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Morning Java: A focus on Marte

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The TribLIVE Radio show today — 2-3 p.m. — will open with your calls, and the topics, as always, are up to you. Call me at 412-320-7925. Feel free to email sportstalk@tribweb.com if you can’t call. But I’d rather hear from you.

At 2:30, I’ll be joined by Josh Yohe, the Trib’s Penguins beat writer, to talk free agency.

And at 2:45, we’ll have a word on the Steelers from our @SuckMeter.

To listen, just click the link up top. If you’re mobile, try the iPhone version or the Android version of the TribLIVE Radio app. Both are free and insultingly easy to use.

>> Ike Davis’s bat was reduced to splinters, but the result was a walkoff single to cap the Pirates’ electric ninth-inning rally over Arizona. The game story is by Travis Sawchik.

A couple questions I had for Starling Marte about his huge hit in the ninth:

Blogginess from the scene: The video above tells you a little about Marte’s at-bat, in which Addison Reed got him to chase at two sliders for two of the ugliest hacks you’ll see. What followed was a glaring mistake. Miguel Montero called for a slider, and Reed just floated it right over the plate. Terrible pitch. But give Marte credit. He’d tell me later that teams have been trying to bust him with a fastball inside after those now-infamous 0-2 counts, so he had to be ready for that or the slider. And what complicated that, as Josh Harrison was explaining to me, was that Reed’s got this “super-funky angle’ for his pitches and that ‘it’s hard to see what he’s got coming.’ Marte did the logical thing: ‘I stayed in my zone. I was not going to go out of my zone.’ … Yeah, I know, why can’t he do that all the time? I don’t know, either, but at least be comforted that it’s a work in progress. … Harrison’s throw to the plate was a thing of beauty, absolute strike. But a couple of guys inside the room were even more impressed at how he and Andrew McCutchen have developed a real rapport in the outfield, especially on gappers. There were a couple in this game in which Harrison’s ‘natural aggressiveness from being an infielder’ took over, and Cutch smartly deferred. Tells me a lot about Harrison’s mounting confidence. … This will be lost in the outcome, but Arizona’s Wade Miley was really good. I write stuff like this knowing it falls mostly on deaf ears — there’s really only one team out there, right? — but Miley drew rave reviews from the Pirates and deserved them all. His command was impeccable. … The Diamondbacks’ defense, in fairness, was just as good. Weird team, huh? You still look at that roster and wonder what they’re doing at 35-50. … Only Jeff Locke can give up eight hits and two walks and pitch eight innings, right? I put that to Clint Hurdle afterward: ‘The command was up just a little bit early. But he stayed with his program, got outs when he needed them. One thing about Jeff is that he lives within the pitch. He doesn’t let other things get to him.’ What an answer, huh?

Catch Hurdle’s even better answer about Pedro Alvarez earlier in the day? Feel free to interpret as you wish, but that bluntness on that topic is a first. Karen Price has the notebook.

Here’s Diamondbacks news from the Arizona Republic.

Here are official game highlights on MLB.com.

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

>> The Penguins signed Team Germany on the first day of NHL free agency. Yohe covers the acquisitions of Christian Ehrhoff and all the rest.

Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, Jussi Jokinen and several others find other employment, also by Yohe.

The NHL goes mad, a column by Joe Starkey.

My own views on the beginning of free agency will part of today’s radio show.

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




>> The Americans were terrible.

Sorry, I don’t have one of those bubbly, hey-they-tried-hard parting gifts, other than for the incredible showing by Tim Howard. I see a national program that still, somehow, amazingly, hasn’t developed one significant striker on the international scene in the 24 years since the 1990 return to World Cup play.

That’s not good enough.

Yes, the midfield play was lacking, though Michael Bradley was at least better in this match than those beforehand. And yes, several injuries — all hamstrings, conspicuously — hurt the cause. I believe strongly Jozy Altidore could have made a difference in his ability to receive the ball in and around the box, even if he never scored. But in the end, nothing stands out like Clint Dempsey’s huge letdown vs. Belgium and, in general, the lack of world-class touches when it counts the most.

The U.S. can improve its second-tier status in a lot of different ways, but it’ll be nothing more than varying degrees of second-tier until there’s a big-time scorer at the front. Let’s hope that 19-year-old Julian Green’s wonderful goal in extra time is a harbinger.

On the bright side, a lot of folks were invested, including in our own jam-packed Market Square:

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

>> Hope to hear from you on the show today. 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. DJ says:

    Brooksie gets $27.5 mill over 5 years? Engelland nearly $9 mill over three? Wow.

    Good thing Ray stockpiled a few D-men.

  2. DJ says:

    Iggy on move yet again.

    Funny thing but if you rearrange the letters in Jarome Iginla you get Jaromir Jagr, Jr.

  3. Stephen says:

    Not always in love with Lexi Lalas’ analysis but agreed with his tweet suggesting the USMNT squad struggled with similar areas as four years ago just improved a little bit. Can make huge jump by maintaining possession and an impact striker. Not sure if those players are on roster or Coach will find additional dual citizens.

  4. Sarcastic Sword says:

    With Belgium dominating possession, Altidore @ 100% wouldnt have mattered – he cant create without a ball.

    Capitals spent $67M on a 34 yr old def rehabbing a knee injury and a def who’s more of a #4 – dont u think $67M gets a shutdown pair right? Then you hear the names Orpik / Niskanen…fast forward to next April…first rd playoffs Caps/Pens and the caps put out their top D pairing of Orpik and Niskanen to go opposite Sid’s line – its laughable…

  5. Also appreciate that Lalas raised the apparently touchy issue of all the hamstring injuries, Fabi Johnson’s obviously being the latest. That’s almost always a conditioning issue. Doesn’t mean the players are out of shape. That would be a ridiculous thing to suggest. Only that something went awry in that specific area.

  6. Altidore’s presence might have offered the U.S. more avenues to get down the field without the many turnovers and, obviously, improved possession time.

  7. Mike Vee says:

    A few observations from the last few weeks …

    I’ve complained about Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma many times. The hole that Shero has put the Pens in is just growing larger by the day. There’s no harm in signing someone to a 4-5 year contract instead of the 2-3 year nonsense the Pens have done. Niskanen should still be a Pen at his 2+ mil a year salary (what fantastic trade bait he would have been). We have dumped Engelland, Vitale, Glass (all short contracts) and the only defenseman who consistently hit someone in Orpik. I was never a Jokinen fan but again, we received nothing for him. We are “supposed” to be getting grittier, tougher and harder to play against, yet we took 2 steps backwards. Ehrhoff was a nice signing and I’m sure Hornqvist will do just fine, but the problems still remain.

    The league now knows that it is open season on 87 and 71 and that they can both be mauled without any repercussions. They also know that by doing that, the Pens crumble. We added a bunch of 190 LB guys that are not going to make any difference between last years squad and this years. Why are Adams, Scuderi and Letang still here? Where are the big top 2 line guys that are desperately needed?

    The Pens have made 1 mistake after another for the last 5 years with the last 18 months going down as the worst. Does anyone really think this squad will be able to compete with LA, Boston, Chicago, Columbus etc. It’s going to be a long season and a short playoffs next year. This team is a mess and one of the smallest teams in the league to boot. Can’t wait for October.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying an overhaul wasn’t needed and I’m certainly not saying every ex-Pen wasn’t overpaid today. I am saying that each one could have been locked up for a longer period and at least dealt for an asset. That was a Shero blunder yet again. If anyone thinks that Letang deserves Drew Doughty money is without question delirious. That was another parting gift by Shero.

    Can’t wait until October and I hope someone can find a new helmet for Sid, he’ll need it.

  8. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Superb comeback win by the Pirates.
    One of their best this year, if not THE best.
    This game looked like a definite loss with a ridiculous outing by the Arizona’s Wade Miley.
    However…I think Miley was aided “several” times by the guy behind home plate….Umpire Doug Eddings.
    Never the less…This was a win that could jettison the Pirates to greater things.

  9. And so, the Pirates rally in the 9th and are now tied with the Reds for 3rd and only a half game behind the Cardinals for 2nd, and let’s hope they can now remain in contention from now on.

  10. And furthermore, the Bucs could use some more of the clutch hitting they got from Matte in the 9th last night.

  11. Ghost says:

    Love Hurdle, but he’s got me scratching my head over that Alvarez remark. Wants Pedro “drive in runs” but he also wants him be more “consistent.” Consistent isn’t exactly what Pedro had been up to this year (and for the record, I wasn’t a fan of the old Pedro). So then, this year the organization wanted Petey to use the whole field, cut down on the strike-outs, hit the breaking ball. And, at least modestly, he has done these things. With the modicum of reduced K’s and the significant increase in walks he has, in fact, delivered a respectable .330 OBP.

    Okay, I know Alvarez is expected to be a big bopper. But, hey, you ask a guy to fun.da.men.tal.ly change his approach — and he does — then you at least have to give him the chance to see this transformation through before you demand instant Miguel Cabrera. Cabreras aren’t exactly a dime a dozen.

  12. Wild Bill says:

    Last night’s escape gained us a game on the Brewers, Reds and Cards – as they all lost. We need some more nights like that one!

  13. tomf says:

    if Hurdle displayed a lack of patience or disappointment with Alvarez – it is warranted

    Alvarez has been with the Pirates since 2009

    at the plate and on the field – Alvarez has performed below potential

  14. Thundercrack says:

    Had Kirk Gibson been fired yet?

    I just don’t get what he did last night. You hear a lot of clamoring from fans about how no starting pitcher ever gets a complete game anymore. But Gibson’t team was up 2 and his pitcher had thrown over 100 pitches going into the 9th.

    At the top of the 9th his first two batters get on. So why not send up a pinch hitter —-to add on runs??!!

    And then have your closer (or any fresh reliever) pitch the bottom of the 9th.

  15. Thundercrack says:

    The Diamondbacks to this weird thing as they come off the field and I have never seen another team do it.

    After they get the third out and they are running off the field, they throw the ball around to each other as they run off the field. It looked something like a Pony League team would do.

  16. Thundercrack says:

    I totally agree with Hurdle and love that he said it.

    You can cherry-pick any of the numbers (snapshots), but Pedro has to be more consistent. More consistent contact and more consistent with getting hits.

  17. Vette60 says:

    Watched the USA match yesterday. Boss was nice enough to take us out for wings and beverages.

    Howard played so well and the USA just had no attack. Seemed like every time Belgium could make these long runs and get a quality shot and the USA had nothing if the same.

    That being said, convert that chance in the plus 90 time and it’s a very different story. Same thing with the nice set piece off the free kick in the. 2nd half of extra time.

    Long way to go but hey, I have an 8 yo son who loves to play soccer. Maybe he’s that future striker!

    Great comeback win by the Buccos. Managed to catch the 9th and enjoyed it.

    Hockey contracts – yikes. There were some questionable signings to say the least. Good for the players – Broks quote about him being worth it was classic.

    We’ll be making our annual pilgrimage to the homeland for the 4th today. Looking forward to it and I’ll touch base from PGH!

    Later all.
    Randy in RVA.

  18. tomf says:

    our Pony League teams would never do this

  19. DJ says:

    Orpik on whether he’s worth what he got: “That’s probably a better question for the people that gave out the contract.”

    Answer: Capitals

  20. Paul says:

    You can’t trade players that you don’t have under contract. Why would anyone do that?

  21. Paul says:

    How does a team from the USA lose to Belgium? Please soccer needs to go away for four more years. Maybe they’ll learn to beat a team from a country the size of Illinois

  22. DJ says:

    Looks like Kulemin may have priced himself out of being a Pen.

    Given yesterday’s paydays, just might get whatever he’s asking.

  23. Jandy says:

    Geno will be sad lol

  24. DJ says:

    MV: Thought the Pens made a couple very nice moves yesterday.

    Won’t happen overnight. Let’s give this a week . . . maybe even two, right?

  25. DJ says:

    Maybe we need another skate to drop.

    Martin? Or, pipe dream, Scuds?

  26. bpn8pitt says:

    Im still not sure whether the Pirates’ pitching staff is improved or just feasting on weak opponents.

  27. Piratefan13 says:

    Obviously soccer is not your forte because you’d know just how good the Belgium team really is regardless of its size. Its cool you don’t like soccer, I just don’t see the reason why you feel as though you need to make an uniformed comment about it.

  28. Pucknutz says:

    Package deal? Ya want Martin, gotta take Scuds. LOL

  29. FlBucco says:

    If I were Pedro I would be counting the days before I can get out of Pittsburgh. Hurdle wants more “consistency” from him but has no similar stance on the MVP “we need him to make those plays” when he turns singles into doubles or lets a runner take an extra base because of his below average arm.

    And where is his “we need more production from our first basemen – they have to do better offensively and stop hurting us with defensive mistakes”

    Pedro is Pedro – some time in the future he will be hitting 40+ HR a year for some team other than the Bucs. Jose Bautista II

  30. Steve B. says:

    Maybe it’s time to start a poll on when the Penguins sellout steak will come to an end. I think after the glorious Game 7 loss to the Rags, it was at 334?

    If that’s the case. then I’m going to throw my hat in with game 349 as the last sellout. That’s long enough to give ticket buyers time to let the excitement of another hockey season wear off before they digest the fact that this team isn’t going to win a cup anytime soon and they should probably save that money for Christmas presents…like a nice, new Steelers jersey.

    Sorry if this was too negative a post for this early, but Rutherford forced my hand. ;)

  31. Pucknutz says:

    Follow the money.
    Best athletes in this country do not and will not be playing soccer.

  32. The Gunner says:

    My speculation on Clint’s comments is that there is growing frustration with Pedro, who is significantly behind his 2013 HR/RBI pace.

    We all know PA will eventually be traded sometime before he is eligible for free agency. Don’t be surprised if it is sooner rather than later.

  33. Steve B. says:

    I’d use any upcoming matchups between Central opponents as a true barometer for how much the pitching staff has improved. They know and prepare for the Pirates pitching best.

  34. Maz in Iowa says:

    Kind of the same thought a lot of us have.Question is just how much they get for him and does Harrison take over at 3rd or do they look for someone in the offseason and keep the Swiss Army Knife as a super utility player.Personally I hope they trade him for a good prospect or two and let Harrison fill in wherever he’s needed.

  35. It’s about time that Manager Clint Hurdle got after Pedro Alvarez for his lack of consistency, especially since Pedro has always been that way and as hard as he tries, he never really changes.

  36. bpn8pitt says:

    Agreed. 20-25 in division. Brewers, Cards and Reds all have winning records in division.

  37. NMR says:

    Amen, Ghost. Well said.

    The only thing I can take from Hurdle’s comments is that Pedro Alvarez is on his way out of the organization.

    Nobody with any baseball acumen what-so-ever can expect consistency from a strikeout-prone power hitter. They do not exist. Anywhere.

  38. Maz in Iowa says:

    I really wonder if they give Pine Richland’s Neil Walker a decent offer or do they expect him to give a hometown discount too?There I’ve tried to stir the pot as much as possible

  39. The Gunner says:

    Maz

    I seriously doubt if Pedro will be traded at this year’s trade deadline – unless the BMTIB is overwhelmed with an outstanding offer. However, I think this offseason could be more realistic.

  40. You wish that the US could’ve come back in soccer yesterday the way the Bucs came back in the 9th last night although you can’t have everything, unfortunately, although you have to admire the US’s grit, persistence, and refusal to quit, which, hopefully, will stick with them and allow them to reach the semifinals next time.

