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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Morning Java: U.S.A.

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Tuesday chat is at 1 p.m. right here on the blog. Would love to have you along. It’s super-easy to participate. Just wait for the chat post to go up, usually around 11 a.m., and type your Q into the field. No fee. No signup. No registration. That’s it.

>> There’s a lot going on in local sports today, as we’ll get to imminently, but it’s all going to take a back seat to the bigger scope.

A preview of today’s World Cup match vs. Belgium, by the New York Times.

If you want to watch among friends, Market Square is putting up a big screen. This was done at the initiative of Mayor Bill Peduto and good friends Mikey and Bob at 96.1 Kiss FM. A fine idea, gentlemen.

A fantastic article about African nations — all out now — and the players demanding cash payments that often never come, also from the Times.

FIFA declines to punish the Dutch Diver Arjen Robben. This piece is filled with excellent background about soccer’s attempt to curb the practice.

Luis Suarez vows to stop biting people. Inspirational.

Here are the official World Cup 2014 page and the U.S. Soccer page.

Also in soccer, the Riverhounds play tonight in Dayton. Beat man Matt Grubba has that.

Here’s what our panel had to say about soccer diving on WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word:

>> Nikolai Kulemin and Benoit Pouliot will be two of the Penguins’ targets when NHL free agency opens today at noon, by beat man Josh Yohe.

James Neal was all upbeat, all class in his initial meeting with the Nashville media, by the Tennessean. Turns out Neal heard about being traded while he was among the handful of then-Penguins invited to Matt Niskanen’s wedding. You know, one of those events where you invite locker-room cancers and the like.

In addition, Neal tweeted this last night …

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 11.58.12 PM

And shortly after that, Neal got this tweet back from someone in Pittsburgh …

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 11.53.39 PM

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

>> Gregory Polanco turned down the Pirates’ $75 million offer, by beat man Rob Biertempfel.

Andrew Lambo remains in limbo, by Biertempfel.

Here’s Diamondbacks news from the Arizona Republic.

Here are official game highlights on

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

>> Ike Taylor is still ticked at the Steelers over the pay cut, by Mark Kaboly.

>> Let’s hear from you in today’s chat! And thank you, as always, for reading.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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


  1. Patrick(ri) says:

    While it is hard for me to accept tweets as “evidence,” these support a strong rebuttal of responses some of us had to yesterday’s Java. Nice.

  2. Sarcastic Sword says:

    Of course Neal’s wedding invite confirms hes a stand-up guy – we all know that jerks are always excluded from a party.

  3. DJ says:

    Seven years @ $25 mill to eight years @ $75 mill in just a few months. Wow.

    Hope we sign Polanco soon or there will be no $ left for dumpster dives.

  4. MJT2989 says:

    Turning down over 9 mil/year before playing one game in “The Show”. Not criticizing that decision at all. It’s a business, and if he’s doing whatever he thinks necessary to maximize his earnings more power to him. But wow, that’s having huge confidence in your abilities and chances of making it big. Here’s hoping all that success comes in Pittsburgh!

  5. Nate83 says:

    Staal got traded while at a wedding as well. So if you are a penguin and want to be trade go to a wedding. If you are a fan that wants a guy to be traded get married and invite that player to your wedding. :)

  6. Nate83 says:

    I’m guessing a majority of that increase is not gaurenteed and part of the team option years with probably 2 or 3 million buyouts for the team. Those option years are going to be 13-16 million if not more so if there are 3 option years that could account for 40-50 million of the that contract. Maybe only one year is gaurenteed and the other 2 are options.

  7. Nate83 says:

    He is more then likely turning down 30 million for 7 years gaurenteed with the other 45 million being option years. Still a good chunk of money but if the Pirates are willing to pick up those option years you can bet he would have made more then that as a free agent in the year 2022-2024. That being said he could tear up his knee tomorrow and get nothing so their is obviously still risk.

  8. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Quite disappointed to read that Ike Taylor is bringing up being unhappy with a pay cut….After the fact.
    Taylor didn’t “have” to take that pay cut.
    He could’ve been released and tested the waters of free agency.
    The bottom line is that it’s called “aging”….And that’s what Taylor is.
    Yes…He’s given his all, but he can’t get the same price for playing CB when he doesn’t possess the same talent.
    Father time rules everything….Including pay cuts.

  9. Mizery says:

    Polka Polanco- Sign Him!!!!!!

    Can’t wait to see USA on the pitch today. I think they will pull it off, although Belgium is a good squad.

    Sign Mike Cammaleri so he can stop killing the pens. Even if he doesn’t produce.

    That’s all I got.

  10. Scott says:

    As already pointed out, $75m makes a nice headline, but I’m sure the player and agent only look at the guaranteed money and what they’ll likely get in arbitration and was a steep discount.

    Polanco is now batting .288… How much does it hurt to wait a year and see how he finishes up in the big leagues before tying up a ton of money?

  11. While I’m waiting for the US to play Belgium on the soccer field this afternoon, and then the Pirates vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks this evening, well, allow me to tell Ike Taylor to shut up, play football since this is likely his last season anyhow, and quit sitting on his lousy mound of money and weeping his full head off while also protesting that he only took this painful pay cut because he wanted to remain a Steeler. Okay?!

  12. Scott says:

    Gotta love the Cammalleri FA highlights on NHL Tonight and him skating by Niskanen like a pylon.

  13. Not to mention, Ike wasn’t exactly coming off his best season. The deeper numbers on his performance are really damning.

  14. Honestly didn’t understand the abject lack of interest in Cammalleri at the deadline. Could have addressed a lot of what the Penguins were missing.

  15. And as for Polanco, well, this is yet another instance of the Pirates ownership trying to compete on the cheap and why this won’t likely work these days.

  16. Daquido_Bazzini says:


  17. Maybe so, James, maybe not. I really like the kid and I have always been one of his biggest proponents, but, for the love of heaven, do something first, then get paid.

