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Morning Java: April panic

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …


>> The Friday column from PNC Park offers a whole lot of cautionary, deep-breath-type material regarding the local baseball club. If you’re the type to panic in April, by all means avoid.

Here’s what Tony Watson had to say, decidedly un-panicky:

The game story, by beat man Rob Biertempfel, focuses on Edinson Volquez’s seven efficient innings and Josh Harrison’s huge home run.

And here’s a a bit from the hitting hero:

Blogginess from the scene: Easy to see Jordy Mercer’s pressing. It’s hard not to pull for the kid, and he and I had a lengthy chat before this game. I’ve no doubt his head’s in the right place, but you also sense that he wants very badly to impress in his first real opportunity to be the shortstop. That rally-starting single last night might be the ticket. … Very reminiscent of Andrew Lambo in the spring. But Lambo is rebounding quite nicely with Indy. … Asked Clint Hurdle if Volquez had improved his fastball command, his deception or both, and he gave an interesting answer: ‘The command came, and then we put in some things for the deception.’ How could that be, I wondered, since the second would surely affect the solidified delivery? ‘Look, Johnny Cueto put in a Tiant twist out of nowhere, and it worked. No one asked why.’ That’s a reference, of course, to Red Sox legend Luis Tiant, who would famously twist all the way around to second base as part of his delivery. … Would love to see advanced fielding stats illustrating the bases cut off by Starling Marte in left. Wouldn’t be easy, though. Some runners don’t even think about the extra base, I’ll bet. … Jose Tabata scored lots of points with the Pirates for that crazy catch in Cincinnati. Went absolutely full bore. When I asked Jose if his head hit the wall first, he answered, ‘Whole body.’ Know what that tells me? He might not have had any idea how close he was. … Oh, and then Jose goes out as a pinch-hitter last night and doubles. … In a clubhouse hallway well after the game, I mentioned the famous Bob Robertson bunt/homer tale from 1971 to Hurdle. Thought I might have to explain. Nope. Man knows his Pirates history.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Pirates page, our Bucco Blog and our photo gallery.

Here’s Brewers news from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Here are official game highlights on

>> The Penguins’ and Blue Jackets’ coaching counterparts are probed by Josh Yohe on another off-day for this Stanley Cup playoff series.

Penalty-killing is a playoff priority, by Yohe.

R.J. Umberger set to return … in more ways than one, by Craig Merz in Columbus.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Penguins page, our Chipped Ice blog and our photo gallery.

Here’s Blue Jackets news from the team’s official site.

Here are official game highlights on

>> Our weekly chat will be today at noon, right after an 11:30 visit with TribLIVE Radio. I’ll remind: The chat will move to Tuesdays at 1 p.m. beginning next week.

>> Thank you, as always, for reading.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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


  1. Arriba Wilver says:

    Love the title!

  2. Arriba Wilver says:

    Also agree on the potential effect of Jose crashing into that wall.

  3. Sammich says:

    Volquez has racked up more wins than Liriano has, and you’re telling me not to panic? I am worried that my head is going to explode!

  4. Stuart says:

    Good column. I’ll admit to being near panic mode on Mercer. He had a lucky one last night, and sometimes that will get you started. Let’s hope. I also wonder if Tony Sanchez will ever get his throwing straightened out.

    Are there two more different teams on hitting philosophy than the Bucs and the Brewers? IMHO no team takes as many strikes as the Pirates. It also seems no team goes after that first strike like the Brewers. I prefer the Milwaukee style myself. It is frustrating watching so many hittable strikes go by, and so many wilds wings on really bad pitches. There were eight called third strikes against Cueto the other day. You can’t hit with the bat on your shoulder. What ever happened to “guarding the plate” with two strikes? I was always taught to swing at anything close with two strikes.

    Just sayin.


  5. Lad 9 says:

    DK, In addition to your columns, I have to tell you that I really enjoy your “Bloginess from the scene” notes. They always have some kind of good tidbit that no one else has, and some neat observations to boot. I know that involves an extra effort after cranking out a column well into the evening, but they really add a lot to the blog. Thank you – very much appreciated!

  6. Arriba Wilver says:

    Well said.

  7. Mizery says:

    Hey DK, great stuff as always. But how can we talk about baseball with all this great hockey action going on? The Avs pulling their goalie with 3 minutes left to tie it after the Wild had an empty netter stolen by Johnson. The Blackhawks and Blues in triple overtime. Hockey heaven, and these are the first games in the series.

    Jandy- I haven’t forgotten about my mustang picture. I will be back home this weekend and post it. Although it’s way past the subject now.

  8. JRay3 says:

    Column was a very enjoyable read…have to agree once the arms the team is counting on most get going coupled with the production they are getting from Volquez who many will start clamoring for an extension if he keeps this up, team will be just fine.

    Offense will always be streaky as currently assembled but as you mention there are internal options in the wings and the backend of the bullpen continues to look great. All adds up to a fun, competitive summer ahead in my estimation.

    On another note, how about those Avs, Roy pulls goalie with 3 minutes left (coach of year), 18 year old Mackinnon sets up tying goal with :13 (rookie of the year) and second generation Stastny buries the rebound. Exciting night.

  9. JRay3 says:

    I echo that sentiment, enjoy those tidbits as well.

  10. Arriba Wilver says:

    AJ tonight—7 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, no runs.

  11. DJ says:

    Nice to see the Rangers trounce the Flyers. No retaliation by Rangers and two PP goals to put it away. A message there for the Pens.

    Blues over Hawks in 3 OTs. Keep it going fellas.

  12. JRay3 says:

    And the second generation Stastny not only ties it but wins it in OT, great comeback by these resilient Avs. And Nathan Mackinnon sets it up again, that kid is going to be special.

  13. DJ says:

    Saw your observation in an earlier thread on Marte never taking a pitch to right. I agree. Would love to see him extend the arms and drill it the opposite way. Huge peeve that not enough young hitters use the whole field.

    Hopefully that light has gone on for Pedro given he crushed another to left-center.

  14. DJ says:

    Hated the Bosox but loved Luis Tiant.

    Reinvented delivery and was a beast.

  15. DJ says:

    The kid is awesome right now.

  16. DJ says:

    An exploding Sammich.

    Fries and slaw everywhere.

  17. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Would have been nice if he’d shown up in Sochi, too. I noticed his dad in the stands more than Paul on the ice. Invisible.

  18. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Really appreciate your noticing that and taking the time to mention it. Means a lot. I use it as kind of a repository for stuff I couldn’t work into the column, but I do try to offer at least a little something worthwhile with each one.

    Thanks, Laddy.

  19. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    I saw most of the late-night fare, which looked like it was best, anyway. Loved the Blues ending best. Alex Steen’s legit. Elegant play to set him up, too.

  20. tdb1977 says:

    Saw a great team win last night by the Pirates. Volquez pitched efficiently in his 7 innings of work, with only tossing 73 or 74 pitches. Pedro is really becoming a force at the plate, and on the base pads. Who knew that!?!?! From my view and looking at the super slow motion reply they showed on the scoreboard, he looked to be safe on his second stolen base attempt. Just beat the tag. Then he goes opposite field again on the home run. McCutchen’s blast in the first was a thing of beauty. Going straight away center field into the Brewers bull pen. Defensively, Martin is getting is groove back on with throwing out two would be stealers. I like that Clint moved Russell up to the 2 hole. I think it helped McCutchen see some better pitches when he came up next. Gaby hitting another home run off of a right handed batter. I noticed in the 5th inning the Gallardo was getting up there in pitches. They made him work hard last night. Oh, and on a personal note, the wife and I are now 3-0 this year at PNC Park. 1-0 on Opening Day, 12-2 against the Cardinals, and 11-2 last night.

  21. theplanisworking says:

    Good points, Lad.
    Dejan just never seems to cease improving our experiences, huh?
    Good Stuff.

  22. bpn8pitt says:

    While Im glad to see Volquez pitch well, im still going to let it play out, much like what was mentioned of Burnett in the column. Ive seen a few Pirate pitchers recently have All Star Caliber first halfs, only to be out of the rotation by August….Hope Volquez wins the freaking Cy Young though.

