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Morning Java: The Pitt perspective

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Monday column applauds the Pitt basketball team’s 7-0 start by way of asking a question: Is it possible they benefited from Steven Adams leaving?

Would love to hear your views on this.

Here’s freshman forward Michael Young yesterday after practice when I asked how this group’s come together …

This column was intended, by the way, as a companion to the Sunday column on Duquesne and Jim Ferry that I hope you had a chance to catch.

It would be amazing for the city to have two top programs, not one.

Random randomness from the scene: Pitt’s got a challenge in Penn State tomorrow night, beyond the fact that the visiting Nittany Lions are 6-2 in the early going. Penn State’s ranked 10th in the nation in assists-to-turnovers, compared to Pitt’s fifth, which means the standard steal count might be an issue for the Panthers. “That’s what you have when facing an experienced team, and Penn State is that,” Jamie Dixon replied when I brought that up yesterday after practice. “You can kind of say that about our team, too, at least in terms of maturity.” … The height of Pitt’s guards is prompting all kinds of new wrinkles to Dixon’s plan. “We like to get after the ball, no question,” Durand Johnson said. “We all feel like we can do more than just shoot.” … Remember Ryan Luther, the 6-8 guard out of Hampton, who at the last minute picked Pitt over Duquesne and other schools that had been on him for months? Well, Dixon tells me Luther is 6-9 now and “still growing,” which has the Pitt staff giddy. They really like him. … That game tomorrow will be on ESPNU, as well as the online ESPN3. … Nothing quite like walking the wrong way through the tunnel when a Suzie McConnell-Serio team just has a tough loss. Wow, did the Pitt women take losing to Buffalo hard. And really, they should have. Suzie has plenty of work ahead. She was left quite a mess by Agnus Berenato.

Also, Lamar Patterson is profiled today by our Pitt hoops beat writer Kevin Gorman, and by our sports cover designer Frank Verdecchia

>> The Mike Tomlin sideline saga is covered by Alan Robinson.

I’ve already expressed how little I think about that as an issue, but I still had a bit of fun by asking Dixon — who practically lives in the field of play with all his time on the actual court — what he thought about it.

Here’s our weekly Steelers Film Session, by Mark Kaboly.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Dolphins news from the Miami Herald.

Here are official game highlights from NFL.com.

>> The Penguins might not have a checking line, but they’ve still managed to keep their emotions in check, writes Josh Yohe in Sunrise.

Chris Kunitz in Sochi? Rob Rossi thinks so.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Islanders news from Newsday.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> Christian Hackenberg is Penn State football, by Chris Adamski. What a performance Saturday in Madison, for the freshman QB and by the indomitable Bill O’Brien.

>> Pitt’s bowl hopes are examined on Jerry DiPaola’s blog.

>> Michael McKenry hopes to return to the Pirates, by Travis Sawchik.

>> Back to the dentist for me today. If I emerge alive, I’ll give a shout.

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.

367 Comments

  1. * I’ve admittedly seen very little action from PITT, so I can’t fairly assess their 7-0 start to that of other Panthers teams but I am at least hopeful to see more of it based on the descriptions I’m reading.

    * Someone care to tell the fine people over on Federal Street the baseball offseason has started and St. Louis is already re-loading for 2014. Pirates need an outfielder that can push Jose Tabata for time in right-field until Gregory Polanco has earned his way to the majors, which should be sometime June. Then there’s first base, Gaby Sanchez as a full-time starter, no thanks. Finally, a starting pitcher would be nice and A.J. Burnett should be that guy… time to make a decision A.J. or nice knowing you.

    * I can’t get excited nor agree with those on Twitter and elsewhere thumping their chest with vigor as goaltender Jeff Zatkoff backstopped the Penguins to a 5-1 victory against the lowly Florida Panthers. It was the directionless Panthers, not the Boston Bruins.

    * Must admit, Engelland probably played his best game as an NHL defensemen against those same Panthers. Maybe by him playing with Orpik, it will settle down the alternate captain and get him to stop trying to throw big hits in the worst game situations.

    * Simon Despres is playing good, it is ok for a few people to recognize that, namely some in the local media and the bloggers that don’t really understand the game but get the hits because they have fancy web designs and cute pictures. The Pens record with Despres and without speaks for itself but I guess for some, it won’t. He’s a mobile defenseman with ok size and skills learning to be a really good positional defenseman. I seem to recall more than a few (me included) that wanted Paul Martin out of Pittsburgh, so maybe a few of us should wait to see Despres in action.

    * What I know to be the truth, this team has crap for depth at forward. Yes, I know they are without Beau Bennett, Tanner Glass and Chuck Kobasew but when the best you have is Jayson Megna, Chris Conner, and Andrew Ebbett, you’ve got problems.

    * I keep reading Twitter comments, from people that really should know better, that the Penguins should trade a defenseman in the minors to acquire a winger for Sid or third liner. I guess that thing called a salary cap still hasn’t invaded the thinking of the hockey rumor mill. The Pens will need to dump salary in order to get what they need and I doubt many teams want to help make that happen or what lengths in terms of creativity Shero will need to go to make it happen.

    * Though salary cap wouldn’t be a huge problem if they had made the right decision to trade Kris Letang for a number one pick, a top six forward, and some other cheap player/prospect. I guess it could steal happen with the limited trade clause Letang got from the Penguins.

    * The Evgeni Malkin that has been playing for the last 3 weeks is unstoppable and the guy who is the best player in the world. Can’t wait to watch Crosby vs Malkin on the scoring sheet and come the Olympics (Canada vs Russia) in February.

    * Steelers have a prayer but can we finally accept reality, it ain’t happening. Not with THAT offensive line, starting RB concussed, number two WR with a case of the dropsies, and a secondary that can’t cover anyone, even with increased pressure from Jason Worilds at left outside linebacker.

    * Mike Tomlin pulled quite the stunt on Thursday night, glad I missed that whole game and only got to see and read about his pathetic “who me?” moment on national television. It was lame and should get him fined, accident or no accident.

    * Any talk of suspension or draft picks is insane. Fine him $250,000 and team $250,000. Do this so it never happens again….

    • Eric

      I agree with your second bullet regarding “the fine people over on Federal Street”.

      Phil Hughes just signed with the Twins for $8 million a year and he had a lousy year last year. AJ must be worth at least twice as much, I can’t see Skinflint Nutting going there – how about you??

      • Cartoon Nutting must have rolled over in his grave with last offseason’s two big deals.

        And again for the two in-season deadline deals.

        That’s the thing about those cartoon villains. They never die.

        Recent evidence to the contrary.

        If this is about timing, Liriano and AJ were both acquired in February of their respective offseasons. Martin in November. So two of three of their last big offseason acquisitions did not occur until you could smell the grass clippings of the Pirate City practice fields.

        This offseason won’t come down to
        Simon Bar Nutting.