  41. The Gunner says:

    It appears Hurdle has pretty much had it with Pedro. Pedro has stranded so many baserunners this year & then there’s his throwing issues.

    I am sure Pedro will be traded to an AL team during the offseason.

  42. bpn8pitt says:

    Partially correct. The best soccer players in this country do not play in the best leagues overseas because of the taxes and cost of living.

    Anybody doubting USA Soccer can look at how much better international basketball has gotten in the last two decades. Eventually NBA players will not be a lock to win the gold medal every Olympics or World Championship.

    Same applies to soccer. Probably going to take another decade or two, but I really feel its better than where it was in 1990 for sure.

  43. NMR says:

    Is that Hurdle’s job?

  44. The Gunner says:

    what do you mean?

  45. Timothy Mohr says:

    what do you think about Hurdle’s comment on Pedro? know that some of pedro.s at bat can be troublesome but he is a game changer and they need him to continue their chase in the central

  46. NMR says:

    Is it Hurdle’s job to set the roster? Trade and acquire players?

  47. The Gunner says:

    what do you think?

  48. NMR says:

    Seriously?

  49. NMR says:

    Because the Diamondback’s relievers stink.

  50. Eric Bowser says:

    Very simple… if you trade Pedro Alvarez, what are the Mets or Yankees going to give you to make it worth while? Pirates need to stop screwing around, let Pedro drive the ball and put him in the 4 or 5 spot.

  51. Jandy says:

    I’d rather have a nice new Pirate’s jersey…oh wait! I do! I have a nice new Cutch jersey :)

  52. The Gunner says:

    What is your point, NMR?

  53. Jandy says:

    we can dream, right?

  54. Jandy says:

    +++++

  55. NMR says:

    That it’s not Hurdle’s call.

  56. The Gunner says:

    Correct – do you think his input has any value?

  57. NMR says:

    It’s all too ironic that Hurdle asks for more “run production” out of Alvarez.

    Since he dropped him in the order on May 23, Alvarez has hit .277/.358/.479 while his replacement, Ike Davis, has hit .227/.345/.320…

    But you know, those are just silly facts.

  58. Steve B. says:

    Pedro straight up for Bonilla! I’m sure the Mets would like to get him off the payroll. ;)

  59. pattonbb says:

    So does Gibson.

  60. NMR says:

    Also fact.

  61. Arriba Wilver says:

    Funny. You seriously think you have more baseball acumen than Hurdle?

    Oh, and Hurdle got Cedeno jettisoned. This is a team effort.

  62. Mike A. says:

    I thought Miley was given a lot of latitude (or would that be longitude) on borderline pitches, too….pitches that Locke didn’t get. Poor Jeff…undone by his bullpen three times, undone by bad defense last night. He could be 5-1.

  63. Thundercrack says:

    Hurdle wasn’t asked about Ike Davis

  64. Maz in Iowa says:

    ++++

  65. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  66. Thundercrack says:

    Clint Hurdle’s remarks about Pedro were a response from a question during his pregame meeting with the media.

    (per john perrotto)
    The questioner wanted to know if the manager has been impressed by third baseman Pedro Alvarez’s play of late.

  67. NMR says:

    Where am I wrong?

  68. Maz in Iowa says:

    Pedro is obviously a better hitter lower in the order.

  69. NMR says:

    Where did I say he was?

    Hurdle said he wants more “run production” out of Pedro. Put the blame on him. Except it was Hurdle who moved him out of a position where he could do that.

  70. Thundercrack says:

    If Hurdle is asked about Pedro’s production, why would he mention Ike Davis’ production.

    Which is what you compared in your post at 9:27am

  71. Eric Bowser says:

    Hmmm, Lemieux and Burkle told Dejan the Penguins needed to get more grit, more size, more character, and better forwards. Over the last two weeks, I’ve heard Rutherford, Botterill and others talk about the opportunity for the young defensemen to play and it would allow them to use the available cap space to acquire some help at forward.

    Understanding all of that, what happened yesterday spending $5 million on Ehrhoff (1-yr $4 million) and Greiss (1-yr $1 million) while only adding two fourth line forwards (Blake Comeau and Marcel Goc) didn’t exactly address those concerns stated by ownership.

    The Penguins are not bigger and their depth is still a question because they are heading into next season as of right now with two 35 year old wingers on Crosby’s line, a broken down Beau Bennett with Malkin, a suspect third line left (Spaling) and who knows on right wing with Sutter.

    Obviously, we’re not even 24 hours into free agency but I didn’t get warm and fuzzies about the team trading a defensemen like Martin or Scuderi to free up cap space or to acquire a top six winger.

    This team better hope Kapanen comes to camp and wins a job because I’m not seeing a lot of skill at forward to take advantage of the puck-moving defensemen.

  72. NMR says:

    My lord…this still?

  73. Naje says:

    The four spot probably isn’t a good idea. For some reason, he just doesn’t hit well in that spot and the numbers bear out that situation. Better at the five spot, though, and best power numbers come from him hitting 6th. It’s eye opening when you see his splits with respect to where he bats in the lineup.

  74. Naje says:

    Have you checked his splits as a 4 hitter, 5 hitter, 6 hitter? They are quite revealing.

  75. NMR says:

    Listen to what I wrote, TC. Read it a couple times, if you need.

    “Hurdle said he wants more “run production” out of Pedro. Put the blame on him. Except it was Hurdle who moved him out of a position where he could do that.”

  76. Thundercrack says:

    Why is such a crazy notion to want or expect a power hitter to make more contact, raise their batting average and increase other offensive categories?

    Why do we have to wait for these ‘hot streaks’ that everyone seems to expect are going to happen?

  77. NMR says:

    That is the definition of correlation without causation, Naje.

  78. NMR says:

    Why?

    Count up the number of 30+ HR hitters who don’t strike out and hit for a high average and get back to me.

  79. Maz in Iowa says:

    Pedro will also be asking for $15 mil+/year too.IF he goes to the AL he will also be a DH part of the time too(his errors).He’ll be 28 this winter.These should be his prime years.

  80. Thundercrack says:

    Why can’t we want less strike outs and a higher average? I’m not saying a high average (.300) I am saying higher.

    Now I am off to the bowels of Fangraphs to dig up all those stats.

  81. Jim S. says:

    Why didn’t Miley bunt in the 9th? Was I hallucinating, or did he come up with 1st/2nd and none out?

  82. Naje says:

    There’s plenty of it there… but does that mean you’re not going to Forecastle?

  83. Naje says:

    Serious question, with well over 100 games batting in the number four spot, five spot and six spot in the order, if you were manager and had all of that data in front of you, where would you hit him?

    I mean, they dropped him out of the 4 spot and he lights it up in June. Correlation or causation?

  84. Maz in Iowa says:

    Batting 4th/.209…..5th.333……6th/.259…….7th/.360

  85. 21sthebest says:

    I think if the Pedro of last year was able to lay off of pitches outside of the strike zone better, his batting average would have been higher and his strikeouts would have been lower. That’s what I was looking forward to this year and I was counting on experience to help him.

    But NMR, nobody suggested this:

    “Count up the number of 30+ who don’t strike out and hit for a high average ”

    I think you moved the goalposts but maybe you have a clarification coming.

  86. The Gunner says:

    Looks like the 6 position is Pedro’s best spot in 2014. They ought to plug him in there & get Walker in the 4 hole for now.

  87. NMR says:

    Just couldn’t get into the lineup this year, man. Really expected My Moning Jacket would be touring their new album by now and figured they’d headline. Disappointing, too, considering I just finished a good bottle of bourbon I picked up while we were in town last year!

  88. Jim S. says:

    I agree – not during the season, unless the team falls apart over the next couple of weeks. But, I could easily see him getting moved in the off-season, with a young 3b coming back in the deal.

  89. When is that, Naje? I’ve got another appointment up there on the 11th. Need to get in and out of town, I guess.

    And NMR, exceptionally feisty this week. Been working Sundays again, friend?

    Enjoy the holiday Friday and don’t go into the office.

    And listen to Uncle Lucky.

    ;)

  90. Thundercrack says:

    OK, I’m back. Here are some stats from 2013: home runs & batting average

    Chris Davis

  91. NMR says:

    Correlation, and there is no doubt.

    Look, we all readily accept that Pedro is a “streaky” hitter. Nobody will argue that.

    So what does it really tell us when Pedro lights it up for month in the 6 spot before gettng bumped up to 4? We know he’s streaky. We know whatever he jus did at 6 isn’t going to last.

    It’s not like he consistantly puts up those numbers in the 6 spot, right? Peaks and valleys.

  92. Naje says:

    That’s understandable NMR… what bourbon did you get? Have several friends in the biz. If you need any suggestions, let me know.

    Hey Lucky… glad all is going better for you. Forecastle Festival is July 18-20, so it looks like you’re good to go for the 11th… good luck!

  93. JohnS says:

    Seems to be so much angst about Pedro. Pedro will always strike out too much and always be erratic in the field but 40 HR potential guys usually have some warts.

    I was comparing Pedro and Amaris and are pretty similar at the same points ijn their careers (AR has 9 more games) OPS – .747 for both. Aramis with 6 more RBI. Pedro 23 more HR’s. Aramais BA .263 Pedro .236. Aramis 93 errors and Pedro at 102.

    Aramis matured into a 30 HR/100 RBI/.285/.845 player. I could see Pedro becoming a 35 HR/100+RBI/.255/.850 guy. I think we could all live with that.

  94. The Gunner says:

    In the meantime Jim, CH ought to move him into the 6 hole and leave him there. He has shown signs of coming alive offensively as of late. He just folds up when they put him at cleanup.

  95. Scott says:

    Further proof that Shero’s strategy of drafting defensemen was absolutely the right move. People can laugh or criticize all they want, but Ray understood that NHL GMs drastically overvalue defensemen more than forwards, and he wisely built his draft plan around that truth. Shero was ahead of the curve in that regard.

  96. Naje says:

    Good points… hard to figure out what to do and when to do it. Seems like he’s never had that hot streak in the 4 spot and that’s over the course of 3.5 years with Hurdle. That’s where the ego thing, for me, comes into play. That he and Hurdle butt heads over what’s best for PA at the plate. That PA wants to do things his way and his way only…unless he’s flailing and slumping. That’s all… a clash of wills regarding use of his talent.

  97. Naje says:

    NMR…my post about your post regarding “correlation, and there is no doubt” ended up above the post I was referring… sorry about the confusion.

  98. Steve B. says:

    Agreed. It’s still early but as far as making this team harder to play against, they haven’t done it yet and I think they’ve actually gotten worse. Softer on the backend and at forward now than they were 3 months ago. Hornqvist is more of a net front presence than Neal but smaller and not exactly a “physical” player if that makes any sense, and to this point they’ve easily lost more physicality and grit than they’ve added.

    I won’t grade this off-season until the regular season starts but it’s not looking good.

    But hey, they resigned Goc. Woohoo!

  99. Naje says:

    Your avi may be the best one I’ve seen…Cobra.

  100. The Gunner says:

    John

    Good info. Ramirez developed into a damn good player.

    For as long as Pedro is in Pgh., plug him in the 6 hole and leave him alone – he is showing signs of starting on one of those streaks. And, pray that his throwing issues minimize over his remaining time with the Buccos.

  101. Jandy says:

    If it’s working, don’t fix it. When it’s broken, change it.

  102. Milo Hamilton says:

    Pedro sure moves the needle doesn’t he.

  103. Maz in Iowa says:

    Josh Bell could be that type as well.Power hitters are hard to come by.In Bell’s case the power isn’t quite there yet….however he has only about 40 Ks this year and is hitting above .300 against RH AND LH pitchers.Every time I hear someone say they should trade him, I cringe.

  104. 21sthebest says:

    I’ll see your Chris Davis and raise you an Adrian Beltre.

  105. JohninOshkosh says:

    Thank you, Claude Giroux.

    Hope more stories come out. The only news story this weekend I was going to follow was the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

  106. From the day he decided to skip winter ball after the signing right up to now. Seems to have a knack for it, even without trying to.

  107. Jim S. says:

    Regarding the question of how a small country can totally dominate a country the size of the US in men’s soccer …

    Just my opinion, but I think it comes down to the fact that young European players are far more likely to develop as players in a system that stresses possession soccer over trying to win by any means necessary at a young age. I came to this conclusion because my daughter was fortunate to be trained by a Coach from Denmark for several years of her youth career. He was more satisfied losing a game in which the team played good possession soccer than winning a game where they did not play well. In the long run, they learn to win and play good possession soccer. But, it takes time to take hold.

    American parents want and expect to win when they invest their $$. So, we tend to shortcut the process by allowing our youth players to boot the ball and run, and try to win through athleticism, rather than solve the puzzle of a soccer game.

    I do believe it is changing. Slowly. But, it is changing.

  108. SeanAY says:

    Comments like this do nothing to assuage the reputation of Penguins fans as bandwagon jumpers.

  109. Eric Bowser says:

    I guess he wanted the baton back…..

  110. Milo Hamilton says:

    Pretty much sums it up. If you weren’t constantly reminded that they have changed direction you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

  111. Wild Bill says:

    Interesting stuff, John. I hadn’t thought of Pedro as the next Aramis, but I had thought about him as the next Bautista.

    Ah, if Bautista had played so well while with us, we’d have traded him as unaffordable anyway.

  112. hockeymonster says:

    I liked the moves yesterday. I think Comeau for 700K could turn out to be a nice moneyball acquisition. He’s good positionally, doesn’t cost you defensively and have seen him be opportunistic in the ozone. Goc for 1.2M is huge. Some thought he would got for around 3M per and although i didn’t think he would get that much i didn’t think we could get him and Comeau for just under what Goc made last season. Greiss is a head scratcher but internal competition isn’t a bad thing. Flower shouldn’t feel slighted. He’s got one more year so team needs insurance.

    Right now we’re missing a top 6 RW for geno, 3RW and 4LW. Options are still out there but a trade would need to be made to get preferred options. But if not we can go with internal options like Gibby for 3rd line and Sill for 4LW with BB in top 6. So we really don’t HAVE to do anything. I like the idea of being a little patient and getting teams to make us an offer after losing out on overpriced dmen.

  113. Jim S. says:

    I have a strange feeling he will be traded this month, Maz.

  114. SeanAY says:

    Why would the Pirates trade Pedro this year? Or this offseason? Don’t they control his rights until the end of the 2016 season?

  115. Maz in Iowa says:

    I think just being a Boras client puts you in controversy.

  116. Jandy says:

    BOOM!

  117. Steve B. says:

    I’m confused here, are we talking about Amaris, Aramis or Aramais? Haha! ;)

    Anyway, I’d take any of them over Pedro, as I’ve never see as many awful at bats from him (them) as I have from Alvarez.

    I know this flies in the face of modern baseball fandom, but at some point I’ve gotta go with what my eyes tell me over the stats.

  118. Milo Hamilton says:

    And how about that they made a serious run at Martin Brodeur but couldn’t make the money work ?

  119. Jandy says:

    How now, let’s not let logic get in the way of a good narrative ;)

  120. Bizrow says:

    We will miss him when he’s gone…..

  121. Jim S. says:

    I don’t see the similarity between ARam and Pedro as hitters.

    ARam hit .328 in AAA Nashville at age 20/21. He struck out 56 times in 548 plate appearances.

    He was hitting .353 the next season when he was brought up.

