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Morning Java: Donald pays a visit

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The TribLIVE Radio show today — 2-3 p.m. — will feature Pitt’s Aaron Donald, calling in from Houston as part of his weeklong trophy tour that already tallied the Nagurski Award as college football’s top defensive player.

Can there be any doubt now that he’ll be a first-round pick in the NFL draft?

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

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

>> Mike Tomlin won’t be adopting any rebuilding mode in the Steelers’ final three games, Alan Robinson writes, but he is open to a new defensive sub-package that keeps all three outside linebackers on the field. That could be interesting, especially if one among them — say, LaMarr Woodley — looks comfortable in there.

The rapid decline of the defense, by Robinson.

Woodley is OK with the right side, by Ralph Paulk.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Bengals news from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Here are official game highlights from NFL.com.

On his TribLIVE Radio show, Ike Taylor talked about frustration …

>> The Penguins have today completely off, as they don’t hit the ice in anger again until Friday against the Devils.

Yesterday, James Neal spoke apologetically of his knee-to-head hit on Brad Marchand, Rob Rossi reports. Here’s the full audio of Neal’s session.

The NHL is stuck in the Stone Age, per Joe Starkey’s Wednesday column.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Devils news from the Newark Star-Ledger.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

Our panel on WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word addressed the Shawn Thornton assault on Brooks Orpik, the hearing for which is now scheduled for Friday …

>> The Pirates weren’t moved to move on the second day of the Winter Meetings. Rob Biertempfel and Travis Sawchik are covering the event in Lake Buena Vista.

>> The three winners of this week’s write-your-own-mini-column contest …

Sarah: What is appropriate punishment for Shawn Thorton?

The better questions are: Does the NHL wish to be taken seriously? Or is it happy to continue as the laughing-stock of professional sports? An embarrassment, a “garage league,” proud of a gangland mentality, now being sued for negligence in protecting players from concussion?

Should Bettman suddenly get wise: Thornton’s out of the game for a year. Loss of pay. Counseling. Also heavy fines and a suspension for Claude Julien, who repeatedly sent Thornton over the boards to confront Orpik. Julien directs his team in the worst kind of embellishment, faux victimhood and thug/retribution mentality.

Marlon: Here’s a vote for the beautiful and graceful and violent sport of ice hockey.

Let’s save maybe more than a few brains from felony assault and neurological cell death.

Let’s maybe prevent suicides and early dementia and rescue the sport from stone age concussion-mongers and voyeurs.

Hard legal hits within play are OK. Fighting, assaults, willful blows to the head, etc—banned.

Neal—25 games.
Thornton—1 year.

Major meaningful fines and penalties to the teams of offending players.

Eric Bowser: If I had the power of judge and jury, Thornton’s conduct skating across the ice, slew footing an unsuspecting Orpik, horse-collar him to the ice, throw an elbow punch, and then punch an unconscious player on the ice is unforgiveable.

Todd Bertuzzi was suspended 13 regular season games and 7 playoff games for his criminal actions against Steve Moore. I would argue what Thornton did was worse by the accumulations of all his actions.

I would ask, would you feel bad for a drunk driver that killed a family but had a reputation for doing good things in the community?

>> I’ll be with the Steelers early today, then back to the North Shore to do the show. Would love to have you aboard.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

364 Comments

  1. If the Steelers are resigned to losing Worilds after this season, then it doesn’t make sense to rebuild the linebacking corps around him. For better or worse, figure out what to do with Woodley and the guys who we’re stuck with. After all, we have no cap space to keep Worilds nor any draft choices left thanks to Tomlin doing the Hokey Pokey.

    • Call Ray Shero in, he’ll find a way to keep Worilds!

    • Not quite sure what Mike Tomlin has to do with cap space. Pretty sure that’s not his job.

      You would think, that if the Steelers were going to keep Worilds, they would’ve already signed him. That’s usually how they do business.

  2. First-class avatar Ghost!

    Stuart

  3. Oshkosh b’Gosh,

    Sorry! Your former Fav Girl Alex Morgan announced her engagement to some MLS soccer dude. You’ll have to focus your concentration on Jennifer Lawrence.

    At least two soccer folks are marrying each other. That way they don’t ruin two other people.

  4. CONGRATS again to Pitt’s Aaron Donald.

    Would love to see him in the Steelers uni next year. Looking forward to listening to him on the 2PM show…thanks DK !

    Some of the current Steelers players need to look at the tape of his recent season to be reminded of what “HEART, DRIVE & DESIRE” is. Mr. Woodley, DO YOU HEAR US calling you ?? :-)

    • I don’t follow Pitt, so I didn’t know much about Donald. Cool to see one of their players get rewarded during the back side of a mediocre season.

