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Morning Java: You replace Shero

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column looks at the first month on the job for a man who has yet to be hired. And it looks seriously intimidating.

But maybe not to you, so I’ll let you have a crack at three questions to tackle in the comments section.

1. Would you trade Kris Letang, even if only to move his contract?

2. Could a tough coach toughen up James Neal’s net-front work?

3. At what point do you get irritated with ownership for not having a GM?

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

Here are official game highlights on NHL.com, including the Rangers reaching the Stanley Cup final, where they’ll lose in three to either the Kings or Blackhawks.

>> Russell Martin and the Pirates played terrific ball late last night at Dodger Stadium, by Rob Biertempfel in Los Angeles. Really, coming off those two stinkers in New York and a cross-continent flight, this was pretty impressive all-around.

Is Josh Harrison just warming up? Biertempfel reports.

Scott Boras has lunch with his Pittsburgh clients, also by Biertempfel.

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

Here’s Dodgers news from the Los Angeles Times.

Here are official game highlights on MLB.com.

>> Mike Mitchell is a big hitter who wants to be known for something else. Alan Robinson reports from the Steelers’ OTAs on the South Side.

Shamarko Thomas, another young safety, is learning from the best. Mark Kaboly has that.

Here’s a question I had about the offensive line for Ramon Foster:

Here’s TribLIVE’s Steelers page, our Steel Mill blog and our photo gallery.

>> I’ll join TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m. today to talk football. And on Sunday, I’ll join the panel of WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word, along with Robinson, Mark Madden and host Alby Oxenreiter.

>> 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.

Comments

  1. TriforceScotty says:

    DK. Good article addressing the issues the PENS new GM would face, but I do not agree with your stance on some of the issues. So here goes my attempt at the points you bring up.

    1) Fire the coach. Yes, Yes, for the love of god Yes. It can be described as nothing less than clumsy that Dan still holds the title as the Pittsburgh Penguins head coach. We do not need to beat a dead hoarse here, but the simple fact is that the playoff disappointments are largely on his hands. Especially last season with his misuse of what was an absolutely incredible roster assembled by GMRS. He should have been gone last year, make it right this year Mr. GM. I know this much, if DB is the HC for the home opener, then the lower bowel at CEC might not not be filled. Fans, at least the ones I know, will not support the team coached by Dan.

    2) Hire a coach. I’m not going to pretend to know the right answer to this question. Tocchet is an interesting possibility that would have instant cache with players and fans alike, but the interview process must determine the best candidate. This fan is just hoping that ownership gets it right.

    3) Trade 58. I’m at the opposite end of this spectrum. When the Penguins have been at there absolute best over the last 3 years, it has been with a healthy and productive 58. There is nobody on the roster or coming that can match his skill set. Under Dan’s system that emphasized “quick up” passing so the forwards could “get north” 58 was a legit Norris Trophy candidate as recently as last year. Imagine if he was free to actually use his best attribute, his skating, to the advantage of the offense. We have seen it in small glimpses, but a new coach and a new system could let him shine. I see him as Duncan Keith. He has the same skill set. Is 58 million over 8 years a whole lot of $? Yep, but I’d bet on him to earn it.

    4) James Neal, too. 40 goal scorers, even on 71′s wing, do not grow on trees. Once again, I think the coaching could get far more out of 18. His affinity for cheap shots and incredibly stupid penalties should have been squashed by the coaching staff early in the season. After a kid gets away with stealing cookies 14 times, he no longer remembers or fears the consequences. Does he play too much on the perimeter? Probably. But, somebody has to put the puck in the net too from a wing, and it isn’t like the organization has a whole lot of depth at wing. I am not completely opposed to trading him, but Mr. New GM better get a whole lot back because that is 40 goals and the best pure shot on the team walking out the door.

    5) Sign 2. Why? Part of the problem is that we supposedly have all of these defensemen ready to go that are stuck in the AHL. 2 had a great year, there is no denying that. But, I would rather let 2 walk and free up the 5+ million he is going to get from somebody (see a certain franchise that wears orange and plays home games in the same commonwealth) to spend elsewhere or trade Letang and his top end skill set for 2-3 Million more per year.

    6) Wish 44 and 36 well. Yep, no reason to bring back 44. See reasons I stated above for not keeping 2. Jussi has been a very valuable player for the Pens for 2 years. He can move up and down the lineup and produce wherever he lands. But, there are many guys that can fill that role with more grit than he can bring and as you say, someone will pay him more than he is worth.

    7) Fire all the scouts. A new GM brings his own scouts. Bye boys. Thanks for your service.

    8) Have a great draft. Indeed, good luck with that. Tough to have a productive draft with scouts that will not be here in a month, no GM, and a lame duck coach. Just pick a kids that grew up on sod farms and hope for the best. Hey, it works for the Staals.

    9) Pick a nice office. From a fans prospective Morehouse comes off a bit as “the establishment” which makes him unlikeable. I can do nothing but trust Mr. B. and 66 in the faith that they have instilled in this man. For, if this faith is misguided, the forseeable future is bleak.

    10) Create a vision. I can’t wait to see what this offseason and the next season holds for my favorite team in sports. It will be interesting no matter what. I am holding out hope that we can retool and recreate the magic that the 08 and 09 teams had. God speed Mr. New Gm. Goodspeed

    Thanks for the time DK.

  2. Mizery says:

    1.I wanted the pens to let Letang walk in FA last year. With all the good defensemen coming up and who we already had under contract I was hoping to use the cash for a top 6 winger with “grit and “character. Sheri was obsessed with the blue line which I liked at first but then noticed that Shero had a glass ceiling to Pittsburgh for those prospects. I want to see what we have in the pipeline. Let angst value was high last year. I wish they would recognize when they have a commodity that they can get value for like Letang that they pounce on that opportunity.

    2. We won’t have a coach tough enough on Neal because he won’t be here. That is my prediction. I would trade him too. He is a good player but we need a power forward more than a sniper.

    3. Not impatient at all about the front office. Get the guy that fits best and get it right the first time.

  3. Josh says:

    Neal is a conundrum because, despite his bad habits, we are so desperate for wingers. Kunitz legitimately slowed down at the end of the year. Dupuis is a great grit and character guy but he’s 35, coming off major knee surgery, and was always beat suited as a third line guy. Speaking of which … is he still worth $4 million? My point is trading Neal only makes sense if we get at least 2 wingers back. I’ve read some interesting trade proposals over the past week and will compile them in the next comment …

  4. Josh says:

    Okay so here we go…

    Proposal 1
    trade Neal for T.J. Oshie.

    Might need additional pieces either way but St. Louis needs pure goal scorers and already has a roster full of hardworking, gritty guys.

    Proposal 2
    Trade Neal and Despres to Tampa Bay for Teddy Purcell, Brett Connolly, and Tampa’s first pick (17th overall)

    Saw this one from DePaoli on TIOPS. I think makes some sense as we get a decent top 9 player, a top winger prospect who’s best characteratic is scoring goals, as well as a first pick and hopefully draft another forward prospect.

    Proposal 3
    Trade Kunitz, Sutter, Fleury to Winnipeg for Kane
    Then trade Letang for to San Jose fo Brent Burns and Anti Niemi

    A bit far fetched, I know, but use your imagination to fill in pieces where necessary or let me know some alternative options. This does work in the cap structure, we keep Neal, and, wow, we have a top 6 of

    Kane -Crosby- Burns
    FA signing/Bennett- Malkin- Neal

    Lastly, I’m highly in favor of siging Kulemin. Chemistry with Geno aside, he’s a solid defensively responsible winger that can be had for 3 million or so. I like the thought of guys digging in the corners and setting up Malkin and Crosby rather than vice versa.

    Those are my moves, thoughts? Suggestions?

  5. Reading says:

    I don’t like business overseeing sports decisions either. POLANCO!! POLANCO!! POLANCO!! POLANCO!! Okay. Time to move on.

  6. TJA says:

    Baseball is such a funny, strange and very beautiful game. I was yelling like everyone else while they were in NY…but no question….last night in LA was impressive. It was an win that was important. Need a good night tonight from Frankie. Go Bucs!

  7. Now that the Pirates started out on the right foot once again in LA by winning behind their ace Gerrit Cole, we can only hope they’ll do better this time than they did in NYC since they’ve got to start winning on the road if their season is going to amount to anything. Now as for me or anyone else replacing the Pens’ recently fired GM, well, I’m afraid that the first thing I’d likely have to do is to try and please the both Mario and Burkle and wonder if that is possible.

  8. bpn8pitt says:

    I will take on #3. Keep in mind my hockey IQ is low.

    When normal companies fire a manager, especially one with a long tenure, they usually have his/her replacement already in mind. I don’t know much about the Pens and how they work, and I could be totally wrong come noon today. But I think this interim GM is their guy. Had they gone outside, I think the hire is already made by now. And its possible with that its a complete teardown, trades, change in draft philosophy, new coach, new system both here and Wilkes Barre. With Botterill, they could just retool as opposed to a big change.

    I’m not saying that’s the right move. I’m just looking at it from a business perspective. You already have a good culture and good assets in place. Starting over completely may not be necessary. It may just be you need a different voice, and a few simple yet meaningful moves to stay competitive.

    It maybe too, that they are waiting until after the draft to blow this up. But why use the same pairs of eyes to evaluate talent then?

    Its either one or the other in my eyes. You promote from within, make a few changes. Or go outside, and “change” completely. If you change completely, your endanger of burning a few of Sid and Genos prime years. In that case, it better be worth it.

    I have been told by a lot of my hockey friends in the know, that some of these Neal Letang deals are a pipe dream because the rest of the league is well aware of their issues.

  9. Wild Bill says:

    Really good Pens column by DK this morning, and one I need to ponder a bit on most of the decisions before commenting.

    Except for one thing – what the he// is taking so long on the GM choice?? This has to be attractive, with really good candidates. Let’s go!! As DK indicates, nothing else happens until this is done.

  10. Wishful thinking says:

    Wont happen but …

    Trade Crosby for Tavares.
    Trade Malkin for Stamkos.
    Trade Letang for Keith.
    Trade Neal for JVR.

  11. Wild Bill says:

    Don’t think I see this as you do, bpn. Seems to me that if Botterill was gonna get this, he would have by now. He’s right here. Bringing in other candidates and vetting them takes longer, and makes me think they’re looking for someone new.

  12. Stlrfanrc (Ryan) says:

    I wish I could participate in today’s discussion, but hockey is not in my realm of expertise.

    On that note, I will lay off JayHey. He’s a baseball player. Shows the enthusiasm of a kid and loves to play the game. I don’t think he cares what position, just plays the game. I’ll take 8 others with that same attitude.

    It won’t last, but will enjoy the ride.

  13. Jandy says:

    smh

  14. Stlrfanrc (Ryan) says:

    Pirates need a split with LA, at minimum.

    Everything else is bonus.

  15. Wild Bill says:

    I like him too, Ryan. Only minus for me is that teams will challenge his arm at every opportunity. But like you say, it won’t last; He Who Must Not Be Called Up will be fairly soon.

  16. Paul says:

    Letang won’t bring much in return and I think a new coach would be a big help to him.

  17. Paul says:

    I think you have the wrong Kane, that guy is awful. They have enough head cases already. Oshie is the heart and soul of the Blues. Their fan base would explode

  18. JAL says:

    JAL’s Lemon Tree Morning Links

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

    Lemon Tree Fools Garden

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

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

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

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

    3 BFFL’s 2014 Pirates Stats Spreadsheet

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

    4 Pirates Prospects

    Pittsburgh Pirates Organizational Probable Pitching Chart

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/probable-pitchers

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: The Pirates Finally Have a Productive First Base Platoon

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/05/first-pitch-the-pirates-finally-have-a-productive-first-base-platoon.html

    Prospect Watch: Reese McGuire Extends Hit Streak, Strong Outings From Kuhl and Neverauskas

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/05/prospect-watch-reese-mcguire-extends-hit-streak-strong-outings-from-kuhl-and-neverauskas.html

    Andrew Lambo makes a visit to a specialist for injury

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/05/andrew-lambo-makes-a-visit-to-a-specialist-for-injury.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Gamethread: Gerrit Cole takes on Dodgers

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2014/5/29/5763110/gamethread-gerrit-cole-takes-on-dodgers

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 53: Pirates 6 Dodgers 3

    http://whygavs.com/may-2014/game-53-pirates-6-dodgers-3.html

    8 Green Weenie

    Raise It: Bucs Get Into The Bullpen To Take A 6-3 Win

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2014/05/raise-it-bucs-get-into-bullpen-to-take.html

    9 Rumbunter

    Tyler Glasnow Feeling It

    http://rumbunter.com/2014/05/29/tyler-glasnow-feeling/

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 6 Dodgers 3

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2014/05/pirates-6-dodgers-3-2/

  19. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 LA Times

    Brandon League allows first earned runs in 17 games, Dodgers fall, 6-3

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/dodgersnow/la-sp-dn-league-runs-20140529-story.html

    12 Yahoo Sports

    Pirates-Dodgers Preview

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/pirates-dodgers-preview-064703025–mlb.html

    13 Chicago Sun Times

    Over the years, Cubs had hits and misses when thinking outside the box

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/27755424-573/over-the-years-cubs-had-hits-and-misses-when-thinking-outside-the-box.html

    14 LA Daily News

    Yasiel Puig’s heroics not enough as Dodgers fall to Pirates 6-3

    http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20140529/yasiel-puigs-heroics-not-enough-as-dodgers-fall-to-pirates-6-3

    15 Pirates Site

    Bucs back Cole to end nine-game LA drought

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2014_05_29_pitmlb_lanmlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    Bonds, Parker among Bucs’ best Draft picks

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/barry-bonds-dave-parker-among-bucs-best-draft-picks?ymd=20140529&content_id=77202546&vkey=news_pit

    16 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Reds make D-Backs’ Collmenter look like ace in 4-0 loss

    http://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/mlb/reds/2014/05/30/reds-loss-collmenter-ace-diamondbacks/9754759/

    17 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    ‘Grumpy’ Mark Reynolds makes Brewers smile

    http://www.jsonline.com/sports/brewers/grumpy-mark-reynolds-makes-brewers-smile-b99280406z1-261198971.html

    18 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Bullpen falters in loss to Giants

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/bullpen-falters-in-loss-to-giants/article_b6452827-48c2-5b04-a662-031a56dc4b0a.html

    19 Fangraphs

    Tools: Game and Series Win Probabilities

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/tools-game-and-series-win-probabilities/

    20 Baseball Prospectus

    The Five-Day Pitcher Injury Zone

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23679

  20. Christina says:

    1. Would you trade Kris Letang, even if only to move his contract?

    Yes. But I would have traded Martin and Niskanen after their bad years. So that probably means Kris Letang has his best year just ahead and we should NOT trade him.

    2. Could a tough coach toughen up James Neal’s net-front work?

    Yes, not given up on Neal yet.

    3. At what point do you get irritated with ownership for not having a GM?

    Hmmm…. within June that really needs to be solved me thinks.

  21. JoeyBats says:

    Steven Adams Update: OKC Thunder got pummeled by San Antonio last night 117-89….and the Spurs are now up in the series 3-2.

    Adams played 20 minutes….6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist. (note: The starter K. Perkins had 0 points in 16 minutes)

  22. kr70 says:

    would be OK with Tocchet as coach, but would really like a couple of guys who played like him.

  23. joey_pittsburgh says:

    1. Would you trade Kris Letang, even if only to move his contract?
    Yes, if you believe one of the D-men-in-waiting in WBS will give you 80% of Letang’s value, and I believe someone will. In that case you should be able to get 2 top-6 forwards, or a top-6, a solid project/3rd liner, and a high draft pick. In either case, holding onto Letang at the expense of beefing up the front lines when you have a swarm of guys a year away doesn’t make sense.

    2. Could a tough coach toughen up James Neal’s net-front work?
    I doubt it. Neal has shown continual moment of lack-of-discipline. Net work is about the discipline to stand in front of the puck. I think Neal gets frustrated easily and for every step forward would quickly take one back in regression. His disposition just isn’t the type for what you want in front of the net.

