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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Morning Java: Worried about Pirates’ offense? Why?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> No Friday column this week because … well, because the schedule is almost entirely dictated by Stanley Cup playoffs this time of year. I’ll be back to cover Game 5 tomorrow night for a Sunday column.

With a couple days between action, then, let’s talk a little ball …

>> The Pirates plummeted close to last place after another loss to the Reds, Travis Sawchik reports from PNC Park. And this happened in large part because Neil Walker’s run up there in that Chris Horner photo was all the offense could muster.

Which is further evidence, of course, that the offense stinks, right?

Or does it?

The Pirates are tied with the Reds for seventh in the 15-team National League in runs (90), second in home runs (28) and 10th in OPS (.671). Let’s start there. That’s not terrible. It’s about average. And it’s actually an upgrade over a year ago, when they finished ninth in overall offense according to the Bill James Handbook.

Complain all you want about the Pirates being held to two or fewer runs in 12 of their first 23 games, but the proven theorem over time in baseball is that its numbers are best measured … well, over time. Runs are runs. Scoring is scoring. It’s unfortunate that it’s come in bunches to date, but it doesn’t take away in the slightest from its validity. Nor its predictive quality.

It’s frustrating. It’s exasperating. But it does nothing to tell you what’s going to happen in the future. Those other numbers up there do. The timing of hits is far more a matter of luck than skill.

Let’s take this from another angle. Check this out. Those are the National League’s team ERAs, and you’ll notice at a glance that half of the top six are the Brewers, Cardinals and Reds. The Cubs rank 12th. And as everyone knows, all of the Pirates’ games to date have been within the Central Division, which obviously has a whole lot of good pitching. Sure, there’s a chicken-and-egg element to the argument since all those teams faced the Pirates a lot, but all had a majority of their games against someone else.

Finally, let me throw this out as evidence that it’s going to get better: Most guys, though not at all, are a bit below where you’d expect. But Pedro Alvarez is way below. He’s got a .176/.286/.412 line with six home runs and 14 RBIs. Referring back to Bill James, which does a frighteningly accurate set of predictions for every player in the majors, Alvarez’s 2014 line should wind up .251/.325/.495 with 34 home runs and 100 RBIs.

No sport sees water rise — or fall — to its level like baseball. As Adam LaRoche used to tell me each April, ‘No matter what you see right now, I’m going to end up hitting about .275 with 20-25 homers and 85 RBIs.’ And he did.

All that Alvarez is still to come.

Relax already. And for heaven’s sake, let the Gregory Polanco nonsense go. He isn’t coming until mid-June. There’s nothing to discuss, nothing to debate.

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

Here’s Cardinals news from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Here are official game highlights on

>> Dan Bylsma spoke a few mildly critical words about the Penguins’ ‘compete level,’ as Jason Mackey reports, and maybe it was just the context that made it sound like actual criticism.

In case anyone needs a reminder of what actual criticism looks like, hey, seems like a swell time for Michel Therrien’s greatest hit …

That’s how it’s done, kids. Soff is too kind for this current group.

Sidney Crosby is ‘healthy,’ per Bylsma, reports Rob Rossi.

Whatever happened to Pittsburgh enjoying the playoffs? Columnist Joe Starkey asks.

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.

>> I’ll check in with TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m.

>> 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. Dejan,

    “The timing of hits is far more a matter of luck than skill.”

    I’ll say this for you: you are consistent. I remember your arguments about “clutch hitting” and/or “lack of clutch hitting.”

    I am consistent as well: I disagree with you. It’s not entirely luck! Pirates have NO clutch hitters right now, especially in the #4 hole. Even McCutch only drove in 85 runs last year and is NOT a clutch hitter. He drives in runs like he steals bases: not often enough when they’re needed!

    Driving in runs is a skill. Bucs need a Clean-up Hitter. A Clean-up Hitter would keep the other clubs from pitching around McCutch so much——so many walks this season——to make the whole line up better. Bucs need a guy who’s skill is to drive in runs.

    Otherwise, my prediction that Pirates will only win 77 games this year will be all too accurate. I would prefer to be wrong!!

  2. Reading says:

    By way of analogy to a famous U.S. Supreme Court line, good offense: “I know it when I see it.” The 2014 Pirates, this ain’t no good offense (so far). Now, the ’25 Pirates with a team .818 OPS (including pitcher hitting stats), that was a good offense.

  3. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    In regards to the Pirates lack of offense, I’ll settle on these two stats:

    1) Two or fewer runs in 12 of their first 23 games – You will “hardly ever” win in baseball when you score so little.

    2) The Pirates are now 9-14….7 1/2 games out of first place. Apparently that lack of scoring has positioned them right where they belong….Near the bottom.

    I”m not quite sure why it’s important to continue to say this club is up to par offensively.
    How many more one or two run games will it take?
    How many more games in the loss column will it take?
    When one watches the Pirates come to the plate, it plays out like a bad re-run on TV that you’ve seen more times than you care to mention.
    It’s a snooze fest, and the result is a losing MLB team.

  4. Reading says:

    Here, here.

  5. Ghost says:

    “There’s nothing to discuss, nothing to debate.”

    By Jove! That sounds like a challenge!

    Pretty much agree, though. Was even thinking “Adam LaRoche” when you were describing Alvarez — and presto! Adam’s quote. I think the Pirate’s O will be slightly better than last year’s (if that’s faint praise). But what I do fret about is the probable regression of the lights out pitching from last year. No A.J., no Taillon coming in June now, no Wandy for now (for ever?), and a whole lot of questions marks regarding Volquez, Grilli, Melancon, and to a lesser degree Morton.

    But I wouldn’t push any panic buttons. Let Neal keep plotting his long-term strategy for building the club. Don’t know how this year will play out, but we’re on the right track for the long haul.

  6. Reading says:

    The ’25 Pirates also had four players with over 100 RBIs.

  7. Ghost says:

    I just want you guys to know that Tony Plush has a stat line of .348 .484 .348 in 33 plate appearances with Cleveland. So there.

  8. Reading says:

    Since Marte has signed a long term deal, same with Cutch, doesn’t that negate the purpose for not bringing those guys up until June or later their respective years.

  9. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    The only long term strategy that Neal has is to keep this team under Bob Nutting’s budget line.
    I still have little to no faith in the current Pirate FO and ownership.
    They finally broke the streak last year and went to the playoffs.
    Since then…..They hibernated the entire off season, and you can see the results of that lack of activity on the field thus far.

  10. Reading says:

    LaRoche’s clutch hitting in August and September–when the Pirates were 73 games out of first place–was really key those years.

  11. Ghost says:

    Keeping within the budget is not a false charge. But that restriction being a given, I actually think Neal is doing a good job of working with the cards he’s been dealt. As for Nutting, he’s begun to loosen the purse strings when he feels the timing is right. I think he unnecessarily blew up the team when they had a decent core of starters all under age 30 back in 2008. But with the exception of letting A.J. go –especially without even getting a comp pick in return — I can’t find fault with the Pirates’ stewardship (or ownership) over these last few years.

  12. Ghost says:

    Well, nobody can carry a team for an entire season. That the rest of the teamed sucked and was out the picture by September is hardly all Adam’s fault. But for what it’s worth, he’s hitting .315 this April, hit a bomb tonight, and had the walk-off hit last night, too. Did the same thing two Aprils ago when the Nats had their breakout season. (Though dang it if he still didn’t end up hitting .271 for that whole year.)

  13. Reading says:

    Watching Papelbon take 25 minutes to face 4 batters is painful.

  14. Jerez says:

    #TBT = Therrien’s “soff” rant. Love it!

  15. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Nutting loosen the purse strings?!….Ha!!!!
    They still rank #27 out of #30 on the list of MLB team salaries for 2014.
    You can’t get much lower!

  16. Jandy says:

    Good morning Loonies! Hubby and I are on the road today, off to Carlisle for the car swap/show. I love a day off from work :)
    Try to check in later, ya’ll be good now, hear?

  17. Rico says:

    It’s “hear, hear.” Sorry to be a grammar nanny, but that drives me crazy!

  18. Devon says:

    According to my sports bureau, the last team with a record as bad as the Pirates on April 25 to make the playoffs was…

    The 2009 LA Angels, who were 6-11. They ended up with 97 wins and lost in the ALCS.

    So if you’re like me, who thinks this team is an 80-something win squad, you should know it happens. This would keep it interesting all summer and upper 80’s might get them in.

    Also, keep in reference the wild-card expansion. My stats were not adjusted to suit this (Elias doesn’t pay me).

    What Neal should know when he’s carefully counting Bob’s pennies is that “best case scenarios” for each player don’t fall together simultaneously every year. But this really is at worst, a decent team. Anything under .500 has to be considered an abject failure and a major step back.

  19. 21sthebest says:

    And Plush is hitting .214 with his current team in the minors.

  20. mike schaaf says:

    Can’t sugar coat this, the Pirates offense stinks, 2 good games elevated their mediocre stats. This is painful to watch at times, you’re optimism is comical when you defend this putrid offense

  21. The Gunner says:

    Someone on this blog will soon be blaming the offensive woes on the hitting coach.

  22. Thundercrack says:

    Ha! Gunner you beat me to it. I wanted to blame it on Jay Bell

  23. Thundercrack says:

    ‘Relax already. And for heaven’s sake, let the Gregory Polanco nonsense go. He isn’t coming until mid-June. There’s nothing to discuss, nothing to debate.’

    Usually 100% of the time I hate when DK tells us what to think, how to think, or what to debate. But this time I agree with him.

  24. Mike Anitori says:

    If Mark Andre Fleury could hit, or even just foul off and get a piece of, a change-up dump in, the Pens would be up 3-1.

  25. The Gunner says:


    It’s real simple – the Bucs really need to sweep this weekend’s series vs. the Cardinals. End of story.

  26. Brandie says:

    Hades has frozen over! :)

  27. Wild Bill says:

    So if I am reading what DK has written correctly, it’s not the Bucs hitting that should disturb us, it’s the pitching of the rest of the Central division.

    We get to hit against the rest of MLB later – but the rest of the Central gets to pitch against them, too.

  28. JAL says:

    JAL’s Ramblin’ Man 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: Brandon Cumpton Should Stay in the Pirates Rotation

    Prospect Watch: Homers From Gregory Polanco, Tony Sanchez and Stetson Allie

    Neal Huntington on the Upcoming Amateur Draft

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates waste excellent Brandon Cumpton start, lose 2-1

    Postgame: Cumpton’s gem lost in 2-1 defeat

    7 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Call Closed Door Meeting

    8 Green Weenie

    Bats Bewildered Again As Bucs Go Down 2-1

    9 Rant Sports

    Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates Series Highlighted Difficulty of NL Central in 2014

    10 City of Champions

    Brandon Cumpton solid but Pittsburgh Pirates skid continues

  29. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 CBS Sports

    Pirates vs Cardinals Game Preview

    12 Chicago Sun Times

    Cubs will see if ex-teammate Matt Garza can ‘kick their teeth in’

    13 Beaver County Times

    Only 23 games in, Pirates won’t panic. Yet.

