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Morning Java: The Pirates’ French connection?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column essentially collects a lot of thoughts about the Pirates’ offseason to date — and no, I wasn’t tempted to leave Page 2 blank in the Trib sports section — and it opens up with what I hope paints an enticing vision of what might be ahead one day this summer with a comparison to the Montreal Expos of the early ’80s.

My thanks to Neal Huntington, Rene Gayo and others with the team for their help.

Here’s video of beat man Rob Biertempfel and I going over a ton of baseball fodder on my TribLIVE Radio show …

Here’s the new MLB.com Top 100 prospects list, which impressively includes six from the Pirates: Gregory Polanco (pictured above), Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Alen Hanson and Josh Bell. The Meadows placement at No. 47 has to be the most pleasant surprise of all, for him to rocket up so quickly.

Here’s a Bucco Blog entry about first base by Travis Sawchik.

Here’s our full Pirates coverage.

>> The Penguins and Islanders did that thing the Penguins and Islanders do, and the visitors eventually prevailed.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Islanders news from Newsday.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> Mike Tomlin says the Steelers are ‘excited’ to have Mike Munchak in the fold, Alan Robinson reports.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

>> Talib Zanna keeps stepping up in his senior year at Pitt. Kevin Gorman writes.

Tickets for the Duke game are at a premium, by Bob Cohn.

Here’s our full Pitt coverage.

>> I’ll visit with TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m., and shortly thereafter at noon, we’ll have the weekly chat right here on this blog. When you see the post go up, you can submit entries right away. And please, place those in the actual chat field rather than the blog comments underneath.

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.

251 Comments

  1. I’ll hold my breath till the PBC signs someone for 100MM franks

    Will read the paper when I dig it out of the snow ;-)

  2. Nice to be thinking about baseball in the middle of this accursed bxlpmbrx winter!

    Looking forward to Polanco, and perhaps sooner Lambo.

    Thanks for the column.

    Stuart

  3. January, February pretty much bites

  4. This front office had a real opportunity this off-season to show Pirate fans they want to move forward with winning.
    It’s still not too late, but so far….They haven’t done that.
    I was in agreement that they should let AJ Burnett move along IF they used that money towards one or two other players.
    So far….They have not done that, unless one considers Edinson Volquez an equal swap for AJ.

    If they would’ve gone out and gotten James Loney, it would’ve been a real statement.
    Instead….They’ve left themselves open for criticism once again.
    I’ve rarely seen an organization that fights spending a buck more than them.

  5. I’m going to double-dip and repeat a thought I had over on Travis’ blog, this evening.
    Imagine sometime next summer when we field a team looking like this:

    Lambo 1B
    Walker 2B
    Alvarez 3B
    Mercer SS
    Marte LF
    McCutchen CF
    Polanco RF
    Martin C

    All but Martin would be home-grown players. Amazing really, in this day and age. And if Cole or Taillon is pitching, and Tony Sanchez is spelling Martin??

  6. The Pirates’ hurry-up-and-wait thingee this offseason is mostly ok with me.

    Except for Lambo.

    Am I down on Lambo? Not necessarily. Stick with me on this convoluted concept…

    I’m down on guys learning new positions. It’s a temporary effect, but guys playing in new defensive slots often see their hitting suffer.

    Remember Clement? Learning, um, first base? He eventually handled the Cold Corner better than I thought he would, but while he was working out those kinks, he seemed to develop a few kinks in his swing.

    Ok. Bad example. It’s not like he’s turned into the next (late) coming of Brandon Moss somewhere.

    So let me paraphrase the words of my baseball playing-managing dad…

    A guy learning a new position will have lots fielding snafus. Often under the radar mental errors, not just scoring errors. But he knows about – and dwells – on each one until the position becomes second nature. And usually he thinks:

    “Man, I just made another stinking error. I better not strike out next inning, too.”

    And then he, you know…

    So it’s NOT a Fie-on-Lambo thing. If Polaco was a first baseman and the open position in question was corner outfielder, Lambo’s natural position, I’d be All In on trying Lambo.

    But it’s not.

    So I’m not.