        It probably won’t come down to timing.

        As usual, it will balance on the execution, or lack thereof, by Huntington and his major league acquisition team.

        Doubt them? Fine. They have a longer record of failure than success.

        Encouraged? Fine. Their record has recently improved.

        Despite Darth Nutting’s black magic.

      • If that Phil Hughes figure is correct, that is AWFUL…Ross Dorfesque in fact

    • Billy Guerin saw to it that Depres had the help he needed in WBS, and it’s paying off. Can we send Letang to him for a few weeks during the Olympics and get him some help, too?

      Say what you want about the Zatkoff win against the Panthers, it will STILL go along way with helping his confidence. He did make some very good plays, Panthers or not.

      Steelers? Ehhhh…maybe in a season or three, they might be relevant again…but I’m still a Yinzer :)

  2. Interesting perspective on the Adams departure DK. My first instinct was to scoff at the notion, but then I started to think that maybe there is something to it. Wright and Patterson probably do not take those monster steps up, and for sure Durand Johnson isn’t bringing the ball inside off the bounce with Adams in the paint. He could just hang at the three point line and wait for the inside out feed from the unselfish big man.

    Still, I think not having Adams could hurt later on when Pitt runs up against a team with a good four and a five. The problem may not be with Zanna defending against the five; it will likely come when Young and/or Artis have to match up with a good power forward. Ovie Soko, while a nice player for the Dukes, is not of the quality that Pitt will see most nights in the ACC and neither of the freshmen could handle him. Jamie had to put Patterson on him (another nice adjustment btw) to shut him down.

    I will go on record as saying that I REALLY like this team, but I am a little scared of the interior depth unless one of those two can pick it up on the defensive end. That could be the proverbial fatal flaw.

    Good luck with the jawbreaker DK!

  3. Jeff Triplette and his crew really blew it at the end of the Sunday Night game. Signaled for the chains to move and changed the down markers, then realized that the Skins did not make the first down after they ran a play and took a shot down field. Ouch!

    • I found that to be alot more disturbing than Mike Tomlin’s little leap.
      The NFL…..Everybody is wrong but them.

  4. On Pitt, it’s the front line I’m concerned about most. Outside of Patterson, I’m not enamored with the group. Zanna is too inconsistent, does not have any “go to” finishing moves, has mediocre hands and is a bad foul shooter.

    That said, maybe the front line will perform along the lines of an Oklahoma State or Wichita State where contributions come from a bunch of 6’6″ to 6’9″ players each night, and the sum of the whole is more than the individual up front talent. We’ll see what happens once the ACC season starts.

    Speaking of which, my early vote goes to Jabari Parker as best player in the nation. They can all talk about Marcus Smart, Andrew Wiggins, Aaron Gordon and others, but I think Parker will top them all at year’s end. An absolute beast.

    • Agree. Watched a fair share of college hoops this holiday weekend. Parker looked much better than Wiggins. Parker would give James fits….now.

  5. A lot of credit has to go to Dixon. I’m not sure losing a player of size to the Association ever makes you better but, if it does, then the credit goes to the coaching staff for making adjustments. Pitt always has had good talent. You don’t play competitively in the Big East without it. I think Adams’ absence made Dixon adjust, plus I think normal maturation is playing a roll as well. All I know is that they are fun to watch.

    I read in the LA Times that Steve Alford, of all people, wants the Bruins to start scheduling tougher non-conference opponents. The theory being that great players want to play in the big games. Dixon would be wise to take note. Not sure how good this team is, really, and even a victory over the Nittany Lions won’t provide much insight.

    Speaking of Penn State, congratulations to Coach O’Brien and his club for absolutely schooling my Badgers on Saturday in Madtown. The Badgers defense looked liked like they had never played together as a unit in their lives. It is not an easy venue to win at. The biggest victory of his tenure there, I think, as it came on the road. It’s going to sting me for awhile! :)

    I leave you with this from the great film, “Marathon Man”: “Is it safe ?”

    • John, it is classy of you to congratulate the Nittany Lions. Those kids and their coach work hard and hardly ever note that they are playing with 61 scholarship players – the equivalent of an entire year’s less recruits than the teams they play. This should be their lowest point, as scholarships begin to be restored.

      The Badgers are always a class act, and I wish them well in their bowl game.

      Also glad you and I get to root for all the same teams from here.

    • Marathon Man creeped me out years ago. Went in with no idea what was coming; had not read the book.

  6. It’s EASY to like this team when you are playing “the little sisters of the poor” any running up 20 point victories very night.

    I’m still of the the opinion that Coach Jamie didn’t use Stevie the right way last year — and didn’t get his full potential out of him (even if it was his rookie year in the Big East).

    Benefit from his leaving? Would you taker him back? Let’s talk about the need for a 7 footer that can (a) shoot, (b) block shoots, (c) rebound, (d) run the court, (e) defend against other big guys for 30 -35 minutes a game in those ACC games…. :-)

    Put Mr.Adams back on this team this year….and they “may” have the potential for an Elite 8 run. Part of the difference is that Slice is back with the team and he has a better handle on working with & developing & “coaching up” big men.

    Pitt always has plenty of “smurfs” ….nice to have an occasional 7 footer….. just can’t seem to hold onto them for too long….

  7. My December Linkin Park

    JAL’s My December Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cI59cpkFxPo

    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

    Who Will Be Tendered a Contract by the Pirates Today?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/12/who-will-be-tendered-a-contract-by-the-pirates-today.html

    Rafael Furcal and What Off-Season Interest Means

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/12/rafael-furcal-and-what-off-season-interest-means.html

    Winter Leagues: Three Hits For Polanco on Saturday Night

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/12/winter-leagues-three-hits-for-polanco-on-saturday-night.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pitching market continues to unfold without participation from Pirates

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/12/1/5163742/pitching-market-continues-to-unfold-without-participation-from-pirates

    Pirates must decide on tenders for Travis Snider, Michael McKenry, others

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/12/2/5165334/pirates-must-decide-on-tenders-for-travis-snider-michael-mckenry

    6 Rumbunter

    MLB Winter Meetings Coming Soon

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/12/01/mlb-winter-meetings-coming-soon/

    7 Hollywood

    The MLB Network: A Lifeline For Baseball Addicts In The Cold of Winter

    http://www.hollywood.com/news/tv/55042737/the-mlb-network-a-huge-lifeline-for-baseball-addicts-in-the-cold-of-winter

    8 Rant Sports

    How Many Pittsburgh Pirates Will Be Non-Tendered?