  18. DJ says:

    What happened to younger and “heavier”?

    Still have nightmares of 2010 and the right “Cammall-dot.” 7 goals in ONE series — crazy!

  19. DJ says:

    At this rate, we cannot afford to wait.

  20. Thundercrack says:

    I guess ‘on the cheap’ is below market average. Then what exactly is the market rate for a player with 19 MLB games of experience?

  21. DJ says:

    . . . and yet we never adjusted.

  22. Pucknutz says:

    Nikolai Kulemin, LW…… I am thinkin I like that,

    Call me uninformed or whatever but where did this “cancer in the room” originate ??

  23. DJ says:

    Ugh. Feel a daymare comin’ on.

  24. Jandy says:


  25. DJ says:

    Like that he’s put up 30 before. Don’t like it was in 2010-11.

    That said, if hit is reasonable, pull the trigger.

  26. Jandy says:

    He could prolly use a change of scenery. I like it.

  27. ricky sledgehammer says:

    Notice that Mr. Real Deal’s tweet did not thank the fans. Just saying…

  28. 21sthebest says:

    This one really cracks me up. Sorry James. Here’s a case where if the Pirates were treating Polanco like any other rookie from a contractual standpoint and not making any offers yet, would anyone be complaining that they weren’t? I don’t think they would.

    But since reports have them making an offer that arguably could considered to be low, they’re cheap. And are these reports even accurate?

  29. Maz In Iowa says:

    Sounds like Harrison could be in RF.BTW Miley gives up a fair amount of HRs.Time for Pedro to show more power.

  30. bpn8pitt says:

    cmat stole James Thompsons handle, apparently.

  31. Sarah says:

    I believe that series was when the ForceField around the net excuse first appeared….

  32. Sarah says:

    Geno could use a bud.

  33. Jandy says:

    LOL! Pot stirrer :P

  34. Jandy says:

    Yes, and they sure are buds!

  35. NMR says:

    Party in the PNC.

  36. NMR says:

    Even if a large percetage is in the form of team options, it still blows my mind that the Pirates – of all teams – can be called cheap for offering $75M to a player that had yet to step foot on a Major League Baseball field.

  37. Sarah says:

    I’ve been hoping for Kulemin for awhile….he does the kinds of things that frees up Malkin to find space. Basically everything JJ doesn’t do….

  38. The Gunner says:

    Pedro is getting ready for a major offensive explosion, Maz

  39. The Gunner says:

    I agree with you Lucky but that’s not what they do today. I have a feeling Pedro will be going on quite a tear over the next few weeks.

  40. The Gunner says:

    It is hard to shake perception, NMR.

  41. SeanAY says:

    Well, I mean, over the last few weeks certain swathes of the fan base have called him a no-good, selfish, alcoholic caveman who will be lucky to score 10 goals without Evgeni Malkin. So I mean, I get it.

  42. Wild Bill says:

    If the US plays Altidore today, here’s hoping he can go full speed ahead. The team, from what I read, was not constructed with any real alternative to him on the roster. I’d like to see what they can do whit all cylinders firing.

    Sometimes when you are trying to get in a ref’s head, it might mean that he’s already in yours. Play on, boys!

  43. Wild Bill says:

    A very interesting Sunday is coming. A.J. Burnett pitching against the guy he mentored a lot last year, Locke. Wish I could be in the ‘burgh to see that one.

  44. 21sthebest says:

    And yes NMR, it did warm my heart to see Pedro pull a homerun. I went nuts. Alright, nuttier than usual. And especially on a pitch down and in from a righty. He has been inside outing those.

  45. bpn8pitt says:

    Im probably alone in this thinking, but I think the Pirates are going to set a dangerous precedent for blue chip prospects.

  46. Pete in Dayton says:

    Nice attention paid to the subject of African footballers and World Cup bonus money. The media has been quick to paint the players as greedy, but that’s hardly the case with most of the players from Africa in regards to the World Cup. If anyone is curious about that subject or gambling in soccer, read Declan Hill’s “The Fix”. It is one of the better books I’ve read on the game, although kind of depressing. Love to hear if any of the other soccer fans on here have read it.

  47. Sarcastic Sword says:

    If Neal wasnt fan-friendly while wearing the logo, why would a tweet thanking the fans be expected?

    I will give Neal this – I respect the fact that he isn’t saying something he doesn’t believe ( like I want to thank the fans).

    Some may relate to this – some of us have a close friend who within the social circle is a great guy and would do anything for anyone. Ask someone outside the social circle and most likely the response would be is that this guy is a jerk.

    That is Neal – to his friends, he is a great guy and obviously he is buddies with Niskanen to be invited to his wedding but there are enough accounts out there from media, team personnel, and fans that paint a different picture.

    Not sure why some media guys feel the need to defend him. Maybe Neal was great with certain people but to act like the catholic church will be anointing him a saint is another story altogether.

  48. War_Horse says:

    The U.S. soccer team has a chance to beat Belgium in the World Cup today, but not much of one. If it happens, it will be an upset. British commentators were saying on TV last night that American grit, determination and “will to win” were its biggest advantages. Belgium has the edge in quality players, five of whom are in the English soccer league’s Premier Division. Eden Hazard, 23, plays for Chelsea Football Club and is a world-class midfield player. His Chelsea teammates, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku, 21, a young but talented striker, are first rate. Vincent Kompany, a defender from Manchester City, will be in the Belgian squad, as will Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United and Chelsea. A lot of English fans will be rooting for the Americans, not only because the Brits are out of the competition themselves, but also, I suspect, because the Yanks are “over there.”

  49. Dom says:

    Just like Neil Walker, I was also sad to see James Neal go.

    I was even more sad to see the return we got for him.

  50. Maz In Iowa says:

    Trading or developing? :)

  51. Jandy says:

    The return is fine. Don’t be sad, Dom.

