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Sunday column: A spring mosaic

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

BRADENTON, Fla. — Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Sunday column follows a format I’ve used once every spring for a few years now, one in which several short tales are strung together with an aim of some form of chaotic cohesion. I’ve got no idea if this one worked or not, but I do know that gathering the info sure is fun.

Be sure to check within that column for Chris Horner’s related photo gallery. Much goodness in there, not least of which is this wonderful shot of Bill Virdon standing among the coaches during the Anthem …

In the news coverage, Gregory Polanco gets the profile treatment from Travis Sawchik.

Edinson Volquez had more rotten results, by Sawchik. And from at least this view in the press box, he wasn’t exactly unlucky out there. Nothing undoes pitching like a lack of fastball command.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Pirates page.

Here are official game highlights on MLB.com.

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.

Comments

  1. Bizrow says:

    How many folks remember the “Quail’s” catch in right center in Yankee Stadium in the 60 series?

    Not sure why The Gunner called Mr Virdon the Quail…

    Someone posted earlier, he could still kick most of our arses ;-)

    • • Welcome Lunatics, if you don’t see your current location below, please add a reply to this post

    Dejan’s Lunatic Nation

    Afghanistan – skeetermc*
    Arizona – Tucson, Chandler, Phoenix, Sunnyslope, Davis-Monthan AFB*, Lake Havasu City
    • Argentina, Buenos Aries
    Arkansas – Rogers
    Alaska – Anchorage
    Australia – Mackay, Gold Coast, Geelong, Sydney
    Brazil – Vitoria, São Paulo
    California – Bakersfield, San Francisco, UNION CITY, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Hollywood, Huntington Beach, Yuba City, Solana Beach, Yorba Linda, Yuba City*, Edwards*, Long Beach, Modesto, Davis, Santa Monica, Solana Beach, Canyon Country, Burbank, West Hills, Encino, Clovis
    Canada – Toronto, Winnipeg, Moncton – New Brunswick, Ontario – Muskoka, Perth – home of the Ottowa RedBlacks
    China – Beijing
    Crete – Vlites
    Colorado – Ft Collins, Estes Park*, Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs
    Connecticut – Cos Cob, Bridgeport, Wallingford, Norwalk, NEWTOWN
    Costa Rica
    Czech Republic
    Delaware – Newark
    Denmark – Greenland – Thule*
    District of Columbia
    England – London
    Florida – Palm Harbor, Orlando, Valrico, Gainesville, Daytona Beach, Oviedo, Tampa, Jacksonville, Sarasota, Palm Beach Gardens, Cape Coral, Coco Beach (Major Nelson and Mary Ann), Niceville (Red Neck Rivera) and a*, St Petersburg, Pembroke Pines, Ft Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, W Melbourne, Melbourne, St Johns, Wesley Chapel, Fort Pierce, Lakeland
    France – Strasbourg,
    Georgia – Marietta, Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Acworth, Savanna, Hoschton, Grayson, Newnan, Macon
    Germany – Leverkusen/Cologne, Ramstein*
    Hawaii – Honolulu
    Idaho – Mountain Home, Coer d’Aline, Mountain Home AFB*
    Illinois – La Salle, Peru, Payson, Chicago, Palatine (3 inmates there), Lincoln Park, Grayslake, Algonquin, Chicago, Naperville
    Indiana – Indianapolis, Burns Harbor, South Bend, Bicknell, Ft Wayne, Westfield, Munster, Jasper
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    Ireland – Dublin
    • Israel – Ginot Shomron
    Japan – Tokyo
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    Kuwait – Relyks76*
    Louisiana – Slidell
    Maine – Bangor
    Maryland – Arnold, Odenton, Severn, Baltimore, Waldorf, Hagerstown, Chevy Chase, Hampstead, Elkridge, Frederick, Bowie, Sykesville, Columbia
    Massachusetts – Boston, Tyngsboro, East Gloucester*, 617 Strong*, Medford
    Mecca – Slienmann*
    Michigan – Kalamazoo, Eaton Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Mason, Battle Creek
    Minnesota – Yinzer, St Paul
    Mississippi – Biloxi, Ocean Springs
    Missouri – St Peters***
    Montana
    Nebraska – Omaha, Lincoln
    New Hampshire – Barrington
    New Jersey – Chesterfield, Princeton, Roxbury, Lebanon, Lincoln Park, Berkeley Heights, Somerville, Hammock, Barrington, Delran, Pennsville, Hammonton, Mullica Hills, JERSEY SHORE, Montclair, Monmouth Beach
    New Mexico – Mike, Albequeque, blazer
    New York – New York, Smithtown, Manhattan, Long Island, Nyack, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Lewistown, Stony Point
    Nevada, Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno
    North Carolina – Asheville, Hickory, Charlotte, Raleigh, Wilmington, Chapel Hill, High Point, Winston Salem
    Ohio – Cincinnati, Columbiana, Westerville, Green, Hilliard, Toledo, Louisville, Columbus, Perrysburg, Pickerington, Youngstown, Cleveland, Olmsted Township, Liberty Township, Warren, Oregon, Wintersville, Austintown, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base*, New Philadelphia, Powell, Canton, Salem, New Albany, Bloomingdale, Powell, Howland, Grafton, Northwood, Middletown, Dayton, Cambridge, Martins Ferry, Akron
    Oklahoma – Tulsa – OKLAHOMA CITY/MOORE ,,
    Oregon – Roseburg, Eugene