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/12/01/how-many-pittsburgh-pirates-will-be-non-tendered/

    9 Athletics Nation

    Breaking News: NOTHING HAPPENS!

    http://www.athleticsnation.com/2013/12/1/5163444/breaking-news-nothing-happens

  8. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    10 NY Times

    3 General Managers True to One School

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/02/sports/baseball/3-general-managers-true-to-one-school.html?_r=0

    11 Minneapolis Star

    Morneau doesn’t rule out his return to Twins — eventually

    http://www.startribune.com/sports/twins/234020991.html

    12 CBS Sports

    Creating baseball’s perfect center fielder

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24310184/creating-baseballs-perfect-center-fielder

    13 India Today

    A ‘Home Run’ for Baseball in India

    http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/baseball-in-india-rinku-singh-indian-professional-baseball-player-pittsburg-pirates/1/327468.html

    14 Huffington Post

    ‘Be Like Mike’ on the Court — and Bill James in the Classroom

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-chartier/be-like-mike-on-the-court_b_4367961.html

    15 Bleacher Report

    MLB Free Agents in the Best, Worst Bargaining Positions at 1-Month Mark

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1861035-mlb-free-agents-in-the-best-worst-bargaining-positions-at-one-month-mark

    16 SB Nation

    MLB news roundup: Cubs weighing options with Jeff Samardzija, Twins could continue adding pitchers

    http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2013/12/1/5163694/mlb-trade-rumors-free-agents-2013-cubs-jeff-samardzija-twins-phil-hughes

    17 Boston Globe

    Feud with writers helped Ted Williams hit harder

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/2013/12/01/feud-with-sportswriters-helped-ted-williams-hit-harder/6354oT35Slld0eybr2QfpJ/story.html

    18 Sweetspot

    Let’s have some fun: Three-team trade ideas

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/42646/lets-have-some-fun-three-team-trade-ideas

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22323

    20 Fangraphs

    When Walk Years Don’t Work

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/when-walk-years-dont-work/

  9. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Film Room: Small errors lead to big loss in Week 13

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/12/1/5159224/steelers-film-video-analysis-highlights-week-13-ravens-GIF

    NFL IR List: Steelers have fourth-most injured reserve designations in the league

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/12/1/5162458/nfl-injured-reserve-ir-list-count-amount-totals-by-team-2013

    22 Steelers Gab

    Video: Scott And Esiason Disagree On Tomlin’s Intentions Thursday Night

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2013/12/01/video-scott-and-esiason-disagree-on-tomlins-intentions-thursday-night/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Dailey Mirror

    Everton fail in Landon Donovan loan bid as LA Galaxy boss puts his foot down

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/landon-donovan-everton-loan-bid-2872260

    24 World Soccer Daily

    the stories you need to read – November 29, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-the-stories-you-need-to-read-november-29-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Memorable Moments: Zatkoff’ed

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/11/30/5161292/memorable-moments-road-trip-sweep

    • Yep.

      “The Southeastern Conference finally might have cannibalized itself out of a national title.”

      Yep.

      • It is not over yet, Michigan State is capable of beating Ohio State and if they do Auburn-Missouri winner will be the championship game.

        • Which would be funny for all the wailing that would ensue about the SEC backing in. Again.

          That said, I don’t think it matters.

          I thought FSU would beat Alabama. And I see them as multiple scores better than Auburn or Missouri.

          But what do EYE know? Watch Duke beat em.

          Somebody tell Duke I don’t need the help to look stoopid.

          And PS. I agree with your perspective of the B10. Just as with Auburn-Alabama, I expect Ohio State to beat Michigan State but wouldn’t be stunned to see an upset.

          PPS. I loved seeing Saban getting schooled by another coach.

  10. I think Pitt had a few issues last year.

    1. Dixon maybe just didn’t know how to coach a player like Adams very well.
    2. Adams wasn’t very good.
    3. They had a team of pretty good athletes slowed down by Adams in the offense.
    4. Inexperience.
    5. Woodall was inconsistent.

    So I think eliminating Adams along with not losing very much talent and the core getting older has helped a great deal.

    • All good points, 21. I would also add that both Patterson and Wright appear to have taken huge strides forward in the off-season. Granted, they have not played against great competition yet, and Patterson has had dominating periods vs weak competition in the past. But, Wright has never been an offensive force. I believe Wright has already shown a great deal of variety in his offensive game this season. He seems to score and create opportunities for others in a lot of different ways.

      Again, still early. All the precincts haven’t been counted yet. But, I like what I see.

      On Adams, you are correct. Jamie had no idea what to do with such a raw talent. Jamie does not like growing pains on the court, and there was no way around it with Adams.

  11. Jamie answers this ? the way he does because he deals in realities. Adams is playing on a loaded team in OKC and is contributing. If he stays, Pitt is way better, maybe a top ten team. To think he would stifle other players is crazy. He was unselfish to a fault, an excellent passer, tough on the boards and he can run the floor. Pitt is deeper, more athletic and just plain scary if Adams is on the team. The late Al Mcguire called big men like Adams aircraft carriers. And he certainly would fill that description.

  12. This is very dumb is Pitt better with a 7 footer that is contributing to a NBA team. What can you say with someone who said Pitt was under achieving in football with Coach Wann(who has forgotten more about coaching than this guy will ever know) who was winning 8,9,10 games a yr. without a QB PGH. print media deals in total BS

  13. Pitt hoops is not easy to find on tv where I live, but I’ll be looking for them when I can. Liked what I saw of Arizona against Duke. Sean Miller doing good work out there.

  14. 1. Bell was outside the tackle, therefore hit was illegal. MrSafety, more concerned about dead ball than dead player and short time between games = Hypocrite

    2. Ray Lewis knows Tomlin tried to interfere on Jones on purpose, maybe ESPN can get Charles Manson’s unbiased opinion also.

    3. Answer: Heath Miller, Cotchery, a double covered Antonio Brown and Charlie Brown, Question: all better options to pin your season on than Manny Sanders.

    4. Special Teams, no progress under Smith, do they understand kick must go 10 yards? Worry about that first.

    5. Worilds over Woodley, Adams to slow to EVER pass block, punter stinks, If Bells passes concussion test, they are a joke, Tomlin deserves fine, not suspension, Ike nearly done, Kiesel is done.

  15. LT who are young tend to struggle unless they are just so talented. Adams with his training camp loss may have not fully recovered, but he is not showing his athleticism that I saw his first year. Next year is the time to step up or become the journeyman who shows up at different teams.

  16. I cant imagine that Miike Mckenry will return to the Buccos.

    Of course, Martin will be the starting catcher and Tony Sanchez will be the backup. I can’t imagine that McKenry would settle for the starting spot in Indy.

  17. Hey Jandy,
    I’d like to hear more about the Guerin thing. I like your suggestion about him and Tanger.

    I’m a big fan of this type of personal coaching. I still remember what Harry “the Hat” Walker did for Matty Alou during one memorable off-season.

    The Guerin/Letang potential matchup would IMHO have an even greater upside given Letang’s abilities and Guerin’s experience.

    Stuart

    • hey Stu! happy Monday!
      I found the article by Josh Yohe here:
      http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5139570-74/despres-penguins-ahl#axzz2mKLDWv6j

      I say we let Billy take Letang under his wing and “fix” him too.

