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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Morning Java: Hey, give a shout!

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The TribLIVE Radio show today — 2-3 p.m. — will feature you again. Call 412-320-7925. Feel free to email if you can’t call. But I’d really rather hear from you.

What’s more, at 2:30, we’ll check in with Trib beat writer Alan Robinson at the Super Bowl in New York. And, of course, we’ll have more wit and wisdom from @SuckMeter.

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

>> A.J. Burnett will pitch in 2014, our Travis Sawchik reports in a Trib exclusive, and it won’t necessarily be in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates look pretty bad right now, columnist Joe Starkey writes.

My thoughts on the team’s offseason, expressed in last Friday’s column, remain unchanged.

Here’s our full Pirates coverage.

>> Peyton Manning, best of all time? Robinson writes that Sunday will go a long way toward furthering that debate.

On the local NFL front, the Steelers and Vikings essentially swap running backs coaches, by Robinson.

Ike Taylor talked Super Bowl on his TribLIVE Radio show …

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

>> Tanner Glass feels all the way back, by Josh Yohe.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage, including Tomas Vokoun facing live shots at practice. What a boon his return could be.

Here’s Kings news from the Los Angeles Times.

Here are official game highlights from

>> How Duke shut down Pitt’s Lamar Patterson, by beat man Kevin Gorman.

Here’s our full Pitt coverage.

>> Hope to hear from you on the show!

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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


  1. Ghost says:

    I get how the Pirates don’t want 20% of their payroll being consumed by one player. But not being willing to do it for A.J. for just one year — this year — seems to me to be a miscalculation. After 2014, Liriano and Wandy are also presumably gone. Can we interpret the non-QO of A.J. to mean the Pirates believe they have a better chance of competing for a title AFTER 2014, and without A.J., Liriano and Wandy? Seems like the squandering of a window of opportunity to me. But if anything, the Pirates have taught me to watch and keep the faith.

  2. Ghost says:

    I realize the time for a qualifying offer was at the beginning of the off-season, not now. But it is now we are finally realizing the failure to make A.J. the QO really has probably cost us getting him back. Hope I’m wrong and that I wake up to find yesterday’s reports was just postering by his camp in a bid to negotiate with the Pirates.

  3. JAL says:

    JAL’s The Boxer Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 MLB Important Dates

    4 Pirates Prospects Spring Training Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Recapping Actual A.J. Burnett News

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Top Prospects: #4 – Austin Meadows

    Winter Leagues: Polanco and Escogido on Verge of Elimination

    6 Rumbunter

    Four Words Everybody Forgets About A.J. Burnett

    7 Rant Sports

    Worst Case Scenario Occurring For Pittsburgh Pirates With A.J. Burnett

    8 Saber Bucs

    Is Adam Lind a Fit at First for Pirates?

    9 Green Weenie

    1/28: Emil Yde, Spittin’ Bill Doak, Bill McKechnie, Kiki, Chris Peters…

    10 Bucs Dugout

    What can we learn from the Milwaukee Brewers?

    A.J. Burnett to pitch in 2014, but maybe not for Pirates, according to report

    11 Pirates 101

    Source Reveals A.J. Burnett Will Explore Free Agency and Pitch in 2014

  4. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Bloomberg Sports Stats

    Characterizing The Sustainability Of Left On Base Percentage

    13 Batting Leadoff

    Marginal Win Value and Dollars Per Win

    14 Bleacher Report

    Breaking Down Top A.J. Burnett Suitors, Potential 2014 Impact

    15 Huntington Herald Tribune

    Reds start spring training, Bailey critical of timing

    16 Fangraphs

    Spending $50 Million on Two Very Different Pitchers

    17 Cardboard Connection

    2014 Topps Series 1 Baseball Variation Short Prints Guide

    18 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    MLB notes: Baseball will test protective cap for pitchers

    19 Baseball Nation

    There will always be room for Jamie Moyer

    20 Baseball Prospectus

    The Top 101 Prospects of 2014 Sliced and Diced

  5. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    James Saxon Hired as Running Backs Coach

    Steelers Mike Tomlin second coach players want to play for the most

    22 Steelers Depot

    Steelers 2013 Player Evaluations By Position – Inside Linebackers


    23 Bloomberg Stats Insight

    Ole Gunnar Smeagol and Cardiff’s Quest for Precious League Survival

    24 NBC Sports

    Premier League Roundup: Liverpool, Man United, Palace, Swansea win, Arsenal held


    25 Pensburgh

    Tuesday Slew: The Penguins Have their Own Trade Deadline

  6. bpn8pitt says:

    I don’t think AJ would have signed the QO. Now, I’m disappointed they won’t see the pick, but the fact he doesn’t require draft pick compensation makes him a lot more attractive, than if he did.

    I don’t know what he’s gonna cost but if its gonna be two or three years, which a lot teams go the extra year to get there man. At somewhere between 12-16 million a season? To a guy who’s 37? I’d rather seem them use that money to buy some FA years off of Marte or somebody else.

    If AJ goes to the AL East, by mid summer we could all be saying whew, glad we they didn’t do that. It might be wise to get off the train now.

    But I definitely see the other side.

  7. Jandy says:

    FOX NHL rankings:

    Ducks, Pens, Blackhawks, Blues…see here:

  8. Wild Bill says:

    Hmmmm, might be forced (at gunpoint of course) to watch…..that event.

  9. Jandy says:

    lol Wild One! I can assure you it’s eye candy in the link up there…

  10. Wild Bill says:

    Don’t trust Russians. She might be the team trainer, while most of the curlers look like Brett Keisel.

  11. DJ says:

    Jands: Saw that the link states: “The Penguins really miss injured winger Pascal Dupuis.”

    I was lamenting his loss yesterday or the day before on this blog. Even though goal-wise he’d gotten off to a slower start than last year, really miss what he brings and watching him play, to say nothing of the ripple effect on our 3- 4 lines.

  12. bpn8pitt says:

    And I honestly dont think the Pirates look bad unless Burnett pitches well. If he leaves the National League I think he and the American League team that signs him, is making a mistake.

  13. kr70 says:

    Joe Starkey is right on this A.M. I’m sensing the pirate brass feel like last year bought them enough good will that they can go back on the cheap.

  14. Jandy says:

    DJ, that’s an understatement, for sure. Duper always did all the little things that made a huge difference and made everyone else’s job easier on the ice. The guy just did it all. Details, none were too small to merit attention. He’s gotten some attention, but he’s still one of the most under-rated players in the NHL. Not many can keep up with Sid, but Duper has done it well.

  15. pattonbb says:

    Looks like she has nice…..form.

  16. DJ says:


    Plus a first-class person.

  17. cmat0829 says:

    The only time you can really judge payroll, and whether they are ‘cheap’ or not, is at the end of the season. If the Pirates pass on signing AJ, but then use that money to make acquisitions during the season, then it isn’t being cheap. But yes if they don’t use the obviously available $10-14M as of right now on major league payroll, then that $$ is being pocketed and that is unacceptable. But to me there are options to spend this $$ that don’t include AJ. He’s a good pitcher, still has some left in the tank, but I don’t think he has any less 2014 questions about what he will deliver than Liriano, Morton, etc. and maybe more. He may repeat 2012 and 2013… he may lose a little but still be very worthy… or he could fall apart as he did with the Yankees. who knows. Is it worth $12M to find out? Sure. But that’s me. I don’t have any idea what the tradeoffs are for how the Bucs can instead spend that money.

  18. Jandy says:


  19. Jandy says:

    ok so who broke the blog??