    3. At what point do you get irritated with ownership for not having a GM?
    Forget hockey, look at it from a business perspective. If you believe the ownership of any company is good, then you must assume they have built in plans of continuity if any leader leaves. Shero’s underlings should have been able to do his job if he wasn’t there, just as Bylsma’s staff could do the same. This happens all the time in business and hockey is a business. Not having a GM isn’t even in the top 3 things I worry about with this team.

  24. Brandon says:

    Good column DK……

    1. Trade Letang based on the salary cap needs to change the roster…..I don’t have much faith in the return possible if there are takers for the trade

    2. I wouldn’t trade Neal – they need the right winger to complete the Malkin line…..the next Kunitz. This is a combination of chemistry and coaching direction – this guy is capable of playing reasonably good 2-way hockey and providing net-front presence. There aren’t enough 40 goal wingers available …… disclaimer – if the absolute can’t refuse this deal shows up, you must be smart enough to make the trade.

    3. Getting the right GM and Coach is critical – the timing to execute the multitude of key issues which DK listed makes the GM hiring imperative….but it needs to be a good one.

    4. My absolute favorite coach ever since he was an assistant with the Kings is Dave Tippet – he has done more with less talent in every situation he’s been in and is (mostly) great at in-game/in-series adjustments, his teams come to play and he seems to manage personalities to get the most effort as possible – if he isn’t (probably no way) available, I would look at several of the up and coming assistants from the west coast teams which are pasting the league with the right attitudes.

    5. He is a restricted FA, but they need to lock up Sutter for a longer contract and stop the silly Kessler discussion which Shero wanted to execute…..with the right coach, Depres’ talents and size will be an absolute asset in the future; I would look to sign a team friendly contract to secure him as well.

  25. Bill says:

    1. I only trade Letang if the return is there…wouldnt just dump the contract.
    2. I think Neal is who he is at this point..kinda of hard to teach a guy to be tougher, a guy has to want to go to net
    3. As long as they get it right, no irrittation (Pierre would irritate the bajeezus out of me though)

  26. Vette60 says:

    Enjoyed the column! Makes for some interesting discussion.

    1. Letang trade, even if contract move?

    Tough one. I was fully expecting him to be gone before the long term deal was signed and wasn’t torn up too terribly that it was signed. I am ok if he is moved but really wouldn’t be to happy if it were for a bag of pucks and used sticks a la Jagr to the Caps. Think that a good return could be out there.

    2. Neal get tougher with new coach?

    Hmm…I would like to think so but I really think as some other have said that does appear to be his MO. He seems to have too many brain cramps at the worst times. Funny how it now appears that acquiring Niskie in the Dallas trade may have been the better part of that deal. If Neal can be worked into a deal, I won’t be broken hearted.

    3. Timing of GM search?

    We’ll, it would be great to have a guy in place soon, but the engine won’t stop running if not there. I would like to have someone there by the draft for sure and before free agency starts.

    Crazy how all this has come about. Big moment for all involved with the organization.

    Have a great Friday all!

    Randy in RVA.

  27. buggee says:

    1) Yes, trade Letang. Despite what Letang brings talent-wise, from an organizational perspective, trading him looks to be more of a positive move than a negative one. Plus it potentially opens the door for some of the younger defensive talent in WB.

    2) Apply the same thinking that was applied to MAF last season; hire a sports psychologist to ferret out the reason(s) why Neal stopped going to the net, and then brainwa(r)sh his butt to strap it on and get to where he is most effective.

    3) One week before the draft should be the drop-dead date for ownership to get a new GM in there. It’s just far too important of a position do fill it with the guillotine of public-demand overhead. And once the new GM is hired, the GM and his team need to focus 100% on the draft and not worry about potential draftees fitting into the existing Penguins Paradigm. That paradigm has to change, and that will fall on the GM. So the new GM should NOT focus on the coaching situation or even on existing players; the new GM needs to a) hammer out a very strong draft and b) build a strong front-office with emphasis on player development and talent acquisition. Coaching and current roster are tasks to be handled when the new foundation is constructed and operating.

    Just my two-cents. I got a raise.

  28. Jandy says:

    buggeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! when do you take off on your trip?

  29. Dom says:

    Butler native, Bret Michaels was taken to the hospital during his performance last night in NH:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bret-michaels-has-medical-emergency-in-concert/

  30. Wild Bill says:

    Really amazed at the comments above downplaying the urgency of getting he new GM in place. Nothing of substance gets done until that happens! Some of you have me smh.

  31. Jandy says:

    1) Letang – trade him before his contract and limited trade clause sets in, ONLY if the return is very good as well. Need to get top 6 forwards in return. Tanger has turned his play back into form and I think he should be ok going forward.

    2) Neal makes $5M I believe. If he can be traded for those coveted grit/character forwards, then do it. I’m really tired of his shenanigans/lackadaisical play.

    3) Someone stated that the wheels of an organization SHOULD still turn in one part is missing. That may be true, but I don’t think it’s in best interests of all involved -drafting, coaching, contract negotiations, etc, etc – to let that go on too long. It’s been 2 weeks. Just do it.

    For the record, I’d keep Niskie over Letang at this point. He’s a lot steadier and has shown improvement every season. He’s stepped up to the puck when players were hurt and gotten things done. That means a lot in my book.

  32. Jordan White says:

    1. I’m not sure Letang is tradeable. That contract is kind of an Albatross. With that cap hit, I think any return would be far below expectations, making it a salary dump essentially. Not sure if I would trade him or not.

    2. I keep Neal. Hard to replace 40 goals. I would add a gritty player to that line.

    3. Well, based on some of your podcast comments, sounds like the Pens haven’t had a GM on draft day in quite some time. So no rush at this point. Just get it right.

    In addition:
    – I let Nisky walk. Too much talent on the way FOR CHEAP. Somebody will overpay for Nisky. Integral part of last season’s success, yes, but we have assets on the way.

    – If Jokinen will accept under $4.5M, I’d sign him. Does so many things. Our roster isn’t exactly dripping with productive forwards. But chances are he’ll get paid more than that.

    – For the love of pete, bring up some of these younger Dmen. This isn’t as easy as it was pre-shoulder surgeries of 2 top prospects, but over the next 2 years, transition most of these older Dmen out of here. Long term, I think Letang, Bortuzzo, and Maata are the ones from the current roster I’d build around. Add Despres, Harrington, Pouliot, Samulesson.

  33. SeanAY says:

    Let me steal DK’s thunder here this morning:

    I see a lot of folks with blank faces for avatars; if this is your first time to the blog, welcome!

    Second, you can easily rectify the whole blank face thingy by going to Gravatar.com and selecting a picture as your icon. It always helps putting a face to a name.

  34. Nate83 says:

    I agree the return will not be as great as some may hope but it free’s up money to spend in other places which I feel is more important then the return. His contract could turn bad quickly. We have seen how they play without him in the line up for extended time and it wasn’t devastating.

  35. Brett says:

    1) Yes. There’s a team out there that will take the risk that comes along with acquiring Kris Letang. Perhaps Edmonton would be a nice fit. Lots of forwards out there but no defense.

    2) Probably, but I’d still explore trading him. I don’t think you are going to get a 40 goal scorer back, but hopefully you can find someone who will consistently produce come playoff time. Not to mention the cap space that opens up by trading Letang and Neal might prove most valuable.

    3) Next Friday, 2 weeks before the draft. Scouting straff primarily handle drafts, so won’t be able to judge this GM too much on this years draft. But lots of deals and talk of deals happen at the draft. GM needs some time to get familiar with this situation and have an idea what he wants to accomplish on the draft floor.

    Tough calls on Letang and Neal. But team is stale and in desperate need of some changes. Get as much value as you can back in the deal and free up some cap space.

  36. The Pirates starters have also got to start winning games since they’ve won only 8 so far. And they’ve got to start winning road games since their overall road record is now 8-16. And they also have glaring hitting and defensive issues. And so, I don’t know if they can get back into it or not, although stranger things have happened.

  37. Eric Majeski says:

    1. Nope. I have to think Letang’s value was lessened by the stroke, and selling low never seems to work out well. You only do that that when left with no other options (Scuderi comes to mind here), and they are far away from that with 58. I also think that very soon (perhaps as soon as this summer), his contract won’t look as bad as some believe it to be. Besides, if you move him Paul Martin is the only viable vet left, and he’s got 1 year left. I want to see some youth back there, but not all kids. I’d love to keep Niskanen, but not at the expense of 58. I think anything over $5M for 2 could bite them, and I have a hard time imagining him staying for less than that.

    2. Hard to say without being around the Neal and having a feel for how his mind works. I suppose the right guy could, but I’d be even happier if the Pens could find a guy that could get him to stop the boneheaded penalties, retaliation, etc.

    3. I’d hope a new GM is tabbed within the next week. No issues taking time to find the right guy, but as it drags on, I can’t help but wonder if some of the candidates they are interested in are balking at the idea of having to report to a non-hockey guy.

  38. Jordan White says:

    I agree with your assessment of Nisky being more valuable than Letang last year, but given contracts and ages, I would probably keep Letang at this point. Someone will probably be paying Nisky a lot of money into his twilight years on the next contract, and I’m not sure that it would be worth it for us given the glut of Dmen we have on the way.

    On the other hand, if we did a salary dump for Letang in order to give Nisky a decent deal, can’t say I’d be up in arms or anything haha. More than 1 logical way to go here, really.

  39. Jim S. says:

    1. I would trade Kristopher Letang in the right deal in order to get out from under that contract and infuse some much needed talent back into the organization.

    2. Personally, I don’t think Neal would be a tough presence in front of the net at this point. I believe he thinks of himself as more of a sniper. Plus, didn’t he supposedly want traded?

    3. I don’t mind waiting for a new GM so long if (and this is a big if) this is because the guy they have targeted is coming from the Blackhawks or Kings organization. Otherwise, this strikes me as the organization not knowing what it is doing.

  40. Ryan says:

    DK, I agree with you 100%, trade Letang if for nothing else than to provide cap space, I could honestly care less about the return. I also believe that Tocchet would be the perfect fit for THIS team RIGHT NOW.

  41. Jandy says:

    Yeah I agree, it all depends on what the return would be. NO way I trade Tanger for a minimal return. It was to be good or don’t do it. I honestly can see Tanger coming back into his own and dominating.

  42. For one thing, the Pens are leaving Coach Dan Bylsma’s final fate up to the new GM, and the fate of various players is also in limbo depending on how that’s finally settled. Yes it’s ridiculous, but such is the Pens’ reality at this time.

  43. SeanAY says:

    Agreed, Jandy. I have the same conceit of most coaches and general managers; when I see abundant talent, I always think that it can be fixed. Surely it’s harder to find talented players that need teaching, than it is to find smart players that are comparatively lacking physically.

    The only thing that confuses this issue is the no-trade clause that kicks in this year.

  44. Jandy says:

    Yes and yes!

  45. David says:

    I think you have to keep Letang. Letang turns into Mr. Hyde when the forwards are camped out at the opposite blue line and he has to try to make a play that isn’t there, but with a new coach in place (which is an absolute must), the stretch pass should no longer be the preferred way of breaking out. So, I think we’ll see more of the good Letang under a new coach.
    Also, you still have to look at his contract long term. Letang right now isn’t worth over 10% of your salary cap but think about what contracts are going to look like in the next 5 years if the cap continues to rise. Andrew McDonald just got $5 million and PK Subban is going to set a new baseline this summer for top defensemen’s contracts.
    I think you can keep Neal too, at least for now. If the GM can defer on one decision, Neal’s four-year contract is it.

  46. Jim S. says:

    I’ve been thinking for a couple of days that the JHay hot streak had about run its course. Then, I thought there was at least 1 and maybe 2 defensive plays in the first inning that convinced me it was time to pull him out of RF.

    On the Ethier ball, I felt there was no reason JHay could not have gotten to that ball before it rolled all the way down to the wall and banked over to him. It was not a hard hit ball. I believe if he cuts that ball off before it gets to the wall, he can hold Ethier to a double.

    I realize he was playing extremely deep for Puig, but that popfly double he hit was not a double. It was supposed to be a flyout to RF. I don’t think JHay got a very good jump on that ball. So, I think he cost us a run there.

    But, then he got 2 key RBI hits later in the game, and in each case he took 2nd base on the throw home. On the 1st one, he clearly knew Puig would pull a Puig and make a throw right over the cutoff men to home when there really was no shot at the runner. And, on the 2nd one, he took 2nd base on the play at the plate, which enabled him to score later. That was excellent heads up base running both times. He clearly made up for any shortcomings in RF last night with his running and hitting later.

    And, by the way, Puig does some frustrating things. But, the more I see him, the more convinced I am that he is quickly becoming the best hitter in the league. His plate discipline this year has been amazing. His ability to recognize and not bite on pitches in the dirt when down in the count has been the best I’ve seen this year. He’s Cabrera-like in that regard. He’s becoming a monster.

  47. Poole says:

    1. Would you trade Kris Letang, even if only to move his contract?

    No, Letang only gets moved if he gets the ridiculous overpayment for a premier PMD. Martin should be traded in that case as he is a upcoming UFA. New GM has to decide right now whether he wants to extend Martin’s contract, if not, then trade him before we lose him for nothing.

    Also, Letang at 7.25 million >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Niskanen at 5.5 or 6 million

    2. Could a tough coach toughen up James Neal’s net-front work?

    No, net front work is a mental game.

    3. At what point do you get irritated with ownership for not having a GM?

    Gotta think the new GM works for one of the remaining playoff teams? If not, meh, still not irritated because this decision is SO important…they need complete due diligence. Although, as a fan, I am getting impatient.

  48. Scott says:

    I agree with half the column. Neal must go. I would not trade Letang right now, because you’ll get next to nothing for him. Nobody will be rushing to take on a recent stroke victim with a $58 million contract. He needs to play a year, show he’s healthy and still performing at a high level, then you can trade him next summer.

    Forget about his no-trade clause. It’s not really a no-trade clause since it still allows the Pens to trade him to at least a dozen teams. A talented GM will not find that to be especially limiting (look at the return Shero got for Jordan Staal, and he was only negotiating with ONE team.)

    I wouldn’t re-sign Niskanen, either. He had the best season he will ever have in his life, his price tag will never be higher than it is now, and he started to wear down at the end of the year, essentially proving that he really is just a #3 or #4 defenseman on a contending team.

    Do we not see the irony in calling for a trade of Letang because he’s way overpaid, while at the same time calling for a new contract for Niskanen that will almost certainly overpay him to a similar degree? If the new GM makes that mistake, two years from now we’ll all be talking about Niskanen’s horrible contract and how his deal is eating up way too much cap space. Let’s learn from history, for once.

    Someone on the open market will give Niskanen close to $6M per year, no doubt. There’s no way the Pens can be in that ballpark. Wish him well and starting playing Despres, Domoulin and Samuelsson. Let the young guys take their lumps and gain the valuable experience that will serve them well once the playoffs arrive.

  49. Jim S. says:

    If you looked at Russ Martin’s defensive stat line last night, it would probably jump out at you that the Dodgers were 3-3 in steals. In reality, he had almost no shot at any of the runners stealing. He made it close once with a great throw. Cole simply was not keeping anyone close.

    But, the two plays where he jumped out from behind the plate and threw out Dodgers at 1b – once on a Gordon bunt, and then another on a swinging bunt later – that was vintage Russell Martin. I’m not sure many, if any, catchers make those plays. He is so agile on those plays, and he gets rid of the ball so quickly. And, he can pick a ball up and twirl completely around and still deliver a hard strike to 1b. I think it is easy to appreciate how great of a catcher he is on a nightly basis.

  50. WilO says:

    Yes, Bylsma has to go. He has been part of the problem (poor make up of the team and poor leadership being the others). I’m not worried about the coaching retreads that are out there. There have to be some highly qualified coaches out there (minors, junior) who could come in and make a difference. I’m lukewarm on the thought of Tocchet as coach.

    Yes, Letang should be moved. I had hoped for a Jordan Staal-like trade last year before he was signed to a new contract. I know people fawn over his talent, but an offensive defenseman who can’t run a power play? Not worth it. Plus if we have people ready to move up to the next level at a more team-friendly salary and a coach who will help them along when they make mistakes instead of benching them, then this seems like a no-brainer. But time is short to get him out of here before the limited movement clause kicks in with the new contract.