    Pennsylvania – Downtown, Hopewell, Indiana, North Wales, Franklin Park, Forest Hills, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Du Bois, Reading, Crafton, Arnold, Wexford, Mt Lebanon, Canonsburg, Lancaster, Huntington, York, Boiling Springs, Philly suburbs, Morningside, Harrisburg, Lawrenceville, Bradford Woods, Norristown, Hanover, Clearfield, Sewickley, Plum Boro, Slippery Rock, Wilkes-Barre, Sharpsville, Bessemer, Greensburg, Washington, Imperial, South Side, Duncansville, Newville, Sheppton, Grove City, Butler, Allentown, Ross Township, Blairsville, Flood City (Johnstown), Overbrook, Danny’s Hoagies, Baldwin, Economy, Sharpsville, North Huntington, Bellfonte, West Mifflin, Kennywood, Pleasant Hills, Beechview (Mad Turk, No 200), Macgunie, Mechanicsburg, Uptown, Cambria County, Mon Valley, Salisbury, Coraopolis, Emsworth, Cranberry Twp, Garrett, O’Hara Township, McCandless Township, 115 Federal Street, Bethel Park, Harrison City, Penn Hills, Kittanning, Dover, Upper St Clair, Rennerdale, Oakland, Scranton, Moon (RMU), State College, Erie, Penn Twp, Stowe, Elizabeth, Hermitage, Easton, Carlisle, Finleyville, Belle Vernon, Madison, Sellersville, Waynesburg, Warren, Beaver Falls, Chambersburg, Green Castle, East Freedom, Leechburg, Banksville City, Ellwood City, Hollidaysburg, Bethlehem, Mars, Verona, Philipsburg, Phoenixville, Hippos Pond, Oil City, Verona, Hookstown, Squirrel Hill, Natrona, Charleroi, FREEDOM, Denver, Midland (the home of good food and many bars), Selinsgrove, Dormont, Scott Township, Blawnox, Arnold, Ligonier, Wells Tannery, Swoyersville, St Mary’s, Titusville, Shippingsburg, Sharpsville, Brookville, Mountain Top, Mt Joy, Bloomsburg, Portage, Carnegie, Homer City, Allepo Township, Irwin, Claridge
    The Philippines
    Rhode Island
    Serbia – Subotica
    Singapore
    South Carolina – Duncan, Longs, Columbia, Bluffton, Greensville, Charleston, North Charleston
    South Korea – Seoul, Mike
    Sweden
    Switzerland
    Tennessee – Smithville, Nashville
    Texas – Tyler, San Antonio, Belton, Houston, Katy, Plano, El Paso, Cedar Park, Pleasanton
    United Kingdom – Haslemere
    Utah – Salt Lake City, Provo
    Uzbekistan
    Vermont – North Bennington
    Virginia – JAL, Hampton, Rescue, Richmond, Front Royal, Woodbridge, Suffolk, Warrenton, Springfield*, Virginia Beach, Fairfax, Arlington, Yorktown, Henrico, Aldie, Manassas, Newport News, Clifton, Glen Allen, Roanoke, Vienna, Alexandria, Lynchburg
    Washington – Seattle, Nine Mile Falls, Spokane, Sammamish
    West Virginia – Martinsburg, Morgantown, Wheeling, Mt Olivet, Huntington, Parkersburg, Clarksburg*, Grafton
    Wisconsin – Madison, Oshkosh, Hortonville
    Wyoming – Caspar, Lander
    Unknown – killa_cam7*
    453 confirmed locations represented in the blog, and a couple of strange places
    Lunatic Nation Hall of Fame, people that have, in our opinion, made a difference, either thru talent or character or deeds.
    Nominations are always welcome
    Any Allegheny, Pirate, Crawford, Gray, Steeler or Penguin player in the League’s Hall of Fame, although if Jagr makes it some day, we gotta talk
    Stan “The Man”, from Donora
    Beano
    Lemonade Guy
    The Gunner, Mr Bob Prince
    The Great One, he stays regardless
    Mike Lange
    Myron Cope
    The Honorable Mayor Richard Caliguiri
    Kevin Mcclachety
    Mike Emerick
    Commander Hadfield, courtesy of the Space Station
    Fred Rogers
    Mario Lemieux, ditto to the Great One, he stays as an owner
    Chuck Noll
    Eddie Johnston, aka EJ
    Badger Bob
    Chuck Tanner
    Dick Groat, the best darn multi-athelete and announcer from Wilkinsburg/Swissvale
    Steve Blass
    Danny Murtaugh*
    Rocky Bleier*
    John Challis – Courage + Belief = Life
    All Servicemen and women that have been in battle, ever
    Sgt Doug Vitale
    Gary Sinise and the Lt Dan Band
    Barney Dreyfuss
    George Benson
    Phil Coyne
    • Tony Dorsett
    • Vince Lascheide
    • John Barbaro
    • Art McKennan
    • Steve Dirt Denardo*
    • K9***, Rocco
    First Responders***
    27 countries
    46 states, plus the District of Columbia, missing 4 states, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alabama, and Kansas
    Three planets, at least confirmed, and the Space Station
    Then there was that Cold day in Hell place
    Honorable mention, England – London – Lisa
    “Terrorists will always lose in America, the sooner they figure that out, the better”- truer words have never been spoken
    Asterisks denote confirmed hero’s of any species, military, police officers or firemen/ladies
    • 3/15/2014 11:29 PM

  2. Bizrow says:

    I was sitting in my Grandmothers living room when I saw it, btw ;-)

  3. Nate83 says:

    You may not know if it worked out DK but it worked out really well. That was a really enjoyable read. Hard not to like hearing all of that about this team. I have to imagine the attitude is considerably different then it was when this team just couldn’t figure out how to complete the job they started in 2011 and 2012. It starts with Hurdle and Cutch. With Cutch being a distant second.

    I’m sure Hurdle will tell you he needed this second chance as much as the Pirates needed him but he definitely brought a much needed attitude and love for the game to this team. I also can’t imagine a more likeable manager in the league that is trusted by his players. I don’t think it matters if he makes every wrong in-game move this year the team is still better off with him then without him.

