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Morning Java: Up in the mountains

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

SOCHI, Russia — Доброе утро, Lunatiks …

>> The Monday column checks in on Bode Miller up in the mountains, and it wasn’t exactly his best day. But that wasn’t going to be the thrust of the topic, anyway. Hope you enjoy this one. Had a good amount of fun writing it, and I’m deeply indebted to Dr. Freddie Fu for his invaluable input.

I also have news coverage of one of the most amazing individual performances you’re likely to see, by 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaia.

This was my first time up in the mountains, and I hope you’ve had a chance to check out the pics I’ve been posting regularly on my Instagram account


Always been fascinated with extreme locations, whether for climate or geography, and this one was just amazing. The Caucausus Mountains tower over Sochi in a way that not even the Rockies tower over Denver or Salt Lake City. Sochi is sea level. Those other cities have a head start.

Well, the Krasnaya Polyana region, where all snow sports are being held, has that head start, and it still looks like the peaks are way high. The general feel is of an extrapolated Seven Springs, a series of ski lodges, but there really are people who live way up here.

Most interesting was how high you had to go to find snow, one of the organizers’ main concerns in these games. As the above photo shows, I still wasn’t high enough, but there was enough on the peaks for the downhill runs.

If you missed the two pieces Sunday, Lauryn Williams is relentlessly amazing, and Sochi has done a lot of dressing up with that $51 billion.

Here are all three videos I’ve shot for Channel 11 News so far, including the latest …

Here’s the Trib’s Olympics page.

Here’s the official Sochi 2014 page.

Here’s the official U.S. Olympic team page.

And here’s NBC’s Olympics page with all the highlights.

>> Back home, Pitt looks like a team that could use some rest. Kevin Gorman reports.

>> An NFL draft prospect comes out. What an amazing story this will be to follow, for a variety of reasons.

>> If you missed it last night, WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word had fun with a bunch of historical Pittsburgh sports debates. Check it out.

>> I’ll be filing reports for TribLIVE Radio every weekday.

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.


  1. I’m jealous. I love majestic scenery like that. I think we all do. Please keep the photos coming.

  2. Great stuff, Dejan.

    The mountain towns remind me of Telluride and Ourray in the San Jaun Mountains of Colorado. Park City is the only Utah ski town that comes close, and the mounatin relief isn’t nearly as dramatic.

    A large part of Sochi’s cost that must be taken into account is the fact that Sochi has been designed into the entire region’s 2032 Master Pan. The road, bridge, tunnel, sanitary, and power infrustructure upgrades aren’t necessarily just for the games, they’re for a future city 25 years away. Now I don’t have anywhere near enough knowledge of Russian economic and demographic trends to judge whether or not this is foolish, but I also highly doubt most American journalists do either.

    You’ll see these same articles about gigantic costs all over again when Rio hosts the summer games and world cup for similar reasons.

  3. JAL’s I’m Waiting For The Day Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 BFFL’s 2014 Pirates Stats Spreadsheet

    4 Pirates Prospects Spring Training Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates and Kendrys Morales Share Mutual Interest

    6 Rumbunter

    Neil Walker Pirates Second Baseman Joins RumBunter Podcast

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates reportedly interested in Kendrys Morales

    8 Fansided

    Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates might be forced to give up draft picks to improve

    MLB Rumors: Pirates surprised A.J. Burnett continues to test market!u3s7y

    9 Green Weenie

    2/9: Preacher Roe, Buddy Solomon, Satchel Paige, Oscar Charleston…

    10 Saber Bucs

    Are Pirates A.J.’s Only Option?

    11 IS Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates: A look at outfield prospect Gregory Polanco

  4. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Bleacher Report

    National League Central Division 2014 Season Preview and Prediction Updated

    13 USA Today

    Baseball’s 100 names you need to know: Nos. 76-100

    14 Lookout Landing

    Baseball Eve

    15 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    16 Fangraphs

    The Pirates Are Good, But Is Their Infield?

    17 ESPN

    Yes, spring training has arrived

    18 Battling Bucs

    All Era Team: Dead Ball Era (1900-1920)

    19 Rant Sports

    Washington Nationals Rumors: Is A.J. Burnett Really Worth The Risk?