    14 Pirates Site

    Late mistake costs Cumpton, Bucs in finale

    McCutchen’s discipline on display for Pirates

    15 SB Nation

    Michael Pineda, pine tar, and the case of the possibly missing underwear

    16 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Reds offense putting its best foot forward

    17 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Thornburg thrives in role of relief pitcher

    18 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Bird Bytes: Cardinals need a wakeup call

    19 Fangraphs

    Some Hitters to Start Worrying About

    20 Baseball Prospectus

    Book Excerpt: Dry Land

  30. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers late bye week could play dynamic role in 2014

    Steelers dominant over Browns


    22 Bloomberg Stats Insight

    A Few Thoughts on Statistics and Analytics, Part 3

    23 BBC Football

    Man Utd: Ed Woodward, David Moyes & the doomed presentation

    24 World Soccer

    Clubs given green light to continue spending as Michel Platini confirms that none will be thrown out of European competition


    25 Pensburgh

    Marc-Andre Fleury and Game 5, his most important moment in some time

  31. Thundercrack says:

    Taking 2 out 3 would make me happy.

    The Pirates record at the end of April 2013 was 16-12

  32. DJ says:

    Therrien’s “soff” rant is one of the all-time classics. Never gets old.

    Particularly love his “What’s the solution? Gonna find solution” at the 1:27 mark, followed by a little smirk. I’m betting it was not a day off.

  33. Hear, there and everywhere.

    Yes and amen, Groaty.

    The “luck” thing rises again from oblivion.

    You can’t tell me a guy doesn’t concentrate better, get different pitches and the scenario doesn’t change drastically with RISP.

  34. likeabugonarug says:

    And with your last line Jandy, I now hear the voiceover for the ending to The Beverly Hillbillies.


  35. I disagree with DK. There is something to discuss. The guy is hitting . 420 with 4 HR and 23 RBI in AAA now. The Bucs have nobody in their starters above .300 and Cutch is .299 on a not streak. Small sample size rules, right?

    What would Bill James project Polanco over a full AAA season?

  36. Wild Bill says:

    Indianapolis Indians playing .700 ball so far. Polanco was 3 for 4 last night with a homer, double, walk, and stolen base.

    Thank God for the Indians that Gregory is not yet major league ready. By the time he is, Indy should have about a 10 game lead in the International League, they’re only in first place by five full games now.

  37. Wild Bill says:

    Mornin, Lucky. See mine below, we are gonna be annoying.

  38. Wild Bill says:

    Below JAL, that is.

  39. DJ says:

    On the water level rising and falling, I remember my Mom telling me as a kid you could drown in an inch of water.

    Bucs could be dead before they’re able to paddle. Need to start stacking W’s.

  40. Thanks, Bill. I think I’ve always been consistently annoying. What preacher isn’t?


  41. You’re right, Bill. We plundered their entire team last season and they still finished 10 games up in their division.

    But nobody cares about minor league w/l records any more than ST, right?


  42. Great post and great example by your mom.

  43. DJ says:

    Don’t worry, Lucky. Council has just proclaimed May 10th as “City of Pittsburgh Hair on Fire Day.”

  44. mannitto says:

    I don’t want this to seem like I am panicking ,but it is time for Polanco. So what if we lose him in2021 instead of 2022,he is being wasted at Indy . Snider and Tabata are no better than a fourth or fifth outfielders at best .we can’t win a pennant in April or May but we sure can lose one. I still think the bucs can win over 90 games but they need their best players on the team not in the minors . also watch out for Stetson Allie

  45. theplanisworking says:


    Just for you, Reverend :)

  46. theplanisworking says:

    # FREEPOLANCO !!! ;)

  47. Brotherhood of the Redus says:

    The luck element is real but watching nearly every pitch takes the mystery out of it….guys are squaring balls up in critical situations but lining them right at people….

    The part that is troubling is that guys that are expected to hit are missing hit table pitches in critical situations and making poor contact on the next several pitches…that can’t happen. Good hitters miss less mistake pitches than average guys and that’s the problem right now.

  48. theplanisworking says:

    Unless there is an injury, or the Pirates don’t win another game by the time late June rolls around, we aren’t going to see Polanco.
    Sure I would like to see him here already, but the $$$$ clock just won’t allow it to happen.

    Solution to the Pirates offensive woes?
    Bench Fleury.

  49. Wild Bill says:

    Oh, I take great pride in the achievements of our AAA affiliate. The major league club is an afterthought.

  50. Nastynate82 says:

    Driving in runs is not a skill it’s a function of the guys getting on base ahead of you.
    I’ll give you an example, as I’m a transplanted New Yorker. In 1985, Don Mattingly increased his RBI from 110 the year before to 145. He didn’t all of a sudden “learn” to drive in runs. He drove in that many cause it was Ricky Hendersons first year in New York and he’s like Billy Hamilton, only he can hit. He had tons of opportunities which gave him tons of RBI. Same thing with Phillips benefitting from Choo and Votto last year. It’s opportunity, not skill.

  51. Brotherhood of the Redus says:

    Hurdle quote on mlb site suggests that someone is coming up from Indy…doesn’t say who or when, just that someone better contribute

  52. Nastynate82 says:

    I bet you’re really fun at parties.

  53. macchamp74 says:

    Addition of Ike Davis has bumped them up.

  54. Wild Bill says:

    Till then, Plan, I wonder if Root would televise some Indy games for us?

  55. Nastynate82 says:

    And they signed two huge pieces to good deals. You seem to think that just spending money will put a winning team on the field, when it’s been proven time and again that while money helps, it’s not a guarantee of success.

  56. DannyBoy says:

    My fellow Penguins fans,

    We are a little over 24 hours away from what may prove to be the most pivotal game in recent memory for this current incarnation of the Pittsburgh Penguins. A loss could mean significant change is on the horizon, and judging by the comments I’ve seen, it would be welcomed by some of you. The purpose of this letter is to present a challenge to you, the fans, during the most exhilarating and exasperating ride in all of sports.

    I have heard the following criticisms leveled at the team lately: Entitled. Narcissistic. Selfish. Lazy. This is just a small selection of the harsh words used to describe these pens in recent months. My argument is that the same words could very appropriately be used to describe their fans as well. In 5 short years, winning the Stanley Cup has become an expectation, not an aspiration. We deserve it. We’ve spent the money. Traded for all the best players. We should win it handily year in and year out. Never mind the devastating injuries to important players. Personal and emotional struggles, including strokes in new fathers not yet out of their 20’s. We DESERVE this. If that is your approach to rooting for this team, you’ve forgotten the face of the very man who has made sure you have an NHL team to root for.

    Let us not forget, if it weren’t for the owner of this franchise, tomorrow night’s game would very likely be being played somewhere in Kansas City. Mario Lemieux made an investment in this city when things were at their bleakest for the Penguin franchise. He fought political leaders to ensure this team, HIS team, stayed where it belonged. Attendance was down, the team in financial ruin, but he brought us from the ashes all for the love of his adopted city. Not long after that, this club enjoyed it’s first Stanley Cup in 17 years. He has butted heads with league officials at the expense of his own reputation to try and make this game safer for his players. He is a shining example of dedication and poise, and arguably the most important sports figure in Pittsburgh history. He invested in you, and HE deserves your unwavering support.

    I’ve heard the criticisms from you regarding this team, and I’ve heard the criticism directed at our fans. We’re spoiled. Entitled. The building is stuffy and quiet during games. Fair or not, perception is reality. I’ve never heard fans in Montreal, Philadelphia or Toronto described in such a way and it’s certainly been a longer wait for them to enjoy another Stanley Cup. I’ve also heard all year how “nothing matters for this team until the playoffs.” Well, here they are. We’re asking our team to match the intensity of a young, upstart club who have earned their first taste of the Stanley Cup playoffs. They are absolutely basking in every second of this, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Now it’s time for our fans to reciprocate. Paint your faces. Start drinking at noon. Cheer LOUDLY and WILDLY, even if we give up a bad goal or a lead. You owe it to your team, and more importantly, you owe it to 66.

    Thanks you, and let’s go Pens!

    A Fan

  57. Justin says:

    But those 2 good games count.

    just like how the other teams above them and below them in the ranks’ great offensive games count.

    you can’t just say that they don’t count.

  58. Ha! Someone posted about that it doesn’t take skill just opportunity to drive in runs. If that’s the case, maybe they’ll give you and I a couple swings with the bases loaded, Bill.

    And DJ, Hair on Fire Day won’t effect me. I’m past that stage, like NMR. I keep what’s left of mine way short. Wish Drew were here to embellish that.

  59. Both the Pens and the Pirates haven’t been scoring much lately and that has to change, obviously, if the Pens are going to get anywhere in the playoffs this time and the Bucs get anywhere at all this season. I’d like to remain optimistic about both of them, although it’s getting harder by the day.

  60. Wild Bill says:

    Love your passion, Danny. But can we at least wait until tomorrow to do all that?

  61. I’m shocked, shocked to see Daquido_Bazzini getting excited at the prospect of being able to bash Nutting.

    Guess you have migrated over here from Smizik’s blog?

  62. TJA says:

    Have fun!

  63. TJA says:

    Thought the same thing, Gunner. Jay Bell is with the Reds now, so can’t blame him anymore

  64. theplanisworking says:

    Contact your local cable provider. ;)

  65. Nastynate82 says:

    If it were that easy that they’d concentrate better, then why wouldn’t they do that in every at bat?

  66. TJA says:

    Want to throw out another topic for a second: My wife and I were discussing this last evening: This situation with the Yankees and pitcher Michael Pineda getting 10 games for pine tar… He cheated and got caught and is paying the price. For years guys have tried to find way to cheat and pitchers and batters have used pine tar for years, too. So my question: Is this different that say what bonds or McGuire or maybe Sosa and others, too, did by doping so they could hit a baseball 500 feet? Or what Pete Rose did by betting on the game? Or the White Sox scandal/Eight Men Out… Or….you could go on and on. To me…cheating is cheating no matter the method. Baseball is such a fantastic game….a beautiful sport….why cheat? Just was curious your thoughts. On the road all day….have a good weekend and check in later.

  67. Justin says:

    and this should really be a decent offense. just look at the players.

    Marte… slow start but we know that he is a decent hitter
    Walker… good for a .280 BA, some walks, and some power. solid but unspectacular.
    Cutch…. #CutchHappens
    Pedro… Dingers
    Davis/Sanchez…. a very nice platoon
    Tabata/Snider/Polanco… Snider is adequate. Tabata is usually adequate. Polanco soon.
    Martin… slightly below average offensive catcher
    Mercer…. not a .183 hitter with a sub-.500 OPS. we know this about him. he’s closer to a .260 hitter with a .700 to .750 OPS.

    This is a slightly above average offensive club. they just haven’t performed like it yet. why do we have such a hard time accepting that they put together a pretty talented club?

  68. Arriba Wilver says:

    But . . . He hit in 110 the year before? Look, I get the argument, and both sides of it are a little too absolute. I personally lean more towards Groat and The Rev on it. Seen too many examples. Like lots of stats they may be predictors, but they aren’t the only answers. On a very, very broad scale the stats have to have meaning, but there’s still individual examples, like Mr. October.