  4. bpn8pitt says:

    Hows Jordy playing?

  5. theplanisworking says:

    I wish he would have kicked Bonds’ arse in 1991 ST.
    Maybe the boy would have turned out a bit differently……….

    …….. but leyland did a good enough job, if I remember……..

  6. Bizrow says:

    He would have punched him a couple of times

    Barry’s head would have been the same size it was after the 10 years of PEDS ;-)

  7. Jim S. says:

    The expectations for Polanco are getting to be a bit much to me. I am very high on the young man, and I agree with everyone about his promise. But, he’s only 22 and had less than 10 at bats at AAA last year. Nearly all of his progress has occurred in the past 3 years. I think he’ll be up soon enough. I hope the expectations get tempered a bit.

  8. Jason81 says:

    It’s usually the ones that you don’t think worked well that end up working out the best. Enjoyed reading each of those little snippets from Bradenton, can’t wait for the games that count to start.

  9. Jim S. says:

    Someone (maybe Biz and plan) asked a question yesterday on the Bucs thread about plans for Stetson Allie this season. I believe I read about 2 weeks ago that he will be placed in Altoona this year. They know it is aggressive, but there are things they say they like about his development and maturity that may make it possible for him to succeed there this year.

    Plus, we know they are struggling to develop 1b. We should know a lot more about Allie’s prospects by the middle of this year. He is getting his shot. He must cut down the K’s.

    Perhaps Jandy can give us first hand accounts on him this spring.

  10. theplanisworking says:

    DK — thanks for the column. Makes it feel like we are there.

    As for Mr. Volquez……………… I understand that his delivery can’t be fixed overnight, however, the longer it takes to fix it, the more pressure it might put on the rest of the rotation. Some have suggested a “convenience list’ for him…….. don’t know if he can be optioned to AAA, or no.

  11. theplanisworking says:

    Joe Lunardi has Pitt as a #9 seed in the West Region, facing #8 Memphis in San Diego.
    In an interesting sidebar, he also has Virginia winning the ACC Toona-ment, but gives them a 3 seed, while giving Duke a 2 seed.

    Isn’t Lunardi the guy that gets over 95% of the picks right?

  12. Damian Panek says:

    I believe the quail thing was a reference to Virdons’ hits – they were mostly singles.

  13. Pucknutz says:

    Mosaic worked well DK. Nice read, :)

  14. JAL says:

    JAL’s The Beat Goes On Morning Links

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bS3O5zg290k

    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

    An Early Look at the 2014 Pirates Minor League Rosters: Pitchers

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/an-early-look-at-the-2014-pirates-minor-league-rosters-pitchers.html

    Draft Prospect Watch: Kolek Dominates With Triple Digit Fastball

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/03/draft-prospect-watch-kolek-dominates-with-triple-digit-fastball.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Edinson Volquez struggles as Pirates lose

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2014/3/15/5512850/edinson-volquez-struggles-as-pirates-lose

    7 Rumbunter

    Jose Tabata: Just Another Heart Breaker?

    http://rumbunter.com/2014/03/15/jose-tabata-just-another-heart-breaker/

    8 Green Weenie

    3/15: Nellie King, Big Deal, Jim Bibby, Hit Man, Ian Snell…

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2014/03/315-nellie-king-big-deal-jim-bibby-hit.html

    9 SaberBucs

    Pedro Alvarez and the $135 Million Extension.

    http://saberbucs.net/2014/03/15/pedro-alvarez-and-the-135-million-extension/

    10 Call to the Pen

    Season Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://calltothepen.com/2014/03/14/season-preview-pittsburgh-pirates/?utm_source=FanSided&utm_medium=Network&utm_campaign=Around%20the%20Network

  15. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Altoona Mirror

    Mehno: The Madness heats up

    http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/580399/Mehno–The-Madness-heats-up.html?nav=751

    12 Bradenton Herald

    Pittsburgh Pirates | Turnaround artist Clint Hurdle vows to ‘live it on the edge’

    http://www.bradenton.com/2014/03/16/5049211/pittsburgh-pirates-turnaround.html

    13 Comcast Sports Net

    NL Central preview: Can McCutchen and the Pirates do it again?

    http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/nl-central-preview-can-mccutchen-and-pirates-do-it-again

    14 Pirates Site

    Cumpton may have lead in race for rotation spot

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140314&content_id=69312420&notebook_id=69334494&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    ‘Happy’ with start, Volquez focused on command

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140315&content_id=69375736&notebook_id=69401248&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    15 Wall Street Journal

    Switch Hitters Who Should Stop Switching

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303546204579435173115885890?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303546204579435173115885890.html

    16 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Billy Hamilton’s speed is still surprising

    http://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/mlb/reds/2014/03/15/billy-hamiltons-speed-still-surprising/6466921/

    17 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Brewers’ Wei-Chung Wang hopes to jump from rookie ball to majors

    http://www.jsonline.com/sports/brewers/brewers-wei-chung-wang-hopes-to-jump-from-rookie-ball-to-majors-b99225486z1-250486971.html

    18 St. Louis Post Gazette

    Less is more for Craig, Cards

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/less-is-more-for-craig-cards/article_f4e9daee-a42a-5697-9abd-aebad3946384.html

    19 Fangraphs

    Jimmy Rollins and the Incentives of Vesting Options

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/jimmy-rollins-and-the-incentives-of-vesting-options/

    20 MLB Nation

    A study of strikeouts and strikeout faces

    http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2014/3/14/5507588/baseball-pictures

  16. JoeyBats says:

    #7 above……Jose Tabata: Just Another Heart Breaker?

    http://rumbunter.com/2014/03/15/jose-tabata-just-another-heart-breaker/

    Wow…brings back too many memories, most of them NOT pleasant. ….I no longer have a question mark AFTER the sentence……he broke it quite a few times after watching him dogging it for 2-3 years. I don’t know if #21 would be proud of his performance (and not fulfilling his great potential)….so far…… :-(

    In my evaluation…I’m moving on. This team has a great need in RF….and too many other options to fill it.