      As of now, he’s projected to go 2nd round. I wouldn’t expect to see him in a Steelers uniform. He’s not built for the 3-4. If he can add 30 pounds and keep his current skills, could be a possiblity at the nose, but I doubt it.

  5. The biggest surprise of the day, at least to me.

    Reading that Mark Prior is ONLY 33.

    Nothing sarcastic intended.

    My thoughts were a combination of Is That It? …and… What A Shame.

  6. JAL’s Sixteen Tons Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUpTJg2EBpw

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 MLB Important Dates

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

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: The Next Liriano and The Left-Handed First Baseman

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/12/first-pitch-the-next-liriano-and-the-left-handed-first-baseman.html

    Pirates Have Shown Interest in Jason Hammel

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/12/pirates-have-shown-interest-in-jason-hammel.html

    Winter Leagues: Lambo and Ramirez Pick Up RBIs

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/12/winter-leagues-lambo-and-ramirez-pick-up-rbis.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates announce schedule for PirateFest this weekend

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/12/10/5197194/pirates-announce-schedule-for-piratefest-this-weekend

    6 Rumbunter

    Will The Rays Way Be The Pirates Way?

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/12/10/will-rays-way-pirates-way/

    7 FanSided

    Mark Prior officially announces retirement from MLB

    http://fansided.com/2013/12/10/mark-prior-officially-announces-retirement-mlb/

    8 Green Weenie

    Day Two: Baseball Meetings, Rumors, Notes & GIBBY Winners

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/12/day-two-baseball-meetingsrumors-notes.html

    9 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Team Interested In Adding Eric Chavez?

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/12/10/pittsburgh-pirates-rumors-team-interested-in-adding-eric-chavez/

    10 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Roundup: Bucs hot on Logan Morrison, out on Bronson Arroyo

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/12/10/pittsburgh-pirates-rumor-roundup-bucs-hot-logan-morrison-bronson-arroyo/

  7. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 CBS Sports

    2013 Winter Meetings: Tuesday’s hot stove news, rumors roundup

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24371760/winter-meetings-tuesdays-hot-stove-news-rumors-roundup

    12 Chicago Tribune

    Cubs’ Renteria: Bring on NL Central

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-chicago-cubs-rick-renteria-20131210,0,7268719.story

    13 Santa Cruz Sentinel

    Soquel High alum Casey McGehee waiting for MLB offer

    http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_24699423/soquel-high-alum-casey-mcgehee-waiting-mlb-offer

    14 Detroit Free Press

    Former Detroit Tigers coach Lloyd McClendon: Players make the manager

    http://www.freep.com/article/20131210/SPORTS02/312100151/tigers-baseball-winter-meetings-lloyd-mcclendon

    15 USA Today

    Trades that could shock the baseball world

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2013/12/10/david-price-mike-trout-stephen-strasburg-bryce-harper-yasiel-puig-trade-chances/3974013/

    16 San Francisco Chronicle

    Top sportswriting award for baseball author Angell

    http://www.sfgate.com/sports/shea/article/Top-sportswriting-award-for-baseball-author-Angell-5053801.php

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Collisions at plate worry Cardinals

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/collisions-at-plate-worry-cardinals/article_3f2ad048-f155-5062-aad2-edd64f040cb2.html

    18 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Arroyo’s return not ruled out yet

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20131210/SPT04/312100073/Arroyo-s-return-not-ruled-out-yet’
    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    What Happened to the Twins?

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22388

    20 Fangraphs

    D-Backs Make Headlines While Angels, White Sox Make Gains

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/d-backs-make-headlines-while-angels-white-sox-make-gains/

    Song: Sixteen Tons Tennessee Ernie Ford

  8. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Bengals vs. Steelers: The start of one final push for Emmanuel Sanders

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/12/10/5195332/emmanuel-sanders-injury-fake-fined-bengals-2012-nfl-week-15-2013

    Expectations of a Steelers win

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/12/10/5193750/steelers-2013-season-week-14-loss-miami-dolphins

    22 Steelers Gab

    Roethlisberger Says All Is Well Between He And Haley

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2013/12/10/roethlisberger-says-all-is-well-between-he-and-haley/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Policy Mic

    Definitive Proof That the U.S. National Team Is Screwed In the 2014 World Cup

    http://www.policymic.com/articles/76209/definitive-proof-that-the-u-s-national-team-is-screwed-in-the-2014-world-cup

    24 World Soccer Daily

    FIFA dismiss World Cup draw conspiracy theory

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-cup-draw-conspiracy

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    What will a $71 million cap mean for the Pittsburgh Penguins?

