrong about Goldschmidt’s spot in the order. I think he did bat 3rd. If so, my apologies. Didn’t mean to mislead. I definitely concede that Goldschmidt was the better hitter in 2013.

        But, there is so much more to the game.

        One other thing. Cutch was the best player on a playoff team.

  3. They definitely hit a home run with Clint Hurdle as Manager! Congratulations to him. Let his success and his drive to be better everyday be a lesson to us all.

  4. Very happy for Manager Clint.

    CONGRATULATIONS !

  5. So my wife is at a business conference in Chicago this week. We were on the phone last night, and she was sending me some material to look at. Meanwhile, the sixteen-year-old was in the kitchen, head undoubtedly in the refrigerator.

    At any rate my wife was telling me that she was sending me some flyers to proof. The only word I uttered was “flyers,” which was, of course, immediately followed by our son’s voice coming from the kitchen: “suck.”

    Yep, there is hope for America’s youth.

  6. A World Without Love Peter and Gordon 1964 Written by Paul McCartney

    JAL’s A World Without Love Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3MyH09BL0o

    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 MLB Important Dates

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/schedule/important_dates.jsp

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Welcome to the Early Off-Season Panic

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/first-pitch-welcome-to-the-early-off-season-panic.html

    AFL: Phil Irwin Makes His Final Fall Start

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-phil-irwin-makes-his-final-fall-start.html

    Winter Leagues: De Jesus Stays Hot With Two Hits

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/winter-leagues-de-jesus-stays-hot-with-two-hits.html

    Winter Leagues: De Jesus Stays Hot With Two Hits

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/winter-leagues-de-jesus-stays-hot-with-two-hits.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Clint Hurdle wins NL Manager of the Year

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/11/12/5097736/clint-hurdle-wins-nl-manager-of-the-year

    6 Rumbunter

    Our Pick: New Pittsburgh Pirates New Hitting Coach

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/11/12/hire-pittsburgh-pirates-new-hitting-coach/

    Clint Hurdle: Hardware Nice, But Pirates Sustainability Crucial

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/11/12/clint-hurdle-2/

    7 WHYGAVS

    Clint Hurdle is the NL Manager of the Year

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/october-2013/clint-hurdle-is-the-nl-manager-of-the-year.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Byrd Flies Coop, Possible RF, 1B, P, SS Moves, More…

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/11/byrd-flies-coop-possible-rf-1b-p-ss.html

    9 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ Clint Hurdle named NL manager of the year

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/11/12/pittsburgh-pirates-clint-hurdle-named-nl-manager-year/

    10 Pirates Site

    Bucs’ resurgence earns Hurdle NL Manager of the Year

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/pirates-clint-hurdle-named-national-league-manager-of-the-year?ymd=20131112&content_id=63874004&vkey=news_pit

  7. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ Top 10 Prospects: No. 5 Josh Bell

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/11/12/pittsburgh-pirates-top-10-prospects-no-5-josh-bell/

    12 Philadelphia Inquirer

    There’s something rotten about bringing in Byrd

    http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20131113_There_s_something_rotten_about_bringing_in_Byrd.html

    13 Sports Illustrated

    Perusing baseball’s used car lot for quality free-agent pitchers

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20131112/veteran-pitchers-tim-hudson-roy-halladay/

    14 LA Times

    Baseball umpires aren’t born knowing all the rules

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-erskine-20131113,0,2367147.column#axzz2kWfym6ow

    15 Huffington Post

    5 Reasons The Seventh Inning Stretch Is One Of Baseball’s Most Fascinating Traditions

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/12/seventh-inning-stretch_n_4213586.html

    16 Bleacher Report

    How Good Is the Japanese Professional Baseball League?