    Can’t wait for Greg Polanco.

    Hoping that Snider can fill the breech for the next 3-4 months.

    The initial impressions of Austin Meadows are good. He looks like another superstar in the making for a future OF slot.
    Josh Bell …..wow…..he could be a power hitting solution for an OF slot or maybe a switch to 1B.

  17. Others seem to think Pitt will be a 10 seed vs. Baylor, which is now no. 7. We’ll see how that all turns out.

  18. cherokee23 says:

    Agree with everything you wrote. Very enjoyable column. Also have really been enjoying Starkey’s work, too!

  19. cherokee23 says:

    With all the talk about Snider, is he an option at 1st base. I beleve he has played there at times, and would fit the platoon.

  20. cherokee23 says:

    especially when I hear that Tabata hit righty’s better than lefties

  21. hockeymonster says:

    Been trying to think of combos for today sans kuni and real deal and my brain gets scrambled. Idea of pyatt in top 9 puts a damper on things when you still gotta factor in adams and vitale. Glass seems to be holding his own…ok the heck with it…ill give it a shot…

    gibby/glass-sid-stempy
    goc/gibby-geno-jussi
    glass/gibby-sutter-megna
    pyatt-vitale-adams

    How much worse could harry z be than pyatt right now?—no offense pyatt

  22. Arriba Wilver says:

    In checking Baseball Reference it doesn’t look like he has played 1B in the Majors or Minors.

  23. Pucknutz says:

    Ya monster, Pens are gettin pretty thin….not lookin good….anyone else goes down it looks pretty grim.

  24. DJ says:

    Watched the Creighton-Providence final of the Big East and was pulling for a Jays comeback.

    Down the stretch I found myself wanting McDermott to shoot every 3-pointer but, as expected, he played a team game, reversing the ball and looking for the open man. Problem was that other guys were open — Wragge and Manigat — but weren’t hitting; 2 of 13 on threes combined between those two.

    Will be interesting to see how his game translates to the NBA. Not the fastest kid or the quickest of feet but is very heady, uses his body really well and creates spates for himself through a repertoire of crafty moves. And an absolutely picture perfect stroke. The NBA 3-point line is like a foul shot for him.

  25. Arriba Wilver says:

    JAL’S link #15 on switch hitters who should stop switching is interesting. And Yes, Neil made the list.

  26. hockeymonster says:

    So is anyone else disappointed in Vitale’s development? A lot of chatter about despres’ but I gotta say, kinda figured vitale would be further along defensively by now. His ability to keep his speed under control so his tenacity doesn’t lead to bad penalties hasn’t improved either. Use to chalk up those calls to youthful exuberance but seems like the game hasn’t gotten any slower for Vitale. For all the speed and grit he has, he needs to learn how to channel his speed so he can read plays and not get out of control. He should talk to dupuis about how he can get the game to slow down for him. Duper clearly has gotten better at using his speed in spurts so his hands and instincts remain under control. Vitale is out there trying to spin his wheels at 500rpm and misses out on plays cuz he doesn’t realize he has more time than he thinks.

    I can see why disco doesn’t up his minutes on PK and why he’s clinging onto adams for 4th line role. He doesn’t have vitale’s speed, obviously, but he’s willing to block shots and make simple plays w/o bad penalties. The job and increased role for vitale is there for the taking, he just needs to focus on the game coming to him.

  27. Stuart says:

    Hey Biz,

    I remember the “Quail” reference. The Gunner observed that Virdon frequently would hit a “dying quail” to left center. This was an opposite field hit that was a cross between a fly ball and a pop up, just over he shortstops head that fell in front of the outfielders.

    Bob was certainly a master of the nickname. skinner was the “dog”, Hoak the “tiger” or sometimes the “Roulette Rattler” (he was from Roulette, Pa), Scofield was “Ducky” etc.

    When I was a kid, I had two dogs, “Prince”, and “Stu”.

    Good memories.

    “Stonefingers Stuart”

  28. cherokee23 says:

    My bad…..thought I remembered him last year at first couple of times

  29. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think that was when he was hitting. :-D

  30. DJ says:

    More than anything, will want to see effort from the Pens today. Flyers came to play yesterday and we . . . well, we came to watch the Flyers play.

    Really don’t like Giroux but the kid is talented. He’s a scrappy little alley fighter and, ever since the 2012 Quarterfinals, seems like he’s gotten the better of the mental game-within-the-game against our stars.

  31. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  32. cherokee23 says:

    Was thinking this yesterday……
    –I think Vitale has maxxed out on what can be expected, and is heading the other direction

    –most effective they looked to me yesterday was early 2nd period when Crosby/Malkin paired up. Pair em up and have 1 strong line instead of watering them down on seperate lines without their best wingers

    –there is a frustrating disconnect between what this team, coaches & players say about how they want to play, and how they actually do play. I was seeing improvement with end of road trip & Washington, then yesterday’s stinker happened. They say all the right things about being a team difficult to play against, but aren’t. About being excited to play rival Philly and stunt their playoff chances, and then what seemed to be a pretty poor effort yesterday. I don’t want to say heartless, but I saw no excitement or intensity of effort in that game.

  33. cherokee23 says:

    I noticed a subtle difference in Flyers yesterday. Berube seems to have them playing the “Bully”, but not stepping over the line as they have in the past.

  34. cherokee23 says:

    Lol….singles hitter! also, FWIW, for all the talk about him, this is year 3 here and we still haven’t seen much yet

  35. DJ says:

    “spates”? . . . “space” that is.

    I need a spate of coffee.