    20 CBS Sports

    All you need to know: MLB news, rumors from Feb. 9

  5. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Comparing Markus Wheaton to other Steelers receivers in their second seasons

    Steelers lack of play-action passing didn’t hurt, but using it more often can only help

    22 Steelers Depot

    Steelers 2013 Player Evaluations By Position – Specialists


    23 Bloomberg Stats Insight

    Breaking down goal difference

    24 BBC Football

    Premier League: Garth Crooks’s Team of the Week


    25 Pensburgh

    Sunday Pens Points: NHL Takes a Break

  6. Some interesting speculation on the PITT football QB front….maybe…

    It sure would be nice to have more QB depth next year and the year after. The Panthers looking mighty thin @ the most important position on the field after losing Freeback to Vandy, the day before LOI signing day …..

  7. Well, after all that fuss the NFL execs raised over Michael Sam’s declaring he was gay, we hear today that Russia’s Putin hugged openly gay athlete Ireen Wust and wished her well.

  8. Dejan wrote in his column:
    “And I’m really pulling for Mexican skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe. He’s 55, if you can believe it, and this is his sixth Games. They call him “the Most Interesting Man in the World” after the Dos Equis TV ad, only he lives it: He’s great-looking, an immaculate dresser, speaks five languages, has recorded eight albums as a Euro pop star, used to hang with Andy Warhol and, oh, yeah, skis in the Olympics every four years. ”

    I want to meet this guy!!!!!

  9. My latest piece, it’s WVU

    Juwan Staten: The evolving point guard

  10. Dejan, I caught your instagrams post this morning. Just totally amazing. I can’t say thank you enough for sharing all this with us, in your own inimitable way.

  11. Randomness before we get bombarded with Spring training stuff………

    ** “Same for Marit Bjorgen.
    At 33 years and 324 days, the Norwegian cross-country legend this weekend became the oldest woman to win gold. Sympathetic to a teammate whose brother died the previous day, she honored the teammate with the medal.”

    ^^^^^^ THIS is the Olympic Spirit. Very touching gesture.

    ** Michael Sam comes out. You know, we as a society have a long way to go. Vince Lombardi, in the late 60′s with the redskins had 2 or 3 gay players. He pointedly told all coaches and players if anyone said anything about the subject, he would bounce them out quickly. If the roughest, meanest, most exacting coach in history had no problem with this 40 years ago, why should it be such a big deal today?

    ** I like the big mountain picture above. I wonder if that road is the infamous $9 billion dollar road? And, here on the blog, we have a 9 cent link. The “Final Word” link stops at January 26th’s episode. So THAT was truly the Final Word.

    Here is to all the ancient athletes in these modern games.
    My 6 degrees of separation with Freddie Fu : He operated on my mangled ankle almost 30 years ago, when I was a student at Pitt.

  12. I think the Steelers would take Sam on talent alone. I do think, however some teams, even the Steelers, might avoid him for the media crush he will bring. Not because he is gay. I think that’s why a lot of athletes don’t come out.

    Personally if Sam can get to the QB, I hope he’s in black and gold.

    • +++++++

    • Is Sam an OLB or a DE?

      We certainly have a need at DE but I don’t know if the Steelers will be in the market for an OLB. We’ll most likely resign Worilds, so we cannot justify spending anymore high draft picks or cap space on an OLB.

      • To tell you the truth Dom, I think the Steelers need to use picks on every level of their defense. They could make room for the SEC defensive player of the year.

        That to me is the interesting part about Sam. Dude, looks like he can play too. Did it in arguably the best conference in football.

        As far as Worilds, before last season, he was the one that was constantly hurt and invisible when he did play. Like to see the Steelers keep him, but I dont think they should overpay.

        There in cap hell for at least another year or two.

    • I’m reading that Sam is a DE who will be converted to LB in the pros, but the scouts don’t think he’s athletic enough to make that transition. He had 11.5 sacks last year, but 9 came in three games against scrub teams.

      I’ll be rooting for him like crazy, but after reading up on his performance I’m a little less eager to see the Steelers take him. We’ll see how he performs at the combine, though. That will go a long way to establishing his draft position.

  13. Ice Ice Baby.

    Just drove down A1A. Sun above the water line. Barely. 61 degrees, and kids hanging out at bus stops in heavy coats.

    See? It’s not just me.

  14. Quick comment to Dejan….

    All I can say is Wow, just Wow!!!!

    Thank you for all of your hard work.