  20. Milo Hamilton says:

    I have a suggestion for local school districts. Maybe some of them should consider the use of actual heated buildings rather than conducting classes outdoors. This way they wouldn’t have to cancel school on very cold days.

    Just my two cents.

  21. Jandy says:

    very sound advice, Sir.

  22. bpn8pitt says:

    The way some of these deals go, AJ is probably going to get an extra year or two. At that point to me, he gets risky at 37. Id love to have the pick, like I said. But I think what makes AJ attractive to other teams now, is that he DOESNT require compensation.

    Hopefully he goes to the AL, gets shelled and it doesnt matter.

  23. Jim S. says:

    I agree totally with your first 2 paragraphs, Ghost. This is not a commitment of more than 1 year for AJ, so the risk is limited. Presumably, all of their other expensive outlays for the year have been met. The only possible salary expense they could still be adding that I can think of for opening day would be a LH-hitting 1b, and I don’t think anyone believes they are looking at an expensive proposition there. In other words, they won’t be signing Kendrys Morales.

    AJ could add 2-3 wins to the team’s bottom line this year vs. Volquez or whomever else they replace him with. If it takes $12-14 million to do that, I believe it is worth it. That could mean the difference between making or missing the Wild Card. Ownership needs to step up for their fans, just as they promised they would. Their revenues will be greatly increased this year.

    Now, if AJ and his agent are working off some strict WAR calculation and believe he is worth at least $20 million for this season, then I guess I don’t blame the Bucs for not doing it. There is a limit in this market.

  24. I say we keep cutting the education budget to make sure kids only attend school in the summer.

  25. Jim S. says:

    I know. It took me forever to get in here. I had to have a new key made!!!

  26. Jim S. says:

    Self-correction: I meant your first 2 “sentences”, Ghost.

  27. Thanks for the clarification yesterday jandster :)

  28. Jim S. says:

    I thought if he decided to pitch again it was only going to be a year-to-year thing? I don’t think we know yet that he wants more than a 1-year deal. I’m not saying he won’t negotiate for an extra year or two, but then I guess we know what AJ’s definition of “considering retirement” means. It means “definitely not ready to retire any time soon.”

    I also think AJ could potentially get more money over the next 2 years by going a year at a time. If a team offers him, say, 2/$28, they might offer him 1/$18 this year, and then if he pitches well they might offer another 1/$15 next year. That way, neither side is obligated for the 2nd year up front, and AJ gets a little more for each year.

  29. Jandy says:

    anytime :D

  30. Jandy says:

    Drew, you got some ‘splainin to do!

  31. Jandy says:

    Get some extras!

  32. theplanisworking says:

    Thank You for your Public service this morning, Jandy.
    Never knew you were that interested in curling……

  33. Wild Bill says:

    The KGB got mad over my crack about the curlers.

  34. Jim S. says:

    The Hawks have patented the fine art of getting a point and then losing in OT or shoot out this year. I go back and forth about whether the regulation tie should earn a team a point or not.

  35. Jandy says:

    I’m not, just thought you…guys…would be ;)

  36. You mean the KG used to B

  37. Jandy says:

    sucks to be them :D

  38. Jim S. says:

    Immature idiot. Ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Grew up in just about the worst country for human rights and freedom in the world, comes to the US and instantly receives millions and fame, but risks blowing it all if someone doesn’t sit him down and shake some sense into him.

  39. Jandy says:

    hope it’s not too late. I’d hate to see him take some innocent people out with him when he’s on his “death wish” rides.

  40. Jim S. says:

    There’s a Women of Curling calendar? How many more can there be that look like her?

  41. Each side has been posturing since the end of last season. And now, the time is fast approaching for this game of chicken between AJ and the Pirates to end, whether or not they really want it to.

  42. Wild Bill says:

    With a deal like that, I might want to go back and relive my childhood, hm.

  43. bpn8pitt says:

    If if turns into a bidding war, I bet he gets another year. Thats how these teams seal the deal. Maybe a player option, your right.

    I didnt know that Burnett’s ERA away from PNC was above 4. Very interested what ballpark he goes too, (league especially).

  44. JohninOshkosh says:

    My nephew is a curler. Quite good at it, in fact. Competes in national and international competitions. I’ve been to several of his events, and he has spent painfully many hours trying to explain all the nuances of the “sport” to me.

    That being said, it’s about exciting as as watching the opposition party (doesn’t matter which party) give a SOTU response. B-O-R-I-N-G.

  45. Wild Bill says:

    Bet it’s not as boring as a junior high field hockey game. And a lot quieter, without a whistle every four seconds.

  46. Knowing what i know now….absolutely! :)

  47. JohninOshkosh says:

    The crosses we bear for family, Bill.

  48. Jim S. says:

    So, supposedly AJ has decided he wants to pitch after all. How convenient.

    If the Bucs really only offered $8.5 million, then they have set themselves up for another PR nightmare IMO. I get the explanation of not wanting to allocate as much as 15-20% of the payroll to one guy. I don’t think that is a good long term practice, either. But, I think they should consider at least $12-14 million on a 1-year deal. He could mean 3 more wins to the bottom line over his replacement(s), and that could easily be the difference between a WC vs. no playoffs. I believe the fans have proven they deserve this sort of a short term commitment from the team. I also believe the extra money coming in this year gives them plenty of room to make this offer and still turn a good profit.

    The part we don’t know is whether AJ would consider any sort of a hometown discount. Estimates say he could earn $20 million on the open market this year, and we also know some team or teams will feel enough pressure to have him that they would probably offer 2 or even 3 years. I don’t think the Bucs should offer anything more than 1 year right now, given their young guys coming through the system. And, I think $20 million is too much. So, my disclaimer is that if AJ is asking for more than 1 year and more than $15 million for that one year, I would not fault the Bucs for letting him walk.

    But, I don’t see how they justify $8.5 million, if in fact that figure is accurate. No matter how I slice that, it makes them look cheap and I believe it is disrespectful to their fans. I believe their payroll should be at least in the $90 million range this year, given what we know about increased revenues and their statement that they would up the payroll when the revenues justify it. The revenues justify it. The payroll looks pretty stagnant right now.

  49. Wouldn’t you all know this: While waiting in the Capitol Hold Room last night to give the State Of The Union address, President Obama wanted to watch the Iowa/Michigan State basketball game on ESPN but said his staff wanted to watch them filing in. Gee, Mr. President, too bad.

  50. Nate83 says:

    Nice post Cmat. I think he would be worth 12 million maybe even 15 million. If he truly wants to test the open market I think he will get more then that in which case I agree the money can be used for an in season trade or other free agents although not much is left that I’m interested in.

  51. Wild Bill says:

    You have all posted good stuff about the A.J. situation. My only thought watching all this is that the Pirates didn’t really want him back this year, but were hoping to avoid a public relations problem if he’d only retire. Bluff called.

  52. Jim S. says:

    And that would be a mistake – especially if they miss the playoffs by just a few games.

  53. theplanisworking says:

    Woke up this morning to read that AJ probably won’t be pitching for the Bucs, and the Steelers and Vikings swapped running backs coaches.


    By my humble estimation, the Pirates will have roughly $35 million extra dollars this year ($25MM in national TV deal, $5 MM from extra attendance last year, and $5MM from ticket price increases.). If we take out the signing of the Great Edinson Volquez ($5MM), that money could have been used for AJ’s qualifying offer. Doesn’t matter if he signed it or not, at least a pick would have been gotten if AJ decided to go elsewhere.

    Now, it is basically AJ for Volquez in the rotation. That is a significant downgrade. I am not going with the “cheapness” factor, I am just saying, Volquez appears to be a bad pitcher.