  122. Jandy says:

    Well now…you put it that way…
    Hockey is my #1 sport, and will remain that way…
    I was mostly making fun of Steve B (in a fun way) putting the Steelers before the Buc :D

  123. Jim S. says:

    Sean:

    If they are not happy with his consistency, and some other team wants him it might be the perfect time to trade him and get a good return.

    I’m not saying they will trade him. Just answering your question of why they might.

  124. The Gunner says:

    that is for sure, Biz

  125. Jandy says:

    Yes.

  126. JohninOshkosh says:

    This is why I keep coming back here. Not only are most of you very funny, but the insight and criticism on hockey and baseball here is gold. (Not to mention Pitt).

  127. Jim S. says:

    Bell, I mean. I could see him as a deadline trading chip.

  128. Maz in Iowa says:

    Sorry had a really bad spasm from over-cringing!

  129. Jandy says:

    That’s a pretty optimistic view of everything, but I can’t say it’s bunk. And I’m willing to wait and see how things go. I’m a Pens fan…so I don’t have much choice.

  130. Jandy says:

    ++++

  131. Jandy says:

    lol

  132. Arriba Wilver says:

    Thanks, TC. Knowing what the question was always helps the context.

  133. Mike Vee says:

    You trade players before their contracts are expired and don’t sign them to a 2 year deal in the 1st place unless they are in their late 30′s. There’s no reason that the for example Niskannen had a 2 year contract at $2+ mil a year, Why wasn’t it a 4 year deal? We lost quite a bit yesterday for no return.

  134. Dom says:

    Happy Birthday to Tomáš Vokoun. The man turns 38 years young today.

    Also, Jose Canseco turns the big 5-0 today.

  135. Thundercrack says:

    Sorry, about that…. 2013 stats

    Chris Davis 53 hr .286
    Cabrerra 44 .348
    Goldshmidt 36 .302
    Encanarcion 36 .272
    A. Jones 33 .285
    E. Longoria 32 .269
    A. Beltre 30 .315
    B. Moss 30 .256

    Pedro 36 .233

  136. SeanAY says:

    I just don’t see the point of it, on a number of levels. For starters, why would they invest all this time, instruction, and money into a guy, just to press the reset button two years before they have to? Especially coming off a year where he led the NL in home runs!

    I saw it mentioned that he could be traded for a young power-hitting corner infielder with years of control. So…Pedro Alvarez. Or the plan is, what, try this whole experiment again with someone else?

  137. Thundercrack says:

    Pedro + NMR = moving of the needle

    :-)

  138. 21sthebest says:

    $5 million for the top second round pick (most ever for a second round pick) and he’s hitting .328/.373/.505. I’m betting he’s untouchable.

  139. Dom says:

    The only circumstance I would trade Pedro is if he is in the last year of his contract and we’re out of the playoff hunt.

    Otherwise, I’d keep him until he leaves via free agency.

  140. Thundercrack says:

    Ha…from the day he wore his hat wrong

    :-)

    +1 Lucky!!

  141. chethejet1 says:

    Some Franchises simply never get it. The Capitals are one of them. I credit the Pirates for making the franchise watchable again. Hard to win without luck and good decision making. Those of you who think the Pens didn’t improve themselves are wrong. They have so far brought in real hockey players. Goc is a very good signing and cheap as well. Pens are not done but so far much better than the Shero crap that he was bringing in. Or maybe many of you don’t recall all the dice rolls Shero rolled the last two years. Lots of bad hockey players in that list.

  142. Wild Bill says:

    Oh boy, the average, highly cultured fan in the City of Brotherly Love might still have issues with this one.

  143. 21sthebest says:

    But he smiled in the dugout last night.

  144. Steve B. says:

    Might be wise for Flyers fans to stifle all the Cindy non-sense a bit now with a Claudette of their own to worry about.

  145. Maz in Iowa says:

    When Hurdle was a player there was nothing consistent about him.I guess that might(or might not) explain his wanting Petey to be more of a sure thing on a daily basis.

  146. Bizrow says:

    ESPN Insider is giving the Pens an “A” for their FA signings, for what that is worth ;-)

  147. Bizrow says:

    I would give him a QO too

  148. Naje says:

    Sean…GM’s always try to trade assets when their value is highest (you probably know that). Waiting till trade deadline 2016 to make a trade may not give NH as much leverage as, say, trading a guy in 2014 or 2015 during a torrid stretch of play. But, other GM’s know this… it’s a tricky thing, but waiting till 2016 (or near the end of a contract) isn’t always the answer.

  149. Jandy says:

    Bahahahaha! Priceless!

  150. Milo Hamilton says:

    It’s worth so much they won’t let everyone read it ?

  151. MadTurk says:

    Over the head with a baseball bat.

  152. Jandy says:

    Pot stirrer! :

  153. hockeymonster says:

    Someone needs to tell Cloooode that ‘brotherly love’ doesn’t mean what he thinks it means.

  154. Steve B. says:

    Didn’t Shero bring in that crap player Goc?

    Sorry, but Neal, Jokinen, Nisknen (crap Shero players as well), Vitale, Glass, Orpik and Engelland are out while bringing in only Hornqvist, Comeau, and Greiss is not exactly something that has me thinking the team is now somehow better.

    I know there is still time to make roster changes and additions, but so far…me no excited.

  155. Bizrow says:

    ++++++

  156. Eric Bowser says:

    Brodeur is shot…. no idea what the reasoning behind that little dance was for.

  157. Milo Hamilton says:

    He really misses Hartnell doesn’t he.

  158. Jandy says:

    :snicker:

  159. Eric Bowser says:

    Brian Gibbons and Zach Sill are unrestricted free agents, so they’ll need to make a decision on those two soon. Islanders signed Zolnierczyk so he’s off the market.

    It will be very very interesting if GMJR is able to turn D into F unlike Shero has done with those he drafted (exception Joe Morrow for Brendan Morrow).

  160. JohnS says:

    They are definitely different type of hitters, but as run producers they are very similar at the same points in their careers. I can see Pedro improving and following a similar career path.

  161. Dom says:

    I would too but theres no way he would take it when he can get an absurd contract from the Yankees, Mets, etc.

  162. Jandy says:

    He misses something!

  163. Bizrow says:

    But then we get the comp pick, something at least for him

  164. Eric Bowser says:

    When you view the signing of Ehrhoff on its own without any other variables, sure that’s a great deal (1-year $4m) but you can’t view it on the merits of the deal itself. Same with Greiss (1-year $1m).

    I think they did fine with Comeau and Goc but they still need more forwards plus have to resign Sutter ($2.7-4 million) and Spaling ($1.5-1.7) for the third line.

    I’ve got to think with Minnesota signing Thomas Vanek (overpaid 6.5 per), they might be able to swing a deal (Martin for Charlie Coyle)… or so I’m hoping. Islanders need to get to the cap floor… say hello to Rob Scuderi.

  165. Wild Bill says:

    And we were all worried about soccer players who bite?

  166. SeanAY says:

    My personal opinion is that trading Alvarez will not net anything similar to the value he provides the Pirates.

  167. NMR says:

    Maybe I’ve mistaken others comments, then.

    Pedro hits .200 for a month with a bunch of homeruns and everybody complains about the average.

    Pedro hits .300 for a month without the omeruns and everybody complains about the homeruns.

    I was just trying to put 2 and 2 together.

  168. Jim S. says:

    That is the reality in which the Pirates operate, Sean. They are going to be trading guys they won’t be able to resign in order to get young talent and try to stay competitive. Whether anyone agrees with it or not, I think that is the course they have chosen.

    They will attempt to do deals like they have with Cutch, Marte, and are working on with Polanco. They will try to keep reasonably priced pieces like Morton for a few extra years. But, if a guy won’t take that deal, or they don’t feel they want to offer it, which is the category where Pedro fits, then those players will be traded.

    And, when guys they have extended ultimately still become free agents in their early 30′s, if the players still command a large future salary, they will be traded.

  169. Milo Hamilton says:

    Buffalo was trying to get to the cap floor also.

  170. SeanAY says:

    I didn’t think I needed to qualify that statement, but obviously I don’t mean all Pens fans.

    But to state it won’t be long before the Pens are playing in front of half-empty arenas again because the public doesn’t view them as Cup contenders…I mean, that plays right into the narrative.

  171. NMR says:

    @TC – and now do you see my point?

  172. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    While I will give Rutherford some kudos for adjusting his focus depending on the market (rather than Shero, who developed a nasty tendency to fixate on one target), he’s painted the Penguins into a bit of a corner.

    By dumping James Neal he created a problem where none existed: the Penguins second line scoring is now deficient. The modest savings (< $1M per) achieved by acquiring Hornqvist can't make up for the simple fact that the Penguins still have no one to replace Neal's 35+ goals per season. So, Rutherford again tipped his hat towards acquiring a winger for Malkin, but Kulemin was never guaranteed. If the Penguins can't work out a deal with Kulemin, it appears likely they will have to start the season with Malkin once again carrying the offensive burden himself.

    The second problem is the Ehrhoff signing. While I like Ehrhoff and I think he's a valuable addition, the only way adding him made sense is if it allowed the Penguins to move Paul Martin. Except instead of securing another veteran defenseman to soften the blow of Martin's inevitable departure at the end of next season, the Penguins now have two big minute, top-four veteran defensemen entering the final year of their contracts. That leaves Letang as the only top-four veteran defenseman secured beyond next season. Trading Paul Martin now becomes a gamble, and keeping him may be a bigger one as the combined $9M cap hit between he and Ehrhoff severely limit the Penguins ability to address their immediate needs in the free agent market.

    Finally, the Thomas Greiss addition. While I like the idea of bringing in a quality backup to challenge Fleury, I can't fathom the point of only signing him to a one-year deal. With both Fleury and Greiss' contracts expiring, the only goaltender the Penguins have beyond next season is Jeff Zatkoff. Again, Rutherford is kicking the can down the road…

    The scorecard:

    In the short term, the 3rd and 4th lines are still questionable. Scoring depth took a big hit with the departures of both James Neal and Jussi Jokinen. Defense remains on-par skill-wise, but loses a lot of edge and grit with the departures of Orpik and Engelland. Goaltending improves a fair bit.

    In the mid/long-term, there's a lot more questions than answers at the end of next season. 2015 looks to be another off-season of high turnover with two top-four defensemen, both top two goalies, and much of the potential 3rd and 4th lines on expiring contracts. Prospect depth improves only slightly at forward with the addition of Kapanen.

  173. JohnS says:

    Looking at the Pen’s situation on Cap Geek makes me scratch my head as to how they will get it done this year. Right now they have 9 rostered F’s and 6 D under contract with less than $1.4 to spend. So you have to get RFA’s Sutter, Spaling, and Depres done plus a couple of F’s and another D.

    Rutherford has to be trying to make a deal with either Martin or Scuderi. It is really the only way to free up some space to make the numbers work.

  174. Jim S. says:

    Could be, but I think guys who hit a ton of HRs and strike out a lot will always struggle to find consistency. Guys who hit for average tend to be more consistent hitters.

  175. Thundercrack says:

    NMR, I understand your view…and understand why you think that.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I will: We watch the games (just like you do)
    So when we see Pedro strike out – with or without runners on, or we see Pedro not deliver in a key situation we are disappointed. We don’t run to a stat sheet and see how he is doing there. We want..and expect…better on the field.

    It’s about the eyeballs at this point.

  176. chethejet1 says:

    Shero up to two years ago was doing fine in most cases. But when he stated bringing in a bunch of guys especially last year who just stunk and Bylsma didn’t know what to do with a upgrades like Stemp and Goc brought by trades, that sealed the deal. Glass stunk, a bunch of small RW’s who stunk. JR said it best the third and fourth lines stunk. That is on shero.

  177. Maz in Iowa says:

    I’d trade Nutting/Coonelly/Hurdle for Pete/Linc/Julie in a heartbeat.The Mod Squad is sooooo much more fun. :)

  178. Jim S. says:

    I hope you are right, 21. You know me and my love affair with high end prospects. But, I have been reading a lot about him and trade scenarios lately. Some people say the swing has holes from the right side that may not be able to be ironed out. He is producing from both sides of the plate this year would be my answer to that.

  179. Jim S. says:

    And, I should also add, he’s an OF. If they have an area of over-supply, it is OF.

  180. Steve B. says:

    Police found this on Claude’s smart phone:

  181. bpn8pitt says:

    Pedro…99 HRs to 102 Errors

    I honestly think if you could get a decent pitcher (#2 or #3) back for him, and then put a .280 to .300 (.380 to 400 OBP) hitter down at third with half the errors, the win column would stay the same.

    Good pitching and Steve Buechele works, you know. Its proven.

  182. 21sthebest says:

    Not everybody complains about those things NMR.

  183. RB says:

    Love to see hurdle use the “c” word ( consistency ) when describing Pedro. You hear a lot of pundits stating, “IF Pedro gets hot, then…”. Of course, that’s a BIG if. He’s shown in the past the ability to go hot and cold in 60 seconds. Plus, the Pirates still need a consistent big bat, which Pedro is not providing. The Root sports announcers are talking Pedro up pretty big right now, so either the Pirates are trying to build his trade value, or they want to assure the fans that he’s THE 3rd baseman for the club.

    While I’m more down on Pedro than most ( especially when Harrison is looking more like a viable alternative at 3rd. Nobody even mentioned his sac fly in the 9th, meaning that he was right in on the action last night, yet again. ), I would think that the Buccos are at least testing the market with him.

  184. SeanAY says:

    I know how it works, Jim. And I didn’t bring up McCutchen, Marte, Polanco, etc. We are talking about Pedro Alvarez.

    He’s the only power hitter they have. He’s stuck in Pittsburgh until the end of 2016. I’m saying that even if you trade him on a hot streak, there is nothing they can get this year that will replicate what he gives them.

    Trading him this year for anything short of an already proven MLB, power hitting third baseman is tantamount to waving the white flag on the year.

    Trading him for anything short of that this offseason will draw howls of a “scholarship” for the new player in spring training, with fans demanding the Pirates sign a veteran as a safety net…and then complaining that no one out there is worth the money.

    Those are the facts as I see them.

  185. Milo Hamilton says:

    Chuck Kobasew has signed to play in Switzerland. Well, his play was largely neutral.

  186. Steve B. says:

    But we’ll miss Pedro stepping out of the batters box to do his mandatory “golf swing off the shoe tops” between every pitch. Can’t put a price on that.

  187. Mike Vee says:

    Sherro overpaid as well so he’s not ahead on any curve i.e. 58 and 4

  188. 21sthebest says:

    I don’t know what you’ve read specifically Jim but isn’t it just speculation because the outfield appears set for a while?

  189. hockeymonster says:

    What are we gonna do now?

  190. SeanAY says:

    “The Root sports announcers are talking Pedro up pretty big right now, so either the Pirates are trying to build his trade value, or they want to assure the fans that he’s THE 3rd baseman for the club.”

    More likely the latter, because if any major league scouts give a crap what the team’s announcers are saying about a player in their determinations, they shouldn’t be a major league scout.

    “( especially when Harrison is looking more like a viable alternative at 3rd.”

    Josh Harrison has fewer home runs in his professional career (33, including his entire minor league career) than Pedro Alvarez had last year (36). I know home runs aren’t everything, but that’s a serious downgrade in terms of power with no replacement in sight.

    But Josh Harrison sparkplug joy for the game BASEBALL PLAYER.

