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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Morning Java: Only one problem with No. 71

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …


>> The Wednesday column is built off a long talk I had with Evgeni Malkin very late Monday after the Anaheim game. And it winds up building to a single conclusion about his first-quarter slump.

Really look forward to your feedback on this one, as it hardly provides all the answers.

>> The TribLIVE Radio show today — 2-3 p.m. — will cover all sorts of ground, including Malkin, but we’ll go heaviest on the suddenly resurgent Steelers. In particular, I’ll open with a look at what’s gone right amid so much else going wrong.

Call me at 412-320-7925 or email

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

>> The Penguins are in D.C. tonight with first place on the line and a better-than-ever Alexander Ovechkin waiting. This could be fun. Josh Yohe reports.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Capitals news from the Washington Post.

Here are official game highlights from

>> How much longer will the Steelers’ offense ride shotgun? Alan Robinson reports.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Browns news from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Here are official game highlights from

>> Pitt’s Aaron Donald is a richly deserving finalist for college football’s Outland Award, by Jerry DiPaola.

>> Some Penn State seniors won’t use their final year of eligibility, by Chris Adamski.

>> Let me offer here my thanks for the many of you who took time to go through the 10 columns yesterday, and I can promise you every syllable was read and weighed. Means a lot.

It already has me reconsidering at least one column I was sure I’d toss out, and that’s the Hey, baseball, can you hear us? from Oct. 10. It was done in a hurry, roughly 45 minutes, but that’s no excuse for failing to make a central point until four paragraphs from the end. I see that as a fatal flaw in there and, to be honest, really kind of hate it for that reason alone.

I do appreciate and understand that a lot of people will find it moving on subject matter alone, but to repeat from yesterday, that really doesn’t factor into these contests and stuff. The judges aren’t Pirates fans, and they almost surely aren’t even Pittsburghers. They’re looking at reporting, writing, delivery, viewpoint support, etc.

My own favorite in that bracket, just head of the one on Olympic wrestling, was The Paternos’ sad, squeaky reply from Feb. 10, and I was heartened to see so many of you cite both the wrestling and that one. Funny, but the Penn State one took me even less than 45 minutes to write even though it wasn’t on deadline. Just poured right out, never gave it a second glance and hit send. Weird. Happens very rarely.

Thanks yet again.

>> I’ll be with the Steelers in the morning, then on to the show. In addition to Penguins-Capitals, both Pitt and Duquesne hoops have home games.

I will not have a Thursday column. Joe Starkey and I switched days because of the Malkin interview.

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, recently, 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 country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Wild Bill says:

    DK, just to be clear, I mentioned only two of your choices not because I didn’t like five, but because I thought they were my two favorites and others would contribute more. You really did get a good response from everyone, and I hope you’ll let us know which you finally use, and of course, how you make out in the judging.

    Never thought anything would make Geno gun shy with a shot on goal at stake. Psychology still has a place in sports.

    DK: I’ll absolutely update. Everyone’s got me all torn up now on that “Hey, baseball …” one. As Josh said in the previous post, what I think of it really doesn’t matter once it’s out there.

    Also, there isn’t some single number for paring down. Every organization has a different number of submissions you can put it, and everyone is looking for something different in terms of content. That’s why the request was broad, to just go from 10 to 5.

    The judging isn’t something I’m comfortable announcing. If anything, I’d just stick it down here in comments for you guys. I won a national thing last year and never told anyone.

  2. Milo Hamilton says:

    Josh Johnson to San Diego.

  3. theplanisworking says:

    Never knew there was a market for pitchers who had their worst year, arm troubles (maybe surgery), yet at least 3 teams rumored for him.

    Is the pitching for teams so bad they would want him?
    I wish him well.

  4. theplanisworking says:

    Would like to echo Wild Billy’s and Josh’s sentiments.

    There are some artists/musicians/writers that hate their own work, only to see the public. or their peers love it. If we didnt like your stuff, or even a particular piece, we wouldnt come back to see what you have written the next day.

    Heck, I am surprised you were able to narrow our choices down to 10. And, as a testament to the overall quality of your writing, people had different opinions on which columns were the best, and you gave us a wide array of choices.

    Dont sweat the small stuff, we will come back to see what you do next.

  5. Scott says:

    The amazing thing about Malkin’s slump is that he’s literally one big game (six points) away from being the leading scorer in the NHL. He clearly needs to get more aggressive shooting the puck, as the column notes (very revealing interview – thanks DK), and it sounds like he’s ready to do just that. You’d have to think that once he turns it on, he’ll be a strong contender for the Art Ross once again.

  6. JoeyBats says:

    …rest easy…pitching staff is in great hands…Duke Welker is back! ;-)

  7. Brandie says:

    Thank you. My fears are calmed. Gotta pull for anyone named Duke, right?

  8. Jandy says:

    Dejan, shame on you for six weeks for not sharing when you won that national thing. We are your Luantics, we DESERVE to know.
    Just sayin’.

  9. Jandy says:

    Happy fackin hump day sistah :)

  10. theplanisworking says:

    You and your camels………….

  11. Jandy says:

    woop woop!

  12. theplanisworking says:

    Why did the Pirates re-acquire him?
    Was there an injury?