  36. hockeymonster says:

    Yesterday was a non issue for me. When something like 30% of your payroll is in a suit against a desperate team bad things can happen. With vitale, I’ve just been watching n waiting for him to take that next step where the game doesn’t seem to fast for him. For now, still waiting…

  37. hockeymonster says:

    We still owe Giroux a solid hit after game 6 hit on sid. Maybe Orpik can line him up early today…

  38. Nate83 says:

    You can go to the minors for a rehab I believe but can’t just go there immediately and start pitching. It would have to be like AJ two years ago and Liriano last year. Both guys had legitimate, well documented injuries. I know most are joking when they say it but I think they have used the injured list more legitimately then it has been perceived.

  39. DJ says:

    You think Orpik can catch him? He won’t have to look far. Giroux will be between the circles all day.

    He lives there.

  40. Thundercrack says:

    I’m getting a little impatient with him too. But wasn’t last year Snider’s first full season with the Pirates?

    I hope he figures it out — but come June he’ll be the 4th OF

  41. DJ says:

    Yeah, except for a couple that weren’t called. The call against Depres was ridiculous.

    Also would have welcomed more physicality from the Pens. Why Dan sat Bortuzzo is anyone’s guess. Actually would have welcomed Dan’s favorite “adjustment” yesterday with Engelland at a wing.

  42. Sarah says:

    I would keep V on PK if only for his FOS.
    Having said that, Goc would be a better option also.
    FOS in the D end on PK are so critical.

    Adams on PK is ridiculous.
    Adams playing at all is ridiculous.

  43. Eric Bowser says:

    *Not sure if it is my computer or not but the main page for this blog is taking insanely long to load on Google Chrome. Anyone else having problems?

    * Pitt battled, got no help on Robinson’s layup from the refs. At least they’ll make the dance.

    * Pens did not battle. There’s just no excuse to be playing dumb hockey with all that talent on the injury list. Crosby and Malkin are old enough, they need to start adjusting to the game situation and carrying the puck into the zone with 3 players surrounding you and then trying to pass it to a teammate to your side just isn’t smart.

    * Orpik is struggling to quickly read plays, nothing more evident of that problem than the tic-tac-toe goal where Crosby wins the faceoff and it is moving toward the blue line but Orpik brain cramps, reacts too slowly and Flyers were off into a 3 on 1 against Maatta.

    * Scuderi…. ugh, he’s horrible. Not making clean passes. Had a chance yesterday to clear the zone easily, opted instead to bounce it off the glass and it was held at the line, 21 seconds later as the puck was held in the zone on the Flyers PP, Hartnell scored. You just can’t have things like that happen, game after game by a veteran. That contract is already one Shero needs back.

    * Won’t be around for the game again, going to visit some open houses today. My list is simple…. a man cave to escape.

  44. Sarah says:

    Out of the whole D core,only 2 guys are Plus (no surprise who).

    With our record and a squillion pt lead in the Div to have only 2 Plus D is….interesting.

  45. hockeymonster says:

    Ok if this keeps up I may have to offer a reward to find this impostor:

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2014/3/16/5514204/vitale-spinning-his-wheels-right-out-of-a-job

  46. hockeymonster says:

    I hear ya sarahpova, but you gotta play the hand you’re dealt.

  47. hockeymonster says:

    Re: chrome

    Yes i had same issue earlier this week. Believe it or not IE works perfect. Who knew…

  48. hockeymonster says:

    I put that on our bottom 6. Their ES goal differential is something -50.

  49. cherokee23 says:

    Hard to quantify effort, but that is what bothered me yesterday, not all the players out or losing the game

  50. Eric Bowser says:

    now that’s scary… IE better than anything.

  51. Eric Bowser says:

    I agree, Vitale’s defensive development isn’t that great but from a shift value, a stat that I’m developing right now, he’s not too bad. He’s creating +.315 value per shift compared to Sutter’s +.143 so far this season.

    By comparison, Crosby +.298 and Malkin +.233

    I want to get the entire league stats into file so I can adjust the value per category to make sense and then come back but getting the stats right now takes way more time than I care to take up with copy and paste from NHL.com

  52. hockeymonster says:

    How you coming up with the values? I don’t see any scenario where vitale is more productive than sutter.

  53. Eric Bowser says:

    The numbers are brutal for the bottom 6 regulars. Following numbers are their pure on-ice goals for and on-ice goals against in all game situations.

    Player – Teams Goals For – Team Goals Against
    Sutter – 30 – 36 = -6
    Glass – 14 – 25 = -11
    Adams – 16 – 43 = – 27
    Vitale – 16 – 22 = -6
    Pyatt – 4 – 15 = -11

  54. Eric Bowser says:

    As of right now, just a simple calculation…
    Positive Value + Negative Value = Player Value
    Player Value / Games Played = Game Value
    Game Value / Shifts per game = Value per Shift

    Positive Value:
    Goals + Assists + Shots + Faceoffs Won + Blocked Shots + Takeaways + Hits

    Negative Value:
    Missed Shots + Giveaways + Faceoffs Lost

  55. Jim S. says:

    I saw something yesterday that said he got 68 of 68 teams correct last year, but he didn’t place them correctly. He predicted the 68 teams that would make the tourney. He doesn’t track how accurate he is at precise seeds.

    He takes credit for getting all of the teams right, which includes all the teams that get automatic bids from winning their conference tournaments and all the teams that don’t get automatic bids but are clearly going to receive an at large bid in everyone’s opinion, such as the #2, #3, #4 and often #5 & #6 teams from large conferences. So, it isn’t like he is starting from scratch and picking 68 teams. But, he’s really good at deciding which of the bubble teams make it and which don’t. So, is Jerry Palm of CBS and others.