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1847398-how-good-is-the-japanese-professional-baseball-league

    17 St Louis Post-Dispatch

    Baseball notes: Bengie Molina to coach for Texas Rangers

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/baseball-notes-bengie-molina-to-coach-for-texas-rangers/article_22704400-5c83-55c5-98bf-2d3fc9b9c561.html

    18 Marysville Appeal-Democrat

    Local leaders: Bringing in Braves worth the risk

    http://www.appeal-democrat.com/sports/national/baseball/article_af7f4a35-3c51-5a26-946c-22b8b3a54ab1.html

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    12 Free Agents Who Are Likely to Be Bargains

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22199

    20 Fangraphs

    To Trade an Ace, or to Trade Rick Porcello

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/to-trade-an-ace-or-to-trade-rick-porcello/

  8. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Film Room: Steelers take control in the trenches

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/steelers-film-room/2013/11/12/5095440/steelers-gifs-nfl-week-10-buffalo

    It’s hard for Haley to ignore the chip on Jonathan Dwyer’s shoulder

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/11/12/5095132/steelers-jonathan-dwyer-stats-released-depth-chart-running-back

    22 Steelers Gab

    Lions Vs. Steelers Week 11 Capsule

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2013/11/12/lions-vs-steelers-week-11-capsule/

    Soccer(football)

    23 NBC Sports

    SI reports that Landon Donovan out for upcoming United States national team friendlies

    http://prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com/2013/11/10/si-reports-that-landon-donovan-out-for-usmnt-friendlies-united-states-national-team/

    24 World Soccer Daily

    November 12, 2013 – all the stories you need to read

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-the-stories-you-need-to-read-november-12-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Points Tuesday: Ray Shero Pays Beautiful Tribute to Dad at HHOF

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/11/11/5090436/pens-points-monday-should-the-pens-call-up-despres

  9. Rather amazing that with the state of the Phillies, the reaction by their media to the signing of Byrd was pretty negative. They need all the help they can get. But, instead of worrying about that, and as with all things Philadelphian, I’m content to just give them the Byrd and let it go at that.

    • W Bill,

      Philadelphia = negativity

      • It’s true, Tc. It’s a city with a huge inferiority complex, always comparing themselves to Boston, NYC, and Washington. That’s where a lot of the negativity comes from, IMHO.

        • Hickok,

          Good call on the inferiority!

          I lived there for 5 years . . . . Philly inhabitants are always comparing selves to NYC, Boston, DC . . . . even threatened by Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Sports teams, medical facilities, financial centers . . . . they continue to act as if they are little brothers trying to live up to older siblings.

          Sports fans have no pride in teams, so fans spend more energy booing and acting like “Flyers” than being fanatics supporting their teams.

          They HATE the success of Pittsburgh teams, that “little town in the West!!”

          Good call by both you and Cracker!

      • I do a lot of work in Philly, and my take is everyone’s glass is always 3/4 empty there.

    • If you are a Phillies fan you look at the roster and you see a lot of big contracts, a lot of aging veterans, and a lot of aging veterans with big contracts.

      So what does the front office do a few days into the offseason….signs another aging vet to a contract that is either too much money or one too many years

  10. Did anyone hear the news story about the high school kid that collapsed a few plays after getting hit during a football game and later died in the hospital? Maybe it’s just me but this is a common recurrence that seems to be happening more and more.

    Some people question if the sport should be played at all. DK said something to that effect on Sunday night. At least I think so. I was kind of groggy when the show was on. I hope I didn’t misrepresent him.

    When the Steelers were in the UK, the locals being interviewed wondered why such a violent sport was so popular. If we were on the outside looking in, I’d bet we’d be wondering the same thing.

  11. Couple of random thoughts:

    * Dejan was excellent on MLB Network discussing the great job Clint Hurdle did this year. Caught it on my ride home from the office last night. Very smooth answer, DK – and a great line about how the empty PNC Park behind him used to always be that way on game day. Other guys (Atlanta and LA) not so sharp.