  13. Brandie says:

    Congratulations on coming back to the Pirate fold Duke Sky-Welker! Let’s hope Darth Ray-der (Ray Searage) not decide to employ force choke after your first mediocre performance! ;-)

  14. JAL says:

    Tears of a Clown Smokey Robinson Written by Stevie Wonder

    JAL’s Tears of a Clownj Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 MLB Important Dates

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Today is the Deadline to Protect Rule 5 Players

    Josh Johnson Signs With the Padres

    Winter Leagues: Sands Homers, Navarro Added to Roster

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates get Duke Welker back in trade with Twins

    6 Rumbunter

    Offseason Free Agent Targets

    7 Green Weenie

    Clint’s Evolution…A Better Team Makes For A Better Manager

    8 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates Can’t Keep Waiting On A.J. Burnett

    9 City of Champions

    MLB Free Agency: Five First Basemen the Pittsburgh Pirates should target

    10 Pirates Site

    Pirates to open spring slate Feb. 26 vs. Yankees

  15. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Sports Illustrated

    The worst positions in baseball — and how to fix them

    12 Reuters

    IOC president open to baseball’s return at Tokyo Games

    13 Huffington Post

    The Baseball Rule: How Duties to Spectators Continue to Evolve

    14 Bleacher Report

    Would Red Sox Not Bringing Back Free Agents Hurt Championship Chemistry?

    15 Baseball Nation

    MLB rumors: Where is Bronson Arroyo going?

    16 Fox Sports

    Of bullying and ribbing in baseball

    17 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Strauss: Time is right for Duncan’s return

    18 Cincinnati Enquirer

    BAR 11.19: Clubhouse addition and The C. Show


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    10 Free Agents Who Are Likely to Be Overpaid

    20 Fangraphs

    The Slow Decline of Speedy Outfielders

  16. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers vs. Browns: Tomlin anticipates return of Woodley, Keisel and Foster

    Ben on Tomlin: ‘We’re not going to sit on this’

    22 Steelers Gab

    Steelers 2013 Scouting Report Week Twelve: Cleveland Browns


    23 USA Today

    France Has Already Given Up Hope on Its National Team Qualifying for the World Cup

    24 World Soccer Daily

    The stories you need to read – November 19, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin Shuttin ‘em Down

  17. Brandie says:

    Morning Jandy-mama! Keep the Hippotato in line today!

  18. Jandy says:

    that’s an impossible mission, but I give it my best shot every day ;)

  19. theplanisworking says:

    There she is!
    Keep me in line? Thats a mighty big line!
    Hope you are doing well, Brandimal.

  20. Wild Bill says:

    It finally got my attention that Big Ben is due to make just short of 19 million next season. We’ve all been hearing/wondering if something is going on between him and the Steelers, and with that cap number coming, I now understand better where some of the speculation is coming from. How do you put a good team around him at those numbers? The Crows are dealing with this with Flacco for the first time.

    The NFL is making so much money that the salary cap level should allow for teams to put the best possible product on the field each week and throughout the season. I haven’t been as impressed by the league product in general this season. If this becomes a trend, the NFL will have found a way to kill their own cash cow.

  21. kr70 says:

    DK, Your bottom 10% are better than most Burg writers. I’ll leave the rest of the brown nosing to Drew.
    Maybe if the Consul faithful would yell “shoot Geno Shoot,” everytime the puck touches his stick he would get the message (though he’d probably start laughing if it happened in our end.)

  22. Pucknutz says:

    He simply isn’t shooting.

    Don’t overthink it.

    I am not thinking and I will not think and he will start shooting.

  23. theplanisworking says:

    Geno just needs to think “I’m score” every time down the ice.

  24. BillyBaduka says:

    Well said Wild Bill. With the cap not going up for 3 years and QBs salaries continuing to climb the NFL has an unsustainable salary structure. Top salaries at other positions can climb north of 12 mil too but most are QBs.

    Denver would seem to be the exception. Look at their Off skill positions. Top 3 receivers, TE and RB make about 12 mil combined. Denver won’t be able to keep that group together for 12 mil for long. Peyton and Welker may not play much longer. Then Denver is searching for a QB.

    It looks like the choices for constructing an offense is either a high priced QB and hope you hit on the skill positions in the draft (2010-11 Steelers) or strong skill positions and a young QB (2012 Ravens).

    All this with the rules changes and limits to practice has lead to some sloppy football. Games decided by broken and bad plays rather than two well coached, well oiled machines matching styles and strategies in hard fought contests. There are still good games, but they are fewer.

  25. Thundercrack says:

    The past few days I haven’t been able to get onto the blog via the Trib mobile app. Just keep getting the spinning wheel.

    Anyone else having the same problem?

  26. Joni says:

    Fantastic column on Malkin today, DK! I especially liked the “Magellan-like voyage” passage.

    I confess that I did not watch many hockey games during the last Olympics, so I cannot even guess the Russian style of play that was used in 2010. Who can tell me the following: How much has changed in Russian Olympic style hockey since the good old days that DK mentioned, versus what was used in 2010?

    Maybe Malkin is trying this season to merge what I assume he was taught years ago in Russia about shooting with guaranteed results versus the “hurry up and shoot the puck and shame on you if you do not score” mentality of the NHL, which is *sometimes* made manifest when we watch hockey games in the US and Canada. The end result remains the same, but the methodology differs.
    For the record: I include myself in the “shame on you if you don’t score when you shoot the puck and score” category mentioned above!

    I cannot imagine trying to please the Russian Olympic Hockey contingent this year, especially since the coach was a defenseman on a previous Olympic team that used a very specific strategy.My guess is that Mr. Bilyaletdinov expects his Olympic team to play a certain way, which may not include the hurry up and shoot the puck philosophy.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Wild Bill’s mention above of the benefits of sports psychology. I vaguely remember writing last season about the continued usefulness of a Russian mentor (much like Gonchar was) for Malkin. And I also wondered if pro hockey coaches in general took into account the hockey background of non-US or non-Canadian players when they enter the NHL. There is more to coaching foreign-born players than making sure they can speak English. But I digress.