    • First base is where players go all the time to get their bats into the lineup. Pops was primarily an outfielder until his mid-thirties. At 5’10″, Pete Rose was a 3rd baseman/outfielder until in his 17th year when he started opening day for the Phillies at first. And in the movie Moneyball, Brad Pitt gets Scott Hatteburg to convert from playing catcher his who life to playing first. Nice Hollywood touch. But that’s what Billy Beane and the A’s really did. And it worked. Lambo too, can learn the position on the fly.
      Either that, or move Pedro over there. Now Petey’s one guy who NEVER lets his fielding woes carrying over into the batter’s box. And visa-versa.

      • Ghost, you did touch on one big difference between those players and Lambo. Both Pops and Rose were established players who knew who they were and what they could do. They weren’t trying to learn a new position as well as get established in the big leagues. A lot less pressure on them than there would be on Lambo.

        Kevin

      • I generally fall into the line of thinking that Ghost explained, but Drew and bug made me think about it. Probably some truth to both.

        • Fair point by you guys.
          One thing I first thought when reading Drew’s post is that a lot of guys don’t like DH-ing specifically because they have that down time to think about their one aspect of the game. Playing in the field keeps them rooted in the game, in the moment, and actually takes away from over-thinking/analyzing what’s going on at the plate.
          So possibly it can be visa-versa with Lambo… In any event, it looks like we’re about to find out with Lambo if this works for him or not as the kid is about to become a guinea pig.

  7. Said another way, the minors is the place to learn and practice a new position, even if just for a few months. Until you don’t have to think – in the middle of a play – about footwork and cutoff position.

    Not in Major League Baseball.

    Not with Molina at bat, 90 feet away.

    Knowing you have to face Wainwright next half inning.

    And no. The last two weeks of winter ball doesn’t quite simulate that experience.

    Close. But not quite.

    • Your point was a good one, Drew. Lambo isn’t sure he can hit at this level yet. Now, he won’t be sure he can hit OR field at this level yet.

  8. I see the browns have hired a new coach.

    All jokes aside. Good for them.

    And as long as it took, it’s not too late. They are only a week into high school recruiting season.

  9. JAL’s The Gambler Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj4nJ1YEAp4

    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

    4 Pirates Prospects Spring Training Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/st2014

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: When Could the Pirates Expect a $100 M Deal?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01/first-pitch-when-could-the-pirates-expect-a-100-m-deal.html

    Pittsburgh Pirates Have Six Top 100 Prospects

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01/pittsburgh-pirates-have-six-top-100-prospects.html

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Top Prospects: #7 – Reese McGuire

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01/pittsburgh-pirates-2014-top-prospects-7-reese-mcguire.html

    6 Rumbunter

    Pirates Clint Hurdle Remembers Birthday of His ‘Incredible Friend’

    http://rumbunter.com/2014/01/23/pirates-hurdle-remembers-mentor/

    7 WHYGAVS

    Frank Coonelly tells Jerry Crasnick the Pirates have ‘turned the page’ on AJ Burnett

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/january-2014/frank-coonelly-tells-jerry-crasnick-the-pirates-have-turned-the-page-on-aj-burnett.html

    8 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates think A.J. Burnett isn’t returning

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2014/1/23/5339136/pirates-think-a-j-burnett-isnt-returning

    9 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ Austin Meadows, Gregory Polanco Among MLB’s Top 10 OF Prospects

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2014/01/23/pittsburgh-pirates-bucs-austin-meadows-gregory-polanco-among-mlbs-top-10-prospects/

    10 Green Weenie

    1/23: Rabbit Maranville, Kurt Bevacqua, Benny DiStephano, Ralph Kiner…

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2014/01/123-rabbit-maranville-kurt-bevacqua.html

    11 Saber Bucs

    Projection #11: Mark Melancon

    http://saberbucs.com/blog/2014/01/23/projection-11-mark-melancon/

  10. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Beaver County Times

    Madden: If MLB won’t change stricture, Pirates should do Nutting

    http://www.timesonline.com/columnists/sports/mark_madden/madden-if-mlb-won-t-change-stricture-pirates-should-do/article_e08d0e2c-1684-5cc0-9c68-f5f758f70636.html

    13 Sports On Earth

    Big shoes to fill

    http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/67057806/new-detroit-tigers-manager-brad-ausmus-jim-leyland-replacement

    14 Pirates Site

    Bucs impress with six on Top 100 Prospects list

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/pirates-impress-with-six-players-on-mlbcoms-top-100-prospects-list?ymd=20140123&content_id=67019630&vkey=news_pit

    15 Bleacher Report

    Philadelphia Phillies: How Real Is the Interest in A.J. Burnett?