    Mercer, as a few bloggers have mentioned is a concern. Wandy has been disaster so far, and I think a lot of people were hoping he was going to pick up some of that AJ slack. I dont believe Liriano will repeat 2013 but still be marginally effective. Still waiting on the first full, healthy good season ever from Charlie Morton.

    Personally I think the Pirates offense lives and dies on the HR.

  23. Wild Bill says:

    The Pirates’ plate approach vs the Brewers’ plate approach is a big reason why Gallardo lasted only six innings with well over 100 pitches, and Volquez went 7 with far less pitches thrown. Getting to their bullpen last night was key.

    Once in a while you change the approach. But if a pitcher is really dealing, you have to wear him down.

  24. theplanisworking says:

    I jokingly said, in last night’s game thread, that the Pirates should win 10-0, in a small measure of revenge for the 20-0 massacre by the Brewers a few years ago. 11-2 isn’t bad. NMR called the Cutch home run beofre the game also.

    If Volquez keeps this up, and I know it’s early, Ray Searage should have a statue put up somewhere around PNC Park. Seriously. I know he tinkered with Volquez’s delivery, but he just seems so calm on the mound……. something that has been missing the past 3 years or so.

    Don’t understand all the J Harrison hate. He will never be an All-Star, but he competes. Really competes.

    Going into last night’s game, the Pirates had the NL’s best home ERA, at 2.18. This bears well for the rest of this series. No cheap HR’s like in Cincy’s minor-league stadium. Also, always good to see Braun silenced, for any reason.

  25. Wild Bill says:

    You and your wife are not allowed to leave the ball park. The Pirates will bring your business associates to you. Do you have any pets that have to be cared for?

  26. Thundercrack says:

    At last night’s game I saw a lot of hard hit balls get caught by outfielders on the warning track & up against the wall. I turned to my wife and said ” I don’t understand why a pitcher wouldn’t want to pitch here for half his starts. AJ is going to see a difference soon in Philly”

  27. JAL says:

    JAL’s Words of Love Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 BFFL’s 2014 Pirates Stats Spreadsheet

    4 Pirates Prospects

    Pittsburgh Pirates Organizational Probable Pitching Chart

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: What Can the Pirates Expect In the Draft This Year?

    Prospect Watch: Casey Sadler Goes Seven Strong After Rough Start

    Links to Prospect Sites For Other Major League Baseball Teams

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates blow out Brewers, beat up on Wei-Chung Wang

    Postgame reaction: Bucs roll over the Brewers, 11-2

    7 Rumbunter

    Edinson Volquez Has Been A Volq of Lightning for Pirates

    8 Green Weenie

    Bombs Away In Pittsburgh, PA…Bucs Win 11-2

    4/17: Tommy Leach, Sam Leever, Honus, Elmer Ponder, Wrigley Opens, Preacher Roe, Roberto, Ninth Inning Bombs, Shea Opens, B2B HRs, AJ & More…


    Game 16: Pirates 11 Brewers 2

    10 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates Must Focus On Getting On Base To Boost Inconsistent Offense

  28. Wild Bill says:

    Mornin’ Plan. The Harrison Hate is simply because we are so results oriented and he hadn’t had good results this season. It will now go away for a while, like the grexing over Jordy.

  29. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 CBS Sports

    Pirates vs Brewers Game Preview

    12 Chicago Sun Times

    There was a time — and not too long ago — Cubs were destination

    13 Beaver County Times

    Pirates lay the lumber to the Brewers

    14 Pirates Site

    Harrison’s heroics get Pirates’ bats going in win

    Walker pleased with powerful start

    15 SB Nation

    What’s your ideal length for a baseball game?

    16 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Reds’ Mesoraco proving vote of confidence placed well

    17 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Late Pittsburgh surge buries Brewers

    18 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Wainwright does it all vs. Nationals

    19 Fangraphs

    George Springer, Archie Bradley & The Service-Time Dance

    20 Sweetspot

    Pitching four days in a row: A history

  30. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Report: Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert subpoenaed in Mike Adams’ stabbing case

    Steelers pre-draft visits: Rob Blanchflower TE from UMass in Pittsburgh


    22 Bloomberg Stats Insight

    BSports League Projections

    23 BBC Football

    Cardiff City: Crystal Palace result should not stand, say Welsh club

    Tim Howard: Everton goalkeeper signs contract extension

    24 World Soccer

    Manchester City players the best paid sportsmen in the world


    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Points Thursday: Off Day Edition

  31. Jandy says:

    Miz, I’m patient…I’m looking forward to seeing it :)

  32. Wild Bill says:

    Agree also on the Searage Statue!

  33. Jandy says:

    Buy lots of tickets and go to lots of games!!!

  34. Thundercrack says:

    Very good article this morning DK. I enjoyed it a lot. And I also like the “Blogginess from the Scene” Tidbits are a specialty of yours.

    Two points in your column that really stuck out to me:
    “if I’m reading the Twitter leaves correctly, those remain public complaint No. 1.” Stop. Those twitter leaves will only raise your blood pressure

    “I also have no issue with the economics. Polanco might cost the Pirates an extra $15 million or so if he’s up before June. That would be the height of irresponsibility.” See…it isn’t MONOPOLY MONEY! :-)

  35. theplanisworking says:

    I guess so, Bill.

    I don’t even vex over Mercer/Barmes anymore.
    They are what they are.
    And, 1B still is a mess, but they are what they are too.

    I am just glad they got a W last night.
    I might have to start a collection for that Searage statue……

  36. Thundercrack says:

    I think that Harrison is a guy that is easy to like. Or try to like.

    But the ‘hate’ comes from when you look at his stats. His batting average and OBP are just too low.
    And he fails at bunting way too much.

  37. Thundercrack says:

    My wife and I also saw last night’s game and the 12-2 game against the Cardinals. We don’t need to live at the ball park. But we would greatly appreciate an express lane through the Sq. Hill Tunnels.

  38. tdb1977 says:

    Have a 20 game pack. Also, picked up 4 other games this year already. So, we’re good for a 24-0 season, right? :)

  39. Jandy says:

    I don’t know that anyone on the Pirates is all that good at bunting.

  40. tdb1977 says:

    As for the pet, yes, we have a dog. If they promise to not launch fireworks on home run celebration and allow dogs at the park every night…we could just take him with us :) He is a bit afraid and scared of loud noises.

  41. Jandy says:

    Good job! We’ll pass the envelope around ;)

  42. Wild Bill says:

    We all thank you for your patronage!

  43. Wild Bill says:

    If Tc is gonna be in the ball park, no guarantees about loud noises.

  44. bpn8pitt says:


    At the end of the day Harrison is still a below average hitter and average defender. And that may be being kind.

  45. Jandy says:


  46. Wild Bill says:

    Joe’s link 17 article reminds us that the Brewers had already swept the Red Sox and Phils On The Road this season, as well as sweeping us at home. It was important to make a statement last night and the Bucs did so.

  47. Wild Bill says:

    Really interesting article in the P-G this day about the problems created by Pa. charter schools in athletics. It also touches on parochial schools, which have been an itch of mine for twenty years. A good read.

  48. I wouldn’t panic since the Bucs’ offense came alive last night as they beat the Brewers, and I would hope that us fans will keep hearing more from the bats of various Pirates as this season progresses.

  49. Karen22 says:

    “April panic” brings…May wins?! Yeah, baby!

    Loved putting a hurtin’ on the hated Brewers. LOVED it. Now let’s keep the foot on the gas.

    “That’s baseball, kids.” – Ain’t it the truth?! :)

  50. Jandy says:

    Have a nice Easter weekend, James :)

  51. Jandy says:

    YES! Raise it!

  52. Thundercrack says:

    Listening to Hurdle’s pregame meeting with the media (I heard you DK!), someone asked Clint about Volquez and exactly what they saw in him in Spring Training that made them believe he could be effective again.

    (this is not verbatim)
    Clint went on to say that he thinks people have a tendency to focus on the bad innings they see in ST and not the good ones. ( he also went on a very mini rant that not everyone in the room was at every ST game). He also said that he saw other things in Volquez that made him believe that he could be good again and it was mainly that Volquez was open to learning new things, changing things, and accepting the advice from the Pirates coaches.