  191. Steve B. says:

    Kulemin very close to a deal with Pens…E3 if you buy into Eklund’s rumors.

  192. Thundercrack says:

    I don’t even like the bunting strategy. Get a hitter up there and play for more runs.

  193. 21sthebest says:

    So basically, players that get more hits tend to get more hits! ;-)

    Personally, I have a tough time with the word consistency used in baseball. I think most of the time we’re saying that we want the player to be better. I don’t want Pedro to just be more consistent. Would evening out his production over the course of the year result in more runs? I have no idea. I just want him to be better.

  194. Milo Hamilton says:

    I don’t know, continue raiding the Bundesliga ?

  195. SeanAY says:

    The only player in the NL last year that fits your description – “a .280 to .300 (.380 to .400 OBP) hitter down at third with half the errors” – is Matt Carpenter. And he only played 34 games at the hot corner last year.

    There were literally only 10 players TOTAL in the NL with an OBP above .380. It’s not like these guys are growing on trees.

  196. NMR says:

    Too many good replies, Naje! I appreciate the conversation. Don’t know where this wil end up, but I’ll try to respond to all of them.

    -Regarding ego and butting heads wth Hurdle, I think you first have to demonstrate that Hurdle had the right ideas. I don’t think he, or the orgnization, has. Pedro came up in 2010 with success and what do they do? Push him towards those disastrous swing changes. Remember his awful spring training in 2012 and that footage Dejan posted from the bating cages? Wasn’t even the same player.

    Now this year, coming off a 36 HR campaign, Pedro absolutely tried significant changes suggested by Hurdle and they once again failed. I see a trend.

    -Wasn’t Pedro hitting 4th while carrying the team in last year’s post season?

    -More importantly, I wish I could remember who made the bourbon I referenced above. Some small outfit that was set up at the festival, believe. I’m a beer guy, so they probably just blew smoke up my buttfor all I know. Still plenty good enough for my palate, though.

  197. The Gunner says:

    Let’s see how Pedro does from this point forward, the past is the past. The Bucs really need him to catch fire now – it’s all up to him at this point.

  198. hockeymonster says:

    This is follow up to Eric’s and Relentless’ posts above:

    Although there’s still room for upgrades i like the fact that we’re set on D and down the middle. With spaling and Goc in the mix we have 5 strong centers that can play in any situation. And with the way Sutter/Goc combined to replace Staal by committee i think sid and geno will have more favorable matchups and zone starts.

    Thing that makes me most optimistic is that GM’s just witnessed dmen getting crazy monopoly money so they may view trading for PM or scuderi as worthwhile pursuits, even if they have send JR more than they wanted to last week. We’re literally one trade away from setting up our top 6 with someone like Vrbata and establishing more veteran depth with Winnik. When engo’s cap hit is almost as much as Scuderi’s, GM’s may feel that sending us a pick for Piece or a prospect and pick for PM isn’t the end of the world.

  199. bpn8pitt says:

    Seanay, you can move a SS to 3B.

    Dejan said this in the piece about the Neal trade. Sometimes its not about the RETURN in a trade, its about the impact on the team.

    Teams dead last in defense, man. 1/3 errors came from your boy, and we arent even halfway.

    With most of the pitchers on the team pitching to contact rather than missing bats, not sure how all you guys can defend a guy with 30 errors. How many more would he have if he didnt sit against lefties or the occasional Hurdle mental rest day?

  200. The Gunner says:

    Charlie Morton needs to have some good luck and some good defense behind him tonight for a change.

  201. hockeymonster says:

    PM for Coyle would be nice. Would take either Folin or Haula and a pick too.

  202. Jim S. says:

    I don’t see the Pirates using the announcers to try to build value in a player, because:

    a) I don’t see this carrying any weight whatsoever with other teams; and
    b) I don’t see the Pirates trusting the likes of Tim Neverett to not screw up when doing this.

  203. Milo Hamilton says:

    Scuderi does have a limited no trade clause.

  204. NMR says:

    Yes, thank you.

    I dont see any logic in thinking they can trade Pedro for another young corner infielder to replace him unless that guy is 2 or 3 years away.

    I guess you have to trust two months of JOSH HARRISON over two years of Josh Harrison for that trade scenario to make sense.

  205. NMR says:

    When in the hell hav the ROOT guys done anything BUT talk a Pirate player up?

  206. hockeymonster says:

    I know but players very rarely don’t expand their list if asked. I’m not as down on scuderi as alot of people are but if it means cap space for Vrbata and winnik then it’s a no brainer.

  207. RB says:

    “More likely the latter, because if any major league scouts give a crap what the team’s announcers are saying about a player in their determinations, they shouldn’t be a major league scout.”

    It’s about building buzz for a player. I’m not saying that scouts are thinking, “Hmm, if Greg Brown likes Pedro, then maybe we should get him!” No. But if you can contribute to the baseball world, including fans, social, news sites, etc., then Pedro’s name will naturally come up. It all can go to lead a scout to think, “Maybe I should give Alvarez another look.”

    “…but that’s a serious downgrade in terms of power with no replacement in sight.”

    2014 Pedro is a serious downgrade in power from Pedro of 2013. It’s time to face facts that Alvarez is NEVER going to be that big bat that he was drafted to be for the Pirates. Not only that, but he is becoming a liability at 3rd. Harrison is an upgrade at 3rd and is providing offense for the team right now. Yeah, Pedro’s stats are up right now, but watching every night you rarely see him contribute when the team needs him to. He is not living up to expectations and I think it’s time to move on. This is PROFESSIONAL baseball, where it is about what you are doing RIGHT NOW rather than what you did LAST YEAR. Just ask Jason Grilli.

    What’s with the weird condescension some fans have about Harrison? The guy is producing right now and looks like he is firing on all cylinders. Isn’t that what a team wants? No, he’s not a power guy, but he’s producing in places when he needs to. He’s making defensive highlights almost nightly. And, yeah, he’s easy to root for, considering he’s coming off the bench and was never looked at as an all-star. There just seems to be this weird idea that only the hyped players should get the benefit of the doubt ( Pedro ) while everyone else is there to fill gaps until the next McCutchen comes along. I just don’t get it.

  208. 21sthebest says:

    I wouldn’t say Pedro was on fire in June Gunner and the team played .630 ball in June. So I don’t know we need Pedro to do.

  209. SeanAY says:

    OK, you can move a SS to 3B.

    So now you can add Troy Tulowitzki to the list.

  210. 21sthebest says:

    ++

  211. NMR says:

    And you think you’re going to find SHORTSTOPS with that kind of offense? In 2014?

  212. Jim S. says:

    Gunner:

    I wonder if Charlie’s apparent bad luck with the defense is mostly a product of throwing such a high # of groundballs, since that is where the bulk of errors occur for a team. And, with Pedro’s throwing struggles this year, plus other miscues in the Bucs’ infield, the law of averages has bitten Charlie.

    I will say that he has taken matters in his own hands in this regard of late by striking out more than a batter per inning for his last handful of starts or more. They can’t make errors if the ball is not put into play. :-)

  213. NMR says:

    Have you watched Josh Harrison play baseball for the last three years?

  214. Lad 9 says:

    Nice Milo. The Swiss are great between the blue lines too…..

  215. RB says:

    They were really down on Grilli before his trade. Based only on what the announcers said you knew Grilli was gone soon. Wandy was the same. They always tow the company line and you can get a lot out of the direction the front office want to go by listening how the root announcers talk about a player.

  216. RB says:

    Who cares about the last 3 years? He’s producing NOW! Should the Pirates have kept Grilli as a closer based purely on last year’s stats? Do you want to win in 2014 or are you still winning 2013?

  217. 21sthebest says:

    Pedro batted 6th in every game in the postseason.

  218. NMR says:

    @TC

    I appreiate that reply.

    Our difference lies in perception and reality. And that is fine.

  219. SeanAY says:

    They were really down on Grilli because, you know, Grilli sucked.

    If the influence of ROOT announcers was as great as you say it is, they should have been talking him up to enhance his trade value.

  220. RB says:

    LOL! I remember when the Pirates were trying to get him to not do that golf swing to hopefully help his consistency.

  221. Thundercrack says:

    My first preferred scenario is that the keep Pedro then offer him the QO offer when he hits free agency.

    My second preferred scenario would be (if they Pirates are out of the race late in 2016) would be to trade him to a desperate team at the deadline – ie The Yankees/Dodgers/Red Sox) who will panic and over-pay

  222. Zico says:

    So not close at all?

  223. NMR says:

    Thanks, 21. Thought I remembered him batting 4th in the Reds series and carrying ove into the playoffs

  224. Jim S. says:

    I wasn’t insulting you, Sean. You said you don’t see why they would trade Pedro. So, I tried to explain that if CH/NH really are fed up with him (which only they can answer, but some are speculating), and another team offers enough, anyone is tradeable. I pointed out that I didn’t say they were going to trade him, only that it is possible if they can get a future 3b in return.

    Then, you said that you don’t understand the Pirates investing time and money in a guy only to trade him. I was just pointing out that this is exactly how the Pirates are going to be run. Not every team operates this way. It’s not the development money the Pirates are afraid to pay. It’s the peak earning years money they won’t pay. So, from that standpoint, I can see trading anyone when they think his value is high enough with a few years left before F/A.

  225. bpn8pitt says:

    Bet you both a beer right now, Pedro wont be a 3B once he changes uniforms.

  226. Bizrow says:

    +++

  227. RB says:

    I’m not saying they have a lot of say, but this isn’t the 60s. MLB knows how the modern game works. Build some buzz online, in the local news, on Twitter. Some executive’s kid tells their dad about the talk their seeing about Pedro. That executive decides to have the scouts tale a look. It’s a huge marketing game. The reason they want to talk up Pedro is they want a bigger return. There was no talking up Grilli because the bloom was off the rose. They were never getting a return for a 37 year old with one good year under his belt.

  228. bpn8pitt says:

    Free agent to be, Hanley Ramirez as well.

  229. 21sthebest says:

    I don’t think comparing Grilli and Pedro is valid comparison at all. Contract status is different as is the ease of replacing each of them.

    I also don’t see why Pedro can’t improve and I’m not sure what his expectations have to do with anything. The team is winning. If you can improve now and in the future by trading him, fine. I don’t believe you can right now.

    “This is PROFESSIONAL baseball, where it is about what you are doing RIGHT NOW rather than what you did LAST YEAR.”

    It’s also about what you’re projected to do in the future.

  230. SeanAY says:

    Only if you bet me a beer that the Pirates will not acquire a player to play 3B that has an OBP north of .380 and a batting average north of .300.

  231. SeanAY says:

    Sorry, he didn’t show in the sortable stats on baseball-reference.com because he only played 86 games. Missed him.

  232. SeanAY says:

    I’m trying very, very hard to not be snarky right now. So I’m just going to let it go.

  233. 21sthebest says:

    He batted 6th in the first two games of the Reds series and 4th in the third game. But guess who batted leadoff in that one? Felix Pie.

  234. 21sthebest says:

    “Some executive’s kid tells their dad about the talk their seeing about Pedro. That executive decides to have the scouts tale a look.”

    Angels In The Outfield!

  235. Andrew says:

    Well, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Ghana > Ghana, Algeria, Slovenia, England.

    I think it is a little harsh the US were terrible, they were too open in the midfield and Zusi and Bedoya were quite awful, but Belgium’s chances were fairly limited in the first 60 minutes, the Belgium substitutes change the game, and the gulf in class became even bigger, and chances started coming from better positions.

    They need for more possession based soccer is a reductionist argument, based on raw possession the US team held the advantage 53-47, with Belgium leading in attacking third passes 182-165. I understand that everyone wants intricate passing in the final third but the United States doesn’t not have that type of player with technical ability, and that type of player isn’t developed in 20 years when there is no infrastructure in place to developed them.

    The possession argument is also fairly ignorant considering the success that José Mourinho team’s have achieved, and how Atheltico Madrid won La Liga and advanced to the Champions League final playing an opportunistic pressing style that surrender possession.

    Excellent discussion of the US team’s performance that also address the macro-level issues.

    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/world-cup-pass-move-the-boys-of-summer/

  236. RB says:

    Believe me, I kind of regret mentioning the announcers as that wasn’t the conversation I wanted to have. I was mainly pointing out that the Pirates announcers are hyping Pedro right now, trying to build buzz for some reason. To me, it doesn’t seem necessary to do so with the local market, so I’m thinking it’s something else.

  237. bpn8pitt says:

    I do think the Pirates get creative with 3B in the next 9 months. The guy might not hit .280 like I suggested, but it may be .250 with a lower K rate and better defense.

    Honestly, Sean, im glad he’s getting paid 4.25 instead of 24.25. Good luck to whoever decides to pay him that. He’s a streaky, one trick pony whos defense is only going to decline with age. ( NMR’s chokes on his coffee )

  238. JohnS says:

    how dare you doubt Eklund. He has been right ONCE before. Maybe even TWICE.

  239. Arriba Wilver says:

    Jeff pitched a very good game. Miley pitched a better one. Plain and simple, for 8 innings.

  240. cmat0829 says:

    We can take Hurdle’s quote a ton of different ways, but here’s how I would have said it if I were him: “It’s time for Pedro Alvarez to be a consistent run producer at this level. He has the tools. He has had plenty of ML at bats. I’m not gonna parse stats for this month or that month… this lineup needs a consistent threat to produce runs, and the time is now.”

    I think too much is being made of the word ‘consistent’ that Hurdle uses. We interpret it to mean we can him to cut down on Ks, hit for contact, don’t pull the ball, etc. I think Hurdle wants to see Pedro drive the ball, be a consistent threat in the lineup. He simply gives away too many at bats right now… like last night, when there was simply zero chance he could hit the pitches he swung at with any authority.

    The Pirates have coddled Pedro enough, IMHO. Clint and staff have shown a ton of patience. Working with him, running him out there, trying to sit him vs. tough lefties, etc. Telling him not to work so hard, to relax, etc. They are likely out of bullets. They’ve tried a number of things. There comes a time when you put up or shut up. Pedro has the ability to be a threat every at bat. Right now, he is too often a respite for a struggling pitcher in our lineup. Get to Pedro and get out of the inning.

    Maybe he ‘is what he is’.

    All of this said, I have tended to support Pedro…want him in the lineup because 3-run HRs are so valuable…and his hot streaks can carry the team. And I don’t think Clint is saying we want to dump him now either. He is just saying, it’s time…no more excuses, no more justifications, no more figuring out how to spin the stats…. step up Pedro. You and only you can do it.

  241. DemonDachshund says:

    I can’t see them dealing him this season for sure. I could definitely see them dealing him in the offseason to avoid his 2nd year arbitration contract and get a better return for him.

    I agree with the sentiment that they should just give him a QO in 2.5 years, unless someone just blows you away with a great offer.

  242. Thundercrack says:

    I think the announcers ‘hype’ Pedro because every once in a while he hits a gianormous home run.

    :-)

  243. Andrew says:

    How many of the best athletes are under 6’2″, how of best world soccer/football players are under 6’2″?

  244. RB says:

    “I also don’t see why Pedro can’t improve and I’m not sure what his expectations have to do with anything.”

    I hope Pedro comes around someday to be the player the Pirates need him to be. But how long of a leash do you give him?