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/12/10/5195680/pittsburgh-penguins-salary-cap-2014

  9. Congrats to the winners of the Tuesday essay, especially our very own Sarah and Bowser :)

  10. While we are appropriately congratulating Aaron Donald, let’s also give a shout out for PSU’s John Urshel, who yesterday won the William Campbell trophy, also known as th “academic Heisman”.

    Wouldn’t mind seeing the Steelers get either or both of them.

    • Should have been “Urschel”.

    • Great news about John! While I never had the pleasure of teaching him, I heard nothing but glowing praise from my fellow teachers at Canisius High School in Buffalo, NY.

      As a matter of fact, John Urschel was voted “Mr. Canisius” his senior year. That’s a super big deal. The entire student body voted to name John the most well-rounded of his senior fellow classmates (a gentleman in all facets of life – or as we like to call it, “A Man For and With Others”). It’s great to see John keeping it classy!

    • Yes on John Urshel, no on Aaron Donald.

      Though Urshel might be too smart for football.

  11. My skepticism on the penalty for Thornton increased this morning when I saw that the hearing is scheduled for Friday. Over the years, I have noticed that when business, government or other organizations want to minimize the impact of a decision, they release it on a Friday afternoon. I hope that there is no pr effort underway with news of Bettman talking about how player response to the safety rules shows the rules are working and this schedule.

    • Wouldn’t surprise me in the least, not in this garage league.
      Hello, neighbor. I see you’re from Johnstown. Duncansville here :)

  12. I would say as long as Aaron Donald is 6′ 285 lbs there is a large doubt that he will be a first round pick.

  13. I don’t understand why the Steelers refuse to start the rookies. The season is over. It’s been over since week three. What’s the harm in starting Shamarko Thomas, Markus Weaton, and Jarvis Jones? I also wouldn’t mind seeing Mike Adams continue to start at tackle. I thought he played well last week and I believe he was the only lineman to not commit a penalty in that game.

    • I don’t understand a LOT of things the Steelers did/didn’t do this season, and last too.

    • Agree++++

    • Might as well at this point.

    • I agree….it’s a pride thing with coaches I think. They don’t want to appear as though they are throwing in the towel o the season if they are still mathematically alive for the playoffs. It drives me crazy too.

    • They did the same thing under Cowher – always played for the win instead of developing young guys.

      The more I think about it, the more I can actually understand that mentality – you never want players to get used to accepting losing in the NFL, and throwing in the towel on the final 3 games would be a great way for them to accept losing.

      Remember, we were having that same conversation earlier this year when the team started 0-4. People were saying, Why couldn’t they have made more of an effort to win a couple of the preseason games, if only to establish a winning mentality around here?

      There is, of course, a middle ground, where you can play for the win while still giving a bit more playing time to some of the young guys. It would be nice to see Tomlin go that route.

  14. Does the NHL wish to be taken seriously? That is the winner of the contest? Some contest. I didn’t know ‘Sarah’ was the resident ‘hockey is not taken seriously’ expert. Give me a break. I want to know who ever played hockey that writes on this thing? A show of hands. What Thornton did was wrong and he knows it. And yes, they need stiffer suspensions. But I have no problem with fighting in hockey. And per the players themselves and as well as former players, they don’t either. They know it’s a tough sport and they wear it proudly. Now, goons for goons sake – yes – that is antiquated. Silly and foolish. But the scrum between Lucic and Engelland I’ll take any time.

  15. “I would ask, would you feel bad for a drunk driver that killed a family but had a reputation for doing good things in the community?”

    Yes, I would feel bad for that drunk driver regardless what they did in the community. They should be punished to the full extent of the law and I would still feel bad for them and I’d pray for them.

  16. Here’s an update on the Pirates activities at the winter meetings:

  17. I’m hoping U.S. Hockey picks Ryan Miller as their #1 goalie. I like the way he has been playing with a bad team. I’m concerned about Jonathan Quick’s injury and his lack of international experience.

    Saw Shaun White. Must have gone to Tim Lincecum’s barber. Looks like a clean cut altar boy. That’s just not right.

    I’m going to Bucks/Spurs game tonight in Milwaukee. I always try to catch Tim Duncan each year. One of the greatest ever in any sport. Bucks continue to play for Jabari Parker.

    Groat, will you go to the game with me? I need someone to leave early to start my car. It’s c-c-c-cold !

  18. I just want to know one thing…can the knuckledraggers united union fix the ice at Consol Dome? If so im ok with them bashing their brains in all they want…

  19. I remember Nutting saying multiple times in the past that when the Bucs were contenders that you’d see a change in the team budget. Well Bob, the Pirates are legitimate contenders and, not surprisingly, they’re still trying to do things on the cheap.