    Oh, and in Nkvember, I said AJ would get $18-19MM a year if he went on the open market. Looks like Mr. Starkey agrees.

    Not having much faith in the PBC this morning.

  54. Jandy says:

    one has to wonder ;)

  55. Nate83 says:

    Jim your thoughts and mine on this topic couldn’t be any closer. I agree with everything you posted.

  56. theplanisworking says:


    last year payroll…….. $75 million.
    Payroll so far this year…… $74 million.

    You say not to offer more than 1 year/$15 million? What was the qualifying offer again? :)
    I think the Pirates didn’t want to offer the QO for fear AJ accepted it. Looks like a bad decision from this peanut gallery today. But, things could always change…….

  57. Honestly, when Jordan Staal got nominated for the Selke for best defensive forward, I thought Pascal Dupuis was the more deserving player. I still hope someday he gets some press for the award.

    I agree with the above comments completely. He’s not a pure goal scorer by any stretch, but he’s worked hard to improve his passing game and his awareness offensively. He can now legitimately keep up, and not just with his legs. He knows his role, he knows his limitations, and he doesn’t let his ego get in the way of either. Guys like Dupuis are never going to win you a cup, but you’re not going to win a cup without them.

  58. theplanisworking says:

    And, I just created the 13th month……… Nkvember.
    Guess it was in honor of the Sochi games?

  59. Jim S. says:

    Could be, Wild Bill. We have all wondered whether Clint was just tired of AJ’s act and didn’t think he was a positive influence any more. If that’s the case, then he needs to figure out how to replace his productivity. So far, I don’t see it.

  60. Jandy says:

    good job, Hipposter!

  61. bpn8pitt says:

    At some point you have to trust the young pitching you have invested in. Taillion will be here by Summer. Probably see Glasnow in September.

    The Pirates do have other needs. That AJ money might be allocated to resign someone else or get a catcher for 2015.

    I think we are all going to be a little surprised at how much AJ gets.

  62. Jandy says:

    RF, very well stated. I love the guy, wish he’d never have gotten hurt. Rotten luck.
    Only thru hard work did he get to the level he was playing with Sid.

  63. 21sthebest says:

    Jim, I’d go $15M as well. But I think the $8.5M, if that’s even accurate, is just a starting negotiation point.

  64. NMR says:

    “I think the Pirates didn’t want to offer the QO for fear AJ accepted it.”

    This is exactly right, IMO.

    Doesn’t make any sense to me when people like Starkey claim the team should’ve given him the QO, given that no player has ever accepted it. This logic completely dismisses the top reason players reject the QO, which is contract length. They turn down the one year offer looking for long term deals on the open market. AJ BUrnett is obviously not in a position to do so. Giving him the QO would’ve forced him to accept, or else take a ridiculously low offer from another team as a free agent seeking a one year deal with draft compensation attached to him.

    The Pirates fault was that they clearly didn’t want AJ’s personality around anymore.

  65. I’ll never forget the first time I watched curling at the Olympics: the competitors were wearing loose-fitting clothes, looked out of shape, and were actually having a smoke during breaks in the action.

    Since then, curling has done a lot to improve their image. The competitors now wear spandex suits, so they at least look the part of athletes. And, yes, I don’t see anyone smoking anymore.

  66. theplanisworking says:

    Thanks, I think?

    Maybe I can excuse it on the frozen keyboard?

  67. NMR says:

    I don’t think it was just Clint.

  68. Jim S. says:

    I agree, plan. I thought the QO should have been made at the time, and that they should have been happy to have him take it. I think he was worth it, and they knew a lot more money was coming in. So, they blew that decision, and that is water under the bridge now. I would make him an offer now at around the QO range.

    Unless Clint, some coaches and some portion of the team do not want him around now to the point where they just won’t make close to a reasonable offer. We may never know that part.

    I do understand AJ’s thinking, though. I think we’ve all been in that situation where the money just isn’t right. I mean, my company offered me a paltry $5 million for this year, and I told them to shove it. I was just going to retire until they came back and threw in an extra week of vacation. Principles are principles! :-) :-)

  69. theplanisworking says:

    Very good points.

    The only way I would be surprised at whatever AJ gets, is if he gets less than $10MM per. But, guess we have to stay tuned…..

  70. Jandy says:

    methinks you’re right, NMR

  71. 21sthebest says:

    One of the reasons I think they didn’t make the QO which I think he’d likely reject is that they didn’t want the starting point for a negotiation to be $14M.

  72. Jim S. says:

    Maybe, but that’s a pretty low starting point to have me believe they would end up anywhere near $15 million, 21. Also, they presumably have $5 million less now that Thomas Alva Edinson Volquez has been signed.

  73. theplanisworking says:

    Good points all around.

    I think this will be a big PR nightmare for the PBC (again).

  74. Jim S. says:

    Nkvember is Danish, I believe, plan.

  75. Jim S. says:

    Not this year for Glasnow, bpn. Possibly, Kingham.

  76. theplanisworking says:

    Yep, principles. :)

  77. JohninOshkosh says:

    Agree, NMR.

    I’m not upset about AJB. Now their lack of movement in other concerns, that is a different story.

  78. theplanisworking says:

    See my post below on the AJ/Volquez situation.
    A head scratcher…….

  79. Milo Hamilton says:


  80. theplanisworking says:

    I like Cherry Danish myself………. ;)

  81. Wild Bill says:

    The Pirates are quietly hoping he gets ridiculous money – and then pitches like crap for it.

  82. bpn8pitt says:

    As ive thought about this, the Pirates gave up nothing for him, two no-name prospects. Yankees paid half of his salary for two years. Thats house money. Time to walk.

    If he goes to the American League, by summer we could all be saying “Thank God that didnt overpay for AJ.”

    Spending 16 million or more on a 37 year pitcher with some clubhouse issues is something the Pirates cant do. They milked this cow for all it was worth in my opinion.

  83. 21sthebest says:

    Yeah, I don’t think the front office would’ve or will go to $15M. But I would have.

  84. Jim S. says:

    Great points, bpn.

    Ball park is always a huge factor. As I have said many times here, the Bucs offense gets more criticism than it deserves, and their pitching staff got more praise than it deserved last year.

  85. bpn8pitt says:

    I gotcha. They built this system. Its where there high talent has to come from. You got to trust it.

    As much as there was talk of AJ being a mentor, maybe they didnt want him around Cole and Taillon. Im with NMR all the way on that.

  86. Wild Bill says:

    Agree, bpn.

  87. theplanisworking says:

    Bill, you may have hit the button on this.

    All around, not exactly sound decision making from the PBC on AJ. Now, we will just have to see what happens. Or should I say, just how much he signs for.

  88. Jim S. says:

    His mom was in the car with him on at least one 100+ occasion.

    I get that he came from nothing, and now he has everything. I get that superstar players in their early 20’s feel invincible. But, there are plenty of people who should be able to sit him down and rationally explain things to him. Maybe they have already done that a bunch of times and he just won’t listen. I hope that isn’t the case, because aside from the speeding incidents he has been linked to big time partying with other celebrities in LA. He arrived very late to the stadium for a game one day, supposedly because he had been partying all night.

  89. It looks as if AJ ‘s trying to see just how much he can get before making a final decision, but then, that’s the way it’s been all along.

  90. Jim S. says:

    One has to investigate.

  91. Jim S. says:

    That could be true, bpn. But, his improved pitching the last 2 years has also been about the Pirates convincing him to go with his 2-seamer. He has cut down on the gopher balls quite a bit. Pitching to all 9 batters in an AL lineup does raise the ERA, though. No doubt about that.