  52. Maz In Iowa says:

    On another note.It would be nice to see Walker/Cole getting acclimated to regular duty.Liriano is starting to throw,but the Pirates might not really need him.I almost hate to see Locke go to the pen OR get demoted when Franky comes back.Anyone else feel the same?

  53. chethejet1 says:

    Anyone recall Warren Young? He played with Mario as his LW and scored 40 goals. He got a great offer in free agency and was never heard from again. Neal scores 40 with Malkin taking the most attention leaving Neal room to shoot. Neal will find the sledding much tougher in Music city. No question the trade has generated controversy but lets see how the chips fall this season.

  54. Dom says:

    A writer for a paper in NJ was on a radio show yesterday and he claimed the consensus from around the league is that we were the losers in that deal. That usually happens to the team that gives away the best player in the deal.

  55. bpn8pitt says:

    Look at it this way…

    The first time Pedro went on tear, there would have been columns, articles, blog rants on how the Pirates MUST pay Pedro Alvarez.

    After a few years of watching this guy disappear for weeks at time, on top of being a defensive liabilty at 3rd, arent you glad that didnt happen?

    How do you feel about Tabata’s deal? Still feel great about the Marte investment?

    The way this is headed, they are going to hand 100 million to a guy before he plays a full season. Could still turn out well, but nothing is a given.

    Thats all Im saying.

  56. Tommy says:

    That’s an ignorant statement. There is absolutely no reason to rush. I wouldn’t offer again til midway through offseason when he’s counting small change dreaming of big cash. He might bend a bit. Also when has a small slump, tweaks his hammy or sprains his wrist…he might be a bit more willing to talk.

  57. Tommy says:

    I wonder which guy Burnett will hit.
    My guess, Polanco. Just a feeling.

  58. Tom P. says:

    Thanks for the scouting report. I know little about soccer, but it seems that the USA needs to work hard to create more scoring chances. Since only a small percentage of chances result in goals, trying to capitalize on only 4-5 legitimate chances a game is not enough.

  59. Jordan White says:

    Good comments, both of you. I went from being really proud of the guy for being a team guy to being annoyed. haha. Ike’s feelings are natural, sure, but as Daq stated, go test the waters if you feel so slighted.

    Oh well. I’m still rooting for him, but I was hopeful that the Ryan Clark-esque comments would be done this year from the Steelers.

  60. Maz In Iowa says:

    With a choice of starting pitchers next year do the Pirates really need to attempt to upgrade in the offseason?Pimentel,Worley,Cumpton,Locke,Morton,Cole(not sure about Volquez) perhaps Sadler,Kingham and Taillon is a pretty good stable IMO

  61. SeanAY says:

    It’s a calculated risk, and one that the Indians used to great effect in the 90’s. If you assess it correctly and give the money to the right guys, you look like the genius that locked up your core early and at a set cost. If you’re a team on a tighter budget, it might be the best way to get it done.

  62. GAWTS2009 says:

    I was sad too Dom. I see Horn on Sids wing (as much as i love Duper the 3rd line is calling). Just hoping it works out.

  63. Milo Hamilton says:

    With all the attention being on forwards, I think the Penguins would serve themselves well to sign a veteran depth type defenseman today. A sort of safety net for all the young guys.

  64. Dom says:

    I’d say one FA that is the caliber of Volquez.

  65. Jandy says:

    che, I remember Young very well. And good point.

  66. Arriba Wilver says:

    And the big dollars are WAAAYYYY down the road. I respect the fact he has enough confidence to turn it down, but don’t blame the Pirates for trying. And he wasn’t a bonus baby like Cole and Pedro (and T Sanchez) who already have millions sitting in the bank.

  67. bpn8pitt says:

    I dont feel as good about Marte as I did in the Spring.

    The 10 million owed to Tabata is going to sting in the short term.

    Maybe I kinda feel there is going to be a tit for tat, for the bargain of the McCutchen deal.

  68. bpn8pitt says:

    I just think some of these deals are going to be bargains like Sean said, with McCutchen’s deal and some of them are going to be a disaster.

    I think they painted them selves in a corner negotiating that early in the first place, to be honest. Should have ” just let the kid play”. For a little while longer.

  69. bpn8pitt says:

    Again, Im probably alone in thinking this, but thats a collection of average pitchers.

    They need a stopper.

  70. JohninOshkosh says:

    Happy Canada Day!

    Love your country and thank you for three of my favorite things on the planet: hockey, the movie “Strange Brew” and William Shatner.

    You can keep Biebs and Buble, though

  71. scapper says:

    Weird (and depressing) to read the Cammalleri comments as I sit in this hotel and literally look across the street at the Bell Center. That series still burns.

  72. And for Love or List It.


  73. scapper says:

    Sitting in a hotel on Rue de la Montagne right now, watching a parade staging area below on Rue Rene Levesque. Second visit here. What a city, what a country! So cosmopolitan yet so exceedingly friendly, especially when one tries to use the 300 or 400 French words one knows.

    Talked to a woman yesterday who is still heartbroken over losing the Expos. I wanted to cheer her up by telling her that we were originally from Pittsburgh and that the ’10 loss is still an all-time heartbreaker….but nawwwww…just couldn’t give her the satisfaction!

  74. hockeymonster says:

    Fayne and/or Kostka.

  75. NMR says:

    I know where you’re going with this thought, and I do agree in priciple, but I think “disaster” is very overstated. The only team that hasset themselves up for “disaster” with extensions is the Atlanta Braves with their recent +$100m worth of extensions.

    What the Pirates and most other teams are doing doesn’t come close to that.

  76. Jandy says:

    Haha! have fun scapper :)

  77. NMR says:

    Montreal is great. Jealous!

  78. bpn8pitt says:

    NMR, I dont know man. Seems like an awful lot for a guy who has yet to prove he can hold up physically over 162 games.

