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Morning Java: KLM post? Kunitz, Letang, Megna

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column from Consol ambitiously tries to figure out what’s wrong with Kris Letang. And what to do about it.

Part of our talk yesterday …

Chris Kunitz keeps building a case for Sochi with two more goals to sink a sizzling San Jose team, even with Evgeni Malkin out. Rob Rossi has the game story.

Here’s a couple Qs I had for Jayson Megna about his ridiculous short-side shot over Antti Niemi

Random randomness from the scene: You’d almost never know the Penguins beat the Sharks by four, so complimentary were the victors. “That’s one really good hockey team over there,” Sidney Crosby told me. “They just keep coming at you in waves.” … Crosby was still better than anyone on the San Jose side, nothing three assists and apparently doing a lot more. “There are so many things that Sid does that people don’t see, little things,” Kunitz said. “He did it all tonight. He dominated out there.” … Joe Vitale helped one goal with a hard center drive, another with a screen. No points for that, but teammates notice … There’s no way Olli Maatta is really 19, is there? How diligent are the birth records in Finland? … Marc-Andre Fleury was really sharp against a team that never stopped coming. Shouldn’t be overlooked. … I won’t expound on this, but let’s just say the Penguins saw something in Niemi early on they felt they could exploit. … This Robert Bortuzzo thing is getting silly. Kid needs to play. … The Penguins’ brief tribute to Tyler Kennedy was just right. A goal, a lifting of the Cup and a thank-you message. Fans seemed to appreciate it, and Kennedy definitely did when responding to the applause by raising his stick on the San Jose bench. Nice touch. That’s how Pittsburgh should welcome back its champions. … James Harrison, anyone?

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Sharks news from the San Jose Mercury News.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

And our Penguins photo gallery by Chaz Palla, including this shot of Letang and Fleury stuffing a John McCarthy wrap attempt …

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>> The Steelers aren’t the only ones impressed by Le’Veon Bell, by Alan Robinson.

Uh-oh. Mike Adams will be back at left tackle. Mark Kaboly reports.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Dolphins news from the Miami Herald.

Here are official game highlights from NFL.com.

>> Pitt has Loyola Marymount tonight at the Pete. John Harris previews.

>> The weekly chat will begin at 11:30 a.m. — a half-hour earlier than usual — because of an interview I’ve got set up at Steelers HQ. It’ll happen right here on the blog, as always, and you can post questions in the chat field as soon as you see the post.

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.

201 Comments

  1. I don’t know what Bell is complaining about. I bang my helmet-less head off the ground practically every day.

  2. JAL’s December Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6exsatE-DUk

    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

    Winter Leagues: Arribas Breaks Out of Slump, Sands Stays Cold

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/12/winter-leagues-arribas-breaks-out-of-slump-sands-stays-cold.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Links: Lopsided trades, Aoki, Price, Royals

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/12/5/5179086/links-lopsided-trades-aoki-price-royals

    6 Rumbunter

    Report: Gold Pirates P Will Be ‘New’ Primary Logo in 2014

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/12/05/report-gold-pirates-p-will-new-primary-logo-2014/

    7 WHYGAVS

    Passan: Pirates interested in David Price

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/october-2013/passan-pirates-interested-in-david-price.html

    8 Green Weenie

    News & Rumors…

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/12/news-rumors.html

    9 Yahoo Sports

    Non-Tender of Garrett Jones Marks End of an Era in Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/non-tender-garrett-jones-marks-end-era-pittsburgh-161600361–mlb.html

    10 Rant Sports

    David Price Rumors: Should Pittsburgh Pirates Consider Dealing for an SP

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/12/05/david-price-rumors-should-pittsburgh-pirates-consider-dealing-for-sp/

  3. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 H4TV

    Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Tony Sanchez Joins MLB Access

    http://www.h4-entertainment.com/2013/12/pittsburgh-pirates-prospect-tony-sanchez-joins-mlb-access/