  92. Jim S. says:

    Quite possible. He seems like a guy who speaks his mind. That can work great a lot of the time, and then it can go bad. I don’t know if that is what happened.

  93. Milo Hamilton says:

    In the 3rd round of the 2011 draft (95th overall), The Pittsburgh Steelers select cornerback Curtis Brown – Texas.

    In the 4th round of the 2011 draft (128th overall), The Pittsburgh Steelers select cornerback Cortez Allen – The Citadel.

    In the 5th round of the 2011 draft (154th overall), The Seattle Seahawks select cornerback Richard Sherman – Stanford.


  94. Jim S. says:

    I believe she was Miss June in that “Women of Curling” calendar. :-)

  95. JHadar says:

    As the resident Hawkeye fan, I opted for the game . . .

    And the Hawks were, to put it mildly, just not sharp. And still it came down to a blown lay-up with no time left.

  96. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, Nate.

  97. Wild Bill says:

    An inexact science, that scouting work is.

    Was that as painful to type as it was to read, Milo?

  98. Jim S. says:

    I did not see the game, JHadar. But, I have seen a handful of Iowa games this year, and I love watching that team. So much athleticism. They play really exciting basketball, especially by B1G standards. I’d like to see them go far this year, and I could easily see it happening.

    Marble looks better than his dad to me.

  99. JHadar says:

    I’d like to see AJ back.

    But I think he shot himself in the foot, performing poorly in the series with the Cards and then complaining about not getting the start.

    Then the Bucs threw an insulting offer at him.

    His body of work, he got us there . . . but then he wasn’t sharp when it mattered.

    If I had been Hurdle I would have picked Cole.

    But the offer was an insult — and I don’t think Volquez is the answer.

    It looks like a little squabble that got out proportion with both sides posturing.

    They need to put it behind them and work on a deal based on his body of work, not one game.

    That;s my take.

  100. AJ pitched like crap when he opened the playoffs last year versus the Cardinals, and then, he got mad when the Bucs wisely refused to let him start game 5, so I’m not inclined to trust that he’d come through when it counts. Of course his agent will go for all that he can get, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that AJ would be worth that, although some other team might pay him more.

  101. Milo Hamilton says:

    Pretty much.

  102. 21sthebest says:

    There have been several reports that MLB holds back some of the TV revenues for player pensions and that the $25M figure could be received by teams by the end of the current deal, and that currently teams will receive up to $20M.

    I have the increase in attendance from last year including ticket price increases and concessions at an increase of $7.1M over 2012 as I have been tracking this since the audited financials of 2008 were leaked.

  103. JHadar says:

    And I left out, AJ’s stated intention to play for the Bucs only, or retire probably didn’t help his negotiating position.

  104. Jim S. says:

    I have heard the extra money on the national TV deal is approx. $20 million after expenses off the top as well.

  105. Milo Hamilton says:

    Be it AJ Burnett or somebody else , I think the Pirates need another pitcher.

  106. theplanisworking says:


  107. Milo Hamilton says:

    I have a request of Mr. Kovacevic. I hear there are palm trees in Sochi. Could you please send pictures back of palm trees at the Winter Olympics ?

  108. Mike A. says:

    I didn’t read the whole article, but, based on everyone’s comments, this sounds like how many Pens fans felt about Jaromir Jagr in his early days…afraid he would ruin a once-promising career by wrapping a sports car around a pole.

  109. theplanisworking says:

    Ok, $20MM + $7MM + $5MM == $32MM.
    Close to my original fuzzy math.

    Tell me again how that $3MM is going to hurt?
    Bottom line, the money is there. Always has been.
    Payroll is roughly the same as last year’s.

  110. JHadar says:

    It’s an exciting team — and a young one at that. Maybe the most talent in the Big 10, but they are just learning to finish big games under pressure. If they get it before the season is over, look out for them in the tournament.

  111. bpn8pitt says:

    I’m not big on Volquez either. Maybe the worst starter in the NL last year, pitching in pitchers parks.

    Starkey, for months on the radio, you were saying patience was the key to AJ. I disagreed with that from go. The longer he was out there, when other teams missed their target, I thought it was likely someone else would go after him.

    I’m fine with the Pirates letting AJ walk. But maybe something better than Volquez or a true 1b upgrade might make this easier to swallow.

  112. 21sthebest says:

    My $7M figure includes 3 components: attendance increase, ticket price increase, concessions. So I’m saying $27M in increased revenues 2013 over 2012 from the national TV contract and gate.

    And I’m not accounting for possible expense increases in the approximate $90M of other than major league payroll expenses.

  113. Mike A. says:

    Plan, I won’t attempt to defend the front office on this issue; but I will state this as it relates to Volquez…at this time last year, HE appeared to be a bad pitcher. I’m at least willing to give EV the benefit of the doubt (and a few weeks in Bradenton under Ray Searage’s tutelage).

  114. NMR says:

    FWIW, I’m actully a fan of AJ and his personality.

    Too much circling of the wagons and groupthink going on from Clint all the way to Nutting for me. I like an outspoken personality, especially one with the edge that AJ shows.

    But to your overall point, I strongly agree. Yes, the team should’ve tried to bring him back. But whomever signs AJ is spending a lot of money on a 37 year old pitcher with about 2000 innings wracked up since his last Tommy John surgery and a questionable desire to keep playing the game.

    There is plenty of risk involved.

  115. Wild Bill says:

    Gotta hit the road, folks. Don’t go ordering any Russian curling calendars. See yinz later.

  116. Jim S. says:

    If Duke shoots as well as they did at the Pete the other night, they will beat Syracuse handily as well.

    Duke has not always played at or near the top of its talent this year. But, when they do, they look like a Top 5 team for sure. I think they may be rounding into shape at the right time. That darn Coach K! He always seems to have a plan.

  117. The fact that the Yankees just signed that Japanese pitcher for $150 million likely has free agents such as AJ thinking bigger bucks than they probably should be

  118. theplanisworking says:

    You rang?
    I don’t have any Curling calendars for you……….

  119. Jim S. says:

    I would really like to know the answer of the $64,000 question – Are they going to get 25+ starts and a healthy season from Wandy? If they don’t get that, I might take a run at Maholm. We will need another lefty.

    This assumes, of course, that AJ is pitching elsewhere.

  120. Jim S. says:

    I hope that one comes through, Mike, because it is starting to look like we really need him to pitch a LOT better than he has for several years now.

  121. Milo Hamilton says:

    I set the number of starts by Wandy this season at 0.

  122. Jim S. says:

    No one will enjoy playing that team in March, IMO.

  123. theplanisworking says:

    You think there is a bad injury in that arm?

    Man, I have tried to forget about Wandy’s injury, but you scenario could come true. They might have to rely on Taillon?

  124. Jim S. says:

    That’s my fear as well. I’m not very encouraged so far by all the reports of him feeling “really good.”

  125. NMR says:

    I think the Pirates need a GOOD pitcher. Somebody that can reasonablybe expected to put up a sub-4 ERA.

    I don’t think that pitcher exists, at least at their self-imposed price point.

    The organization has plenty of back-end guys to eat starts, at least until Taillon and/or trade deadline moves come up.

  126. pattonbb says:

    I’ll take the under for 50.

  127. 21sthebest says:

    If Volquez can do for us what he did for the Dodgers, I’d take it.

  128. bpn8pitt says:

    Agree james…as AJ sees these pitchers come off the board, he might have realized he had one more shot at some serious dough. I know he’s made a lot, but if I could still pitch like him and someone offered me 15-20, hell Ill give it a go.