    I don’t know why so many people defend Nutting; he’s shown he absolutely will NOT spend the money needed to improve this team in the couple of areas of need that they have. It’s looking like the team will be markedly worse at SP, 1B, RF at the start of this season than they were at the end of last season. Thanks, Bob. You cheap SOB.

    • Who are all these people defending Nutting?

      I agree the overall payroll should increase. But I believe your idea that ‘he’s shown he absolutely will NOT spend the money needed to improve this team’ isn’t entirely true. I believe he has stepped at the past few trading deadlines.

  20. Ditto Sarah. Including the Olympic thing. Or is it happy to continue as the laughing-stock of professional sports? An embarrassment, a “garage league,” proud of a gangland mentality, now being sued for negligence in protecting players from concussion? This is what I am talking about. What gives you the right? Of course the media pounces on this because 3/4′s of them don’t know a puck from a baloney sandwich, but where do you get off calling it a laughing stock? My friends, family, teammates, etc. worship this sport, so for you to say such cliche’d BS is a little offensive. And to put hockey front and center in the concussion front and say it is a garbage league, what about football? what about boxing? what about the most dangerous cro-magnon blood sport, ultimate fighting? I clearly stated goon for goonism is ridiculous. To target the head or to use sticks as weapons, which is a real issue with me, is cheap. I thought your comments were out of line.

    • G-A-R-A-G-E
      Reading what is typed is first, Tim.

      NO ONE SAID FIGHTING WAS THE ISSUE, THE ISSUE WAS THORNTON’S PHYSICAL ATTACK ON ORPIK. That wasn’t fighting, that was a criminal assault. Comprehension is your friend.

      You are one bitter…person. Did you get hit in the head with a hockey puck?

    • Not to but in, but doesn’t fighting target the head ?

      • I would think at most times it does, Milo, but obviously SOME people know more than we peons do…

        • Wouldn’t be surprised if league leverages all this into having NHLPA sign a waiver if they don’t agree to remove fighting or severe suspensions and fines.

          • that would actually be a smart thing to do.

          • You’re dreaming, HM.

          • I think fighting in hockey should be treated like fighting in baseball. Doesn’t happen that often, when it does the parties usually get fined and suspended.

            The league needs to minimize fighting.

            That said, what Thornton did wasn’t a fight. It was an attack and he needs the book to be thrown his way. Perhaps hit him in the head.

    • My point is , one one hand you say you have no problem with fighting. On the other, targeting the head is cheap. Pick one.

    • Good Lord.
      Listen Tim, seriously, I’m sorry you’re so angry, but you’ve lost it brother.
      In your first post you tried to disqualify other writers by suggesting they’d never played hockey. When that didn’t pan out—turns out people who disagree with you may actually have decades of experience in hockey—you resort simply to “What gives you the right?”—a kind of generic disqualification of anyone to express an opinion that differs from your own, or possibly “offends” your family. When you can tear yourself away from defending hockey’s low moments, perhaps look into defending free speech and using hockey boards to freely express opinions. It might be more deserving of your support.

      It might help you to know that most us, myself included, worship hockey too.
      It’s BECAUSE we do, that we don’t accept Thornton’s thuggery (actually I blame Julien equally or more).

      • I’m not agreeing with everything Tim said, but he clearly stated in his original post that the Thornton incident was not fighting and went way beyond the normal discussion of fighting. So everyone accusing him of reading comprehension clearly needs a little help in that regard themselves.

        I think all of you basically agree on most of these issues. Tim just didn’t explain himself very well in his first post, and then people responded in knee-jerk fashion by immediately jumping down his throat and pretending he said things that he did not say – not to mention tossing out absurd charges of sexism against him.

        Neither side is looking very good in this dispute.

        • I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with everything Tim said. But I am disagreeing with his tone. And the fact that he wants me to meet him to fight.
          smh

  21. Sarah: Or is it happy to continue as the laughing-stock of professional sports? Sound familiar. Garage or garbage – you’re splitting hairs. Why am I bitter? Because I call you out? If you’re going to write something as offensive as that, you better be prepared for backlash.

    • I’m not Sarah, you still can’t read.
      I’m not splitting hairs, just making a point that you don’t want to acknowledge.

      Who are you anyway, that you can’t read?

    • Im still confused what you disagree with sarah about? Are you content if thornton gets as little as 10-15 games? Dont think you or sarah are based on your comments. But league precedent suggests he may not even get that much therefore referring to nhl as garage league is appropriate IMO. And in general sarah does know her stuff. I think if you read her posts you would agree.

