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Vacation thread 2-26-14

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

On break until March 10. Please feel free to use this post as a discussion thread, as always.

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.

241 Comments

  1. JAL’s JAL’s Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better Morning Links Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-mePGdt8nU

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

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

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

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

    3 BFFL’s 2014 Pirates Stats Spreadsheet

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsjN0zO-DxI0dDNkaWxFNWIwNDVUQzEwYXp5SlpGNkE&usp=drive_web#gid=0

    4 Pirates Prospects Spring Training Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/st2014

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Why Tony Sanchez Spending 2014 in Triple-A Isn’t a Bad Thing

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/02/first-pitch-why-tony-sanchez-spending-2014-in-triple-a-isnt-a-bad-thing.html

    Taiwan is a Baseball Hotbed, and the Pirates are Getting a Strong Presence There

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/02/taiwan-is-a-baseball-hotbed-and-the-pirates-are-getting-a-strong-presence-there.html

    Spring Training Notes: Stolmy Pimentel and Tony Sanchez Impress

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/02/spring-training-notes-stolmy-pimentel-and-tony-sanchez-impress.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Ask Bucs Dugout: Qualifying offers, shortstops, payroll, and why I like baseball

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2014/2/25/5446438/ask-bucs-dugout-qualifying-offers-shortstops-payroll-and-why-i-like

    7 Rumbunter

    Stolmy Pimentel: Trade Bait or Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Sleeper?

    http://rumbunter.com/2014/02/25/stolmy-pimentel-trade-rumors/

    Tony Sanchez Off To Hot Start, Is It The Hair or The Forearms?

    http://rumbunter.com/2014/02/25/tony-sanchez-pirates-spring-training/

    Pirates Lineup for Yankees, Depth, and Future Strengths

    http://rumbunter.com/2014/02/25/pirates-lineup-yankees-ponders-curiosity/

    8 Green Weenie

    2/25: Syd Thrift, Tony Womack, Matt Lawton…

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2014/02/225-syd-thrift-tony-womack-matt-lawton.html

    9 Fake Teams

    Prospect Profile: Gregory Polanco

    http://www.faketeams.com/2014/2/25/5448198/prospect-profile-gregory-polanco

    10 Saber Bucs

    Neil Walker 2014.

    http://saberbucs.com/blog/2014/02/25/neil-walker-2014/

    11 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Francisco Liriano Tabbed To Start Spring Training Opener

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2014/02/24/pittsburgh-pirates-francisco-liriano-tabbed-start-spring-training-opener/

  2. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Bradenton Herald

    Pittsburgh Pirates | Catcher Tony Sanchez hungrier after taste of big leagues in 2013

    http://www.bradenton.com/2014/02/26/5014957/pittsburgh-pirates-catcher-tony.html

    13 Rant Sports

    Who Cares About A.J. Burnett Making His Philadelphia Phillies Debut Against Pittsburgh Pirates?

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2014/02/25/who-cares-about-a-j-burnett-making-his-philadelphia-phillies-debut-against-pittsburgh-pirates/

    14 Pirates Site

    And they’re off: Spring slate just the start for Bucs

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/pirates-open-spring-training-schedule-against-yankees-on-wednesday?ymd=20140225&content_id=68328728&vkey=news_pit

    15 Beaver County Times

    New Pirate McGuiness could be factor at first

    http://www.timesonline.com/sports/pirates/new-pirate-mcguiness-could-be-factor-at-first/article_dcea1a08-f42c-5925-a582-f63f691cdd43.html

    16 SB Nation

    Preseason Predictions: What are they good for? (Absolutely nothing)

    http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2014/2/25/5445816/preseason-predictions-blue-jays-white-sox-injuries-luck-jose-reyes

    17 Washington Observer Reporter

    Pirates hope Sanchez is answer at first base

    http://www.observer-reporter.com/article/20140225/SPORTS0401/140229546#.Uw3RdYUsqDI