    I know it’s a different sport, but to me it’s kind of like saying Sid and Malkin’s scoring drought in the playoffs is just bad luck. Haven’t seen that argument too much here.

  69. DJ says:

    Apparently Iginla still had a little left in the tank.

    Who knew he could also play right wing?

  70. Wild Bill says:

    Sorry, that was snarky. I will be yelling from/at my tv during the game, and would be nowhere else, except at Consol, if I could be.

  71. d says:


    Before we all start paying homage to Mario, remember he is a businessman first and foremost! He used his ploy of moving the team to KC in order to get what he wanted a new barn and the millions he was owed! And to his credit he got it. No, I’m not drinking the kool aid on Mario saved hockey in Pittsburgh. If he would’ve gotten a better and more lucrative deal to move the Pens he would’ve taken it faster than you can say “Its a Great Day for Hockey”! So, please spare us all the drama, Mario stopped caring about winning championships once he took off his uniform and put on his tie. Its now all about the “product” and “sell outs”.

  72. hockeymonster says:

    Dannyboy, no one has more respect for 66 than me. And no one is more responsible for creating the monster than 66, HOWEVER the fans have paid him back in spades. How many consecutive sellouts? Ticket prices to games are some of the highest in the NHL and in all of sports, ticket prices in playoffs are even higher. Not to mention the tax payers contribution to Consol Dome.

    All we ask for in return is that we don’t go out like lambs. You can say we got to the ECF last season but when you get swept and outscored by a touchdown at home in 1st 2 games, you can’t really say you were in the ECF. If we lose to better team and exhaust all of our options doing so than so be it. It happens, its sports and sometimes teams have your number or are just better than you.

    But losing 2 games to columbus is an organ-I-zational embarrassment. It is, nevermind how disgusted i am losing to columbus for personal reasons. But it’s not too late to right the ship.

    Or as DJ and Coach Therrien said “What’s the solution? Gonna find solution”. Unless they don’t care….

  73. Arriba Wilver says:

    No, no, no. It HAS to affect what both sides feel is reasonable and will agree to. Whether you think Walker should get an extension or not, I believe his super 2 status has a good deal to do with him not being extended, at least it did a couple of years ago. (And that’s because of both sides expectations)

  74. Erik W. says:

    Exactly! If he does well then they’ll try to sign him to an extension BEFORE he hits arbitration. With all of these one run losses (5!), waiting until mid-June is foolish. The Pirates will be deep in the cellar by then.

  75. DJ says:

    Well stated, Alain.

    I’ll be there chanting “Fleury . . . Fleury . . . Please stay in the net(ty).”

  76. Arriba Wilver says:

    It’s kind of your job, right? ;-)

  77. chethejet1 says:

    Pens have had the good fortune of having a ping pong ball drop their way. Caps taking Ove over Malkin. Of course a new arena with all the revenues associated with it. Thus expectations should be high. The idea it is a sport applies to winning a championship. The commitment of doing so can’t be lip service when a team has the talent to do so. I don’t see the talent at a cup winning level due to the facts not meeting the promise of multiple cups by now. That is on management and they don’t lack the capital, resources or history to do so. Support is not about your view of fan entitlement. It is about a fan seeing the obvious and asking what really is the priority here. Shero and Bylsma have allowed to many bad losses and roster and game decisions to mask the decline of the roster and the failure to meet the their own BS. Glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity.

  78. DJ says:

    On being a businessman, for sure, but not buying “Mario saved hockey in Pittsburgh”?

    Very silly.

  79. Nastynate82 says:

    Mattingly example still shows an increase of 35 which is a large amount. It probably looks less drastic then if he went from 65 to 100, but it’s still a lot.
    I dunno if hockey works as an example, but I think with both sports you can take a small snapshot of games and make players look worse then they really are…or the opposite.

  80. Arriba Wilver says:

    Totally agree with your last sentence.

  81. Arriba Wilver says:


  82. Thundercrack says:

    In his chat yesterday I believe Keith Law cautioned against expecting Polanco to be the ‘Lineup Messiah’.

  83. GAWTS2009 says:

    I had to jump down here and say this. Starky’s column was spot on. For the last couple year the pens have had a different demeaner about them. They don’t seem to enjoy the game due to all the pressure. This year it is multiplied by not having an elder statemen and prankster Dupius. Also, fluery hasn’t been his cheerful carefree fluery. Instead he is a mindless but focused skater. Has anyone heard of fluery doing cartwheels this year in a shootout??
    IDK but when I played Baseball I had this same problem. I didn’t care for my teamates. Didn’t have fun and became too frustrated after I would make a mistake.
    You can’t force a kid (and the mental state of the pens are within that range) to play a sport. They can tell you they’re going out and play hard but if they don’t enjoy it, they will look lackluster out on the field of play.
    These pens need a true locker room player. I’m willing to bet Guieren did a little more than preach. Dupius was helpful but he can’t be there now or maybe he needs to just appear and remind these guys what life’s all about

  84. d says:

    According to Starkey’s article today the fans are the reason for the Pens poor play! Yeah, I guess they don’t cheer loud enough at the games whereby causing a ripple effect in the time space continuum and hence, causing the Pens to play poorly and underachieve…AGAIN!

    This Pens team, no, the last 4 years of Pens teams are really hard to cheer for! From the indifferent, uninspired, don’t really care attitudes of the players, to the poor, stubborn, and just plain clueless coaching of Disco Dani, to the arrogant front office and money grabbing ownership group this organization really needs to take a step back and re-evaluate EVERYTHING! Top to bottom.

    The whole country club mentality is getting old. This team plays like it wants to be at the country club instead of competing for the Stanley Cup. And we have none other than Mario to thank for this! Yes, he spoiled these cry babies aka the Penguins. Now, he has to deal with the spoiled brats, no, wait a minute, he is too busy counting the gate receipts and making deposit runs to his bank!

    This team just doesn’t get it and neither does Starkey and the rest of the “homers”. Put a team on the ice that actually cares about playing hockey… ALL THE TIME…and you will see the fan base cheer. Pretty simple actually. As this team sits its no wonder that the rest of the hockey world despises this organization and revels in its demise.

  85. Jim S. says:

    Cutch, so far:

    * Hitting w/ RISP: 5/14, 5 BB, 1-2b, 1-3b, 1-HR

    * 2 outs & RISP: .333/.333/.500/.833

    * Runners on: .300/.463/.533/.996

    * Hitting in innings 1-3: .310/.429/.517/.946

    * Hitting in innings 4-6: .346/.471/.500/.971

    * Hitting in innings 7-9: .286/.412/.643/.1.055

    If only he could get more men on base in front of him. He stinks at that.

  86. Sarah says:

    Y’know I have a hard time getting excited about your rant.

    If I am not mistaken,this is EXACTLY where we were last year , going home for game 5 tied at 2-2 v the 8th seeded NYI.

    We all thought it was a pivotal point in the franchise and so on and so on.
    And the Pens wobbled through on talent, and got destroyed when they faced an actual team with a smart coach.

    And everybody was extended, including Bylsma.
    And the Country Club rolls on.

    So, I will not believe anything is going to change until I see people actually given their walking papers.
    I believe they will win this series on talent, like they did v NYI.
    I believe a series win will be enough to maintain the status quo.

  87. Jim S. says:

    The point I didn’t make, but should have: Cutch has batted a grand total of 20 times in 23 games with RISP. He is 5/14 + 5 BB and a Sac Fly. Please look elsewhere for problems.

  88. Sarah says:

    Scored the critical OT GW last night to put BOS up 3-1.
    Turns out he really does prefer RW.

  89. Arriba Wilver says:

    Who has looked at Cutch as the problem, Jim?

  90. GAWTS2009 says:

    I’d say you guys should come down and check out my new house but Carlisle is about 45 min north of here on 81.

  91. GAWTS2009 says:

    Having homemade burgers and FF for dinner btw haha

  92. Milo Hamilton says:

    Just read DK’s comments above telling everyone to let the Polanco stuff go because he’s not coming until mid June. You might want to let the manager in on that because yesterday it sure sounded like either a) He’s coming sooner than we think or b) He’s trying to convince his boss to get him here.

    Travis Snider is having some kind of mystery lower body thingee (go figure) that’s actually keeping him from playing the entire game without his legs getting wobbly (it is always something with that kid). He seems to be a DL candidate. That’s when Hurdle started speculating out loud. And not veiled speculation either.

  93. P says:

    Three quick thoughts:

    1. The biggest concern with the Bucs is that they are getting fairly far behind in the standings to good teams in the Central early. It will be hard to dig out of that hole without sustained, good play. This team right now went from inconsistent to consistently “below the line.” Time to turn it around.

    2. As for the Bucs offense, I worry mostly that the runs and HR are inflated by the flukey 5-HR games. I generally agree runs for is a good stat to determine offensive ability, but perhaps the small sample size is making it appear too rosey. We shall see.

    3. I really want to enjoy these Pens playoff games, but I have a hard time when we see the same mistakes repeated over and over again. I truly think I would enjoy a hard-fought, well played loss more than another weird, sloppy win. Watching some of the games in the West, or the Bruins/Wings game last night just serves as a reminder that there is good hockey to be played. In terms of the fans, I think they are reacting to watching a team they believe is good (not great) play poorly. CBJ is playing great and it is their first time, their fans should be going crazy. By reference, last year in the Bruins series, I felt like the Pens played well and lost to a better team in close games that could have gone either way. I feel like the fans enjoyed the hockey even though they despised the results.

  94. Sarah says:

    Teams will lose their enthusiasm when they lose faith that they can win, which can happen for lots of reasons. I have felt for at least 2 seasons that Bylsma no longer has their ear. He’s not esp emotional anyway, the picture above notwithstanding …
    Have you ever seen them respond emotionally to the coaches after a TO? Like the way the Flyers responded to Lavs? He may have been an ass, but he was tuned into his team and vice versa.

    The Pens seem like they have no rudder and IMO they have simply not bought in to whatever Bylsma is telling them.
    A team that is not bought in, plays like what we have been seeing.

  95. GAWTS2009 says:

    haha and they need this now!

  96. Milo Hamilton says:

    Just another lazy day at Bushwood.

  97. DJ says:

    I think it’s the pressure, GAWT. Get to the next round and attitudes pick up. Gotta get there first though.

    On Fleury, I’m fine with his mental approach this year. It’s everyone else I’m worried about.

  98. Sarah says:

    Here is some of the Bylsma presser and some good commentary.
    Not pretty stuff.
    Start at the 20min mark
    Poor Bylsma sounds like he can’t complete a sentence sometimes. Cripes.

  99. Justin says:

    Makes sense. I think all they need from Polanco is to match Snider’s offense but with fantastic defense.

    It’d be silly to expect Polanco to hit .300/.400/.500 from the beginning. I think he’ll be a good .260/.340/.370 when he comes up. The big improvement he’ll bring right away is better defense than Snider/Tabata.