  27. Damon says:

    Tim Benz on the X suggested having a salary cap for QBs as a way to prevent teams from having to use a large part of their cap for one player. Kind of like the NHL has a cap on how much you can pay a player – a percentage of the cap is the max. Interesting thought… Here is thoughts if you want to listen – I’d say he gets into it about half way through the segment:

  28. Joni says:

    The for the record section above should have read “shame on you if you don’t score when you shoot the puck”. Whoopsie!

  29. Jandy says:

    Shame on you for six weeks! ;)

  30. Joni says:

    My original posting above does not excuse Malkin for his lack of shooting the puck. He is playing in the NHL so he knows that he is expected to shoot the puck to score.

  31. 21sthebest says:


  32. Joni says:

    I got off easy, I thought it would be eight!

  33. Damon says:

    I went to a Pens-Moscow Dynamo exhibition game in the mid 80s as a young lad, and I remember watching that team set up and it was very weird. They would circle round and round in their own end like trying to create a whirlpool, then all come busting up the ice with speed. The passing was very impressive, and they all moved around the offensive zone almost in a synchronization of movement. Players moved in and out of the slot, around the perimeter as if it were a dance routine they practiced 8 hours a day for years (and they may have knowing what we know now about the Soviets). The emphasis was definitely on making the right/perfect pass rather than the shot. I think the Pens tied them 3-3 which was one of the few wins or ties the NHL teams had against the two Russian teams that played exhibitions that year. Definitely and interesting experience…

  34. Jandy says:

    For any puckheads who like the numbers game, here is some very good info over at Faceoff-Factor:

    It’s seriously good reading.

  35. Joni says:

    Thanks, Damon! That game must have been amazing to watch.

  36. Damon says:

    It was cool because at the time, it was like Pittsburgh vs. USSR. The only thing that kinda sucked was that since it was an exhibition game, Mario, Bullard and the top players played 4th-line minutes. I remember seeing players like Dan Frawley out there a lot. Still, very unique memories….

  37. Arriba Wilver says:

    I switched over to just going through the browser for that reason. The App is real buggy. (No offense, buggee).

  38. theplanisworking says:

    I remember this also.

    There were 2 teams touring the US……. the Red Army team, and Dynamo. I think Dynamo was the younger, less experienced players. Still was cool to see the Pens go against them.

    Thanks for the memories, Damon.
    And any avatar featuring Hobbes is good in my book.

  39. Jim S. says:

    It is curious, plan. But, I think it’s just a case of a guy that has a really good arm who had some injury issues and pitched in a launching pad. So, people are considering him a great bounce back candidate – a guy with solid #3 stuff when he’s right and in the right environment. $8 million plus incentives is the going rate these days for that kind of guy, apparently.

    I’m heading out to the backyard to hang a tire on the old oak tree as soon as I finish my Wheaties.

  40. Damon says:

    Ha! My daughter loves Hobbes, so it was an easy one for me to pick…

  41. Jandy says:

    Dittos on the Hobbes….I loved that comic strip!

  42. theplanisworking says:

    I think I missed my calling in life, Jim.
    Instead of being a zoo animal, I should have been a pitcher.
    I could get an injured arm for 8 million dollars.

  43. Jandy says:

    Kinda like we did with Liriano?

  44. Jim S. says:

    The comments from Huntington were that after the season concluded the Twins decided they were interested in starter depth and the Bucs were more interested in reliever depth. My guess is maybe both guys were offered to the Twins originally, and they chose Welker at that time. After they thought about it, they called Huntington and asked if they could go the other way, and Huntington probably had wished they had chosen Johnson in the first place. So, he was happy to oblige.

  45. theplanisworking says:

    Calvin and Hobbes, and Opus (Bloom County).
    Two great ones.


  47. Jim S. says:

    I’m with you, Wild Bill. I have contended for the last few years that the overall product is slipping in the league. That Ravens team that won the Super Bowl was nothing special, and look at all the mediocrity vying for playoff spots in the AFC this year.

    Maybe it’s just a cyclical, natural thing, but I see a bad product throughout the league. Maybe Roger the Dodger is meddling too much with the product. Maybe the QBs are making too much money for teams to build strong, deep rosters. Maybe it is all of these things together.

  48. Jim S. says:

    I agree that Gino is not shooting enough. He is also scoring at a low % per shot, right? I mean, with 56 shots he should have more than 3 goals. But, that is what slumps are. NBA sharp shooters go through shooting slumps, and they have to just keep plugging away. Keep doing the things you are doing well, and remember what got you where you are. Sounds simple, but I think that is how you get out of slumps.

    DK and others also correctly (IMO) pointed out in the past week that this team just isn’t creating much traffic in front of the net. If you noticed on Sid’s goal on Monday, the goalie had a couple of Pens’ players in front of him. Sid put a nice shot on in the upper opposite corner, but I think the goalie might have saved it had he not had two guys in front to deal with while the shot was on it’s way. Gino would benefit from some help in that regard, just as everyone else on the team could.

    Just keep plugging away, Gino. The goals will come.

  49. Jim S. says:

    Nice post, Damon.

  50. hockeymonster says:

    I remember those damon…I think I remember bob errey trying to line a russian up only to get hip checked head over heals. But overall the soviets were all about taking advantage of the big international ice. NHL ice is smaller and leads to more contact and requires more shots. However, Detroit still uses a puck possession system and would like to see pens use their skill and high end talent to work up ice together as well.

  51. theplanisworking says:

    So you are saying crashing the net, and blocking the goalie’s vision will lead to more goals?