  129. bpn8pitt says:

    Agree NMR… Maybe they should have tried to strike early on some guys like they did with Martin a year ago.

  130. Milo Hamilton says:

    Great time of the year to buy calendars, by the way. They’re like 75% off and there is still over 90% of the year left. Why anyone would pay full price for one is beyond me.

    Hi Frank.

  131. theplanisworking says:


  132. bpn8pitt says:

    Any thoughts on the Northwestern Union?

    The only way I would agree with it, if it ends up protecting all college athletes over all sports in every division.

    If it turns into the Mens College Football/Basketball Players Union, no way.

  133. NMR says:

    That guy was Josh Johnson, if you can remember that far back! Seems like forever.

    They reportedly had a better offer on the table, but he chose to pitch on the West coast.

  134. NMR says:

    Bingo. Volquez is going to surprise a lot of people.

    I don’t think he’ll be as good as AJ or Liriano, but he’ll be in that 4-4.2 ERA range.

  135. Jandy says:

    Indeed, I got a really nice calendar with Mustangs, all kinds of Mustangs, and hubby loves it. 75% off :)

  136. Jandy says:

    Dayum Yankees!

  137. Arriba Wilver says:

    I didn’t know you liked horsies.

  138. JHadar says:

    I think a lot depends Locke — if he is healthy and can pitch the way he did before his injury I like our chances. Liriano/Cole/Morton/Rodriguez/Locke with replacement parts in Taillon, Cumpton, Gomez, and who knows what may show up in spring training — you can leave Volquez out and still have some hope.

    But more offense is still a bigger issue to me. If the Marte, McCutchen, Polanco outfield becomes what it could be this year there’s hope, but I would like to see Pedro improve his average without losing power and see better hitting at every infield position.

    All of that doesn’t have to happen to make the club good — but most of it does. Whether or not it will will be seen on the field.

  139. Jandy says:

    400+ horses under the hood, indeed ;)

  140. Arriba Wilver says:

    I used “horsies” for a reason. ;-)

  141. 21sthebest says:

    Reminds me of all the preseason hatred last year towards Jenmar.

  142. Arriba Wilver says:

    Locke was injured?

  143. Jandy says:

    And I do believe I set you straight ;)

  144. Jandy says:

    I thought he was just worn out…

  145. Jandy says:

    I love it when players prove us wrong…I don’t mind it at all :)

  146. JHadar says:

    Yeah, he was injured. It just wasn’t a big one — he missed a couple starts and then he became very hittable. Searage thought that it was enough to throw his mechanics off.


  148. Arriba Wilver says:

    Some people still hold his comments about the Pirates needing to pony up against him, but I found this story on Michael Keaton very interesting.

  149. Jim S. says:

    Would he look good in black & gold right now, or what?

  150. Arriba Wilver says:


  151. Jandy says:

    woop woop!!!

  152. A1C McG says:

    I’ve got it trade Kris Letang, Matt Niskanen, and Brooks Orpik to Edmonton for the next 5 #1 overall picks that they are a lock for…

    Sorry felt like we needed some hockey talk to brighten the mood or at least change it from the Pirates ownership who we can spend all summer complaining about

  153. Jandy says:

    Oh my!

  154. His actions sound just like Jaromir Jagr way back when.

  155. Jim S. says:

    I think, at this point, the free agent 1 year variety are starting to get slim. And, I don’t think they want a free agent for more than 1 year.

    They could trade for someone with more than a year left if they want more quality. But, they’d have to give up quality prospects.

    Lefties still do better in PNC, and Wandy possibly not being able to be counted on is why I suggested Maholm. Plus, Cincy, even without Choo, might still be susceptible to lefties. St. Louis struggled vs. lefties last year also – although Beltran was part of that issue.

  156. 21sthebest says:

    Love the Mr. Mom stuff.

  157. Crematorium,

    What you say sounds good. However, Charlie Morton has never pitched a compete season. Francisco Liriano has never put back-to-back good seasons together in his career. There’s a whole lot of questions with them.

    AJ Burnett has been excellent for two straight seasons for the Bucs, giving them about 200 innings each season of K’s and low 3’s ERA. Plus, he’s a Leader. That’s a good bet to spend $$$$ on.

    It’s 15 days until Spring Training and BMTIB has not improved the club yet. Why would you think they are going to spend AJ’s money on someone else, when all the someone elses have already signed with teams?

  158. Well, in case you are all interested, Jonathan Martin, formerly of the Miami Dolphins, wants to return to the NFL next season although, naturally, not to his former team since, in a recent interview, he once again said that he left because he couldn’t bear the Ritchie Incognito led locker room bullying. Meanwhile, the Dolphins owner said that he doesn’t expect either Martin or Incognito to be back with the team next season.

  159. NOTHING is worse than my youngest daughter’s soccer games and practices!!

  160. Poole says:

    I think the Penguins need a blockbuster and infuse some forward (winger) depth into the team. Kunitz, Dupuis, and Jokinen are older guys. I just can’t envision this team’s forward depth in a few years. I think Kuni and Duper will eventually be third line guys as they get older and slower. And it takes time to draft and develop forwards (particularly if we are picking in the 20s each year). That’s why I think we trade a veteran D or two and try to get more than just a stop-gap. I know we are in win-now mode but I think we can do both. If we traded Letang for someone like Eberle/Kane/Wheeler…this team will be just fine defensively and we could easily afford the wingers we need. One top 6 forward would do wonders for the short term. Bennett on the third line would be a big improvement on our bottom 6.

    Not just citing Letang though. Orpik/Scuderi/Martin…any one of these players could be moved and replaced to create a more well balanced team.

  161. Arriba Wilver says:

    I agree with you guys on Edinson.

  162. Jandy says:

    Not even BOLD REAMINGS?????

  163. One basket made in last 9 minutes of game!!!

    “A lead is a terrible thing to waste!”

  164. Come on, Jimmy Tommy!

    One bad game discounts two full seasons of work?!? Sounds like you have other issues with AJ.

  165. theplanisworking says:

    Yeah, that was a HUGE issue when it first happened, now its basically swept under the rug, and I haven’t heard any resolution to this.

  166. bpn8pitt says:

    Of the four major sports, i understand hockey the least so forgive my ignorance.

    Every year it seems like the Pens need to go get that “scoring winger”. They do that. Then the playoffs roll around, everybody clamps down defensively, making the guy you just swung a deal for not as significant as they were in the regular season. I realize there are exceptions to that.

    But to me, if im the Pens I go get a great two way forward or a good blueliner that plays well against Boston’s forwards and do it that way.

    But hockey is not an area of a lot of knowledge for me.

  167. So . . . let me get this straight:

    ——AJ has been very good for the Bucs for TWO years but he may be bad this season
    ——Volquez has been very bad in the Majors for TWO years but he may be good this season

    That’s your justification for liking Edinson Volquez over AJ Burnett?

  168. Don’t tell me about the girls you could have dated!

    Show me your wife or girl now.

  169. NMR says:

    And Liriano, and Mazarro, and Melancon, and Burnett the year before.

  170. That’s also the excuse that was circulated for James McDonald.

    How’d that turn out?

  171. NMR says:

    “That’s your justification for liking Edinson Volquez over AJ Burnett?”

    How could you possibly come to this conclusion based on what was written above?

  172. The NHL has said that they would not go to Sochi if a major incident occurred before they were due to leave for there next month, so I would hope that Sochi is as secure as people have said it now is.