    * Clint Hurdle was his usual humble self in accepting the award by deflecting praise to others. He’s a very good manager and a very good man, in my opinion. I only wish Neal Huntington would have also won the Exec of the Year. I think they both come off as exceedingly hard working and humble, and they make a great team.

    * Did Mike Tomlin actually take credit for Jonathan Dwyer being a better, more focused player now because “unemployment will do that to you”? Oh my. If you can take credit for cutting a guy that did not deserve to be cut simply because you came to your senses and brought him back, there is no limit to what you will take credit for …. or avoid blame for. Da’ Nile is not just a river in Africa.

    * Thanks to Kevin Gorman, Dejan and the bloggers for the description of last night’s Pitt hoops win for those of us who did not get to see it. I am a Pitt hoops junkie, and I am glad they played well. I am also glad to see Jamie embrace new ideas, such as going to a zone defense to shut down Fresno’s outside shooting. I know Pitt will continue to be a hard-nosed, blue collar, max effort team again this year. But, they need shooters in today’s game. That may take another year or two, unfortunately. I will be pulling hard for the Panthers in the ACC this year, but I think outside shooting will let them down in key situations.

    * So, the Phils master plan appears to be not only signing Marlon Byrd, but also going hard after Jose Bautista and apparently including Dominick Brown in the discussions. I guess Amaro, Jr. has some sort of a plan. I just can’t figure out what it is. Becoming the oldest team in MLB history is my working theory.

    * Hank Steinbrenner says the Yankees have plenty of money available to go after a lot of free agents, regardless of whether they can get out from under ARod’s contract. That’s a sobering thought. You have to love parity.

    * And, one last thing, the Yankees may get to make 5 selections before the Pirates make their 2nd selection in next year’s draft, and the Red Sox may get to make 4. This is all dependent, of course, on which free agents they might lose. This tendering system is a real problem for small market teams.

    • The more Mike Tomlin speaks, the more I’m disliking him.

    • I don’t see how Mike Tomlin was taking any credit for Dwyer. He simply spoke the truth – unemployment lights a fire under your backside and make you more focused and motivated.

      If we’re criticizing Tomlin now merely for issuing factually accurate statements, then we’ve gone way too far.

      • What makes it factual? Mike Tomlin saying it?

        So, you don’t think he maybe feels a little silly for cutting a guy who was the most productive back last season, as well as at the time he was cut? He should. It is one thing to make a bad decision and not call attention to it. It is another thing to call attention to your bad decision and try to convince us it was actually a “good” decision. Dwyer is doing well because he is a productive back and never should have been cut. That move was a head scratcher to just about everyone I have heard from.

      • I did not see the news conference, but there was a lot of feeling (me included) that he shouldn’t have been cut in the first place. So talking about unemployment causing a turnaround could be an excuse for a mistake. And cutting Redman adds to the mix. Not sure, either way, but it’s definitely a legitimate question,

        • + many, Arriba.

        • I thought Dwyer should have been cut.

          He tapped out too many times. He laid the ball on the ground. He missed blocks.
          His heart was like the Grinch’s: 3 sizes too small, if he showed any heart at all.

          If NO OTHER TEAM picking him up did not awaken him, I would be surprised.

          Dwyer may have been the leading rusher in 2012, but that is NOT a compliment.
          He appears to have learned something from his unemployment experience.

          • I respect that opinion, but I have more of a concern about Tomlin’s decision making. For example, the drafts and replacing RB’s in that game last year as soon as they fumbled. Is it emotional or a plan? Is that effective? Not based on the record and the performance this year and last year.

            • I have tried a number of things as a Coach that I thought were great ideas at the time . . . . but then I never repeated them. I learned.

              And I am still chagrined at some of them.

              If a Coach ain’t still learnin’ how to coach, he be dead.

              Tomlin is still learning. Obviously!

            • The in-game decisions to constantly pull guys after mistakes seems rash to me. First, it was the RBs, then WRs, even OLinemen. I think it gives the impression to the players that the coach does not have a steady hand. I think he feels it is sending a signal to them that they need to be accountable. If you do too much of that, you don’t have anyone left to put back in the game … except for the guys you already benched. We’ve seen that happen, too.