    WHAT A CONCEPT!!!!!!!!! :)

  52. Josh Johnson signs with San Diego for $8 million + $1.5 mill in incentives above that.

    Yesterday’s Trib article by TS that cited Pirates’ close proximity to obtaining Josh Johnson sounded like it was written by Johnson’s agent to negotiate with other teams.

    Those are the kinds of articles that came from the two rookie baseball writers at the Post-Gazette LAST season and 2 years ago.

    Looks like Trib readers will have to suffer through the same “rookie naivete” this season with rumors and negotiations this season. “I’ve got a scoop!! I’ve got a scoop!! Hey Bleacher Report, I’ve got a scoop!!”

    I miss Dejan sifting through the rubble in his reporting for us.

  53. Jandy says:


  54. hockeymonster says:

    Good stuff jandy. More of an eye test guy myself but the metrics are worth taking a gander at. Some of them suggest trading nisky and sutter at peak value isn’t a bad idea. All the orpik bashers should take a look at those metrics as well.

  55. Jandy says:

    I’m an eye test person myself, Monster Mash.
    And I still don’t wanna trade Nisky, Sutter, OR Brooksie lol

    But that site always has lots of mind-opening and eye-opening articles.
    (My son-in-law is part owner of the blog)

  56. Jim S. says:

    True, me too. And, I have the extra advantage of being a lefty. So, I could have milked a couple of extra seasons at $2 million per year while getting one guy out 3 days a week. My problem would be, though, that you have to actually get that one guy out.

  57. NMR says:

    No more than we have to suffer through your illogical posts.

    Regardless of how ignorant your comment was, you know where to reach Travis if you have an issue with his reporting. Coming here and complaining is very unbecoming.

  58. hockeymonster says:

    Oh so its not like your biased or anything :)

    And don’t wanna trade orpik either. Hope he’s ok not maxing out on next contract.

  59. Jim S. says:

    I think so, Jandy. The Bucs under Huntington have done very well getting guys with good arms back on track the last few years (AJ, Liriano + some relievers). Josh Johnson fits in that category.

    Unfortunately, when you are successful at doing that, other organizations take notice and they mimic what you are doing hoping for the same results.

  60. Jandy says:

    I’m the least biased person I know ;)

    Brooksie is no dummy. He knows how to play the game…both of them.

  61. Jim S. says:

    I wasn’t aware Stevie Wonder had written Tears of a Clown for Smokey. Thanks for that info, JAL.

  62. Jandy says:

    friggin copy cats!


  63. Nate83 says:

    Travis has added great insight with his columns and blog entries. It wasn’t inaccurate to say the Pirates were in the running for Johnson. He never said they were the front runners. You relentlessly got on him all summer for suggesting it was possible for Polanco to come up in the summer of 2014 but it looks like a very good possibility now.

    Maybe he’s a half full type guy and your a half empty. That’s OK everyone is different but he has remained professional in his comments responding to you when you are critical of his post. Maybe you should just stick to debating the topics with him and not attack his credibility.

  64. I blame the 1-3-1 for all of it.

    And the problems with the economy, the weather and anything else you can think of.


  65. Jandy says:

    You tell ‘em, Spunky!

  66. Milo Hamilton says:

    I agree with your first 2 sentences.

  67. Milo Hamilton says:

    I also very much agree with your final sentence.

  68. Jim S. says:

    Yep, that’s what I think. Just came up with that one this morning. I don’t know why none of yinz guys ever thought of it. And, you call yinzselves hockey fans ‘n at. :-)

  69. Jim S. says:

    I don’t know, Groat. I never got the impression Travis was saying the Pirates were close to signing Johnson – only that they were one of 3 or 4 teams in the running and that they would be a good fit. Should he have not reported anything? Then, if Johnson had signed with the Bucs, people would have said, “Where did this come from? Trib reporters are asleep.”

  70. DK might be asleep, but he ain’t a reporter. He’s one of them there “columnists”. And he’s probably awake and at the Stillers’ facility by now.

  71. hockeymonster says:

    I know I sometimes bore you guys with my repetitive critiques and suggestions and don’t mean to stir the pot too much but following thoughts have been on my mind:

    It took disco about 2-3 seasons and constant badgering to figure out that minding the neutral zone is probably a good idea instead of sending in multiple forecheckers regardless of situation. Now i’m beginning to wonder how long it will take for disco abandon his stretch pass offense? We all know he wants to pressure opposing defense into turnovers by chipping to speed with a lengthy pass and if puck comes out his F3 and weak side defensemen squeezes off the puck and they repeat said actions till we create some kind of pressure. This however is very easy to defend, especially by any playoff team that has decent mobility on d and forwards that are willing to assist them. Keep a close gap on our chipper who’s is basically at a standstill, disrupt the chip and our “offense” turns to mush. And if we get carried away sending in too many forecheckers we’ll end up witnessing sequel to philly series. Pretty sure coach Lavs will confirm this for disco.

    And if you’re playing a trapping system minding the neutral zone, part of the benefit is that it’s real easy for defense and forwards to simply move their defensive box back into d-zone then when they regain possession the forwards are in close proximity to move the puck up ice as a unit. Disco seems to want forwards up ice too soon instead of playing offense same way you play defense…as a unit.

    Furthermore, if you’re playing to your teams strength(high end skill) you’re trying to get them to move the puck with speed so defense is on their heels and at our mercy. Much like 3rd period of Anaheim game. What’s scarier than Letang having close puck support from sid and kuni or geno n real deal?!?! And when you’re forced to dump it in you have some speed generated going into the zone which creates more 50/50 pucks available to you. If opposing team establishes or is about to establish possession that’s when you only send in one forechecker. There will be plenty of times where long passes and chips are called for but should only be done out of necessity, like if puck becomes hot potato or if line changes are needed. Anytime our d can hold onto the puck(even if that means more than one d to d pass disco) so our forwards can come back to support puck up ice is the way to go. Unless you don’t care about playing to your strengths and just forcing your system on others.