    18 St. Louis Post Gazette

    Cards insist Martinez ‘clean up’ Twitter account

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cards-insist-martinez-clean-up-twitter-account/article_6e9455f8-d580-5162-b3c8-f734ef42d274.html

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Prospects Will Break Your Heart 2014 Organizational Rankings

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22906

    20 Chicago Sun Times

    Faces of MLB managers seem to be getting younger every year

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/25835996-574/faces-of-mlb-managers-seem-to-be-getting-younger-every-year.html

  3. Hopefully, Pitt beats Boston College tonight, since Boston College did upset Syracuse and end the Orange’s winning streak.

  4. Coach Dan Bylsma thinks that the Pens’ defense is still okay despite the injuries, and it better be, considering that he guaranteed that the US would win the bronze against Finland.

  5. On the status of Pens’ injured players and the looming trade deadline:

    The injury report provided by Shero and coach Dan Bylsma was grim:

    • Right wing Pascal Dupuis’ knee injury wasn’t just to his ACL but also to his MCL. He was forced to strengthen other portions of his knee before finally having surgery seven weeks following his injury. Dupuis will miss six to eight months, making his availability at the beginning of next season uncertain.

    • Right wing Beau Bennett, dealing with a broken wrist, suffered a setback that will keep him out of the lineup for at least three to four more weeks. Bylsma called the setback “more of a bump in the road than a wall,” but Bennett figures to see little game action before the postseason.

    • The Penguins remain unsure whether Letang will play again this season.

    • Martin will miss at least four weeks with a broken hand and could miss closer to six weeks.

    • Neither Bylsma nor Shero confirmed that goalie Tomas Vokoun, out since September with a blood clot, will play this season.

    Letang’s immediate future should play a role in how aggressive Shero is at the trade deadline. The general manager said he would leave room for Letang to play, should he be medically cleared to return before the playoffs. Shero would have more salary-cap flexibility to make a move if the team moved Letang to the long-term injured reserve list, which would free $3.5 million of prorated salary.

    Shero said the team will attempt to make “an educated guess” regarding Letang’s status, then act accordingly at the trade deadline.

    Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5660870-74/dupuis-penguins-bennett#ixzz2uQqekwdD
    Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

    • And when is th
      ‘educated guess’ be made?

      • I would imagine right before the trade deadline :)

      • to be made! ugh, need coffee…..

        • I don’t think they can do anything too meaningful without Letang Cap money…..

          • They have Dupuis’ at $3.75M

            • Yes, I was thinking RS should try to get permanent solutions not rentals……we could get someone fofr that for playoffs, but long term?

              • I’d love to have some permanent wingers (top) on this team, but with the cap hits of Sid and Geno, and then Letang, it won’t happen

            • I believe there’s no cap once playoffs start…unless new cba changed that. So technically we could load up then take everyone off IR right before 1st round.

              And dont read too much into yesterday’s press conference. If you’re shero trying to get prices to come down what are you going to say? Of course your gonna say we have no cap space and prices too high.

          • Since the ladies here have the hockey knowledge this morning, I ask this question to Sarah and Jandy …

            If they put Letang on L-T IR, how much space does that free up? Whatever is left of his salary at the time he goes on?

            • I’m no cap space geek, I bow to Sarah and Monster Mash.

              • With disco saying the Engo will be back on d, does it really matter? Sarah should i say “oy” or will you?

              • I really cannot believe after last year’s playoffs they’d even consider putting ENgelland on D again.

                After spending all year preventing Despres/Borts from getting the experience they need.

                It’s just terrible use of personnel and Classic Bylsma.

              • He needs to be 7th or 8th dman.

              • Capgeek.com has a great article in their FAQ on how LTIR is calculated but, fair warning, it’s still very complicated. There’s a reason so many lawyers are involved… http://capgeek.com/faq/how-does-long-term-injured-reserve-LTIR-work

                The Penguins have just shy of $1.2M in cap space right now, and that takes into account LTIR designations for Vokoun and Dupuis. If the Pens were to place either Paul Martin ($5M) or Kris Letang ($3.5M) on the LTIR, it would give them $8.5M in pro-rated cap space relief to spend on replacements.