  56. Eric Bowser says:

    I’d like to find a place that lists some details for stats like primary and secondary assists so I can weight the categories starting with value of 1 for ES goal, 1.1 for PP, and 1.2 for SH goal. And so on and so forth for assists.

  57. Jim S. says:

    I don’t think he has played there, cherokee. He’s on the shorter side, and maybe that is why they have not tried it. But, a lot of us here have had the same suggestion, given the struggles to find offense from lefties at 1b for this team.

  58. hockeymonster says:

    Hmmm….I think HARO and HARD kind of do that already. It’s a relative GF% and GA% if i understand it correctly.

    The problem i see with your formula is that it doesn’t factor in QoC, linemates or adjust for sample size. So if sutter blocked a shot or 2 and got some shots on net playing against better QoC, wouldn’t that need to be accounted for?

  59. hockeymonster says:

    Ya that’s more or less why i find all this criticism of piece and brooksie to be silly.

  60. Sarah says:

    Well I agree I just think the hand we’re dealt includes far better options than are regularly put on the ice.
    Adams simply cannot contribute much anymore, yet he’s a teachers pet and is out there for critical minutes.
    At -27.

    Better cards exist in our hand.

  61. Eric says:

    Flemington, NJ

  62. hockeymonster says:

    Harry Z can’t possibly be worse than pyatt, can he?

  63. Jim S. says:

    It will be interesting at the next level for McDermott, as you say, DJ. Everything was just a bit off last night for Creighton, and I give credit to Providence for taking it to them for 40 minutes. If you can get a 3-point shooting team just a little off its game, you can often cause big problems for them.

    I have to say, watching how his dad handled himself being interviewed in defeat after the game, it seems obvious young Mr. McDermott was raised right. That is really the first time I’ve heard his dad speak. He’s a class act. Very gracious and complimentary to Providence in every way. It’s always enjoyable IMO to see coaches who know how to accept losing a hard fought game.

    I’m very impressed with both of the McDermotts.

  64. Jim S. says:

    Good stuff, Stuart. Thanks for sharing.

  65. Sarah says:

    Agree would like to see Z get a chance…

  66. hockeymonster says:

    That’s an interesting idea to give weight based on primary vs secondary. But sometimes players make the key play without getting points so +/- should probably be part of the equation. QoC, sample size and level of teammates should be part of equation too.

  67. cherokee23 says:

    So, your saying Vitale creates more value per shift than Crosby?

  68. Sarah says:

    So where do you put Orpik and Scuds in the D lineup?
    Is it significant to you that they’ve been making Maatta play his offside with Orpik?

    Honestly I think they’ve both been very poor, scuds was ok prior to the ankle, after that, awful.
    Orpik has not been the same since the Thornton hit IMO, but honestly he’s fallen off significantly last 2 seasons, seemingly since the ab surgeries.

  69. Jim S. says:

    Interesting way of looking at it, Eric. Do you find that guys who excel in one area get rewarded more than maybe they should? For instance, a guy that makes a ton of hits rises in value.

    Or, do you assign weighting factors to each of the positive and negative things? For instance, there are a lot more hits and blocked shots in a game than goals, and the goals are far more important.

    Just wondering.

  70. Jim S. says:

    Oops! I asked my question about weighting before reading that you are doing that.

  71. Sarah says:

    For a puck possession team, weight hits and blocks carefully,
    They mean you are chasing the puck, not possessing it.

  72. hockeymonster says:

    Maatta playing his off side isn’t ideal but either is playing a 19 year old in the playoffs. Maatta handling whatever role they give him is the last thing we should be concerned about. I’ll post alternate lineup below, this time with engo at RW. Can’t believe i forgot about engo.

  73. Jim S. says:

    Do they track things in the NHL like % passes connected, quality shot %, location of passes connected, etc? Or, is a shot from 50 ft out where the goalie has an unimpeded view the same as one from close in where he is being screened? Is a short pass in your own defensive zone viewed the same as one that sends a guy in home free? I don’t even know if they track these things in the NHL, but I would guess somebody is doing some deep thinking on these subjects.

    Sorry, some of my baseball nerdiness is showing.

  74. kensnits says:

    Adams will never be scratched. Painful to watch him play.

    Why does the PP struggle so badly against Philly? Constant turnovers at the blueline leading to odd man shorthanded chances. Seems that they need to work the puck down low where they can outnumber the Flyer D. Usually see both Philly forwards pressuring the points.

  75. hockeymonster says:

    Sorry Engo, forgot to factor you in at RW. Here’s the lineup i would go with:

    gibby/megna-sid-stempy
    goc/gibby-geno-jussi
    glass/megna-sutter-engo
    glass-vitale-adams

    Despres-Nisky
    Orpik-Maatta
    Piece-Bortuzzo

  76. Jim S. says:

    Balky knee or not, just from the picture and DK’s description, Virdon appears to still have much left in the tank. Good for him. 82 and still going strong!

  77. Jim S. says:

    Yes. He was acquired at the trading deadline in ’12, I believe. There is a lot of talk about the foot thing held him back last year. We’ll see, since he should be fully recovered soon.

    I was thinking, though, if you are a guy in his situation and you just can’t hit (not saying that is the case for him, just speculating). It isn’t the worst thing, financially, to have the injury last year. It seems to have bought him another chance, and another $1 million this year. If he was healthy last year and still stunk, he might be selling insurance right now.

  78. chethejet1 says:

    The gunner had a nickname for just about anyone. He worked with the “ole possum” Jim Woods. Arriba in right, the “glove” at second and of course my favorite “Dr. Strange Glove” Dick Stuart at first. The “Deacon” Vernon Law. I think Harvey Haddax was the “kitten” before coming to the Bucs. “Beat em Bucs.”
    Gunners lines: could’t hit that with a bed slat, wet strawberry through a locomotive, that ball is out of every park including yellowstone, the ball kareemed of the wall, can of corn, among many others.