    Long story short, we wasted 2-3 prime years for 87, 71, 44, 14, 9 and so on cuz of poor defensive structure. Are we willing to do same cuz of stubborn and ineffective offensive structure?

  72. You are quite aware I have addressed Travis directly on his baseball blog a number of times.

    I mentioned last season the naivete of the new P-G baseball writers——I can’t mention same about Trib writer?

    Didn’t you read that Josh Johnson report yesterday and think it could have been written by Johnson’s agent?

    I’ll say again . . . . . I miss Dejan sifting through the morass and feeding us true possibilities.

  73. Milo Hamilton says:

    Is this available in audio book form ?

  74. hockeymonster says:

    I’ll get right on it :)

  75. Jandy says:

    AND drinking his Starbucks!

  76. Jandy says:

    Dunt be dissin’ us Yinzers! :P

  77. Milo Hamilton says:

    You’re gonna get Dustin Jeffrey to voice it, aren’t you.

  78. Jandy says:

    Monster Mash, you’re ANYTHING but boring :P

  79. hockeymonster says:

    Either you or DJ :)

  80. Jandy says:

    Nah…Paul Martin!


  81. hockeymonster says:

    Aww shucks :)

  82. Jandy says:

    LOL! don’t let it go to your head :P

  83. hockeymonster says:

    Hey he’s been good last 10-12 games…maybe he’ll do the prologue :)

  84. Jandy says:

    10 – 12 games????

    Like I said, you’re ANYTHING but boring…

  85. hockeymonster says:

    Ask your son in law to check PM’s metrics last 10-12 games versus before…would be interesting to see how they look.

  86. 21sthebest says:


  87. Jandy says:

    You ask him…he’s on the site directory…Matt Paul

  88. Jim S. says:

    I would prefer William Shatner if we are voting. He’s even Canadian, so he probably has hockey chops. :-)

  89. Jandy says:

    Shat happens!

  90. Milo Hamilton says:

    Where’s Dom been ? I’m putting out a “Blog APB”.

  91. 21sthebest says:

    Tim Dierkes said the Pirates were the runners up for Johnson.

  92. Jim S. says:

    Never! I still consider myself one of yinz.

  93. Jandy says:

    I asked that Monday night when Fleury did so well against the Ducks. I miss the guy…

  94. Jandy says:

    that’s better!

  95. NMR says:

    Why in the world would an agent leak information LIMITING the number of suitors Johnson was considering?

    You know what, this is pointless. No amount of fact will change your mind.

  96. NMR says:

    Shhhh. Facts and whatnot.

  97. Jim S. says:

    I also read that the Padres did not offer the most $$. I don’t doubt that the agent used the Pirates to leverage as much as he could from the Padres, which was probably Johnson’s 1st choice all along. That’s what agents do. He also said something about Huntington and his team doing such a good job with pitchers that the Pirates are now a team free agents consider, which usually didn’t happen in the past. So, he laid it on pretty thick.

  98. Arriba Wilver says:

    But he’d chew the scenery, audibly speaking.

  99. hockeymonster says:

    Jandy, you trying to trick me into revealing my true identity? Bad enough that Dejan has my email address :)

  100. NMR says:

    If somebody has a problem with how this situation was reported they may as well shut down the computer until April.

    It ain’t getting any better than what Sawchick did, and we know it can be a hell of a lot worse.

  101. The Gunner says:

    Maybe AJ is coming back after all. No matter how you slice it, this needs to be resolved ASAP. At least you know what you get with AJ – both the good and the bad.

  102. Nate83 says:

    Well if they offered Johnson more then he got from the Padres then I have to beleive they are willing to go 12 million on AJ. He just needs to decide if he still wants to play.

  103. tpbco says:

    As I told him, I keep trying to pat him on the back – but his arm keeps getting in the way.

    That aside, if they are REALLY interested in playing to the Pens team’s skill and strength.


    As Milo pointed out…it ain’t triple intergral calculus. It’s either the ice maker or the ice making.

  104. Jim S. says:

    I have a feeling they have some sort of understanding with AJ, one way or the other, so that it is not keeping them from seeking his replacement.

  105. hockeymonster says:

    +++++ and :)

  106. Arriba Wilver says:

    What kind of “understanding?”

  107. Milo Hamilton says:

    I have a question, where exactly is Cameron Outdoor Stadium ?

  108. Jandy says:

    his arms?? And here I thought it was his mouth…

  109. Jandy says:

    Address: 115 Whitford Dr, Durham, NC 27708

  110. Jandy says:


  111. Jandy says:

    Nah….I don’t keep my stuff super top secret…if you want to, that’s all good.

    I doubt he would tell me anyway…it’s not ethical.

  112. Milo Hamilton says:

    No Miss Jandy, that’s Cameron INDOOR Stadium.

  113. Jandy says:

    Well, dadgummit, I typed in OUTDOOR Stadium…the dorktards GrrRrr!!

  114. Jandy says:

    Thanks TK, there ya go , Milo!

  115. Arriba Wilver says:

    Robinson reporting Ben named AFC offensive player of the week.

  116. casper in a-town says:

    Good column today, DK. I’m hoping that tonight’s game, playing against his fellow countryman with whom he competes for Russian supremacy, brings out the best in him. As for Crosby, we all know that playing against Ovie and the Caps gets his juices flowing. Although Sid is a self-starter to begin with. Go Pens!