    Eric Davis, man.


    he was offered $25 million before the season. the pirates didn’t offer $75 million until he was called up 19 games into his career. if he’s as good as the pirates think he will become and has a good agent he will play out his arbitration yrs and make close to 10-15 million per the way current salaries are going. he won’t make anything the next few yrs, but once he’s arbitration eligible he will be top rated if he’s as good as expected.

  80. JohninOshkosh says:

    Vive le Québec libre !

    Québécois !

    Wife and I honeymooned there a million years ago. Truly one of the great cities of the world. Have fun, friend.

  81. JD says:

    Don’t forget Rush. The Canadian power trio. Awesome band.

  82. NMR says:

    Assuming you’re excluding Cole, I think that average comment is fair.

    However, I’m not sure it is actually a problem.

    The Pirates now have an offense. It probably won’t be top 3 in the league as it was last month, but it also won’t be scrapping three runs together every night and hoping that holds. A starting rotatio, five deep, of average or better pitchers will win a lot of ballgames with good run support.


    cole is the stopper in that group and you’re right

  84. JohninOshkosh says:


    Oh man, How could I have forgotten them ?!

  85. NMR says:

    “the pirates didn’t offer $75 million until he was called up 19 games into his career.”

    That is not correct.

  86. NMR says:

    “Before Gregory Polanco was called up to the major leagues, the Pirates offered their prized right fielder a contract that would have kept him in Pittsburgh through 2024.”

    If only Dejan provided links to articles that actually state facts on the issues we discuss…

  87. JD says:

    Begin the day with a friendly voice. A companion, unobtrusive.

  88. Naterosboro says:

    Pedro Alvarez is the only hitter in this lineup capable of 35-40HRs. Until they find a replacement for his power, I’d like them to keep him at 3B.

    I have no problem with the Tabata or Marte deal. Just as 1 hot streak shouldn’t define a player, 1 tough stretch shouldn’t define a guy either.

    There’s still more to come from Starling. Do I see HOF in his future? No, but I do think he’ll be a very solid, good major leaguer with the potential to make a few All-Star teams.

    The Pirates will always have to try and get out in front of the market with star-caliber players because (barring a change in ownership or revenues) they simply cannot afford to pay market value for star players. If that means handing a guy $100mil before he plays a full season, I guess so be it.

  89. NMR says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m with you on this.

    I couldn’t believe how many people, including analysts, flippantly described the Pirates initial contract offer cheap or low-ball when the kid had just 9 at-bats above AA. There’s serious risk of failure there that I think people are forgetting due to the Trout’s, Fernandez’s, and Abreu’s of the world.

    Where we differ is in how to handle that risk. Tabby’s extension has not worked out as planned. There’s no deying that. But I guarantee that at least half a dozen FREE AGENT deals inked just last winter will end up worse. There’s risk involved where ever you spend the money.

    I still fall on the side that prefers to spread that risk on young talent rather than aging talent…as long as prices don’t baloon. Don’t be the guy who starts paying free agent prices for prospects and you’ll be OK.

  90. SeanAY says:

    DUDE. I was listening to that song while I was getting ready for work today.




    you are correct, i misread what cbssports had said. he was offered multiple deals including the 11 yr $75 million before he was called up. monetarily wise if he’s as good as he supposed to be he should take the chance and play it out. the pirates got a great deal on cutch, probabaly avg deal with marte and who knows how this plays out.

  92. Milo Hamilton says:

    And I want Paul Bissonnette back.

  93. Patrick(ri) says:

    For us geezers: Gordon Lightfoot, and Ian & Silvia. This generation gets Mayor Ford. We win again!

  94. Court Jester says:

    50 minutes to NHL free agency. I feel like a 6 year old on Xmas eve….

  95. JD says:

    Nice. Great tune!


  96. Naterosboro says:

    The only thing that has me a bit scared is Belgium hasn’t really played up to their potential in this world cup. They’ve been grinding out results. I’m just leery that they’ll put a good game together against the US and smoke us like 3-1.

    Just a few quick notes to your post:

    *Thibault Courtois is owned by Chelsea, but has been on loan at Atletico Madrid for the past 2 or 3 seasons, and I believe he’ll now be staying there as Chelsea have included him in the deal to get Diego Costa.

    *Romelu Lukaku is also like Courtois in that he is owned by Chelsea, but has been on loan at West Browmwich Albion (2 seasons ago) & Everton (last season).

    * Marouane Fellaini was an Everton player who was purchased by Manchester United (under the direction of former manager David Moyes) prior to last season. He was never a Chelsea player.

    * Some other players to keep an eye on for Belgium: Kevin Mirallas (winger with pace; plays for Everton in the EPL; dangerous in space and set pieces), Kevin de Bruyne (attacking midfielder; creative and can sometimes find a goal with a long distance effort), Moussa Dembele (central midfielder; strong & powerful, can run at back 4s, and has a shot that finds the back of the net from distance), Adnan Januzaj (19 year old creative midfielder who can play on the wing; tricky dribbler who can provide a creative spark)

    * Thomas Vermaelen is unavailable avter injuring his knee, and Vincent Kompany may also be unavailable (altho I think he’ll play but may not be 100%). This leaves Belgium short in defense, having to rely on an aging Daniel Van Buyten & Jan Vertonghen to play central defense. If Kompany starts, he’ll probably partner with Van Buyten with Vertonghen at LB (which can be exploited) and Alderweireld at RB.

  97. Andrew says:

    bpn, the overwhelming majority of these type of extensions end up as success for the team. If McCutchen continued to play at a 5.0 WAR pace his extension is a great deal. Yes there is some risk but if a team cannot afford $10 million over two years for a failed extension, you better higher the best of Madison Avenue to keep attendance up because you won’t be winning much.

    If the Pirates are having discussions about extending top prospects frequently that is a good thing, I think Polanco is in a class that McCuthen and Alvarez never reached as prospectes. I have no issue with the Marte extension, and will somebody please report the guaranteed number on these contracts, that is the risk, and it is no where near $75 million.