  22. So Cutch is supposed to be on Ellen today. Rumor is that he’s announcing that he’s engaged. Let’s hope he puts off his wedding until after he’s traded or signs elsewhere.

  23. Loonies, I have a meeting, and will be away for a bit…good luck with the new…person.
    Later on :)

  24. I was responding to Sarah only. Didn’t see the others til now. And Jandy, just tell me where and when buddy.

  25. I’m much too lazy to do the research, but I can’t believe too many organizations coming off a playoff year have selected a player in the Rule 5 draft.

    • You just hang tight until tomorrow before you make wide sweeping statements like that. :)

    • Rangers in 2012, Yankees and Cardinals in 2011 (Cardinals won that WS), Bunch of playoff teams did in 2011….

      • Well, there you go. My laziness paid off. Thanks for the reasearch, 21. Have to say, I’m a bit surprised.

        Clemente was a Rule 5 guy, if I’m not mistaken.

        • Here’s CBS Sports’ Rule 5 All Star Team

          SP — Johan Santana 1999 by Twins from Astros
          RP — Willie Hernandez 1976 by Cubs from Phillies
          C — Jody Davis 1980 by Cubs from Cardinals
          1B — Darrell Evans 1968 by Braves from A’s
          2B — Dan Uggla 2005 by Marlins from Diamondbacks
          SS — Everth Cabrera 2008 by Padres from Rockies
          3B — Jose Bautista 2003 by Orioles from Pirates
          LF — George Bell 1980 by Blue Jays from Phillies
          CF — Josh Hamilton 2006 by Reds (via Cubs) from Rays
          RF — Roberto Clemente 1954 by Pirates from Dodgers
          DH — Bobby Bonilla 1985 by White Sox from Pirates

          Honorable mentions: Joakim Soria, Mike Morgan, Jeff Nelson, Derrick Turnbow, Shane Victorino and Fernando Vina.

  26. Milo: Valid point. But I see it as two different things. One is done in a cheap, most likely, unsuspecting way; from the blindside, behind, slew-foot. Even a knee to the head. The other is two guys in the heat of battle squaring off. For the most part, agreeing on the fight. I do believe they are different. Listen, there is risk and reward in sport. You play a physical, contact sport, things happen. And they do happen to the head. Almost impossible to get around. But what Thornton did was out of line and he should be punished. How long? It would be great to see 25 games minimum. I love hockey, but like you , I don’t need that. But once again, to start your argument with ‘Or is it happy to continue as the laughing-stock of professional sports.’ is inflammatory and should be expected to be treated as such. So call off the dogs.

  27. Travis just posted some updates

  28. Glad I peeked in. This tough guy only wants to beat up the women.
    Such nads.
    :D

    OK off to luncheon meeting..later Loonies!

  29. Aaron Donald is a beast.
    Glad to see him get the recognition and awards from the national media, which we have been privileged to see all year. I have seen many people wish the Steelers to draft him next year. I am all for that, but I dont think the people drafting for the Steelers would be that smart. Just look at the past 4 years drafting for reference.

  30. I’m not counting Donald out, but I’m just not sure how a 6′ DL is going to do in the NFL.

    • That’s a nose tackle height most of the time.

      • Very true….But I don’t know if he’s projected as one.
        He’d certainly have to add some weight.
        Buy hey….I’d be happy for the guy to join the Steelers.
        He can’t do any worse than most.

        • The Steelers will take another bust DL form Wassamatta U.
          Donald doesnt stand a chance of coming to the Steelers.

          Landry Jones, anybody?

  31. Pirates quiet at the Winter Meetings.
    I understand that a lot of things go on behind the scenes, and some transactions get started , but not finished at these meetings. But it is till very quiet.

    Most players that the Pirates were interested in, are with other teams.
    For what the Angels received for Trumbo, the Pirates could have gotten him, without sending a boatload to the Angels.

    Remember what Nutting, and Coooooonelly have said all along……….. when the Pirates were competitive, the payroll would increase accordingly. I know Neal said the “deals have to make sense”, but no deals are being made.

    And Biz, I read 25/8′s blog. Seems a lot of smoke, no fires.

  32. I’ll be happy with the Pirates getting out of Orlando, or at least have setting the groundwork, with acquiring Logan Morrison. Really like the kid despite his peculiar belief that banning tailgating at the SB is communist. I really like the kid.

    I also like Ike Davis. I think the Mets have given up on him, but I’m not sure that’s not too premature. I think new eyes on him would benefit him tremendously. Could be had for a song, I reckon.

    And as a preemptive remark: Ike Davis stinks.

    • Isn’t Ike a right handed hitter?