    As much as I hate to think of giving up on a 40-goal scorer, Neal probably should be moved too. He doesn’t fit the “grit and character” mold, especially the latter. Of course, the key to trading both Letang and Neal is to get appropriate value in return. A big test for a presumably rookie GM. Give Ray Shero credit for getting good value in trades on what were considered prize talent (see Whitney for Kunitz and Tangradi, Goligoski for Neal and Niskanen, Staal for Sutter and Dumolin).

    I’m not convinced about resigning Niskanen. It all depends on how much he wants (i.e., is there a “hometown discount”?). If he wants to hit the open market somebody will overpay him. He was worth every penny and more last season and appeared to be a real stand up guy and emerging leader. But was last season’s play part of his growth as a player or an anomaly? The one thing that does strongly favor keeping him is that we could use the veteran presence on the blue line if Letang and Orpik (and possibly Engelland) are gone.

    Agree that Orpik’s time with the team should be over. Thanks for the service over the years and good luck. But it’s time for the team to move on. Jokinen was another crafty pick up by Shero, although based on an emergency need. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing him back, assuming other “grit and character” is brought in. He has a nice versatility that can be useful. However, it doesn’t seem like he has strong ties here, and I suspect that he will get overpaid by somebody else on the open market.

    I haven’t thought about how many draft picks we have left this year, but given the turmoil in the front office, we’ll be glad to get something useful out of this draft between the scouts under fire and having a GM in place only a few weeks prior to the draft.

    I don’t get a good feeling about Morehouse being involved in the hockey side of things. Let’s hope we are proved wrong.

  51. transplant-in-indi says:

    In advance, I’m sorry this is so long. I’m just bored at work, and no one in Indi cares about hockey like I do, so this is going to be about the only outlet I have to talk about it, :)

    1.) On Trading Letang – That is by far the toughest question. A year ago he should have probably won the Norris Trophy. His skill set is pretty unique for a blue liner. Such a good skater, but he’s got that HUGE contract kicking in, along with the injury risk (Man, that was scary, I’m so happy you’re doing better, Tanger!). With recent injuries, he’d probably not yield a lot in return, but that’d give us some cap room to sign some other guys that the new regime may covet. I can see it making sense from a business perspective, and it’s tough to build a huge supporting cast when so much of your cap is going toward 3 players (71 and 87 to go along with 58, duh). I guess I’ll go with everyone else on here and say ‘I guess trade him if the price is right’ but I think my ‘right price’ would be a much bigger return than what most would be willing to pay. My prediction is that he stays, and I’m more than OK with that, despite his injury risks and cap hit.

    2.) Neal – I (Like most others) have been increasingly frustrated with Nealer. I used to really like the guy, but the increasing amount of boneheaded penalties and dirty play combined with streaky play have caused said frustration. However, I don’t know that his net presence is so much the issue. He’s a sniper, pure and simple. Back when Crosby was out, and Kunitz was on the Geno-Neal line, Kunitz was a great net presence, which allowed Neal to snipe away at the perimeter. He and Geno need another winger like that. I’m not saying Englandd is the answer by any means, but i can remember a few times when he was playing wing and by chance was out there with Geno and Neal… his physical presence down low with those two skilled players opened up a few chances for Neal, and even a goal or two for Englandd. THAT’S what Neal needs… that and to stop taking dumb penalties. I say we keep him and make skate in a dress the following game for every dirty hit/offensive zone penalty he’s issued.

    3.) The only reason the lack of the GM is semi irritating right now is because of the quick turnaround. between the end of the season and the draft. The NFL has a few months between the Super Bowl and the draft, where tons of heads come and go. The NHL draft is practically going on the minute the Cup is raised the first time. The quick turnaround doesn’t give ownership lots of time to put the right guy in place, let alone time for him to get acclimated with everything he has (and doesn’t have). But, I’d rather wait and get the right guy in place than a kneejerk reaction hire who we end up giving the boot after one year (I.E. The Cleveland Browns).

    Sorry again for the long post, kids! Have a good weekend.

  52. Well, as Gerrit Cole indicated in his post game interview last night, they played Pirates baseball to a T, although I’d like to know why they couldn’t have done that in other recent games.

  53. Frank says:

    Neal as a net front guy? Dont forget this is the guy who covers his face every time hes skating towards a player with the puck. You think he would risk messing up his pretty face to deflect some pucks in?

  54. Tom says:

    Regardless of how you look at it, the Pens desperately need to get younger. The only players off limits would be Crosby and Malkin. However, the 3 main trade candidates I would put on the table are Martin, Letang and Neal. Each of those players would be able to return a young NHLer and a 1st at the minimum. My asking prices for those would be:

    Neal: young NHL top-9 W, good F prospect and a high 1st
    Letang: young NHL top-9 W, good F prospect and a mid 1st
    Martin: young top-9 W and a mid 1st

    A couple examples would be:

    Neal to Anaheim for Etem, Rakell and the #10 pick

    Letang to Detroit for Tatar, Pulkkinen and the #15 pick

    Martin to Tampa for Killorn and the #19 pick

    Do one of those 3 at the draft, preferably the Letang deal (mainly for cap space). I would then trade Dupuis to anyone for picks. He’s a good player, and it will hurt to lose him, but we can’t afford a $3.75 million 3rd liner. I would amnesty Fleury as well. He was good enough for us this year in both the season and playoffs, but there are cheaper options than Fleury if we’re only going for acceptable.

    With those 2 1sts, I’d draft a winger. Richie, Ho Sang, Virtanen, there are a bunch of good winger prospects at 16. With our 1st, I’d go a different route and draft an OFD. I’ll address why later, but I would draft Honka, Dougherty or Pettersson.
    I would then re-sign Despres ($1 million), Niskanen ($5 million), Megna ($750,000), Vitale ($1 million), Tatar ($1.5 million), Zolnierczyk ($600,000) and Samuelsson ($600,000). We would have this lineup at that point:

    Kunitz-Crosby-XXXX
    XXXX-Malkin-Neal
    Tatar-XXXX-Bennett
    XXXX-Vitale-Megna
    Zolnierczyk-Adams

    Maatta-Martin
    Scuderi-Niskanen
    Despres-Bortuzzo
    Samuelsson

    XXXX-Zatkoff

    With about a $49.75 million payroll, so anywhere from $18.25 to $21.25 million in cap space. The first thing I would fix is goaltending. There are both options in free agency (Hiller, Miller, ect) and trades (Reimer, Niemi, ect). I’d go after Hiller. Sign Hiller for $4.5 million per, the same thing Halak got. Next, we have Malkin’s LW to fix. That’s easy, Kulemin fits what we need for that line like a glove and is BFFs with Malkin. I’d sign him for $3.25 million per. For 3C, there are a couple viable options in free agency (Bolland, Grabovski, ect). I’d pick Grabovski and sign him for $3.5 million (this also satisfies Kulemin if the rumors about him wanting to play with Grabovski is true). For the LW spot on the 4th line, I would try to sign a gritty and big grinder for that spot. Boyle would be optimal, but someone else would offer him more money and a greater role than Pittsburgh. I’d spend up to $1.5 million on that spot. We would have $62.5 million tied up in the entire roster (so $5.5 to $8.5 million in cap space).

    At this point, we need a RW for Crosby. If you read the entire thing, you would have noticed Sutter, a RFA, is unsigned. He would be the main trade chip to getting Crosby’s RW. The name I’d go after is Kesler. He put up 40 in 10-11 on a line with the Sedins, so I can’t see him not hitting 30 in that spot. He would also add Selke level defense, character and responsibility to the team. Sutter and our 2015 pick would obviously be the start, but we would need to add another piece. Pulkkinen could be an attractive piece for Vancouver as well, but I included him in the Letang deal for a reason and wouldn’t want to lose him. I’d offer Sutter, Pouliot and a 2015 1st for Kesler. That is why I would draft an OFD with the Pens 1st rounder in 2014. At that point, our lineup would be:

    Kunitz-Crosby-Kesler
    Kulemin-Malkin-Neal
    Tatar-Grabovski-Bennett
    4th liner-Vitale-Megna
    Zolnierczyk-Adams

    Maatta-Martin
    Scuderi-Niskanen
    Despres-Bortuzzo
    Samuelsson

    Hiller-Zatkoff

    With likely around $2 million in cap space. Boom

  55. bpn8pitt says:

    JAL had a link yesterday, about the possibility of trading Harrison. Think it was on Rumbunter. Not sure what he would garner much in return, but I would sell high if he’s playing well in late July and they are done by then.

    Puig strikes me as one of those million dollar talents with a 10 cent head.

  56. Nate83 says:

    They are extremely impressive plays. It is really hard to fully appreciate how important plays like those are. Swinging bunt hits can be very frustrating for a pitcher to give up. How many times throughout the season do you see teams score a run without actually hitting a ball hard.

    Martin definately showed his value last night. It seems like the Pirates probably have a two year gap between catchers coming up next year. It would be very nice to somehow extent him for two more years especially with some young pitchers coming up in the next couple of years. If they money they didn’t spend on Loney or AJ this off season goes towards Martin being around to handle the pitching staff for two or three more years I am completely OK with that.

  57. bpn8pitt says:

    I hope they keep Martin through the deadline and make him the QO. At least buy some more time to explore other options. And if he says no, I think someone does nab him and they get the pick.

    Was it Groat or someone else that heard they were talking about T. Sanchez on the NH Sunday show? Meaning hes the future, 2015?

    Very, very intersted how they handle this.

  58. Jandy says:

    How old is Puig, Jim?

  59. Dom says:

    Nobody would be foolish enough to give up a top prospect or anything remotely close to that for him.

  60. Jim S. says:

    2013 Pirates baseball, James. We haven’t seen that in 2014 very often.

  61. JohnS says:

    Jim, I really think so much of baseball starts right there. Having a good defensive team gives confidence to pitchers to not nibble. When pitchers throw strikes defensive players are on their toes. Good defensive innings often lead to good offensive innings. Everything can kind of self perpetuate.

  62. Jordan White says:

    Good post. I like your logic on #1.

  63. Jim S. says:

    I agree, Nate. Unfortunately, Martin will want paid. That usually doesn’t end well for the Bucs. But, as some here have said, there still may not be many organizations who value a defense-first catcher as much as the Bucs do. So, maybe they could spend some of that found Polanco money on Martin for 15/16/17. I don’t think he’d do a 2 year deal again. 3, maybe, but not 2. In my mind, though, Sanchez is a huge dropoff from Martin.

  64. Thundercrack says:

    When Martin signed here he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the money that was out in the market for him –especially that the Yankees didn’t offer him a deal. He wasn’t exactly coming off a great year either.

    He said he was happy to be here but would rebuild his value and go back on the free agent market after this 2 year deal.

    He has rebuilt his value and maybe he has already told the FO that he is sticking with his plan.

    I do hope they resign him. And they should definitely offer the QO (unless of course Martin says it’s the Pirates or retire :-) )

  65. Jordan White says:

    Sound logic. Well said.

  66. Poole says:

    ++++

    That’s exactly what I was saying about Letang at 7.25 million >>>>> Niskanen at 5.5 or 6 million.

    Niskanen is a perfect complimentary piece. Steady. Plays well on the Powerplay as a right hand shot. Those are coveted assets to some degree. But he is not worth it 6 million freaking dollars. And I agree he will never have a season better than this previous one. Brooks Orpik in his prime was making $3.7 million. And yes, I know, don’t compare old contracts to new ones….but the point is Orpik was a top 1 shutdown defenseman. And when we won the cup in ’09 we had a balanced defensive core on balanced salaries. Niskanen, at the end of the day, is a 4th or 5th defenseman on a cup team. The only reason to keep Nisky is to have a 1 year placeholder before the kids get here. Everything else is overpayment.

    Obviously, by this logic, Scuderi should be traded to anyone willing to take his salary. A low draft pick would be fine. We can’t have a 3rd pairing defenseman making as much as our top line wingers.

  67. 21sthebest says:

    I think he’s younger than Tabata.

  68. Jim S. says:

    I’m with you, John. I think conventional wisdom is the SS is the most important defensive player on the field. In my mind, the catcher is easily the most important. They manage the game. There is a dramatic difference between good and bad catchers, and I think it has a huge impact on a team’s fortunes over the course of a season.

    We have young guys like Cole, Taillon, Kingham, Cumpton, Sadler, Rodriguez, Glasnow, etc here already or coming up over the next couple of years. I don’t trust Tony Sanchez with that responsibility.

  69. Thundercrack says:

    Can we trade Harrison for Polanco?!

    Hey-now……….

  70. Jim S. says:

    From what I can find, he turned 23 in December, Jandy.

  71. radio wave says:

    A nice spring day, a rare Pirates win in LA and my Rangers in the cup finals.

  72. Patrick(RI) says:

    Nice post. Opinion based upon observation and examples. Don’t you know this is a blog?

  73. Jandy says:

    He should improve as well then.

  74. Jim S. says:

    I don’t think anyone is fooled into thinking Harrison is a full-time OF. I can’t see him starting anywhere but 2b. Even there, I don’t think the defense is good enough for everyday play.

    But, you can get 75 starts at various positions by playing the super-sub role.

  75. Patrick(RI) says:

    this was supposed to respond to Jim’s Harrison post, above.

  76. Robert says:

    James Neal needs to stay. Right now, that kind of scoring is a bargain. And his game would elevate if they can get a legit power forward for that line. Marion Gaborik’s production with Brown & Pearson opposite of him is exhibit A. Take away the need for him to be an enforcer (not in the fighting sense) and he’ll excel. Just my opinion, though.

    After starting 10-18 (a bad, ok, really bad month), the Pirates are 14-11 in their last 25. If they continue at that modest pace, the Pirates would finish 85-77. That would be the second consecutive for a team that’s 27th in revenue and, as a result, 27th in Major League roster payroll (information DK keeps repeating). The inability to accept that in favor of this “cheap” narrative means you should probably start rooting for the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, or Dodgers. There are still issues, largely the starting pitching and inconsistent bullpen, but improvement in the record is important on any number of levels. Winning is one of those things in which the result matters more than how you get there, cheating not included.

  77. bpn8pitt says:

    Like Jim said below, just dont trust T. Sanchez with developing young pitchers coming up.

    He’s a funny case too, because it looks like he’s going to have a decent stick. Just no position.

  78. Jim S. says:

    Oh yeah, Jandy. He’s just getting started, I think.

  79. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, Patrick!

  80. Nate83 says:

    His current contract is for 8.5 per year. I agree it probably takes three years to keep him. I personally wouldn’t be opposed to the same value per year. 3 years for 25.5 million. I don’t think he increased his value all that much on the open market while with the Pirates and he is two years older and for a catcher that has to be considered.

    I honestly don’t think there is a more important position for the Pirates to have a competant player at over the next 3 years. With all the young pitchers I want someone back there they can trust not someone learning on the job with them.

    The interesting question is would you rather them extend Walker or Martin? I personally lean towards Martin.

  81. AJS says:

    So keep 58, an overhyped, no work ethic “offensive” defenseman for a penchant for turning the puck over on the breakout from behind his own net, who has more shots fly over the net than into it or even near it, can’t run the PP effectively, and has health questions and a bloated contract but get rid of Niskanen a no nonsense hard working defenseman who shows flashes of offensive skill and plays responsible defense because the young guys need a shot?

    I’ll keep Nisky, trade Lerang and still create that spot for that young defenseman to occupy on the roster.

    As for Neal, I agree 40-goal scorers are hard to come by, but Dejan is right, this team has plenty of perimeter scoring. Trade the perimeter guy to someone who has too many crash the net guys and not enough perimeter guys. Strength for strength trades are always the best for both sides.

  82. Dom says:

    How do you all like the Buccos chances against Josh Beckett tonight?

    What are the odds we pull out a victory>?

  83. Dom says:

    Are you impersonating Hank Kingsley?

  84. AJS says:

    Gerritt Cole.

    A strong effort from a starter who looked like one of the guys we saw trotting out to the mound night in and night last year.

    that’s why they won that game.

    The offense scored 6 which is somewhat rare, but the pitching was the key lst night. He was histypical self. A little shaky early, settled in, dominated for the next couple innings and then was lifted in the seventh after being given a shot to go back out there and get it done.