  98. cmat0829 says:

    is that another way of calling me grumpy? I’m in a good mood today… USA USA USA… and LETS GO BUCS… yinz get to see the train wreck that is the DBacks pitching…and a manager, Kirk Gibson, that makes Hurdle look like a comination of Casey Stengel – Leo Derocher – Jim Leyland – Tony LaRussa.

  99. Andrew says:

    The gulf in class between Belguim and the US is vast, Vertonghen isn’t exactly a downgrade in the middle, he made many Premier League first team lists following the 2012-13 season. Belguim has the same weakness as Germany in that they play four centre-halves across the back, also while they have a wealth of attacking options in middle field none are great passers, all excel at beating a man by dribbling, this leaves Lukaku somewhat isolated and he had done almost nothing all tournament.

    Still the task is likely too big for the US team and I agree Nate that Belguim has played nowhere near potential in the weakest of the groups, and I fear a game like when they rolled the US 4-2 friendly last year.

  100. Andrew says:

    I agree the return for Neal was poor, there we be players of Spaling caliber who will sign today for less then the Penguins will sign him for.

    Hornqvist plays a similar game to Kunitz and Kunitz has 4 even strength goals in the last 40 playoff games, going to the net is some playoff panacea.

  101. Andrew says:

    I think Kulemin’s recent struggles are Randy Caryle based.

  102. Jandy says:

    Don’t be holding your breath…

  103. Jandy says:

    Let’s hope we’re happy as a 6 year old on Christmas Day

  104. cmat0829 says:

    STFD, Wild Bill!

  105. Naterosboro says:

    Vertonghen is a pretty good CB, but doesn’t have real pace. If Kompany were to be unavailable, and Van Buyten has to partner with him, that’ll be good for the US. Also, if a less than healthy Kompany is out there, and Vertonghen goes to LB, I’ll like that even more (altho, Vincent Kompany can be a rock at the back, so let’s hope he doesn’t play or doesn’t have a good game if he does). Vertonghen’s lack of pace and attacking tendencies can maybe lead to him being out of position on the left hand side which the US can exploit.

  106. Milo Hamilton says:

    Yeah, going to be Steve Downie instead.

  107. cmat0829 says:

    At this point, Locke/Worley/Volquez are pitching for their spot in the rotation… because Liriano is set to return but also because Cumpton is waiting in the wings. IF they all keep pitching as they are pitching, then yes, Locke will go back to AAA as he has an option, and you see what Liriano can do. You have to, for 3 reasons:

    1) Liriano, when he is on, is an ace.
    2) Liriano, when is is on, is better than Locke.
    3) If nothing else, you can improve any trade return for Liriano if he proves he is back to form (and the Bucs are sellers, to an extent, or are opportunistic to create room for Locke AND pick up talent for Frankie.

    The message to Locke and Cumpton is simple. 2015 rotation spots are yours, if you keep it up. Liriano and Volquez will not be returning… not because of their asking price fully, but because we have pitchers who have earned their spot and neither Liriano nor Volquez is a ‘sure thing to produce’ in 2015 and beyond. No use shelling out bucks to them AND block Locke and Cumpton from their chance to shine.

    You have to believe, with the recent success of TJ surgery returns, the Bucs are holding one spot – June or later – in 2015 for Taillon. Cole, Taillon, Morton are 1-2-3 in that scenario. They are going to give Worley every shot as they control him for 3 more seasons and he has a track record. IN that case, the 5 spot is up for grabs.

    Truth is the Bucs are stockpiling a lot of mid to back end rotation options. NH may be best served using some of that depth in this summer’s — or offseason trades.

  108. Jandy says:

    Nah, if they’re not keeping Engo, you won’t see either of those two, though.

    Downie is an azzclown.

  109. Milo Hamilton says:

    Wanna bet ?

  110. Jandy says:

    Sure. I’ll beet my hat :D

  111. Jandy says:

    errr bet lol

  112. cmat0829 says:

    Look at all the hype in the trade market ‘average’ pitchers are getting. Like Jason Hammel. Bud Norton last year. Wandy Rodriguez.

    I think NH’s challenge is identifying which of this pack projects the best down the line…. Worley, Locke and Cumpton has shown they can pitch in the bigs, but none are immune to their ups and downs. Pimentel has a live arm, maybe the best of the bunch, but hasn’t started at all in the bigs. Sadler to me is like a Cumpton… Kingham I have no idea what his upside is…and Taillon is penciled in as #2 beside Cole for years to come.

    One thing they absolutely do NOT need to do… sign another FA like Volquez. Trade for someone like AJB or McCarthy. Either bundle up 2 or 3 of these guys to try to get a true ace, or live with what you have. But NH and staff will have to start thinning out the herd somehow. Who can be groomed for leverage bullpen role? Is Pimentel with his velocity an option there?

  113. cmat0829 says:

    I’m with you 100% on everything you say here. Pedro has to be a part of this lineup, we need the occasional 3R HR. Tell him to swing for the fences and we’ll live with the Ks. But throw the damn ball on a line to 1B, already. He has gotten better on that of late.

    As to signing the young players, it is a calculated risk but the way the system is, the Bucs have to go for it. Polanco looks to have what it takes to be successful, so if the Bucs can get back-end value in the deal, they are smart to do it. And if it busts, it busts. Much less harmful than if they package 3 top prospects for a pitcher, like Price, and fall short of their goals.

    No one needs to point to the Tabata contract, which is hardly a big number even for the Pirates. It’s a rounding error. As to Marte, a long, long way to go on that…just watching him play CF makes me see the value he brings on D…with his speed… we need to remember he is still young, still learning. One thing we know..he has the TOOLS to be very good. Can he get past the mental lapses, figure out the right approach at the plate? Odds are yes he can. But will he? Dunno. If anyone knew, then the Bucs couldn’t have signed him to the deal in the first place. Risk/reward is always the equation.