  117. Jandy says:

    + many

  118. cosmo says:

    Maybe Geno should talk to Ovie today. Wasn’t he in goal scoring funk LY, then turn it around.

  119. 21sthebest says:

    I can’t believe nothing registered with me. My son just graduated from there last spring.

  120. hockeymonster says:

    I’m pretty sure having the word “monster” in my handle excuses me for that :)

  121. hockeymonster says:

    Besides what good are in-laws if you cant ask them to confirm obscure and irrelevant hockey metrics?!?! :)

  122. Jandy says:

    No excuses allowed :P

  123. Jandy says:

    Ha! he and I have very good hockey arguments. We don’t get angry, but we do go back and forth a lot lol.

    he’d love to hear from you…go ahead and e-mail him :)

  124. Joni says:

    Good point.

  125. Milo Hamilton says:

    The Pirates have added Gregory Polanco & Alen Hanson to their 40 man according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. Guess their agents didn’t have time to call any of the local reporters yet. :)

  126. casper in a-town says:

    Thanks for the info. I like the move if confirmed, Milo.

  127. Botherhood of the Redus says:

    Jim I agree….the NFL calls it parity, but it’s anything but…

    I watched the NFL Network last night for the first time on a day other than Sunday or Monday, and The History of the Forward Pass was on…

    Brian Billick stated that there are two types of teams in the NFL…teams that have a franchise “passer” and those that are scrambling constantly because they don’t.

    BUT on the contrary….how does New England do it? Year in and year out….(yeah yeah I know, they cheat and shoot video….) Seriously though, they build with middling talent at times around Brady…

  128. Arriba Wilver says:

    No need to be confirmed. It was a foregone conclusion.

  129. casper in a-town says:

    I’m sure you’re right, but in my mind there are no foregone conclusions when it comes to these types of decisions. Color me jaded for 20 years of questionable decisions. One outstanding year makes me optimistic, but doesn’t automatically become the norm. Regardless, however, I’m glad to see our two promising prospects in the mix for 2014.

  130. theplanisworking says:

    Happy Peanut Butter Fudge Day, everyone!

    I’m off to go be a Pirates beat reporter.
    I hear, according to this blog, they have an opening. ;)

  131. Milo Hamilton says:

    LHP Joely Rodriguez has also been added. We’ll just refer to him as the non-arthritic Rodriguez.

  132. theplanisworking says:

    Well, if we base it off your avatar, they will make him “an offer he cant refuse”. ;)

  133. theplanisworking says:

    Any more info on Juan D’s arm troubles?

  134. Milo Hamilton says:

    I understand he feels just fine as long as he’s not throwing a baseball.

  135. Arriba Wilver says:

    We ain’t talking Nathan Adcock here. :-D

  136. cosmo says:

    does it pay well

  137. theplanisworking says:

    LOL, Milo.

    His health might be a concern this coming year.

  138. tpbco says:

    I’m with you Casper. Last year was tremendous, but I’ve felt all along that THIS offseason is the most critical. There is now at least an implied contract with the fans that last year was just the beginning.

    I know it’s still very early in the process of building the 2014 team….but what evidence we do have, to this point is disturbing. It’s now fairly obvious that in all probablity AJ will not be back. Wandy is an unknown. The #4 and #5 hitters are gone or won’t be resigned. The talk, legit or not, is Tablata or Lambo can “hold down the fort” until Polanco arrives does not inspire a great deal of confidence, given that neither of the 3 of them are #4 or #5 hitters and neither is Pedro unless he can bring his BA up to at least .250 (.260 if you want him batting #4). To me, Polanco needs a strong first month or three in AAA – I was around in the days of Chad Hermanson (sp?).

    With the solid gate potential and the ticket price increases and reading that they are ~$20 million below last years ending salary base, there are not a lot of excuses not to be a player this offseason to fill at least some of these concerns. I am looking forward to and expect them to give us reasons for positive conversations leading up to February.

  139. 21sthebest says:

    “There is now at least an implied contract with the fans that last year was just the beginning.”

    I should have hired an implied attorney before I agreed to that implied contract but I’d be afraid of what their implied hourly rate would be.

  140. Jandy says:

    is that like implied extortion???

  141. Jandy says:

    YUM! Fudge!

  142. tpbco says:

    It might be, if come June 1 and they are resembling the 2013 Nats as a result of a passive offseason.

    Don’t think many on here will be all that thrilled.

  143. Jandy says:

    That’s a good point that is not implied ;)

  144. 21sthebest says:

    I thought the Angels had a pretty good offseason last year.

  145. Milo,

    (“Because I know that deep down inside you really wanted to know”———quote from what movie?)

    From around 1938 when it was built as the largest basketball arena in the South to 1970, Duke’s basketball arena was known as The Indoor Stadium.
    Around 1970 it was renamed, in honor of longtime coach and Athletic Director Eddie Cameron, Cameron Indoor Stadium.

    And now you know . . . . the rest of the story!

  146. Milo Hamilton says:

    Thanks Groaty. Inquiring minds … :)

  147. Jandy says:

    Oh, I thought it was wandering minds…

  148. theplanisworking says:

    Isnt Cameron the only indoor Stadium left?

  149. theplanisworking says:

    Or, no minds……………. ;)

  150. Jandy says:

    That too lol

  151. tpbco says:

    Maybe so, don’t follow the Angels.

    But I do know that this current Pirate team is not even close, talent wise, to the team that we watched in early October.

  152. 21sthebest says:

    I remember similar comments last offseason, tp. Maybe even harsher than that.

  153. Jandy says:

    I’m willing to wait a bit yet and see what happens…

  154. Jim S. says:

    Yes, he was. I recall a lot of dirt being shoveled over him.