    As to expectations, Pedro was drafted to be a big bat. That’s the expectation that is on him. He isn’t getting paid to be a bottom of the order hitter and error machine. He’s supposed to be our four spot. It’s almost a given at this point that the Pirates aren’t going to extend him, and he will more than likely walk in a couple of years for an AL team. I don’t see a lot of upside in keeping him around.

  245. Arriba Wilver says:

    I agree with Mad.

  246. Jandy says:

    Oh MY!

  247. JHadar says:

    Not a hockey fan …

    But, good teams in any sport will always attract bandwagon jumpers.

  248. Zico says:

    What’s that say about the rest of us here? We’re all Eklunds! Shame for everyone!

  249. cmat0829 says:

    I will add that Cutch has similar comments about Pedro recently…saw it last night on IPB… he said something to the effect that “Pedro can do more, he knows he can do more…looking forward to a big July from him”.

    Is that much different than what Hurdle said?

  250. Naterosboro says:

    Thoughts on thoughts on Wednesday…

    * Were the US terrible? I think that’s strong and unfair. They did some good things, and ultimately had a great chance to win the game in regulation. Did Belgium control the game like I feared they would? Yes, and then some. It was only a matter of time before they scored.

    * Jurgen Klinsmann is the best thing to happen to our national team. I love the German influence he’s establishing. John Brooks, Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson & now Julian Green give us hope moving forward. Need to find more of these guys though.

    * If you think other national teams don’t do the same thing (find guys who have parents from differing countries and try to convince them to play for them) then you’d be mistaken. If the US is to be successful at the top level, then they have to try and get their best possible players. If that means poaching a few, so be it.

    * For all Pedro Alvarez’s struggles this year defensively, he had a few really nice plays last night including one where he was able to knock it down, stay with it, and toss to Neil at 2B for a force.

    * And for all his struggles at the plate, he’s still the only legit power threat in our lineup. I don’t really think trading him, and giving his PT to Harrison makes the Pirates a better squad. I’d have to see the return, however, before I could make full judgement.

    * Russell Martin is an absolute must re-sign. I’d offer 2ys/$24mil with an option for 3rd year. I’m looking towards Reese McGuire being the everyday guy, but that’s 2 years off at the earliest. Management needs to do Pirate fans a favor and get this done before the season ends.

    * It’s strange what happens to pitchers when they don’t walk guys. They usually pitch Ok, if not pretty good. I wonder why that is….

    * Josh Bell is an untouchable prospect.

    * I’ll check in with the Penguins once the season gets under way. I’d like to see what moves they make for the rest of the offseason, and how the roster looks Game 1.

    * Training camp is almost here. And we’re not really talking about football. I think that’s the way it should be. I guess we have TBMTIB…MS to thank for that ;-)

    Well, I guess I’ll be rooting for Germany and the rest of the Arsenal players still remaining at the WC. I’m still heartbroken. This team has a knack for doing that. Oh well, I guess I know what it is to be a Philly fan now…..

    TAKE CARE ALL & HAVE A GOOD DAY!

  251. NMR says:

    That’s just not how baseball works, RB.

    Expecting what just happened to continue to happen, even though it is completely different than what has happened overwhelmingly in the past, is just not going to work out very often.

  252. Zico says:

    I just used Harrison as a trade chip with Bruce for Jose Abreu in my fantasy league. He MUST have some value.

  253. Andrew says:

    I am not enthralled with Rutherford and Pens at all, the entire process of hiring for the front office and coaching spots is can only be described as concerning.

    I never thought the Penguins issues were in the top six, they needed better depth, I think the have gotten better in that regard, but at the cost of the top six. They have exactly six players you could be considered top six, Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Hornqvist, Dupuis, and Bennet, that is not too inspiring.

    I have no problem with Ernhort contract, especially with Maatta and Pouliot having labrum surgery, and I think the bottom six options are now better. However I saw that Sutter wants $4 million and Spaling $2.5 million (great return for Neal) that is just not going to work.

    I agree that there are more questions than answers and more so in the long-term, long-term being next season. Someone under contract or a RFA is going to have to be moved.

  254. cmat0829 says:

    You know, other than the Bucs depressing April, and all the losses to the Brewers, we are right in the thick of the playoff race. If things break our way today, the Pirates can leapfrog the Cards and Reds and be in 2nd place, perhaps 6 games behind the Milwaukee Gomez’. We’d be within 2-4 games of everyone else above us in the NL, Giants/Dodgers included. None of those teams is out of reach. Nor is Milwaukee.

    If Jason Grilli had not blown back to back saves vs the Brewers, the whole narrative might be different right now.

  255. Jim S. says:

    I think you jut cut through the clutter, 21.

  256. NMR says:

    When have I ever said he’s more than that, bpn?

    All I’ve stated, all along, is that even being a streaky power hitter with mediocre defense has value. It does. It’s real. And it’s more than anythng else the Pirates can muster at the position in the near future.

  257. NMR says:

    Hahaha, well done.

  258. NMR says:

    We’re having a serious conversation about the Pirates signin fee agent Hanley Ramirez?

    This is happening right now?

  259. Andrew says:

    I love the dual citizenship argument, so sons of American service members somehow are less American. The Algerian national team was effectively the French C team.

  260. Dom says:

    Bell’s approaching 300 ABs. He has a .375 OBP and .505 SLG. How much longer till they promote him?

  261. cmat0829 says:

    Gibby is old school… and a player’s manager. So he was gonna give Miley the chance to complete his masterful game. And not to defend Gibson who is absolutely awful as manager, going to Reed with his slider and arm slot vs. JHay and Marte and Cutch was certainly the right move. Reed made his manager look terrible with an absolute brutal mispitch on an 0-2 count to Marte, who we all know would’ve swung if that slider was a foot outside and low.

    But Miley should have been bunting in the top of the 9th. No doubt in my mind. put 2 runners in scoring position and a bloop hit puts the game out of reach.

  262. JHadar says:

    If he’s taking a different approach at each spot (trying to hit homers at clean up, trying just to get on base at 6th?), that would suggest causation. Nerves could suggest it, too.

    Strong evidence has a way of falling short of absolute proof though and baseball is full of odd bounces and statistical anomalies.

    Nice discussion, but no minds are changing. Makes for an interesting read nonetheless.

  263. RB says:

    I’m getting more and more into soccer every year, but I have a long way to go until I consider myself very knowledgable about the sport. But in true internet fashion I am going to offer my uneducated opinion anyway.

    I thought the U.S. looked bad yesterday. The U.S. is still a second tier soccer country and has a ways to go to make up ground. The defense was decent yesterday, but the offense not being able to score a goal given so many opportunities was shameful. Especially because Belgium didn’t exactly look great on defense, either. It looked a lot like what I’ve seen with the Riverhounds this year: ability to control the ball with an inability to score. I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t just a philosophical issue with how the U.S. approaches the game. The U.S. soccer matches I’ve seen ( including MLS ) tend to show U.S. players as being overly aggressive on offense, which rarely works out. Good teams create opportunities, charge the net at the right times, pass at the right moment, and control the game. The U.S. didn’t do much of that. They marched downfield and then lost control of the ball with a wild kick.

  264. SeanAY says:

    Haha. No, but he does help illustrate my point.

  265. NMR says:

    And what evidence do you have that the work they’ve done Pedro was actually correct?

    Seems like there’s a history going back to 2011 of Hurdle and the Pirates making changes – mechanics, opposite field, approach – but not much result.

    Why cant they be held responsible as well?

  266. NMR says:

    Well said.

  267. bpn8pitt says:

    NMR, I just think they can live without him.

    Its amazing how when people like myself complain about the lack of power at 1B, or have within the last few years i get lectured how HRs are not important. Yet when we discuss 3B, we have a guy with a subpar average and very suspect glove and all anyone points to is the power.

    Not trying to start an argument, i just think some of the three week passes for Pedro need to stop. I think Hurdle starting to feel this way too. Maybe guys are tired of bouncing around the lineup for his sake? I dont know.

    Thanks anyway.

  268. 21sthebest says:

    RB, I think the Pirates need to win. I don’t care what combination of players achieves that but I don’t have an issue with Pedro except for his defense lately, although I’d like for him to get better offensively and he’s young enough that I can very easily see that happening. I don’t see any need to trade him at this point unless you get an offer you can’t refuse and I don’t see that happening. And as to his defense, no errors since June 17 so hopefully that trend continues.

    I think it’s too early to give up on Pedro as you suggest. But we all have different levels of patience. Generally speaking though, I’d say fans are a lot more impatient than front offices. And I also don’t know how you define “ the player the Pirates need him to be.”

  269. Arriba Wilver says:

    I don’t see them as comparable players, either, Jim. Aramis, to my recollection, was always looked at as more of an all around player. Not a 5 tool guy, but, frankly, a more all around talented guy. The best area of comparison may be in the defense, but Aramis was starting at a much younger age.

  270. Jim S. says:

    ++++, Arriba.

  271. Andrew says:

    So Pedro Alvarez, sucks and needs to be traded and would be a good fit a DH but he sucks at hitting, way too many Alvarez discussion so I am putting this at the bottom.

    Honestly, what is wrong with Hurdle wanting more run production from Alvarez, he has come to the plate with 258
    base runners on (4th in the MLB) and scored 29 of them at a 11% clip, league average is 14%.

    From 2012-13 Alvarez appears to have maximized the tradeoff between contact and power. This year he has moved a bit on that spectrum, making more contact and has lost some power, but he is a similarly productive hitter when compared to league average, even if production to his pull side has fallen off.

    I don’t think he is was or ever will be a middle of the order bat, the 6th spot is a fine position for him, and he should be hidden from almost all left handers. He is a flawed but about 10% above average hitter who is valuable when playing league average-ish defense at 3rd.

    No team is going trade a middle infielder/3rd baseman with six-seven years of control for the final two arbitration years of Alvarez. The Mark Trumbo trade is a good comparisons, with a year more of control the Angles main return was a top #20 pitching prospect with about 60 innings of spot starts.

  272. Justin says:

    The thing that i do like about the Ehrhoff signing is that it pushes Scuderi to the press box once everyone is healthy. I’d much rather him be the one in the press box than have to put a young guy like Dumoulin or Samuelson in there. they DID improve yesterday. Just not in the way that we assumed they would. there are multiple paths to the promised land. Geno might be a little unhappy, but the difference between scuderi and ehrhoff might be bigger than the difference between – say – Kulemin and another guy they have their eye on. Maybe Peter Mueller.

    Kind of a similar idea with Hornqvist vs Neal. Yeah Hornqvist is probably going to score less goals. But Hornqvist is probably also going to prevent more opponent goals as well. A prevented goal is a good as a scored goal.

    Plus, like GMJR said, they don’t have to be set for the playoffs on July 2nd. They can buy a winger for Malkin at the deadline. They’ll surely be in the playoff hunt at the deadline whether it’s Kulemin or Angelo Esposito on Malkin’s LW.

  273. The Gunner says:

    I like Morton, he has won my respect. However he needs to do it (whether he relies on ground balls or Ks), we need to get 7 out of him tonight.

    The offense will surely be better tonight.

  274. Arriba Wilver says:

    In suggesting you have more baseball acumen than Hurdle.

  275. Jim S. says:

    Definitely just speculation, 21. From Pirates Prospects guys and like, mostly. I have read that there’s talk that if they look to acquire someone for the stretch run Bell might be a guy that is included in the trade because of the OF surplus and the fact that he has value. It makes sense from that standpoint. I think other teams would want him.

  276. 21sthebest says:

    Not much result? I like what Pedro did last year. I don’t agree with it but this year’s approach has resulted in some positives but unfortunately the power has suffered so far. I really don’t blame them for trying. I think it was a reasonable approach. Now I think it’s on the organization and Pedro to figure out how to get back to last year while improving OBP.

  277. Naje says:

    NMR… from way above, thanks for the response. It was the 2011 ST where Hurdle and PA clashed a bit, I believe. Hurdle and PBC may have been a bit disappointed with PA’s offseason regimen. But I believe that is when DK had some video of him working one on one with Hurdle in batting practice.

    But, I get your point about changing his swing and his approach and the effect those things may have had on him. Honestly though, he just wasn’t going to help the team in 2011 or 2012 (or even 2013) with the approach he brought with him to the big leagues…way too many swing and miss attempts and not enough patience and a big hole in his swing (so we were told). So they tinker, make adjustments, and voila…presto…magico… he pounds the ball for two and half months in 2013… the other three and a half months he was a bit dormant, but, as you noted, he’s streaky.

    Regardless, nothing like a good bourbon to discuss further. As for being a beer guy, two new breweries have popped up in the area, just across the river in Southern Indiana. And, even better, you could got to Forecastle and walk across the Ohio River to a new brewery. They’ve converted an old railroad bridge to a walking, jogging, biking bridge…pretty cool addition to downtown.

    Thanks for your insights… always interesting.

  278. cmat0829 says:

    DK: Great Morning Java today.

    1) COMPLETELY AGREE the US team isn’t deserving of the praise they seem to be getting. Tim Howard most certainly does. Other than his unbelievable performance, we lose that game 4-0. The US is far, far away from truly being a threat to the World’s best teams… how can anyone say otherwise watching that game yesterday? Looked like an NCAA basketball team taking on the Heat.

    2) Good stuff on Marte. Like to see him focused on his weaknesses at the plate and trying to do something about it. Hopefully Reed’s awful mistake pitch fuels Marte to continue his better pace of late. He is cemented in the 2 spot and rightfully so.

    3) Pedro… this blog has taken Clint’s honest response to a question “Are you impressed by Pedro’s play lately” to dizzying heights of having him traded at this year’s deadline. Keep calm and come on already. It was an honest response… let’s ask the blog-mates the same question… “are you impressed by Pedro’s play lately”? My honest answer would be “NO, not impressed … he has stopped throwing it into the upper deck… he has improved his average…and that HR the other day I am hoping it starts a power binge now… but impressed? Not really”. But I most certainly would have Pedro in the lineup most nights (never against LHP again please) and I’d bat him 6th…and I would not trade him, not now and not in the offseason.

    4) Tonight’s lineup decision will be very interesting. RHP going. Full team is healthy and available. Doubt the OF sits (Marte/Polanco/Cutch). Doubt Walker sits. So is it JHay or Pedro at 3B? Pedro did just hit the big HR on Sunday… and JHay is, well, JHay. Will be pretty telling…. if I were manager, I go with Pedro.

  279. 21sthebest says:

    +++

  280. Eric Bowser says:

    As I said on Twitter, don’t remember if I said it here… Steve Downie for 1-year $1 million was the right move with Tocchet here.

  281. cmat0829 says:

    yep dont trade him… but he also is not worth re-signing AT ALL. Give him the QO, pocket the draft pick (if it still exists) and let him and Bor-ass find someone who will overpay in FA. And yes, I most certainly would tell PA: you know what? we’ve tried everything, you’ve tried everything,….go out and do what you want…stop trying to flair balls to left field… your only real value to us is when you hit for power and we don’t need another Ike Davis.

  282. bpn8pitt says:

    “when playing league average-ish defense at 3rd”

    That was my favorite part of the whole post Andrew.

    Provided the pitching improves and the defense at 3rd ( and all around) gets better, I think the Pirates can survive without Alvarez. Im just leaving it at that.

    At 4.25 mil I guess I can live with what you NMR, Seanay, Natesboro are selling. At 20 million, no thanks. And that day is drawing near.

  283. Jim S. says:

    I think we’ll get 7 innings with 2 runs allowed from GC tonight. We stole one last night, and now we still have a decent shot at that 8-2 homestand I was hoping for.