    It made me wonder if Jonathan Sanchez is not that open.

  53. theplanisworking says:

    Came close to giving you that 10-0 win last night. ;)

  54. Thundercrack says:

    I agree Jandy. Our bunting is atrocious. (and I think we bunt too much)

  55. Jandy says:

    WE need to get a special coach for that, TC? lol

    When Marte tries to bunt I cringe UGH1

  56. DJ says:

    Jandhi: Saw you had your hands full yesterday as blog gatekeeper.

    Looked like hell broke loose but thought you did a helluva job instilling sanity — as always.

    And by the way, good morning Jandhi!

    [smiley face]

  57. NMR says:

    Absolutely agreed, Lad.

  58. NMR says:

    You didn’t watch the Pirates in 2011?

  59. Jandy says:

    Hi DJ and good morning :)

    I’m just sick of the bullying.

    I know Plan’s posts sometimes become repetitive, and he sometimes instigates…but he is knocked on so much that it’s no wonder. I likely p*ssed off a few, but I won’t apologize.

    I’m off this Good Friday and enjoying it :)

    Do a real smiley face, DJ colon plus right parenthesis :)

  60. Jandy says:

    You might be onto something TC… send the memo to Clint and Searage!

  61. bpn8pitt says:

    Apparently James Mcdonald and Jeff Locke stopped listening after the All Star Break.

  62. NMR says:

    I still can’t figure out where that dig on Pedro came from.

    Pirate right fielders most certainly are not providing more offense than he is, by just about any measure you pick.

  63. Jandy says:

    Jmac is a head case,pure and simple…

  64. Jandy says:

    I don’t Tweet, but i can’t see why any digs on Petey, the guys is improving by leaps and bounds. Amazing.

  65. DJ says:

    My comment was about MacKinnon, of course. Love watching that kid play — the same thrill as with Sid.

    At 18, brings a calmness and composure that some of our vets still lack years into their careers. Malkin, Neal and Letang could learn something from him. If we’re going to make a run this spring, they need to.

  66. NMR says:

    I don’t mean to argue results, but Eddie Vedder got hit awfully hard by the Brewers top 5 last night. Scorched line drives all over the field.

    To his credit, though, he kept them in the ballpark, didn’t give up any free bases, and dominated the bottom half of the order.

    Russell Martin, man. Russell Martin.

  67. 21sthebest says:

    I have an easier solution. It’s called the North Hills. 20 minutes.

  68. JohninOshkosh says:

    Eddie Vedder…

  69. Jandy says:

    Pearl Jam ;)

  70. 21sthebest says:

    I often wonder if Harrison would improve if he stood in the same zip code as home plate when batting.

  71. Dom says:

    So, I noticed your butcher didn’t hit a two homer in the 7th yesterday…

  72. 21sthebest says:

    I think he had shoulder problems and still is. But I do agree that he might not be mentally tough. I think I mentioned here that I watched him pitch a couple of innings this spring and it really made me feel bad for him.

  73. Jandy says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for him too. If Ray can’ fix him, can anyone???

  74. I also would hope that Endison Volquez won’t be the only Pirates pitcher to come through with strong games this season, since the Bucs need to start getting better results from Wandy Rodriguez and Liriano as well.

  75. DJ says:

    My first “greeting” ever but wanted to reserve it for you.

    Crazy stuff.

  76. JohninOshkosh says:

    Can someone explain to me why Erik Johnson wasn’t whistled for delay of game when he knocked the goal off its moorings while saving that for sure empty netter by the Wild last night ?

    Koivu was tagged for the exact same thing earlier.

    Rule seems pretty clear to me. I don’t complain about reffing much. I also don’t buy into many conspiracies. But, it almost seemed like, even on a subconscious level, the powers that be wanted OT in that game.

    Not sure I’ll make it through this COL/MIN series without an aneurysm.

  77. Jandy says:

    But, Oshie, how did Matt Cooke do? :)

  78. DJ says:

    Good post, WB. And the counterargument to Stuart’s above, although taking grooved strikes bothers me as well.

    Need to see how the starter is doing and factor in other team’s bullpen. Just smart baseball.

  79. 21sthebest says:

    Yes DJ. Telling people to shut up is a great way to instill sanity.

  80. Nate83 says:

    Plan, I am not a big fan of Harrison. That being said I have always given him credit for competing. I admire the effort I just don’t think he adds a lot of value to the team and makes too many mental mistakes. I personally like for bench players to add something of plus value somewhere. Maybe with base running, defense, contact hitter, being able to play multiple positions. I don’t feel Harrison adds that. I feel like he is a good athlete that happens to play baseball as opposed to a baseball player that happens to be a good athlete if that makes any sense.

  81. bpn8pitt says:

    Agree. 8 hits too. Epitome of scattered.

  82. Jandy says:

    it’s far better than bullying someone incessantly. :)

    My sanity is far better than yours…talk about the pot calling the kettle black, 21.

    By they way, have a wonderful day. The sun is shining and God loves you.

  83. Jandy says:

    Makes sense to me, Nate. I just don’t know what other options the Bucs have.

  84. 21sthebest says:

    I know you do Jandy. I just wonder if something serious is going on with his shoulder.

  85. JohninOshkosh says:

    Happy Easter, Jandy.

  86. Jandy says:

    Thanks, Oshie, have a blessed one too :)

  87. 21sthebest says:

    My butcher Dom? Did I refer to Harrison as a butcher previously?

  88. DJ says:

    Not going there, 21.

    Want to keep both of our “never in a bad mood” strings alive.

    [smiley face]

  89. Jandy says:

    You’d think SOMEONE could figure that out, right?

  90. Jandy says:

    Coming up on 9am…morning flew by, and i have things to do.

    Have a great day everyone, be kind to each other.


  91. 21sthebest says:

    I’ve told someone to shut up Jandy? Or something close? And I agree about the bullying. But I think you have blinders on.

    To me, telling people to shut up isn’t effective. There are far better ways to make peace, IMO.

  92. 21sthebest says:

    Well you already went there DJ.

  93. DJ says:

    Would be remiss if I did not put Olli in that same category.

    Getting provoked a lot lately and now just smiling and skating away. Love it.

  94. Jandy says:

    I’m not getting into this again with you, 21. nicer ways have been tried and it didn’t work.

    But hey, you have a wonderful day, and enjoy the sun. :)

  95. Jandy says:

    See? smh

    I’m out…enjoy the day everyone :)

  96. Jim S. says:

    What a game between Chicago and St. Louis last night! I was out at my son’s baseball game and didn’t get home until OT had started, so I missed St. Louis tying it in the last couple of minutes of regulation. I know the other baseball dads weren’t happy, though, as they are all Hawks fans. But, then I got home and thoroughly enjoyed 2+ periods of exciting playoff hockey.

    What a great time of year for hockey. What a great atmosphere they appeared to have in St. Louis. What a great save on the Sharp breakaway by Miller! What a crunching sandwich hit on Toews by the Blues. I stayed up way past my bedtime, but it was worth it.

    I also think it is funny that the Flyers struggle so much with the NYR. Haha!

  97. Jim S. says:

    Have faith, James. It’s still April. Liriano has pitched ok, but not great yet. Cole has not been as consistent as we need him to be, neither has Charlie. Wandy has been awful. But, they are still hanging in there, and they are leading the league in HR. I think they will be 10-9 when the Brewers leave town.

  98. Baywatch says:

    JHay da man! I had him going back to Indy WAY before he failed to get that bunt down! A few more days now for him!

  99. 21sthebest says:

    Personally, I think people just need to work it out themselves. And if they can’t, so be it.

  100. Arriba Wilver says:

    Yeah, I made that point on Sanchez last year and earlier this year, I had read some quotes from him and articles about him where he seemed to indicate he didn’t think he had a problem. Which definitely makes it hard to fix then.

  101. Jim S. says:

    He’s frustrating sometimes, isn’t he, Bay? Seems like the count is always 0-2 on him. But, he has a flair for the big hit at times.