  155. Jim S. says:

    I just think he might have either flat out told them he’s not coming back, or he told them not to bother calling unless they offer a certain $$ amount.

    Just a guess, Arriba. I’m thinking they have had ample time since the season ended to find out exactly where they stand with AJ, and he has found out where he stands with them.

    Doesn’t appear any doors have been shut permanently either way. But, it also does not sound very promising that nothing is being said.

    But, I’m just speculating, like everyone else. Maybe he truly doesn’t know yet if he wants to come back, and they are doing their due diligence by beginning to look at other options.

  156. Jim S. says:

    Well deserved.

  157. The Gunner says:

    That’s great, Milo. Hopefully, Wandy is enjoying his off-season knowing he’ll have another nice payday without throwing a pitch.

  158. Jim S. says:

    :-) Great line, Arriba!

  159. Milo Hamilton says:

    Well, it’s finally happened. The 16 year veteran, 38 year old righthander with a history of on and off field blowups has decided to call it quits. So long Chris Carpenter. Who’d you think I was talking about ?

  160. JAL says:

    Sadler has been added to the 40. 40 now full unless they drop someone.

  161. Nor Cal Stlrfanrtc (Ryan) says:

    Nice to see Brian Sabean hold on to one of his trade deadline deals again, in works with former Bucco Javy Lopez on a 3 year deal worth $13Mil.

    The amount this guy spends on relief pitching amazes me. Perhaps he has enough that he can just throw it away like that.

    I prefer Neal Huntington’s way of building a BP. BP arms are a dime a dozen. Over $4million a year for a lefty specialist is absurd to me.

    Not my money though.

  162. Nor Cal Stlrfanrtc (Ryan) says:

    Is there anyone that should be dropped or suspected of being dropped?

  163. tpbco says:

    I do too. Made some myself.

    I will add that it’s tough to lose 20 years of cynicism after one season, given the circumstances since the season ended.

    As I posted above “I am looking forward to and expect them to give us reasons for positive conversations leading up to February”.

  164. Nor Cal Stlrfanrtc (Ryan) says:

    What’s your thinking behind that TP?

  165. Milo Hamilton says:

    Jerry Sands ? Please ?

  166. The lad’s playing winter ball. That ought to bring him around.


  167. Nor Cal Stlrfanrtc (Ryan) says:

    Works for me.

  168. Jim S. says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate, tpb:

    * Wandy did not contribute much last year, as he was injured for a large % of the year
    * The #4 & #5 hitters were free agents picked up at the deadline. Morneau drove in a grand total of 3 runs in 1.5 months. How much were you counting on him for this year?
    * Would you have outbid the Phils for the 36 year old Byrd, knowing what they just paid?
    * Tabata, like him or not, finished the season on a strong note. I see no reason he can’t improve this year. I expect him to be replaced by Polanco for the 2nd half of the year, but is a decent insurance policy if GP does not perform well in year 1.
    * Lambo has not had a chance yet to show whether his 32 HR power in AA/AAA translates to the majors. I think he can contribute along with Tabata in RF for the 1st half of the season, but this is certainly not a guarantee.
    * Are you not optimistic that Polanco will be a good player?
    * In my opinion, our MVP is still improving as a player.
    * In my opinion, 25 year old Starling Marte is also still improving.
    * Pedro Alvarez still has a very good chance to be an even better player.
    * Jordy Mercer can still improve as he gets more experience.
    * We still have the catcher who many thought was gold glove-worthy, and his back-up should be better in year 2.
    * We can easily re-sign the right-handed batting portion of our 1b platoon.
    * Our league leading bullpen is still intact
    * Gerrit Cole should be even better, and will be here for the entire season.
    * Francisco Liriano should remain solid.
    * Charlie Morton finished strongly, and should be healthy from the start of the season.
    * Jamieson Taillon is thought to be on the cusp of contributing at the MLB level in ’14.
    * Nick Kingham is another promising pitcher who may make it to Pittsburgh at some point in ’14.

    On the other hand, there are issues:

    * Wandy is a question mark health-wise.
    * Jeff Locke is a question mark, performance-wise, after tanking in the 2nd half.
    * We need a platoon partner for Gaby or a full-time starter at 1b.
    * We need another part-time SS if Barmes is not re-signed.
    * We may need a utility infielder to play 3b, 2b.

    There is work to be done on this roster, for certain. Most teams in the league have issues to resolve. But, we can also expect some improvements from core players and young players.

    I totally agree with you that this team should increase its payroll by $20 million or so in ’14. I will be disappointed if they do not do that. They absolutely need to acquire at least 1 starting pitcher if AJ does not return, and 2 if Wandy is also not healthy. I don’t think Locke can be counted on for 200 solid innings.

  169. Nor Cal Stlrfanrtc (Ryan) says:

    Batting .297 in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente.

  170. Milo Hamilton says:

    Maybe he’ll really like it and want to stay.

  171. Jim S. says:

    Do you think Sadler has a shot to make it in the bigs, JAL?

  172. Milo Hamilton says:

    Unless he’s shopping at the same pharmacy that Marlon Byrd was, I don’t care. :)

  173. Jim S. says:

    Some people insist on over-paying.

  174. Jim S. says:

    I heard he was dropped as a child.

  175. Nor Cal Stlrfanrtc (Ryan) says:

    He’s very loyal.

  176. JAL says:

    Yes, either as 4 or 5 starter or pen member

  177. Jim S. says:

    Everyday should be Peanut Butter Fudge Day.