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1934527-philadelphia-phillies-how-real-is-the-interest-in-aj-burnett

    16 Fangraphs

    Brewers Take the Matt Garza Chance

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/brewers-take-the-matt-garza-chance/

    17 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Bird Bytes: Examining La Russa’s Hall of Fame decision

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bird-bytes-examining-la-russa-s-hall-of-fame-decision/article_c72f8ef8-a623-5a1a-9979-2546a704fa82.html

    18 Sweetspot

    Happy Birthday, Mark Wohlers

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/43759/happy-birthday-mark-wohlers

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The BP Wayback Machine Who Yu Gonna Call?

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22659

    20 Baseball Nation

    Matt Garza signs with Brewers

    http://www.baseballnation.com/2014/1/23/5338604/matt-garza-signs-brewers

  11. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Roster Projections: Cornerbacks

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2014-steelers-roster-projections/2014/1/23/5337480/steelers-roster-projections-cornerbacks-2014-depth-chart

    Mike Munchak Hired: What the Steelers can expect from their new offensive line coach

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/steelers-coaching-search-offensive-line/2014/1/23/5336764/steelers-mike-munchak-offensive-line-2014-scheme-zone-running

    22 Steelers Depot

    Steelers Early Offseason Positional Draft Needs – Running Backs

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2014/01/steelers-early-offseason-positional-draft-needs-running-back/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Bloomberg Stats Insight

    Arsenal’s Title Credentials

    http://www.bsports.com/statsinsights/football/arsenals-title-credentials

    24 The Telegraph

    Manchester United’s penalty loss perfect window on team psyche. They’ve lost faith in themselves and each other

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/10592579/Manchester-Uniteds-penalty-loss-perfect-window-on-team-psyche.-Theyve-lost-faith-in-themselves-and-each-other.html

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Recap: Pens down Islanders 6-4 in a wide-open affair

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2014/1/23/5340318/recap-pens-down-islanders-6-4-in-a-wide-open-affair

  12. Drew, I thought of Clement too…but then you have Neil Walker, who was basically thrust into 2nd base when Aki Iwamura’s emphysema flared up, and was told to sink or swim.

    Clement sunk, Walker swam. Lambo really has nothing to prove in the minors anymore. I’m not saying he’s the best choice, or should get a “scholarship”…but at some point you have to see whether your guys can do the job at the big level.

    • Walker is probably a bad example. He was touted as an excellent athlete generally from when he was in high school, who could play just about any position. Not really the same animal with Lambo, whose 2 positions (maybe) are RF and 1B.

  13. The NFL Pro Bowl will be featured on Sunday night on CBS. I won’t be watching it and I’m certain that most of you won’t either, unless you’re a diehard or a better.

  14. Pardon my error. The Pro Bowl will be featured on the NFL Network. But just the same.

  15. So, will the “Pirate’s are cheap” chatter turn into “the Pirate’s are stupid” when they give Pedro $60m?

  16. The very little I’ve seen of Meadows is still impressive.

    Very sweet swing, and great character kid.

    Not surprised his stock is rapidly rising.

  17. you can’t have too much pitching…get AJ

  18. I loved Hackman and Scheider in “The French Connection”.

    Hackman’s Popeye Doyle is a character for the ages.

    William Friedkin also directed, “The Exorcist”.

  19. I’m all for a Burnett signing… in late May, if needed. Let him get through the school year with his kids, sign him in late May and get him ready to pitch in mid to late June. Get about 20 to 24 starts out of him, if needed, and pay him about $8M to $10M for his partial year.

  20. There will NEVER be a Pedro Alvarez extension. Just wasting your time even talking about it.

    • Boras, NY, cheapness or all the above?