                There’s a catch, however. If the Pens use that cap relief by placing either (or both) on the IR and then acquire additional players, they won’t have enough cap room to take those players off the IR prior to the playoffs (playoff salaries don’t count against the cap). That could mean keeping a healthy Martin or Letang from valuable game time in the regular season, essentially starting them in the playoffs “cold”.

                I think what Shero is going to do is weigh his options for trade before moving players to the IR. If he can pull the trigger on a trade, and he needs the additional cap space, he will make the LTIR designation at that point. Until then, placing either Martin or Letang on the LTIR may handcuff his ability to place either player into the lineup once they’re healthy.

    • M.A.S.H. unit continues.

  6. So, Jaime Garcia, who missed all of last season with arm injuries is still having pain this spring. And, he is being sent to to Dr. you-know-who for a 2nd opinion. The Cards brass say they feel pretty optimistic about things, but they want to be sure. Usually, when you have that appointment with Dr. Andrews, you don’t leave without surgery scheduled. If so, St. Louis will have no LHP in their rotation this year. I think that makes it even more imperative for us to have someone who can swing the bat well from the left side at 1b.

  7. Welcome to Hockey Talk with Sarah and Jandy! Long time / first time…

    Seems like the Pens cannot catch a break with injuries this year. My question is, with so many areas of need, who would you suggest for long term solutions instead of going the band aid route that got us bounced from the Playoffs last year? Thank you for your time.

    I’ll hang up and listen.

    • Well I definitely think we should NOT go band-aid/rental if at all possible.

      I’m not enough of a Cap geek to know how match of Letang’s hit we could use if we put him on LTIR.

      Monster’s right we could load up and then take people of LTIR before playoffs…..but then we may blow the cap next year so we;d have to get rid of some people…..which means Rentals I suppose.

      I think the moves from last year have tied our hands a good bit……

      • I’m not a big fan of making a ton of short term deals at the deadline in hockey any more than I am in baseball. I said when the moves were made last year that the influx of talent wasn’t automatically going to make them a better team as a lot of people assumed. It is hard to integrate so many new players into something that has been building with a different group of guys for months. But, RS kept adding and adding.

        I don’t think he’s going to have that option this year.

        • See my comments above about the cap and potential LTIR implications (http://blog.triblive.com/dejan-kovacevic/2014/02/26/vacation-thread-2-26-14/#comment-497627).

          The problem with long term solutions is the cap. The Penguins have just shy of $16M free for the start of next season, but they also have 10 NHL contracts that are up at the end of the season (not to mention Simon Despres, who will be looking for one). There are some pretty big names on that list, including a few UFAs like Niskanen and Jokinen who will be looking for significant increases and a few key veterans like Orpik and Vokoun who the Pens will need to make decisions on. The cap increases by about $7M next season so the Pens do have some room to factor in salary increases, but taking on a contract in the $4M+ range for next season may limit what Shero is able to do to re-sign the players he has.

          The Penguins are in a rather unique situation at this point because they can afford to absorb more salary at the deadline (if they put Martin and Letang on the LTIR). The problem, as most have pointed out, is that there’s few sellers and a lot of buyers. At the skilled forward positions, competition is expected to be fierce for the top players. The Penguins would ideally like to deal from a position of depth, which means prospect defensemen. Considering the injuries to Martin and Letang, Shero is not going to be willing to pay a premium for a top-tier forward if it means decimating his defense. Someone like Sam Gagner, who comes with a $4.8M contract through the next two seasons, would come at a lower price because of his cap hit but still fill the need for a top-six forward. Unfortunately, his salary would probably mean someone like Brooks Orpik wouldn’t be retained.