      • Thanks J. I missed that one. Nice to see Billy in what appears to be a significant role.

        In my opinion, it happens too frequently that players on the active roster stop developing, and get pretty set in their ways. If Letang could get som one-on-one with Guerin he could improve greatly. Of course, his attitude toward improving might be the biggest factor. One you start making the big bucks it gets harder to admit that you might not be perfect.

        Happy Monday to you as well. Nice to start a new week without having to digest a Sunday melt down from the Stillers.

        Stuart

        • Stuart…amen on the Stillers ;)

          Tanger needs an attitude adjustment as well. Billy is big enough to give him one lol

          • In case you guys missed it and/or care here are my thoughts on tanger from yesterday…yes i copied and pasted cuz im feeling lazy :)

            Ok so regarding Tanger its getting to the point where if im the opposing coach i’m telling my team to pressure the hair aka tanger at any and all times. He’s making safer and smarter plays a bit more often but he’s still forcing passes, lugging the puck when he should be making short passes, he’s not using his dman partner as an outlet when its the obvious and simple/safe play and maybe most importantly he hasn’t realized that his hands are no where near as good as his skating. As a matter a fact his hands are borderline horrible at times. On top of that he’s attempting fancy passes and plays that only 87 and 71 should be allowed to attempt. He needs to move his feet quick then move the puck even quicker…then he can use his skating to jump into the play after the forwards push back the d. I dont know how many times we gotta see the same mistakes repeated before they’re addressed but its getting old…Just sayin…

  18. Pitt—I suspect getting ready to play in the ACC has also helped with how they’re playing without Adams.

    Tomlin—I was totally convinced Tomlin’s action was inadvertent. Until last night, when I saw a long shot from the other end zone on the play. Now, it does kind of look like it may/must have been intentional. There was no visible reason for him to be scooting out. That’s a big Jumbotron. We’ll never know for sure, but fine him. Talk of a lost draft choice is ludicrous.

    Biggest surprise about the Tomlin thing—Harbaugh didn’t sound like a jerk. He said, basically, “stuff happens, stuff happens to everybody.”

  19. Buster Olney is reporting that the Pirates are on the verge of acquiring catcher Chris Stewart from the Yankees.

  20. Pitt was a potential Final 4 team with Adams – even if his offensive development remained slow in 2013-14, his defensive presence and rebounding would make the difference in many key games. The weak link that Dixon needs to overcome will be the maturity of the 4 on this team – both Young and Artes are athletic and will develop, but having Zanna there to rotate at either the 4 or 5 would have been outstanding. Adams was unique in his ability to run the court and Pitt could have played the same type of game with more depth.
    My thought is that Patterson, Wright, Zanna and Robinson would have progressed with or without Adams. I think their skills and scoring output show up more strongly without Adams obvious impact as they would have been more complimentary than primary with Adams in the middle.
    I am very excited to see the growth and development of this team – if they continue to shoot a high free throw %, they will win most of their games. They may need additional back court depth (Mostella if available) as the young guys backing up Wright and Robinson may be outclassed by the deeper ACC guard depth. Really looking forward to getting through the remaining weak non-conference schedule to see the real competition.

  21. Titans lost. Chargers lost. Jets lost. Browns lost. Bills lost. The Steelers now trail only two teams for the final playoff spot – the Ravens and Dolphins. And the Steelers get a chance to knock off the Dolphins this week at Heinz Field.

    Anyone who wrote off the Steelers after Thursday’s loss hasn’t been paying attention. These other teams are going to continue losing, because they’re all terrible. The Ravens are the best of the bunch, and they still have to play New England and Cincy. 8-8 could really be good enough to get in this year.

  22. The Pirates are now setting their sights on Yogi Berra.

  23. On one hand, even though the Steelers lost, a lot of good/beneficial things happened over the weekend to keep their chances alive:
    -Dolphins beat the Jets to make Jets 5-7, and it gives the Steelers a chance to bring one of the two 6-6 teams (Dolphins) back to the pack this week.
    -Chargers lost to the Bengals making them 5-7.
    -Titans lost to the Colts making them 5-7.
    They still lose the tie breaker to Tennessee, but if they win out…

    BUT
    The Steelers put Velasco on IR, and either Cody Wallace or Olsen (?) will start at center this weekend. We’ll find out more this week on the rest of the linemen who got hurt (Adams, Beachum). Bell got dung, and may not play. Ike Taylor and the secondary still giving up big gains.

    I haven’t given up yet, but man it’s getting late, and it will be a serious test of depth to still win games.

  24. Regarding Pens v. Panthers:

    I was concerned about Chris Conner’s head after a puck hit his helmet while he sprawled on the ground during a penalty kill. I hope Chris is okay. Bob Errey sure had a good time laughing about it, but I’m not surprised on that one.

    Hurray for Geno! Watching him move other players’ sticks out of the way to make room before he does something amazing is a beautiful thing to behold. I always wonder what goes through opposing defensemen’s heads when they see the long arm of Geno reach out and move their stick away like it’s nothing. Probably some variation of “oh sh@&” :)

    • Just goes to show you what confidence will do – earlier this season he was losing those pucks trying to dangle around the D. Now he is back to elite level – and lovin’ every minute of it. Sid is the one that is starting to look frustrated now, but I’m sure that won’t last long.

      Another thought: In a month or so, the Pens will get Scuderi and Martin back. They will have a lot of decisions to make on their very deep D corp seeing how well Engelland, Despres and others have played. They also need to decide on Bortuzzo. Seems like someone would have to be traded, but as we all know injuries will happen and things may just work themselves out.

      • It’s a weird push-me-pull-you phenomenon with Sid and Geno when it comes to who is “on” at the moment. I am sure there have been plenty of times when they play immaculate hockey at the same time. I guess my eyes are open moreso when one of them looks frustrated. And yes, Sid does look frustrated.

        Great question about what will happen to the players when all of the D are healthy. I know who I want to keep (see avatar). Despres is playing well, thanks to the focus on his defense while he was in Wilkes-Barre.

        I kinda like Engallend as a forward. He would provide some of that grit that is lacking with the bottom six forwards.

        And then there was Robert Bortuzzo. I think he should also be given ice time this year, but I don’t want to see him sit in the press box all season. I wonder if other teams are thinking about acquiring Borts. Although he would be difficult to scout since other GMs cannot see him play…

  25. Done deal–Stewart to pirates for the well traveled PTBNL McKenry DFA

    • I can’t help but feel a little bad about this. The Fort was one of the best people to wear our uniform. I hope he can catch on with another team.

      • Since he’s a catcher, Wild Bill, I think he’ll latch on. Being a catcher today is as good as being a lefty reliever who can get lefties out. You might not get paid a ton of dough, but the work is steady.