              He’s been around long enough, in my opinion. to handle these things better. Some coaches remain calm in the face of pressure, and some don’t.

            • Dwyer was not in good shape going into camp. I imagine it improved but he was still behind the other backs come time to start the season.

              • I wouldn’t argue that point, gregen. Dwyer is far from a complete back and has been criticized a lot for not being in great shape. But, with Bell being a rookie and struggling with early injuries, the cupboard was not exactly full.

                They grabbed Dwyer back pretty quick for someone so expendable. If Tomlin really thought cutting him and bringing him back was such a good strategy, maybe he should expand on it. There are plenty of guys who don’t produce on this team that don’t get cut. I guess we could be so much better if we just cut them all for a couple of weeks at a time, then bring them back after they got religion.

              • Didn’t follow that closely, but I thought it was MT trying to send a message when Dwyer showed up out of shape.
                Which then backfired amusingly.

                Or do I over-simplify?

              • That was my take, Sarah. I think the coach made yet another rash decision, which blew up in his face when he needed the guy back. The guy comes back and performs well, so the coach is saying it is because of his brilliant strategy of cutting him to send a message. It couldn’t possibly be that he was producing better than most of the other RBs at the time he was cut, and should not have been cut in the first place. But, that’s just my take. I can see how others disagree with it.

              • Jim I certainly don’t disagree.
                I guess you could say I’m not a whole lot more enthused with MT than I am with DB LOL!

                Really when I listen to MT pressers I just think “Emperor’s new clothes” !!!

    • Clint Hurdle is a perfect example of how a true leader should react.

      A leader must take responsibility when things go south and pass the praise when things go well. This is not so uncommon in the sports world, but his delivery makes it even greater.

      His leadership books are paying off.

  12. I really hate the new blog format. At first when I saw it a week or so ago on my Ipad I thought I was being forced to a mobile version of the blog without being able to go to a desktop version. Now it is the same on the desktop. I dont know if it is too much white space or the letters are just too big but it is painfull to read. Bring back the old version! Why change what wasn’t broken?

  13. Don’t agree with benching guys in order to play for next year. We are fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Our team plays to win. That is all they know and all they want. To win. To win people. If you want to root for teams who play for draft position, root for the Detroits or the Tampa Bays of the league. Winning is an all emcompassing attitude. You fight to win every play, every shift, every game. Once you let the idea that playing to lose is acceptable, you become losers. We are Pittsburghers: we play to win. And we win. It’s not like some of these guys are riding the pine; they are getting snaps. Look, we have no idea, no idea how these guys give everything they have to this game. As a coach, if I see a guy bleeding for me, who has played when he has no right to go back on the field, who can barely drag himself out of bed in the morning, if I see him do that for me, you know I would, and I bet most of you who have played sports would, go to the mattresses with that guy every time. We are the Pittsburgh Steelers, dammit. Be proud.

  14. By the way, that Dom Brown for Joey Bats rumor that’s making the rounds this morning was 1st “reported” by Howard Eskin. Remember, the Sidney Crosby is going to miss the rest of the season Howard Eskin ?

  15. Well, I’ll say this about Pitt basketball. They arn’t playing down to their competition. They have looked good in their first two games against clearly less talented schools. With these early games, I like to see if teams will play their games and keep on message even after extending leads. The Panthers have done that so far.

    Next game is Sunday 11/17 against Howard at the Pete. It should be another cruise for Pitt.

  16. Josh Yohe tweeted “Of the 11 NHL games tonight, 10 produced 5 or fewer goals. This is becoming a trend. Again.”

    One thing I noticed with the Pens-Blues game Saturday was a ton of interference by the Blues players that wasn’t called. I really hope the league isn’t trending back to pre-2005 lockout play.