      • - Boras takes almost all of his clients to the open market. In the rare exceptions that he doesn’t, they sign for way above what he perceives market value against his advice.

        - The Pirates not only won’t pay market value, Neil Huntington said earlier this winter that they wont.

        - And lastly, look at how they’ve botched this off season with all that extra money to spend.

      • Anyone who thinks Pedro will re-up with the Bucs when he is eligible for free agency, is really naive.

        It sounds like the Bucs have put their last proposal to AJ on the table & he gave it a thumbs down. AJ openly and frequently professed his allegiance to the Bucs but, obviously, there were just words. Goodbye AJ, thanks for 2 great seasons. When you come back to the ‘burgh in a visitor’s uni, I hope you don’t get treated like Cliff Stoudt did when he came back.

        • I was at that game. Snowballs everywhere. I loved the Maulers.

        • I’m with DK, if this was just about money on AJ’s part, why hasn’t he signed already with Baltimore or other teams craving pitching? If it truly is about deciding whether/when to pitch again, why would the Pirates throw bigger offers to AJ at this time since that ostensibly won’t make a difference?

    • Agree. Unfortunately, there probably won’t be a Gerrit Cole one either.

  21. I’ll tell you what…good thing that wasn’t Letang to make those mistakes that cost us 2 GA last night. He’d been getting carved up like a thanksgiving turkey and DK would’ve traded him to Winnipeg for their 1st round pick. :)

    • Dude, the first goal by Grabner was off a turnover by Letang. But in all fairness, he settled down after that and played well.

      • Ummm…no. Letang put the puck up the boards like was supposed to and not only did the winger not help but sutter was on the wrong side of the puck. Pyatt and Glass cant play rw.

        • Ummm.no, Letang had the turnover.

          • Ask your son in law or someone from FF what they think about that play then we’ll talk ;)

          • I have to say that after watching the replays you are both (Jandy/Monster) probably correct. Terrible positioning by the Pens FWDS but Letang can’t just throwing right to the point man either. Letang then gets beat back to the middle from the wall as well.

            Terrible play by Martin on the second goal, but Orpik couldn’t have played the 2 on 1 any worse. He didn’t play the pass or the man. He just kept backing in. Gotta help your goaltender there a little bytaking away one of the options.

            • Letang needs to be more responsible with the puck in that situation. And Cal Clutterbuck is good at forcing opponents into bad decisions. He did the same to Paul Martin.

              Thanks for the info, John S.

              :D

              • What I’m saying is, Letang was under a lot of pressure from that dastardly Cal Clutterbuck, and chipped the puck basically right to Hickey. It’s still a turnover no matter how you slice it.

            • John and jandy, letang made the play up the boards cuz that was the safe play. Most definitely not his fault that Pyatt cheated up ice towards the middle instead of giving letang an outlet up the boards like he was supposed to. Letangs only other option would’ve been to force a pass up the middle(which we all chastise him for) or let NYI force him into a turnover down low. Neither option good. Letang followed the structure perfectly but pyatt didn’t do his job and sutter got ahead of himself and on wrong side of puck. And when PM falls on his azz you cant blame orpik. His job is to defend the pass like he did and leave shooter to goalie. On the other play PM got carried away stepping up same time orpik did when thats normally orpiks job. PM playing his position would’ve prevented that goal. Zatkoff started slowly but got better.

              • Orpik was not playing the pass at all. The Isle could have shot or moved the puck across. Sagging into the goaltender is not playing the pass. As I said before terrible play by MArtin but Orpik couldn’t have played the 2 on 1 worse.

                Letang has to jsut flip that puck out of the zone on that play. Even if Pyatt is on the wall and gathers the Letang pass he has the D right on top of him. The only play was to flip the puck out. Sometimes clearing is all you have.

              • John, he’s human not a supernatural being. He was under pressure and made the right play without risking an icing. Moving puck up boards so your winger can chip it out or pressure point man is hockey. That’s EXACTLY what needs to be done in that situation. I promise you if you ask Pyatt he’ll be first one to take responsibility on that play. And sutter will admit to being on wrong side of puck. And when PM left orpik in those spots there’s literally nothing he can do. Orpik has made some bad turnovers in recent weeks but positional he’s been really good and the turnovers have gone away with him not lugging the puck. Oh and he’s playing against the best players in the world.