  102. DJ says:

    Loved it as well, Jim. That said, doing the immediate mental comparison of the 3rd and 4th line play of both teams to the Pens is sobering. Would love to see Goc back soon to give us greater depth.

    MSG for Flyers = Consol for us against them.

  103. 21sthebest says:

    After he stabbed instead of squaring properly, then he took a strike down the middle pulling his bat back, I thought we were doomed.

  104. NMR says:

    You can’t argue with improved control, but you also cannot say his command has been good (IMO).

    Two very different things. Fastball was catching the fat part of the plate all night.

  105. bpn8pitt says:

    Dejan said this in the column and NMR, others have mentioned it at times as well…Maybe expecting the 2014 staff to be equal to, if not better than the 2013 version is asking a little much. They were pretty nasty last year.

    Which is where the offense needs to step up. And beyond the HRs, Jim, i still see the same high strikeout, horrible baserunning and situational hitting.

    But like you said, its April.

  106. Dom says:

    Break it up, everyone.

  107. Jim S. says:

    It’s still early on Volquez, as we all know. But, I would venture to say he probably has not strung together 3 starts plus a 3 inning relief stint this well very often in the past several years. I mean, if you look at his stats, the guy is a 1.5 career WHIP guy. His control has not been good for most of his career. He has been known to give up the long ball.

    I loved the Liriano signing last year, because I believed in his swing and miss stuff. Well, I am the first to say I thought they bit off more than they could chew with this Volquez project. I am not a scout or a pitching coach, so I just could not get past the years of bad numbers he had put up. But, these guys (Searage, Hurdle, Huntington, the other pitching instructors) get paid to see through that. They get paid to see what a guy could be if he did what they asked of him. They saw that the arm was still there. As I said, it’s still early. But, it is a really nice story so far. What’s that saying? “When the student is ready, the teach will appear.” Edinson Volquez right now looks nothing like the guy I had seen off and on the last few years. Less than 80 pitches for 7 full innings? Fuhgettaboutit!

  108. Thundercrack says:

    I thought there was some hard hit balls last night. But I also thought there more than a few grounders that were well placed. Not hit too hard – but not exactly seeing-eye or dribblers.
    Our shifts may have been off.

  109. Thundercrack says:

    +1 AW

  110. bpn8pitt says:

    Oh my. :)

  111. Thundercrack says:

    I think the term ‘bullying’ is not applicable to what happens on this blog. Just too strong of a term.

    And I can’t believe I am talking about this again. Or any of us are. On a sports blog

    So I will stop.

  112. bpn8pitt says:

    Bay, that is a good pic, btw. But I dont think you need any re-tooling.

  113. Jim S. says:

    They both are much better at preventing those pesky 15 ft. wide open shots in front of the net also, DJ.

  114. bpn8pitt says:

    Exactly. Throw a strike without putting it over the heart of the plate.

    I like the fact he’s kept the walks down, but as you said he has avoided giving up that big hit too.

  115. DJ says:

    Was there and just cringing.

    Will be 1-1 after tomorrow if that’s not immediately fixed. It’s Job #1 for coaching staff.

  116. Jim S. says:

    It is not a great offense, bpn. They do have a lot of high strikeout guys, and not a lot of high batting avg/ on base guys. Cutch is about it from that standpoint right now. Polanco profiles as similar to Cutch in that regard, thankfully.

    We’ve all mentioned the 1b thing. Gaby has hit well this week, but as DK pointed out that position has been a problem.

  117. Thundercrack says:

    The ballpark and our outfielders helped him out a little too.

    (see my comments above at 7:10am)

  118. Baywatch says:

    I know! I showed him my forkball grip (the OLD split-finger), and he said I was good-to-go!

  119. Jim S. says:


    El Tiante.

  120. NMR says:

    Certainly did.

  121. Tom P. says:

    Regarding whether April panic is warranted or not, these are the Pirates’ 18-game splits from last year (thanks to the archives on the blog): 10-8, 10-8, 14-4, 8-10, 12-6, 11-7, 9-9, 9-9, and 11-7. And for good measure, in the three 54-game segments, the Pirates were 34-20, 31-23, and 29-25. As Jim S. noted, a remarkably consistent team. At some point last year, I also did the 18-game splits of the Cardinals and Reds. The key seems to be avoiding a long streak of losing which is too much to overcome. (By now everyone is thinking, “Boy, Tom P. really is a one-trick pony.” Probably so.)

  122. Jim S. says:

    You stay undefeated, tdb, and I’ll take up a fund to send you and the Mrs. (and the pooch) every night!!

  123. Jim S. says:

    Great point about JHay, plan. I was not a fan for most of last year. Sometimes I get caught up too much in little things. It seems to me that he is down in the count 0-2 very often, and that count does not lead to a high batting average for very many hitters. But, being almost exclusively a pinch hitter is a tough way to make a living. It usually takes guys years to be accomplished at watching 7 or 8 innings and then grabbing a bat and getting a hit at a very crucial moment. I’m learning to appreciate JHay for what he is. The guy is a free swinger, and he usually gets one or two good pitches to swing at per game. I was at the Marlins game last year when he won it with a big 9th inning blast. And, I remember him hitting a big HR down in Washington to win an afternoon game. He’s not perfect, but I have a hard time now not liking the guy.

  124. Mizery says:

    Although I am not a fan of Lapierre, he had a great game as well. Including that lucky save on goal he had. The Blues have great role players that know their role. If they can beat the Blackhawks I think they can win the whole thing. I really like the Blackhawks Blue line and complimentary players so oddly enough they might not make it out of the first round.

  125. Arriba Wilver says:

    No, Tom, good stuff and appreciated.

  126. Nate83 says:

    You may be a one trick pony but I like the trick. I like the idea of breaking the season up into 9 equal parts. You pretty quickly realize how difficult it is to make up for a 6-12 or 5-13 stretch. Likewise having a 14-4 stretch like the Pirates did last year gives you a great cushion. I can’t imagine what the Braves 18 game breakdown would have looked like last year. They had some crazy streaks.

    If the Pirates win 6 of the these next 10 (7 at home) against their division they will finish these very important 26 games at 14-12. I don’t have any problems with that considering they started this year playing all their games against what I consider a very solid division top to bottom.

  127. Arriba Wilver says:

    I guess I’ll have to be the first to mention we ain’t getting swept this series.

  128. Baywatch says:

    Up here! OPTIMIST Prime! :-)

  129. Jim S. says:

    And, I think that is why he is a bench player.

  130. NMR says:

    Add it to the spreadsheet. ;)

  131. Jim S. says:

    You would think the twitter guys would have boned up on BABIP. Guess not. Pedro is hitting in some tough luck, but it sure looks like his approach is a lot better this year. He has hit 3 blasts over the LC fence already. That ties his output from all of last season, when he led the league in HR.

  132. DJ says:

    And smoking a big cigar at his locker.

    A totally different era, right?

  133. Arriba Wilver says:

    I cogitated on that all night. (Jethro Bodine).

  134. Jim S. says:

    Looks like your front shoulder is flying open in that picture, Bay. Did the Pitch Whisperer have any suggestions?

  135. 21sthebest says:

    Maybe I’m the first to give kudos to Travis Snider for a couple of nice catches with his glove.

  136. NMR says:

    Good post, Jim.

    Adding to it, I think we have to add Russell Martin to the list of reasons for Edinson’s early success. I mentioned over the winter a couple times how pitch selection and sequencing could play a major role in Edinson’s success or failure, and already we’re starting to see trends.

    He’s swapping out fourseamers and changeups with twoseamers and curveballs at higher rates than he averaged last year. These two pitches have seemed to be easier for him to control, and that has produced a lot of early contact.

    You might look at his low k-rate as a red flag – just 15.9% this season compared to a career average of 20.9% – but he’s actually generating more swings and misses than he did last year. Guy still has the stuff.

  137. Jim S. says:

    You were consistent on that all year in ’13, Tom, and I really enjoyed it. The Bucs were remarkably consistent last year. Good pitching will do that for you. They were 8-8 at this point last year also. But, then they took off. We’ll see if that happens again.

  138. Arriba Wilver says:

    Better than his face.