  17. Coach & GM both fired in Buffalo. The Sabres, that is. Ted Nolan apparently back as coach.

  18. AZBucsFan makes a great case for Goldy to win the MVP. However, I am not a huge fan of a player winning the MVP award that doesn’t lead their team to the playoffs.

    To me, he’s the team MVP, not the NL MVP. Where would they be without him? Still watching the playoffs at home.

    • 41 ribbies more than McCutch. 41!!!!!!!!!!!!

      And, while I think McCutch is a wonderful defensive player, I disagree with whomever said above that McCutch saved more runs defensively than Goldschmidt.

      An excellent 1st baseman saves more runs than any player on the field, as he scoops errant throws out of the dirt for the other 3 infielders. Paul Goldschmidt is an EXCELLENT 1st baseman. He covers/saves not just his 1st Base position defensively but also the 3 other infielders and sometimes the pitcher and catcher. Didn’t he help his 3rd baseman win a Gold Glove also?

      Playoff teams are awarded rings. MVP should be awarded to best player. Playoff team should only be an ancillary consideration. McCutch was better last season!

      • Agree on the defensive analyst on Goldy. Very good 1B, so good he won a Gold Glove for it. Defensive abilities praised. Still shouldn’t get the MVP.

        He lead his team to a .500 record. Watching the playoffs from the swimming pool in Chase Field.

        • I respect your point, Ryan, but I think MLB playoff structure makes that a poor judge of a players value.

          Last season Mike Trout “lead” his team to three more wins than Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers, yet it was Miggy making the playoffs.

      • That was me who said it, Groat. I respect your baseball acumen, as well as your acumen in other sports. But, I really disagree with you here.

        Goldie is a good defensive 1b, and I don’t doubt he saves some runs. But, good 1b are not nearly as important as good CF. Bad 1b are closer in ability to good 1st basemen than bad CF are to good CF. Balls that Cutch routinely runs down fall for lots of extra bases vs. the Choos and Jays of the world.

        If a guy can provide similarly excellent defense in either CF or 1b, and the team has a need at both positions, where do you think the team will place him? 1b is where you go if you can’t field or throw but you can hit.

        Big Papi was just put at 1b for the games in St. Louis because his bat is far more valuable than his poor defense is costly at that position. It happens all the time in intra-league games with 1st basemen, but not with CF.

        I think Cutch’s fielding and running more than make up for Goldie’s offensive production this season.

        • Inter-league games.

        • I think it’s tough to compare two players’ defense when they play different positions but for whatever it’s worth, Fangraphs (Hey Mom! The meatloaf! I want it now!) has both Cutch and Goldschmidt ranked 4th best defensively at their respective positions, Cutch with 7 runs saved and Goldschmidt with 13 runs saved.

        • Spot starts mean nothing. Russell Martin started 2 games at 3rd, and he would be a failure there full time.
          162 games!

          Pedro Alvarez would have had 10 less errors with Paul Goldschmidt at 1B. Barmes/Mercer would have had 8 less errors at SS with Paul Goldschmidt at 1B.

    • Just curious. Who was the last player to win MVP who was NOT on a team in the playoffs? That’s where I would start my analysis in comparing Goldschmidt to Cutch. Rules, or practice, don’t change because a Pirate is involved.

      • Personally, I think it would be more of a tie-breaker for me, if I had a vote. Not a necessity, but it counts for something.

        Going backwards, these are most recent NL MVPs:

        Posey
        Braun
        Votto
        Pujols
        Pujols
        Rollins
        Howard
        Pujols
        Bonds x 4

        Seems like a strong correlation in the voters’ minds about choosing guys who made the playoffs.

      • Pujols – 2008
        Howard – 2006
        Bonds, 2004
        ARod – 2003
        Bonds – 2001
        Walker – 1997

        • Sorry. Those were the most recent guys winning MVP on non playoff teams.