              • After watching the replay I don’t think Letang could have done much with the puck other than what he did since he was under heavy pressure and throwing it up the middle would have been ill-advised. But John is also correct – after Letang made the play he stood there and allowed his man to beat him back to the net and score the goal. So yeah, definitely at least partially his fault. Monster, you should at least be willing to acknowledge that Letang deserves some percentage of the blame there (even if only 10% or 25%).

              • See what you started Monster? Ya betta quit pickin on me ;)

              • He did try to get back to the net. It wasn’t his guy that scored.

              • Would never pick on you jandstar…or anyone. But just trying to point out the double standard that gets applied sometimes. Thats all.

              • Well, you’re onto something there, but I’d call it higher expectations, not a double standard. Tanger is definitely gifted, and I as well as most other fans, DO expect more of him.
                I just felt he could have done better with that play than chipping it right to friggin Hickey lol.
                Gotta give Clutterbuck credit tho, he was pressuring our D pretty good last night.

              • Ya clutterbuck was on those players i thought could replace cooke and his sandpaper. I just dont like seeing people turn the perfection into the enemy of the very very good. All good players mess up, even the best ones, but last night and since returning from elbow infection tanger has actually been dayum good.

              • I wasn’t arguing that Tanger hasn’t been good. He has. Anyone who says otherwise isn’t watching.

  22. And now, the Feds are investigating whether those expensive gifts Dennis Rodman sent his North Korean dictator pal on his birthday violated US sanctions against that rogue nation. Stay tuned.

  23. Wait? What?

    A baseball column? This means baseball’s around the corner, a sure sign of spring is coming, much better than that stupid gerbile and shadow thing.

    Good article DK. I would love to see Lambo become a younger version of Garrett Jones. I think he has a shot at being better than Jones. Team him with Gaby and I’d be OK with it for the beginning of the season. If he should falter, then you go get a guy, but let’s not hang him in April and May.

    I like his bat a lot.

  24. I sure am glad that the Pirates farm system seems to be giving hope for the future. reading about Pedro/Boras on here is a bit depressing, but accurate. Unreal that the Bucs will have to entertain “shopping” him next year before Boras can get him to FA.

    But hey, the Yankees are back being the Yankees!!!!!

    Carry on……….

    • I honestly don’t care about any of the current guys on the roster moving on at their free agent year BECAUSE of what the minors hold. Obviously, those are unproven MLB prospects and a couple may not even make it, but whoever they lose, they gain that $$$ back and perhaps use towards a suitable sub, if needed.

      • Which, BTW, is an awesome feeling to have towards these guys after the last few years. NH has done a great job building this farm system and all the credit goes to him and his crew.

        I will still hold praise on the development side, though. I don’t know that these guys developed any of the up and coming top prospects. Let’s see what they can do with the rich talent that they’ve been given.

        Development is the key to MLB success, IMO.

      • An Indians fan probably said that awhile back when they had Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia.

        • And those guys came up AFTER Manny, Lofton, etc.

          The Indians have brought up mostly garbage over the last decade. Don’t forget how terrible Cliff Lee was at one point with them either.

          CC? Stud

          • Yeah, after Lee and Sabathia moved on there was a void for a long while.

            Perpetually rebuilding with a low to medium payroll is extremely hard to do. Id rather be in the Cardinals position. Or the BoSox. I read the Sox have 8 of the top 100 prospects in baseball. And they have the means to re-sign those guys when the time comes.

            Its not going to be easy to watch Cutch, Alvarez, Cole move on in a few years. The prospects behind them can become suspects. Tabata and Snider, for example, where at one time considered great propsects. While I admit Im excited about Polanco, hes not a sure thing yet. I still think Marte has things to prove.

  25. The NFL has been talking about changing the date of the Superbowl to next Saturday if the winter storms warrant although that is now considered unlikely. And now, I’d like to know why the devil they had to hold the Superbowl outside in the first place. Meanwhile, Oakland Raiders cheerleaders who were punished for using the wrong pom poms at a game this season are suing in court for back wages. Stay tuned.