  100. Arriba Wilver says:

    Hush! ;-)

    To be fair, he IS concentrating on the Stanley Cup Playoffs. :-)

  101. GAWTS2009 says:

    I want to clearify becuase I do believe these penguins represent much of what you say. I do expect them to go far! However, when I see complete mentle lapses and effort I should call them out on it. How many times do we hear fans don’t cheer loud in the consol? Maybe it’s their effort that If they were playing hard and losing tough games; I would have no complaints. I enjoy a tough WELL PLAYED hockey game. The series against Tampa years ago. I was thrilled by how hard those pens played. This team is just different though. Stupid penelties, stupid play, and a stupid coach. So, yes, I will continue to be upset because that man that toght me to love these penguins also always told me to PLAY HARD, PLAY SMART. If you do those 2 things there’s nothing else he could ask for.

  102. DJ says:

    Despite your concerns, Sarah, Pens go out in the first round and Bylsma is gone.

    As buggee would say, “Etch it.”

  103. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sorry. I feel shame. :(

  104. GAWTS2009 says:

    I also remind my wrestlers of those two things every time before they go out to wrestle. And I do call out my middle schoolers for lack of effort. So, why would I not do so with grown kids that are considered pros?

  105. Thundercrack says:

    I watched one of Polanco’s at bat …using my subscription to MiLB TV.

    It was his tie-breaking double. Which seriously would have been a single for most other players.

  106. Dom says:

    Yeah, Fleury rules.

    If it wasnt for everyone else on this team, the seriers would be over by now and we’d be waiting on NYR and Philly.

  107. GAWTS2009 says:

    Would loved to see a huge suspension for the clown. Somewhere along the terms of what the users got.

  108. GAWTS2009 says:


  109. Thundercrack says:

    My guess is that if they need to bring an outfielder up from the farm it will be outfielder, converted first baseman, re-converted outfielder Andrew Lambo.

  110. Nastynate82 says:

    So do you not want them to win because the same management team will be in place? That seems odd

  111. Jim S. says:

    I think there is something to the fact that their offense has been pretty dependant on the long ball so far. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t change.

    Bucs offensive ranks among NL’s 15 teams:

    OB%: #12 (.301)
    Batting avg: #13 (.229)
    Slg%: #10 (.370)
    OPS: #10 (.671)
    BB: #4 (75)
    K’s: #8 most
    HR: #2 (28)
    Runs: #9 (90)
    XBH: #12 (54); tied with St L.

    Cards are behind the Bucs by 10 in runs scored, and have only hit 12 HR. Their fans must be positively livid about that.

    As for Bucs pitching:

    5th most runs allowed (95), but only a -5 run differential overall.
    26 HR allowed, which is 3rd most but still a +2 differential
    .250 batting avg. allowed, which is 9th best in the league; much higher than our .229 batting avg.
    69 walks, which is middle of the pack; 6 less than the Bucs have drawn
    1.26 WHIP, which is tied for 7th best – so, also middle of pack

  112. Nastynate82 says:

    Someone missed the point of the article

  113. GAWTS2009 says:

    love fluery but I just don’t think he loves himself right now. He’s not being the fluery we know and love. He won it with a carefree approach and posted his best post season the year before. I think the mentle stuff helped this year but I miss that fluery smile. Just not the same guy anymore. They changed him almost too much

  114. Jim S. says:

    Groat, very first post. Sorry, I should have made clear that I was responding to him. When I first started responding, there were only 1 or 2 replies to him. By the time I actually posted, there were tons, so it sort of got lost.

    “Even McCutch only drove in 85 last year and is NOT an clutch hitter.”

  115. GAWTS2009 says:

    Should have been clearer above. I don’t agree with that part of Starkeys article

  116. GAWTS2009 says:

    but I thought it was more about pens not enjoying the ride.

  117. Nastynate82 says:

    Laves had the ear of his team…till he didn’t. But your larger point that all coaches have a shelf light is true.

  118. GAWTS2009 says:

    Also, goes back to the kid analogy, Put too much pressure on a kid they’ll play conservative so not to make a mistake and end up making many. Just need someone there to break up that pressure. Thought in years past fluery and Dupius were able to do that to a certain degree.

  119. Jim S. says:

    I blame Lambo. If he had hit well in spring training, and made the club and was hitting .350 with 5 HR right now, we might not be in this pickle.

    That guy kills us even when he isn’t on the team ;-)

  120. Barb says:

    Love the cover of today’s sports page. It’s about time Bylsma gave the team a BOLD REAMING. I have been waiting for that for a looooooooooooooong time. Now if only it sticks. It didn’t have much affect on Wednesday though.

  121. Sarah says:

    Correct,did not mean to say that teams will respond forever to a coach.
    Hell the Pens came out with Bylsma in 2009 like a bunch of starving greyhounds after a 3-legged rabbit.

    Then once he began implementing his system next season, well…..

    I think the avg shelf life of an NHL coach is maybe 2-3 years?

  122. Sarah says:

    Do they look like they’re listening? I saw a pic in the Olympics like that too.

  123. Jim S. says:

    That’s what I fear. This kid is 22, and he was originally pitcher. He does not have a ton of baseball experience in the minors, overall. He appears to be supremely talented, but assuming he will destroy the pitching in this league like he does at AAA is a bit unrealistic IMO. If he can come up and produce like Cutch did at 22 (.286/.365/.471), that would be a phenomenal start to a (hopefully) great career. I’m not even expecting him to put up those #’s in year 1, although I think he will adjust quickly and become a very good player.

  124. Barb says:

    No you’re right Sarah. I think they are like the old Mario led teams…..let’s see how fast it’ll take to get a new coach. Blech.

  125. Baywatch says:

    Hey, Milo! Morning, Y’all!

  126. Jim S. says:

    2 of 3 would be excellent.

  127. Milo Hamilton says:

    Hey Bay & Ray !

  128. GAWTS2009 says:

    I said pretty much what you said about the pens above just ugh.

  129. Jim S. says:

    The Bucs are 9-14. Not good, but not the end of the world.

    This is now an elephant, and it can only be eaten one bite at a time. They need to climb out of the hole slowly and steadily. It’s not all that deep at this point.

  130. GAWTS2009 says:

    Does he finally understand it may be his job on the line? Maybe he’ll try a little harder to get greatness out of his players.

  131. Milo Hamilton says:

    Part of this “new” Dan Bylsma has to be an audition for his next job.

  132. GAWTS2009 says:

    kinda where my mind was with my post below

  133. Milo Hamilton says:

    And can we please stop trying to square peg round hole Beau Bennett & get him back on the right wing. He’s so confused in his own end he doesn’t know which end is up. Oh, and put him back with Sid while we’re at it.

  134. Baywatch says:

    :-) Pitching lessons at 1 p.m.! Since the offense is not the problem!

  135. Jim S. says:

    I hear what you are saying, Nastynate. I made the same point earlier this week about the Votto and Choo last year. The guys with the most RBIs in the league tend to be the guys who had the most runners on in front of them. In fairness, though, Phillips did hit well last year w/ RISP.

    What I have found when I have looked into it is, by and large most hitters tend over the long haul to hit approximately the same in so-called “pressure” situations as they do in non-pressure situations. It doesn’t hold true for all hitters, probably, but for the large majority that I have looked at it does. Good hitters tend to hit well in key situations, and poor hitters tend to hit poorly in key situations. It goes up and down from year to year. Eventually, the large sample size tends to equalize things.

  136. Milo Hamilton says:

    DK linked Jack Johnson’s goal in Game 3 on his twitter. Perfect example of what I’m talking about.

  137. hockeymonster says:


  138. Sarah says:

    Wasn’t Starkey the one telling us a couple weeks ago how the poor players couldn’t get motivated for all these tedious late season meaningless games? (While BOS was going undefeated for a month)
    And how just wait, they’d Flip the Switch as soon as the games weren’t boring and meaningless anymore?

    That Joe Starkey?

  139. Sarah says:

    I dunno. If he could hang on after the PHL series I’ve no idea what it will take.
    I don’t think he had the team before that and he sure never got them back.

  140. Milo Hamilton says:

    The problem is that right now everything’s the problem.

  141. Lad 9 says:

    + many…. please!!!

  142. Baywatch says:

    LOL! True! This would be a good time to go inside the locker room for the basis of a new baseball comedy movie! “THIS, Boys, is a baseball!”

  143. Nate83 says:

    +++ was going to say the same thing. It adds to the bargaining power of Polanco’s agent.

  144. Sarah says:

    Bylsma will have a job in the NHL about 30 secs after he leaves Pgh. Don’t worry about Dan.

  145. Sarah says:

    I really did not see a whole lot of chemistry between BB and Sid. Dunno.
    I’d rather keep Stemp w Sid, and have JJ and BB around Sutter.
    Malkin needs someone to go in the corners for him and that isn’t JJ. Vitale or Payrl would help there.

  146. Nate83 says:

    I’m pretty sure the Dodger at some point last year had been 5 games below .500 this late in the year and still made the playoffs easily. Colorado spent an entire year staying around .500 before winning something like 18 of their last 19 to get in the playoffs.

  147. Baywatch says:

    I agree, Jim. It’s nice to hear to hear the voice of reason the DAY after I set my hair on fire. I mean it looks nice and punky now … but it’s only April 25! I really IS early … just hope “it’s early” doesn’t turn out to be a bad thing, like “still lots of time left for more losses!” Don’t know if my cup is half full or empty, but I want MORE, Bartender!”

  148. Arriba Wilver says:

    Eat an elephant? Isn’t that illegal?


  149. Arriba Wilver says:

    1. The blog boss has spoken, and there is no reason to talk about it.

    2. Regardless of the arguments about whether he will bat .350 or be a savior, he won’t be brought up because of $$$$$.

  150. He doesn’t need to be a messiah, just a contributor. Just be himself, even if he hits .260 he’ll be better than Tabloid and Lunchie.

    (Where is NMR to dispute this?)


  151. Nate83 says:

    Assuming he will continue to dominate AAA like he has is unrealistic. I’m as excited about this kid as anyone. If he comes up tomorrow I will be glued to my radio since I don’t get to watch the games for every one of his at bats. But let’s be realistic about what he or any one player adds to the team. The Pirates won’t go from a 5 games below .500 team to a 5 games above .500 team with the addition of one player unless the rest of the team picks up their production. Many are performing below expectation. That is why they are losing more then the play of their right fielders. Polanco is only part of the equation to being better for the rest of the year.

  152. Milo Hamilton says:

    Kunitz -5, Crosby -3, Stempniak -2. Only three minus forwards on the team. That line needs to be changed.

  153. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’ll never forget your first scouting report on him—he’s tall.


  154. I would have taken a single from him with RISP in either yesterday’s or Wednesday’s games, TC.

  155. scapper says:

    Might be why the Caps are waiting a few weeks before deciding what to do with McPhee and Oates.

  156. hockeymonster says:

    Malkin needs to spend a game or 2 shooting and not over passing. Pretty plays wont be there. PoP plays will.

  157. Nate83 says:

    He shouldn’t love his teammates right now. They didn’t do much in that game to support him. I saw a lot of sloppy uninspired play after that first period. He needs to be better then those last two goals and he needs to come out early in game 5 and show his head is in the right place. If he gives up 2 goals early he will need to be pulled. I’m rooting for him not only because I’m a Penguin fan but I honestly like him. He seems like a very sincere, non-assuming, team first person.