          Another option I’ll float: take on someone like Ryan Miller from Buffalo as goaltending insurance for the playoff run. Not too many teams are able to deal for Miller, as his $6M+ cap hit is too much for many teams to digest. As I said, Shero is in a unique situation to use the LTIR to his advantage here. The likelihood of Vokoun seeing any action this year is still debatable, and who knows if he’d be in any shape to take starts in the post-season. Acquiring Miller as a rental would be a rock-solid backup for Fleury, and would also take a little pressure off Shero from trying to find additional defensive depth at the deadline (which may be difficult). GM Ted Murray and Miller have both acknowledged that Miller will be traded, and Murray would love to get a player a few years into development in return. Simon Despres would certainly fit the bill…

    • Sistah!!!!! The pickings this trade deadline are slim. I’ve been paying attention to what The Monster has been saying, and he likes Boyes. :)

  8. Just read Starkey’s column today and he’s definitely on the right track but I wanted to add a few things:

    In today’s NHL coaching up your players to handle defensive responsibility is nothing more than being par for the course. Our playoff success and failure wont be decided by disco’s ability to shoot for par, it will hinge on his ability to nail the occasionally birdie or eagle(i’m not a golfer so bear with me on these analogies).

    When opposing coaches match lines obsessively and tinker with their forecheck and neutral zone play we need to have answers on the fly, not after being outscored by a touchdown in games 1 and 2 at home by boston. Playing solid in games 3 and 4 was too little too late. A bogey so to speak…or worse.

    Now like i was saying yesterday, in canada game we lost to better and deeper team. But at the same time, as the game went on i didn’t see many adjustments on the fly. Canada moved their forecheck and defensive box/triangle up ice to close gap and our only answer was to keep moving up to our forwards via long pass or disco stretch who were bracketed and wrapped up in canadian bacon…mmmm….bacon…then when they chipped the puck into the zone there was no support or speed to allow for the recovery of puck. I bring this up cuz there were plenty of times our dmen could’ve held onto the puck behind the net and allowed for controlled breakouts with support up ice which could’ve broken down the canadian forecheck and trap. But instead it was just a repetitive race to get the puck north instead of reading and reacting to what was going on.

    If that was geno, sid or our guys on the other end of that whats to stop them for losing their cool and taking stupid penalties?…oh wait…

  9. Greetings, Loonies! And welcome home, Dejan!

    Popping in on 1st-Spring-Training-Game-Day to shout: GO PENS!!

    Nothing like talking hockey AND baseball on a below-zero-wind-chill day in Western PA!!

    PLAY BALL! :)

  10. Morning, Karen! Seeing your handle always reminds me of the ’60s show I loved when I was in junior high, “Room 222,” starring, among others, Karen Valentine! Uh … You’re not Karen Valentine, minus a 2 are you? :-)

  11. The temperature outside, according to my dashboard, was 1 as I drove to work this morning. But, the sun was out with not a cloud in the sky. So, this is a great day to talk baseball!

    Question for the baseball group – Who is the most indispensable Bucco this year, and why? Who can we least afford to lose via injury for an extended amount of games?

    I am going to say El Toro, Pedro Alvarez. We know he is not our best player. But, the guy has been a rock in terms of health the last couple of years, and we don’t have a lot of alternatives at 3b. So, if Pedro goes down, we lose his 35-40 HR (my projection for this year), and that gets replaced with Morel, Harrison, Gaby? Ugh! I guess they could slide Jordy over to play 3b, but then that means Pedro’s bat gets replaced by Barmes’ bat.

    He is not allowed to get injured. If you are still at ST, Groat, please convey that message to the Big Bull!

    Cutch would be a bad loss as well, but I feel we at least have some options to partially replace him better than we can replace Pedro.

    And, I don’t want to lose Frankie or Cole, either. But, I still say losing Pedro cripples us the most.