      I might be wrong on that, but if he is, that kinda shoots a platoon

    • LoMo is my guy, John.

      I was cold on him at first until taking a look at some video. Seems like he’s developed some bad habits since 2011, his last good year, and may be because of a knee injury. He’s healthy nw, and I think could be a perfect platoon with a bit of tweaking.

      Ike Davis was good until pitchers realized he could only hit fastballs low and in. Then they stopped throwing them. And now he stinks.

      • And over the top entertaining on twitter.

      • The Milwaukee Brewers fine beat reporter Tom Huadricourt, blogged that the Brewers seem to be out of the LoMo sweepstakes and have chilled to getting Ike Davis because the Mets wanted a controllable pitcher (Tyler Thornburg). Supposedly, Corey Hart will decide today if he wants to sign with the Brewers. The Pirates would need to outbid the Crew if they wanted the right handed hitting Hart, which of course, would affect platooning at first base.

        Brewers and Pirates are in the same boat as far as first is concerned. It’s Melvin vs Huntington. Mano a Mano.

      • I agree with you on LoMo.

        At first, wasn’t a fan of the idea but as the more I researched, I think he still had some potential.

        Oh well. Good luck in Seattle.

        Maybe Justin Smoak is now available.

  33. pirates sign Morton to 3 year extension $21 million with incentives

  34. Jeff Passan reports the Pirates have extended Charlie Morton – 3 years/$21 million. Could reach $30 million with incentives.

    Once again, do the local papers employ beat writers ?

  35. Morton’s contract has club option for 2017 at $9.5 million.

  36. So the Pirates DID in fact make some news at the Winter Meetings! :)

  37. Neither local paper has the Morton extension. Must all be out to lunch.

  38. Can’t see anything that special about Morton. Lack of velocity hurt him late season/playoffs.

    • Ground Chuck was finally healthy last year, with confidence and showed just h good he can be down the stretch last year. His ground ball rate fits in perfectly with Hurdle’s philosophy. I like the signing…hewill be a very nice #3 starter.

    • Morton’s ERA was 2.68 in August. It was 3.55 in September. It was 3.18 in the playoffs.

      His strikeout rate was 5.4/9 innings in August, 7.6 in September, and 6.3 in the playoffs.

      But don’t let the facts get in the way of your narrative.

      • I didn’t say he was a bad pitcher, I just said that he was nothing special.
        I can take or leave the signing.
        You’ve cited his figures for the last month or so of the season.
        What I question is his lack of velocity.
        If he’s not hitting his spots, he can run into a lot of problems.
        That goes for many pitchers, but I don’t see him as a strong #3 guy.

        • Morton’s fastball averaged 93.4 mph last year. 2nd highest on the team among starters. Lack of velocity is not an issue. Struggling to get lefties out is.

  39. http://instagram.com/p/hyQtLkyKqG/

    Didn’t know if this would come through, but thought I would give it a try.

    No news from the Winter Meetings?

  40. Holy crap, AW! That made my day.

  41. LoMo to Seattle for Carter Capps.

  42. Charlie Morton extended today.

    3/21 Million with a club option for 2017.

    I like this deal. A lot.

  43. CBS Sportsline reporting that Mike Tomlin is a candidate for the U of Texas non-vacancy.

  44. No doubt Jack Z making his last stand in Seattle during the past few weeks. His career rises or falls from this moment on.

    If I’m a Mariner fan, I would be happy.

    • Remember when the Mariners went out and spent big money on Adrian Beltre’ and Richie Sexson??

      That didn’t exactly work out too well either.

      • Worked for the Dodgers.

        • True, but not for the Mariners when they went “all in” for those guys.

          • Correct. I suspect you and Milo are right.

            Not opposed, necessarily, to the Bucs inaction this week regarding new player procurement, but sometimes it’s fun to get to talk and think about a new guy. Especially, when they need to address first base, probably shortstop and, always, pitching.

            • Oh I love the conversation. I’m not a fan of the complaining about it.

              Some just need to relax.

              Honestly, one more starter, a 1B, and a bench guy to back up Jordy and I’d be happy.

              They picked up a very nice defensive back up catcher in Chris Stewart. He can’t hit worth a dang, but pretty sure people don’t acquire back up catchers’ for their offensive production.

              • People still don’t get that the Pirates finally have a good team.

                This is no longer time when “JUST ADD SOMEBODY” does any good.

                Specific needs, and limited targets.

                If the team enters 2014 without any upgrades, then I’ll complain.

              • Exactly my point. If nothing happens on 1 April, then feel free to complain about this off season or the lack of.

                Yes they need a couple players, but pretty sure there’s enough time to get the couple pieces that are needed.