  158. Nate83 says:

    Nope, 8 game win streak is the only way to do it. None of this elephant eating stuff. It’s a hot dog eating contest and the Brewers are Kobeyashi right now :)

  159. hockeymonster says:

    What’s the word on Goc and Gibby?

  160. That would be nice, Nate. I love hot dogs and 8-game win streaks. (also apple pie and Chevrolets)

  161. Milo Hamilton says:

    Gibbons out with Mike Kadar before practice. Looks like he’ll be out again.

  162. Milo Hamilton says:

    Leonsis doesn’t fire GM’s.

  163. Milo Hamilton says:

    Gibbons & Gock both on the ice just as practice is about to begin.

  164. hockeymonster says:

    Our saviors are back.

  165. Reading says:

    Polanco’s performance, or lack thereof, in Pittsburgh will affect his bargaining power.

  166. Scott says:

    It’s opportunity AND skill. The “luck” argument gets thrown out the window when you hit FIFTY points higher with the bases empty than with runners on, as Cutch did last year. He could’ve easily had 115 RBI instead of 85. That wasn’t bad luck – it was his own fault. It’s why I thought awarding him the MVP for that mediocre season was ridiculous.

  167. hockeymonster says:

    Really hope they work on Sid and Geno having their own PP units with 2 RH shots.

  168. Milo Hamilton says:

    Niskanen with Scuderi, Maata with Letang.

    Gock with Adams & Glass.

  169. Reading says:

    Okay. If “here, here” drives you crazy, how about irregardless?

  170. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sutter with Vitale & noted left winger Bennett.

  171. Milo Hamilton says:

    Top 2 lines intact. Pyatt, Gibbons, Megna & Conner are spares. Looks like Gock is back in.

  172. Reading says:

    For the record, I think they should sign Walker to a long term deal.

  173. Patrick(RI) says:

    We certainly need some streaks, but I worry that we are duking it out with the Cubs for last place after playing nothing but division teams. An optimistic fan might think that is to our advantage, now that we can sort of sit back and watch the others beat on each other, a pessimist might note the fantastic pitching advantage of three teams ahead and conclude it is pretty much over. Since we have less control over our fate within the division, I give us an outside shot at a wild card, if BOTH the pitching and the offense pick it up and exceed the norm. No debate, just an opinion.

  174. Milo Hamilton says:

    He who shall remain nameless has a 59 point lead in the International League batting race. That’s five – nine.

  175. Thundercrack says:

    Ha! My report is still valid. :-)

  176. But . . . can he hit in the clutch?

    Indy Indians have been so infrequently behind, we still don’t know.

  177. Jim S. says:

    It isn’t luck. It is about getting enough at bats in your sample size to find the normal level. Cutch didn’t hit as well with runners in scoring position last year as he did the year before, or as well as he has so far this year. It is a statistic that tends to go up and down.

  178. Stempniak has been pedestrian thus far, and always seems a step slow when Sid rushes and Kunitz crashes.

    I agree with Bennett Serf skating right wing with the big beaus.

  179. T.S. says:

    Bylsma needs to look in the mirror. Hoping that Pens move on to the next round, but if they don’t, I won’t be sad to see Bylsma go, and he should go. Along with Fleury, Adams… and yeah, even Letang, who is unquestionably a great skater and offensive minded player, but can’t play a lick of D, is horrible on the PP, and makes too many mental mistakes in crucial spots (re: giveaways, and not of the prize variety). But I digress.

  180. Jim S. says:

    The Dodgers did struggle for a big chunk at the beginning last year, Nate. Then, they went nuts. Good point.

  181. Arriba Wilver says:

    You’re not bringing up the infamous “corn dogs” are you, Nate? ;-)

  182. Now, now, that 20 games is too small a sample size.

    I wonder when the sample size becomes large enough.

    100 AB’s, 200, 300?

    And who determines small, medium and large?

  183. Jim S. says:

    I was thinking that if, instead of putting pine tar on his wrist then his neck, he should have just cold-cocked someone. That only gets you 5 games, and it could get your opponent injured for a long time if you have a better punch than Maldonado.


  184. You don’t have to be behind to hit in the clutch. Last night he doubled home the go-ahead run in a tie game in the 9th. Sounds clutch to me.

    I know you were being sarcastic, Groaty.

  185. toochca says:

    If this was a Pirates pitcher would we feel the same way?! I have seen atleast one of the Pirates pitchers tapping inside the base of his glove with the index and middle finger of his pitching hand while waiting for the ball to be thrown to him. Many pitchers do this and it is acceptable on many teams. They do it mostly to improve the grip of the ball so as not to throw a 90+ MPH fastball at a batters body or worse his head on a “cold” day.

  186. Nastynate82 says:

    Who would you have picked? Not that it matters cause since Cutch’s season as mediocre, it sounds like agenda to me.

  187. Arriba Wilver says:

    Should we also compare us to the Yankees, Bosox, Angels and even Detroit? Money matters.

  188. Jandy says:

    Likeabug, hubby does call me Granny from time to time lol.

    Justice, we’re havin a blast!

  189. Jim S. says:

    His defense has to be better than those 2 – both running down balls and throwing.

    His baserunning supposedly needs work, but he has blazing speed and often beats out routine infield grounders – sometimes to the 2b. So, his speed will be a plus over those two.

    And, as you say, Lucky, it won’t take great hitting to be an upgrade from what we are receiving right now.

    I have a funny feeling Lunchie may be going on the DL. I’m just getting that vibe. Plus, he’s about due anyway. Lambo might be the guy who comes up. Just a hunch on the DL, btw. But, I think they are now itching to get Lambo up while he seems to be in a good spot with the bat and before Polanco arrives.

  190. Interesting, isn’t it, that McCutch has as many walks as hits with Runners In Scoring Position.

    Looking elsewhere for problems must point at the Line-up maker, who keeps putting .170 hitting Pedro Alvarez in the #4 Hole behind Cutch. Or, to the BMTIB who gave Hurdle only Gaby Sanchez as an option to replace Pedro at Clean-up.

    Home Run Derby or an out!

  191. Jandy says:

    GAWT, maybe next time ;)

  192. Jim S. says:


  193. Arriba Wilver says:

    Ridiculous? Really? I mean, there are always arguments about the award. But, ridiculous?

  194. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Spending some money is not a guarantee to win….But it doesn’t hurt!
    Sitting in the “bottom feeder five” of MLB payroll is not going to cut it if you want good results.
    As to those two huge pieces you speak of signing….That should be business as usual for a decent MLB franchise.

  195. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    You’d be surprised!…lol

  196. By the way, Sweet Jimmie, if you are going to tell me that 14 ABs prove that McCutch is a “Clutch Hitter” . . . . Well, what’s Travis’ favorite phrase?!?!

  197. Jim S. says:

    I love it, Bay. Sometimes setting your hair on fire can be used as a way of changing your look. Lemons into lemonade.

    Believe me, I am pulling my hair out with the Bucs also. I’m glad to have hair to pull out, but that doesn’t mean I want to keep pulling it out.

  198. Jim S. says:

    Yes, I guess it is. So many of the old sayings can’t be said any more. I knew a guy who used to start out with the phrase, “You can’t swing a dead cat without ….” That one, on closer inspection, is not a very pleasant phrase.

  199. Jim S. says:

    You sure there’s no elephant in hot dogs, Nate?

  200. AL says:

    Was just wondring why last year Iginla struggles here but he goes to Boston and becomes a 30 goal scorer?
    Is anyone in the Pens front office even a little embarassed by this?

  201. Arriba Wilver says:

    Good point!

  202. Don’t forget getting rid of Sid, who is a —3 and hasn’t scored a playoff goal in 10-11 games, 3 series ago!!

  203. Milo Hamilton says:

    Because they played him out of position the entire time he was here. What do I win ?

  204. Arriba Wilver says:

    Next time DK wants us to talk about something all he has to do is say “don’t talk about it.”


  205. If I recall correctly, Iginla was only the 3rd best rightwinger last season on the Pens.

    I also recall they tried putting James Neal on LW with Iggy on RW a few times, and Neal was always out of position, leaving the leftwing area naked.

    Good try last year. Rolled the dice. Didn’t work. Move along.

  206. AL says:

    it’s not if you win, it’s how you play the game!

  207. Milo Hamilton says:

    Exactly what other hall of fame right wings were on last year’s team ?

  208. Kent Ries says:

    “And for heaven’s sake, let the Gregory Polanco nonsense go. He isn’t coming until mid-June. There’s nothing to discuss, nothing to debate.”

    Nothing to debate? That’s a pretty stupid comment. Here is what there is to debate, why isn’t he in RF playing every day? Nuttings money, maybe, 6 years from now.

    So lets just punt the next couple of months of the season because if Polanco is actually a stud, its going to cost our owner more money. Tell me that makes any sense other than our owner cares far more about his profits than our team.

  209. Nastynate82 says:

    What I took from the article is that pens fans are rapidly becoming a joyless bunch, whether they win or lose. If they win this series, people will complain that it took six games. If they win in four straight, people would wonder why they couldn’t win in three.
    Just enjoy the games and the playoffs. They’re becoming kinda like Yankees fans.

  210. Didn’t know FUTURE Hall of Fame status at tail end of career gave one an E-Z Pass while on the ice.

  211. Milo Hamilton says:

    I think he’s proven this year that he needs no special favors. He was misused by the coach. Period.

  212. Jim S. says:

    These sample size things are hard to explain precisely. It seems to me a guy is pretty much always in a small sample size to some degree. Very few guys have consistently solid performance all year because hitting is tough and everyone fails at least close to 70% of the time – and most fail more than that.

    So, Polanco is 34/81 (.420) right now. I would say it is hard to think a kid on the cusp of making it to the big leagues isn’t showing an ability to move up when he is doing that. But, will he continue to hit like that? I doubt it.

    What if he gets only 15 hits in his next 81 at batst (.185)? That would not be unheard of, by any means. Overall, he will be 49/162, or .302. Who wouldn’t take that? But, I’ll bet that 20 games of subpar performance will cause a lot of people to jump off his bandwagon so quickly it will probably topple over on it’s side.

    Very few guys can hit consistently all year long. There are so many variables.

  213. Nastynate82 says:

    If you want a coach with a short shelf life, look west to Vancouver ;). As a Rags fan, he helped for like a season

  214. Jim S. says:

    POTD, Arriba.

  215. Seconded. He’s off today, spending the day with Dali and the kids like the good husband and father he is and he set us up for that and he knows it.


  216. Last season Jarome Iginla had 9 goals and 22 points in 31 games while playing right wing in Cal.
    Last season Jarome Iginla had 5 goals and 11 points in 13 games while playing left wing in Pitts.

    Looks like last season was a bad year on either wing on either coast for Jarome Iginla. For either Coach.

    Bully for him that he has returned to form this year. However, last year——the whole season, left or right——was a bust for him.

  217. Andrew says:

    The Opposition is singular, committed, and devoted in its focus.