  139. NMR says:

    I was referring to Dejan’s line, fwiw:

    “Besides, the current offense from right fielders Travis Snider and Jose Tabata — .275 OBP, two home runs, four RBIs — is more than they’re getting from Pedro Alvarez, his own eighth-inning bomb aside. Get Alvarez and Mercer above the Mendoza line, and none of the above is an issue.”

    Pedro has a higher OBP and double the number of homeruns and RBI as Snider/Tabby have. Combined.

    Guess that doesn’t matter since his batting average is low. Like Russell Martin’s .211 in his last year as a Yankee.

    But this is picking nits in an otherwise well written and enjoyable column.

  140. NMR says:

    Closed my eyes on that first one. He hesitated before breaking in, most likely after being burnt the night before.

  141. Jim S. says:

    Ask Mrs. NMR who she’s thinking goes yard tonight. I’ve cleared my Friday evening viewing sched.

  142. Baywatch says:

    I second that emotion: Bay “Smokey Robinson” Watch

  143. NMR says:

    Ha! The answer will be Pedro. Just like every night.

    New York City raised with the best walk-up music on the club. And she apparently digs the long ball.

  144. Jim S. says:

    I was only able to watch inning one last night before heading out. I thought we were in for another “everything goes wrong vs. the Brewers” game when I saw EV catch the grounder from Braun, turn and have Gomez like a sitting duck waiting to be tagged between 2nd & 3rd. Not good rundown execution to allow Braun to get all the way to 2nd, and ARam made us pay immediately for giving up the extra base – as he often does. Professional hitter, that ARam. No newsflash there.

    Then, Martin scalded that liner to CF after the Marte walk, and I was still not liking what was shaping up. Then, Cutch happened to restore order. Oh my, did he hit that ball hard.

  145. 21sthebest says:

    Oh was that you NMR? I saw one of the lights shining off of this bald spot in Section 142.

  146. Jim S. says:

    So, the Brewers seem intent on hanging on to our former prospect, Wang.

    Never pitched above GCL. Only 21, and missed a lot of time with TJ. Seems perfectly logical for a club with playoff aspirations to waste a roster spot on a kid who is not ready. Great for his development. Results were not pretty last night. 1 inning, 6 hits, 4 hits that stayed in the park, 6 runs.

    There’s something wrong with a system that allows a team to pick off a kid like that from another team in Rule 5. I don’t know what the answer is. People are speculating that he will come down with a mysterious ailment that sends him to DL. I hope the Brewers wouldn’t stoop that low.

  147. 21sthebest says:

    That’s two horrible rundowns I’ve seen this year. The other one was the 4 throw rundown on opening day. Volquez needs to throw that ball immediately when he gets it. Maybe he thought it was still Little League?

    When my son’s college team practiced rundowns, if it took them more than one throw (after the pitcher’s initial throw) to get the out, the coach made them run until almost puking.

  148. Arriba Wilver says:

    Fact check: that system got us Roberto Clemente. Nothing wrong with that system IMHO.

  149. Thundercrack says:

    If that kid continues to pitch like that and the Brewers remain ‘in the race’ it will be interesting to see if they keep him – or come up with an injury.

    I don’t know what their bullpen situation was last night but it seemed like the game was still pretty close for them to bring him in. But they also probably didn’t expect him to be that bad.

  150. DJ says:

    JHay certainly has a flair for the dramatic.

    Just wish the “dramatic” would occur at a .275 clip or better.

  151. 21sthebest says:


  152. Thundercrack says:

    And Evan Meek…I think.

  153. Jim S. says:

    I also saw only 1 inning of work from him. I was surprised to read from some here that the Brewers squared up so many on him last night. I wasn’t expecting that to be the case, judging from his line. So, maybe he caught a bit of good luck, too.

    On the broadcast last night – can’t remember if it was TV or the 2nd inning that I listened to on the radio – but, the Pirates crew cited an extremely low batting avg. vs. his curve and change-up so far. I am always skeptical of those stats. If you get a swing and miss it is always a great pitch. But, if there are not already 2 strikes when it happens, they would not have a batting avg. to calculate against.

  154. Jim S. says:

    That is true. I believe the story was that the Dodgers sent him up to Montreal to tuck him away. I think an early predecessor to Tim Williams sniffed him out. Maybe a blogger. Or, a young Groat at spring training. The rest, as they say, is history.

  155. Jim S. says:

    Was Bonilla lost that way also?

  156. Thundercrack says:

    There was no hiding from twitter…even back then

  157. bpn8pitt says:

    Well, the lineup shuffling last night seem to have some nice instant results.

    Where would you put Polanco in the lineup Jim?I liked NMR putting him in the two hole, but am certainly open other things…I just dont like Marte at leadoff.

  158. Jim S. says:

    It seemed on TV like Gomez was just going to let him come and tag him if EV kept running at him. For some reason, he stopped and threw the ball all of a sudden.

    I agree with the 1-throw theory, 21. I also don’t think it is as hard as teams make it look. If guys would just delay their initial throw a bit longer when they get the guy running back to his original base, the ball would be caught in time to get him but after the point at which the runner could turn and go the other way.

  159. Wild Bill says:

    “Our plan was to chip pucks in, but as soon as we got pucks in, it seemed like they had three guys there instead of two. We’ve got to figure that out. They did a good job outnumbering us.”

    This was a comment by Wayne Simmonds of the Flyers, describing why they got only 15 shots in the whole game against the Rangers last night. Pens coaching staff, please take note – useful whichever of those two teams survives.

  160. Jim S. says:

    I think #2 makes the most initial sense, bpn – at least for this year. Marte is not an ideal leadoff hitter, but he does seem to be working more walks so far. His OBP was acceptable last year as well.

    Polanco profiles as a high on base % guy (once he settles in) who won’t strike out a lot. Whether he can step right in and do that, I don’t know. But, I like him at #2 more than anybody we have right now. Only 8 swings and misses so far, even at AAA, is a pretty good indicator that he has an idea what to swing at and not swing at.

  161. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, you zeroed in early on why his batting avg. was so low so far. Extremely low BABIP. He’s been scorching some outs.

  162. 21sthebest says:

    I thought Gomez was smart. If the pitcher is going to run, let him. I blame the fielder without the ball if the other guy throws too soon. He’s supposed to yell for the ball at the right time.

  163. Thundercrack says:

    Yes. And who can forget the journey of Joey Bats.

  164. Jim S. says:

    Man, he was fun to watch. That was in the days when the Pirates were on TV maybe 30 games a year – all on the road – and you had Saturday afternoon and Monday night to catch other teams. That was it.

    So, catching a Luis Tiant was a treat. All the different windups, pitching angles. There probably aren’t many organizations now that would allow a guy to do such unorthodox things now.

  165. bpn8pitt says:

    Sounds right.

    Polanco, McCutchen, Alvarez 2,3,4…very nice to think about, if two of them or all three are in a groove.

    Hopefully Snider keeps swinging a decent bat too.

  166. scapper says:

    [Ambles down to waterline…dips toe…feels okay to enter…]

    So I’m reading through today’s posts just now and I see some comments about yesterday and I remember that I wrote that one post then headed out for the rest of the day. Just went back and re-read the comments that followed. Hilarious stuff!

    Jandy, sorry I unintentionally forced you up into moderator duty and then took off on you, haha! Wasn’t posting and ducking. Wife and I set out for a great DC-area day off that culminated in a cold-a** Nationals game. I NEVER root for the DC teams but I tried to last night, as they played St. Louis. But of course, it was just another day of “Washington Sports Team Being Washington Sports Team” as they four-errored their way to an 8-0 loss to the Cards.

  167. Andrew says:

    That 0-20 massacre was the last game of a three game series were the Brewers outscored the Pirates 36-1, there is still much retribution to be given.

  168. Arriba Wilver says:

    Can’t even blame that system on Bud OR the Union OR Scott Boras. ;-)

  169. cmat0829 says:

    DK: Great article, never a reason for panic in the first month of a season, especially with a .500 record. Put it this way: if the Bucs win 2 of the next 3 vs. the Brewers, they will be TWO games behind the team that got off to a scorching start…. and the Bucs, unlike the Brewers, have all kinds of areas they can step up their games. You mentioned lots of them (Cole/Liriano for starters).