          • Thanks. Wasn’t aware of that. Again, to start the analysis (for me), those guys were considered the best in baseball at the time, and in some cases in history, based on previous records. Goldschmidt doesn’t fit that category. But, to be fair, Molina fits it, as well as being on a playoff team.

      • A-Rod is one I can remember, not sure if there has been one since.

  19. Late to the Party today, but I would like to congratulate Clint Hurdle on winning Manager of the Year award. Well deserved, and well done.

  20. In the good news from good guys department……………

    Penguins players Paul Martin, Matt Niskanen, Pascal Dupuis, Beau Bennett and Jayson Megna will deliver free Thanksgiving turkeys and vegetables to 100 families at the Bedford Hope Center in the Hill District this Thursday.

    Wonder if the turkeys to be given away are some posters from this blog?
    Or the blog leader?? ;)

  21. One thing I will say about the way Neal Huntington operates – whatever he’s working on, we won’t know about it until it happens. It was that way even when things weren’t going so well.

    • The true question is: Does he know what he is going to do yet? Matt Diaz is available.

      Trade Liriano.

      • I agree with you on Liriano, Groat. I don’t see him doing as well next year, and I think there are teams that would pay an awful lot for him right now.

        • Hold it a minute.
          The Pirates make the playoffs for the first time in 21 years, and some are rushing to trade away assets before Thanksgiving? Am I the only one seeing the logic train derail before it even gets out of the station?

          If a team wants Liriano, and is willing to give a star RF or !B in return, then yes, do it. But I feel you dont trade a valuable asset for “prospects”. With the uncertainty of AJ returning, and Juan D’s injury, it is most prudent to hold onto Liriano for stability of the pitching staff. Besides, he could be traded next trade deadline, if needed. But to trade him now? Way too soon.

          • Come on Mr. Plan!….Are you surprised?

          • I didn’t say I’d trade him for prospects, plan. I think he had a career year, and is not likely to duplicate it this year. He is not a 200 inning guy, and wasn’t last year. I think he’s a good pitcher, and will have a good (but not another great) season.

            I would not trade him unless I have AJ back in the fold and unless I was convinced I was getting much more value in return. Anybody is a trade candidate at any time in my opinion – if the return is right. I think a team like the Pirates has to operate that way to stay competitive.

            • Interesting because I think those are the guys you keep to stay competitive.

              • I’m not sure what you mean, 21. The guys with one year left on their contracts?

                I’m not saying I would actively be shopping Liriano. But, there are teams that panic and make stupid offers. I would be open to that, is what I am saying. I think he is unlikely to be a Cy Young candidate again this year, although I think he will still be solid. If someone wants to offer me a ton for him, and I am sure I have AJ or a suitable replacement ready, I am definitely listening.

                Wandy comes into play here also. I would have to be pretty confident he is coming back healthy. I’m not trying to sabotage a good thing. I’m trying to sustain it. I think you sell when values are highest to do that.

            • Thanks for clarifying………. but I still disagree in this instance.
              You did put more qualifiers in your scenario, but unless AJ is back, and Juan D’s status is cleared up, I dont trade Liriano now unless I am blown away by the offer.

              Guees it depends on context, Jim, but Liriano is currently an asset that needs to stay. For now. I am not saying he is untradeable, but right now, he is more valuable to us.

              • Agreed on Wandy, plan.

                I definitely see the merit of your position. I’d be open to trading Frankie, but only for the right return.

              • Thanks Jim!
                Happy national Indian Pudding Day! ;)

              • You had to disarm me with the National Indian Pudding Day post! You know darn well I’m a sucker for Indian Pudding (whatever that is)! I can’t even remember what we were discussing.

            • “I’m not sure what you mean, 21. The guys with one year left on their contracts?”

              No. Pitchers that have been really good for you and a big part of the reason you were in the playoffs who you still have under control when you should still have a playoff caliber team.

              • What if you felt you could get an upgrade somewhere else on your team while still replacing the asset you give up? That’s all I’m saying. They need to be open to anything.