  79. hockeymonster says:

    Things like quality of competition, amount of shot attempts and sample size usually carry more weight. Things like nature of shots usually even out for players over course of season so don’t think that gets charted too heavily. There are some in depth metrics for clearing attempts by Dmen and % of times those clearing attempts lead to possession.

    Here’s a link worth checking out for that. If you scroll up and down in the comment section you’ll see some real detailed stats that i’ve never seen before. http://www.pensburgh.com/2014/3/11/5495016/first-line-problems-penguins-3-capitals-2-recap#219997003

  80. The Pirates keep insisting that they’re still ‘very optimistic’ about Edinson Volquez becoming again the pitcher he once was and they point to his showing some command of his fastball despite losing once again yesterday, although I’m inclined to wonder if the Bucs just don’t want to admit they screwed up when they signed him for $5 million guaranteed to replace AJ.

  81. Arriba Wilver says:

    Always looked in good shape, even while managing.

  82. Jim S. says:

    Never heard the “wet strawberry through a locomotive” one, chet. I’m not even sure what it refers to.

    I’m guessing “kareemed” is a cross between caromed and careened?

    I only caught the very tail end of the Gunner. When I was with my son at the HOF in Cooperstown we bought CD of some of his greatest calls. I think it was a Voices of the Game thing. Very enjoyable. Brought back my own few memories, as well as things my parents and older siblings had told me about the Gunner.

  83. Jim S. says:

    Volquez wasn’t signed to replace AJ, James. His signing was never intended as more than as a #5 starter.

    Not signing AJ was an altogether different screw-up, in my opinion.

    Nate disagrees with me, but the attempt to sign Josh Johnson early on was more an attempt to replace AJ. That one didn’t work out, either, as he elected to sign with San Diego.

  84. Jim S. says:

    +++.

    We should all be so lucky someday.

  85. JohninOshkosh says:

    Eric:

    Yes. I have that issue with Chrome on my mobile. Either takes forever or does not load.

    IE ? That still exists ?!

  86. Sarah says:

    I was actually referring not to Maata but to Orpik. Putting a 19yr old on his offside to babysit a vet speaks loads about what the coaching staff thinks of said vet.

  87. JohninOshkosh says:

    Watched a lot of college ball this weekend. I just hope they draw a team they match up well against in the first game. I know they will have to play someone tough on the weekend, in the event that they win, but, based on what I’ve seen this weekend, Pitt can play with most of the big kids. I think sneaking into the Sweet 16 is a possibility depending on the draw.

  88. Sarah says:

    Kunitz still out today.
    MAF w the start.

  89. bpn8pitt says:

    When they traded for Burnett and signed Liriano, they were considered more for depth and the back of the rotation then becoming the front end starters they did.

    To smart baseball guys like you Jim, NMR, Andrew, Plan. You are well aware that, yes, Volquez wasn’t a replacement for Burnett. He was a project. Like NMR said, an ERA at 4, was fine.

    But try explaining that to the casual fan who’s avoided PNC Park for a decade or more.

  90. bpn8pitt says:

    Good for Manny sanders. Yeah, he’s gonna drop some, but will definitely catch his fair share of tds.

    Lafell to Pats is interesting too. Not sure what the plan was for Supercams WRs. But he has none now.

  91. Nate83 says:

    Ha, I wasn’t going to disagree with you again Jim. I’m not going to chase you from blog to blog denouncing all things you say.

    I agree that the Volquez signing is purely as a backend starter and not an attempt to replace AJ. I think the hope is some combination of Morton, Wandy and Cole pitching entire seasons will help offset the loss of AJ. Wandy alone could make a huge difference. Over the last 5 years when healthy he had been a more reliable and consistent pitcher then AJ in my opinion.

  92. bpn8pitt says:

    For me James, I just don’t get signing the worst pitcher in the NL. Fine, you let AJ walk. But going with a project, when there were enough health questions with Wandy, Morton and Locke?

    Hell of a risk if you ask me.

    They’ll need everything they can get from Gomez, Cumpton, Stolmy, and Taillon. In addition to no regression from Cole and Liriano.

    If if if if if if……

  93. Arriba Wilver says:

    Nate’s right, Jim, he saves the denouncing all things one says for me.

  94. Arriba Wilver says:

    Forgot :-P

  95. Jandy says:

    why waste your breath?

    Don’t worry, be happy!! :D

  96. Nate83 says:

    I think a majority of people agree it’s a risk but it’s nice to have Gomez, Cumpton, Stolmy and Taillon available. They needed guys like that last year and they stepped up when needed to the tune of 94 wins. I’m not sure there was much out there that fit the Pirates needs. Johnson, Capuano, Volquez, Maholm maybe a few more. All those guys come with risk that is why they are available for one year contracts. They where not going to make a 3 year commitment to a pitcher like Phil Hughes. They have way to much pitching depth on the way in 2015 and 2016 to commit to a pitcher like Hughes.

  97. Nate83 says:

    I denounce this comment and any further comments made by AW on this blog or any blog.

  98. Arriba Wilver says:

    I know you really like me, Nate. The feeling is mutual.

  99. Mizery says:

    Everyone here is Denver is excited about the sanders signing. All it means to me is I get to watch him drop passes for another team. It’s a good signing since he will be the fourth option on the team after Welker and the 2 thomas’s.

    Penguins luck this year has been plain awful. That effort versus Philly wasn’t a surprise. Hopefully they can regroup.

    Ready to fill out my billion dollar bracket tonight. Thanks mr. buffet. Happy March Madness to everyone.

    DK: What will bother Peyton a lot more than the drops is the unwillingness to battle to get open or establish body position.

  100. bpn8pitt says:

    Nate, I’m definitely encouraged by some guys that are on they way. Never the less, you can never have enough pitching. And they could have swung a trade too, with some of the depth in the system. Especially at OF.