    DK: Thanks! Not sure what the wow is aimed at specifically, but hey, thanks!

  15. Well, anyhow, the US women’s hockey team crushed the Swiss yesterday 9-0 while men’s hockey doesn’t begin until Wednesday and the Americans and others don’t compete until Thursday.

    • It was their “Swiss Cheese” defense that made it so easy to score. Holes everywhere.

      • The women’s hockey that I caught was Russia and Germany. Thru 2 periods, it was 1-0 Germany. I left the television and was doing some laundry and stuff, came back in the room, and it was 4-1 R Russia! Wow, they must have put it in high gear.

  16. Mama Malkin gettin it done…check out he picture

  17. Just saw the video of the Russian figure skater.

    Holy crap!

    • Holy crap indeed Arrebs. Yulia is the total package. I was stunned when I saw her routine yesterday.

      • I watched it last night. I know nothing about figure skating. So, I can only imagine how much time, dedication and work every single one of the athletes puts in just to get to that stage.

        That said, how does a 15 year old shine so brightly amongst the best in the world like that? How can Yulia Lipnitskaia possibly be that graceful and that poised already? That was remarkable.

        And, she did it with you-know-who in the audience. You know, the guy that committed the $51 billion to these Olympics. Yulia came up big for her country there.

        She is making a lot of money with performances like that.

        • I watched her, and I had goosebumps. Seriously.

          • When she was spinning around, it did not look like that leg could have been attached to her body. It looked like she was just holding up a stray leg.

        • Insanely spectacular! Incredible poise for one so young!

          And I was so glad to see her smiling broadly after her remarkable performance. I was beginning to think she was a robot! She’s adorable.

  18. Is Freddie Fu related to Lee Foo?

  19. You may also have heard about how the athlete Johnny Quinn got trapped in the shower at Sochi a couple of days ago and how he broke out of that shower.

  20. Someone should introduce Marcus Smart to Brandon Phillips. I’m sure they’d get along famously.

  21. Can someone enlighten me why the Buccos would lose their first round pick if we were to sign Kendrys Morales?

    Also, would this deter you from signing him?

    I feel we should still attempt to obtain him but pardon my French, I am not one happy camper.

  22. Don’t discount the notion that all this Kendrys Morales stuff is Scott Boras trying to create a market for his client.

    • Agree. Signing Morales would not match anything the Pirates have done in the past. They usually try to find value in free agents in less obvious things then raw numbers. Mostly they look for all around players that maybe don’t have the flashy stats but contribute in other ways or show signs that there is room for improvement in some areas.

      Morales is the opposite. What you see is what you get. There isn’t much he does well besides hit for a good average and power. It’s not even a given his body can handle 100-120 games at first base. It would be odd and expensive roll of the dice from what I’ve seen from this front office. I think it’s more likely they trade for a platoon partner or just go with Lambo and look for options during the year if he doesn’t do well.

    • Everytime I click on a story with the headline “Bucs have interest in Morales” I end up saying “Where’s the beef?”

      I agree with you Milo. Boras!

      • I think it could be that Morales signs for next to nothing during the season. I believe the draft pick compensation goes away after the draft, right? By then, someone will be desperate. Fortunately, we’re set with Lambo and McGuinness. :-)

        • MLB trade rumors keeps the Ike Davis thing alive. Im not saying thats a solution, I just think maybe the Mets demands come down closer to spring.

          Sisphysus had a great post yesterday or Sat about Lambo. The same guys who screamed about Lambo not coming up faster in the summer, are now complaining about him getting a look. Me? I think the Pirates have to trust their system. Its where 80% of their talent is coming from, high or low.

          • I see a difference between wanting to give Lambo a shot last year (personally, I didn’t) in right field which was clearly a weakness, and not wanting him to be given a platoon spot at first base on opening day.

          • The Pirates will end up trading for 1B by June, at the absolute latest.

            There is a glut of crappy 1B/RF/DH – Davis, Smoak, Moreland, Lind, Carp, Barton – that teams will realize aren’t worth their roster spot in a backup role once roster decision begin to be made. No realize at all for the Pirates to acquire any of these guys until their costs come down.

            • Then if Lambo fails will we be happy with replacing our crappy 1B/RF with the other crappy 1B/RF/DH that you listed?