  26. @DK – More Rene, please. Love every time you include him. Seems like he’d make for a blast of a guest on your show.

  27. Pens win with the “top pairing” of Orpik-Martin at a (-2 each) – the play in the 3rd which allowed the 4th Islander goal was terrible – if Bortuzzo or Depres had been exposed as Orpik was on that play, they would be benched for weeks. Nisky & Maatta were (+3 each) w/Letang-Scuds even. I watched the NBC feed and Pierre McGuire couldn’t stop talking about Maatta and how he should be in real consideration for the Caulder. It is going to be very interesting to see how the coaches approach the Orpik-Martin issue moving forward; Orpik did a reasonably good job as the primary defensive presence on the 5 on 3 penalty, but he rarely been a #1 shutdown guy this season – they will have a very difficult match up with the top line in Dallas….

  28. Part of the case for keeping Letang – he was part of that PP clinic on display last night. That was beautiful.

    • Oh my was it ever, Damon! To quote my son-in-law “It was a thing of beauty!”

    • He was pretty darn good whole game damon. I’m starting to think people take what he does for granted cuz at times he makes all-world plays look routine. When you see tanger swoop into the corner with a forechecker on his azz then all in one felt swoop he goes in and out of the corner while gaining possession and leaving the forward in his dust…that is not normal. That is all world. 99% of other nhl dmen eat the puck on the boards and wait for support. Tanger however operates as a one man puck retrieval and breakout system when he’s right. And as of late he’s been getting better and better. If people wanna blame him on GA cuz someone else messed up thats their perogative but that says more about them than tanger.

  29. I am not looking forward to the Olympics much this time, which is unusual for me, because it is the only time my wife will watch sports with me. You know, because I’m such a big figure skating fan. Thought of some reasons why:

    1. Don’t like the alternating Olympics. It seems like we just had an Olympics in London.
    2. They should have never held the Olympics in Russia, much less that close to the troubled regions. Not looking forward to the 101st Airborne type escorting of athletes and fans to the venues. Going to be depressing to watch things unfold in a military occupation with the ever present concern of something very tragic happening.
    3. Don’t care for Russia’s treatment of ethnic minorities and quashing of free speech. Their treatment of the musicians in Pussy Riot shocked the conscience really. Such stuff coming out of a supposedly Western nation.

    I think the idea of alternating Olympic sites might be past its time. I think having permanent sites is a notion they should consider. Perhaps sites in North America, Europe and Asia. That way the infrastructure is in place and we wouldn’t have to read stories about construction delays and budgetary concerns every two years. Permanent security apparatus would be in place as well.

  30. Jerome Bettis posted this picture on twitter about an hour ago, so some may have seen it, but I loved it. Nothing special, just 2 great Pittsburgh athletes, 1 about-to-be HOFer, and a possible sure-to-be HOFer.

    pic.twitter.com/kQ41MdokQG

  31. Of all the Pirate talk this winter, I’m a bit surprised how little consternation has been given to the shortstop position.

    • Haha, NMR, you’re right. With all the wringing of hands and wailing over Barmes, and Jordy, you’d think it would have gotten a bit more attention.

    • Where have you been given any indication they want to get better ?

    • No consternation because we are resigned to that is what we got at the position, so to speak.
      As the kids today say….. “It is what it is”…….

      • I hear you buddy, but I’m thinking specifically about the enormous gap between 1B and SS talk. Is that because nobody thinks it is even possible for the Pirates to get a legit shortstop?

        • I don’t know..but maybe they’re just more concerned with 1B and RF, then pitching?

        • It might be because most fans expect more offensive production from 1B than SS. Besides, after the constant debate last season of Barmes vs. Mercer, I think the Dead called, and want their horse back.

          Besides, most people probably think the SS platoon works, whereas the 1B platoon looks bad, especially if Lambo is given the position.

          “It is what it is”.

  32. Penn State Coach James Franklin promises that the PSU recruiting organization will be the most impressive in all America. And now, it’ll be interesting to see what the results of that will be.