  114. Milo Hamilton says:

    Christian Ehrhoff to Pens. There’s my defenseman. 1 year – $4 million.

  115. Jandy says:

    Wow, pre-free agency trade, Jason to the Star. Forwards Alex Chiasson, Alex Guptill and Nicholas Paul and 2nd round pick in 2015. The Senators sent forward Ludwig Karlsson back to Dallas.

  116. hockeymonster says:


  117. Pete in Dayton says:

    I assume that was for Erhoff.
    I applaud as well. He’ll be great on the power play.

  118. hockeymonster says:

    Now lets’s sign Vrbata, Winnik and Goc and we can call it a day. Unless there’s a trade out there to get younger.

  119. Jandy says:

    Penguins sign Ehrhoff!! YES

  120. Milo Hamilton says:

    Benoit Pouliot gets 5 years from Edmonton.

  121. cmat0829 says:

    Probably among the stupidest comments I have seen on this blog. To call the Pirates cheap for making an aggressive offer for an unproven rookie is absolutely without merit. It is just a ‘cheap shot’ for ownership past.

    I think a deal will get done. More than NH is comfortable paying but less than what Polanco probably will inevitably be worth. Risk/reward. Just need to ramp it up a little and they will have their player.

    IF, big IF, but IF Polanco progresses as his tools enable him to, and Marte does the same, the OF foundation with cost certainty is THE strategic advantage this franchise has. Close second is controllable young starting pitching. That lets them use the rest of the dollars on paying Russell Martin, paying for corner infielders on the open market, and looking to extend Cole and Taillon if possible, though that will be much harder to do.

  122. Jandy says:

    see? no stinking azzlclown!

  123. Milo Hamilton says:

    Malhotra to Montreal 850K.

  124. Jandy says:


  125. Jandy says:


  126. Milo Hamilton says:

    Remember, teams can be as much as $6.9 million over the cap until opening night.

  127. hockeymonster says:

    Yup and if we can squeeze in Fayne our top 4 would be tremendous. If winnik is cheaper than Kulemin i would sign him in a heartbeat. Especially for 1.8-2M range. Same with Goc. Would rather have those 2 than kulemin for what it will cost to sign him. Would probably have to move Piece’s salary to make all that work with Fayne but would really really want to try. If not I would definitely sign Kostka on the cheap in the stead of Fayne.

  128. hockeymonster says:

    Fayne to edmonton. Nevermind. Sign Kostka on the cheap.

  129. hockeymonster says:

    I want B. Pouliot’s agent to represent me on all matters from now on.

  130. Andrew says:

    No definitely the centerbacks out wide on both left and right, are a weakness, I think Jan is fairly swift for a centerback and Kompany while great is a bit overrated, it is easy to look good next to Demichelis.

    I will hate if the US gets wide and than starts lobbing crosses into the box, because that will play into the Belguims’ hands, need to work it back into the center on the ground. US needs to be better on the counter than they were against Germany, a lot of poor first touches lead to lateral or back passes that killed some of the breaks.

  131. Pete in Dayton says:

    Me too… $4mil a season for 15 goals?

  132. Andrew says:

    I really liked Pouliot, the guy has some of the best on-ice goals numbers over the last six seasons, while playing third line minutes, but $4 million, I thought $3 million would be too high.

  133. hockeymonster says:

    Yup, agreed. M. Michalek just got 3/12M. I think Vrbata for 2.8-3M just got to be even more realistic. Would be ok doing 3/9M for vrbata but would prefer 2 years.

  134. Milo Hamilton says:

    Cammalleri to Devils 5 years / $25 million. New Jersey obviously trying to get older & smaller at the same time.

  135. Milo Hamilton says:

    Florida just gave Jussi Jokinen $16 million over 4 years. Good Lord.

  136. Jandy says:

    Just wow

  137. Milo Hamilton says:

    Mason Raymond to Calgary, 3 years / $9.5 million.

  138. hockeymonster says:

    He’s overpaid but not as much as some others will be.

  139. hockeymonster says:

    GM Chuckie Fletcher getting a chuckle out of this one:

  140. Milo Hamilton says:

    My exact words a minute ago were, “some guy named Clayton Stoner.”

  141. Milo Hamilton says:

    With all this crazy money flying around it’s kind of a red flag that the Kulemin thing is not done.

  142. Milo Hamilton says:

    Brooks Orpik to Washington.

  143. hockeymonster says:

    Maybe someone is talking them down from spending more than 2M on kulemin.

  144. Mizery says:

    I am baffled as well DK. It also baffles me how much Cammalleri has bounced around the league. You think a guy with his skill would stick somewhere. I thought he was a great fit on the Kings and Canadians. He is on a new team like every year.

  145. Milo Hamilton says:

    Joe Vitale gets 3 years from Arizona. 3 years ? For what exactly ?

  146. NMR says:

    Disagree with the Volquez comment. I think the exact opposite, actually.

    As long as you have legit minor league starters with options such as Cumpton and Locke, I think you absolutely should be taking a shot at upside with guys like Volquez. You theoretically cannot have enough starting pitching depth, and you literally do not have enough space on a 25-man roster to store it all.

    Even if Volquez and Locke/Cumpton are equivalent pitchers, the value of having Voquez is big since you can store a replacement in the minors.

  147. Jandy says:

    what is the amount?

  148. hockeymonster says:

    Thanks for the chart toppin Hits Brooksie. One on Toews was a beaut. I would wish you luck but since you’re in the east you know i wouldn’t mean it :)

  149. Jandy says:


  150. Jandy says:

    Ryan Miller, Canuck

  151. hockeymonster says:

    And i dunno about this downie idea. We just traded neal partly cuz of bad penalties. I know downie plays on the edge and all but unless it’s for peanuts, like 900K, i dont see a reason for it.