    My two cents:

    1) Volquez — hard not to be impressed so far — it is early but there is no doubt he has some ability. Keeping the walks down will no doubt lead to improvement…. and he will be a clear value in a #5 spot in the rotation. If he can keep building upon that foundation with deception, etc., he has a chance to be more than that. And that is exactly what the Pirates signed him hoping for….a solid #5 with chance for more. Can’t spend $5M any more effectively than that. Again, as CH would say, they don’t give out awards in April, so we watch and see what happens… my own Sabremetrics (BPWW– blood pressure while watching) is lower on Volquez at this point than Morton and Wandy, so for what that’s worth……

    2) JayHey — cannot, I say again, cannot NOT like this guy, his enthusiasm, his energy… pretty clear his teammates like him a lot also. That said, as I posted yesterday (maybe I need to post negatives more often as they seem to spur something good happening), I still think the Pirates MUST upgrade the bench at some point….they could carry Harrison if they didn’t also have to carry Barmes…as it is now, they have no real pinchhitting threat.

    3) Tabata — I loved the effort on the catch Wednesday…and loved his near-HR last night… but I didn’t love his HR trot on his double… yes, he ripped the ball but it was hardly a no-doubter and he needs to put his head down and run. Nitpicking yes, but I didn’t like it.

    4) Mercer — really rooting for this kid, he deserves every shot to make it work…that said, if/when the Bucs are in the market for upgrades, I have to believe the SS position is up near the top….even if Mercer progresses to his mean, which I think he will.

    5) I reiterate the roster moves I want right now: Send Tony down, recall Stewart; Send Ishi down, recall Lambo.

    6) Finally, I really like the Pirates celebrating HRs with the “yes, yes, yes” dance … sounded like it is spreading to the stands, how cool would it be in a packed PNC to have the fans join in in unison, “yes, yes, yes!”…..

  170. Arriba Wilver says:

    Tread carefully.

  171. NMR says:


  172. NMR says:

    Teams will often work out trades to get back Rule 5 players lost.

    I wondered at the time if the Brewers were trying to showcase him for the Pirates. Seemed too close of a game to throw him out there considering only one other appearance meant they don’t view him as an actual contributor.

  173. Jim S. says:

    Something that surprised me. I saw on twitter from a Brewers reporter that said they might seek a trade with the Bucs to keep him and be able to demote him to an appropriate level. They really love the guy. And, they have shown spotty, at best, ability to develop pitchers lately. So, a lefty w/ promise (47 k / 4 BB in 47 innings last yr) would be something they want to hang onto.

    I would not want the Bucs to do that. Either get him back in trade, or make them keep him on the roster all year. Pursue a vigorous investigation of any injuries that suddenly befall him.

    Oh, as an aside note, I saw that Mr. Glasnow popped a cool 100 MPH 7x in Bradenton yesterday.

  174. Jim S. says:

    So many Sanchezes, so many problems, too little time to address them all.

  175. Jim S. says:

    I forgot it was that awful. Perspective, Andrew. Thank you!

  176. I really, really had a hard time reading what Volquez might or might not have been doing wrong in the early going when he gave up those six hits. That’s kind of leaving me with a question mark about this outing, despite the overall excellent numbers.

  177. There was no dig. I’ve been front and center in praising a lot of what I’ve seen from Pedro in the early going, even yelling in his defense Sunday night on Final Word. Rather, the point was that Alvarez has a lot more room between his head and the ceiling, and that once that happens — as well as Mercer — “none of the above will matter much,” to quote the phrase that followed.

  178. Didn’t Johnson clear the puck away first, then have his momentum take him into the net?

    Only saw the play once. Can’t be sure.

  179. That’s really good stuff, Tom.

  180. NMR says:

    Interesting, Jim. Thanks for that.

    And I’d agree with you, especially being a division foe. The Brewers seem dreadfully light on pitching prospects, so much so that I’d have to believe a young lefty with a 93 mph fastball would certainly help them in the future.

    Now who’s this Glasnow gentleman you speak of? ;) Triple digits?!

  181. Nate83 says:

    I saw he is adding about 2 mph each of the last 3 years. At this rate he will be up to 112 by the time he becomes a free agent. There is no way we can afford to keep him. Nutting is so cheap :)

  182. Nate83 says:

    There will be kids all over the park wearing fake beards. That might scare some people away.

    I know they had the Zoltan guy throw out a first pitch at some point last year. I wonder if they would get Daniel Bryant to throw one out this year at some point.

  183. Thundercrack says:

    I don’t think the Pirates would really want other teams to pursue a vigorous investigation on the injuries that have befallen on their pitchers.

  184. Thundercrack says:

    DK, good to see you on the blog. I know you’re busy. Stop back more often.

  185. Jim S. says:

    He might throw even harder to get a bigger contract.

  186. JohninOshkosh says:

    Agree. Helps to get the blog compass directed in the right direction, as well.

  187. JohninOshkosh says:

    I guess that was the interpretation. Yeo was barking about it, obviously.

    Thanks, Dejan.

  188. NMR says:

    I thought DK’s chat response to the shenanigans was interesting.

    No doubt, this team has a lot of “schtick” going on, for lack of a better vocabulary. I know I’ve been a heck of a lot more sour on some things I’ve seen this year than anything Yasiel Puig or Bruce Harper have done as professionals.

    However, I wonder if all this stuff is actually what works for these guys. You almost get the feeling that after multiple collapses they’re still trying to fake it til they make it.

    Even if that isn’t the case, I say “who cares”. I’ve changed my stance on “old school” baseball over the years. No reason the game cannot be entertaining as well. It’s ok to have a little fun.

  189. NMR says:

    That kids got a chance to turn into a pretty fair 7th inning reliever some day.

  190. Jim S. says:

    Who is this “Bruce Harper” fellow? :-)

  191. NMR says:

    Haha, oh goodness. One of those days…

  192. NMR says:

    Ah, gotcha. Thanks DK!

  193. NMR says:

    Travis Ishikawa (37 PA) has more than twice as many attempts as Mike Carp (16 PA).

    Free Mike Carp!

  194. Jim S. says:

    I don’t usually have time to participate on the chat. But, I try to go back and read the comments.

    I imagine it is difficult to not only fire off rapid fire answers on a variety of sports topics, but also do it w/o giving the occasional dumb answer … because … well, it’s tough to always be on the top of your game. I think DK’s answers, whether I agree with them 100% or not (I do agree with them a large majority of the time, btw), always provide a lot of insight that he has access to and which I don’t. And, that is what I want. They always seem well thought out to me, especially given that he doesn’t have a lot of time to compose them. I think that is a tougher skill than we might realize if we’ve never done it before. I type dumb stuff here all the time and hit post, only to wish I had said something another way. Great job today, DK.

  195. Nate83 says:

    I personally have no problem with them having fun as long as it isn’t showing up the other team. Tabata’s hop and start to trot last night was much more annoying to me then the Zolton or yes, yes, yes. They should be having fun and they should get along with each other. Anything to build a sense of unity and unselfishness is a good thing. You start doing the right thing even if it means sacrificing a few batting average points to move a runner up.

    I also have no problem with anybody who is annoyed by it and completely understand that mindset as well. It’s completely personal preference on a topic like this.

  196. Arriba Wilver says:

    I don’t know, NMR. I pretty much agree with DK on this. It’s almost like they’re trying to show they don’t need AJ’s maturity on this. ( Yes, I mentioned AJ and maturity in the same sentence). And, while certainly not overly important, they’re flailing at this point. There ain’t no “Z” this year, so far. It seems forced.

  197. Bizrow says:

    Dejan had a blogger from Russia on the chat today?

  198. Nate83 says:

    That’s amazing, especially considering the Red Sox slow start. One would think maybe Carp would get a few more at bats to try something different. Very few pinch hit opportunities for AL teams has probably kept him from getting another 5 or 6 at bats as well.

  199. Nate83 says:

    Wang or Glasnow?

    I couldn’t remember if you thought Glasnow’s control would keep him from being a starter. So I wasn’t sure if this was tongue in cheek, serious or referring to Wang.