  33. “Andrew has grown to a point where he’s in a quality position to capitalize on an opportunity.”

    I could see that sentence anywhere, with no attribution, and know who said it.

  34. In reference to the next time the Pirates can negotiate a TV deal:

    DK: “Anytime, really. This one expires in 2018, if memory serves me well in this live chat, but the existing deal was struck a full three years before it needed to be. Which is the No. 1 reason, by the way, that it’s as awful as it is for the Pirates.”

    Wow, how did I miss this part? Three years early? At a time when revenues are escalating exponentially?

    This would be a fireable offense in any organization that claimed to have a shred of accountability.

    • Oh Man, would it ever.

    • Wonder what the rush was to negotiate 3 years early?

    • Is it possible they are quietly renegotiating the deal? I have no idea. But, I have speculated here for some time that if the goal for both sides is to remain long term partners, it really does no good in the long term for either side to enjoy a lopsided advantage.

      • Wouldn’t they have to wake Frank first?

        I don’t know how much incentive Root has to re-negotiate. You bring up a good point about being long-term partners, but I just don’t see Root forking over more barrels of cash. But, stranger things have happened………

        • Well, ROOT also needs the Bucs. So, if it is up in a few years maybe the Bucs drive an intentionally hard bargain next time.

  35. I heard my first Cook and Poni show today. There was a very interesting interview with Ken Dryden. He talked about Fleury (he’ll be fine) and Scotty Bowman, among other things. Bottom line on Bowman was that while not warm and fuzzy, he knew how to win, and that is what most players care about.

  36. haha, Drew strikes:
    Drews tatoo:
    Will you be doing any curling in Sochi? Truly, send some video clips of stuff other than interviews. We want to see what you’re up to.

    Dejan Kovacevic: I’ll be there. I sure won’t try it again. http://triblive.com/sports/dejankovacevic/dejancolumns/3499462-74/scott-rock-curling#axzz2qmWkLGj8

  37. Where is Thundercrack ?

    Column and discussions about baseball and, yet, no word from Little Steven.

  38. OK I gotta last minute contract to review…that MUST go out today…smh
    Catch you Loonies later!
    :D

  39. One can only hope they’ll get the Olympics off at Sochi without a hitch since the US Navy has a squad off the Russian coast to back up security, athletes are telling their families not to accompany them to Russia, and there are contingency plans for getting our athletes out of Russia in the event of a terror attack. And so, we can only hope and pray that everything will go off okay.

  40. Was listening to the Pens on XM as I drove back to IL from Pgh yesterday afternoon/evening. Boy, did the weather turn bad around S. Bend. Very nasty. I hope things are not too bad in Pittsburgh today.

    Anyway, what an odd Islanders radio broadcast. I think it was on the Hofstra Radio Network. The guys doing the broadcast sounded like they were either still in college or fresh out. The sponsors were all small, local businesses. It was kind of like the Ottawa Senators feed, except that is Ottawa and not NY.

    Anyway, I had a point when I started. Oh yeah, the youngster doing the announcing breathlessly explained to us that Tavares was within 7 points of Sid in the NHL scoring race coming into the game. A period and a half later, the lead was back to 10. That Tavares line is the top scoring line in the NHL. Can you imagine what Crosby could do if there were 3 productive players on his line? This Kobasew guy has been stuck on 2 goals since the Steelers were in London, I think. If only we had a valuable trading chip to get Sid some help and more. Maybe an offensive-minded defenseman who would appeal to 20+ teams? If he had great hair, that would be a nice throw-in.

    • Watch out for the size 9 wides, Jim.

      She says she’s modifying her outlook, but when a lady says that, that’s when a guy better lookout.

      • Well, I have been on the “trade Tanger” express for months, Wild Bill. And, it is not because I think he’s a bum. On the contrary, I think he has a ton of value. That’s when you deal from an area of strength. I hate seeing so much of Sid’s artistry be wasted.

        Jandy knows where I stand on that one.