              • The other players level of crappiness has been determined. Lambo’s level has not and with his strike out rate it could be historic. There is something to be said about knowing you are going to get .250 average, 15-20 home runs, 70 RBI and good defense. It’s not great but it’s not devastating to the line up. Lambo is a wild card and his crappiness could be epic.

              • No, we won’t. But this is the situation that has been present all winter.

                The DO SOMETHING crowd will turn into the HUNTINGTON CAN’T TRADE crowd when they realize all the options available stink.

              • Someone else’s crap is always better than our crap when it comes to adding players, TC.

            • I agree NH will be patient if the right deal doesn’t present itself. If Morales signs with Toronto or back with Mariners it immediately makes Smoak or Lind available for trade at a much lower cost.

              Is Middlebrooks an option at first? Has he ever played the position? He seems to be another player the Red Sox have but really don’t know what to do with him. I have to imagine his upside probably cost more then Carp would but he could be used at third as well.

            • Absolutely agree. Also, most of the teams rumored to be in on Morales and Cruz will need to make room for them. Guys like Moreland, Lind or Davis will be available for a box of sunflower seeds and some $$.

        • Even without the draft pick I’d want to stay away from Morales, principally for the reasons Nate mentioned. He just isn’t a good fit.

    • You mean Scott Boras “Badenov”? Surely you jest!

    • Good call, Milo. I wouldn’t “discount” that notion. In fact, I think I’d mark it up by 50%.

  23. And now, snowboarders at Sochi are protesting against the halfpipe conditions at Sochi, as IOC officials postphoned Monday practice and are spreading chemicals over the area to try and protect its integrity.

  24. Just watched a group of about 30 Russian policemen, in full uniform, singing “Get Lucky”. What a riot!

    Russians do have a sense of humor, although I’m not sure they were playing it solely for laughs.

  25. Does it seem convenient to anyone else that Missouri is suddenly very eager to tell us how accepting they are and were all season of Michael Sams, who has just come out? They really want us to know what a great, open atmosphere they have with their football program. What a swell bunch of folks they seem to be.

    Unfortunately, they did not seem to be so forthright about the allegations of their players participating in a rape on campus in 2010, in which the victim later committed suicide. The school administration didn’t do a whole lot to let local law enforcement or the public know anything about that story.

    It couldn’t be that they are quickly shifting the focus, could it? No, they would never do something like that.

    • Cynical bugger, aren’t you Jim? Probably on target, too.

    • It could be that the University’s fairly new President, who was installed in 2012, has a different philosophy than the previous administration. And maybe the new President isn’t being forthright on when information first came to light. And I thought the alleged assault occurred off campus.

      • I read a story on the ESPN site. It said the incident occurred at the apartment of the guy she went on a date with that night.

        All I’m saying is that, even though this happened over 3 years ago, ESPN started reporting again on it within the last 2 weeks. So, it is current news. The actions of the University in investigating and informing local police has been called into question. Obviously, the actions of up to 3 football players at that time are also being called into question, as another football player accused them of rape after supposedly seeing a tape of the incident.

        Now, Mizzou’s football program suddenly being shown as the picture of openness and acceptance to the world seems a bit questionable from a timing standpoint.

  26. Been reading some hockey coverage for the games and basically just seeing a lot of the same repetitive jargon. If there are any editors or producers out there that want some intricate, elaborate and outside the box coverage for the games feel free to let me know.

    Looking to do something of the more official variety…

  27. Personally, I hope we stay away from Morales and guys like him. I’m a Lambo booster. Give him a shot and let him fail if he does fail.

    The Ike Davis talk is stirred up again, too. We aren’t known, at least in the past, for fixing swings and his supposedly needs fixed.

    Unless Smoak or someone like that comes up, my vote is to give Lambo a true shot. Of course I’m not registered to vote on the Nutting payroll roster. Just a blog vote.

  28. I don’t feel that the Steeler cap room is a dire situation.

    At the moment, we’re about $10 million over.

    Levi brown is as good as gone so that will save $6.25 million.

    Ike will be gone and that will save $7 million or he’ll take a pay cut and we’ll save $3 million if not more.

    Troy will almost certainly take a pay cup and I’d estimate that will save about another $3 million.

    I also noticed that we have 62 men under contract and we’ll obviously have to part ways with nine of them and that will save us an additional $5 million.

    Now, at a conservative estimate, we’re saving $17.25 million and we’re under the cap by at least $7.