  284. NMR says:

    And last year Pedro was a power hitting pull hitter. What he was in college, successfully. What he was in the minor leagues, successfully. What he was in 2010, successfully.

    My problem with their logic, and this extends to more than just Pedro and more than just Hurdle, is that they seem to target faults and try to fix them instead trying to maximize what a player already does well. Jose Bautista is the most obvious example, and I think you can put Brandon Moss in there a bit as well.

    You have a powerful pull hitter, and you try make turn him into a guy that sprays the ball all over the field. We’ve seen this fail before.

  285. Arriba Wilver says:

    Trying to pump up Pedro by criticizing Cutch has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen on this blog. We have a player, the best in a generation or more for the Pirates, and trying to tear him down makes no sense to me. There really is no comparison between the two players. Cutch is an MVP, and in the most recent All Star numbers he’s the leading vote getter for Outfielders in the National League. Yes, let’s criticize him for some strange, weird reason. Poor Pedro.

    (And, no, he’s not beyond criticism, but Jeez)

    People criticized Clemente, too.

  286. hockeymonster says:

    At least our 3rd and 4th lines are set. Another good low risk high reward signing as long as tocchet keeps him on short leash….and valium.

  287. Jim S. says:

    I was pretty convinced at home that had Reed thrown another pitch to Marte on 0-2 just like the first 2 pitches, he wipes him out and the Pirates probably lose the game. That hanger was like manna from Heaven, IMO. But, I give Marte credit for not missing it once he got the hanger.

    I would be pretty PO’d if I were Gibson, knowing I pulled a pitcher who had thrown a masterpiece for 8 innings and inserted a guy who got lit up immediately to cost my team the game. Harrison’s ball was smoked as well.

    We’ve lost some strange, hard to swallow games this year. Last night, we definitely won one of those.

  288. Eric Bowser says:

    Right now, I’ve got the lines as….

    Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
    Bennett – Malkin – Hornqvist
    Spaling – Sutter – Downie
    Comeau – Goc – Megna
    Adams

    Maybe they’ll package Scuderi and Bennett for a LW.

  289. 21sthebest says:

    Yeah, I thought the approach would have been directed more towards just trying to learn the strike zone better. But I disagree with you on Bautista and especially Moss.

  290. Jim S. says:

    Every time I think no team will do something stupid, some team does something stupid. I never say never when it comes to what you might get in a trade.

    We got Pimentel and Melancon for Hanrahan and Brock Holt.

  291. NMR says:

    “Its amazing how when people like myself complain about the lack of power at 1B, or have within the last few years i get lectured how HRs are not important. Yet when we discuss 3B, we have a guy with a subpar average and very suspect glove and all anyone points to is the power.”

    Speaking only for myself, those responses don’t indicate and either/or situation. It’s not that either Pedro sucks because he has a low average or Pedro is awesome because he hits homeruns. Just as it’s not that Ike/Gaby suck because they don’t hit homeruns or they’re great because they get on base.

    It’s that one balances the other. We can all WANT to have both, but players that fit that category are incredibly rare. That’s just reality.

  292. 21sthebest says:

    I don’t understand why we’re deciding now whether or not to resign him or whether or not to make the QO. Why make decisions before you need to. Do we need to?

  293. Naje says:

    Those four (or more) blown saves from Grilli come to mind. We’ve had our share of late-inning bullpen meltdowns already this year. Could definitely use more games like last night’s to help remedy the early season hole they dug themselves. I’m suspecting that they will. The lineup is too strong and the young pitching depth is proving to be of decent, a bit above average quality.

  294. 21sthebest says:

    Looked like a win for both teams if you ask me Jim. Until Hanrahan got hurt. And don’t forget De Jesus and Sands.

  295. Arriba Wilver says:

    Very interesting viewpoint, Jim. Even from coaching rec baseball, I can see there is still a lot of “winning the game” thinking over development.

  296. Steve B. says:

    I have a feeling you’re going to be reshuffling those lines before the end of the day.

    Downie adds some grit when healthy so that’s good thing and a move in the right direction.

  297. hockeymonster says:

    I would try Kuni or Duper on LW with geno and move BB to RW. That way we still have a spot open for a RW in top 6 if we make a trade but then someone like downie or comeau may be a scratch. Good problem to have i suppose. And would have comeau on RW with Goc and maybe gibby or sill on 4LW. Don’t think either one will cost more than 700-800K. But ideally we move adams and scuderi’s salary and sign a top 6 RW from the desert and winnik. I think megna needs to get bigger before he play regularly and should start in WB.

  298. pattonbb says:

    No way Josh Bell gets traded. I’d even venture to say he’s more untouchable than any of the pitching prospects. When they trade Marte in a couple years, Bell will replace him.

  299. Naterosboro says:

    Giuseppe Rossi (ST/CF) grew up in Northern NJ, plays for Italy. Neven Subotic (CB) grew up in Florida, plays for Serbia. 2 players who would undoubtedly make a huge difference for the US.

    There’s a 17 year old boy playing for Arsenal by the name of Gedion Zelalem. He has parents of German & Ethiopian descent, but he lived in the US from like ages 9-15 (6 years), so he may be eligible for US Citizenship (here’s an article to explain: http://www.mlssoccer.com/worldcup/2014/news/article/2014/05/03/report-arsenal-starlet-gedion-zelalem-moves-closer-us-citizenship-usmnt-elig)

    You want creativity in midfield? This boy has it in spades. The striker thing? Gonna have to get creative, or hope that Aron Johannsen isn’t like Jozy in that he can only score in the Dutch league (Eredivisie).

  300. War_Horse says:

    With over 315 million people, the United States is an enormous country with enormous resources, but its finest young athletes do not play soccer (at least the men don’t). As we know, world-class athletes can make more money and achieve greater fame by focusing their talents on a career in baseball, basketball or pro-football. And that’s what they do. Soccer ranks below ice hockey and tennis for rewards on offer at the top.

    So, it’s no wonder that the USA cannot field a soccer team in the World Cup capable of winning it. We simply don’t have a superstar like Portugal’s Ronaldo to score goals. (If Ronaldo had been born and raised in the United States, he’d more than likely have chosen some other sport to excel in.)

    The American team that held a superior Belgian side scoreless in 90 minutes played to its maximum ability, and then beyond that in overtime, throwing everything the players had into the furious, final ten minutes or so. It was, for a few minutes, a world class performance. The European commentators, ex-football stars themselves, recognized the American effort for what it was and said so on the air.

    It is neither accurate nor fair to write, “The Americans were terrible.” They weren’t.

    Here is a more reasoned, less emotional report on the match:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/02/sports/worldcup/world-cup-2014-against-belgium-usa-shows-grit-in-another-second-round-exit.html?ref=worldcup

  301. Andrew says:

    bpn, he is certainly not playing league average defense this year, and his year end value will probably be closer to 2012 than 2013.

    My aversion to trading him is the Pirates have issues in middle infield going forward and moving Alvarez create another issue. (Haven’t even discussed 1B.) I think Alvarez currently is more valuable playing 3rd then the return he would garner in a trade.

    The arbitration costs are a worry, assuming 110% increase, $18-19 million is a real possibility in the 3rd year but if you are cost controlled at other positions and trying to win, sometimes teams have to pay if there isn’t an alternative.

    I’m willing to change my position depending on the progress of Alen Hansen and what Alvarez’s projected arbitration number looks like.

  302. JHadar says:

    Not only the losses but the number of times we’ve taken a substantial lead into the 9th and come away with a one-run escape.

    The season has had enough breaks that “could have been” works out to either a lot better or a lot worse.

    Nice to see the upswing though.

  303. Jim S. says:

    I think Cutch may be traded before Marte, patton. No hometown discount from him next time around, I would think. I assume he will want top dollar. He’d be crazy not to.

  304. Naterosboro says:

    20mil/season? I don’t think Alvarez gets that on the open market. Yes, the power numbers are big, but average is not, and suspect defense I think keeps him in the 10-15mil per (barring an overpay, or a crazy shift in the market).

  305. NMR says:

    Good thoughts, Naje.

    We just have a completely opposite views of what you stated in that second paragraph. I’ve spent more time watching video of Pedro along the way than I care to admit, and the Pedro that pounded the ball in 2013 looks a hell of a lot more like the Pedro that came up – and was successfull – in 2010 than what they had him doing in between. But like you’ve said, I wouldn’t have the conversation if I didn’t appreciate and enjoy your POV.

    Ha, ironically, I’ve actually sat through a presentation on designing the retrofit for that bridge accounting for harmonic resonance caused by a mass event of pedestrians. Very cool project. I love hearing about more and more cool stuff coming out of L’ville. Keep ‘em coming!

  306. Jandy says:

    ++++

  307. Jim S. says:

    But, it wasn’t superior athleticism from the Belgians and Germans that dominated us, War Horse. I still maintain that it is superior training methods from the earliest ages from other countries that dooms us. We simply don’t produce many top notch players that are capable of playing at a high level in leagues like EPL. The athletes we put on the field are every bit as athletically gifted as those from most countries, don’t you think?

  308. Jandy says:

    Are you freakin’ kidding me??????????

    Downie the aZZclown?

  309. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’ll take some steroids to celebrate. ;-)

  310. Naje says:

    Nice WH…and thanks for those sentiments. The US had a slim, slim chance of winning that game and though they bent during the run of regulation, they didn’t break. And they played like demons after going down 2-0 in the extra periods.

    I almost was hoping for Belgium to score early in the 2nd half when Howard withstood attack after attack from the 45th thru 60th minutes. Going down 1-0 may well would have changed the tactics to a more concerted effort in the offensive end.

    So much positive stuff to take from this tournament…a shame to come down harsh and heavy on the USMNT. BUT, to DK’s defense, the type of expectation from our team that prompted his “The Americans were terrible” line. If you have that type of expectation, for this team at this particular stage in its development, I think that may be a good thing. Not necessarily accurate, but not a bad way to describe where they are with where they should (could) eventually be.

  311. Andrew says:

    I saw that article in Zelalem. Like I said up above the US hasn’t had the infrastructure, meaning coaching, tradition, development system in place to currently produce high level technical players. And it takes more than 20 years. The MLS becoming a respectable league is helping but it is helping other CONCAF national side more so, which will indirectly benefit the United States.

    The lack of true striker is a universal problem, heck England had Ricky Lambert on their team sheet. While quite good after a late career arrival to the Premier League and playing at every league level, he isn’t exactly world class.

  312. Jandy says:

    LOL!

  313. Jim S. says:

    I think Hanny was on borrowed time, 21 – and, I’m not talking about the injury. He was trending downward IMO. Melancon, on the other hand, had an unusually high % of flyballs leaving the park the season before we got him if I recall. That usually comes back in line.

    I thought it was a lopsided trade right from the start. But, that’s my point. Lopsided trades happen all the time, and it might just happen because both sides looked at the available info and one got it right and one got it wrong. I don’t know why people are saying there is no way we could get a decent 3b prospect or equal value of any kind for Pedro. If we can’t, then don’t make the deal. If we feel we can, make the deal. But, it is always possible to make a great trade.

  314. Jim S. says:

    That grandkid is a cutie, Jandy!

  315. The Gunner says:

    No, Pedro just needs to start producing more starting immediately.

  316. Jim S. says:

    +++++, Andrew. Exactly right.

  317. Jandy says:

    Thanks, Jim! We love her to pieces! :D

  318. Naje says:

    That is very cool NMR about the bridge and your work on it. Congratulations! We’ve had some issues this past spring with young kids (teens, adolescents and pre-teens) traveling around in large packs and terrorizing innocent people coming from the riverfront and all the activities there. And several attacks were around the bridge.

    Big stink about it here, as it should have been, and finally Metro Louisville got wise and installed cameras all around and on the bridge. The bridge has been a great addition. Several businesses have opened in the past few months on the Indiana side of the river as well as a craft brewery.

    Your response about Pedro’s technique is the last piece of the difference of opinion. I wasn’t looking at the approach, style with THAT close of an eye but trust your research of it. That said, it is good to see him cut down the K rate as the lineup was not built to sustain that much of an automatic out (for lack of a better term) for extended periods of time. And now, with a lineup as solid as we’ve seen in some time here, moving him down in the order isn’t the worst thing in the world. Like you, I’m hoping for the day that he’s in the 4 slot every game and committing less than 20 errors a season.

    But there is progress and that’s good to see.

  319. cmat0829 says:

    WE don’t need to make ANY decisions. The Pirates do. As far as I know, NH hasn’t posted anything on the blog, and hasn’t formed the opinions any of us have formed already.

    I’m projecting out to the future… my projection is that a trade won’t yield the return we want/need, so best strategy appears to be at this point to ride Pedro til the end and if he walks, we at least get a pick.

  320. NMR says:

    The 40/60/80 rule seems more appropriate than doubling each time through arb, but I do agree with your overall point.

    Mark Reynolds, although Super 2, ended up DFA’d by his last time though.

  321. Reading says:

    The USMNT played four WC games and went 1-2-1. Fans should be disappointed. A .250 winning percentage doesn’t cut it.

  322. War_Horse says:

    Jim, what I was trying to point out was: if every American boy started kicking a soccer ball around at the age of five or six, rather than a baseball, football or basketball, and started playing competitively at a young age, the best of those youngsters would rise to the top and play for world class teams. Then we would have the makings of a world class World Cup team. They would develop the way European and South American kids do. And they would be better than our current team, or previous teams. Sorry I didn’t put it that explicitly.

  323. Jandy says:

    WE don’t get a pick, the PIRATES get a pick :P

  324. cmat0829 says:

    It does no good for the USMNT to overstate their status in the World. None. It is absolutely fair to say the US is ‘nowhere near good enough to really compete for the World Cup’ and to praise them for ‘giving their all, trying hard til the final whistle, etc.’. I wouldn’t necessarily say it the way DK said it, that the US ‘were terrible’, but I also think many are going way way overboard on their ‘effort’.

    Not sure how you can watch that game, with Belgium getting shot after shot after shot on goal and the US struggling to even get past midfield with the ball and think otherwise.

    I am not a soccer hater. I loved watching the World Cup, due to the US involvement. Probably won’t watch another match because I just have no interest in say, Belgium vs. Germany. Not hating on it, just saying I won’t watch, just like I won’t watch say, any MLB game that doesn’t involve the Pirates. Including the World Series.

  325. Baywatch says:

    An interesting thought on Bell taking Marte’s place, Patton! Bell’s having a good year at Bradenton, but I want to see what he’s like at Altoona and Indy first. Marte’s got the tools, sho nuff, but I’ve never seen anyone like him where the lack of baseball intelligence and GETTING HIT BY THE BASEBALL seems to mitigate all that toolsy stuff!

  326. Naje says:

    Reading…. results matter. Think of the group stage, when the US went 1-1-1 against three of the top 15 teams in the world, as the regular season. They made it through the regular season and earned a berth in the playoffs. The sport is huge… bigger than all of the major US sports combined when you factor in the number of countries that play the sport and play it very well. To be one of 32 is a real accomplishment, but yes, there’s more to expect.

    But saying that fans should be disappointed with a 1-2-1 record against that competition, well, it’s relative. I get the “we need to have higher expectations” for the USMNT, but to get where we got against the competition and without our top striker, not bad at all.