  200. Jandy says:

    Hey scapper :) no worries, friend. Some here just don’t know.when to let things alone. Nats let ya donw eh? Lol. It’s Friday, I was off work, and I’m feeling good! Happy Easter!

  201. NMR says:

    Ha, yeah, that is an interesting connection you made with AJ.

    I personally don’t consider anything going on this year more immature than adopting a fictional superhero from a D-list stoner comedy as the team’s mascot, but thats just me.

    I do agree, though, that ALWAYS having some kind of schtick doesn’t seem natural from the outside looking in.

  202. Jim S. says:

    I don’t love Russ Martin’s bat, but man can that can guy handle things behind the dish. With what we have seen of Tony’s arm, etc. so far, and Stewart not expected to hit all that well … please start the contract extension negotiations, Neal. I wonder what that would cost. Anyone want to hazard a guess at what they think it would take to re-sign Russ in terms of years and $$?

    I remember hypothetically asking in spring training which position player we could least afford to lose this year. Amost everyone said Cutch, for obvious reasons. I thought maybe Pedro, only because we had no real alternatives for him. I thought Martin was #3. I’m not so sure how to rank them now. But, Martin is special.

  203. Jandy says:

    Yup. Watch out for snakes.;)

  204. NMR says:

    Trying for a bit of Nate83’s masterful sarcasm in reference to Glasnow. ;)

  205. Jim S. says:

    Happy Easter, Jandy!!

  206. Arriba Wilver says:

    They won’t pay what it would take to ink him. You can take that to the bank.

  207. Jim S. says:

    He could be scary. As my son said when I read that tweet to him about Glasnow last night, “Trip .. trip … triple digits!”

  208. Jim S. says:

    Well, there’s that. I was hoping the last few weeks might have shown how valuable that guy is.

    But, seriously, does anyone want to guess what it might take? I haven’t thought it all the way through. I’m thinking we’d like to get him for 2 years, and he would want at least 3. Does 3/$36 get it done? Would we ever pay that much for him? Am I way off?

  209. Arriba Wilver says:

    I liked the Z. It was unique, and didn’t seem forced. But those things don’t happen all the time. Kind of like the 1979 Family and Sister Sledge.

  210. NMR says:

    Martin is a great defender, but so is Clint Barmes. What makes Martin special -and expensive- is the bat he brings with the glove.

    I’ve gotta believe the 3yr/$27m contract the Phillies gave 35 yo Carlos Ruis will be the floor. I think if he stays healthy somebody will give him four years with at least a $12m AAV.

  211. NMR says:

    Thinking very similarly as you, Jim. The fourth year was what I think would get him.

  212. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m leaving this alone for the holiday. I’ll get to you next week, Jandy. Have a great Easter holiday. :-)

  213. Baywatch says:

    cmat, I didn’t like what Tabata did either. I mean, I guess it’s MY human nature – but it really made 90 percent joy of the 100 percent joy I had that inning. Guess I’m just old-school, and like to see us stay classy – win or lose.

  214. NMR says:

    Yeah, seems like they’re giving Daniel Nava a lot of rope.

  215. Wild Bill says:

    Right on point, Jim. I sent DK a chat question to the effect that Martin should be kept, but he chose to answer other people’s concerns. (sniff, sniff)

  216. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, if it goes 4 there’s no chance for the Bucs. I think 3 is stretching it. Some team with the money to overpay probably grabs him.

  217. Baywatch says:

    Sad, but probably true. I mean does anyone else pay what it takes to re-ink valuable AGED people besides the Red Sox and Yankees?

  218. NMR says:

    Speaking of classy, I was disgusted at the number of anti-semitic slurs I heard coming from the right field fans last night.

    And I assume none of those jagoffs were Marlon Byrd fans.

  219. Thundercrack says:

    WB, you’re question got bumped for the one about AJ Burnett’s groin.

  220. Baywatch says:


  221. theplanisworking says:

    In regards to Martin, and whether or not the Pirates will even attempt to re-sign him……………….

    They have to. They simply have to.

    There won’t be anyone close to his skill level available this coming offseason.

    The Pirates still have a huge question mark with T. Sanchez, and his defense/throwing issues.

    The Pirates have no one else in the minors, except rookie ball at the C position that is even remotely close to helping the big club.

    The Pirates didn’t spend anything this offseason (I compare the end roster of 2013 at $73 million, to the opening day roster of $73 million), and with 2 years of TV money, ticket price increases, etc., they would have to re-sign him. What will it take? Who knows? I would say a 4yr/$47MM might do it. If that is deemed too expensive by this FO, then they are admittedly waving the white flag.

    Besides, this FO has said they would spend money when the time was right. Being they have zero other options at catcher (unless Sanchez’s defense markedly improves) I don’t see why they wouldn’t spend it on Martin.

  222. Thundercrack says:

    When Martin signed here two years ago he came out and said he was going to reestablish himself, increase his value, and hit free agency again.

    We can hope that he likes it here, his teammates and coaches…..but I think he’s going to see what is out there.
    And I mean $$$$$$$$$

  223. NMR says:

    I briefly see Dodgers, Nats, Braves, Cubs, CWS, Blue Jays, Rangers, and Angels as all having the need and means.

  224. theplanisworking says:

    * Should be 4yrs/$37MM on a potential Martin contract.

    At $47MM, the Pirates wouldn’t even negotiate.

  225. Arriba Wilver says:

    And they won’t do it. I know I’m hanging myself out here, and hope I’m wrong, but with the obvious Sanchez problems and their dollars first approach, I feel pretty confident in what I’m saying. And, someone else with a lot more money will outbid them. Again, I hope I’m wrong.

  226. Thundercrack says:

    I don’t see the connection with AJ and what they are doing.

    My take on all of this is I don’t care what a team does in the dugout or once the game is over. (as much as I hated when the Brewers untucked their jerseys after a victory, I always felt ‘hey the game is over and they won’).

    I’m not a super huge fan of all these hand signals & gestures when people are on base. Whether it is the Pirates or any other team.

    But sometimes I agree with NMR’s point of getting past being so ‘old school’

  227. Jim S. says:

    I’ve changed my thinking the last couple of years to where I think a great defensive catcher can have the biggest impact on the performance of your team of any of the 8 regular players.

  228. Thundercrack says:

    your question!

  229. NMR says:

    Not true that the Pirate don’t have any catching prospects above rookie ball, but late 2016 would realistically be the closest Jhang or McGuire could be up.

  230. Baywatch says:

    I don’t think they have to try to resign him, Plan. Sanchez looked bad in his last few games, granted. BUT IT’S EARLY, DUDE! And he’s got a lot of catching experience coming up as soon as Stewart gets back. All things being equal, he’s the catcher of the future … until the high draft choice out of high school Reese McGuire gets here.

    Who knows, really, what the future hold for even next year. But I don’t think the Pirates have to try to resign an aging great catcher with Sanchez and McGuire in the wings. And McGuire seems to be on a fast track for a kid right out of high school.

  231. NMR says:

    This spreadsheet is getting crowded.

  232. Thundercrack says:

    At age 34 and 35 I think Martin keeps himself in good enough shape that he could still be an effective catcher. But they’ll need a good platoon partner for him. And I have doubts about how his bat plays at 34 & 35

  233. Baywatch says:

    Gramma Nazis were waiting to jump all over that, TC. Good going!

  234. Jim S. says:

    They can spread the AJ savings ($12 million) over a Martin 3 year extension @ $4/$4/$4.

  235. Nate83 says:

    Plan it’s just personal opinion but at his age for a catcher I can’t imagine the Pirates going past 3 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if 2 would actually be the limit if they are interested. My guess is they make the QO which may be tempting for Martin to except because 14.1 a good chunk of money and I don’t know if he get much more then 3/27 on the open market. 14.1 gets him more then halfway there and he gets to stay in a familiar situation.

  236. Thundercrack says:

    Ah HA! It is Bay who is the one that keeps saying “It’s Early”!

  237. Arriba Wilver says:


  238. NMR says:

    When I played the more dirt you had on your uniform, pine tar on your helmet, and snuff in your lip made you cool.