  173. A1C McG says:

    ok i joked about the trade earlier but on a seious note tell mewhat you think about this trade. samuleson(sp) for max talbot. hear me out talbot can play a bottom six forward spot, contribute offensively, and play solid defensively and in pk situations. can play either third line wing and bring grit and speed or 4th line and provide shut down defense with the ability to take draws as a second center if someone got tossed. not to mention he was a huge impact on fluery, seriously does anyone else realize that talbot left and then fluery started to sruggle at times. he keeps the mood light and was extremely focused, and scored 2 goals in a stanley cup finals game 7. and as much as everyone talks about shipping dmen out and why did we stock pile dmen if they are just going to sit in the minors, this is why. its a small move but the impact could be huge, we ship a shut down defenceman type to col and probably a mid draft pick (maybe 4 or 5 rd) for a guy with playoff pedigree, knows the system and can fill an immediate need of bottom six forward.

  174. 21sthebest says:

    I didn’t think Volquez was very bad in 2012.

  175. Jim S. says:

    I love Michael Keaton, AW. Always did. I love that he’s a Pittsburgh guy, but I’d love him anyway. “220 … 221 … Whatever it takes.” Great actor.

  176. Arriba Wilver says:

    Groat–I don’t think the talk on Edinson had anything to do with Burnett.

    And I don’t think the $5 mil they gave him impacts whether they will pay AJ. I just think he has more potential upside than a lot of others seem to think.

  177. Jandy says:

    bpn, you’re reading the situation pretty well. The Pens have a big blueliner…Borts…they just don’t play him.

  178. Jim S. says:

    Small sample size, guys. I’d take that as well. But, the larger sample sizes have not been kind to him for a bunch of years now.

    But, I don’t rule out something similar to the transformation of Jeanmar last year.

  179. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’d forgotten “farging icehole” from Johnny Dangerously, but that 220, 221 line seems to be the most famous. After Night Shift I would watch anything he was in. Even though he quit playing the “glib guy.”

  180. He had the worst ERA in the National League for a starting pitcher.

    I would call that “bad.”

  181. JohninOshkosh says:

    My guess is that Sochi is infinitely more safe right now than almost any mall or school campus in the USA.

    Probably safer from attack than many NHL arenas, for that matter.

  182. T-h-e e-x-c-u-s-e w-a-s c-i-r-c-u-l-a-t-e-d b-y M-L-B P-i-r-a-t-e m-o-u-t-h-p-i-e-c-e T-o-m S-i-n-g-e-r t-h-a-t J-M-a-c’s p-o-o-r 2012 2-n-d H-a-l-f w-a-s b-e-c-a-u-s-e o-f a b-a-d b-a-c-k.

    S-a-m-e e-x-c-u-s-e b-e-i-n-g t-o-u-t-e-d f-o-r L-o-c-k-e n-o-w.

    Do I have to spell out everything for you?!

  183. What a sad statement about US!

    Not US as in United States, although I guess that is so.

    Us as in “you and me.” How have we allowed this to be so in “the land of the free?”

  184. Jandy says:

    Monster mash? Time for you to chime in :)

  185. Best line ever, from Night Shift: “Barney Rubble———what an actor!”

  186. Jandy says:

    Take God out of everything and this is where it gets you. Don’t allow parents to punish their children, this is where it gets you.

  187. Jandy says:


  188. 21sthebest says:

    In 2012, Volquez’ ERA was 4.14. I don’t think that’s very bad. And it wasn’t the worst.

  189. 21sthebest says:

    “Small sample size, guys”

    Absolutely but because it came at the finish of the year, gives me a little hope.

  190. Jim S. says:

    Ok, here’s Edinson Volquez, who turns 31 on July 3, 2014:

    Going left to right – Year, Team, IP, H, HR, BB, K, WHIP, ERA

    2005 TEX 12.2 25 3 10 11 2.76 4.21
    2006 TEX 33.1 52 7 17 15 2.07 7.29
    2007 TEX 34.0 34 4 15 29 1.44 4.50
    2008 CIN 196.0 167 14 93 206 1.33 3.21
    2009 CIN 49.2 34 6 32 47 1.33 4.35
    2010 CIN 62.2 59 6 35 67 1.50 4.50
    2011 CIN 108.2 106 19 65 104 1.57 5.71
    2012 SD 182.2 160 14 105 174 1.45 4.14
    2013 SD/LA 170.0 193 19 77 142 1.59 5.71
    TOTAL 850 830 92 449 795 1.51 4.75

    There it is, warts and all. It is true that he pitched fairly well in his 28 innings with LAD last year, but he did manage to give up 5 HR in those 28 innings.

    He does still have a good arm, he does generally not give up a ton of hits, and he strikes some guys out.

    But, he also has a tendency to give up HR and he walks a ton of guys.

    I read that they will focus on having him throw the 2-seamer more, and that has worked for other Bucs pitchers.

  191. NMR says:

    I really don’t think many people are actually looking at his history. You keep, correctly, pointing out that he was a completely serviceable mid to back end starter just two seasons ago, yet everybody talks like this guy hasn’t been worth anything in a while.

    Just not true.

  192. NMR says:

    No, but it would help to do something other than completely fabricate arguments once in a while.

  193. Jim S. says:

    He kept the walks down in those 28 innings. But, he still managed to give up 5 HR in the 28 innings, which is awful. Only 25 hits and 8 walks in those 28 innings. So, yes, he improved down the stretch. But, he got rocked for the season overall, and 80% of his innings were as a Padre – which mean Petco Park (a pitcher’s park).

    I want him to do well, and I see some reason for optimism. But, I hope no one has allusions of him replacing AJ.

  194. Jim S. says:

    +++, Groat.

    How about the guy delivering the sandwich to Henry Winkler in the Apt building? He meets him in the hallway and asks, “Where the F*** is 4F?” Then, when Henry Winkler tells him he didn’t want mustard (or was it mayonnaise) on his sandwich, he pulls the bread apart and wipes it off on the wall, then hands it back to Henry Winkler.

    Now, that is comedy gold!

  195. Jim S. says:

    I posted this above, for those interested in the career stats of one Thomas Alva Edinson Volquez. But, it was sliding pretty far up the thread, so I copied it down to here.

    Ok, here’s Edinson Volquez, who turns 31 on July 3, 2014:

    Going left to right – Year, Team, IP, H, HR, BB, K, WHIP, ERA

    2005 TEX 12.2 25 3 10 11 2.76 4.21
    2006 TEX 33.1 52 7 17 15 2.07 7.29
    2007 TEX 34.0 34 4 15 29 1.44 4.50
    2008 CIN 196.0 167 14 93 206 1.33 3.21
    2009 CIN 49.2 34 6 32 47 1.33 4.35
    2010 CIN 62.2 59 6 35 67 1.50 4.50
    2011 CIN 108.2 106 19 65 104 1.57 5.71
    2012 SD 182.2 160 14 105 174 1.45 4.14
    2013 SD/LA170 193 19 77 142 1.59 5.71

    TOTAL 850 830 92 449 795 1.51 4.75

    There it is, warts and all. It is true that he pitched fairly well in his 28 innings with LAD last year, but he did manage to give up 5 HR in those 28 innings.

    He does still have a good arm, he does generally not give up a ton of hits, and he strikes some guys out.
    But, he also has a tendency to give up HR and he walks a ton of guys.

    I read that they will focus on having him throw the 2-seamer more, and that has worked for other Bucs pitchers.

  196. Jandy says:

    Revvie knows.

  197. I could write several volumns on it.

  198. Unless you are saying Tom Singer fabricated the story, I even gave you the source for that circulated excuse.

    Don’t know what you have a burr in your bra about here.

  199. Or volumes.

    Volumn is a cross between a column and what Drew, Bowser and a few others write.