  327. Tom P. says:

    Good analysis, Jim. My two daughters play rec league soccer, and I can see that it is easier to get kids to kick the ball and chase it than to get them to pass to a teammate. I don’t know what the higher level club teams are teaching, but I understand the difference. And I am not being critical of the coaches. At this level, the kids are there to have fun and learn some skills, and my daughters are doing both.

  328. War_Horse says:

    A well-played soccer game can be a thing of beauty to watch, regardless of the teams. A great game is a work of art. Sorry as I am that the USA is out, I will watch the rest of the games without favor to one team or another–unless little Costa Rica gets through to the semi-finals.
    Come the World Series, I’m going to be up all night watching the games, even if the Bucs aren’t in it. Just like the Superbowl every year, with or without the Steelers.

  329. NMR says:

    Ah, that’s a shame, Naje, but actually fairly common, fwiw. Places that aren’t very dense (parks, for example) don’t have very many eyes to watch what is going on compared to dense, busy areas. That attracts criminal elements that don’t want to be seen. Good for the authorities to address the issue and glad it seems to have worked!

  330. cmat0829 says:

    Hurdle and NH are most definitely going to be held responsible for Ws and Ls… and at some point the player needs to put up or shut up. Clint was only answering the question if he was impressed by Pedro lately and his answer essentially was ‘he has work to do to be a real consistent power threat in our lineup’.

    But I will agree with you on the tinkering… time for Pedro to put up or shut up. But I think you may be overstating Pedro’s production when he ‘did it his way’.

  331. cmat0829 says:

    I think it is a real stretch to blame Pirates coaches and staff singularly…and NOT THE PLAYER at all.. in any situation.. especially reaching back to examples like Joey and Moss. And they generally preceded Hurdle didn’t they?

    I’m pretty sure I read in struggles in years past the Pirates asked Pedro to ‘unplug’… b/c he was pressing, working too hard, etc.

  332. Naje says:

    Watching the game again and from the outside, yes, the Belgian side bombarded the goal with shots. But, in this game, really, only three or four shots were threatening. All the others were of the type that the defense played solid and the Belgian’s got off a shot but it was played perfectly. Sort of like throwing meatballs to a power-laden team at a park with deep, really deep, EBBETS Field deep fences.

    But, that type of 80% defense, 20% (or less) offense style wears down and rarely nets a positive result. The possession skills are still lacking overall with the US team. After Altidore went down, opponents in this year’s World Cup looked at the US team and said one thing when discussing how to stop them: STOP BRADLEY. And every team did that… they’d send two, sometimes three or four guys right at him and stopped his ability (often) to move the ball forward. They needed help from their center backs as well as their outside midfielders to help move the ball down the field and possess the ball in a positive way rather than just playing back and around the perimeter in their defensive end.

    Small steps… but getting there.

  333. Milo Hamilton says:

    So, I’ve been out cutting the grass. Dis the Pens do anything ? Jandy ? :)

  334. cmat0829 says:

    as would you if you were (1) employed by the Pirates, not ROOT Sports …(2) essentially travel with this team/players/staff and are part of the same organization…. nothing to be gained analyzing what the Pirates announcers say

  335. 21sthebest says:

    “WE don’t need to make ANY decisions. The Pirates do. As far as I know, NH hasn’t posted anything on the blog, and hasn’t formed the opinions any of us have formed already.”

    :eyeroll

  336. Arriba Wilver says:

    Martin will not sign a 2 year deal with a team option with the Pirates. He refused to last time in order to increase his value, and he has increased his value. I’m not even sure he would sign a 3 year deal with an option, but that would be the starting point.

  337. Pete in Dayton says:

    I agree with DK that the US needs to find a way to develop good strikers. At the very least, we need to find a way to get players who aren’t bad at the international level to play up front. The injury to Altidore exposed the US’s lack of depth up front. MLS doesn’t give US players a true test of defense- man marking in the MLS compared to the bigger leagues or the international level is so great, that often US players look unprepared to play at that level.
    Landon Donovan should have been that player- he was signed by Bayer Leverkusen, played in Germany, loaned back to the US. He then was recalled back to Germany and promptly did not make the first team. After a short stay, he again, came back to MLS, forced his way to LA (since he was from Southern California) and apart from a few loan spells to Everton, has never sought out the big leagues again. My issue with his route is that he chose to play in MLS because he was a star here, and was allowed to stop developing as a player. Being quick and good, but not great, with the ball at his feet was enough to be a star in MLS, but it’s not when it’s at the international level.
    Dempsey never played striker in England, always midfield. And it showed at the World Cup. He is a “tweener”, to use a basketball term, not a striker, not a midfielder. He was used as an attacking midfielder at Fulham and Tottenham, and he helped Fulham to reach it’s best Premier League finish and a Europa League final.
    Simply put, the US needs players playing in Europe to gain experience for the international level if we’re going to win a world cup. The goal of improving MLS and improving the USMNT is mutually exclusive- we can’t do both.

  338. cmat0829 says:

    right you are, thanks Jandy.

  339. NMR says:

    I thought Marte’s answer to Dejan was really interesting. It sounds like the guy does know what to expect from pitchers. Just a matter of pulling the trigger at the right times. Which is infinitely more difficult.

  340. dennis g says:

    What specifically did you see JHay do in the last 3 years that has caused you to be so critical of him and so skeptical of his current performance? Did you see him make error after error at third base? Did you see him consistently throw the ball to the wrong base from the outfield? Did you ever see him fail to hustle or stand at the plate and admire one of his hits or fail to run after a dropped third strike or on a likely foul ball? Did you ever see him drop a routine fly ball costing his team the game with two outs in the ninth inning? The only thing that anyone can really say about him that is true and not an asset is that he seems to be one of the worst pinch hitters ever, batting .150 over his first 3 seasons. Since this is hard to do with success, it is not a surprise. But for a rookie trying to hold on with a team that has shown very little support it must be ridiculously hard. However in the past three seasons in which he has shown you very little he has come to the plate 575 times and struck out 71. In their first 575 PA’s Walker struck out 110, Alvarez-178, Marte-136 and future MVP Andrew McCutchen – 95. Harrison has actually shown us quite a bit if we are paying attention.

  341. cmat0829 says:

    I can sum up the US status with one sentence from your post: STOP BRADLEY. If Michael Bradley is truly our best player, then we may have longer to go than I thought.

  342. Jandy says:

    lol

  343. Jandy says:

    Milo actually called this yesterday….sheesh

  344. cmat0829 says:

    I don’t think so, Milo. But Pedro has had a busy afternoon. He has been traded, put back in the 4 hole, moved to 1B, replaced with a SS, moved to DH, been awarded a QO, signed a contract worth $20M+, not gotten an offer more than $12M…all while not smiling and wearing his hat over his ears.

    Back to mowing the grass.

  345. Andrew says:

    Yes, 40/60/80 is probably more correct, not sure where I got that 110% number in my head. While not a flattering comparisons Mark Reynolds is a good comp, despite the home runs and RBIs there isn’t a tremendous amount of salary escalation through his arbitration years, which is promising in terms of the Pirates being able to hold onto Pedro for two more years.

    While -5.5 UZR/150 from Pedro isn’t great it is better than -10.6 that Reynolds is rated as.

  346. dennis g says:

    Looks like you were not successful.

  347. cmat0829 says:

    Agree, WH. Maybe I will sneak a peek of a match or two… I did wholly enjoy watching the US games wire to wire.

  348. War_Horse says:

    Instead of trying to figure out where to play Pedro, or whether to play him at all, please consider this: the strongest power hitter on this Pirates’ team is Andrew McCutchen. He leads the team by miles in almost every category–especially OBP and SLG–and his 12 HRs are only one fewer than Alvarez. “The Plan” was always to have Pedro hit fourth, but that hasn’t worked out. Nor has the combination of Ike or Gaby in clean-up. No one on this team is as dependable as Andrew in any situation.

    So, why let Cutch hit #4? Maybe you start the first three hitters with some combination of Polanco, Marte, & Harrison and put Walker in at #5 when he gets his RBI eye in again after the layoff. And he will, for sure.

    Martin, Alvarez, Ike/Gaby, and Mercer make up the bottom of the order. Why wouldn’t that work?

  349. Naje says:

    Ah, good point. But there is a LOT of young, inexperienced talent on the team… as well as several guys that wouldn’t come near making any of the other 31 teams’ rosters.

    Stopping Bradley meant that teams could stop our possession…which meant we’d have to defend…which wears you out over the course of 2 weeks… (the US played four of the toughest teams in the world on June 16, 22, 26 and July 1…some of those matches in horrible heat). Bradley isn’t necessarily the best player on the US team, but he is the most talented and gifted distributor of the ball… the point guard… the quarterback of the attack. Without Altidore on the field — and honestly, Clint Dempsey was not a plus during the four games — it made the opposition just focus on stopping the US possession game, which meant STOP BRADLEY.

    Bradley is an incredibly gifted player…just watch him carve up the competition in our regional games (v. Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, etc) and watch him play for his club. There is other talent to be mined, but even the best players in the world at the midfield position need help.

    Lionel Messi and the No. 2-ranked team in the world were moments away from losing to Switzerland. SWITZERLAND. And Messi is the best player in the world… and he has world class, elite players all around him and those guys have been nonexistent during the cup and finally one of them gets a goal late in the match v. the Swiss off a pass from Messi.

    Soccer isn’t easy.

  350. JohnS says:

    Well of your group they still have to find money for Sutter, Spaling and Megna. After the Downie signing they have about $400k.

    Which D gets moved? The clock is ticking JR.

  351. dennis g says:

    Ike Davis ha 32 HR’s a couple years ago and was supposed to be a great defensive player. What did he fetch?

  352. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    I’ll take Downie at $1M per without hesitation. He’s a quality addition to the sandpaper department, and he’s got some offensive upside. Considering Tanner Glass got $1.45M per, Downie is a huge upgrade.

    Again, though, I’m left wondering why Rutherford is inking yet another one-year deal. It’s not like there’s any replacements for these 3rd and 4th line guys coming from within. After all this work to put the right pieces together to round out the Pens’ bottom six, Rutherford is going to have to do it all over again next year… likely at increased cost.

  353. JohnS says:

    Sorry just checked my numbers and they have $1.4M

  354. NMR says:

    Is that any better than what they have now?

  355. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    At this point, the only realistic option for Rob Scuderi is to buyout his contract.

  356. dennis g says:

    Sounds like a winner.

  357. hockeymonster says:

    Excuse jandy’s absence milo, she’s out buying azzclown shoes. I hear they’re gonna be size 9′s.

  358. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

    Best reality/perception post on Pedro I’ve seen, Andrew.

  359. dennis g says:

    For those who want to pay Russell Martin upwards of $30 million over 3 years, which he may or may not demand or accept, the Pirates record last year in games he started was 68-52 or .566. This year slightly better 26-19 or .577. That still leaves us to pay for another catcher to start at least 40 games. There is no reason to think Clint will start him more frequently in the future than he does now and he is virtually useless as a pinch hitter because of Clint’s reluctance to use the relief catcher until absolutely necessary.

  360. War_Horse says:

    I don’t know, honestly. If Cutch bats fourth, it puts the best slugger on the team in the clean-up spot and solves the problem of no slugger at #4. Maybe Walker, when he starts hitting again, should bat third. It just makes sense to me to put the team’s best slugger in at clean-up and build the rest of the lineup around him.

  361. hockeymonster says:

    Im ok with downie for 1M too. Players and agents probably want 1 year deals cuz cap is expected to go up quite a bit next few years. And dont really think downie deserves more than one year at this point. Comeau wants an increase after season. Goc would be worth 2 or 3 years but he probably wants an increase next season too. In general i dont mind having a bunch of motivated hungry players. I think we’ll want to extend Ehrhoff mid season, especially if we trade PM or scuderi.

  362. Milo Hamilton says:

    We should assign her to keep him in line, he can go off the rails at times.

    Dustin Jeffrey signed with Vancouver.

  363. hockeymonster says:

    Whew, what a relief.

  364. Milo Hamilton says:

    You could just bat the pitcher 8th & leave the rest alone. OK, I’ll just stop now. :)

  365. hockeymonster says:

    Despres too. If i remember correctly we have 7.3M left after downie signing. So sutter and spaling will take up roughly 5M, despres 800k leaving roughly 1.5M for 2 spots. Thinking 750K each for sill and gibby. Once again adams contract is a killer. What exactly was shero thinking giving him 2 years?

  366. Jim S. says:

    Playing devil’s advocate, Dennis. Are you suggesting they should pursue someone else as the starter for the majority of games next year? If so, who? I don’t see viable options for 2015 within the organization at this point.

  367. Jim S. says:

    I don’t see how. Every spot you move him down in the lineup gets him 1/9 less at bats. I would actually advocate batting him 2nd.

  368. Pete in Dayton says:

    Yohe said on DK’s show that Sutter’s camp may be wanting $4mil a year.
    If that’s the case, I will gladly drive him to the airport so he can go to Florida, where they are spending cash for no good reason.
    Or Calgary. I hear they like overpaying people as well.
    $4 mil?????

  369. Jim S. says:

    Good for you, War Horse.

  370. War_Horse says:

    “Every spot you move him down in the lineup gets him 1/9 less at bats.”

    That’s not correct, Jim. If Cutch bats #4, he gets fewer ABs in a game ONLY when the #3 hitter makes the Pirates’ final out of the game.

  371. hockeymonster says:

    Which gives us no cap relief. I think we’ll stay patient and let offers come to us. Roster is pretty much set once sutter and spaling come back to earth. Not ideal roster but we’re only one trade away from being real good shape. For all we know maybe JR thinks he can get more than what he’s been offered for PM and/or Piece. Why rush now? After yesterday my asking price would probably go up for both.

  372. cmat0829 says:

    The most obvious question on that lineup construction, and I’m not opposed to Cutch hitting 4 at all, is that in this scenario JHay has to play SS.. Jury is out on whether the Bucs will do that.

  373. Jandy says:

    Ha! Actually, I’m babysitting the boss’s son’s 2 puppies! Seriously!!

  374. Jandy says:

    oh and make that size WIDES!!!

  375. Jim S. says:

    I hear you on that, War. Good points. The US could be better if our best athletes were pursuing soccer careers.

    But, my point is that most of the world plays a better, more sophisticated possession style of soccer than our youths do. Ironically, due to athleticism and style of play, we often are able to beat world powers with our youth teams. Unfortunately, once we get to the adult stage, I believe their superior training and style of play wins the day. I see no other reason to explain a Belgium running rings around the US. Without Howard’s brilliance yesterday, that could have been a 4-0 loss in regulation. I thought it was that lopsided as far as legit scoring chances.

  376. cmat0829 says:

    like it or not, going rate on a C, who for the most part on every team, rests at least 1x per week, is what you described. The additional missed games for Russ are due to DL stints, which is why I don’t squawk when he sits out if he helps keep him healthy.

    I would say, based on DK’s on the scene analysis he posted yesterday, that Russ’ value is also in the work he puts in with the pitchers before games, in preparation, in Spring Training, etc. So you can’t purely go by the games he starts in determining value.

    Lastly as Jim puts it, what are the options? Personally, I’m not ready to go with Tony and Chris… and I don’t see any real good alternatives out there. The MONEY IS THERE to pay Russ the market rate. EVEN with our miserly owner the money is there. So who else would they spend it on….

  377. cmat0829 says:

    Tonight’s lineup… no JHay as I suspected might be the case.