  152. Jandy says:

    Not holding my breath

  153. Milo Hamilton says:

    Looks like a little over a million per. Good for him.

  154. Jandy says:

    I wish him the best, always have appreciated him.

  155. Milo Hamilton says:

    Pens get Blake Comeau 700K & Thomas Greiss 1 million. Both 1 year deals.

  156. hockeymonster says:

    Someone must want zatkoff in trade…

  157. hockeymonster says:


  158. Jandy says:

    Possibly, but I like Comeau

  159. Milo Hamilton says:

    Heavy on Germans today.

    You may be looking at the wrong end of the goalie depth chart.

  160. hockeymonster says:

    For 700K i can live with it. Very good lottery ticket there.

  161. hockeymonster says:

    Greiss isnt that guy. But he’s an upgrade on paper for back up goalie. Just don’t know why it was necessary unless they can get a draft pick for Zatkoff.

  162. Andrew says:

    Is this correct, Capitals gave Orpik a five-year, $27.5 million deal?

  163. cmat0829 says:

    In theory I agree on the reclamation projects, but soon Locke and Cumpton will be out of options too… with Kingham and Sadler among the next wave… what do you do with Locke / Cumpton if you sign another major league reclamation project? Forces a trade and possibly not on the Pirates’ terms.

    I just think there is a major need to tier these pitchers…not all can make it, and many won’t because of performance…but you can’t stash these guys in AAA forever.

  164. Milo Hamilton says:

    Orpik gets 5 years / $27.5 million. Wow.

  165. hockeymonster says:

    I hope Reirden gets his cut. Isn’t nisky signing with them too?

  166. Andrew says:

    Every year in the NHL defensive defensemen are bought out, then teams sign the next crop of defensive defensmen to big long term deals. This player class just does not age well.

  167. hockeymonster says:

    Sign Vrbata!!! 3/9M Do it!!!!

    He’ll score 30 with geno and either kuni or duper.

  168. Milo Hamilton says:

    Offense is undervalued. And I’m barely kidding.

  169. Milo Hamilton says:

    Pens have called their press conference for 3:00. Rutherford needs a nap.

  170. Steve B. says:

    Over $5 million a year is one laughable thing, but for 5 years…when I don’t think he’s got more than 2 left in him even in a reduced role, is mind boggling. Generous is an understatement.

    I hope Ovie can double his goal output cause they’re gonna need it to outscore most opponents with El-Brooksie out there playing Torero. And here I thought it would surely be the Flyers who would over pay for him. Wow!

  171. JohninOshkosh says:

    Farewell, Clayton Stoner. The Wild will miss the revenue from your jersey sales.

  172. Milo Hamilton says:

    Vanek down to two teams. I hope the Pens aren’t one of them.

  173. hockeymonster says:

    Hear that? I think DJ’s head just exploded.

  174. Milo Hamilton says:

    I want Steve Ott.

  175. JohninOshkosh says:

    Brooksie gets 5 years !

    The Washington Capitals, ladies and gentlemen.

  176. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m more convinced than ever that either Martin or Fleury will be traded.

  177. Steve B. says:

    …at over 5$ mil per! Nice that we can always count on the Caps for some humor even in the down times.

    I knew “The Shift” would eventually pay off for Orpik from some obtuse GM.

  178. Milo Hamilton says:

    I just can’t reconcile adding $4 million more to the back line while still having so many holes up front. Ehrhoff replaces Martin ?

  179. Jandy says:

    Likely Martin, that will suck

  180. Jandy says:


  181. Milo Hamilton says:

    Something’s up with the goaltending.

  182. Andrew says:

    I think unfortunately Martin could get moved, but remember Maatta and Pouliot are coming off shoulder surgery, they may want to hold off on trading him. I don’t see Zatkoff or Greiss as starters.

  183. Jandy says:

    Where did Matt Moulson sign?

  184. Steve B. says:

    Sabres. 5 years for $5 mil per.

  185. Jandy says:

    Thanks, Steve

  186. Jandy says:

    Vanek to the WILD

  187. hockeymonster says:

    Please include Adams in any trade we may make.

  188. Milo Hamilton says:

    Neither do I. So our 3rd stringer eats up cap space in the minors ? I just don’t see anyone trading anything for Zatkoff. Guys like him are a dime a dozen. We need to borrow Huntington to pawn off Scuderi to a team needing to add salary to get to the floor. Buffalo maybe ?

  189. Steve B. says:

    JR better do something meaningful soon in terms of getting some help at forward, or the 3:00 press conference is gonna be about as exciting as hiring a washed up GM to turn a team around…oh, wait.

  190. Arriba Wilver says:

    Where is everybody getting all this money/cap space? Or is it that they don’t have Crosby/Malkin/Letang? (Not complaining).

    I did see where Milo said they can be almost $7 mil over the Cap until opening night.

  191. hockeymonster says:

    Watch, Kulemin will sign with KHL for many rubles.

    Why haven’t we signed Vrbata yet?

  192. Milo Hamilton says:

    They were never actually under the cap for one second last year. You don’t have to be compliant until the regular season begins. They used Vokoun, Letang & others to keep them under the cap by using long term IR.

  193. Milo Hamilton says:

    Maybe they’re done. You don’t usually schedule the presser unless you are.

  194. JohninOshkosh says:

    Former Gopher back home. Wild just got better and answered Colorado’s signing of Iginla.

  195. Steve B. says:

    Iginla to Colorado.

  196. JohninOshkosh says:

    Florida signed our old buddy, Shawn Thornton.

  197. Andrew says:

    Not sure either, I think Greiss is an upgrade, so losing Zatkoff for little or nothing may not really hurt. I wouldn’t be opposed to trading Fluery, $5 million is a lot for an effectively league average goalies with a poor playoff track record. But Greiss and Zatkoff as your goaltenders is highly suspect.

  198. Steve B. says:

    I think they are dotting the i’s on at least one more thing. It would be a pretty sad state if this is all they could get done.