  218. Jim S. says:

    Groat, I’m telling you the body of Cutch’s work in his career shows that he hits well, pretty much in all situations. It fluctuates from year to year, as for everybody. He looked pretty good on Monday when they were down 1 in the 8th and he hammered a ball 400 feet to tie it. But, that was just one at bat. But, wasn’t that clutch? I say it was just a good hitter doing what he does a pretty good % of the time – which is hammering a baseball.

    I don’t really buy into clutch vs. non-clutch hitters. I won’t say there are not guys who do better in clutch situations. I honestly don’t know if some guys have some sort of special ability to maintain their performance, or even ratchet up their focus a bit in big spots while others wilt. Or, maybe they faced an unusually large % of not so good pitchers in those situation. I just don’t think we can say for sure.

    Arriba brought up a great point about Reggie in October. He certainly came up big a lot in the playoffs. That is hard to dispute. So, maybe he is one of those few guys. I have not looked up his regular season stats. Maybe he was equally good in pressure situations in the regular season, maybe he wasn’t. But, I have looked at a lot of players and I generally find not that much difference over a career between pressure and non-pressure hitting performance to assign some magical ability or lack of it. Good hitters tend to continue that performance in pressure situations and poor hitters tend to continue that performance over the long haul.

    Barry Bonds is thought by many to be a notorious choker in the playoffs. But, for his career, he hit .310/.527/.594 with RISP, and .319/.497/.622 with runners on base. So, he was better in those situations than overall. So, did he just lose that ability come playoff time? Or, do we get to just rule out the regular season? Did he maybe face an inordinate # of tough lefties in his playoff career? Was it a small sample size?

    The debate is an eternal one, and it can never be proven one way or the other, definitively.

  219. Andrew says:

    For batting average the split half reliability is over 900 at bats.

  220. Nate83 says:

    I thought about that and that is why I added Colorado. It’s never good to start this bad. It leaves less margin for error. The Braves had two extended periods of bad play last year. It just didn’t happen early in the year so it didn’t cause such panic.

    Most if not all teams will have a stretch where they are 5 games below .500 over a 23 game stretch. The Pirates can’t afford to have another bad stretch like the one they are in right now. Hopefully they got it out of the way. Maybe this is what they are. I guess we will find out over the next 139 games.

  221. Nate83 says:

    He is looking like he could be a top 10 second baseman in the league. if he stays healthy the rest of this year he would seem to be a good bet to be an important piece going forward that would be nice to sign to a long term deal.

  222. Andrew says:

    Jarome Iginla

    Penguins 13 games: .38 G/game .85 Points/game
    Boston 78 games: .38 G/game .78 Points/game

  223. Sweet Jimmie,

    Legitimate response. Good one as well.

    Maybe it’s just a feeling. Yet Cutch has yet to “rise” when runners are in scoring position. Last season he actually shrank.

    Tony Perez, Willie McCovey, Albert Pujols, Orlando Cepeda, Johnny Bench, Miggy Cabrera, Frank Thomas for a time . . . it seems surprising when they did not/do not drive in the run.

    It still seems a surprise when McCutch DOES drive in the run. We WANT him on that wall; we NEED him on that wall. So far he has not been on the wall. Last season he was hiding behind the wall.

  224. Justin says:

    well every dollar you spend on one thing is a dollar that you can’t spend on another thing.

    They’ll lose out on 1 Win at the most by waiting to bring him up.

    But they’ll also lose 15 million down the line. that’s a solid free agent that could be on the team IN ADDITION TO polanco the year that super two would kick in.

    Nutting and the team’s money guys aren’t going to say “hey let’s spend more this year just because Polanco is Super Two.”

    They’re going to say “Hey. Polanco is super two. Guess that gives us less money to spend elsewhere.”

    Every team has a self-imposed cap. why wouldn’t you want to run your team efficiently? If you could buy you groceries today for $100 or $75 tomorrow, wouldn’t you just wait until tomorrow?

  225. Justin says:

    15 million down the line *if they bring him up now*

  226. hockeymonster says:


  227. hockeymonster says:

    krecji/bergeron = sid/geno???

  228. BillyBaduka says:

    There’s a song in there somewhere

  229. Nate83 says:

    You are correct there are very few. Tony Gwynn was remarkable consistent. As was Boggs, Mattingly, Carew and Frank Thomas. For that matter my avatar was pretty consistent. Even great hitters go through slumps and hot streaks. Currently I would say Votto is probably one of the more consistently good hitters as well as Carpenter for the Cards. I’m not positive but Trout seems more consistent then Cabrera so I would put him near the top as well.

    The Pirates are horrible inconsistent. Their better hitters like Cutch, Walker and Marte are very streaky in my opinion and averages that fluctuate a good deal throughout the year as opposed to someone like Trout who seems to stay right around .310-.320 for the entire year.

  230. Morneau,

    Your $15 million figure is exaggerated!

    At end of year 2 (Super Two) he would probably make $1.8 mill instead of $550,000 == $1.25 mill difference
    At end of year 3 (2nd Arb.) he would probably make $3.25 mill instead of $2.1 million == $1.15 mill difference
    At end of year 4 (3rd Arb.) he would probably make $6.25 mill instead of $3.5 million == $2.75 mill difference
    At end of year 5 (4th Arb.) he would probably make $10.5 mill instead of $6.5 million == $4.0 mill difference

    I show $9.15 million additional he would get, spread over 4 seasons. That’s $2.25 mill a season. That doesn’t even buy you a good backup infielder. That buys you Clint Barmes!!!

    Even your inflated $15 million over 4 seasons doesn’t even buy you a season’s worth of “worst starter in the Majors last 3 seasons” Edinson Volquez.

    If you wait 6 weeks to buy groceries at a discount, maybe by then you are too weak to recover and eat.

  231. Nate83 says:

    It’s either from the 70’s or a country song. I vote for 70’s since we are talking about hot dogs and not dogs.

  232. Devon says:

    Nate, just for reference, the Dodgers were 10-11 at this point last year. But yes, by the end of May were much worse (23-30). It would greatly help if Polanco comes up and lights the world on fire like Puig, and Cole wins the Cy Young like Kershaw. Thats not asking much…

  233. Milo Hamilton says:

    Or maybe you starve. See, something we can agree on. :)

  234. We certainly agree about Beau Bennett belonging on Sid’s line, Milo.

  235. Nate83 says:

    I’m sure there are other examples. I was just pointing out a snap shot of teams after 23 games seems odd to me. Obviously 23-30 is worse then 9-14 in terms of digging yourself out of a hole and making the playoffs so your point instantly became less dramatic.

    Kershaw was already a Cy Young and expected to contribute so I’m not sure why that is part of any debate. Puig was one of many reasons they turned it around hardly the only reason. He gave back a lot of his value with stupid mistakes that cost the team. The most unfortunate part about the Puig media blitz was the fact that Hanley Ramirez got overlooked for what was a tremendous 3 months of play and they had pitchers that really stepped up and pitched well.

    The Pirates have players that are capable of better. It doesn’t matter if they make 5 million or 25 million they have the ability to be better. For what it worth Polanco absolutely processes the ability to put up a WAR close to Puig’s which was 5.0. Puig struck out 97 times in 104 games and got caught stealing almost as many times as he stole a base. He ended up batting .319 after his crazy first 40 games.

  236. Milo Hamilton says:

    And that Jose’s has the best Cuban sandwich on the planet.

  237. Jim S. says:

    Those were all great hitters, Groat. No arguments here.

    I just struggle with how and when to define clutch moments is all.

  238. Andrew says:

    Groat the bigger number comes from this article.

    The better question is what is Polanco’s true upside, I have read it is only a number two and that is if he figures out that change up. However, his groundball tendencies should play up with the Pirates shifting. Mike Carp walked 5 in inning last night good thing the Pirates dodged that bullet.

  239. Andrew says:

    Crosby had is jaw broken and didn’t play in those games, yes you could argue he should have scored more, but based on the rate stats from a small sample Iginla would be projected to score 30 goals over a regular season. He was an fairly effective player, and was so in the playoffs until the entire series were the entire team was not effective.

  240. cmat0829 says:

    Irregardless has been misused for so often it has actually been added to the Oxford Dictionary and is in fact, properly used now by anyone who does so. Regardless, I prefer not to use this made-up word.

  241. Dom says:

    Next big Thing?

    He isn’t a 3D printer or a new Cadillac.

  242. cmat0829 says:

    he sucks. Phillies are off-the-charts amazingly stupid to have taken on that contract. Why any team spends more than $5M or so on a closer is beyond me. Bryan Morris or Tony Watson will be the closer for this team, perhaps as soon as 2015, but certainly in 2016. Grilli will be gone and perhaps they will give Melancon the ball next year, but I wouldn’t be opposed to letting Morris or Watson close…. who knows, if Grilli can’t get back on the horse, it may be sooner that the baton is passed in the bullpen.

  243. hockeymonster says:

    Oh that wasn’t my point. Was somewhat fictitious. But shouldn’t be lost that these days, system and structure can take you a long way when effort and focus isn’t a problem.

  244. cmat0829 says:

    LOL, calling for a sweep in STL against that team, that pitching, in April… you are pretty much saying the season is doomed with the 9-14 start and there is no chance they can get back into it. Seems pretty silly to me WHEN THE PIRATES ARE THREE GAMES BACK OF THE WILDCARD as we sit today. I think what is adding to the panic frenzy is that the Brewers are off to such a scorching start. Outside of the Braves and Brewers, MOST of the NL is around .500.

    I agree with many that say winning the series would be a huge bounceback for this team….and on to Baltimore. I will only say that tonight’s game is really the key. Cole on the bump. A chance to get a W and take a breath… but beyond that, not losing perspective.

  245. Kent Ries says:

    I love your stats. You are dead sure we will lose one game at the most by leaving Polanco in AAA for a couple of months.

    Is that also the number of games we will lose if Cutch, Pedro or Walker get hurt for two months?

    The 15 mil is a similar fake number. For one, it assumes Polanco is a stud for the next three years, doesn’t sign any type of Marte type deal, doesn’t get hurt, doesn’t get traded, etc.

    Again, the window for this team to win is right now. No one knows what the landscape will be in 2020. What we do know, is Tabata and Snider are below average hitters and fielders. Having one of the top prospects in baseball ready to move to the majors to plug that leak is a godsend. Leaving him in AAA for a third of the season is just punting on 2014 as a year to contend.

  246. Dom says:

    One would think by now that Rene Gayo would be due for a promotion. I wonder if he’s content at his current position. I certainly hope the Buccos don’t lose him to a rival club.

  247. Nate83 says:

    They also had a column I think at the Pirate Prospect site that used the number of 12-15 million. Like Groat I thought it seemed a little high and it would be closer to 8-10 million. Regardless it’s hardly a small amount and Polanco being up doesn’t add enough value to offset that unless you deal in hypotheticals like Polanco = playoffs which means more money.

    I can hardly sit here today and say Polanco being on the team gets them in the playoffs. There are a lot of players that need to play better then what they have so far for that to happen. I also can’t definitively say it’s the best thing for Polanco’s development. The kid has less then 100 at bats (really good at bats) in AAA. Yes he is crushing it but he is still learning from mistakes and will learn even more when pitchers adjust to him.