              • I feel like last winter made their strategy pretty clear.

                They had one primary target for their largest position of need and they got him, Russell Martin. They had one high upside pitcher in mind and they got him, Frankie Liriano.

                Their plan this winter clearly started with Josh Johnson, who took less money to pitch on the opposite coast. There isn’t a Russell Martin of first basemen available to anyone this year, and so they don’t want to throw money at just anybody if that means they won’t have enough to pay Burnett.

                Sh*t just doesn’t always work out the way you plan it. Doesn’t mean they quit trying, and I’ll be plenty vocal if they do, but also doesn’t mean you grade them as failures halfway through the semester.

              • 100% agree.

    • I think this Seattle plan is going to blow up all over the place, Osh. The fans are going to be facing a bunch of really bad, guaranteed years coming up.

  45. The Mariners are last years Blue Jays. In full collect-a-guy mode. Throw all of them into a pot with a lousy manager and voila, 74-88 here we come.

  46. 15m on Rodriguez and Morton? Yes
    14m on Burnett? No

    The contract is a leap of faith that I hope works out because if it doesn’t it’s going to suck.

  47. So they’re playing Lambo at first in the Winter League. We failed the last time we scholarshipped an inexperienced guy at first (Jeff Clement). Let’s give it to Lambo and see what happens! The kid’s got two good knees and a bat that plays!

    • Lambo might do well, Bay, he might not. But is that the best the Bucs can do?

      • Bill, it might be, for my money (and granted, it’s not much!) But I’ve always thought Loney was kinda punchless. But they say he has a good on base percentage for a first baseman. It’s probably just me. I’d rather have a bopper and a pitcher that throws heat instead of ground balls! Personally, yeah, I’d like to see Lambo start the platoon with Gaby. See what he can do, if he’s a bust, hope Gaby’s hittin’ em all this year.

        • If they go that route and Lambo doesn’t get the job done, they can always pick someone up at the deadline.

          That said. I’d like to see a future power hitting lefty picked up. I suppose you can make the case that it could be Lambo.

  48. I am not sure if I will laugh or cry.

    I know some may think that Charlie Morton isn’t that great. But there is so much complaining that the Pirates don’t spend money —and when they do people still complain.

    Have you people seen some of the contracts that pitchers are getting?! Pitching is expensive. And contracts to pitchers can be risky. But the Pirates just took a risk and spent some money. And it looks like they may have actually spend a little less than the going rate. (Scott Feldman, 3yrs/$30 million)

    Maybe if I have a drink it will stop me from laughing or crying.

    • I agree with you TC. Pitching is the name of the game and you have to pay the price to get it, even if it’s mediocre.

      I think CM still has some upside, but like NMR mentioned earlier, he does need to figure out how to get LHP out.

    • Agree halfway with that. Pitching is expensive, and Morton will be underpaid if he repeats his performance of last year.

      But I’m not buying that the Pirates spending on Morton satisfies what any of us are actually saying about payroll. If you’re going to have this argument, you’re going to have to show that the money spent represents an increase that was promised. Morton won’t make any more in 2014 than he was scheduled to be awarded in arbitration, and his ’15-’16 salary doesn’t even match what the team will gain by shedding Liriano and Rodriguez.

      • My argument wasn’t regarding overall payroll. It was in regards to spending money and retaining one of their own players. And being proactive about it.

        I don’t have to imagine too hard at what some of the comments may have been if Morton pitched will and then went out into free agency.

        • +1

          Moves like this need to happen. Hopefully they continue to lock up their own players 1 or 2 years into free agency. This one came a little later in the game but definitely younger players who may not have seen anything approaching the kind of financial stability a 5 or 6 year contract would bring them. Marte is a perfect type of player to lock up 1 or 2 years into free agency. It’s a win-win for both sides.

          Even Tabata who some feel haven’t lived up to potential is a relative bargain compared to some of the contracts being handed out. If that is the low end of return on these type of contracts with Cutch being the high end it seems like a good gamble for small market teams. Much better gamble then a Ricky Nolasco type deal.

          • Nate—do you know anyone who does think Tabby has lived up to his potential? I thought it was only a question of how far short he’s fallen, at least overall.

        • “It was in regards to spending money…”

          If you believe this is really what those guys have been arguing all this time, you’re mistaken.

    • LOL! Here’s looking at you, Kid!

  49. Edison Valquez: 1 year, $5 million

  50. You know, there are still good pitchers out there.

    • Plenty.

      The people making these decisions know far more about baseball than I do, but man.

      You could at least see the vision behind Burnett and Liriano.