    Now, the amount it costs against the draft signings typically cost against the cap is $5 million. That figure alone might be saved if Woodley takes a pay cut, which would be the only way he remains on the team. We also might wait till after June 1st and release him and that will save more than $10 million, I believe.

    • If they wait on Woodley, that $10 mil savings is split over the next 2 years, not just this year.

      I think. Milo probably knows.

    • But, all of these guys you are saying will take pay cuts … isn’t that really just pushing the problem into the future again, Dom? We are already paying too many guys who don’t play for us or won’t be playing for us while still on our cap rolls.

      • No. They’re not restructuring their contract like Ike did last year when we signed Levi Brown. They’re agreeing to be paid less like Casey Hampton did his last year with the Steelers.

        A year from now, I really don’t see the cap space being an issue as Ike, Troy, Woodley, and maybe Heath might be gone. Plus, we would no longer be paying guys like Willie Colon. I think we would still be paying Woodley if we were to release him but we’d be paying him much less.

  29. That was supposed to be a reply to bpn8pitt above.

    • Dom, cap stuff gets confusing me, so I cant say anything for sure. But like Jim said, I think cutting someone just delays the problem.

      I thought Peter King, Matt Williamson, Clayton and Bouchette maybe even that Kovacevic guy have said they have cap issues for at least a few more seasons. And thats even before you get to what the decide to do with Ben.

      • According to this, we’re well under the 2015 cap:

        This does excludes our 2014 draft picks but it is including Levi Brown, Lamar Woodley, and a +$18 million cap hit against Big Ben.

        • Lot of guys missing from that list. The one that stuck out to me was Pouncey. Not sure if Heyward was there or not.

          Thats just stating whos under contract in 2015, it doesnt include new contracts for FA, extensions ect.

          Everything I heard said they will be right up against it again, even if they get creative with a new Ben deal.

          • If we resign Heyward, Pouncey, and two or three other guys who we can’t think of the total against the cap would be around $20-30 million, right?

            If you only subtract Levi Brown from the list, we’ll be at around $77 million total. I’d estimate that the cap will be around $125-130 million in 2015 so we’ll be about $50 million under. I really done see this being an issue.

  30. We’re only 70 or so hours from baseball spring training camps opening up. And so, hopefully, the Pirates will do much better than they’ve been projected to this season thus far.

  31. Morales last year hit .277/.336/.449. That is pretty close to what he gives you every year, if he’s healthy. He had 34 doubles and 23 HR. He had, essentially, the same home/road stats, and hit about the same RH and LH. In 657 plate appearances (602 ABs) he whiffed 114 times. So, he’s not a K machine. He’s a pretty consistent hitter. He turns 31 in June.

    One question is his fielding competence. I have heard a lot of people say he is strictly a DH / emergency 1b now. I have also heard that Eric Wedge says he can be an average 1b. Jim Bowden said the same thing, although I don’t trust his player assessments at all.

    I think he can be counted on to hit a lot better than Lambo is projected to hit.

    If no one signs him before the season starts, and Lambo is stinking up the joint in June, it would make sense to me to take a flyer. His asking price would obviously be a lot lower under that scenario, and if we can do it w/o losing the pick I don’t see the downside … unless, and this is a big unless … they have decided that he is such a disaster at 1b that they are willing to accept less hitting there.

    To me, the fact that he hits pretty much the same from both sides of the plate means that he can stay in the lineup vs. tough LHP and Gaby can maybe spell Pedro. But, I’m not sure if Gaby can still handle 3b.

    • If nobody signs him when the seasons begins, wouldn’t he take the offer from the Mariners?

      • He doesn’t get a do over on that, Dom. I believe that ship has sailed.

        • Oh, did he miss his time frame of signing with the Mariners?

          If so, bad news for him but that will be good news for us if we can pick him up in June.

          • I don’t exactly how long they have to accept, but that time has long since passed. If not, he definitely would have accepted the $14.1 from Seattle by now. I think they have to do it before they hit the open market, Dom.

          • I don’t know exactly how long they have to accept, but that time has long since passed. If not, he definitely would have accepted the $14.1 from Seattle awhile back. I think they have to do it before they hit the open market, Dom.

            • Jim, Morales stinks in the field.
              He would have to put up huge offensive numbers to overcome that. I mean, he is awful in the field.