    If we get a start like that from frankie tonight, just imagine what this team could be with Frankie even remotely close to his performance from last year and Cole doing what he just did every fifth day.

    And if Cumpton keeps cranking out workman like 5 inning quality starts, then the sky is the limit.

    Starting pitching. Starting pitching. Starting pitching.

  85. AJS says:

    Absolutely the trade of LeTang is not about what you get in that trade, it is about what you get in that trade plus the player you sign with the extra cash.

  86. Jim S. says:

    Boy, I would love for 3/$25.5 to get it done, Nate. I hope you are right about that. If so, the Bucs need to jump on it. I’m thinking some team will bite at 3 x 8 digits. I don’t know how high it will go, but I would think he will get over $30M for 3. But, maybe not.

    I also believe how the team finishes may play some role. I know money and location tend to be more important, but I think he wants to win. If he feels the next few years will be more like ’13 than ’14 so far, I think it gives us a better shot.

    If Walker can’t play 3b (to replace El Toro) then there is probably not a burning need to extend him before Martin. He’s a good producing 2b, offensively, but those can be found easier than a gold glove-caliber catcher.

  87. Nate83 says:

    I’m not sure at two years older the money would be much more then it was when he signed with the Pirates. Although .211 will scare teams off. Hitting .240-.250 when added to his ++defense my raise his value a good amount. Plus I have a feeling money is going to be thrown around like crazy going forward. I also think it’s a weak free agent class for catchers. I think the Pirates would go 10+ million for 2 years but they have always been reluctant to add a 3rd year to any free agent.

    I do have a feeling NH values a defensive catcher very much and could be willing to take a leap of faith and go 3 years. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  88. I guess that’s why we should enjoy every Pirates win while we can.

  89. JohnS says:

    Lord knows we have seen our share of bad catchers lately. Just think about still having Doumit and he being the guy to bring along a young pitching staff.

  90. bpn8pitt says:

    I dont think Beckett is what he once was, but in that ballpark, he’ll be tough.

    Not sure if you saw Collmenter for the Snakes last night, but he may have been as dominant as Beckett was during his no-hitter. Threw under 100 pitches, 4 DPs and faced the minimum batters.

    I always like the Pirates chances when they have Cole on the mound. He hasnt been dominant, but provided they score 4 runs or more, I think we have a shot.

    I think Dejan said a day or two ago, this is a big start for Liriano. Not sure what they are going to do if he gets shelled again.

  91. 21sthebest says:

    I’m thinking he has increased his value out of our price range, especially if there’s a larger market team that needs a starting catcher. I have no idea if he’d take a discount to stay here but if a larger market team wants him for more dollars, that plus probably having a better chance of winning a World Series are working heavily against us, IMO.

  92. Jim S. says:

    Beckett is always tough to gauge, Dom. He’s up and down, and often injured. He seems to be throwing very well this year. But, the Bucs brought out the bats last night, which I thought was a good thing after a long flight. They hit a lot of hard balls. Beckett has been known to surrender the long balls. Wouldn’t surprise me if Pedro went long on him early again, and maybe someone like Walker.

    Beckett threw 128 pitches, I think, in the no no.

  93. Jim S. says:

    Doumit behind the dish – UGH!! He made Sanchez look like Yadi.

  94. 21sthebest says:

    Interest tidbit. Dodger catcher Drew Butera caught both of tonight’s starting pitcher’s no hitters.

  95. Jim S. says:

    +++, 21.

  96. Jim S. says:

    He turned 31 in Feb, FWIW.

  97. Baywatch says:

    Just looking over his game-by-game stats, he’s fallible. In GENERAL, looks like he’s pitching better this year, but it’s been up and down. Game before last he gave up 8 hits and 4 runs. He’s also given up 7 home runs.

  98. Jim S. says:

    Nice reference, Dom. I liked that Garry Shandling show.

  99. Baywatch says:

    That IS interesting!

  100. bpn8pitt says:

    Back to the Martin for a second…if you guys had to guess what he would get on the open market, what would it be? I dont know if he’s Yadier Molina, but they are around the same age and in 2012 he got 5 years/75 million through 2017. Martin’s got to be in the 50-60 million range at least right?

  101. JohninOshkosh says:

    I’m tired. Two nights ago I was up late, or at least late by middle age standards, to watch the Kings/Hawks game. The first OT was sensational. Got my adrenaline going, though, and I had trouble sleeping. Doctor forgot to give me a script for Ambien at my last physical. That stuff is the Achilles Heel of insomnia!

    Last night stayed up and listened to the Buccos on satellite radio. Worth it, though, with the win. Didn’t see it last night but Dodger Stadium is one of my favorite places to see on Earth. Just beautiful.

    Naps are frowned upon in this establishment.

    @radiowave. Congrats, friend. Another two decade streak for one of your teams is broken!

  102. Jandy says:

    I was pulling for your Rangers, radio. congrats!

  103. Nate83 says:

    I can’t imagine he gets more then 3 year 36 million. I love Martin but he can’t be compared to Molina who is an MVP candidate almost every year. Martin struggles to get his average above .240.

  104. Jim S. says:

    Great post, Osh! I’m running on fumes also for the same reason. And, my son’s baseball team has 5 games this weekend. Plus, the Bucs are on the W Coast.

    Oh well, in the immortal words of the late, great Warren Zevon, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

  105. radio wave says:

    Hate the Dodgers love their radio crew. Never been there, are the hot dogs as good as they claim?

  106. Jim S. says:

    Nate’s 3/36 estimate is around what I was thinking. But, just when you think things are reasonable, some desperate big money organization throws a ton of dough at a guy just to make sure they fix a problem.

  107. JohninOshkosh says:

    …or the Beastie Boys memorable mantra, “No Sleep till Brooklyn!”…

  108. Jim S. says:

    Thanks for that bit of Friday tid, 26.2.

  109. JohninOshkosh says:

    No. Overrated!

  110. Jim S. says:

    Agreed. I have only been to Dodger Stadium once, and it was about 15 years ago. But, if they are the same now as then, they’re just hot dogs.

  111. JohninOshkosh says:

    And, believe me, I live in Wisconsin. I know my processed cured meats.

  112. Poole says:

    Copying this again as last post is stuck awaiting moderation…

    ++++

    That’s exactly what I was saying about Letang at 7.25 million >>>>> Niskanen at 5.5 or 6 million.

    Niskanen is a perfect complimentary piece. Steady. Plays well on the Powerplay as a right hand shot. Those are coveted assets to some degree. But he is not worth it 6 million freaking dollars. And I agree he will never have a season better than this previous one. Brooks Orpik in his prime was making $3.7 million. And yes, I know, don’t compare old contracts to new ones….but the point is Orpik was a top 1 shutdown defenseman. And when we won the cup in ’09 we had a balanced defensive core on balanced salaries. Niskanen, at the end of the day, is a 4th or 5th defenseman on a cup team. The only reason to keep Nisky is to have a 1 year placeholder before the kids get here. Everything else is overpayment.

    Obviously, by this logic, Scuderi should be traded to anyone willing to take his salary. A low draft pick would be fine. We can’t have a 3rd pairing defenseman making as much as our top line wingers.

  113. JohnS says:

    Hard to believe that Willie stills has the longest HR hit at Dodger Stadium (507 feet) from 1969.

    I have nver been there but it looks like a great setting to watch a game.

  114. GAWTS2009 says:

    I agree completly! I do think someone out there is willing to give up too much for letang.

  115. Jim S. says:

    +++

  116. GAWTS2009 says:

    Love the post buggee

  117. Jim S. says:

    Beautiful setting, John. I would recommend it.

  118. bpn8pitt says:

    Yeah. Seems these days its that extra 4th or 5th year that seals the deal these days. I agree with Nate thats probably what hes worth, but more money seems to kick in for teams next year too.

  119. NMR says:

    Can’t forget that the Pirates hold the upper hand with the ability to make a qualifying offer.

    Really can’t imagine a team giving up a first round pick while also paying him more than $12m-15m per year.

  120. 21sthebest says:

    Saw it in the paper this morning.

  121. Jim S. says:

    Hey, Bay! It’s amazing how a day can change perspective in this sport. I was as down as I thought I could get with this team on Wed. They had seemed to be finally mounting a run for .500 last weekend through Mem Day. Then, they looked putrid on Tues/Wed. Then, last night was one of their best games of the year against a very good team in House of Horrors II.

    So, I’m thinking the bats will stay hot and they will put 5 or 6 on the board tonight again. Frankie has to finally deliver a shut down performance, right?

  122. NMR says:

    And I believe there were rumors that Martin turned down 4/$40m from the Yankees the winter before his FA year, fwiw.

  123. Milo Hamilton says:

    You know what really makes a Dodger Dog a Dodger Dog ? The view.

  124. Jim S. says:

    Trib, no doubt.

  125. Jim S. says:

    Stop injecting facts and logic into our fantasy discussion where we get to just throw numbers around, please! ;-)

  126. JohnS says:

    I am not sure where his value would sit. One thing is not only is he hitting for a low average but his power numbers are also down. You can expect an OPS of .750 or less.

    Right now he is at $8.5 a year is he really at a point where he would jump to $12 per year?

  127. Thundercrack says:

    ‘I live in Wisconsin. I know my processed cured meats.’

    Line of the Day….and worthy of being on a t-shirt

  128. Jim S. says:

    Ain’t that the truth!

  129. NMR says:

    Martin should be a no-brainer QO candidate, but again, only if the team actually wants him.

    Just no way he gets more than $15m/yr with a draft pick attached, and probably not even $12m.

  130. 21sthebest says:

    I could see Martin getting that Nate. That’s about a 40% increase from where he is now, btw.

  131. mike says:

    i keep letang and niskanen….trade martin-his value might never be higher and he’s been a constant in these playoff flameouts. neal and malkin were at their best when they had kunitz with them…they need a semi-rugged winger that will get to the net and let geno and neal keep firing. tough to blame the playoff power play on neal when he spent most of the time on the 2nd unit.

  132. Milo Hamilton says:

    Ray Charles was awesome.

  133. 21sthebest says:

    5 in one weekend? How old?

    Don’t get me started.

  134. MarkV says:

    DK – Great article. Lays out the problems nicely. Its nice to say we need more grit and character, but would someone spell out just who is available that would fit the “grit and character” requirements? Are we talking just third or fourth line players or someone with some offensive capabilities to play in the top six? Then maybe we could decide if trading or not resigning our current players make sense.

  135. 21sthebest says:

    Saw a game there late 80′s and I thought it was a very underrated ballpark.

    Jerry Seinfeld was in the row in front of us, btw. :-) Caught him eating a Dodger Dog.

  136. Jim S. says:

    I’ve been known to stop at the Mars Cheese Castle on trips to/from Milwaukee, Osh. I assume you’ve been to that place in Kenosha?

  137. NMR says:

    I think it probably depends on how analytical his suitors are, John.

    You’re correct that Martin’s power numbers have dropped with the Pirates, but there’s pretty strong evidence that it has been due to playing half his games in PNC Park than his actual skill declining.

    Martin has 6 HR at home and 12 on the road since joining the Pirates. Wouldn’t be surprised if his power numbers bounced back to Yankee days in the right setting.

    At least initially, that is. Russell Martin at 31 is going to be a different hitter than Russell Martin at 34.

  138. Milo Hamilton says:

    We’ve got kind of a Southern California morning going on here in Western PA. Looks like it’s going to be beautiful after the marine layer burns off.

  139. Jim S. says:

    12U. 1 tonight, 2 tomorrow, 2 on Sunday if we get to the finals. Actually only 3 guaranteed. Tournament play.

  140. Mostly, I’ll be interested in seeing how well JHey can hit Beckett, who had few problems getting through the punchless Phillies lineup.

  141. NMR says:

    Like the one he delivered two starts ago in Milwaukee? Yeah, I think he’s got it in him.

  142. Jim S. says:

    It frightens me to think they wouldn’t want him, but nothing surprises me these days in that regard. The evidence that they need his glove and leadership seems obvious.

    I think he’s more important than keeping AJ was last year.

  143. Nate83 says:

    I agree giving him the QO will lower the value he will get from other teams and Martin knows that after watching Drew and Moralas this year. I still don’t think I guy batting below .250 gets more then 3 years from anyone especially at the catching postion where there can be a huge drop off with age. Martin keeps himself in great shape but 4 or 5 years would be risky for any team. Even ones that have money to throw away. I don’t know where Martin ranks offensively among catchers but I don’t think it’s top 10. Maybe just outside the top 10.

  144. Jim S. says:

    I don’t think there have been many good outings this year from him.

  145. Nate83 says:

    I agree Martin’s value might never be higher but the only constant he has been during the playoffs is good. Getting rid of one of the few defenseman that is sound with the puck and plays the body instead of trying to pick the puck off the oppenents stick putting his team in trouble seems odd to me.

  146. Poole says:

    Agree emphatically to your first point. Martin embodies a youth movement. Although if the return on Letang isn’t huge, I keep him. I know Martin is a great player. But as DK likes to point out, you have to give up value to get value. We are not trading Scuderi for anything valuable (as Tomlin says OBVIOUSLY). Martin will eventually regress in play and I personally don’t think we should extend him for 4 or 5 more years given his age and injury issues. Niskanen locked up at 5 mil for 5 years will work better in the long term than Martin locked up up at 5 for a 5 years. Lots of teams will pay big for a top 2 defender, even if he only has 1 year remaining on his contract. I don’t like Orpik potentially walking away for nothing. I don’t like Niskanen potentially walking away for nothing. I didn’t like Talbot walking away for nothing. It’s like buying a car. Trade in your used vehicle while it still has value. Don’t let it break down for nothing.

  147. 21sthebest says:

    Alright well given that it’s a tournament, I guess that’s reasonable. That brings back memories though of long summer days on the weekend. Looking back, I probably should have hung out with the Dad’s that sat on the other side of the outfield fences with their coolers.

  148. 21sthebest says:

    Hmmm.

  149. JohninOshkosh says:

    Hell yeah, Jimmy! One of the few places on Earth you can get a summer sausage sandwich.

    TBS used to have a nice sitcom called “My Boys” (starring the lovely Jordana Spiro). Took place in Chicago. On one of the episodes the gang was going to take the character played by the great Jim Gaffigan to special places for his birthday. One of the character said, “We are taking you to one of your favorite places.” Gaffigan responded, “The Mars Cheese Castle ?”

    Fell off my couch!

    Must stop on the border when heading to Chicago! Along with the Lake Forest Oasis a little ways down the tollway!

  150. NMR says:

    Absolutely, 100% agree with that, Jim.

    I understand the argument that they won’t give Martin the money because they didn’t give AJ the money. I really do.

    But I just think the situations are very, very different. The Pirates were fairly easily able to delude themselves into thinking they didn’t rreeeaaallly need AJ. Cole, Liriano, with Taillon on the way. Surely they could get by for a few months, right?

    Completely different situation at catcher. FO has already shown they don’t trust Sanchez’s defense, and they’ve been proven correct this year. And no Josh Johnson’s at catcher on the free agent market, either.

    Just aren’t a ton of positions to spend money on this winter, so catcher seems like a fairly logical place.

  151. Poole says:

    As far as free agents go, Nikolai Kulemin is a perfect grit and character 3rd line guy in my eyes. He can slide up to Malkin’s line if Bennett is struggling or, um, has a broken wrist. In the trade market, man, theres a million ways you could go. As I said earlier…Neal + small piece for T.J. Oshie would be the kind of move I would try to make.

    The key to getting grit and character contributers comes down to drafting those types.

  152. NMR says:

    I know you don’t.

  153. mike says:

    here’s my thinking nate; martin has 1 year left….i agree he’s been good, but that likely places his value at 4-6 million over 4 years on his next deal….at 34 years of age….
    he’s their 1 guy (neal is the other) that you can get good value out of at this point….i don’t want to trade away a 40 goal guy….IMO they need to upgrade that 2nd line wing (not upgrade from juice, but the style of guy that’s there)

    you aren’t keeping martin past this year at a number like that, it makes no sense to trade letang and keep martin at that number….trade him now, go with all the kids shero has stockpiled on D….

    edmonton is a team with nice young talent that needs some help on D….just a thought

  154. JohninOshkosh says:

    ++++

    Looks like it will be the prettiest day of 2014 here today. Flowers in bloom. Mosquitoes haven’t quite fully hatched yet. Gorgeous.