  200. Sweet Jimmie,

    You got me sitting here grinning! Thanks for reminding!

  201. theplanisworking says:

    Or it’s Vokoun’s cousin………

  202. Thanks for authenticating these facts here for us.

    Looks like he was only “pretty” one year, in 2008. Scary!

  203. NMR says:

    That isn’t what I objected to. I objected to your claim that the same exscuse was made for James McDonald, since that didn’t actually happen.

  204. NMR says:


  205. Jandy says:

    haha ya both are whack ;)

  206. NMR says:

    Jim, the interesting thing about Volquez is that he already bought into throwing the sinker last season. Nothing new there. His biggest challenge will be sequencing, which means it is a good thing we have Russell Martin.

  207. Jandy says:

    Let’s leave bras out of it ;)

  208. Jim S. says:

    Just as a throw-in on Volquez, last 2 years of home vs. road stats are not pretty for his road games. Since his home park was mainly SD, and that is an extreme pitcher’s park, I think the road stats are much more indicative of how he pitched overall.

    2012 IP H HR BB K WHIP ERA

    Home 100.2 74 3 56 99 1.29 2.95
    Away 82.0 86 11 49 75 1.65 5.60


    Home 86.2 91 11 41 80 1.52 5.50
    Away 83.2 102 8 36 62 1.65 5.92

    He has not fared well, especially away from Petco.

    IRIT! Please, Ray. Work your magic!

  209. Jim S. says:

    I did read that, NMR. They improved Jeanmar pretty quickly. There’s no doubt the Pirates have a recent history of taking guys with good arms and, voila, those guys pitch better immediatley – Jonathan Sanchez notwithstanding.

  210. theplanisworking says:

    Thank You.


  211. NMR says:

    Using counting stats to predict future perforemance? Come on now, Jim!

  212. theplanisworking says:

    But this was the best the Pirates could do this offseason??

    You are right………… in Ray We HAVE to Trust!

  213. Tom Singer wrote that James McDonald had a bad back in 2nd Half of 2012.

    What the crap are you arguing about?!

    You win. I’m whimpering away.

    I have no desire to argue.

  214. Jandy says:

    De nada ;)

  215. Jim S. says:

    I wasn’t really predicting anything, NMR. Just thinking that I have not liked what I have seen from this guy for awhile now. So, I decided to look it up and see if anything jumped out at me. What jumped out at me is that he has earned all those bad ERAs by putting way too many people on base.

    If they can get him pounding the ball low in the strike zone to where he is not giving up a lot of bombs, and he can get the walks down near 3.0 per 9, then I think we may have something. But, those are big ifs – especially the walks part. Not many guys can be successful when they walk 449 in 850 innings.

    Now, if AJ were on the roster and Volquez was not being counted on as heavily as I feel he now may be, I’d be ok.

  216. JohninOshkosh says:

    Dear Abby:

    Am I just remembering incorrectly but wasn’t the blog community pretty much uniformly opposed to EV’s signing ?

    I remember thinking he was a decent acquisition until I got onto the blog to read the comments.

    After all, the boys here are my go to for opinions about players. :)

    Now, some of yinz, who know a lot more about baseball than me, are OK with it?

    -Confused in Oshkosh

  217. theplanisworking says:

    Dear Oshie:

    If it makes you feel any better, I am still opposed to that signing.
    Oh, and I think he stinks, but Ray will have to work magic.

    Free AJ !!

  218. Jim S. says:

    I might consider Stewart for Volquez’s starts if I were Clint. I believe he is known to call a good game. But, best of all, I saw a graph recently of best pitch framers in MLB last year. Those are the guys who get the highest % of strike calls on balls that should have been balls. Stewart was the best in MLB. I think he was around 18%.

    Martin was also pretty high on the list.

  219. NMR says:

    I’m just saying that maybe it’s better to look at the stats that have proven to be good indicators instead of he traditional counting ones.

    xFIP of 4.20 or lower in 5 of the last 6 years, K/9 between 7.5 and 9.5, GB Rate above 50%

  220. NMR says:

    I don’t think the research has shown there is enough of a defensive difference between Stewart and Martin to make up for the fact that Chris is an awful hitter.

  221. Jim S. says:

    I was extremely opposed to it, Osh – mainly because he allows 1.50 runners on base for his career. But, there are some smart baseball guys here, NMR among them, who convinced me that there might be something the Pirates see in Volquez that points to improvement this year. The recent track record is excellent with reclamation projects. I would say, though, that even those who said this was a decent move, are only expecting him to be a 5th starter – maybe a 4.20 ERA type this year.

    So, I think we all agree he does not make up for the loss of AJ even if he is an effective #5. That will have to come from a combination of things – Cole continues to get better, Morton pitches like he did the last half of 2013, Wandy is Wandy of pre-2013, Liriano is close to what he was last year, etc. We don’t need all those things to happen. But, I’d say our chances at the playoffs might hinge on at least most of them occurring in our rotation.

  222. I joined bizrow in retirement…drinking pina colata :)

  223. Jim S. says:

    That’s fair. There are underlying stats that look better for him. I was trying to list the common ones that are most often used on the blog here.

    I still think hits/9, walks/9, HR/9, K/9, WHIP are very important stats. They all can be derived from the stats I posted.

    Things like high GB% give me hope – especially given the Bucs track record. I think the K/9 dropped a bit, but there’s no doubt he can miss bats.

    I think the Bucs like the sink in his 2-seamer, and they like their catchers to improve just about anyone, and they like their defensive shifts to help.

    I really think much of it hinges on the walks. Does he trust his stuff?

  224. pattonbb says:

    Dear Confused –

    “You have no complaint
    You are what your are and you ain’t what you ain’t.
    So listen up Buster, and listen up good
    Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood.”

    signed – Dear Abby

  225. BPN, you’re on to something there for sure. No all star has ever won squat. Fits and chemistry is as important as talent. Kind of why i envision trading for Boyes and Goc as working out better than if we trade for Moulson or wheeler.

  226. Arriba Wilver says:

    Those must be the ones the Pirates used. I can hear Neal now. ;-)

  227. bpn8pitt says:

    A quick glance of Volquez’s career numbers, tells me he gets worse as the year goes on.

    The other thing I dont like, is the fact that the Reds and the rest of the NL Central are familiar with him. The National League has seem him. Its not like Liriano coming to a new league, facing the pitchers spot, instead of DH, ect. Not to harp on it, but he spent 2013 in probably the best two pitchers park in the NL and still got shelled, home and away. I dont see it. But I was wrong about Liriano.

    Liriano scares me a little too. Comeback player of the year TWICE, doesnt happen without a long fall.

  228. Jim S. says:

    I know. His hitting is downright scary. .214/.287/.288. And, there’s very little discernible difference vs. RHP or LHP. And, what is most amazing to me is, he actually strikes out at a pretty low rate. Teh BABIP gods owe this guy big time one of these years! He’s obviously slow as a molasses, with a low line drive rate I’m guessing. He just must not hit the ball with authority very often.

    But, he steals 18% of balls if I recall. And, he wasn’t just #1 in MLB. I believe he was #1 by a decent margin. Or, maybe the Yanks just tend to get more calls from umps! Martin, and now Stewart? Do I sense a conspiracy developing?

  229. Arriba Wilver says:

    I was pretty silent. I wanted people to like me. ;-)

    Have no idea, though, where this notion came from that people are saying or have said he would be a good replacement for AJ. Don’t remember seeing that from anyone. Except maybe in jest or sarcasm. He’s been looked at as a back end starter IIRC.