  248. cmat0829 says:

    My basic thoughts on this:

    1) Pineda is an absolute FOOL for being so blatant and smearing pine tar all over his neck and face. He deserves 81 games to being a total idiot.

    2) There is basically an ‘understanding’ that a little pine tar to get a better grip is acceptable to most hitters (who don’t want a fastball to get away and go at their head, I presume). So if pitchers are discreet, no issue, no complaints, you move on, etc.

    3) I don’t see any way that you can compare a little pine tar (for grip reasons) in any way to PEDs or betting on baseball games.

    At the end of the day, it is up to the hitters to complain. If a pitcher is using anything (nail file, vaseline, pine tar, long fingernails, whatever) that they feel gives them an unfair advantage they should complain. The basic ‘silence’ coming from most hitters tells me they don’t think pitchers are doing anything egregious. Except for last night when he pretty much guaranteed a complaint by having pine tar dripping from his face.

  249. Milo Hamilton says:

    Not til June, it’ll cost them less money in 2020.

  250. Nate83 says:

    But if he stinks and isn’t worth that 15 million how is he going to help us win right now.

    It can’t both be a good idea to bring him up now because he’s a difference maker but also say he won’t cost the Pirates 15 million because he might not be that good. He’s either awesome and will maximize his Super 2 money and will help us immediately or he is just average and will only add maybe 4 million over Super 2 in which case who cares when he comes up because he won’t add enough value to make a difference.

  251. Jim S. says:

    The thing is, the large majority of teams that start 9-14 are bad teams, and they don’t recover for that reason alone. I would think that good teams starting out with a bad stretch will recover because they are good teams.

    When a good team starts 9-14, or even 23-30, they are probably just having their worst stretch of the season at that time.

    So, the question is whether the Bucs are just a good team that is having it’s worst stretch of the season in games 10-23 (where the Bucs have been 3-11), or if we really are not that good of a team? We started the season 6-3, FWIW.

    I’ve thought we were a mid-80’s wins team all year. We would need to go 77-62 in order to finish at 86-76. I think that is very possible. In fact, they probably had a better record over the final 139 games last year. But, they need to play better on both sides of the ball.

  252. Milo Hamilton says:

    The point is that the Pirates should hope he’s so good he costs them an extra $20 million. It’s obvious they don’t and that’s the greater issue, commitment.

  253. Grinning broadly. Don’t forget Cortez Kitchen.

  254. Milo Hamilton says:

    And even if it cost them an extra $25 million, they just banked that money last winter.

  255. Andrew says:

    Certainly and trading for almost every available player regardless of skill set was not the soundest idea. Speaking of systems do you know if Goc a good penalty killer, because he appears to be skating and the Penguins PK needs to improve.

  256. Dom says:

    Do you think Gayo could be in talks to be a GM when positions start to open up at the end of the summer?

  257. hockeymonster says:

    Have heard reports and read various accounts that suggest he’s quite good in any defensive situation, FO’s and PK included.

  258. Justin says:

    But yeah even if you didn’t figure in extra playoff revenue, I think if you said POLANCO = PLAYOFFS and NO POLANCO = NO PLAYOFFS then they had better call him up.

    But seriously, Polanco probably adds 1 win to the team in 2014 when you factor in that Snider has been mediocre and that he’ll probably have some growing pains.

    the probability of 1 win being the difference in Playoffs and No Playoffs is really really small.

    The pitching starting to pitch like how they can is more important than Polanco can hope to add.

    the whole group of Alvarez, Mercer, and Marte hitting like how they usually can is more important than what Polanco can hope to add.

    If the pitching, alvy, mercer, and marte all start playing to expectations, then this is a playoff roster. if they all suck, then polanco doesn’t even matter.

  259. BMTIB gave him an extended contract secretly last Fall.

    Won’t announce it until next Fall.

    Da me un beso!

  260. Thundercrack says:

    Gayo is a scout.

  261. Baywatch says:

    At first I thought you were asking for a kiss in Spanish! I’m all like .. That would just be too … Groaty!

  262. Dom says:

    He’s the Director of Latin Development. Is going from that position to GM too high of a jump to be feasible? How about assistant GM?

  263. Baywatch says:

    You’re a FUNNY guy!

  264. Kings are down 3 – 1 to San Jose, with best goalie in world.

    Must be effort and focus. Fire the Coach.

  265. Baywatch says:

    You’re a FUNNY guy! I get such a kick out of my Milokinz!

  266. Milo Hamilton says:

    Melancholy happy trails to Earl Morrall. He was 79.

  267. hockeymonster says:

    mumble mumble mumble…effort, focus….mumble mumble mumble.

  268. Baywatch says:

    Now THERE was a backup QB! Best ever! Thanks for the memories, Earl. RIP.

  269. He helped give Super Bowl III to Joe Willie from Beaver Falls and the Jets

  270. Good article, Laddy. Good, too, that you didn’t say his name.

  271. How about Vice President behind President Searage?

  272. Dom says:

    Happy a b-day to for Pen Alek Stojanov and announcer Joe Buck!

    I always wanted the latter to call a playoff Pirate game.

    Also, Happy Birthday to actor Hank Azaria.

    He turns the big 5-0 today.

    He’s been working on the Simpsons longer than he hasn’t!

  273. Baywatch says:

    That’s not what I’ll remember him for! Besides, Joe Willie and my Jets (back then) won and earned that fair and square. :-)

  274. Naje says:

    Milo: the PBC aren’t showing a commitment to Polanco? How about let him get 100 at bats in AAA before talking about that? The PBC signed him, gave him a nice signing bonus…promoted him when he was ready… grooming him for a big time opportunity to contribute to the major league team for several years.

    Nah, they aren’t showing any commitment at all.

  275. Thundercrack says:

    We better stop now. Because this could lead to the debate of NH and what his qualifications were.


  276. Dom says:

    Works for me!

  277. Nate83 says:

    Why do you think it’s obvious they don’t hope he is that good?

    They just don’t want to start his clock earlier then needed. It’s hardly the worse thing in the world to give the kid 200 at-bats in AAA before calling him up. The team has a lot of issues right now. Most of which can be solved by some players playing to the level they did last year. Polanco improves the team but hardly instantly solves all their problems.

  278. Milo Hamilton says:

    Commitment to winning.

  279. Milo Hamilton says:

    They’re scared to death he might be. That’s the only reason he’s still in the minors.

  280. toochca says:

    Thanks, you stated it much better that what I tried to do. I also agree that he was a fool for being so blatant.

  281. Nastynate82 says:

    Not going to cut it? By my count, the bucs, athletics, Indians, and rays were all in the bottom six in payroll. That’s four playoff teams from 2013. And before you say it’s only one year, two of those teams are perpetual contenders.
    And business as usual. They made a good, smart signing and even you can’t see that.

  282. cmat0829 says:

    Not to speak for DK, but my thinking is similar at this point… it is not that there is “nothing to debate” it’s just that there is little chance the Pirates will change their decision on prospects and Super 2 and so it is a “moot point to continue the debate”. Of course there is something to debate… folks (and plenty do) can feel like it is wrong for the Pirates to make decisions now that are based on 3-4-5 years in the future, and others (many do) feel like owners of sports teams should spend whatever it takes to win now, tomorrow and in the future, regardless of the revenues generated and profit/loss statement.

    And before I go on, let me say again, for the umpteenth time, I am critical of this Pirates owner and this GM that they have not YET, this SEASON, spent the payroll that IS SUPPORTED by the revenues of this season. I would never call on an owner to outspend revenues, but I do call on this one to spend more.

    I for one am a strong advocate that the Pirates (and 95% of other teams/prospect situations) are making the right call, balancing readiness of the player, short-term impact and longer term budget issues, but I most certainly respect others to feel differently and thus a debate can be had. Whether it makes sense for all of us to keep posting our intractable positions, I leave that up to others. I personally don’t but I did feel like I wanted to weigh on today’s debate on whether there should be a debate. That is undebatable.

  283. Wandy is already throwing off a mound.

    I haven’t yet figured out whether he went onto the Disabled List or the Convenience List.

    Possibly the latter?

  284. Justin says:

    In their defense, they did offer Burnett 12 million. that would have put them around 90 million and 20th ranked. both of those numbers sound about where they should be.

  285. Justin says:

    The willingness to spend was there. we know they have some money for if the need rises. Hopefully they can flex some muscle at the deadline if a good player who is overpaid goes on the market.

  286. toochca says:

    You can add my son to the birthday’s for today! He’s the big 11 or double sticks as he says!

  287. Nate83 says:

    I’m not following that logic but OK. They are aware that he may be that good and weighing his possible future cost into the equation but I don’t think they are scared. Doesn’t any decision any business or individual make involve considering pro’s and con’s? People who don’t consider those things end up out of business or bankrupt.

    I’m still not sure how it’s obvious? If you are saying they are protecting themselves against something that may never happen because he may not be that good then why are we debating about a player coming up that isn’t that good.

  288. Justin says:

    I was going off of preseason projections. I saw Polanco being projeced as a 3 WAR player and the Snider/Tabata combination as a 2 WAR combination. so that’s 1 win over the course of a year. we’re talking about one third of a year here. i think 1 win is a perfectly good estimate.

    If they lose cutch, they’ll lose closer to 5 wins probably. If they lose Pedro or Walker, either one would be replaced by somebody like Jay Hay. Probably lose 2-3 wins.

    The problem with this team isn’t that Polanco isnt in RF. The problem is that the pitching hasnt been great and that Marte, Alvarez, and Mercer have underperformed. and some bad luck sprinkled in there.

  289. Justin says:

    ^^^ in response to Kent’s “I love your stats” comment

  290. The Gunner says:

    Former Steeler Earl Morrall, the guy Buddy Parker traded to the Detroit Lions for #22, Bobby Layne. Times were so much simpler then.

  291. Justin says:

    also… to the “Again, the window for this team to win is right now” comment…

    If you keep making moves for “right now,” then you WILL have just a window.

    the more you get into the mindset of having just a window, the more likely you are to have just a short window. Why does this have to just be a short window?

  292. The Gunner says:

    I think Wandy is really on the washed up list. Cumpton needs to take Wandy’s place in the rotation…………..IMMEDIATELY!!!

  293. Thundercrack says:

    I wonder how thrilled or scared they are that Marte is stinking up the joint…and he just signed a new guaranteed contract.

  294. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m saying this and only this. They are leaving a player that should obviously be playing right field for them right this very minute in the minors because of what he might cost them in 2020. As a fan, not an amateur CFO, I find this offensive. Especially when they continue to insult my intelligence by making up cockamamie reasons for him not being here.

    That’s all I got.

  295. Thundercrack says:

    If Polanco stunk in the minors then he wouldn’t be of any help to them in the majors in June.
    I still don’t get what you are saying about them being scared. (and I’m not trying to squash your opinion)

  296. Naje says:

    That’s different… but not too much. Polanco is the only way the team commits to winning? Seriously, the argument is just not there for me. The guy will play when he plays…regardless of the math and the numbers and how that plays out over time.

    We’re not the owners, nor the financial officers, nor the coaches or owner. He’ll get here when he gets here.

    Maybe the players should try committing to winning. I’ve seen about a dozen that look like below average committers and players right now.