      • He had that disease where he got worse rather than better. But maybe we can blame it on Barrabas. ;-)

    • So what happens with Tony Sanchez? Not only did his hitting start coming around, he seemed to be handling the pitchers well too.

      • He plays everyday in Indy, like every other Pirate prospect to come through the ranks.

        Not saying there isn’t room for debate on the merrit of that logic, but it is completely consists with every other prospect decision I can think of from Hurdle/Huntington.

  26. Did anyone hear how many draft picks Miami is expected to lose for “overruling” the coach when he wanted to cut Incognito for harassing the woman at the golf outing, then having him promoted to the leadership council?

    How many picks did Al Davis lose for repeatedly refusing to pay off the contracts of coaches he fired early?

    New England cheated its way to some Super Bowl titles, right? In the midst of it, they were caught and told to stop cheating immediately. They, of course, only stopped after being caught again. I believe they lost one #1 draft pick – again, for repeatedly cheating, even after being caught.

    New Orleans lost their coach for a season, but I don’t think they lost any draft picks for the bounty scandal.

  27. Once again, all the local beat writers scooped by the national guys.

    • This seemed like prime Pirate Blogger news to break. They’ll surely be having a word with Huntington after their next roundtable.

  28. Well now that the Chris Stewart news is out of the hat, I actually received a text from the agent of Stewart last week telling me his client was about to be traded to the Pirates, but to keep it close to the vest as negotiations were being finalized.

    That agent, friend to my wife, is the same guy that reps Bryan Morris, maybe I can orchestrate a dinner with Stewart on a road trip sometime this season.

    Still waiting for the news on a corner OF, 1B and starting pitcher. Really hope management seized this window of opportunity that appears to be there.

  29. It was very hard not to root for The Fort.

    But if this new guy is better defensively then I would rather have him than McKenry.

  30. One factor in this catcher musical chairs game that’s being missed is the health & well being of Russell Martin. I think they played him more than they wanted to early in the season & it took its toll later on. McKenry was just so awful defensively they simply were afraid to put him back there. Especially with pitchers that had trouble holding runners. Stewart can’t hit but he’s at least Martin’s equal behind the plate. And they’ll be able to use him with all of their pitchers. And as far as Sanchez goes, what NMR said. He’ll be the catcher in 2015 & he’ll be well served honing his craft one more year in the minor leagues.

    • I agree Milo. I think Martin played too much.

      And I think that they need to curb this stuff about ‘this pitcher likes to throw to only this catcher’

    • Exactly.

      Martin and Sanchez were the only catchers on the 40-man, which is crazy considering how often they get injured, as a position. Another guy was always going to be brought in from the start, and it made sense for him to be a major leaguer since Sanchez has options.

      Fact that the person brought is will be about as inexpensive as possible says something more about this apparent budget crunch.

  31. Michael McKenry will sign with the Brewers.
    He will throw out Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen every time they attempt to steal.
    Alex Presley will cheer.

  32. So, Snider gets non-tendered today?

  33. Stewart was acquired for PTBNL, McKenry DFA’d.

  34. “re-mantling” definitely deserves wider usage.

    My reaction to Stewart: “WTF”. Feel better though after hearing Milo and NMR explanations – Makes sense that Tony plays every day.

    Stuart

  35. Crazy thought!!! I’m not saying this should happen but with the Pirates seeming to be unwilling to add much payroll could Tony Sanchez be a first base platoon with the other Sanchez. It would definately free up money to add payroll at other positions of need. I’m not even sure Tony Sanchez is capable of such a move but he seems pretty athletic.

    Just tell me I’m crazy and I will move along.

  36. In regard to the PTBNL, didn’t the Yanks express interest in GI not so long ago?

    Stiuart

  37. Is Pitt better without Steve Adams? No. It is a good thing that Patterson, Wright et al are improved, but Pitt would have been Top 10 caliber with Adams returning. If Adams returned, he would have improved also, and maybe Dixon would have learned how to use him more properly. It would also have given Pitt 2 distinct looks, depending on whether or not Adams was in the game.

    Of course, it would have been fun to see what improvements to Adams’ game Rohrssen could have done……….

    • Could not agree more. I think Jamie has done a good job of re-tooling on the fly. But, Adams with a better idea of what he is doing in Jamie’s system? That would have to elevate this team.

      • It would also move Zanna to the 4, and would give Pitt a very strong frontline, and added flexibility.
        I think the boss just chucked this column out today for us to distract us from no football yesterday……….

        ;)

  38. The PBC DFA’d the legend, they can’t tender him, can they?

    The reason I ask is this post on MLBTrade Rumors – Other Pirates non-tender candidates include 1B/OF Garrett Jones, who was designated for assignment last week,

  39. I really dont understand where the logic train is coming in regards to the Steelers losing a draft pick in regards to Tomlins actions. He will get a hefty fine, but the Jets had a similar situation a few years ago, and they didnt lose any draft picks. I agree with Jim’s points above regarding otehr teams doing far worse, and they werent punished with draft pick loss.

    I feel this is yet another instance where the stupidity of the NFL is on full (fool) display. They need to concentrate on the head-hunting, concussion , and referee issues first.

    And, nice to see that Marcia Brady’s tirade after the Carolina game has been rewarded with not a single flag thrown against the Cheatriots yesterday. Maybe Oher can go to NE, where his 90% false start rate wouldn’t be an issue?

    NFL == Not For LOng if they keep this up………

    • The NFL?….A logic train?
      You know better…..

    • I think the incident with the Jets – the runner was already out of bounds.

      Imagine if the Ravens would have lost that game on Thursday …because they didn’t score a TD on that run back (because of Tomlin). And imagine if that loss cost the Ravens a spot in the playoffs.

      I think Ed Bouchette put it best this morning on the radio when he gave his opinion of the play : shameful.

      If I am the owner of the Steelers I call Tomlin into my office and tell him that the Steelers don’t do those types of things and that he embarrassed the organization. Don’t embarrass the organization again.

  40. I can’t fathom a team better without a 7′ team member who can play and is not a pain in the locker room or on the floor. Adams would have been a year older and a season of experience in hand. In my opinion, their preseason expectation in the ACC would be a lot higher than 6th were he here instead of Oklahoma. Why would you even ponder a question as this?

  41. Now that the Pirates have done the “necessities” today regarding arb-eligible players, will we see anything of note going into the GM meetings next week? Has Neal seen his shadow?

    Has anyone heard anything new on AJ?

    RIP Fort.
    We hardly knew ye……….

    • I’ve been saying on the Bucco Blog that the Winter Meetings are gonna be when the Pirates make moves.

      Josh Johnson WOULD have been last year’s Russell Martin. Otherwise, nothing has really happened yet that has much effect on the Pirates.

      • What about Nolasco ? The Twins signed him to their largest free agency signing in franchise history. Durable, capable of pitching well. Do you think the Pirates ever had any desire to bring him into the fold and then jettisoning AJB ?