  230. NMR says:

    Haha, cliche by now, I know.

    But when it has worked so many times, why would one NOT look at those factors when evaluating if there is room for improvement?

  231. tpbco says:

    I would say so Jim…

    When you look at the batting order…it is pretty offensive, no 4 or 5 hitters but several 2, 6 and 7 hitters and when you combine that with what have to be concerns about the two closers from last year…will Grille find that 3 -4 mph he lost off his fastball at his age and why did Melacon end so poorly…just run out of gas?

    So unless one of the yungen bullpen lefties can pick up some of that slack, then the W/L record will be largely dependent on the starting rotation. If the starters can’t reproduce what was contributed in the first half of last season, then the trade deadline and callups aren’t going to matter.

    IMO, we do need damn near all those things to occur, if not it may not be just a regression, but a significant one.

  232. JohninOshkosh says:


  233. JohninOshkosh says:

    Fair enuf, everyone.

    Believe it or not, I am often persuaded by posts made here.

  234. Jim S. says:

    The other thing for me in this situation is that I have come to trust this organization a great deal with pitchers the last few years. They seem to have a blueprint that works in a pretty high % of the cases. I think it is more than just good fortune at this point. So, although I am scratching my head a bit on this one, I am willing to give NH, Searage and the scouts the benefit of the doubt. There were other guys who may have jumped out a bit more for many of us that were still available and could be had for $5 million. They chose this guy for a reason. I think they believe he can hold down #5, at least until Taillon arrives. If it blows up, I think we’ll see Cumpton, Locke, etc. very early in the season.

    Has anyone else watched that show, American Restoration, on History Channel? Rick Dale takes in formerly great appliances, motorcycles, coke machines, pinball machines, etc. that have turned into rusty, dented pieces of crap, and they restore them to their former glory. Maybe the Bucs are MLB Pitchers’ Restoration.

  235. bpn8pitt says:

    I do think Jim Benedict and Searge have done a good job fixing some guys. But I think going from AL to NL and ball park factor definitely benefitted Burnett and Liriano, maybe Melacon if you want to include all pitchers…I dont see that with Volquez. He very well could wind up like Jonathan Sanchez. What you see is what you get…But NMR’s points are valid and he was right about AJ two years ago.

  236. NMR says:

    FWIW, I think the vibe your getting of some thinking it was a decent signing is a combination of expectations and a general difference to the VUOYEBF-ERA-WERST-PITCHER-IN-THE-LEAGUE opinion shared by what seems to be the majority.

    No, he’s not going to replace Burnett. But it’s not going to take miracles for him to throw 180 IP with an ERA around 4.2, which is plenty adequate for a back end starter considering there were only 56 guys in all baseball to fit that criteria last year.

  237. piratemike says:

    What turns me off about her is the large birthmark ( can’t see it in the photos because her clothing covers it) and I found her to be very boring ( I wanted to talk about curling and she just wanted to talk about how American men made love. A one track mind.

  238. Patrick(RI) says:

    You don’t look like John Prine!

  239. Jim S. says:

    I’m in the ball park factors and switching from league to league camp, bpn. But, I recognize there is a lot more to it than just those things.

  240. NMR says:

    Jim mentioned trades a ways up there and it got me thinking. One silver lining to significantly under-funding the opening day payroll is that there SHOULD be plenty of cash to throw around in mid-season trades.

    The Pirates should be looking for evey soon-to-be-free-agent pitcher, shortstop, and first basemen on teams that aren’t expected to contend and use that money to dangle instead of prospects.

  241. Bizrow says:

    Thats if they are in the race, personally, I’d rather start the season with a strong roster and worry about trades come trade deadline. Not arguing, just sayin.

    Much like prospects, there are no promises, you never know.

  242. tpbco says:

    AGREE Biz.

    This team, as currently constructed, has a very fine line between the glass being half full or half empty…inspite of the Matt Hague invitation.

  243. Jim S. says:

    Agreed 100%, NMR.

  244. Jim S. says:

    Part of it, I think, was the letdown after Josh Johnson signed with SD. Many of us saw him as the perfect signing for the Bucs, and they obviously thought the same thing. When he accepted an apparently lower offer to pitch near home, that was deflating.

    Then, a period of inactivity as other guys signed with other teams.

    Then, the Volquez signing, which many saw as a bargain basement purchase.

  245. NMR says:

    I personally agree with you, Biz. Especially considering the amount of faith I have in that extra money being reinvested.

    But I also think there would have to be a mountain of injuries and poor performances to put this 2014 squad out of the race by June, which is the latest I’d be comfortable giving the current options at the positions I listed a try.

  246. NMR says:

    The White Sox alone have Adam Dunn who hit .250/.354/.469 after June 1st of last year and Alexei Ramirez who has been >3 WAR shortstop in three of the last four seasons.

    There will almost certainly be options available. Always is.

  247. theplanisworking says:

    But one has to be confident the powers that be realize this.

    I am sure performance will dictate needs, but I am just not confident that moves will be made. Of course, the kids could come up from the farm, perform well, and render this all a moot point.

    I just thinks fans will be less forgiving this year, due to the extra cahs coming in. Raises expectations, ya know……

  248. NMR says:

    Ha, I was borderline apoplectic when it happened. He was literally the last pitcher I would’ve wanted to be signed.

    The more I dug the more I saw that changed my mind.

  249. The Pirates also need to hit and score runs more often than they did last year so the pitchers will have more to work with. They need to raise their batting average from last season’s .235 and Pedro Alvarez, for one, needs to strike out less.

  250. NMR says:

    Lee, Wandy, and Byrd. Three good deadline trades in three years. I think it would be difficult to find a team has done better.

  251. Dom says:

    I know this has been brought up before but I really doubt AJ pl;ays in Pittsburgh. If he was going to he we would be talking about him resigning with us and not about how he will return to no specific team. He’s as good as gone.

  252. The Pirates now say that they haven’t conceded AJ to anyone else, and Assistant GM Jeff Smith says there’s still a strong interest in the Bucs signing AJ, and Assistant GM Smith says he thinks that AJ will either sign with Pittsburgh or Baltimore.

  253. tpbco says:

    Pedro HAS to raise his average to at least .250 to be a legit #5 hitter or .260 to be a legit #4, otherwise he is not even averaging 1 hit per game. You can stick him in one of those slots, but that doesn’t make him one. If he does, and I do hope he does, then who is batting in the other slot. Tablata? Lambo? Gabby? – starts getting sticky.

    It’s a lot easier suggesting where those guys might fit in the field. The actual batting order, not so much.

  254. Thundercrack says:

    I totally agree with you Biz on this one.

    The games in the beginning of the season count as much as the one after the trade deadline.

    Start the season with the strongest roster you can.

  255. tdb1977 says:

    When will people realize that what we have with Pedro is what we are going to get. He is going to strike out a lot and he isn’t going to hit for great averages. Its really, all or nothing with him. He is our version of Adam Dunn and Jay Bruce. Big home run hitters, low average, and lots of strike outs.

  256. Arriba Wilver says:

    I don’t know how accurate this is, but they’ve been reporting on the Fan that AJ’s looking for around $14 mil.

  257. And the Pirates have made it plain enough that they won’t sign AJ for that much money.

  258. Anyhow, it’s good to hear that Penn State beat Ohio State tonight 71-70; thus breaking the Buckeyes’ winning streak against PSU at 18 and Ohio State’s winning streak against non conference teams at 80.

  259. tpbco says:

    That’s fine, then he is not and cannot be a #4 or #5 hitter. That is my point. And then the Pirates do not have either currently on their roster.

    Sorry if you misunderstood.

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