    (What, too late on that one, huh?)

  298. Thundercrack says:

    Their is a players’ union involved here. If they came out and publicly said what the real was, and not the cockamamie reasons, then that opens up a whole other can of worms.
    No team comes out and says they are keeping a player in the minors so they can delay his service clock.

    You are smart enough fan to realize that. I’m just surprised you keep banging your head against the wall over this….or lighting your hair on fire.

  299. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Nasty – Not going to cut it if you want to win a World Series.
    How many World Series have the Athletics (outside of several decades ago), Indians, and Rays won?
    A big, fat ZERO.
    Outside of arguably the A’s, the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates is much more solid than any of those teams.

    You’ve been sold on the Nutting Regime propaganda that this is as good as it gets.
    Like many others….I do not buy into it.
    That doesn’t make me a lesser person at a party…..

  300. Milo Hamilton says:

    And the mythical war makes an appearance.

  301. Nate83 says:

    You should have never peaked back in. Sometimes it’s best to just stay away.

  302. Milo Hamilton says:


  303. Nate83 says:

    Less then 100 at bats in AAA. It is perfectly logical to believe that his development and how he plays over the rest of his career is best served by playing another 45 games in the minors. Yes he makes the team better right now but that doesn’t mean he won’t have a better career if they wait and let him learn some lessons down in the minors. It doesn’t hurt that they save money by making that decision but money is hardly the only thing to consider when making the decision.

    Heck they waited 2 months past Super 2 to bring Marte up. It had everything to do with them thinking he wasn’t ready.

  304. GAWTS2009 says:

    Illegal is illegal. Cheating is cheating. If cutch was proved to have taken substances I’d be first in line to throw him under the bus. So, yes I would lose a ton of respect for said player/pitcher regardless of cheating act.

  305. GAWTS2009 says:

    You speak the TRUTH my friend!

  306. Justin says:

    “The mythical WAR” wouldn’t have made an appearance if my methods at arriving at my extremely reasonable estimate of a 1 win loss by not having polanco over snider wasn’t questioned.

    My only point is that the impact that 1 (unproven) player’s impact on a lineup is kind of overrated. Especially since Snider hasn’t been god awful.

    I’ll be happy to see him up sure. If they call him up today, i’ll be excited.

    But he himself doesn’t turn the pirates from a 9-14 team to a 12-11 team. The more important thing for the team is that Alvarez, Mercer, Marte, Morton and Wandy turn into Alvarez, Mercer, Marte, Wandy, and Morton. They’ve only had 1 player overachieve (Volquez). Most of the team is playing about how you would expect them to. but they have a rather large group underachieving. This is a team that will be fixed when that underachieving group turns into themselves again. Polanco is the cherry on top.

    Him not being up right now is being made into a scandal that i don’t think is warranted.

  307. Arriba Wilver says:

    Marte does not equal Polanco. Everybody knew that Marte had plate discipline issues, even me. What’s Polanco got to work on? Having a slump?

  308. Nate83 says:

    Again find me anything that allows anybody to start a discussion about how many more wins the Pirates would have with Polanco as opposed to not having him and I will be happy to use that instead. Nobody is claiming the stat is perfect but computers are pretty smart it’s pretty darn close to giving the actual value of a player when all facets of the game are considered. I’ll give you predictive WAR on rookies are a poor starting point for an argument but you have to start somewhere besides just saying he makes us better because I think so.

    Fine bring him up and enjoy his 1,2,3…heck maybe even 7 wins he adds this year but if the rest of the players don’t play better it’s silly to just throw all that money down the drain just to say hey we put the best team on the field even if it doesn’t allow us to do that 5 years down the road.

  309. Arriba Wilver says:

    Your logic is all messed up, Justin. Even accepting your WAR argument, that’s over a whole season, not 23 games. Just like he doesn’t make $15 million in his Super 2 year, but even accepting that number, it’s projected over his years of control through arbitration.

  310. Jim S. says:

    The Conveniently Disabled List, Groat.

  311. Jim S. says:

    It could be that he is extremely well placed in the organization, Dom.

  312. Arriba Wilver says:

    Yeah, I beat you by almost 4 hours. :-)

  313. go21bucs says:


  314. Nate83 says:

    Did I say Marte = Polanco? Many wanted Marte up earlier including DK and myself. Despite his issues he made the team better instantly because a lack of good outfielders at the time. My point stands that this management team hasn’t given into knee jerk reactions for short term gains in exchange for what’s best for the player or the teams long term plans.

    Does saving money help the decision? Yes it definitely does. Does him having less then 30 games in AAA also get factored in? Yes it definitely does. It won’t hurt him to get more experience in the minors. If he had 400 at bat in the minors this discussion of the team being cheap would make more sense to me and that’s coming from a guy in the Nutting is cheap group.

  315. Jim S. says:

    I meant to comment earlier, but lost track, Damon. I saw this yesterday. It is pretty cool.

  316. Justin says:


    Yeah so the team is even less affected by leaving him down than 1 win. but i rounded up for the sake of argument. And yeah sure. the extra Super 2 money is spread out.

    I know it’s the sexy thing to do to be able to yell “pirates are cheap! call up polanco!” but my opinion is that the lack of polanco is not the reason for their recent downslide. Or it’s at least nearly negligible compared to the underperformance of what’s already on the roster and some bad luck.

  317. Arriba Wilver says:

    “Heck they waited 2 months past Super 2 to bring Marte up. It had everything to do with them thinking he wasn’t ready.”

    I think you did in terms of the context of this discussion.

  318. theplanisworking says:

    I am sure the blog can talk about the Tigers bullpen, if you wish.

    Or the NBA playoffs ………..

  319. Nate83 says:

    AW???? He mentioned the less then one year as part of his post. He acknowledged it and pointed out his “mythical” number of 1 WAR was actually being very generous. Polanco is probably worth less then 1 win over 1/3 of a season. No player in baseball is worth more then 3 wins over 1/3 of a season compared to Snider/Tabata.

  320. Arriba Wilver says:

    Did I say the Pirates are cheap? That’s another thing that gets thrown around when anybody dares to question what they do. It’s a much more nuanced argument. I just think sometimes they look too long term at the expense of the short term.

    And believe me, I’m not sexy. ;-)

  321. Milo Hamilton says:

    Never once have I said Polanco should be up here because of the way the Pirates have started. He should be here because he’s better than the guys that are playing his position. Simple as that. I’d say that if they were 23-0. I’m kinda old fashioned, the best guys should play.

  322. Nate83 says:

    I think I didn’t but if you want to continue to add words between my words and tell me what I intended to say go right ahead. It’s a free world. The main point of my post was if it was logical to believe they truly feel this is best for the player. I stated as much in the beginning of the post. At no point did I say Marte who is as good as Polanco was left down.

  323. Arriba Wilver says:

    Nate, your certainty about the future is admirable. If this kid is anything close to what people think, I am “certain” that the Pirates are one of the few even small revenue teams that would not bring him up, now.

    I really didn’t feel that strongly about this one way or the other, but the more I read the “justifications” for not bringing him up the more I lean the other way.

  324. Jim S. says:

    That was a head scratcher and shaker. I don’t know anyone who didn’t think it was either Cutch or Goldie among the position players.

  325. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think you are misinterpreting my point. The level of player obviously goes into the calculus. I didn’t add nothin’. ;-)

  326. Arriba Wilver says:

    That reminds me of someone who thought Goldie should have won it. ;-) ;-) ;-)

  327. Nate83 says:

    AW, Will Myers the top prospect in all of Baseball stayed down last year and cleared Super 2. Julian Tavaras is staying down until after Super 2 this year. He is ranked higher than Polanco and has more AAA at-bats. Puig didn’t even come up until June 3rd of last year. This is silly he has less then 100 at bats and if you are not screaming cheap then why are you bringing up market size.

  328. Justin says:

    Arriba and Milo,

    I’ve just been trying to kill a slow final hour at work ;).

    Yeah i dunno. It’s sad that it can’t be as simple as “the best players should play.” Right or wrong, the pirates are obsessed with efficiency, whether it’s not giving Burnett the QO or being “smart” with when they call players up. It’s the nature of their beast.

    The only reason why i bring up how different the record would or wouldnt be is that if the team is over .500 right now, i doubt the new uproar for polanco is as intense. that’s all.

    I hope they turn it around soon and Gregory comes in and turns a good lineup into a great lineup and they can trade tabata or snider to solidify a bullpen spot or get a decent prospect.

  329. Milo Hamilton says:

    Yeah, and Julian Tavarez is nearly 41 years old.

  330. Wild Bill says:

    Dang, and I just got back to the blog and wanted to enjoy more! Beats the heck out of stressing out over the Pens.

  331. Funny guy. Enjoying his day off and had to taunt us.


    So much for not talking about those we don’t speak of.

  332. Thundercrack says:

    Hurry…put up a game thread.

  333. Wild Bill says:

    Indy Indians vs Toledo Mud Hens!

  334. Jim S. says:

    Actual wars have been fought over less. This issue is paramount! :-)

  335. Jim S. says:

    I sort of remember that, but I can’t remember who. Goldie’s problem was his team stunk, and I think that has to figure in if as long as the V is part of the description.

  336. Jim S. says:

    But, Reading, we all know their BABIP was unsustainably high that season as a team. ;-)

  337. Bizrow says:

    Hope he has a good one ;-)

  338. Arriba Wilver says:

    Nate, I was bringing up revenue to try to pre-empt the inevitable different revenue base arguments. I guess it didn’t work, huh?

  339. toochca says:

    Thanks Biz!!

  340. cmat0829 says:

    Fun blog today.. the deviously clever DK got us to milk a tractor-trailer’s worth from a debate that was already over…that’s why as blog owner, he gets paid the big bucks :)

    Lots of opinions today , I’m 75% confident of the following, in summary:

    1) Polanco will not tear up the MLB like he is doing at AAA (much to my disappointment)
    2) A Marte or Cutch-like rookie season would be a very very good start for Gregory (and that is not season-altering).
    3) Snyder and Tabata have had their moments and at the moment are NOT in the top 10 reasons for the 9-14 start. (pretty likely reasons 1-6 or 1-7 are all PITCHING related. And Volquez isn’t among them (surprise, surprise).
    4) Clint’s comment that there are folks at AAA knocking at the door and that those who are here ‘need to take advantage of the opportunity, while it is there’ does nothing to infer the clock on Polanco’s arrival has changed (many reading way way way too much into this).
    5) NH will not alter what he does because of any blog post, any article, any podcast comment, any fan signs at PNC. If NH is anything he is unwavering in what HE thinks the best plan is.

  341. DJ says:

    Not you, HM. DannyBoy.

  342. DJ says:

    The sample size will be just right in June, Lucky.

  343. melloDEG says:

    I hear you, Dejan, however this is troubling to me: the offense is performing sort of at the league average. Yet, their record is what – 8 games below average? At such an early stage?

    How does that reconcile? That disparity between individual performance and team results is troubling to me.

    And as individual statistics regress/progress to the mean, how does that individual performance vs. team record resolve itself to the mean? For the Pirates to come though this year, they have to win as a team commensurate with individual performance.

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