              Too bad the Pirates didn’t get Loney.

    • I don’t think the Pirates will wait until June, Jim. We’ll probably know by mid-May at the latest if Lambo can develop. No room for Adam Laroche-type starts for these guys anymore.

      If Lambo can handle the pressure and produce and keep developing in the field is the key for the first few weeks. We don’t want to be buried behind the Cards, Reds and possibly the Brewers by June.

      • I don’t think they will wait that long, either, Lucky. I was just saying that I think that is the only way they’ll get Kendrys because I believe that is when the draft pick compensation goes away. And, I also believe by then his asking price will be greatly reduced. If he is still there in June, he could be a steal.

        I actually believe they will make a trade for one of the guys we all keep hearing about sometime before the season starts. As NMR says, even though we fans get frustrated by the uncertainty, there is no point in paying a heavy prospect price for a guy that one of those teams is likely to find expendable soon enough.

        Of course, another team could also trade for them – just as another team can sign Morales.

        I actually think Morales is a much better and proven hitter than any of the platoon options being considered. As I said, though, the Bucs would have to be convinced he can be an average fielder.

        • Jim, do you think the Pirates were surprised at some of the demands for Davis, Lind Smoak others? Was it there arbitration figures?

          I kind of think they entered the offseason knowing they were going to non-tender Jones and look at first baseman. Once they saw some of the costs, they went for the cheaper options like that kid Mcguiness; giving Lambo a shot.

          Let me ask you and others this, maybe its stupid. If Hanson was a year closer, farther along defensively, would Walker have had chance to be dealt for 1B/RF? Not just including the guys on the list, anyone in reason…Im really torn on Walker to be honest. I think his pricetag for an extension is going to be pretty steep and I wonder if A) Hes worth it. B) The Pirates would pay.

          • Considering they reportedly turned down a Neil Walker for Adam Lind deal, it seems like they value him more. As they should.

            I could definintely see moving walking before he hits free agency, but he’s too darn good to give up three years of control for a questionable platoon first baseman.

            • For sure, NMR. I was thinking bpn was suggesting a better 1b than the platoon options mentioned. I haven’t thought it through, but I assume there are 2b in MLB that are comparable in value to Walker.

      • There you go, Lucky. Wait. JAL never lets an Adam Larouche mention go by without saying it’s a myth and he will point to one decent April and one decent May (in different years).

        It’s coming. ;-)

      • “We’ll probably know by mid-May at the latest if Lambo can develop.”

        Just remember, Travis Snider was hitting .292/.364/.406 on May 16th of last season.

        Takes times.

        • Isn’t about mid-May the time they gave Clement in 2010?

          Another thing to consider, if the Pirates come out of the chute red-hot, or ice cold, I think we see Lambo entrenched at first, and not give up anything for the gaggle of available 1B.

          • I think if they come out of the chute ice cold and Lambo is struggling – they will make a move.

            In 2010 was GI Jones considered a starting outfielder? Was Clement platooning with anyone?
            I can’t remember….or I am trying to forget.

            • I try to forget the entire Clement trade/scholarship.

              The only reason I say the Pirates do nothing if they start really cold, is the FO may want to just keep all their assets, and not waste them on a trade for a boderline 1B, out of the many available.

              If the Pirates are close to the Cards-Reds, then they will make a move.

              • I think the pitching (starting and relievers) will not have a major regression. So if the Pirates start off really cold it very well may be because of lack of hitting – and Lambo will be lumped into that group and is replaceable.
                They won’t trade for a RF – they’ll wait for Polanco.
                They won’t trade for a SS. And every other position has an established player.

          • I go the opposite way, plan. I haven’t seen any indication that the Pirates would stick with a struggling Lambo at 1B over Gaby Sanchez.

            You’ll see Gaby get the majority of AB’s if Lambo struggles.

            • No, please!! Just … no!!

              • You watch, Jim. The powers of regression will prove that Gaby isn’t as bad against RHP as he was last year.

              • Could be, NMR. But, in 2012, he was .207/.251/.315.

                I know his career numbers are better than 12/13. But, I’m wondering if it is just an eroding skill. He is atrophying. Is that even a word?

              • Ha! You’ll never have to worry about me calling you out on made-up words.