          • There isn’t a team out there that doesn’t know Liriano’s history.

            Can anybody honestly imagine a scenario where a team is willing to give up a top flight SS/OF/1B major league ready player for one year of Liriano?

            Even if we make ourselves believe there is a team out there willing to do that, trading Liriano simply creates another hole to fill. And at only $6m next year, Liriano doesn’t need to be near as good as he was last year to be valuable to the Pirates. Good luck finding TWO starters the caliber of AJ and Liriano on the Pirates budget.

            • I believe teams do really dumb things all the time. Some teams can’t look past last year to determine how good a guy will be this year. And, some teams just flat don’t have any idea even how good even their own players and prospects are. So, I think it is possible that we could be offered something really good for Liriano by some team that feels it is one good left-handed starter away from a deep run. I’m not going to get into all the “what ifs” but didn’t the Rays just get the future ROY last winter for Shields? If we were offered something that good for Liriano, I’d jump at it. I don’t consider a guy that is major-league ready and assumed to be star-caliber at that to be a prospect.

              • I don’t think Liriano comes close to having as much value as Shields.

                No American League or NL Central team is trading for Liriano, which leaves only 10 possible teams, five of which could conceivably be contenders.

                I could see the Nats and D’backs as options considering they both are apparently in on Max Scherzer. But neither of those teams are what one would consider dumb.

              • Whether Liriano is as valuable as Shields was last year is not really the issue. The Rays got a lot more value for Shields than they should have. I think we can agree on that. That is the issue.

                It is possible for a team to offer a lot more value for Liriano than they should – and the Pirates should be open to it. The Pirates got a lot more value for Hanrahan last year than they should have – and Boston’s GM just won Exec of the Year. I will say again that teams do dumb things all the time.

                If the Bucs really believe Wandy will be healthy, and they can get AJ to agree to come back for less than $14.1, and they think Taillon will be ready before the AS Break … Liriano is not as big of a loss as we might think for the right other trade pieces coming back.

                I’m just saying we should continue to be open to everything. That is how Tampa operates.

              • They certainly should be open to anything, but I was specifically asking about the chances that a deal for Liriano actually makes sense.

                It’s so small that I’m not even sure it is worth discussing.

    • I don’t have a problem with that, other than the fan in me wanting to know what’s going on. Personally, I have always thought that it was good business.

      • Agreed. It helps when the other GMs trust you not to set them up in the media. It also gives people in the industry confidence that you know what you’re doing.

  22. Nice tweet from Gregory Polanco, congratulating Clint Hurdle for Manager of the Year and expressing wish to play for him soon. Never hurts to start sucking up in advance, I guess.

    • Jim (or others), what’s the scouting report on Polanco?

      • That would be Spunky’s forte

      • Last I read, he’s been doing very well in winter ball. Thoughts are not ready to start the season in the show though. There is also that “years of control” thing.

        I don’t think we’ll see him till Sept at the earliest

      • I think it is still very good, from all that I can gather on him, Wild Bill. He is hitting .328 in the Dominican League this fall, with 5 doubles, 4 HR and a good number of walks. I don’t claim to be an expert on Polanco, and I am no scout, so I just go by the numbers and what I read. The caliber of pitching in the Dominican league, as best I can tell, is a mix of AA and AAA, mostly. He has hit well. That may not mean much in the big scheme of things. But, I guess it is definitely better than not hitting well.

        All the projections I read have him most likely coming up to the Bucs in late June or July next year if he starts the season off well. He has better plate discipline than Marte, with similar power. Some say his defense is good enough that the Bucs will actually have 3 CF playing in the same OF when he arrives.

        But, the usual caveats that a lot of people here will point out certainly apply. All “prospects” are “suspects” until they make the transition to the majors and prove it there. Talent only gets you so far, but he has enough talent to be very good. He has been trending up the last 2 years, and has cracked well into the Top 50 MLB prospects. Some services have him projected in the Top 20 this year.