    A lot of guys are hoping Polanco/Taillon can replicate Marte/Cole. I hope they are right.

  101. Nate83 says:

    I personally think Polanco = much higher ceiling then Marte. I’m just as excited about Taillon as I was about Cole. Add Cutch and that is a really nice group of players to build around.

  102. Nate83 says:

    Well I can’t denounce that. You ruined it.

  103. theplanisworking says:

    Firefox works too.
    I won’t do IE, for fear of being hacked.

    Chrome works for everything except this blog.

  104. theplanisworking says:

    Just got on here, few observations………..

    * Pens still haven’t figured out how to play the tough, gritty teams. Yesterday, and today, they have turtled, and given up a short-handed goal each day. Until the grit that was evident in 2009 returns to this team, they are a SC “pretender”. Pains me to say that. Should never happen to a team with Crosby and malkin.

    * Interesting take on the AJ/Volquez situations. Yes, the Pirates screwed the pooch on both situations, and I know they did not attempt to swap the 2 pitchers at all………… but, being AJ is gone, and Volquez was the only replacement, they did indeed end up with a AJ for Volquez swap. They lost a #2/3 starter for a #5. Significant downgrade.

    * The above being said, I hope Volquez returns to 2008 form. Even if he doesn’t win many games, 150-200 innings would be a big help to the rotation.

    * This past week is a great thing for College BBall. Saw last night a team made the tourney with a 13-16 record. Don’t really agree with that, but those kids are probably over the moon getting in. Good stuff.

    * This week is the semi-finals and finals of the state basketball tourney. Pennsylvania hoops doesn’t get its due for some quality play.

  105. Thank you all for enlightening me concerning Endison Volquez. I still think the Pirates screwed up signing him for a guaranteed $5 million plus incentives, although if, by some miracle, he becomes a pleasant surprise this season, I would naturally be forced to reconsider. Now as for the Pens/Flyers hockey game today, well, at least the Pens have fought their way back into it since they are now behind by one.

  106. And now, in exhibition baseball, the Pirates are leading the Phillies in the 5th 4-0, and so, now that the Flyers have since dug in, it might be better to stick to the baseball game.

  107. DJ says:

    Totally agree on his dad.

  108. JohninOshkosh says:

    Pitt bowed out to eventual ACC tournament champions, Virginia. Congratulations to the Cavaliers. St. Joseph wins the A-10 in Brooklyn.

  109. Arriba Wilver says:

    Great game in Greensboro! I hadn’t realized UVA hadn’t won the ACC Tournament since 1976. Not even in the Sampson years.

    I was afraid Parker was going to take the game over in the second half, but Virginia’s defense adjusts. I do wonder if Parker may become this season’s NCAA’s Carmelo Anthony, though.

  110. JohninOshkosh says:

    Yeah, I would’ve bet a lot that they won one in the Sampson years.

    Fear the Cavs!

  111. Jim S. says:

    I’m not saying it was ok to lose AJ and only sign Volquez this year, bpn. I didn’t (and don’t) like the Volquez deal. I hope I end up being wrong on that.

    I thought Johnson was due for a big bounceback year, so I would have been ok if they had signed him and lost AJ. I don’t think any of us knows for sure that AJ was even willing to sign with Pittsburgh for certain. Goes back to that geographic proximity to home thing.

    As it stands now, Wandy appears healthy. I know that is no guarantee of 100 innings, much less 150 or 200. But, so far, so good there. I expect Taillon to have a positive impact for the last 90 or so games of the year. Maybe not quite Cole from last year, but #3 starter quality, I would think.

    I felt one more year out of AJ would have been nice, but they still have the arms to compete I think.

  112. Jim S. says:

    I denounce you both, once and for all.

    Congrats to UVA, Arriba. They deserved everything they got in the ACC this year. Won the regular and post season in the conference.

  113. Jim S. says:

    The Jeff Lamp years?

    I think that was even before his time.

  114. Arriba Wilver says:

    Thanks, Jim. They hadn’t been a “player” for so long I hadn’t really kept up. This year got my attention again starting with the Pitt game here. Although, I did think the Pitt move to the ACC would be interesting in any event.

    Now we have something to talk about besides James Farrior and Heath Miller. ;-)

  115. Jim S. says:

    Thanks for the info., Monster.

  116. JohninOshkosh says:

    NCAA men’s basketball Coach of the Year comes down to UVA or Wichita St., I would think.

  117. Arriba Wilver says:

    ’76 was Wally Walker. And Katie Couric’s first year (freshman year everywhere else). ;-)

  118. JohninOshkosh says:

    I remember in the dark days of the pre-internet era, frantically writing down on notebook paper the brackets as they were announced on Selection Sunday. Then waiting until the next day to get USA Today to get the brackets in proper paper form.

    Bless the internet!

  119. JohninOshkosh says:

    Pitt draws Colorado in Orlando Florida (South Region) on Thursday (9 seed).

    If they win-they play #1 overall seed in the tournament, Florida, in Florida!

  120. JohninOshkosh says:

    Dejan doesn’t have far to travel from where he’s at for this one.

  121. JohninOshkosh says:

    Selection Committee forces Ohio State to play Dayton! I love it!

  122. theplanisworking says:

    Better than the CBI !
    Besides, a trip to Orlando? I wish I could go.

  123. theplanisworking says:

    Osh, your Badgers go to the West Regional.
    They do get to stay in Milwaukee for the first 2 games.

  124. Arriba Wilver says:

    I wonder if DK likes the beach or Disney World better/worse.

  125. theplanisworking says:

    And, in a mild surprise, Virginia claims the final #1 spot in the East regional.

  126. Arriba Wilver says:

    Whattayamean “surprise?” They just beat Duke! ;-)

 
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