                I honestly can’t answer that, Jim. But I do know the only major statistical difference between ’10/’11 and 12′/13′ is BABIP, and we know how that can fluctuate in small samples. You have to ask yourself if there is a logical reason Gaby’s skills went from a .280 BABIP to a .230 overnight, or if that is a prime reason for (positive) regression.

                He walks at a double digit pace, so all you need him to do is hit .250 against RHP and he’ll be an above average hitter.

              • I doubt you’ll ever see this, NMR. But, you make a good point. BABIP is a good “go to” stat that I didn’t consider with Gaby in this instance.

                But, I just felt like he never made solid contact against RHP the last 2 years. I know it’s dangerous to judge things on the eye test alone, but he just looks like he can’t hit RHP to me now.

  32. I don’t know if they were surprised at demands for platoon 1b, bpn. But, I would say the Pirates have a very set idea of what players are worth and they like to get discounts. Recent history suggests it is true. They feel they have to be smarter than teams with deeper pockets.

    I don’t think they were ever planning on trading for a RF. They are comfortable with what they have until Polanco arrives.

    Hard to say whether they would deal Walker for a 1b. I think they like him and they probably think he is improving as a hitter. I feel that way. But, he is probably also priced out of an extension with this team.

    I feel like DK on his Friday on his Friday chat.

    Ok, time for 1 more. Haha!

    • Me, I dont think Neil Walker is a 8 figure player. 8-9 million per season is what I think hes worth.
      But bpn8pitt doesnt make the baseball market, thats for sure. Considering Cano is the cream of the crop at 2B making 200 million, and the Yankees are kicking around Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson at 2B (!!!!)…Walkers gonna get paid, somewhere.

      The whole AJ thing, and the Pirates reluctance to pay someone 10-15 million dollars a season is troublesome moving forward. We are gonna see the guys come up, play 4 years and then price themselves out of Pittsburgh through arbitration or the Pirates ability to resign them.

      Sorry for knocking Walker, yinzers. But the O-for in the playoffs killed me (and them).

  33. Forget first base. Forget the Steelers cap.

    It’s afternoon.

    Which means, until the dinner hour, it’s AJ Time.

    Who has the honor of getting us started?

    • “Drew from FL wants to weigh in on the latest AJ Burnett rumors here on MLB Blog/Radio. Drew, what say you?”

    • DK said he probably won’t be back (if memory serves), so he’ll be back in black and gold by March.

    • Phillies and Os are out.

      • Is that new, confirmed info, Dom? Or, the rumor from Friday? I agree that Philly is out. Amaro, Jr. pretty much said that. I think AJ may have told them he is not interested in being one of the younger players on the team.

        I don’t see why Baltimore would be out. There was a report that said AJ preferred the NL. I thought Washington was set, but if they can grab him reasonably at the last minute, I bet they’d consider it.

        I don’t know what to believe.

      • If you follow twitter he was messing with Jason Werth a little…the dude at Rumbunter would write a post based on that (similar to the picture of a batman suit hanging up being symbolic of a decision to retire?)….

        I think you’ll know when you know…and it will be soon as he will likely want to get in a full spring training.

        Too much speculation and bashing the front office for not making a qualifying offer…essentially that has kept his price higher as teams are more inclined to pay instead of give up draft pick on an aging starter, so who actually did whom a favor here? I personally love the idea of several million deferred if he signs in pgh as a thank you and farewell…(see Morales discussion above). Who knows….

  34. Hockey news:
    The Penguins sent three players to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to receive extra work during the Olympic break.

    Forwards Brian Gibbons, Jayson Megna and Harry Zolnierczyk — who have provided sparks in recent weeks — will play in the AHL during the break.

    The Penguins don’t play again until Feb. 27 against Montreal.

    Zolnierczyk must clear waivers to play in Wilkes-Barre. NHL teams have until noon to claim the former Flyers forward. Gibbons and Megna do not have to clear waivers.

    Gibbons (four goals), Megna (four goals) and Zolnierczyk (two goals) have provided the Penguins with speed.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

    Then this:
    WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Harry Zolnierczyk, who cleared waivers earlier in the day after a stint with Pittsburgh, scored a goal, assisted on another and even blocked a few shots as the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins survived a late charge to beat the Adirondack Phantoms, 3-2, on Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

    Glad Harry Z cleared waivers. I’ve taken a liking to him, and want to see him return.