  155. Jim S. says:

    Jim “Hot pockets” Gaffigan? One of my favorite comedians.

    The Cheese Castle is a must stop. I mean – good smoked meat, good cheese, good beer, good people. Does it get any better? Wisconsin is a wonderful state.

  156. Milo Hamilton says:

    Remember, in a salary cap league free agents don’t walk away for “nothing”. They leave valuable cap space behind.

  157. NMR says:

    I also think people may be overvaluing Martin by assuming that defense is constant.

    It is not. Defensive performance can be just as variable as offense.

    Last year Martin gained the majority of his value defensively, in large part due to 16 defensive runs saved.

    The previous year with the Yankees his DRS was -6. Never was more than +7 in the four years before that.

  158. Poole says:

    Keep in mind the worst case scenario, IMO, is keeping all three (Letang, Niskanen, and Martin). I think Niskanen should walk if he doesn’t take a big discount. Maybe we can get a 3rd rounder for his rights? He is head and shoulders above the other UFA’s on the market so someone may be desperate and would want to give up an asset to attain his rights. Think back to when Shero acquired the rights to Hamhuis. Even though we didn’t sign him, we knew right away we couldnt sign him and thats the advantaged we gained to go get Martin before anyone else.

  159. Milo Hamilton says:

    I just saw the other day that there is still ice on Lake Superior. This global warming thing isn’t working out so well.

  160. NMR says:

    Pedro Alvarez through May 30th each of the last three years…

    2012: .205/.263/.424 8 HR, 24 RBI, 34%K / 8%BB
    2013: .200/.257/.406 10 HR, 29 RBI, 34%K / 7%BB
    2014: .221/.306/.395 10 HR, 28 RBI, 22%K / 11%BB

    *heads explode*

  161. mike says:

    i keep niskanen too, if you wish you can try to trade orpik’s negotiating rights to a team for a pick. buffalo may have some interest still. no sense trading letang just to free up space….if you aren’t getting 2-3 NHL players for him you don’t do it. you were never paying him 7 million for the next 2-3 years; you’re paying him for the time he’s at his peak….besides that number will like pretty good in over the course of the contract based on the salary cap trending up…. that is a HUGE factor to keep in mind, you don’t want to waste this season, but they have 15million to fill out the roster…letang, geno, sid and neal come at fixed costst for the next 4-11 seasons when the cap is going to continue to rise. spend you money wisely and bring in some sandpaper and guts….

    a d core of letang, niskanen, maata, doumlin, scuds and despres would look ok next year….

  162. Milo Hamilton says:

    It’s as if Pavlov’s Dog never existed. :)

  163. mike says:

    oshie+a piece(s) for neal would sound better to me….he’s a nice player but not somebody to overpay for

  164. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, we only play that many games on tournament weekends. We basically play a tournament about half of the weekends through mid-July. We’ll have a weekday game most weeks, then a Saturday and Sunday game on weekends without tourneys.

    I know what you mean about coaching vs spectating. I’ve been on both sides. The dads with the coolers are having more fun. I had a lot more fun at the actual games when my daughter played travel soccer because I was just a spectator. Coaching is a lot of work.

  165. cmat0829 says:

    agreed. they now have 3 chances to win 1 game and get the split. Remember this team is now 5-19 since 2007 in Dodgers Stadium, including that win last night. So it’s a tough place for them.

  166. NMR says:

    Excellent. Let’s use that to replace all the ice we’re losing in the artic.

  167. mike says:

    very true milo…..shero stockpiled Dmen (and at least harrington, despres, pouliot, doumlin and littly sammy look like they can play in the NHL). find the ones you want to build with going forward and use some others as currency to land yourself something good.

  168. Jim S. says:

    I have to give it to you for that post, NMR. I know he has gotten off to some rough starts. But, I thought it was usually over by now. I guess this is just the normal Pedro.

    But, he has left a ton of guys on base.

  169. Jim S. says:

    You’re juggling Martins today, Nate. ;-)

  170. cmat0829 says:

    Not sure how much improvement he needs physically but not sure he is gonna be capable of not doing the “overamped” dumb things like he did last night in throwing home and letting the runner take 2b on the throw home. The Dodgers have counselled him a ton and he ‘promises to do better’ and then he goes back and does it again. It isn’t a fatal flaw, but they will have to just live with it. Like the Brewers do with Carlos Gomez.

  171. cmat0829 says:

    Not sure who rumbunter is, but the credibility is basically NIL if he/she is saying that JayHey has ANY trade value at all. He is a utility player, and the Pirates need one of those, so even if they are out of it in July, trading a low-cost, controllable player who fills a need would make zero sense for the Pirates as well. Can anyone post just about any type of rumor and get traction nowadays?

  172. Jim S. says:

    Exactly!

    And, the huge Polanco money savings is a given as well. :-)

  173. Thundercrack says:

    What is his RISP?

    And just because the numbers are similar it doesn’t mean we have to like them.

  174. Poole says:

    Agree with your logic again. To reiterate, I only keep Niskanen if we trade Martin, which I am in favor of. And to your broader point, Letang’s contract is fair market value. Its not nearly as bad as some like to say. In a few years, with the cap going up, the contract will look just fine.

    I’m also comfortable with the d core you listed above. Don’t forget Pouliot who many think is NHL ready.

  175. cmat0829 says:

    Bingo and spot-on Jim. Playing everyday will expose any utility player’s shortcomings, and we are definitely seeing that JayHey hustles and does the absolute best he can in the field, but he is a slightly below average defensive outfielder at best. I know some will point to his diving catches as proof against that, but sometimes dives can cover for not being on the right route or with a quick enough jump in the first place. I’m not hating on JayHey, just being realistic.

    That said, I absolutely give him RF until Polanco arrives, and I’m sticking with Friday June 13 on that and we’ll see how close that is to reality.

  176. bpn8pitt says:

    I didnt say they would get much for him. Just get what they could for a bench guy. Maybe someone has a SS to spare at AAA thats worth a look.

  177. lupesanchez says:

    1. Yes, Letang and Neal are the first two players that I would deal. In fact, I would have traded Tanger last off-season, but I digress. His skill and speed do not make up for the defensive lapses sloppy play come postseason. That contract is just another reason to trade him. I think he could be a better fit on another team and the Pens could get a couple of tough forwards for him.

    2. Neal’s gotta go too. He is invisible in the playoffs, and a player of his size should get in front of the net, not take countless low angle shots that the likes of Lundqvist can turn away in his sleep. Too many stupid penalties, cheap shits. Like, Letang, his 40-goal potential would be a strong selling point.

    3. Sometime next week, i’d say. The draft is getting close, and this is just awkward for Bylsma. Not fair to him.

  178. NMR says:

    Who asked you to like them?

  179. bpn8pitt says:

    JAL posts links from Rumbunter often. Maybe you should read a bit more, slick.

  180. Jim S. says:

    Seriously, though, do you think he has been a dependable starter this year? I realize he has not been as bad as it seems. His 5+ ERA is deceiving. But, he’s averaging just over 5 innings per start. More hits than innings. Walks way up. Hits way up. HR doubled. 1.5 WHIP. And, it doesn’t seem to be getting better to me. He seems to be at 60 pitches in the 3rd inning most starts.

    I really like the guy. I loved the original signing. He was great last year. But, there has been a big dropoff this year.

    You’re my “talk me off the ledge” guy when I get rash about these things.

  181. NMR says:

    He’s also driven in 15 runs that WEREN’T in scoring position.

    Do they count for more points if they are?

  182. lupesanchez says:

    I don’t think the Neal/Letang deals are a pipe dream per se, though Tanger would be a lot more attractive without that contract and his health issues, for sure. Could have gotten a star for him last year this time. Now, I’d be satisfied with a couple of tough, low-profile forwards.

    I think James Neal is the more attractive player if I’m another GM. He’s big, skilled and capable of scoring 40+ goals. He’s perfect for a team that thinks a change of venue would do him good, or a tougher coach, to DK’s point. Personally, I just don’t think he’s worth the stupid penalties and the chance of him disappearing in the playoffs anymore.

  183. buggee says:

    JandyLion!!! That’s still a little up in the air; the target departure date has been moved back to July 1. We’re dialoguing with the powers-that-be about bringing in Habitat for Humanity teams to pore through Tacloban–which still looks like it’s been flattened by a 100-square-mile anvil. Aid and supplies trickling through, primarily handled by the Catholic church, which is a huge presence there. One building is up and fully restored. A church. While tens of thousands live in filth without running water. I could go on but that stuff aint for this blog!

    Anyhoo, appreciate you asking jandyLion. You’ll still have me around a bit for my wonderful and totally insightful, irreverent, esoteric, non-sequitorial brand of humor.

    Say all dat 5 times fast ‘n’ ‘at

  184. tdb1977 says:

    There is a position for him…ship him to the AL so he can become a DH.

  185. cmat0829 says:

    1. Martin will be sought after in the FA market, quite a few teams need catchers and he will be the biggest name out there.

    2. Bucs should absolutely tender the QO to give them the best shot to re-sign him.
    3. The posts that Martin is ‘out of their price range’ are not accurate. I think they are basing that on history and on NH’s comments about not having too much $ in one player…. which is fine… but they CAN indeed pay more for Martin if they want to.
    4. If there is any position/player where NH will indeed pay more I think it is Russell Martin. Remember he is the ONE case where the Pirates actually outbid someone else… so if precedent is gonna be shattered, it will be to re-sign Russell Martin. The cornerstone of NH’s philosophy is to have a top-notch defensive catcher for the impact on the pitching overall and ability to control the games…. I can see not giving $14M to one pitcher, but that is not the same as giving it to the all-important catcher.
    5. When Stewart was acquired, based on his reputation, I supported the move… to give Tony a full season of AAA preparation on his defense… the more I watch Stewart, and appreciate Tony’s bat, I wonder it Tony not better served being in Pitt and learning every day from Russell Martin, and getting the 1 start a week in the bigs to keep progressing……

  186. Maz in Iowa says:

    I wonder how many pitchers have Tommy John surgery eating at the back of their minds these days as they warm up for their next appearance?It’s gotta be a concern for many of them.

  187. cmat0829 says:

    well, this can go one of a few ways…. he did just pitch a no-no but he did have to throw about 128 pitches or so… a lot of times, this affects the pitcher the next game out… and we can hope it goes that way.

    On the other hand, Dodgers Stadium is a great pitcher’s park and if he pitches like he did last week, we will have to scratch for a run or two. I’d like the same approach as last night vs. Haren….

  188. Andrew says:

    Scott, well said on Niskanen, you echo my thoughts on trading Letang to sign Niskanen. In a market were the Flyers resign Andrew MacDonald for a $5 million cap hit, that is the floor for Niskanen.

    I think Niskanen true talent level at best, 3rd or 4th on a contending team, Poole he is certainty better than third pairing. He had a PDO of 103.1 and the 4th highest on ice shooting percentage for defensemen this season, that is going to regress and regress hard. Niskanen will be paid in excess of his value and the Penguins would be trading Letang at the nadir of his value.

  189. Poole says:

    and I would be very happy to have Rob Scuderi’s cap space back :-)

    but in the case of ‘star’ players like Orpik/Niskanen/Martin, I’d rather reallocate that cap space towards players we trade for or draft picks. Is it more important that we had Brooks Orpik this year and then got cap relief? Or if we traded him last year for a young top 6 winger/prospect who gave us cap space in the interim and also a prospect in the system?

  190. bpn8pitt says:

    Is the defense the same too?

    Ive pretty much accepted the Pirates are going to have to deal with Good Pedro and Bad Pedro at the plate. Its Bad Pedro airmailing 1B or kicking a ball in the field on top of those 1-20 stretches that kills me.

  191. Thundercrack says:

    No. They count for one point.

    But those times he whiffs with runners on, or hits the 3 hopper to the right side with runners on, or can’t hit a sac fly….those count as zero points.

    And yes, so do the ones when he hits a line drive out.

  192. Poole says:

    Well, sign me up, that’s a no brainer. I just think Oshie’s ‘grit and character’ will cost a little bit of a premium over Neal’s lack of character, all else being equal. Maybe there is no deal to be made if we have to overpay but thats the type of move I’d look to make.

  193. cmat0829 says:

    I was thinking that last night when I saw Pedro’s average was up to .221… in years past I remember rooting for that hot streak to get his embarrassing average over .200…. I think 3 things are conspiring against Pedro in 2014 in terms of perception:

    1) How teams are pitching around Cutch, so obviously different in 2014. Pedro gets most of the blame for that.
    2) Seems like, don’t know the stats, but it seems like he is leaving more runners on base this season.
    3) Pretty awful defense, especially throwing errors.
    4) Maybe most importantly, the team 24-29…. winning cures everything, losing brings out all the warts.

    Pedro is one Pedro hot streak away from us striking up the ‘extend Pedro now’ discussion… which I think we last had in April around these parts, didn’t we? I think the blog pulse was ‘get it done, Nutting’ shortly followed by “it’ll never happen, Boras too greedy and Nutting too cheap”. Good thing DK doesn’t save the archives because we’ve neatly turned the page to “get rid of the bum” and done so without shame.

  194. Andrew says:

    I don’t think the Pirates played all that well last night. The result was great, but they made three outs on the base paths, Cole couldn’t hold runners and failed to put a fair number of hitters away when he was ahead in the count. Some timely hitting and the a good performance from the bullpen papered over this.

  195. Jim S. says:

    I think your slash line comparison above was compelling, NMR. So, I’m not trying to argue with you on Pedro. Maybe he actually is worse off most years than he is now, overall. But, it doesn’t feel that way to me. I know that can be a dangerous assumption.

    Is his line drive % always this low through May? Is his XBH% always this low? It sure seems like he is not making as hard of contact, overall, even though he is putting the ball in play a lot. I assumed it was because he is trying to go the other way more, and is not executing it as well as he would like so far.

    Is he always struggling this much to bring runners in at this point? He’s only scored 18 of 180 base runners (10%), while league average is 14%. He has a low % of driving in runners from 3b with less than 2 outs.

    I’m ready for June and beyond Pedro from other years. But, I do feel he has not done his job so far.

  196. NMR says:

    Still missing the point, TC.

    If you’re only looking at the runners in scoring position he’s not driving in you’re missing the runs he is driving in when they’re not.

    Awful stat.

  197. cmat0829 says:

    They played good defense, and that has been a challenge for them. But I agree that Cole was ‘good but not great’. But it was a clean game… trying to steal bases and getting thrown out is not an issue with me. You have to press the issue in a place where you had scored 10 runs in the last 9 games.

  198. Andrew says:

    How the Pirates handle Martin should be interesting, great to elite defense plus league average hitting is very valuable. However, Martin is 31 the injury risk is increasing, and I do not like the direction Martin offense is trending he seems to in the phase where he is speeding up hit bat and fastball hunting. His contact is down and with that strikeouts up while trying to get the most out of his fly balls

    I just feel some team will pay Martin for what he has been rather than what he will be.

  199. cmat0829 says:

    lol, he wouldn’t be in the top 15 of DHs…. his offense is serviceable for a catcher, but let’s not get crazy here….

  200. That’s what I was thinking. Has he had this many throwing errors this early in the past?

  201. NMR says:

    Defense has unquestionably been worse, bpn, and it’s almost all because of the arm. Only one fielding error, but 11 with the arm. Just unacceptable.

  202. NMR says:

    He’s one away from matching ALL of last season, Lucky. Simply cannot continue like this.

  203. cmat0829 says:

    Not sure I can ever really be called slick in any relevant way, but thanks…..I read them, I wasn’t questioning JAL, I was questioning the credibility of Rumbunter and the IQ of anyone who is pushing a trade of JayHey…. from either perspective… Pirates have no motivation to trade him and other teams won’t give more than a few $$s or a spare part to acquire him. If we are gonna daydream about trades I’d prefer they be a little more probable to happen and material if they did happen.