    12 Baseball Nation

    Which teams can trade for David Price, and which one shouldn’t

    http://www.baseballnation.com/2013/12/5/5177430/david-price-trade-rumors-mariners-pirates-dodgers-really-dodgers

    13 Radio World

    Garagiola to Receive O’Neil Award

    http://www.radioworld.com/article/garagiola-to-receive-o’neil-award/222624

    14 CBS Sports

    No, baseball (still) doesn’t need a salary cap

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24350073/no-baseball-still-doesnt-need-a-salary-cap

    15 Sports on Earth

    A Guide To Fielding Stats

    http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/64415132/

    16 Bloomberg

    Dave Winfield Joins Clark’s Staff at Baseball Players’ Union

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-05/dave-winfield-joins-clark-s-staff-at-baseball-players-union.html

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Media Views: Will McCarver join Cardinals broadcasts?

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/media-views-will-mccarver-join-cardinals-broadcasts/article_3aa892f5-fd8b-52ea-b7c2-2d50838bb55c.html

    18 Sweetspot

    Ten from ’70s, ’80s for the Hall of Fame

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/42793/ten-from-70s-80s-for-the-hall-of-fame

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Measuring Pitching with TrackMan The Secrets of Fastball Spin

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22362

    20 Fangraphs

    The Price for David Price

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-price-for-david-price/

    Song: December Collective Soul

  4. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    LaMarr Woodley says he will stay on the left side upon his return

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/12/5/5179466/steelers-depth-chart-outside-linebacker-lamarr-woodley-injury-status-week-14-dolphins

    The state of the Steelers at the three quarters mark of 2013

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/12/5/5168236/steelers-2013-season-analysis-statistics-review-roster-depth-chart

    22 Steelers Gab

    Steelers 2013 Scouting Report Week Fourteen: Miami Dolphins

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2013/12/04/steelers-2013-scouting-report-week-fourteen-miami-dolphins/

    Soccer(football)

    23 LA Times

    U.S. needs good draw, fast start for World Cup success
    http://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/la-sp-arena-usa-world-cup-20131205,0,1617755.story#axzz2mbHl7RMo

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Cup stadium completion in the lap of the gods

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-cup-stadiums

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Memorable Moments: Shark Attack

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/12/5/5180148/memorable-moments

  5. DK/Readers,

    I agree that Bortuzzo should be in the lineup, retroactively if possible. But whose spot does he take? Do you bench Engo even though he’s been effective? Despres? Orpik hasn’t been playing particularly well lately, perhaps missing Paul Martin, but he won’t be given a night off as a healthy scratch.

    • Pete, that’s a good question. This blog has many Engo detractors, so I’d say that’s the first suggestion you’ll be given. But anyone who has eyes can see Bylsma loves him some Engo. Myself, I’d love to see Engo on the wing again, but I doubt that will happen.

      Not sure if you’ve been asked before, but if you post your hometown, Bizrow will add it to the list of Dejan’s Lunatics’ Asylum :)

      • Is it possible to bench Bylsma? ;)

        Maybe Tanger?? ;) ;)

        Despres would probably be the choice, but with Disco, ya just never know.

      • I fall into the “Engo detractor” category only because I’ve seen better options. It’s all relative to the alternatives at a particular time. That said, I think Engo has played well the last few games. Got to give credit where credit due.

        Kunitz’ comment about Sid doing all the little things that are not always appreciated is very true. Focused a lot on Sid last night and saw it all. A couple stick lifts here, a few “skating picks” there to clear room for puck carriers, 3-4 back checks turning the puck in the other direction, a dozen short back-handed passes to open areas anticipating where his linemates would be . . . He’s just the very best.

        • Incidentally, Kunitz has been one of my favorite Pens since the day he arrived. The absolute personification of “hockey player”.

          Smart, team-first attitude, humble, versatile, great skater, great finisher, great checker, hard-nosed yet totally clean player.

          Anyone miss Ryan Whitney? An absolute steal by Ray.