    • I get your logic, but I still think it’s Cutch. Maybe I’m just stubborn. ;-)

      • +1 for Cutch. Not the part about you being stubborn.

      • Cutch, absolutely, without a doubt.

        • I figured most would say Cutch. I guess I was thinking Polanco, Tabata, Marte in the OF, with Polanco or Marte shifting to CF and the other holding down LF might not be a total disaster. That asssumes, of course, that Polanco comes up at 22 and is immediately a good contributor.

          But, Bret Morel or JHay trying to replace 35 bombs? Ugh!

          • I don’t know how to compare replacing 35 bombs to Cutch’s slash line which includes a .400 OBP and an OPS 140 points higher than Pedro’s. Just my gut feel.

            • NMR is right that WAR is probably the most accepted way to gauge this, 21.

              If Cutch is replaced by a Polanco who plays like Cutch did as a rookie, then I still think the loss is less than if Pedro is replaced by scrubs. Of course, I know it is a tall order to expect Polanco to play as Cutch did as a rookie.

          • Certainly, Jim.

            But, IMO, this is exactly the type of situation where a stat like WAR is so useful. Cutch’s all around game is simply so damn good that it would be near impossible to replace, or frankly even get close.

            • If you buy into WAR completely. I am not totally sold on it. But, yes, that is a numerical way to answer the question. I would say we would be lucky to get much positive WAR out Morel/JHay. As I said, I was assuming a positive contribution from Polanco.

          • Jim-
            I think we discussed before that the list of players that come up to the Bigs with little AAA experience and is immediately a good contributor is pretty short. He likely would be okay defensively, but at the plate…Where do you bat him? And if Cutch ain’t hitting 3rd, who does?

            • You bat Polanco #1, I think, tpb. Or, 2nd. If Cutch is gone, that definitely puts us in a bind. It could be that his loss kills us more than a loss of Pedro. Hard for me to say losing the reigning MVP won’t sink our season.

          • I might be late to the debate but I say McCutchen because I think the drop from him to Marte in center is the same as the drop from Pedro to AAAA at 3rd, but then you leak production by shifting each outfielder up a spot on the depth chart.

            • Maybe Polanco plays CF, Andrew.

              And, offensively, he would be the one replacing Cutch. I think it would come down to how well Polanco can do immediately as a full-time player. If he looks like Cutch in first year, then maybe I am right that Pedro would be a bigger loss. If he looks like 95% of the rookies in their first year, then Cutch is the bigger loss for sure.

              It’s a good debate, I think.

              • Just looked at ZiPs projections for the Pirates and it gives a similar projected WAR value for Marte and Polanco over similar PAs, not sure what position it assumes which would affect the total number, but I guess it is conceivable that Polanco could replace Marte.

      • I say Scutcheon definitely. Can’t say Travis Snyder because we have seen how that’s gone.

    • Hard to disagree with your choice, Jim. Pedro certainly holds the most intimidating bat in the lineup. No way they could replace that if he went down.

      Cutch will probably be the popular choice, but if I were to choose one player they can’t afford to lose, it’s Gerrit Cole. I really feel we’re about to see something special from him this year. I think he flirts with 20 wins and joins the Cy Young conversation.

    • 1. Cutch
      2. Cutch
      3. Frankie
      4. Cole
      5. Martin
      6. Pedro – maybe

      If Pedro can’t bring his BA up a minimum of 20 points and not look helpless against most lefties, he doesn’t even make the list.

      • If Pedro continues to give them 30+ HRs and 100+ RBIs, I couldn’t care less how he looks against lefties.
        If (and it’s a BIG “if”) Pedro hits in the .260-.270 area, he’ll be a NL MVP candidate.

        But I do get your point, tpbco. It would certainly help if he didn’t look like so over-matched against most lefties.

        • That’s my point exactly. If he CAN hit .260 – .270, then yes he is legit a 4 or 5 hitter and it would be easy to believe that would also mean he’s improved against lefties and hasn’t disappeared for multiple games in a row.