        Disclaimer, I rarely, if ever look at MLB Trade Rumors.

        • I don’t think so, Osh, because he was originally talking 5 years x $20 million, and then “settled” for 4 and less money from a desperate Twins organization. He’s a #3 starter, I would say. No other organization was considering giving him 4 years.

          Then, the Twins followed that up by giving Phil Hughes 3 x $8M. I don’t hate Hughes …. for more like 2 x $6M. He’s only 27, and will be moving into the toughest park in the AL for hitting HR. Hughes is a #4/5 starter, though.

          So, the Twins will be paying $20 million per year for a #3 and #4/5. Unfortunately for the Twins, those guys will be their #1 & #2, I think.

        • Ricky Nolasco is what you get when your organization cannot produce decent starting pitchers.

          Ricky Nolasco is a fine pitcher. The Minnesota Twins are a better team with him in the rotation. But they’re committing over $10m per year – for four years guaranteed – to a guy an average at-best starter whose biggest attribute is the number of innings he pitches.

          That’s a bunch of money for mediocrity.

          • You said a mouthful, NMR. 4.50+ ERA and 1.4+ WHIP. Not only do they lack starting pitching talent now, these moves signal they don’t have much coming, either.

            • And he has always been one of those guys who pitches below his peripherals.

              The Hughes signing, to me, is just incredible. In reality, they GUARANTEED three years to a prospect.

              That’s what Hughes is at this point, isn’t it? Put together all the “ifs” surrounding him and the reality is that he’s no more reliable than an unproven prospect. Doesn’t mean it will turn out to be a bad signing, of course, but that is an incredible commitment to mediocrity.

              • “The 2014 Minnesota Twins: If all goes well, we could approach mediocrity.”

              • Jim isn’t that the same slogan as the 2013 Royals?

              • Yes, and it was for the better part of 2 decades for the Bucs, of course. The Twins, I’m sure, are taking a lot of heat from their fan base for not being very good and following that up by not being aggressive in free agency. So, they signed a couple of “decent” pitchers at over $20 million per year. So, that will maybe get them from 65 to 72 wins, and it might eventually come back to bite them from the standpoint of retaining their own younger players. It’s tough to get out of that cycle, as we well know.

  42. Geno named NHL “First Star of the Week”
    http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=694022&navid=DL|PIT|home

  43. With all the discussion above about Fort, and GI, and New acquisition Stewart, just think what it would be like in here when something important actually occurs, instead of moves with 25th man-type players…………. not criticizing anyone in any way. Always love me some Pirate talk.

    The team still needs to fill major holes at RF, IB, SS, and deal with AJ…………… but not a peep. I know that some Pirate deals have occurred late in the offseason, but other teams (namly St. Looie) are improving, so time is a-tickin.

  44. Speaking of Suzie McConnell-Serio (as the blogmaster general did, above), her nephew TJ is a great fit at AZ. He was a big key in that win over Duke. Plays defense 94′ and distributes the ball so well. I loved the interview with him afterward. He says all he is interested in is helping the team win, anyway he can. No “me-go” on that kid whatsoever. Flash forward to 2030, and I bet he’ll be one of the best coaches in the country, year in and year out.

    • That was a fun game to watch, and I have trouble sitting still for a whole game of anything.

    • Gotta love him Jim. He has worked his behind off to get to where he is, and you have to respect that. Plus he has way more athleticism than people give him credit for too. I guess it is unlikely that he will play at the next level, but to me, that says more about what is wrong with the next level than anything else.

      Hey Jim, you are a Naperville resident aren’t you? Do you have any kids in Naperville Central?

      • No, lad. My kids go to Neuqua. They smoked us 2x in football this year, if that is what you are referring to.

        • I have a colleague/friend whose son plays on the Central football team and he is pretty pumped about the state championship. Just thought there might be some commonality.

          I spent a little bit of time in Naperville a few years back when my daughter was attending a hoop camp and I thought it was a really cool town…other than the traffic in town, which was ghastly for a Saturday…

          • Central does have a killer football program, Lad. They are a traditional power, along with Naperville North. I can’t recall which one of them Sean Payton went to, because it was before my time here. But, he went to one of those two schools. Our school is newer, and we have not established the youth football infrastructure yet as well as the other two – although we did get to the state semi-finals last year.

            Naperville is a huge town, so the traffic comment doesn’t surprise me Lad. I live on the far SW corner, and it can take me a half-hour, easy, to get to the NW side. There are 5 monster HS here – with, probably 20,000+ students combined. I’d say the population is probably closing in on 200,000, and it is just a suburb but is more like a city. Chicago is a freakishly large Metro. We are almost 40 miles from the city.

            For how big our town is, though, I bet we still don’t produce as many football prospects as much smaller WPA towns. Chicago area is not a great HS football area, overall. Now, hoops is a different story.

          • My little hamlet gave them their quarterback. Plus a kid that ran a kickoff back for a TD last week. Football hotbed that we are.

            • I was talking Pittsburgh Central there. Reading is fundamental. :)

              • Pittsburgh Central has definitely produced more football talent than any school in our town, Milo.

              • My alma mater….. Trust me when I tell you, it was not like that when I was there. 90-95 % of the kids came from the city and had some kind of tuition assistance from their parish, which just doesn’t happen anymore. We had a few kids from Penn Hills, but I honestly can’t think of anywhere else the athletes came from in the burbs. We also didn’t win as much either,

      • Well TJ isn’t much of a scorer and doesn’t really have a jump shot. Not sure how that all would play at the next level.

        • He isn’t a big scorer because that is not his role in college. He averaged 34 PPG in his senior year of HS. At Duquesne he shot 51% from the field overall and 43% from three point range. He is in fact an excellent jump shooter.

          • Jump shooter? He shoots his 3′s via the set shot.

            • Set shot?? You may want to watch him closer. Or take a look at the Duquesne – St Bonaventure highlights on You Tube. You don’t have to go too far in to see a couple of jumpers. Maybe we just see it different 21.

  45. RIP Paul Walker…taken from us waaaayyy too soon…

    :(

  46. I’m a little bummed about Hershel.

    The Governor, too.

  47. Huge props to Milo for calling USC AD Pat Haden ruining the football program. He called this 3 weeks ago. This is why Milo gets the big bucks around here. (And I dont even know if he hunts…) ;)

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/college-football/story/_/id/10068739/usc-trojans-hire-steve-sarkisian-washington-huskies-new-football-coach

  48. Kansas City GM Dayton Moore gets a 2 year extension.
    No word if it was granted last year in secret………………

  49. Pirates have avoided arbitration with Chris Stewart. First reported by the Wall Street Journal. Do the local dailies actually pay their beat people ?

  50. Wild Bill………….

    I saw your post above stating it was tough to find Pitt basketball where you live. Try ESPN# .com. You can find a lot of telecasts there on the computer.