    • Too early in the season for me to plug into hockey, so I’ve only watched one game. This comment is simply about the team’s recent record.

      Pens have won five straight by an aggregate 22-9. From the thread comments, it seems they have been dominant in three of the past four games. Only one of those three teams, at least on paper, was a pushover.

      So with this recent stretch, I’m not making changes unless and until I’m forced to.

      Isn’t that would most coaches would do with this kind of hot streak?

      Maybe the guy should get some ice time. But it’s a long season with plenty of opportunity remaining.

    • My thoughts are that if you are going to play Bortuzzo, you bench the defensman who is playing the worst right now. IMHO, that player is Kris Letang. He seemed to have a decent game last night, but the turnover machine has to stop. Someone needs to real him in some and maybe some time in the pressbox will do that since nothing else has.

      My only concern is that Letang is an emotional fellow and benching him may break him even more.

  6. The only idea I have about the Bortuzzo situation is that his playing style is similar to Orpik’s. This being the last year of Orpik’s contract, the Pens want Borts for next year and that’s made harder if teams want him in trade demands this year. Playing Borts less makes that less likely.

    Now that I have the convoluted idea out of the way, it may also be that Borts doesn’t show as well as others in practice.

  7. Even though they lost the game, I loved the way the Sharks constantly charged the net like a wolfpack and fired shot after shot.
    Could have very easily been a 5-4 game if the puck had slid a few more inches the other way.
    Can the Pens learn something from the Sharks’ style of play?

    • AL, I agree about the Sharks swarming the net consistently and effortlessly. Well done on them.
      The Pens played with equal parts determination and desperation, which played a large part in their victory. Well done on them, too.

      • Joni, you are right about the Pens playing with determination and desperation last night.
        But they dont do that with any consistency. They need to learn to do it every game, not just coast for long stretches, or have silly breakdowns.

        • You are preaching to the choir on that one, Plan.
          It is so important that the Pens treat every opponent as if they are a humongous threat. Don’t just try your hardest when you are playing against teams in the West.
          We shall see how the desperation/determination quota holds up, especially against the the beastly teams in the West.

          Let’s go Pens!

  8. 68 DAYS UNTIL PITCHERS & CATCHERS REPORT TO PIRATE CITY FOR SPRING TRAINING

  9. I had some extra time this morning so I crunched the numbers.

    If, and that’s a big if, the Steelers win their final four games they will make the playoffs if the following happens – 1 Baltimore loss (tying BAL is good enough due to division record if they lose to Cinci, or common games) & 1 Tennessee loss. That’s all the help they’ll need.

    If they finish 9-7 they already have the tiebreaker against the Jets (head to head), Miami (head to head), & San Diego (conference record). Again, all this assumes they win out.

  10. Groat mentioned 68 days til Pirate Spring training.

    But the burning question on this here blog is this……………….
    when does Tigers Spring Training begin?
    Cant wait to discuss that bullpen !

    :D

  11. DK, good read on Tanger. Seems like he knows what he needs to do in the new system.

  12. Robinson Cano will get a boat load of money. That was never in doubt.

    But I think Jay Z should stick to the rap business.

  13. Dejan is having his chat at the same time the World Cup draw is being televised.

    So many multimedia choices, so little time.

  14. Dejan,

    Really enjoyed the article on Tanger. Different take.

    Particularly enjoyed the “Random randomness” concoction above. Bits ‘n pieces delivered sharp and tastily. Good writing.

    I know you NEVER take suggestions for columns, so I am just going to muse out loud here about how great it would be if some excellent writer/columnist in town would transcribe his viewpoint on Aaron Donald. Here’s a guy from Penn Hills who is Defensive Player of the Year in the ACC, a 15 team football conference that has the Heisman Trophy winner and the possible/probable National Champion therein. First year for Pitt in the ACC, with few local sportswriters in these new venues who have seen Aaron Donald before, and he comes in and wins the best Defensive Player award available. Quite a coup for Pitt and an otherwise very average team.