        • Interestingly, he faced Jose Contreras yesterday, and I believe was 1/2 with a walk. That was the 2nd time he has faced Contreras this fall.

          You have to like Contreras. He has made a ton of money, but he’s still plugging away at 40+. The man loves to pitch, I guess.

        • Will he get be invited to spring training with the big club? I’d like to see him on the tube, as I won’t be in Florida.

  23. Just wanted to post that the black print today is a huge improvement over yesterday.
    However, there is still way too much white as the background color. I think if alternating posts could be a different color, like a gray or rose color like it used to be, that would cut the glare of an all-white background.

    But the format is good, and the text color is much improved.

  24. So I’ve tried the Gravatar thingy, probably doing something wrong, but looks like I’ll just stay a Snowman.

    Maybe I’ll just change my name to Cletus Snow (Not Hank Snow’s brother)

  25. All Baseball today!! Normal for a November in Pgh I guess LOL!!!

  26. Jandy have we had any luck with new signins lately

  27. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Orioles are willing to trade Matt Wieters.

  28. We talk about what interests the crowd. No right or wrong to it.

  29. As the Richie Incognito investigation gets underway today, consider this little tidbit about the media……

    Monday night, the Cheatriots second biggest fool, Rob Gronkowski hosted a meet and greet. During this, he addressed an Asian-American as Leslie Chow (a character from the Hangover Movies), and said he could only cook fried rice. This was caught on video (isnt everything?), but not one peep about this. Only a 100 word blurb on a Patriots blog.

    Remember this deafening silence during the Incognito investigation. dare I say if this was Incognito saying this, there would be 25 hour a day coverage?

    • Not sure what your point is?

      • Incognito said a racial slur against Martin, media covers it 25 hours a day.
        Gronkowski said racial slur against someone, media silence.

        I hope I am not the only one seeing a problem here. Not in any way condoning anything Incognito said, but dont you find it curious that He was vilified for it (rightly so), and Gronkowski, who has a habit of stupid behavior, gets a 100% pass on his racial slurs?

        Just some food for thought.

    • Just let it be :)

    • Right you are, Mr. Plan. And the ironic, or perhaps disturbing, thing about this is that the fan was wearing Gronkowski’s jersey. Imagine if the guy was wearing Incognito’s jersey. I wonder what Gronkowski would have said then. I pride myself in having a thick skin, but the belittling thing gets to me. Having a few laughs, at least in your own mind, at the expense of others (and for things that the “others” have no control over; i.e., the way they look) is very upsetting to me.

      • I wasnt trying to flame anything by this, just trying to provide context before the media circus that will be the NFL investigation.

        Thanks for your post, Casper. :)

        • I fully understand and appreciate that, Plan. I guess my response was simply an attempt to acknowledge the hypocrisy in this. For what it’s worth, Incognito’s stupidity was at least in the context of player-to-player. I am in no way condoning his behavior, believe me. On the other hand, Gronkowski’s was player-to-fan/supporter. Not sure what is worse.

          • Two big dorktards with no brains. smh

          • To sort of put it in context, that fan went out and shelled out probably upwards of $100 or so on a jersey of a player that he idolized. And he gets mocked and humiliated by that very player. Goodell, if he has any sense, should come down hard on that. Since he wants to protect “the shield” at all costs, I’d think he’d want to make a stand on this. Players mocking fans isn’t good for “the shield.”

  30. Holy crap, Todd Christensen dead at 57.

    I remember him more as a broadcaster, than player.

    And for his perm too. That thing was sweet.

    RIP big guy.

  31. One thing I would have the blog techies work on is to somehow allow JAL to put his links or headings in bold or a different color.

    And here is a clip for the Trib’s IT folks:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rksCTVFtjM4 IT Crowd

  32. OK This Nun has stuff to do.
    Play nice, boys :)

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