  204. Graig Fravel says:

    I agree with the stances you took, Dejan. Getting rid of Letang and Neal are the first priority. I don’t know what happened to Neal, but he’s still effective in the regular season. Once the playoffs hit, though, and the play gets tougher and faster, he buckles like a belt. Letang should have been jettisoned last year rather than re-signed. His ceiling is high, but he just doesn’t play actual defense correctly. Yes, sign Niskanen. Even if he performed over his skis, he is a good fit here, and he’s proven that again and again.

  205. Andrew says:

    This is a good point, I like numbers but I don’t know what to make of the publicly available forms of catcher WAR, which was already the least sound. Martin runs saved was so high last year because teams kept running on the Pirates.

    I’ve said this before by McCann and Ruiz were highly paid because of their offense, both are arguably defensive peers of Martin (that might be a stretch considering pitch framing for Ruiz), who have been better hitters.

  206. cmat0829 says:

    ok , i’ll bite….

    Do we really need any more spare parts more than we can use Josh Harrison on the major league club this year and beyond???

    Just do not understand at all the desire to discuss trading a utility player. And that’s what Josh is. The value to OUR team exceeds his value to any other team by a factor of about 5. That is not the ideal scenario to trade.

    I read the full rumbunter article provided by the intrepid “Big Tuna”… he indicates, without facts or any true insight, that JayHey’s value is “soaring around baseball… raising all GM’s eyebrows”…. um, really? A utility guy is getting some hits here and there and hustling and making some decent catches and he becomes a ‘sell high’ candidate for a trade? Later in that same “article”, Big Tuna hypothesizes that a ‘minor league arm, who may eventually in a year or so compete” for rotation filler would be the ‘best we can hope for in a return’. So I guess the ‘soaring value’ across all of baseball amounts to a commodity we happen to have a TON of…. pitchers who need an opportunity…. we can’t seem to give the ones we have the opportunity and we should trade a valuable utility guy for yet another one of those.

    OK, I guess I’ll cancel the NY Times and WSJ subscriptions and will just follow Big Tuna for the future insights I’m sure are coming…

  207. cmat0829 says:

    spot on on Puig…not sure it’s a 10-cent head but it is the Carlos Gomez disease… they just can’t wait to show off, better to launch a throw over the catcher’s head in their mind than to just accept the run scoring and throw it into 2nd. They want to flash above all else…

  208. NMR says:

    Of course he hasn’t been a dependable starter this year, Jim. I’m certainly not arguing that he has. My argument is that his skill hasn’t matched his results, and you always use skill to predict the future.

    His strike rate is the same as last year and he actually has a lower contact rate and higher ground ball rate. “Walks way up” have amounted to a 1% increase. 1 walk for every 100 batters.

    Lefties have an .827 OPS against him this year. That will not continue.
    He’s giving up homeruns at a 15% rate this year. That won’t continue.
    FIP/xFIP a full run or more lower than ERA.

    Everything about his screams regression.

  209. cmat0829 says:

    Yep, Jim Bowden’s Reds are now looking up at these underperforming Pirates in the standings. I can see the ways the Pirates can do better but I think the Reds are what they are. And that is closer to the Cubs than competing with the Cardinals.

    Time will tell if the Bucs will join the Reds and Cubs in 2014 or get it together and join the Cardinals and Brewers..but i don’t know if i can see the Reds getting it together. Jim Bowden apparently thinks they are “much better” than the Bucs. Hmmmm.

  210. Bizrow says:

    We will miss Pedro when he is gone

  211. Thundercrack says:

    OK. What is his average with runners in scoring position and with runners that aren’t ?

  212. NMR says:

    “1) How teams are pitching around Cutch, so obviously different in 2014. Pedro gets most of the blame for that.”

    Another terribly overblown topic of late.

    Cutch saw 44.2% of pitches in the strike zone in 2013. He’s seen 45.2% of pitches in the strike zone in 2014.
    Cutch saw 50.2% fastballs in 2013. He’s seen 50.1% fastballs in 2014.

    His zone profiles are even similar:
    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/h_profile.php?player=457705&balls=-1&strikes=-1&b_hand=-1&time=month&minmax=ci&var=count&s_type=2&gFilt=&pFilt=FA|SI|FC|CU|SL|CS|KN|CH|FS|SB&startDate=01/01/2013&endDate=01/01/2014

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/h_profile.php?player=457705&balls=-1&strikes=-1&b_hand=-1&time=month&minmax=ci&var=count&s_type=2&gFilt=&pFilt=FA|SI|FC|CU|SL|CS|KN|CH|FS|SB&startDate=01/01/2014&endDate=01/01/2015

  213. AJS says:

    Well this is the time each year the Clint decides to move him down in the line up to get him seeing some better pitches to swing at. That’s when his hot streaks tend to start. Hitting out of the 6 hole and then gaining confidence and gradually moving up.

  214. NMR says:

    And keep saying it, Andrew.

    There’s a bit of Pirate-fan syndrome going on with Martin, IMO. Conditioned to just assume that any player that performs well here will automatically be paid a lot of money. Which is obviously understandable given the past.

  215. NMR says:

    .200 vs. .220

  216. NMR says:

    Which amounts to one hit less with RISP than without.

  217. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    Agreed on Point 1.

  218. Maz in Iowa says:

    TC I believe someone posted it a few days ago.It was something like .203.

  219. NMR says:

    Is that really true, though?

    Or is it a self-fulfilling action?

    Pedro is streaky. Pedro is streaky in the 4-hole. Pedro is streaky in the 6-hole.

    If you move him between one or the other before both sides play, then of course you’re going to get this result.

    The only thing that moving Pedro down in the order has assured is that the team will not see the benefit of an inevitable hot streak in that position of the order.

  220. Nate83 says:

    Heads explode again. I’m running out of heads.

  221. cmat0829 says:

    Wonder what Boras & Cole said at lunch to Pedro yesterday…seemed to work… we got a dinger and a clean game at 3B out of it…. something like:

    Boras: “El Toro, you aren’t helping the cause much my amigo… I’ve been chatting with my boys Frank and Bob (I don’t talk to that glib Ginger anymore), trying to get that miser and that drunk to open up the purse string for ya… but just when I get them to focus on it, a baseball goes sailing through the suite. Can you calm the @$@()$*( down on those throws across the diamond?”

    El Toro: “I just keep playing baseball, just try to make the plays, get good swings, stay within myself…cliche, cliche, cliche, cliche, cliche……..”

    Boras: “Um, ok, compadre….just leave the talking to me. A few more dingers, a few less zingers into the stands and we’ll be back in biz-ness”.

    Cole: “Just don’t pull that **** tonight in front of my homies, Bull. Keep it together or I’ll Carlos Gomez your ass in the tunnel between innings. Save that **** for when Morton pitches”.

    Cole and Boras chuckle and clink water glasses. El Toro stares blankly, blinking slowly but showing zero emotion.

  222. Jim S. says:

    Cutch has walked 41 times over the first 53 games this year. He walked 78 times last year for the full season. Is he just being more selective and going deeper in counts? His walk rate is up dramatically.

  223. Thundercrack says:

    I am a Pedro fan.

    But this team was counting on him getting better & more consistent. To be even more of a run producer than last year. He is failing at it and letting the team down. Being the same as last year is not good enough.

    He needs to step it up. (I know, I know…other hitters also need to step it up$

  224. Jim S. says:

    Neveritt did say Pedro’s HR last night was his 1st to RF this season. Or, was that me in a half asleep state? The latter happened once or twice during the game.

  225. Thundercrack says:

    Maybe first on the road

  226. NMR says:

    He has swung at 8% less pitches in the strike zone and has made contact with 4% less of those pitches.

    There’s your increase in walks.

    And that increase, over the season to date, has amounted to 14 walks. A little less than 1 every 4 games.

  227. Jim S. says:

    +++, NMR. Ok. I buy the logic.

    I hope it isn’t frustrating him so much that we lose him for awhile longer until he snaps back. From what DK wrote after the last start, he was pretty down on himself.

  228. Jandy says:

    +++

  229. Jandy says:

    that was for Biz :)

  230. NMR says:

    You couldn’t be more correct, Jim.

    The biggest worry right now isn’t his past performance but how that performance may affect him mentally moving forward.

  231. NMR says:

    If you know you have a Toyota but expect it to run like a Ferarri, who’s fault is it when it doesn’t?

  232. Iceman says:

    Haven’t been around much lately I know, but I like DK’s questions and wanted to drop my two cents (which may truly only be worth one penny).

    1) I do not trade Kris Letang. You do not see someone oozing with talent like him come around every day. His skating ability alone allows him to make plays on defense that others can’t even dream of. I also think that a coach that holds his players accountable could make Letang an even better player. If Letang doesn’t take stupid penalties and is actually coached when to join the offense (like PK Subban), he can continue to shine. My only concern is his health, but Malkin and Crosby have had their share of health problems and we aren’t trading him.

    On a side note here, whoever it was above (AJS I think) that Letang has no work ethic blows me away. Have you ever seen this guy train? He was also playing 25 plus minutes after recovering from a stroke. Where in the world does work this so called lack of work ethic show?

    2) I’d trade Neal for two reasons. One is that he is a bonehead who, unlike Matt Cooke, is unwilling to change his ways. More importantly than that however, is that I think it hurts Malkin to have him playing with Neal. Sure the two of them play decent together, but when they are on the ice together, Malkin defers to Neal too often. He appears to want to set up Neal for a good shot more than he wants to take over the game and score. I want Malkin to enter beast mode every game and I don’t see that happening with Neal on the ice with him.

    3) I’m all for not rushing in order to make the correct decision, however, the draft is coming on us very soon and I want someone in office for longer than one week before they are making draft decisions. It isn’t fair to the incoming GM to put him in that kind of position. I’m ok that they haven’t hired anyone yet, as long as they make a decision very soon.

  233. Nate83 says:

    I agree with your logic on Martin except the stated goal is to have a more playoff style team and I don’t see Martin as the problem in the playoffs. I also don’t know if they are thinking long term with Sid and Malkin in their prime. They think they can win a cup every year so the fact that Martin may be lost after this year doesn’t effect their decision as much as it may another team.

    I personally do not mind moving Neal. A 4 and 6 seed are currently playing to see who makes it to the Cup in the Eastern Conference. I don’t want guys who only score during the regular season. I’ve had enough 100 point seasons with nothing to show for it.

  234. Nate83 says:

    I would rather be juggling Martini’s. Actually I would rather be juggling rum and cokes.

  235. Reading says:

    Aren’t 10 of those runs himself (10 HRs), so five guys from first he’s hit in otherwise?

  236. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    Some good posts out there regarding the Pens. I echo some of the same sentiments. Here are my answers…

    1. No. I wouldn’t trade Kris Letang simply because I don’t believe doing so makes the Penguins better. His contract is significant, but he is a generational talent. None of the countless other defensive prospects we’ve seen in the Pens system can come close to what Letang is capable of at his best. Although his defensive play has regressed under Bylsma, given the right coach Kris Letang will thrive. The Penguins need to build from the defense out, and Kris Letang has to be part of that.

    2. Yes. I’ve not given up on James Neal… yet. He’s another player who has the tools the Pens are looking for, he just needs the right coach to work with him to use those tools effectively.

    3. The Pens should already have a new GM. Before pulling the trigger on Shero this close to the FA deadline and the draft, the front office should have compiled a short list of candidates who could take over almost immediately. If ownership fired first and started searching second, the Penguins are in trouble…

    This year’s entry draft is supposed to be quite deep, so I wouldn’t mind seeing the new GM try to get as many draft picks as he can. That includes means making a quick decision on Niskanen. If he can be signed for $5M or less for 3 years, I’d take that deal. If not, trade his rights along with Orpik and Jokinen. Possibly even packaging those rights and the Pens first-round pick to move up the draft.

    I’d also explore trading Fleury and, if Niskanen signs, Paul Martin. Both are on their final contract years and neither are likely to be retained, so it’s best to get the highest return possible, save some salary, and possibly get some more draft picks.

  237. Jim S. says:

    Do you think there is anything to what Huntington alluded to about them “commanding the strike zone” more? Trying not to swing at borderline pitches when ahead in the count, so as to maybe get something better to hit later?

    Per baseball-reference.com:

    58% of pitches to him are strikes vs. 60.9% last year. Lowest of his career.

    He’s looking at 29.9% of strikes this year, vs. 24-25% the last 2 years.

    His swing & miss strike % is down considerably this year from the last 2 years.

    Foul ball rate is very similar this year to the past.

    I think that info. makes it seem as if he is seeing less strikes and being more selective in the zone.

    I still think there is some pitching around him going on. But, I guess numbers can be looked at in a lot of ways.

  238. buggee says:

    Well said JandyLion!

  239. Jim S. says:

    Maybe he needs you to throw some numbers at him to show he’s been far more unfortunate than he gives himself credit for so far. :-)

  240. Jandy says:

    buggeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

  241. Thundercrack says:

    He was supposed to be a Ferrari!!

  242. Now we can tape it back on and sell it to a blind kid, right?

  243. buggee says:

    I likes my interpretation of a hot dog!

  244. Jandy says:

    ;sigh:

  245. 21sthebest says:

    Why do we have to accept that he’s a Toyota and won’t improve and who said he needs to become a Ferrari? Isn’t it reasonable to expect a major leaguer to improve especially when all it take, IMO, is improving your knowledge of the strike zone which could just simply come from experience.

    Personally, I still think they’ve been trying to get him to go the other way more and that’s messed him up a little bit.

  246. 21sthebest says:

    Somebody showed a chart on TV that showed 5 homeruns to center, either 2 or 3 to left, so 2 or 3 to right.

  247. Jim S. says:

    Maybe a full-size Toyota Tundra pick-up.

  248. Jandy says:

    Good to see you, Ice :)

  249. +++++++++++++++++

  250. Jim S. says:

    Neveritt had the first 9 going to LF/CF. Maybe he was counting RC as CF? Or, he was just getting his facts wrong again.

    I never know with that guy, especially after he talked about the guy hitting 8th on the Mets on Wednesday having a quality at bat that moved a runner from 2nd to 3rd for the 2nd out with Colon coming to bat next. I think Wehner was biting his tongue on that one.

  251. buggee says:

    I think he’s 22 or 23 slick-ette.

  252. Jim S. says:

    Meant Wehner was biting his OWN tongue. Don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea. :-)

  253. Jandy says:

    Hey Hey Revvie, you’re quiet today after being vociferous yesterday ;)

  254. Nate83 says:

    MVP’s tend to be on other teams radar and pitched to carefully. I think expectations are way to high for Cutch by the fans. MVP = must get hit everytime he is up with men is scoring position. If he gets a hit nobody remembers because he suppose to. The guy is having a tremendous year and it’s being taken for granted.

  255. If you haven’t checked the price of those, don’t. My co-worker has one she’s trying to sell because her ex-husband dumped it on her. Owes double what my first house cost and I’m not being an evangelist and exaggerating.

    He could do well as one of those, Jim, at least based on price.

    ;)

  256. Jandy says:

    Hey now, I’m NOT Slickette, I’m much nicer than Slick ;)

  257. I’ll let the experts talk hockey. You know I’m not one of those.

    :)

  258. Pete in Dayton says:

    Play GM huh?
    1. You’re not going to get ANY value for Letang, unless a team is desperate for a splash- Call Calgary, Edmonton or Winnipeg, and if they don’t bite, don’t bother. Letang is a great puck mover, and can skate. His defense suffers at times (and that’s being kind) and his turnovers are maddening, but those things I think are a result of him trying to do too much- ie, the 100 foot stretch pass to the far blue line from his own zone, forcing pucks down instead of the safe pass on the PP- these seem boneheaded, but a lot of it is because the other, simpler option isn’t always there. A new coach with a emphasis on responsibility will result in better play. Plus, if you look at other top earning D-men, Mike Green, Brian Campbell and Erik Karlsson are all earning about as much as Letang- and all of them are worse at defense than Letang- Karlsson playing D reminds me of Gonchar- you want him with the puck on the PP, but OMG you don’t want him as your last defender on a breakaway.

    2. Trade Neal. For spare parts, whatever. His production has slipped, he takes bad penalties, he’s never going to score 40 goals again. Crosby didn’t play much of the season that Neal scored 40, and Neal led the league with 18 PP goals. With a healthy Crosby, Neal doesn’t get that much PP time, unless Malkin plays the point, and when he does, the Pens start giving up tons of SH goals I don’t see Neal scoring 18 PP goals ever again.
    Call Montreal or Vancouver- both of those fan bases hate Marchand with a passion, and Neal’s kneeing him in the head this past season will be celebrated.