  51. Well, here I am, years after calling for the head of Bruce Arians…

    calling for the head of Todd Haley.

    My main issue with Arians’ offenses were that they couldn’t put up points consistent with the talent on the field. Well, Haley has a similar level of talent, and is producing less. It seems the only time the offense can get in rhythm is when they go no-huddle, with the Qb doing the play-calling.

    I was in favor of the hire sans Roethlisberger’s feelings because I thought it may help our QB “grow up” in a professional sense. You may not like everyone you work with, but it’s important to have a respect level, and to work together as a team to achieve a goal (whatever that is in any workplace). With that said, some people just don’t fit.

    It seems to me Todd Haley’s play-calling has become a big issue. And now, I may be siding with the QB on the workplace demeanor element.

    I think it’s the best thing for this football team to move on from Haley at the end of the season. If there were results behind all of the locker room and off-field incidents, you could give him a pass.

    I’d say it’s easier to find a new OC that can work with Ben and produce results than it is to find a new franchise signal caller (No matter how many good years he [Roethlisberger] has left (which I think is at least 3-4)).

    It’s cliche, but the NFL really does stand for “Not For Long”. Time to move on.

  52. Bucs just signed a guy from the Czech Republic.

    And some people think the Pens are much more in need of a good check.

  53. Scott Kazmir gets $11 million per year – for two years.
    Risky. Very risky for Oakland

    • The market is getting silly. Not good news for our PBC

      • silly or stupid?

      • I think for the most part the market is relative to the new revenues coming in for all teams.

        • That may be 21. But if the figure of $25 million per team is correct for next year. The A’s just took a chance with 44% of that on Kazmir.

          Just because teams have more money – - I still the think the market is crazy. Usually I think teams have given too many years. On this one I think maybe too much money. ( but I would probably rather have Kazmir than Colon)

          • Thats 25 million per year, right?

            But still 5.5 per two years is a big gamble for a fellow with his track record

            • Sorry, misread, I thought Kazmir was getting 11 for two years, holey crap.

              No way AJ resigns with the PBC

              • Biz, this is yet another reason that the refusal to tender AJ the $14 million qualifying offer is a head scratcher.

              • Don’t know where this will end up, but I am responding to plan.

                I agree with you that they should have tendered AJ. I thought $14M was going to be fair value or even a bargain at the time.

                I can only conclude that they decided $14M was more than they could allocate, even for one season, whether it was fair market value or not. So, they did not want to risk that AJ would take it and instead have offered him an amount less than that. Essentially, they have asked him for a home town discount. He has not said no yet. Will they up their offer as time goes on if they miss out on other targets? That is the $64K question.

            • Biz:

              I believe the stated extra TV money is $25M per season. TC is saying Oakland just ponied up 44% of that money for this year and next for Kazmir (2 x $11M).

          • Agreed but revenues are going up into the future too.

            The way I look at it, if the teams can afford what they’re paying players, so be it. That’s the market. I don’t see teams going bankrupt left and right and I don’t see a whole lot of risk in these contracts to the overall financial situation of a specific team. And if an owner doesn’t like where things are going, it’s easy enough to sell.

            • Then the “internal value” numbers have to be revised. Not shooting at Federal Street, but I think they might have a very hard time adapting their figures.

              @Roger – Yeah, that makes the non-qualifying offer even more squirrely.

              Its only December, but doncha think we need a wee bit more pitching depth?

            • In the article where the Rockies owner ‘opened the books’. I was surprised that their non-player salary expense was $25 million.

            • I agree to an extent with you 21. Teams aren’t going bankrupt, but they may be going in debt.
              And even though the revenues are increasing I just hate when mediocrity is rewarded with big bucks.

              But then again, as our friend says “it’s monopoly money”

              • I hear you TC but in my view, us fans are largely responsible. That’s why I don’t complain about salaries.

                Btw the app is working!

          • Now, I see why Johnson was so valued. He is banking a lot on a bounce back season, followed by a huge contract next winter. He only wanted one year and $8 million. He could have probably gotten 2 from some team.

        • Agree about Hershel. Scott Wilson has come a long way from his performance in In Cold Blood.

          Also agree with Plan about AJ’s non-tender of the qualifying offer.

          I also liked Paul Walker in Joyride.

          • Thanks, Arriba! I was beginning to think I was the only one here who enjoyed a little Sunday night zombie killing! Scott Wilson was great on that show as Hershel. The English actor (his name is currently escaping me) who played the Governor was also terrific.

            • Jim–I thought that was the most powerful episode since the one where they opened Hershel’s barn and Rick shot Sophie in the head. Although there have been lots.

              • It was intense. Hershel getting beheaded? No way I was prepared for that. And Michonne putting the long blade right through the Governor’s back? They keep upping the ante on that show.

                Now, we have to wait until Feb.

            • David Morrissey, and I agree. And he did some of his best work this season.

              • Yes, that’s him. David Morrissey. Do you watch that Talking Dead show after each episode? They usually have one of the cast members on. Hershel was on with Maggie last night. She’s rather attractive, I must say. I don’t want to see Maggie getting bitten by a zombie any time soon.

                A whole bunch of the actors are British.

              • I did watch it last night, but not usually. Yes, she is attractive. I first saw her in Supernatural. But despite her British accent, she was born in Philadelphia, lived in Jersey for awhile and then moved to England. Not sure what that makes her, but she’s eligible to be President. ;-)

              • But Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is British.

              • I didn’t know she had spent so much time in the US. She doesn’t have nearly as heavy an accent as some of the others. Andrew Lincoln has a thick, British accent. But, he sure comes off believable in his Georgian accent. I think the blond, Beth, is also English or Australian. I could be wrong about that.

          • I thought they’d have a better chance of re-signing AJ if they didn’t extend him the qualifying offer rather than if they did.

            • Do you still think that, with the numbers that are happening?

              • I don’t know what’s going through AJ’s mind. If he’s grateful to the organization for bringing him here and revitalizing his career, then I think they have a good chance of re-signing him. If he’s going for the money grab, then no.

                Maybe he told them not to extend him the qualifying offer and they obliged just so that it didn’t limit his opportunities.

              • Who knows? AJ might have been pee-od if they had stuck it on him, it would have severely limited his options

              • Sorry 21, stepped on your thoughts ;-)

              • Not at all Biz.

          • I don’t see how the qualifying offer would have limited his options. He could have just turned it down, like every other player.

            • +1 Arriba.

              I stated last week that with the goofy money going around, I think AJ will get a $19 million contract. Not from the Pirates…………. but if he decides to get the $$$, he will get it.

              • Is everybody forgetting about Burnett’s own demands?

                His market is realistically three teams.

                Qualifying offer would’ve done nothing except set a MINIMUM amount at whic he could resign witht he Pirates.

              • If AJ was/is going to get a contract for $19 million , then he, his agent and the Pirates know it won’t be with the Pirates. No matter what that price is out of their range.