  41. AJ’s reasons:

    1) P.O.’d and still a little hurt about the Game 5 snub? So, childishly exacting revenge on Hurdle.
    2) Wants to sign, but the wife says STFD with that idea?
    3) Wants to sign with Baltimore, but feels like he’d be betraying BUCN?
    4) Will sign if the Bucs come up to $15 million?
    5) Wants to skip spring training, which leads to missing his first half dozen or so starts?
    6) Genuinely torn about playing or retiring?

    I’ve kicked all of these around in some form or another since the off-season began. What does anyone else think?

    • 1, 4, and 5.

    • The Tigers bullpen is looking fierce. :)

      • Seriously, though, NMR, just for fun what is your take now?

        The Pirates pocket protector in it for whomever guesses right.

        Ok, there’s no pocket protector …

        • I’ll go with:

          7. – Saw how missing about a month in each of the past two seasons didn’t work out too badly for him, so he’ll stick with it.
          - Despite his tough guy exterior, is still grateful to the organization for bringing him here and resurrecting his career. Also remembers how he struggled in the AL Central so Baltimore is out.
          - He’s well established here as a team leader and the fans love him. Wants to enjoy what is probably the last year of his career, is more than financially stable, and is still competitive, So why go through reestablishing yourself somewhere else?

          Or not.

          • I thought the Orioles were his most likely other destination, and I heard they made inquiries. But, you are probably right that he still has nightmares of those AL East lineups and offense-friendly stadiums.

        • Sorry Jim, just noticed this post. Been watching Travis’ blog.

          I’ve been a 6) guy all winter and haven’t seen anything that has changed my mind.

          Isn’t the saying “If a guy is thinking about retiring, he already is.”? I could honestly see signing AJ turning out poorly because of that. The game is played at too high of a level in the big leagues to succeed without your heart – and head – in the game.

    • I’ll give you the same list I made last fall.

      1. Nationals
      2. Phillies
      3. Orioles
      4. Retirement
      5. Pirates

      • I thought back in October that he definitely was ticked that he didn’t get the nod in Game 5. Maybe he still is carrying that anger. AJ seems to like a guy who could hold a grudge with the best of them, under the right circumstances.

        On the other hand, if that were the case, then he has just been leading them on all this time. Or, maybe they knew they were being led on, but it looked like they were making an effort to the home folks so they went along with it?

    • 4…I just think some people forget AJ was making 16 million each year with the Pirates, not 8. Considering he was better than the last two years with the Yanks, I think its reasonable he wants to be paid the going rate.

      I will never understand why they didnt just tender him. Not that he would have signed, but I really dont want to see him wind up with the Cardinals. A pick would have been insurance enough…Every year it seems a decent starter goes down for somebody late Feb. Wouldnt surprise me if a team would make a late run at AJ.

      • I think Huntington has said a few times now the Pirates werent paying market value. AJ has the union on the other hand expecting him to GET market value.

        This isnt over yet, some other team is gonna make a run at AJ in March, if they have issues.

  42. Just read thru dejan’s chat and he seems to be back tracking a bit on the tanger trade.

    Yesterday he didn’t want to be accused of ‘stirring the pot’ by proposing a trade cuz it implies he’s writing something he doesn’t mean. But today he says he was simply proposing the “concept” with no indication pens were pursuing that route. So how do you propose a concept for a trade and then say you’re not stirring the pot? Ok i better simma down before pot overflows ;)

    However, couldn’t resist poking the bear a bit :)

    Mainly just wanted to wish dejan safe travels! And Dejan, for good reason I don’t trust a word coming from the ruskies. Watch your back and stay as insulated as possible.

    DK: I appreciate that, Monster Man. I can assure you there’s zero backtracking. Sole point of chat comment was to underscore difference between hard news (actual ongoing trade talks) and making an open proposal, as I did.

  43. Did I see a Thunder sighting today?

    Good. I brought my taser.

  44. 20 DAYS UNTIL PITCHERS & CATCHERS REPORT TO PIRATE CITY IN BRADENTON FOR SPRING TRAINING

  45. The latest on Richard Sherman is that he’s been fined $7875.00 by the NFL for taunting at the Seahawks/49ers playoff game last weekend.

  46. Ty Wigginton, apparently unaware of the new rule outlawing crashing into the catcher, has signed with the Florida Marlins.

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