    I’m just sitting here dreaming about how good it would be if a high quality writer took on that very germane task . . . . .

  15. Did anyone see that statistical breakdown on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” between Dacid Wright and Robinson Cano. Oddly, they have played in exactly the same number of games in their respective careers. And David Wright leads Cano in many of the watched statistical categories.

    Yet, Cano must have better PR because he is being touted as Willie Mays.

  16. When I see Letang’s responses to DK’s questions (everything’s just fine in his game), I view it as a window into the approach of our coaching staff and what may be happening behind the scenes.

    While I am sure the coaching staff wants to keep Letang’s confidence high and feed him positive reinforcement, I think sometimes brutal honesty with the player is what’s called for rather than sugar-coating the message. Overall, Letang has been horrible to this point outside of a couple games (last night being one exception).

    Has the coaching staff not told him this in very blunt terms? Has it not shown him the video evidence, or does Letang have a handy retort on why every bad play was not his fault? In either case, if the message is not getting through, the coaching staff needs to do a better job, regardless of Letang’s ego. Acknowledgement that there have been problems is the first step to fixing them.

    We’re going to need him playing his very best if we are going to contend for the Cup.

  17. I have never been a fan of Orpik. Just so one dimensional and it isn’t like a Rod Langway type shut down guy. Pens will not give him a contract next year most likely. He would have been the perfect piece to move in the offseason. Plus it would have opened up some cap space. Of course the way the injuries have hit the blueline it is good that they didn’t. Once you bring Scuderi and Martin back this group you really have so tough calls. If you start with 4, 7, and 58 that leaves 2, 3, 5, 41, 44, and 47 fighting for 3 spots. Easy move is to send 47 down as he has options. Playing 2, 3, and 44 means that you have to probably release 5 or 41. I can definitely see Shero moving a defenseman (most likely 41) even if it is only for spare parts.

    • Suave John is a fan of Penn State’s old uniforms with no names on them.

    • What you say about the many defenseman the Pens has is very true. But to say that Orpik is one-dimentional is a bit extreme. He’s been a very consistent defenseman for many, many years. The Pens would have been up the proverbial creek without a paddle without him.

      • Ya orpik isnt at risk of being scratched for anyone. I would however maybe find a game or 2 to rest him every now and then.

        I know the risks of signing dmen, or anyone for that matter in their mid 30′s but if you’re going to roll the dice, doing so with Piece and Brooksie isn’t the end of the world. And based on our pipeline of dmen we’re really not in position to replace orpik and the type minutes he brings. His natural skating ability puts him in a different category than most dmen and with his acumen for picking his spots on stepping up for hits i can see him being extra solid for another 3 or so seasons. Sprinkle in some of our youth and give brooksie the occasional break on heavy ice time and he’ll be fine. He can play on my team any day!

  18. According to Jon Heyman – Cano to Seattle is back on. And close.

  19. I was at the Pens game last night. That was the loudest shot off the post I have ever heard in the first period. Great game and great atmosphere. I took a friend to a pens game for the first time last night and he was very impressed with how safe and family friendly the game was. I would never take my 3 year old to a football or basketball game but I would absolutely take him to a pens game. Thanks to the pens for keeping stupidity out of the stands so we can just enjoy the games.

  20. Nice to see TK get a good reception at Consol.

    I find myself in agreement with DK’s comments about Letang on TribLive radio just now, but I don’t believe Letang will ever play that way. Letang should be trade bait for a power forward and some grit. Despite some nice wins, as we have come to expect in the regular season, this team is not going far in the playoffs, as usual. A trade of Letang could change that.

  21. In 2013 the Tigers’ bullpen ranked 12th in the AL with a 4.01 ERA.

  22. By the way, baseball’s traditional low spenders are going to hate this Cano deal & will be the first (OK, maybe the 2nd after Yankee apologists) to shoot this down with both barrels. This is another one of those deals that illustrates how much money is really out there. And that not just the usual suspects can afford to spend it.