              • NMR,
                Do you think if another team outside AJ’s geographical preference offered him a very big contract
                $17-$20 million that he wouldn’t take it?

              • No, I don’t think he would.

                Nor do I think any team will be offering anything close to $19m.

              • I don’t believe players who have accumulated over $120m throughout their career and are actively considering retirement in order to be with family not only get lured back into baseball, but further away from their family over a couple millions bucks.

                The Pirates only competitor for AJ Burnett is AJ Burnett’s wife and kids.

              • What if the always desperate for pitching and located in AJ’s home state, Orioles, offered $16M, NMR? And, then told him he didn’t have to go on road trips except for the day he was pitching?

                And, then gave him a cut of Boog Powell’s BBQ place? Ok, forget that last part.

              • NMR,
                I believe that AJ still wants to pitch. And he pitched well enough last year that he knows he won’t be just hanging on and most likely won’t embarrass himself.

                And I believe if a contending team offers him a contract that he is happy with, his active contemplation of retirement will be put off for another year.

              • NMR you are 100% correct that the Pirates, and Orioles would never offer anything close to 419 million/year.

                The Nats might.
                They have the $$$$.
                And they need the pitching.

                That would be the only team that would offer that type of money. But they could do it.

              • Yikes…. should be $19 million, not 419 million.

              • Why wouldn’t a team offer AJ $17 million a year?

              • The Orioles are actively trying to trade their closer just to get a couple bucks to play with.

                They will not be offering anyone $16m for their services next year.

                I agree with Plan, that the Nats are the only realistic alternative, but they seem to have their sights set higher.

            • That draft pick could scare away some teams.

              • Good point.

              • That was my point, it would limit his options

                And you don’t know whats in his thinking, he was miffed he did not get the start in game 5.

                I don’t disagree with CH on that.

                But, IMO, pride is one thing that makes AJ, well AJ

  54. Derrick Pouliot invited to Team Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp:
    http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=694027

  55. The insane money being given to pitchers may be a delayed reaction to the PED saga. Teams are throwing $$$$ at pitchers, because they see declining #’s from hitters. ( I always thought PED’s benefitted hitter more than pitchers). But some of these deals are goofy.

    One AJ Burnett might be sitting at home seeing this.
    Doesnt bear well for the PBC.

    Remember when people said the TV money would help the Bucs?
    Just not enough.

  56. The insane money being given to pitchers may be a delayed reaction to the PED saga. Teams are throwing $$$$ at pitchers, because they see declining #’s from hitters. ( I always thought PED’s benefitted hitter more than pitchers). But some of these deals are goofy.

    One AJ Burnett might be sitting at home seeing this.
    Doesnt bear well for the PBC.

    Remember when people said the TV money would help the Bucs?
    Just not enough.

  57. Imagine what Liriano will get if he puts another 2013 season together this coming summer

  58. I have a friend who suggested to me that with the Steelers recent drafting performance, proper punishment might actually be to give us an EXTRA pick. We might make another awful pick and keep him around for 3-4 years. :-)

  59. Pirates minor-leaguer Evan Chambers has passed away at age 24. No details for his death were given in this article from Tim Williams at P2 other than to say Phil Irwin tweeted he died in his sleep. From all accounts, he was a good ball player, but an all-around awesome person by everyone that met him. Thoughts and condolences to the Chambers’ family and Pirates’ family in a tough time.

    Sad.

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/12/evan-chambers-passes-away-at-age-24.html

    • Sad is right. RIP.

    • That is so sad.

      I believe that I have told this story before here on the blog.

      Two years ago I went to a spring training game. It was Bucs vs Rays at the Rays park. Me and my family stayed after the game and went to the gift shop. When we finally made our way through the parking lot we were walking beside a ‘kid’ with his parents. The kid had a duffel bag with a bat sticking out. So I asked “are you a Pirate”. He said that he was and his name was Evan Chambers. His mother piped up “Did you see that throw he made from right field?!” I said that I did and then I proceeded to tell him that I knew he was a high draft pick, etc…..
      When we got to our car I wished him luck. His mother yelled “We’ll see you in Pittsburgh in a few years!”.

      I always followed his stats. He had some tough years at the plate.

      That summer I was at a Q&A session with NH. I asked him if Chambers was a prospect and told him the story. He said that Evan and his family were the nicest people. He said that Chambers walked too much and is still learning that he may only get one good pitch to hit in an at-bat and that he has to take advantage of it to be ready to hit it.

      My condolences to his family.

      DK: Appreciate your sharing that, TC. Never heard a negative syllable about Chambers from anyone at any level of the Pirates.

    • Incredibly sad.

      RIP

    • No one is promised tomorrow

  60. Well Plan, time for fallout. Ed Orgeron quit USC in a huff after they hired Steve Sarkisian today. Unintended consequences.

  61. Searching where Pitt may go bowling…………

    Most sites have Pitt going to the Little Caesar’s Bowl, one Military bowl, and 2 people left Pitt off the bowl list.

  62. Just so you know

    NH has a pass this off season, from this seat anyways

    He has grown as a PR guy, has definitely improved all aspects of the club and his game.

    But there are other sharp guys out there in the same position.

    In my former working life, I pulled some things off as well

    My boss said, great job Biz, gotta pull another one off tomorrow…

    My message is NH, I will never forget the magic of 13, good for you and thank you

    Next???

  63. So if there really is a geographical boundary as to where AJ Burnett will pitch next year, one of those teams just traded for Doug Fister. The Nationals.

    • Doug Fister began his career in Seattle.

      Probably where AJ will end his.

      Just to p*** off his wife.

      I would.

    • I guess Detroit is not all that impressed with the new TV money because they seem to be shedding contracts left and right.

      • They were 5th, with the big boys on the east coast and LA. Not sure you can read much about the new money into what Detroit is doing.

        • Maybe they have an issue with players whose last name begins with “F” ??

          Dombrowski isnt giving Ausmus much huh? Trading Fielder and Fister, , dont know. Unless they are going to break the bank with Scherzer…………..

          Ah, problems you will never have to worry about with the Bucs……………………….

  64. Only 67 offensive lineman have played 100% of their team’s snaps this year. One of them is Willie Colon. SMH.

  65. Nationals trade for Doug Fister of the Tigers.

    The Tigers received 2 LHP, 22 year olds Robbie Ray and Ian Krol, along with 25 year old back-up infielder Steve Lombardozzi. Ray was considered the #5 prospect for Washington, but is not a lock to remain a starter, and Krol is projected as a lefty specialist. Lombardozzi is not much of a hitter.

    This is a real head scratcher. Fister has 2 more years at arbitration rates, so he will make less than market value. And Washington did not really have to part with much.

    I wonder how much of an effort Dave Dombrowski made to trade Fister before accepting this deal. He just got fleeced.

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