  35. I, for one, could care less about which athlete is gay and which isn’t, and while many fans and players and coaches and GMs will be nervous about Mr. Sam, they’ll eventually have to understand that gays are not about to remain in the closet and they’ll keep coming out regardless.

  36. Tanner Glass likes soccer. On the break, he’s going to Lisbon, then London, and he and friends are going to see Liverpool-Arsenal. Imagine that ;)

  37. And now, most attention down here in Daytona Beach, Florida will be turning to NASCAR and the Daytona 500, just as it does every year at this time. And Richard Petty, while he doesn’t think that Danica Patrick will ever be successful competing for NASCAR, also feels that Danica is at least attracting fans and welcome attention to the races, for which he is grateful.

  38. NMR
    I would like to nominate your post at 10:50 am as Post of the Day.

    And please remind me of this as the trading deadline approaches this summer.

  39. Two totally random comments, after going back and reading some of the comments from yesterday after I had checked out:

    * We had a poster from the great state of Montana check in. Arriba asked if he had ever run into Michael Keaton there. Great line! Arriba sent a link with an interview with Michael K last week, and he lives in Montana.

    * I asked DK if LoLo Jones is in the same sled as Lauryn. DK later got back to me with the disappointing news that they are in different sleds because they are both brakemen. I can only say that I hope we get coverage of both sleds, then, from NBC.

  40. Biz, from Relentless Lauryn article:
    February 9, 2014 at 7:07 AM

    While I’m not a hero, if you want to put an asterisk next to Clarksburg, WV I am a proud firefighter.


    February 9, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    Biz…please add me for Akron, Ohio

    Yinzer in Eugene OR
    February 9, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    Hopefully you got me biz

  41. ESPN Insider speculating the PBC might be interested in Brent Wallace, who was DFA’d by the Stros?

    Former No 1 pick of the Cards

  42. Could possibly see PBC do a minor league deal with an invite.

  43. Just got to look at DK’s instagram pix here at home. Can’t get them at work. Some great stuff. That church looks like our church here in KY. (not really)

  44. Interesting forward lines by Team USA Head Coach Dan Bylsma….

    Dustin Brown – Ryan Kesler – Patick Kane
    James Van Riemsdyk – Joe Pavelski – Phil Kessel
    Zach Parise – David Backes – TJ Oshie
    Max Pacioretty – Paul Stastny – Ryan Callahan
    Extra: Blake Wheeler – Derek Stepan

    In the Olympics, you can dress 20 skaters which is two more than the NHL. Most countries opt for a 13th forward and 7th defensemen. You normally don’t see those two skaters get much if any time on the ice unless there’s an injury.

    Not sure I’d have Parise on the third line but Byslma might be thinking his best bet to win the Gold is having an offensive threat on each of the top three lines. I think the 4th line is going to be solid as I think too many people don’t give Stastny his due and doesn’t hurt to have two wingers that I really like and wish were on the Pens.

  45. I like Parise with Backus a lot, Eric. All three are native Minnesotans. Probably know each other very well. Plover, Wisconsin (population 12, 000 and change), native Joe Pavelski centers the second line. If we win, that little burgh in the Wisconsin boondocks is going to go nutso!

    Can not wait for the puck to drop. The Russian crowds were insane with their women’s team. Can’t imagine the atmosphere when our nation plays them!

  46. As for renaming the Washington Redskins football team, I would like to know what the critics would wish to call them instead.

  47. And now, we’re hearing that the warm weather in Sochi is making it difficult to compete, which makes one wonder why the IOC couldn’t have developed optional plans and locales for staging their winter events.

  48. What Dan Bylsma is chasing, on a personal level, at Sochi:

    List of head coaches in the history of the world that have coached both a Stanley Cup winner and an Olympic Gold Medal winner:

    1. Mike Babcock
    2. N/A

  49. New Castle 58
    Central Valley 43

    - New Castle 22-0. Again.

    • I don’t know which is more impressive………….. the fact that they keep winning, or the fact they keep winning when every single team has them marked on the calendar, and gives it their best to defeat NC.

      They should be favored to win the WPIAL again, but will be huge underdogs to win the state title, unless some of the Philly teams get upset.

  50. Well, at least Julia Mancuso has won the third US bronze medal in the Giant-Combined Slalom, so now, the US has 5 medals total. Ms. Mancuso is the third American to medal in 3 straight Olympics.

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