  178. BillyBaduka says:

    Thanks, I’ll check it out. On the surface it doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

    Would had to change the NHLs number though. I think that’s at 20%. With NFL having 53 on roster, it should probably be around 15% to have same effect. With NFL cap at 120 mil, even a 20 mil contract is not 20%.

  179. Thundercrack says:

    I don’t get why he is giving him a 3 year deal.

    Lopez is a lefty and he is good. But that may be overpaying – and definitely too many years – for a specialist like that.

    Just my opinion

  180. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think he’s doing it just to annoy Smize.

  181. Arriba Wilver says:

    Isn’t Jones a candidate, or is it too early for that?

  182. Nor Cal Stlrfanrtc (Ryan) says:

    I agree. He did it last off season with Jeremy Affeldt, who is also a LHP.

    He loves his guys.

  183. Nor Cal Stlrfanrtc (Ryan) says:

    I believe it’s too early. He’s a non tender candidate. Different than 40 man.

  184. 21sthebest says:

    And if A.J. is reading this, Arriba is referring to Bob Saget.

  185. JAL says:

    I see Reid and Sands as possible drops.

  186. tpbco says:

    Jim S.

    I agree on a lot of your post, but you have to admit there are one hell’va ifs in it…for a team coming off a playoff season.

    I at no point did I suggest we should have resigned Byrd OR Moreanu. The point I made is we lost the #4 and #5 batters and do not have a replacement. Lambo and Tablata, while possible staters in a MLB lineup are not (currently) 4 or 5 hitters. Pedro’s BA HAS to improve or he can’t move up in the order, if you want a legitimate order…could it – yep, but didn’t go down last year from the previous? The homeruns are great, no question – but point to all the playoff teams with a .230 BA batting cleanup. I am rooting for him, but it is on him.

    Obviously Byrd had better numbers than Morneau…but regardless Morneau was a legit hitter in the #4 slot and was respected that way by the opposition.

    JMO, but last year the pitching allowed them to spent half the year mucking around from one AAAA platoon player to another at a couple of positions until they did make those trades. Aside from the top three starters, it’s a little dicey. Also Grille is far from a sure thing, given his injury and loss of velocity after his comeback and Melacon just didn’t pitch well at the end (being polite).

    If that’s the strategy going forward…then it’s going to require a lot of luck to do that year in and out and the young players you mention aren’t a luxury, they have to improve. Maybe that’s incumbent for a team like the Pirates, I dunno.

  187. Arriba Wilver says:

    All EYE’m saying is putting Polanco and Hanson on the 40 man was a no-brainer. (And there are not many no-brainers.)

    The days of Bobby Bonilla and Jose Bautista are over (I hope).

    And Travis will let us know when it’s time to worry.

    Carry on. ;-)

  188. Jim S. says:


  189. Bizrow says:

    So what have I been missing??

    The Mrs is at the Dentist

    The computer is mine ;-)

  190. Jim S. says:

    I don’t disagree with you all that much, tpb. Actually, I think I did that rundown of the roster as much for myself as anyone else. I was trying to weigh the pluses vs. the minuses. There are question marks, to be sure. We all want for last year to not just be a one year blip, and then back to the usual.

  191. Jim S. says:

    Per Travis (tweet) this afternoon:

    Huntington says signing a significant free agent pitcher does not preclude the team from still signing AJ.

    So, it would appear the Pirates have not closed the door on AJ.

  192. Jim S. says:


    You have had some great lines today, Arriba.

  193. Jim S. says:

    Not just your opinion, TC. That is crazy money. Dare I say, it’s Hank Steinbrenner-esque.

  194. Jim S. says:

    Or, Marlon Brando. :-)

  195. Bizrow says:

    What are the options still out there? I’m not upset about missing out on Johnson, he was/is pretty injury prone

  196. tpbco says:

    Your last sentence is the root of my angst.

    I am not being negative…just concerned.

    No question, them’s that are on the roster have to perform.

    Mangement also has to, as well.

  197. theplanisworking says:


  198. theplanisworking says:

    Jim, what is the final verdict on Travis? Or others covering the Pirates?

    Are we liking them, not liking them, hating them, not hating them………………… whats the deal? After reading many opinions on this today, I just want someone to believe in. (Cue Poison music in the background). ;)

  199. Bizrow says:

    Just a typical day for AW ;-)

  200. Nate83 says:

    In my opinion Johnson was the best one year high upside guy available. I think Kazmir is a little safer because you know if healthy he will give you 3.50-4.00 ERA. I feel as if Johnson was more likely to post better numbers then that but he also was more likely to implode. Other options are Haren and Colon who would probably both be used as a one year stop gap.

    I’ve always felt that it was possible that AJ would come back and another pitcher would be picked up in the 7-10 million range. I honestly think it is needed with the uncertain status of Wandy and Locke not being a sure thing.

  201. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1, but just say no to Colon.

  202. Sarah says:

    Great stats on Geno’s decline in shooting!

    Sorry to be late to this party – drove home from Canada today….

    Anyway – when a guy with a history of shoulder injuries goes from top of the league in shot attempts to shooting once every 8 shifts, I don’t think it’s “over-thinking” it to wonder if his injury is re-tweaked, since a bad shoulder makes shooting painful. Watching Geno deliberately switch from a wide open FH shot to a spin o rama off balance crappy backhand also made me wonder if it hurts to shoot FHs.

    So – Just saying “Hey shoot more!” seems like it could miss something else that’s going on.

    Which in fairness – could definitely be as simple as confidence – we all have seen that Malkin can be subject to the ups and downs of confidence.

    But I still wonder if it is more than that. Simply put, a history of shoulder issues, and a sudden reluctance to shoot could be more than a coinkydink.

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