          Keep in mind, his BA dropped 10 points last year and in hitting 35 HRs, that’s a little morer than 1 a week on the average.

          While I really don’t care how he wears his ball cap…I sure would like to hear from Groat about how hard he’s working…not in drills that he’s last.

        • With his strikeout rate, I don’t see him getting to .260+, patton. He struck out in exactly 1/3 of his ABs last year.

      • Martin is a good one, tpb. Actually, all your selections are good ones.

        But, the replacements for Pedro, at present, are Bret Morel and JHay. That’s the only reason I listed him #1.

        Cutch is hands down the best player on the team. I think that goes w/o saying – even though I just wrote it.

  12. You got me in tears, Jim! Thinking about losing our guys! Well, gonna remain the optimist and say: “Did the Colts miss a beat when Unitas went out and Earl Morrall stepped in?” WHAT ABOUT WHEN THE GERMANS BOMBED PEARL HARBOR? :-)

  13. Congratulations to the Burrell Lady Bucs basketball team. Friday night they will carry a perfect 25-0 record into their 1st ever WPIAL championship game.

  14. Happy 86th – Antoine Fats Domino.

  15. To answer Jim’s question above……..

    Yes, the Pirates can’t afford either Pedro or Cutch to get injured.
    But, think of this scenario……………

    We know the 1B situation is iffy at best.
    Say Gaby gets hurt. Then what??
    That is a position that will scare me most of the year.

  16. PlanIs! It’s going be the Lambo story over there at first this year! FUHGETTABOUTIT!

  17. Monster any thoughts on Ott? See his name bandied about a bit.

  18. So PG saying that Engo was ahead of despres at practice…. :SIGH:

    • Saw that. Double sigh.

      Misplaced a question to you up above.

      What are your thoughts about Taylor Pyatt. He doesn’t seem to constistently play up to his size.

      • Ya i just dont get it with the pens and Despres. Is shero ok with Engo ahead of despres??? I hope not.

        And a few weeks ago i stumbled upon the 2009 draft list and I really hope the pens have gotten over the fact that they passed on real good forwards like O’Reilly and Silverberg to draft Despres. I’d be kicking myself too if i passed on those guys, especially O’Reilly, but projecting your faults onto despres and holding him up to the standards O’Reilly has set is ridiculous. They’ll never ever admit to holding despres to a higher standard but IMO they are.

      • Pyatt response from above :

        About Pyatt, here’s hoping he doesn’t prevent shero from upgrading bottom 6. And i’m sure he wont unless prices stay high. On one hand his pedigree fits our roster but on the other hand is kind of a cerebral bottom 6 player not in the mold of what you would ideally want going into playoffs.

  19. Open Blog Fantasy Leagues
    All on Yahoo
    Lunatics
    12 teams currently one open
    Autodraft, head to head
    League ID 29140

    Dejans Lunatics
    12 teams currently 2 open
    Autodraft, head to head
    League ID 29140

    The PBC Blog Inmates
    12 teams, currently 6 open
    Autodraft, head to head
    League ID 29145

    PBC Inmates
    16 teams, currently 5 open
    Autodraft, head to head
    League ID 29147
    If we can get a league filled and folks choose to change the draft type to live or live auction, we can do it, trouble is scheduling a time where everyone can do it. Autodraft is you simply rank the players and when everyone has done that, the draft is held.

    Any questions, please e-mail me at bisbee1203@verizon.net. Thanks, and Beat Em Bucs

  20. Game thread is up.

  21. Yes, the Pirates are actually playing exhibition baseball today in Bradenton, and it’s 2-0 Yankees in the 2nd.

  22. Price not in goal for Montreal tonight.

    • Not expected to play tomorrow night either. Supposedly re-aggravated a lower body injury during the Olympics. The Habs called up an extra goaltender, Dustin Tokarski.

  23. Why users still use to read news papers when in this technological world all is accessible on web?

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