    3. If not having a GM continues through the weekend, I’ll be worried. There is only so much time before the draft and the FA signings. If Letang is traded, you have to sign Niskanen- however, the Pens can’t afford so spend all of their money on the blue line and expect a bunch of bottom 6 forwards to play with Malkin and Crosby and win a cup.

    Looking at the FA signings, and at the salaries, Niskanen is going to get 6 mil OR MORE on the open market. Since we pay Letang 7.5 mil, plus Crosby and Malkin at 8.7 and 9, we can’t afford him under the cap. It sucks, I know, but what else can you do? Shero made a mess of the cap- the lockout really, really didn’t help, but the bad signing of Scuderi, plus the extensions handed out to Dupuis and Kunitz make the Penguin’s cap a nightmare.
    I loved Dupuis when I lived in Minnesota. In 2004. Remember, he was a healthy scratch in the finals when the Pens won the Cup in 2009, and Kunitz isn’t going to get any better either. With the 2nd and 3rd highest cap hits in the league, it’s going to be tough to balance the cap for the next few years, and Crosby and Malkin aren’t going anywhere.

  259. Jandy says:

    Isn’t that the truth, Spunkster!

  260. Jandy says:

    Oh, but I disagree, you’re an expert on many things, Revvie
    :D

  261. JohninOshkosh says:

    Rory McIlroy has to be one of the best multi-taskers in sports.

    Able to smoke the back nine at Muirfield and break up with his fiancee, via telephone while she competes in a major no less, on the eve of their wedding. All in the same week.

    Wonder if there is and ESPY for that ?

  262. Jandy says:

    The schmuck did that AFTER the invitations were sent out…
    smh

  263. 21sthebest says:

    Speaking of bad announcing, I wonder if anyone knows who was doing color on the Braves and Red Sox game on MLBN last night at 8. Milo?

    I cannot believe some of the things that guy was saying. He sounded youngish.

  264. Jim S. says:

    Neil Walker should not be allowed to steal, unless he is the back end of a double steal. Even then, I’d be throwing to his base if I were the catcher. He just is not good at it.

  265. buggee says:

    PMD – Pre-Menstrual Disorder
    PMD – Personal Micro Derm
    PMD – Puck Moving Defenseman
    PMD – Para-Militant Dejan
    PMD – Pelizaeus Merzbacher Disease
    PMD – Pig-Macking Doofus
    PMD – source code analyzer
    PMD – Porky Muculageneous Dirigible-head

    Gee! What’s it all mean? Lemme ask the GM…

  266. Jandy says:

    ROFL!

  267. Arriba Wilver says:

    Yep, I’m counting on the 128 pitches affecting him.

    Don’t tell Nolan Ryan.

  268. Yeah, a legend in my own mind. But not on hockey.

    I enjoy it, just don’t know enough to even comment, except jokingly about the 1-3-1 and plan isn’t here to tease about that anymore.

    I try not to talk about things unless I know at least something about them.

    ;)

  269. Jim S. says:

    They’ll definitely live with some of his dumb, brash plays because he is an absolute beast at the plate. He was really good last year at 22, and he’s even better this year.

    .348/.443/.631/1.074.

    He has 28 XBH already.

    And, he ain’t playing in Colorado.

  270. NMR says:

    Ha, I know from my own profession it doesn’t work like that, Jim. ;)

  271. NMR says:

    Do they count differently?

  272. Jandy says:

    Thanks Jim, the sigh wasn’t directed at you. But yeah, you pretty much made my point. The kid IS a beast and he has plenty of room to be an even better beast.

  273. Jandy says:

    LOL!

  274. buggee says:

    I dunno if I’d want a pic of my face on the hotdog though…

  275. Jim S. says:

    He probably got a fist bump from Tiger. :-)

  276. NMR says:

    You nailed it, Nate.

    Cutch is the reigning MVP. Of course he’s going to be pitched differently!!

    But the fact is that he has not been pitched THAT much differently. Cutch seems more perturbed that he’s not getting the pitch he wants to get. Guess what, bud? Tough beans. The league has adjusted. Your move.

  277. Jim S. says:

    Was it a MLBN crew, 21, rather than Braves or Sox crews?

    At least it wasn’t Krukky.

  278. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  279. NMR says:

    Except he has improved, 21.

  280. Arriba Wilver says:

    Good stuff, NMR.

    Slugging being down must be the lack of doubles?

  281. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, big pick-ups are not cheap, for sure, Lucky.

    I was just thinking Pedro is a big dude that is built to take punishment and keep rolling along. He’s not a finely tuned Ferrari.

  282. buggee says:

    He also has a 620 AKZ which, when coupled with his TTMXRT ration of 11:1.867 and his FSPTwitCH of 00.02, along with his 2.018225 WA-R+ZRXP, AND the rate of 1.109942 OTEWHBBC (Over The Ears With His BaseBall Cap–for those of you who DON’T know–yeesh!), pretty much makes him off the charts and a one-of-a-kind player; why even generational!

    How can we possibly say we have TBMTIB when we miss out on such obvious 15th round talent? WTF?

  283. Baywatch says:

    Who KNOWS with this game! Sheesh!

  284. Jim S. says:

    Absolutely, Nate. Cutch is killing it. He doesn’t have as many HR as we might like, but he’s hitting .310 and just now getting to the part of the season where he traditionally gets hot. So, I think the HR and XBH will come, and if they don’t that’s not a big problem. I have no issues with Cutch, whatsoever. He’s #3 in all of MLB in OBP.

    I was just wondering why he is drawing so many walks this year is all.

  285. NMR says:

    Yes, Yes, Yes.

  286. Arriba Wilver says:

    Better late than never . . . or forever.

  287. Jandy says:

    true, but timing counts….most of the time ;)

  288. Baywatch says:

    +++

  289. Jim S. says:

    +++, AW.

  290. Jandy says:

    Count me in, Nate!

  291. Baywatch says:

    I think DK said yesterday he was outside catching LIGHTNING BUGS!

  292. Baywatch says:

    +++

  293. NMR says:

    That’s correct, AW. And we’re still at the stage where samples are small enough that averages fluctuate pretty dramatically.

    Difference in slugging percentage at this point boils down to one homerun or three doubles.

  294. NMR says:

    Definitely, Jim. Cutch is good. Really, really, reeaalllyyy good.

  295. NMR says:

    tsk tsk, Lucky! ;)

  296. Jandy says:

    really???? Already????

  297. Jandy says:

    OMG, there goes Spunky again LOL!

  298. TJA says:

    Got to thinking today about something (and maybe someone else said this…or not?), but all this talk of trading Pedro that seems to have taken off the past few days reminds me of 1988 and when, then, Pirates GM Syd Thrift made a very unpopular, but smart move. Anyone remember this? Tony Pena was traded for Spanky Lavaillere and Andy Van Slyke. At the time…many thought, huh? But those 2 went on to help the Pirates to 3 Division Titles. I am not saying the Pirates trade Petey by July or after the season….but history tells us a blockbuster deal can work sometimes.

  299. Nate83 says:

    Lack of doubles by the entire team is very odd especially since they have some guys with some good speed and they play in a home ballpark that has a spacious outfield.

  300. TJA says:

    And that exchange of players was worked WITHIN the division with the Cardinals, too. Syd Thrift had no fear of anything.

  301. TK says:

    1. Would you trade Kris Letang, even if only to move his contract?

    With the stroke suffered this season the return might be less than ideal, but yes trading Letang would free up funds to pursue free agent forwards.

    2. Could a tough coach toughen up James Neal’s net-front work?

    Maybe, but I would trade him and let some other organization find the answer to that question.

    3. At what point do you get irritated with ownership for not having a GM?

    Depends on when the draft is held. I want a GM sooner so that the GM and his scouts can meet and exchange ideas on player evaluations. The longer they wait the more irritated a fan should become.

  302. Jim S. says:

    Gunner has brought that up as well, TJA. And, as DK has astutely noted regarding a possible Letang trade by the Pens, trades are not punitive. A team like the Bucs always needs to be thinking of filling holes they might have in the system. Pedro has value. A lot of value. I’d be willing to listen if I were NH. Maybe he could find a young SS, or a replacement for Pedro himself. They have to be careful about trading him, though, because they don’t have a ready replacement in the organization. I do think this is inevitable. He’s a free agent in 2017.

  303. Arriba Wilver says:

    Not defending the guy, just don’t think the invitations going out is that significant in the whole scheme of things.

    Luckily he apparently didn’t see the Seinfeld episode where George inadvertently killed his wife-to-be by getting poisoned invitation envelopes. Things could be worse.

    :-)

  304. 1) I don’t see Letang’s trade value EVER being as low as it is now. Business-wise selling low is not a good model, but…money could shore up forwards and open up spots for all the young D-men Sherro stock-piled. So Thanks 58, good luck!
    2) No, tigers can’t change their stripes. Either you accept what he is and utilize it, you try to mold him into something he is not or you ship him out–he could garner solid value in return trade-wise.
    3) Patience…it’s better to to is right than quickly. When the Pens have “their” guy is when they should hire him…not some fan based or made up deadline.

    If the Rangers end up winning the cup, does it lessen the “EPIC” collapse the Pens suffered?
    They are only one series win away so it’s possible if not probable. They have an all-world goaltender that turned away 102 of the last 105 shots the Pens sent at him, so who knows if they can continue their hot play.

  305. Thundercrack says:

    just don’t think the invitations going out is that significant in the whole scheme of things….to the guy

    :-)

  306. Jandy says:

    zactly!

  307. Arriba Wilver says:

    My answers to the 3 questions:

    1. Yes

    2. No

    3. Never

  308. Jandy says:

    I can’t see the Rangers beating either Chicago or the Kings.

  309. Jandy says:

    Now that’s direct and to the point!

    :)

  310. Arriba Wilver says:

    Prolly true, but doing it on the telephone while she’s in a tournament seems a tad more significant to this guy. ;-)

    Plus, maybe he met someone on the golf course.

  311. Jandy says:

    Zactly, AW, SCHMUCK!

    :D

  312. TJA says:

    Good points, all, Jim. Petey DOES have value. I would sure listen if I were NH. No one is untradable….Thrift used to say. I recall Gunner got this started the other day after I posted this. Thanks again.

  313. TJA says:

    Have a cousin in LA who is going to Game 6 tonight. Said the same thing to me in an email this morning. Kings are much better team.

  314. Nate83 says:

    It’s amazing we have lowered our expectations to the point that we would be OK giving a sub .250 hitter 12 million a year especially for his declining years historically. That is why I said I personally would feel comfortable with the same per year value of 8.5 on a new contract for Martin. I would be OK with them overpaying and going to 10 or 11 per year because of the value he has to this team but any more then that seems high to me.

  315. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’d make a great talk show guest, huh? ;-)

  316. Jandy says:

    I agree!

  317. Jandy says:

    Well, you could always let the “guest” do the talking ;)

  318. Jordan White says:

    I enjoyed this.

  319. 7——SEVEN——VII——DAYS UNTIL GREGORY POLANCO IS MAGICALLY “READY” TO PUT ON A PIRATE UNI

    {because NOW is never more important than 6-7 years from NOW!}

  320. Jandy says:

    Look at the time. I have 2 documents to get off my desk! Gotta be good for a while. Catch yinz all on the flip side. be good! ;)

  321. That’s what he did in Dumb and Dumber, J-girl.

    :D

  322. Arriba Wilver says:

    I know it’s a small sample size, but being team wide, doesn’t that have to implicate coaching and the approach? Unless it’s a means to an end. Seems weird, though.

  323. Jim S. says:

    I think either of them might get beaten in 4. But, you never know.

  324. NormL says:

    It’s Bylsma’s Fault! All these posts are way too long for a Friday and get off of my fresh-cut lawn!

  325. NMR says:

    Great question, AW. One I cannot answer.

  326. Yeah, the Rangers are a wretched team. :)

    Hopefully, DK predicts the Rangers win in 4. (Sorry radio)

  327. Jim S. says:

    I meant to bring this up earlier … I think Tony Watson threw exactly one pitch last night, and got 2 outs. Baseball is a funny game.

    I was bristling at Clint for taking Cole out, and in came Tony for the DP. Gordon ripped that ball, though.

    Then, I wanted Tony to pitch the 8th – or, at least to the 1st batter who was a lefty. I figured why not save one of Melancon/Grilli.

    Then, Melancon (who is pretty darn good, btw) tossed a scoreless 8th and Grilli threw the scoreless 9th.

    Not the way I wanted it done. I hate when Clint doesn’t do things exactly as I want them done. Doesn’t he know I’m always right?

    :-)

  328. Jim S. says:

    That was an awesome trade. Mike Dunn was sort of a throw in, as I recall, and he had a great rookie year for us.

  329. Thundercrack says:

    He has improved in certain areas. Home runs and RBI have increased.

  330. 21sthebest says:

    OBP is a little better than last year but not better than 2012. OPS is 69 points below last year and 83 less than 2012. Strikeouts are down a decent bit.

    Overall I wouldn’t say he has improved.

  331. cmat0829 says:

    Didn’t see the game… for Thursday Night Baseball, MLBN lists the following possible announcers:

    Jim Kaat, John Smoltz, Al Leiter, Tom Verducci, Joe Magrane, Sean Casey, Billy Ripken

    “Youngish” sounding could be Casey, Verducci or Ripken. If it sounded unprofessional, disjointed, confusing and hard to listen to, I’d say it was probably Casey.

  332. cmat0829 says:

    The Iceman cometh back.

  333. Bizrow says:

    My late wife spent the rest of her life complaining about that trade, even when it ended up working out nicely

  334. I can’t believe those weak, unqualified, poor-excuse-for-a-hockey team New York Rangers are going to the Stanley Cup Finals.

    I can’t believe that the greatest coach in the history of hockey, Michelle Terrien, so great a coach that he “really” won the 2009 Stanley Cup with the Penguins even after he had been removed as coach in February, lost to the Rangers. THE RANGERS!! We all know it was his system and his defense that really won the cup in 2009.

    I can’t believe that the greatest collection of hockey players in the world, with the 2 greatest players in the world and the greatest defenseman wearing #2 in hockey history, lost to that sadsack team, the New York Rangers.

    I can’t believe that the big bad Boston Bruins lost to a team that lost to the sadsack New York Rangers. Fire Claude Julian!!!

    I’m sure that whatever West team plays the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals will win the Cup in only two games, because the West teams are so much better than the sadsack New York Rangers.

    I can’t believe that Dan Bylsma lost to the New York Rangers. He deserves to be fired for that! They are such a sadsack team that ANY coach whose team loses to the Rangers should be fired!

    The New York Rangers have only ONE player. 20 should always beat ONE.

    I believe the sports writer who said that the New York Rangers are not a very good team.

  335. Jim S. says:

    “Hey, it’s Rory. You got a minute? Me? I’m tearing the course up. Couldn’t be striking it any better. Umm … You know those wedding invitations? Yeah, well, … uhh … did they go out already, because I’m thinking they don’t need to go out at all. Yeah, this isn’t working for me. Ok, gotta run. It’s time for my next shot. Have a great life, babe! Cheers!”

  336. TJA says:

    It sure was Jim. And, yes, Dunn was kind of the forgotten piece to that trade. Did he end up with Seattle later on down the road?

    We just don’t see that sort of trading today.

  337. Patrick(ri) says:

    The WSJ has a list of likely June call ups which has Polanco in 3rd place behind a Cubs third basemen with stronger numbers(in AA), and a Dodger outfielder in AAA, with 9 more homers and an OPS that is 42 points (decimal) higher. The cubs have no need to push their kid, while the Dodgers are w/o Crawford for some time and are 5 games behind the Giants. The point? Even very, not to say insanely deep pocket teams play this game. Hard to argue the Dodgers are cheapskates.

  338. TJA says:

    Rangers are playing with incredible emotion during these past 4-5 weeks. I don’t know how much gas is left in their tank. They need 4 more. Stioll like either the Kings or Hawks in the “heavyweight fight”.