  23. So Cano will make in three years what the PBC is paying Cutch for his full contract.

    Something is wrong with this game

  24. Was able to catch the last 2 periods of last night’s game on the local channel.

    Nice to see the Pens beat the Sharks, gave me bragging rights against these locals.

    Sharks have actually been playing pretty decent. They have some good talent on that team, luckily, they didn’t show that last night.

  25. Granderson going to the Mets………… 4yrs/$60 million.

    In related news, the Pirates will raise the pierogies pay to $75/game.

  26. With the recent development with Cano, who do the Yankees target now to play 2B? My initial thoughts were Brandon Philips. Would be sad to see him leave the Reds (sarcasm). Also Ricky Weeks should be available.

  27. Gary Kubiak fired.

  28. US soccer put in a group with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana.

    YIKES !!

  29. Malkin is suppose to miss the game on Saturday too.

  30. Hurdle was on the FAN today, said a couple of interesting things

    There is a deadline for AJ to make his mind up, sounds like they are in contact.

    PRNW will stay switch hitting for now, but there will be a Plan “B”

    He is comfortable, or so he says with the RF spot

    Talked about Lambo maybe being in the 1B mix

  31. Garrett Jones taking his talents to South Beach.

  32. MLB ‏@MLB 5m
    .@Mariners statement: We are not able to confirm any news regarding Cano at this time. If/when an agreement is finalized, we will announce.

  33. The following views are not necessarily those of the poster here (me)….

    But it is Pirate discussion, instead of Tiger bullpen discussion……

    http://www.timesonline.com/sports/pirates/madden-pirates-wasting-their-window/article_8c25f2c4-6bca-584a-a97c-529602ee2625.html

    • Looks like that HUGE metropolis of Seattle has dished out a kings ransom (and then some) to outbid the Yankees for Robinson Cano.
      It isn’t the fact that I would want to spend that kind of money on Cano.
      It’s the fact that the Nutting Regime can afford to spend more.
      But…… Except for Sept/early October of 2013…..They do not.

      All propaganda radio speakers and blogs are in order.
      The lines have been drawn in the sand.
      I stand corrected…..But the Pirates appear ready to add by subtraction.

  34. I think we knew before the Cano signing that Nutting could afford to spend money.

    But I don’t know if the owners of the Mariners are richer than The Regime.

    • Well for whatever it’s worth, as of 4 years ago the financials that were leaked showed that the Mariners had zero debt and the Regime has $120 million worth of debt. Of course though, I’m assuming that neither set of books has been fraudulently doctored.

    • Baseball plays with Monopoly money.

      Mariners play with Nintendo money.

  35. Temple cut 7 sports effective July 1, 2014, including baseball. Which would be a former high school teammate of my son’s senior year there. :-(

  36. 2 years, 7.5 MM total for the Legend

  37. Nate McLouth to the Nats – 2 years / $10.75 million.

  38. ‘That said, I’m also not going to join those hyperventilating over what the Pirates have or haven’t done on the 6th of December. Most free agents remain unsigned. Trades are a possibility, too, of course. Plenty of time.’

    That was said by DK in today’s chat. I totally agree with him.

    Plus, no other team in our division but the Cardinals has improved. And I would probably only count the Giants and Nationals as teams that have improved enough to be a threat to take a spot in the playoffs….here on December 6

    • DK has been wrong before. Just sayin’.

      And, sometimes when teams sign players early, it takes them out of the trade market. Sometimes it is prudent to strike when the iron is hot.

      DK: No. I’m never wrong. Take it back.

    • Nobody is hyperventilating…..But Russell Martin was signed, sealed and delivered several days ago last year at this time.

    • Yes, have faith in NH

      I just think trades are what he’s sniffing at

      But there are several holes in the lineup/roster

      Crap, a PBC post

      Dejan, well I’m doomed

    • TC, we can’t even figure out where the Cards jockstraps are, less hold them ;-)

  39. Another stellar effort by the weather guessers.

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