    But I’ve come to realize those days are over. Change or be left behind, I suppose.

  239. theplanisworking says:

    Nate, that could very well be, but the Pirates didn’t go a third year for Loney, and lost out. I would think the Bucs would go a 4th year with Martin, unless they just don’t value him that much.

    The QO is an interesting point you make, but keep in mind, no player has ever accepted one. Ever.

  240. Jim S. says:

    I hope Sanchez gets his throwing worked out as the year goes on, Bay. He frightens me now. I think the bat will play, but I really value defense at catching so much more than offense.

    I agree with you on McGuire. I have not heard anything but glowing things about him. But, he’s 19. Even if he gets up at 21 or 22, that’s asking a lot for him to handle the pitching staff of a (hopefully) contending team.

    That’s why I asked the question. I wanted to hear what others thought.

  241. NMR says:

    I garuntee that will change this winter, plan.

  242. theplanisworking says:

    You think you could pull a few strings and get a new Subaru included in his contract? ;) ;)

  243. Nate83 says:

    I don’t think you are hanging yourself out there. I think you hit it right on the nose. The Pirates are not going to pay top dollar for an aging catcher and another team will. I do think they would be willing to pay for one year so I could see the QO being offered.

  244. Jim S. says:

    That is true, plan, and I think this may be the last time that happens. Kendrys and Drew would accept them now, I think, if they got a do over. I think we are entering a different era on that issue.

  245. theplanisworking says:

    Yeah, it might after all the squawking this past offseason, and players not being signed.
    The draft pick part of the equation might force players to start accepting it too……..

  246. Jim S. says:

    I’m pretty sure he’s driving something a bit higher up the $$$ scale. But, if that’s what it takes count me in.

  247. theplanisworking says:


    Way to take one for the team, Jim. :D

  248. Nate83 says:

    4 years takes him to 37 years old. I don’t see the Pirates doing that. You don’t see a lot of 37 year old catchers maintaining their skills. His bat is good not great. His defense obviously is awesome but there will be options for defensive catchers out there including Stewart which started over 100 games for the penny pinching Yanks last year.

    I agree with NMR comment below about the QO being accepted by a few players next year. Martin would have an interesting choice. I don’t think he will make much more then 10 per on the open market so he instantly will make more for the 2015 season. If he believes in his skills and thinks he can get a 2 or 3 year deal the year after then he would end up ahead financially.

    Since nobody has ever accepted one of these crazy QO does anybody know if you can offer it every year to the same player if they keep accepting?

  249. Jim S. says:

    Exactly. Dodgers and Angels. Tough to compete with that.

  250. Jim S. says:

    Probably true. So, let’s see if we can swing a deal for this Yoddy Malina guy. I’m hearing good things.

  251. Jim S. says:

    Indeed he did, Biz. I think he was from the Sochi Chamber of Commerce. DK sniffed him out.

  252. theplanisworking says:

    I think you can offer it every year.
    It is up to the player to accept it.

    If the Pirates make one QO, it wouldn’t be financially prudent to make it every year. That would take you to 3yrs/$42.3 MM.

  253. Thundercrack says:

    I think the Pirates value Martin.

  254. JohninOshkosh says:

    Lots of players needing costly extensions. Do I hear someone pulling on the storm window of opportunity ?

    Just an exacerbation of the Pirates curious inactivity this past winter, IMHO.

  255. Jim S. says:


    But, if he says he’d prefer a BMW 7 Series, someone else needs to step up.

  256. Nate83 says:

    That is correct and I doubt they would do it for 3 years but in an odd way I think they would rather pay 28.2 for 2 years of Martin knowing they can take it year by year and see how he holds up instead of getting him at 3 for 30 but having the risk of him quickly dropping off in production and health at some point before that 3rd year. They just don’t like long term contracts on anybody above the age of 30 and I can’t say I disagree.

  257. Baywatch says:

    Aye, Matey! Ka-Ka-Ka-KA!

  258. Jim S. says:

    How many years can they do a QO? When can he become a UFA?

  259. NMR says:

    Who are really these guys needing extension?

  260. Baywatch says:

    Fair enough. Sanchez has had some things to grow through. Seems when he was first drafted, he was good catch, not hit; now, he’s no catch, good hit. If he doesn’t show he’s good enough to replace Martin next year, I’d say the team could give a whirl on trying to bring Martin back … but I guess I’m with Wilver on, “Nah, it won’t get done.”

  261. NMR says:

    Martin was born in 1983, Nate.

    Four year contract signed this winter would take him through his age-35 season.

  262. Jim S. says:

    I agree with that post, TC. Word for word.

  263. Jim S. says:

    I’m not so far from that thinking, either. I just want them to go after him because I think the fall from Martin to his replacement is a steep one. I’m far from thinking they will go after him, though.

  264. Andrew says:

    They don’t want to free Mike Carp in Boston. Napoli dislocated his finger Tuesday, Carp came in and failed to field a throw at first in the 9th with two outs and the winning run scored.

  265. TJA says:

    wishing everyone and happy and blessed easter! be safe.

  266. theplanisworking says:

    I can spring for the ‘matchbox’ version, if that will help ………………..

  267. Bizrow says:

    I think regarding QO’s they are only for one year, but you can do it to a player every year until he declines.

  268. Nate83 says:

    You and your facts!!!!!

    Sorry, I could have sworn somebody said he was 33 this year. I could say math was never my strongest subject but it’s actually my best subject. So I will just say I shouldn’t believe everything I see on the internet or more specifically on a blog.

  269. Andrew says:

    I will be interested to see how Martin hits this year, there are signs of offensive decline already, and what makes Martin so valuable is elite defense with league average-ish offense. If the offense erodes you are left with Chris Stewart.

    Also if we are going to dismiss Tony Sanchez as an option I wouldn’t put much stock in McGuire, remember Sanchez was a top 50 prospect in 2010 and 2011.

  270. theplanisworking says:

    This !!

    That’s why I didn’t understand all the ‘old’ talk, or talk about 37 years old. A 3 or 4 year contract signed this winter would take Martin to 34-35 years old. But I know catchers break down quickly, so there would be a danger of Martin ‘falling off a cliff’, but I don’t think a multiyear contract offered to him would be that big a risk.

  271. theplanisworking says:

    Um, Nate beat me to a reply.
    My above comment was directed to NMR.

    Little slow today…….

  272. Nate83 says:

    In my defense it seems like he played for the Dodgers so long ago. Did he come up when he was 21 or 22 years old?

  273. Arriba Wilver says:

    No question , but there’s always a price tag attached. And they won’t pay the price.

  274. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, he was young. 2006 with the Dodgers was his first year, so he was 23. He literally just turned 31 in spring training.

  275. Jim S. says:

    You need to get a new best subject, Nate. ;-)

    Winky face makes it ok to say that, btw.

  276. Jim S. says:

    But, Andrew, people have talked about McGuire as a generational defensive talent prior to the draft. And, not just Pirates people. He has to be more highly regarded than Sanchez was by anyone outside of our organization, right?

  277. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, Biz. I thought it was a one shot deal.

  278. Baywatch says:

    Well, he said he did, but then I asked him how much it would cost me to get ‘em and he said $220 because he was a pitching coach lifer.

  279. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, plan. I learn something new every day.

  280. Baywatch says:

    That’s a real shame NMR. Sorry to hear that. It’s really bad enough they’re booing him mercilessly (won’t take the time to explain my view of good sportsmanship here again), but to hurl racist remarks like that. Sad.

  281. Jim S. says:

    I second that, TJA.

  282. Bizrow says:

    Yes, happy holidays to all

  283. Arriba Wilver says:

    That’s the Byrd/Loney justification. If they aren’t willing to pay the freight on years, salary, what’s the point?

    If someone’s willing to pay the salary for more years, being willing to pay an annual salary for less years is irrelevant. All you have to do is put yourself in the player’s shoes.

  284. Arriba Wilver says:

    But, yes, if they don’t end up at least offering him the QO, I’ll be screaming bloody murder.

  285. BillyBaduka says:

    + many

    Always nice to see him on the blog for content and compass.

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