  199. Andrew says:

    Flyers and Blackhawks are currently over the cap and another 8 teams have less space than the Penguins including, Kings, Blues, and Bruins.

  200. Jandy says:


  201. hockeymonster says:

    Dont think we can be that flippant in trading fleury. #1 goalies are rare and we have one for 5M. His stats don’t represent the lack of Defensive structure he’s had in front of him. At least in previous seasons anyway.

  202. SeanAY says:

    If you don’t mind me asking, what’s the fascination with Vrbata? One 30-goal season in his 14-year career, only three other seasons with 20+.

  203. Steve B. says:

    I do remember him being one heck of a guitarist for White Lion…we are talking about V. Bratta, right?

  204. Andrew says:

    Hockey, Fleury is pretty much league average in the save department, his value is that he gives you 65 games/year. I not saying put him on the block especially with the two options on the roster, but I’m not opposed to the idea of trading him and don’t want him extended.

    And I am judging him by several years, I don’t think anyone has found a team effect on saving percentage.

  205. Sisyphus says:

    Yes, and if he ruins a knee in a bad slide, he’ll end up being a policeman back in the Dominican.

    It’s silly to suggest that only the Pirates should assume all of the risks of a long term contract, especially when the player concerned had yet to set foot on a big league field.

  206. Milo Hamilton says:

    This is going to be a great press conference. More questions than answers. Heck, more questions than 3 hours ago.

  207. hockeymonster says:

    No problem. He just projects to play well with geno. He has been facing elite level competition and producing consistently. If you think jussi played well with geno than you should be on board to sign Vrbata for 3M.

  208. JohninOshkosh says:

    Early presser.

    Tuesday night is a big BINGO night.

  209. hockeymonster says:

    Gibson for fleury?

    Don’t answer that…

  210. 1313MckingbirdLn says:

    Seems like there are more 1-year deals getting dished out in the first few hours of free agency.

  211. Andrew says:


  212. SeanAY says:

    I admittedly know very little about him other than the numbers.

  213. hockeymonster says:

    Is there a feed for Press conference? Or on Root?

  214. 1313MckingbirdLn says:

    I think it’s on the Pens’ site.

  215. hockeymonster says:

    Thanks. team site didn’t have that up before.

  216. JohninOshkosh says:

    Just read an interesting tweet that the reigning Stanley Cup champs, and owners of 2 of the last 3, have only signed a free agent once on the first day of free agency under current GM Dean Lombardi.

  217. NMR says:

    The next time the Pittsburgh Pirates are so deep in starting pitching that they do not have room to fit one free agent will be the first, cmat.

    I’ll worry about that hypothetical when we get there.

  218. Milo Hamilton says:

    OK, so that’s all. Please disperse, there’s nothing to see here.

  219. NMR says:

    And FWIW, Brandon Cumpton is not the kind of guy you make plans around.

  220. Milo Hamilton says:

    Deryk Engelland – 3 years / $8.7 million.

  221. hockeymonster says:

    Ok now my head exploded:

    Not to be too far out there but if engo is worth that much than i’m worth at least a cool million. And i’m not even in very good shape right now.

  222. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sorry I was stunned by the figure – Calgary.

  223. Andrew says:

    Worst signing of the day, almost $3 million for Engelland, just wow.

  224. Steve B. says:

    My head exploded after Orpik’s signing so kinda I’m numb to this one.

    All I can say is if the Pens are leaning on the formula of addition by subtraction to fix things, they should make it to at least the cup finals next year at this pace.

  225. hockeymonster says:

    Burke is ok with it.

  226. hockeymonster says:

    I just want to know who Burke was bidding against? His reflection?

  227. 1313MckingbirdLn says:

    Last season, Engelland had the same number of goals as Ehrhoff.

  228. Milo Hamilton says:

    The hair alone scared the crap out of him.

  229. Andrew says:

    Just saw this; Engelland cap hit by year.

    08-09: 493K
    09-10: 493K
    10-11: 500K
    11-12: 567K
    12-13: 567K
    13-14: 567K
    14-15: 2.9 million

    Burke could possibly be one of the worst front office types in all of sports.

  230. hockeymonster says:

    Based on my rough math, Sutter’s demand for 4M is a cap killer. We may need to give him the ROR treatment if he doesn’t get more realistic.

    With sutter making 4M, we’re missing a 3LW or 4th Center if spaling plays 3LW, 4LW and a RW for geno. If we sign Vrbata for 2.8M and trade piece we’ll be peachy. We’ll be able to sign 2 bottom 6 players and a winger for geno. If sutter makes 3M we’ll be able to sign Winnik and Goc for 4th line and give us 4 really really good lines.

    Here’s my roster with scuderi traded and Sutter making 3.5M:

    I like it.

  231. JohnS says:

    Good try Monster but if they can find a GM to take Scuderi than that GM should be fired. I can see them moving Martin only because he has value.


    agree scuderi will be here for life of contract

  233. hockeymonster says:

    Burke just gave Engo 2.9M per. 2 months from now other GM’s may regret not taking scuderi off our hands for a 4th or 5th pick. And i’m all for offers for PM but idea of he and Ehrhoff in our top 4 with letang makes me want to put on my gear. That said i would trade PM to MN for Folin and a 3rd.

  234. hockeymonster says:

    Actually scratch that last statement. Now that i think about it, whoever loses out on nisky may want to take a run at PM. So maybe we can get more than just that. I don’t mind holding onto to both piece and PM or trading one or either depending on return. And if nisky breaks the bank teams that lost out on him may want PM in the worst way.

  235. DJ says:

    Just got home, HM.

    Picked up my jaw at work and then reattached it.

    EFFIN insanity!!!

  236. DJ says:

    Stop it. No way Pens trade Flower.

    Not happening.

  237. DJ says:

    No surprise, JiO.

    Targeted there from Day 1.

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