  339. Jim S. says:

    That’s the question I keep asking myself, AW. Is there a different hitting approach that the team devised before this season when Branson was hired? I thought NHY alluded to that on his radio show or somewhere else.

    If so, are all the guys doing it? Just the guys who wanted to do it?

    They are drawing more walks and slugging worse as a team. Maybe it has nothing to do with a new approach. But, Cutch has shown a dramatic increase in walks, Pedro is up considerably there, too.

    Davis being on the team rather than GIJ would automatically increase walks.

  340. TJA says:

    Wow…I can see why. People LOVED Pena around here, Biz. He was a fun guy…above avg. to good catcher…and that smile….man it was catchy.

  341. carisi_99 says:

    Letang has always been described as the best conditioned athlete on the team, so I am not sure where the “no work ethic” cheap shot comes from.

  342. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  343. TJA says:

    Hey All – Heading out for a week of vacation. Have a great week ahead and catch yinz on the 9th or so. Be good and stay healthy! And, Go Bucs!

  344. Jim S. says:

    Not if you think he plays the most important position on the field, and you think he does it better than 90% of the players at his position in MLB.

    Plus, I think boiling Russ down to a sub-.250 hitter isn’t exactly accurate. He has decent pop, and he gets on base via walk at a pretty good rate – actually a very good rate this year so far. His OBP was .327 last year, and his OPS+ was at 100 for the first time in 5 years.

    This year, his OBP is at .372, and he’s slugging over .400.

  345. Arriba Wilver says:

    You mean the guy who runs up and down the steps in full pads?

    Yeah, that’s way off.

  346. Jim S. says:

    +++, Patrick.

  347. Jim S. says:

    Am I the only one who wonders why the Dodgers put together such a bad bullpen, given their payroll flexibility? Maholm, Jamey Wright, Brian Wilson, etc. They seem to avoid a lot of criticism in that area.

  348. Jim S. says:

    He did go to Seattle at some point. His career fizzled pretty quickly. Control problems, I think.

  349. buggee says:

    lots of candidates are busy teeing off

  350. Jim S. says:

    Pittsburgh loved Tony, didn’t we Biz?

  351. cmat0829 says:

    Ned Colletti is a hack of a GM. But that is nothing that a few hundred million dollars can’t coat over…. right now, Ned is sitting on about 5 starting outfielders, maybe 6 counting prospects, and a bullpen by reputation only (League, Perez, etc.). The closer is a beast, though.

    I can definitely see the Dodgers make a deal for a top-level starting pitcher dealing from their surplus of outfielders.

  352. Jim S. says:

    “that is nothing that a few hundred million dollars can’t coat over.”

    I agree. That’s why I wondered why he didn’t do it last off-season. He chased a guy like Brian Wilson, who everybody knew was fading. Brandon League? Chris Perez? Jamie Wright? Maholm? He’s had a few cracks at the Vin Mazzaro apple now as well.

    Aside from bad signings, why do they not have anyone in their system who was already better than these guys?

    I know Huntington isn’t perfect, but it could be much, much worse. Imagine if Ned Colletti was running this team. Just about the only thing saving them is taking on payroll that others can’t take on.

  353. Jim S. says:

    Have fun!

  354. NMR says:

    This is where we’re going to disagree philosophically.

    I don’t consider thing like OPS, especially in this sample size, grounds for improved or worsened skill. Has Josh Harrison actually improved his skills this year? Or has he just had a hot bat?

    Pedro seems to have improved on things he can control…swinging at pitches out of the zone, contact, and has maintained the homeruns. I’m not ready, at this point, to say the quality of of contact as it relates to the underlying skill of hitting the ball hard is better or worse.

  355. JohninOshkosh says:

    Jay Carney wisely resigns on Friday afternoon when nation heads into beautiful early summer weekend.

    Sounds like someone the Pirates could use!

  356. NMR says:

    Kenley Jansen and Paco Rodriguez are better than any reliever Huntington has drafted.

  357. Bizrow says:

    Yes we did ;-)

  358. JohninOshkosh says:

    ++++ Bring it, Groaty!

  359. NMR says:

    But it is funny to watch them throw money at all the failed closers.

  360. Andrew says:

    I don’t know the Pittsburgh sport radio scene is Mike Prisuta a actual reporter? This if from him:

    According to multiple sources, Pierre McGuire has been telling associates he’ll be in Pittsburgh today/tonight for 2nd GM interview w/Pens.

    This is very worrisome.

  361. NMR says:

    That Tony Watson…prettay, prettay good.

  362. Arriba Wilver says:

    Time to make a gazillion dollars.

  363. Arriba Wilver says:

    Thing is, Branson is a “company” guy, and was the assistant hitting coach last year. He’s not new.

  364. JohninOshkosh says:

    Careful what you wish for Pens fans!

    Can’t wait to hear the people who have been bashing Regis for 20 years suddenly start defending him as worthy successor to the once former could do no wrong GM that was run out of town on a rail.

  365. JohninOshkosh says:

    ++ Yep. News analyst for a major cable network news outlet is a sweet gig. Like being a “consultant.”

  366. Dom says:

    I would be absolutely loving this if it was for a GM position on another team.

  367. Dom says:

    Can you name those sources?

    I’m not saying you’re wrong but I cannot find any of them online and I’d like to read up on it.

  368. Dom says:

    I’m sorry, I somehow missed where you said it was from Mike Prisuta. Ignore that question.

  369. Arriba Wilver says:

    At the time he may have been the best catcher, combination defense/offense in the league. Definitely, by far, the best Buc.

    I could be misremembering, but I thought Dunne was the key piece of that trade. LaValliere was thrown in as the replacement catcher, but I thought Van Slyke was the afterthought. At least that is my recollection of how it was portrayed by the media.

    I always liked Van Slyke, even as a fourth outfielder for the Cardinals.

  370. AJS says:

    Poor work ethic may not be the right words. Conditioning is one thing. He may infact be the hardest worker in the weight room and in the off season. I have problems with his on ice tenacity. lazy passes, lack of focus type stuff.

  371. Jim S. says:

    Maybe Mario is close enough with Pierre that he is giving him a fair shot, but I cannot see them turning this team over to a guy who has been commentating for years.

  372. Thundercrack says:

    Jim Bowden was lamenting how Profar of the Rangers is hurt for the year, gets paid the MLB salary and accrues major league service time…which pushed him closer to arbitration.

    Imagine if the Pirates had brought up Polanco and he got hurt for the rest of the season. It wouldn’t matter for Super 2, but would make him closer to arbitration…without production.

  373. AJS says:

    Question. What would the Pirates have to do to make so that trading a player of value such as Pedro isn’t a foregone conclusion? Is there any level of success the franchise could have that would either a. make it so that a home grown player such as Pedro is willing to stay and be part of a champion at a somewhat reduced cost or b. the Bucs bring in enough dough from the success to step out on a limb and offer a home grown player a legitimate competetive offer?

    On top of that how much is Pedro really worth? 30 HR and .220 avg isn’t exactly the type of line that is going to draw top of the line $$$ at the 3rd base position.

    Pedro is interesting. Lots of raw power but so undisciplined. If he wwere to go elsewhere in ’17 at even a modest contract it would be interesting to see what a legitimate hitting coach could do with him. Then his 3rd contract could be a beastly number.

  374. Thundercrack says:

    Mark Madden just chastised fans for judging the Penguins’ locker room from afar.

    But yet isn’t that what he does with the Pirates’ locker room?

    (Disclaimer: he wasn’t yelling )

  375. Jim S. says:

    That’s true.

  376. Jim S. says:

    I thought Van Slyke was the key piece from the standpoint of the Bucs.

  377. AJS says:

    Sounds like ario’s influence. He and Pierre are buds.

  378. AJS says:

    I never minded McGuire as an announcer. He has passion for he sport and when I watch him do non Penguin games I don’t notice his perceived focus on the biggest stars.

    It does seem at times he focuses too much on the good or bad game that Crosby or malkin is having or on how much better or worse Ovechkin is than those two and sometimes he opinions seem to contradict themselves, but I think he does a decent job of pointing out some things I never would catch myself watching the game.

    Now Mike Milburry on the other hand, ykes.

    As far as talent evaluation and GM skills, no. He has a history of not being so good at that, but that was a long time ago, so maybe he’s gotten better?

  379. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s worth having Pierre McGuire as Pens GM just to get him off television. And for the life of me I can’t make up my mind. ;)

  380. Maz in Iowa says:

    I just skimmed thru the posts.I saw someone mentioned(as I did recently)that Harrison might have trade value.It’s too bad the Bucs couldn’t get a 3B prospect.It’s very doubtful Pedro will be around when he becomes a free agent AND it seems management is stuck on drafting CF prospects.Just a thought

  381. AJS says:

    This assumes that pitchers aren’t pitching him differently out of the 6th hole. They may attack him more directly knowing that he can’t do as much harm since he will likely be up with less runners on. I dunno. It just always seems like a drop in teh order leads to him starting to heat up almost immediately. Could just be perception as I have neither the time nor desire at the moment to try and come up with stats out of the 4th or 6th hole in the line up.

  382. Dom says:

    Not a fan, eh?

  383. Jim S. says:

    I listen to him a few times every week, since he is on during afternoon drive time. I am constantly amazed that he was ever a GM. I can easily see why he isn’t one now. He is behind the times on a lot of issues, IMO.

    He continues to rip Huntington and the Bucs in general for not bringing up their “can’t miss” future superstar in Polanco. A lot of people are of that opinion, so I can see both sides on that decision. But, just last summer he was saying Polanco was never going to be an impact player, and that they should package him, Hansen, plus others in a trade for Rios of the ChiSox. Yeah, that would have been a great move.

    Glad Huntington didn’t listen. Rios is hitting very well, but he’s a free agent at the end of the year. Polanco and Hansen might be kind of important to our future.

  384. JohninOshkosh says:

    One of the earliest things I noticed when Dejan moved from baseball centric blog to one covering all sports was a clear disdain by the hockey posters concerning McGuire.

  385. You mean like when Bill Parcells left the commentator’s booth to coach the Cryboys.

    Or if Bill Cowher were to leave CBS and coach again.

    Or Dan Duquette, who when he was fired in 2002 by Bosox, spent 5 years running a children’s sports academy (ages 8-18) before spending a year founding and folding the Israel Baseball League in 2008. Baltimore hired him as General Manager in 2012.

    10 years away is a long time. Commentator’s Booth is a lot closer than Israel . . . . or training kids to blow their noses.

  386. Milo Hamilton says:

    His qualifications are he’s on TV (and over the top annoying at it) & he got Scotty Bowman his coffee.

  387. Harrison has zero trade value. He doesn’t have a position.

    However, he has turned into Lee Lacy for Bucs right now. Did great last night.

    Ride him and enjoy him for as long as it lasts. Lee Lacy had no trade value
    and when I was at Cooperstown recently I missed seeing his bust.

    Play him until his expiration date arrives.

  388. AJS says:

    You are right Ice, he does train hard. And he skates well. I just feel like during those 28 minutes there are times where he isn’t giving it 100%. Maybe he shouldn’t be playing those 28 minutes. Maybe the fluidity in which he skates makes things look like he isn’t going all out. i don’t know.

    Maybe he should take some of that training time and turn it into film study. Lots and lots of talent. Just seems to be wasted at times with sloppy irresponsible play.

  389. AJS says:

    His defense sffers at times…that’s a great quality for a DEFENSEMAN!

  390. Andrew says:

    McGuire was a utter debacle is one short time as an NHL head coach some two decades ago, he was a scout once but he has been a commentator since 1997. And his analysis is underwhelming he is pretty much a front runner like most commentators, has all these supposed reasons why the current team is ahead but quickly changes his tune if the score does.

    Also this report doesn’t square with his early comments about not taking a job from his dear friend Ray Shero.

  391. Maz in Iowa says:

    A quote from Pirates Prospects that saddened me..”They’ve got Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and soon Gregory Polanco, to make their outfield of the future. Those three are in Pittsburgh through the 2018 season. Meadows could return to West Virginia for the entire 2015 season, then go a level per year, which would put him on pace to make the majors in 2019 as the replacement for McCutchen.” **sniffle sniffle**

  392. 21sthebest says:

    Harrison v. Pedro is an apples to oranges comparison to me. One has played every day basically for a couple of years. One hasn’t even come close to that.

  393. Bizrow says:

    Or maybe first base? I don’t think there is much in the pipeline at that position, other than Allie

  394. 21sthebest says:

    Definitely not Sean Casey. I know Sean Casey. I’m thinking that it was Ripken now that you mention it cmat. I have heard him drop some doozies before.

  395. Bizrow says:

    What a wonderful afternoon on the FAN, Mike Lange has been on for a couple of hours now

  396. Tim says:

    Re: Letang

    I agree that 58 should be traded. Last year when he was holding out for big bucks, I think most of us felt he was probably worth $6M per year, tops… and even a contract like that would paint the team into a corner for years to come. So he signs for even more and now the team is strapped for 8 years, unless the team acts quickly.

    Although we could have gotten more for him a year ago, that fact is irrelevant now. What needs to be considered in the present is whether or not the Pens have room to build a championship team over the next few years if 58 is not dealt before his no-trade clause kicks in. I think the answer to that is clearly NO. When Shero signed him to the extension, I think he believed that the Pens were so close that 58 could be the last piece in the puzzle. But that gamble did not pay off.

    If you keep 58 and he earns his money, there is a possibility that it could still work. But it leaves the team with very little wiggle room for contingencies moving forward while trying to assemble the pieces of the championship team we all want. There are far more good scenarios both possible and probable by dealing him now instead. We have a lot of great young D men coming up and we can use the freed up cap room to sign some legitimate tough, gritty wingers. I think it would be a mistake to try to trade our young defensive players for wingers. It makes more sense to move 58 and allow one of our own defensive players coming up to take his place.

    I would not bet the franchise on 58, and in my view, that’s what keeping him amounts to. Shero did it once already last year, but with a month remaining for the Pens to get out of that deal, there’s no reason to bet the franchise on him twice.

  397. Arriba Wilver says:

    Is that a vote for or against Pierre?

    :-)

  398. Maz in Iowa says:

    Maybe Bell at 1B.Not the best of OF

  399. Maz in Iowa says:

    Still no Tabby/Mercer
    Josh Harrison RF
    Neil Walker 2B
    Andrew McCutchen CF
    Ike Davis 1B
    Russell Martin C
    Pedro Alvarez 3B
    Starling Marte LF
    Clint Barmes SS
    (Francisco Liriano P)

  400. Bizrow says:

    After all the fuss on Polanco, he’ll probably turn out to be a bust ;-)

    Kidding

    But if they all pan out, that will be a nice problem to have

  401. JD says:

    Gotta get a hunk of Jim’s Flaming Pepper cheese. It is awesome.

  402. Reading says:

    A few other announcer/coaches: Dick Vermeil, Larry Dierker, Bud Wilkinson, and insert name of recently fired manager in ESPN Baseball Tonight.

  403. Reading says:

    Blacked out for 1960 Game 7 rebroadcast. Not sure why. Good thing I have DVD.

  404. 21sthebest says:

    FYI, we’re winning 4-0 in the 5th.

    Oops. 4-1. Skowron goes deep.

  405. Reading says:

    3 spot by Mets against AJ.

  406. Reading says:

    Yanks should have pitched Ford.

  407. Arriba Wilver says:

    Good thing they didn’t give him the QO. He might have accepted. And then where would we be? ;-)

  408. Reading says:

    No, but to say he’s driven in 15 runs that were not in scoring position implies that he’s driven other runners in from first.

  409. Reading says:

    We’d be losing to the Mets.

  410. js1954 says:

    I don’t see how you get another GM to take Letang at 8M a year on his cap, with his health issues (potentially) and a no trade contract clause even if a couple of old jockstraps is the return. It may take a couple of healthy years before someone might take a chance.
    I hope Neal can be turned into a productive post season player (that’s a coach’s job.) He could be traded, but you better get a good return.
    Move Dan and get Dave Tippet.
    Let Nisckanen and Jokinen walk if they become too expensive. Make Jokinen the priority of those two : lean on your farm system for Dmen.
    Finish your due diligence and get a talented GM on board.

 
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