      • I’m afraid there’s a danger they’re getting a little chesty here. “We’ll just turn this guy over to Ray, shift some guys here & shift some guys there.” Oh and I forgot, “And screw you AJ.”

  51. I wonder if this deal is a guaranteed $5 million? Or if it is less guaranteed + incentives.

  52. From MLBTradeRumors

    The 30-year-old Volquez was released by the Padres last season after posting a 6.01 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 142 1/3 innings. He looked better in a brief, 28 1/3 inning cameo with the Dodgers, pitching to a 4.18 ERA with a 26-to-8 K/BB ratio.

    Volquez’s 4.07 xFIP was significantly lower than his 5.71 ERA on the season — a commonality that exists between he, Burnett, Liriano and Melancon at the time of their acquisition by the Pirates.

    Volquez will join Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Wandy Rodriguez and the recently extended Charlie Morton in the Pirates’ rotation. That seems to fill Burnett’s spot in the rotation, suggesting that perhaps he’s leaning toward retirement and the Pirates have moved on in favor of a cheaper option with similarly high upside.

    • I’ve been saying since July that I have a suspicion AJ will be an Oriole in 2014 due to proximity to his home. I am starting to hear rumors about that possibility. I guess it doesn’t really matter, though. We know he won’t pitch for us, so retired or in Baltimore doesn’t much matter to me.

    • Mercy..

      I’m with TC. Wonder if it’s guaranteed.

      I lean more with Milo and his analysis with the one-word, Jerry Sands descriptor.

      And I agree with Jim. Probably better arms in our own system.

  53. A light bulb must have just come on in order for the Bucs to sign Edison! :-)

    Seriously, though, this is beyond frustrating. For a team that seems to allow opportunities to pass over a few million dollars on a regular basis, I don’t get handing $5 million to this guy. Ugh! I hope the 2013 reclamation magic continues, but I don’t know what there is to reclaim here.

    Depressing.

    • Pretty much what everybody was saying last year when they signed Liriano, as I recall. And about Burnett the year before.

    • With you, Jim.

      They should have allocated the $$$$ elsewhere, or on another pitcher.
      Just glad to see almost the entire peanut gallery doesnt like this signing.

      Oh, and +1 LED bulb for the Edison joke……..

  54. One thing I think we have to remember is that Wandy is still a huge questionmark for this coming season.

    Not sure if this means adios AJ or not

  55. Volquez has basically had one good year, where he was All-Star material. I don’t know what to think of it either. I mean when he was with the Reds, I thought him and Johnny Cueto were going to be the STUFF of that rotation for years to come. Hey, after a year like we had you feel pretty bad about getting a bad vibe … but I figure DOUBTFUL on having Comeback Pitchers Of The Year two years in a row. But, Hey … he has eaten a LOT of innings the past three years. How much did we give for Bedard? :-)

  56. I’ve been saying this since the season ended and I believe it more today than I did then. AJ Burnett will pitch in 2015 and it won’t be for the Pirates. And it will be the Pirates choice.

  57. Maybe we get lucky & he fails the physical.

  58. And while I’m at it, I don’t like guaranteeing somebody that’s started more than 20 games once in his career $21 million.

  59. I guess we will see if Searage is truly a miracle worker or not.

  60. If even one person out there believes that the Pirates always wanted AJ Burnett back and gave him time to make a decision, then held off as long as they could, but finally couldn’t wait any longer because they were afraid someone else was going to snap up their Plan B (Volquez) – then they’re PR strategy worked like a charm.

  61. So far, its disappointing

  62. More from MLBTradeRumors -

    According to a club source, the Pirates’ deal for Edinson Volquez won’t preclude them from re-signing A.J. Burnett, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
    A rival exec says that the one-year, $5MM pact for Volquez makes sense, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The exec says that Volquez boasts a Francisco Liriano-type profile with his strikeout rate and ability to induce groundballs.
    Tim Dierkes of MLBTR (on Twitter) wonders if the Volquez deal could hamstring PIttsburgh somewhat financially in their effort to re-sign Burnett if he calls for a $10-12MM commitment.

    • Burnett was gone the day he stormed out of Hurdle’s office.

      • You might be right, Milo

        He probably went over the demerit list with that one

      • So you are saying the FO has been pulling the wool over our eyes in regards to AJ?

        I believe your point may be correct, but I get the feeling the “Pirates or retire” thing never made much sense.

        But as everyone else has said………. its December 11th.
        Have faith, Neal will prevail!

        Hi Frank.

      • Burnett is going to sign, and then storm out of Hurdle’s office again when Cole is announced as the opening day starter.

  63. We have to be careful fellows and gals. DK is gonna be mad this blog has been a high percentage of Pirate talk today.

    :D

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