    1. Gregory Polanco (L) RF
    2. Starling Marte (R) LF
    3. Andrew McCutchen (R) CF
    4. Neil Walker (S) 2B
    5. Russell Martin (R) C
    6. Ike Davis (L) 1B
    7. Pedro Alvarez (L) 3B
    8. Jordy Mercer (R) SS
    9. Charlie Morton (R) P

  378. Bizrow says:

    Dejan noted in his radio show that he isn’t enthrall end with the Downey move

  379. Jandy says:

    For once, I agree with you ;)

  380. Jandy says:

    I’m not enthralled either.

  381. cmat0829 says:

    just once?? ok, then, like pedro i am gonna try to be more consistent.

  382. Jandy says:

    LOL!

  383. Jim S. says:

    Well said, cmat.

  384. dennis g says:

    Not at all. I am saying that his effect on the outcome of the games we have played is way overrated because of a lot of things. One is his attitude, his no nonsense approach. Another is the really bad defensive catchers we have been subjected to and the way that Barajas, Buck and others have lowered our standards. I think Martin is a great defensive catcher and the way the Pirates pitchers throw the ball we really need someone like that. But I don’t think he is the answer to our offensive problems and batting him fifth or second gives the illusion of offensive prowess. The starting catcher over the past three years, the catcher with the best winning percentage with the Pirates is Mike McKenry. His PC exceeded he Pirates in 2011,2012 and 2013.
    Martin’s was lower in 2013 .580 to .566. In 2013 McKenry’s PC was .652.

    I am not saying I want McKenry back over Martin. I just think that pitch framing may not be the key to winning a World Series if you have to pay more than $30 million to get it.

  385. dennis g says:

    Why did you suspect that?

  386. The Gunner says:

    The Skinflint Nutting definitely needs to sign Martin ASAP! The alternative is absolutely frightening.

  387. hockeymonster says:

    And he called Kapanen pick. Which disgusted me at first cuz of carolina north BUT after i saw kapanen play, my disgust morphed into happy happy joy joy.

  388. Jandy says:

    with a happy dance included??

  389. cmat0829 says:

    YES to Martin not being a 5-hole hitter…. I think Pedro should replace him there (ducking for cover)…. but if there is one position that overpaying for pure statistical value it is CATCHER. NH did what no one thought the Bucs would do in paying to lure Martin here in the first place. I have no doubt that NH wants to re-sign Martin, even if it is an ‘overpay’. I just shudder to think back to all the games watching Barajas, Doumit, Friar, and others whose names I’ve thankfully forgotten butcher the position. And it is probably 60% causation and 40% correlation, but I like the results with Martin on the roster to the many years preceding it.

  390. hockeymonster says:

    We lost engo and glass so having someone to keep opposition honest isn’t really all that optional. Guess its on tocchet to make sure downie gets it done right. Sill may still be in the mix as 2nd hammer but unless there are injuries both probably won’t be in lineup.

  391. dennis g says:

    That response was to Jim S. I guess I did not hit the right button to reply. Sorry.

  392. Jim S. says:

    And that, statistically, would happen 1/9 of the time, War. At least, I think so.

    My thinking is if he goes from 3rd to 4th, that’s 18 less at bats on the season. If he goes from 3rd to 2nd, that’s 18 more at bats than if he hits 3rd and 36 more at bats than if he bats 2nd. So, I’d want him moved up a lot more than I want him moved down.

    Andrew provided an article not long ago that talked about optimum lineup construction. I don’t recall all of it – and, of course, everyone is free to debate it – but it concluded that the best overall hitter should bat 2nd. That puts him behind a fast, high OBP guy. They also suggested that the pitcher bat 8th, and you put a decent OBP guy up 9th to sort of set the table for the top of the order. I have seen several top hitters batting 2nd this year. Votto bats there, and I believe Braun does at least some of the time. There are other teams in MLB that follow that thinking as well.

    In the end, a lot of people conclude that there is not all that much change in runs produced from one proposed lineup to the next – provided you don’t put your pitcher and next worse hittters up at the top.

  393. hockeymonster says:

    We lost engo and glass so having someone to keep opposition honest isn’t really all that optional. Guess its on tocchet to make sure downie gets it done right. Sill may still be in the mix as 2nd hammer but unless there are injuries both probably won’t be in lineup.

  394. hockeymonster says:

    And i want a private jet. Probably just as likely as sutter getting 4M this off season.

  395. Arriba Wilver says:

    You must have missed DK’s note recently that some of his value is in the extra time he spends with all the pitchers. Stats are stats, but they are limited in terms of providing an answer to any question. To put it another way, he apparently has improved the pitching staff whether he happens to be catching him a particular night or not. Don’t know the stat for that.

  396. cmat0829 says:

    As I posted earlier, they aren’t gonna rest any of the OFs tonight… nor Walker…so choice is Pedro or JHay… and given Pedro hit the big HR Sunday, Clint wants to see if this is a hot streak (yesterday vs. LHP tossed out)… plus JHay was given the day off the other night, but ended up playing quite a bit, including the incredible run down play. So could be justified ‘day off’ for JHay.

    Tomorrow’s lineup will also be interesting, especially if Pedro resumes his hot streak. Does Walker sit? If JHay is gonna play, and SS is off limits, something has to give. Not that I’m completely sure SS is off limits to CH and NH.

  397. cmat0829 says:

    so to play that out, Jim S… would it look like this?

    Polanco
    Cutch
    Walker
    Pedro
    Martin
    Ike
    Mercer
    Pitcher
    Marte

  398. dennis g says:

    I like Martin too. I guess what I am saying is a) the guy is getting older and b) even if his performance was guaranteed (which it certainly is not), the contract is too and there must be a limit on what you can pay him. I don’t know what it is but $30 million over three sounds like we passed it.

  399. JohnS says:

    I know JHay will never be confused with Brooks Robinson, Ozzie Smith, or Willie Mays in the field but if all you are replacing is Jordy Mercer how good do you need to be?

  400. Arriba Wilver says:

    Who bats third?

  401. Patrick(ri) says:

    Watching Jays/Brewers in bottom of 9th. 1& 2, no outs jays batting in 4-4 game.

  402. NMR says:

    .248/.280/.366

    Well below average ability to get on base AND hit for power, let alone for a 3B/corner OF.

    I honestly cannot fathom how that’s not the absolute first thing someone notices when looking at Josh Harrison’s track recor.

  403. hockeymonster says:

    monster mash dance…come on jandy…like you didn’t know that.

  404. dennis g says:

    Sounds very reasonable.

  405. Patrick(ri) says:

    Idiots batted into wheel play. Jays announcers are apoplectic (apparently , did same thing earlier)

  406. Jandy says:

    silly me! ;)

  407. dennis g says:

    I agree and maybe tomorrow he should be there, but he does deserve and probably need a rest.

  408. Patrick(ri) says:

    “Bunted”

  409. NMR says:

    Who in the hell “singularly” put the blame on Hurdle and staff?

    My lord…

  410. Patrick(ri) says:

    Next guy struck out.

  411. NMR says:

    “power hitting pull hitter”

    That’s as close as I came to talking production. How in the hell is that “overstating” anything?

  412. Patrick(ri) says:

    3 run HR for Encarnacion!

  413. 21sthebest says:

    Votto hasn’t batted 2nd since May 7. Lucroy has made it possible for Braun to bat 2nd. And for whatever reason, Braun’s numbers are down but the Brewers offense is obviously doing very well.

    I don’t see any reason to move Cutch out of the 3 spot. Doesn’t make sense to me. And I’ll tell you this – Hurdle’s not moving him either. Not this year. And I’m inclined to say not as long as he’s the manager.

  414. toochca says:

    Homerun!!

  415. Jandy says:

    wow!

  416. dennis g says:

    What did you think of the 1960 catching tandem? Strong defensively? Quick n the basepaths? Good arms? I loved them. Of course we had a different manager and the pitchers as I recall threw the ball in the air all the way past home plate and no one was throwing the ball 97.

  417. The Gunner says:

    Man! This Pedro discussion needs a rest for a while………………………………………at least until tomorrow

  418. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    Ah, the irony of Brandon Sutter asking for $4M per. Maybe Rutherford can trade him to Carolina?

  419. NMR says:

    Well, 2013 happened.

  420. Jandy says:

    LOL Gunner! Sometime yinz guys are worse than a bunch of women ;)

  421. dennis g says:

    So is that a vote for the CH bunting approach or the Earl Weaver (“the best play in baseball is the here run HR”) approach?

  422. NMR says:

    I don’t particulary agree that that is the best way to construct a lineup, but if we are to hypothetically say it is then your logic certainly makes sense.

  423. dennis g says:

    Maybe we should rethink that day off for JHay.

  424. The Gunner says:

    + many

  425. cmat0829 says:

    YES! YES! YES! The hated Brewers get walked off… no reason to pitch to Encarnacion with a base open and Dioner Navarro up next with 2 outs. But the smug Brewers probably felt invincible.

    Win tonight and we will creep with 6 games of these creeps.

  426. Jim S. says:

    I actually don’t think his effect on the outcome of games is overrated, dennis. I think catcher is probably the most important position on the field, and I think it’s value can be as much as 80% on the defensive side. Martin appears to me to do a good job in every defensive area. I actually don’t put as much stock in his attitude and no nonsense approach as I do in his management of the pitching staff during the game, pitch framing (as you mentioned), calling the pitches, blocking the plate, throwing, etc. I think he’s a top 5 defensive catcher in MLB, and I don’t know who we would replace him with if we are unable to resign him.

    He’s not a great hitter, but he is getting on base at a high rate this year. So, he has some offensive value as well.

    Good catchers don’t come available very often. Since Sanchez no longer looks like a full-time answer and Stewart is not as good offensively or defensively as Martin, I think they need to resign him.

    I appreciate your perspective, and we seem to agree that he is excellent defensively. I guess I just place more emphasis on defense at catcher than you do.

  427. Patrick(ri) says:

    Both teams played poorly. First hitter got on when left fielder made a bad dive & Brewers pitcher grooved a 3-1 pitch to Encarnacion, with a base open and Navarrow the alternative on deck.

  428. The Gunner says:

    while you & Cmat are having your p***ing contest, the Blue Jays just beat the Brewers. The Bucs definitely need to take advantage of this opportunity & win tonight.

  429. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    In other interesting NHL trivia, it looks like the Nashville Predators have found a center to compliment newly-acquired James Neal. I give you… Olli Jokinen.

    Yikes.

  430. Jim S. says:

    Martin turned 31 in Feb. He’s 5 years older than Tony Sanchez.

  431. NMR says:

    What is it with everyone and correlation without causation arguments today?

    Winning % with various catchers?

    Really?

  432. Pete in Dayton says:

    Hoo.
    Nashville seems like a great town, no state income tax in Tennessee and they still can’t get anybody to play there?
    Ouch.
    Well, maybe we can trade for Neal at the deadline when Nashville is in last place in the central.

  433. NMR says:

    Yeah, let’s put him at catcher, too.

  434. NMR says:

    But seriously, is there any reason we’re more comfortable with Josh Harison at SS than 1B?

  435. toochca says:

    Didn’t look like a fastball to me. Looked like a hanging slider, middle-in.

    Encarnacion took a borderline pitch just before he ended it

  436. toochca says:

    Double ++++ for the last two replies!!

  437. Jim S. says:

    He does get hit with a lot of pitches, and he gets nicked up on the base paths, too, Bay.

  438. dennis g says:

    Yes his quickness is not going to help on the wide or high throw.

  439. NMR says:

    How many throws – I’ll even give you over the course of a entire season – would a first baseman catch or miss b only a few inches? How many events are we actually talking about here?

  440. Jim S. says:

    Thanks for correcting me on Votto, 21. I thought he was still batting there.

  441. Jim S. says:

    Could be. JHay, when he’s in there, could bat last.

    I’m ok with Cutch staying at #3, btw.

  442. Jim S. says:

    Let’s not forget JHay’s mad hops. That makes up for being 5’7″. :-)

  443. Milo Hamilton says:

    Francisco Liriano is pitching a simulated game against Clint Barmes & Gaby Sanchez. What exactly are we simulating here, American Legion ball ?

  444. NMR says:

    Just blows my mind that people are willing to put him at the most important position in the infield, despite the fact that he does not play said position, but 1B is off limits because he isn’t 6′-0″.

    Zero sense.

  445. NMR says:

    Did you forget Liriano is left handed?

  446. Milo Hamilton says:

    No I didn’t. The humor here was intended to be low brow & reach a more vast group of the readership. I was trying to be inclusive. ;)

  447. NMR says:

    I’m extra crotchety today. Ignore me even more than usual.

  448. Jim S. says:

    He’s here all week, folks! Don’t forget to tip the wait staff.

  449. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++ Milo

  450. Arriba Wilver says:

    Eat a hamburger. Need some red meat. ;-)

  451. The Gunner says:

    Yep – I picked up on that. If the Bucs win tonight, that’ll take care of everything.

  452. NMR says:

    Just don’t tell my wife. ;)

  453. Jim S. says:

    I agree. I really have grown to love the guy. But, I still can’t just assume all of the scouting for all of these years was dead wrong because I love him. They concluded he was not a SS, and they watched him a lot.

    I still think he takes some bad routes on flyballs, which is totally understandable because all the other MLB OF took about a million routes to flyballs in their careers before being put out there. You just can’t learn it that fast.

    But, I will also say he has made a marked improvement already in his throws to home. Teams are running on him like crazy, and he is nailing guys.

  454. Maz in Iowa says:

    Read most of the Java comments.Pedro is certainly polarizing.I knew a post about Mark Reynolds was just a matter of time.I guess if DK ever finds himself scratching his head searching for a subject he always has Alvarez.Just an observation.

  455. Maz in Iowa says:

    Swiftly changing the subject.Good Cholly OR “why the he** did he do that Cholly??

  456. dennis g says:

    And you are saying that there is no relationship between the outcome of the games when one catcher starts vs the outcome of the remainder of the games?

  457. Jim S. says:

    I think so.

    I can’t tell you the number of knowledgeable soccer parents who came up to me and other parents of our teams to tell us we deserved to win games we had lost to their daughters when our daughters were about 12-15. By the time they got to 16, they toyed with teams that could not possess the ball.

  458. dennis g says:

    What is it with people who extrapolate from one or a few to “everyone?”

  459. Jim S. says:

    It really helps, Tom, if you have a coach in the club from a European country who brings a different mindset. He/she needs to first convince the parents that winning at 12 doesn’t mean a thing.

    And, believe me, after going through the college recruiting process with my daughter, college coaches (at least on the women’s side) are begging for players that come from a possession style background. They all want us to evolve to that style.

  460. NMR says:

    Good post, Jim.

    You know what struck me about both throws after watching replays?

    There was absolutely nothing special about them. Nothing. Neither were thrown more than probably 150 feet. Neither were thrown spectacularly hard. Neither were dead on the plate.

    But both were exactly how you’re taught. Low, on a line, with a long bounce the catcher can handle. I’d show those replays over and over to my kids if I coached a team. And to Marte and McCutchen while we’re at it. ;)

  461. dennis g, says:

    You know it is not required to add “zero sense” or “ridiculous” etc. to make a point. Readers evaluate your argument based on logic and not upon ad hominem attacks. You do this all the time and it is really uncalled for.

  462. dennis g, says:

    The reason why it is important is because it does not matter if he can jump five feet or retrieve everything thrown to him unless he can keep his foot on the base while doing it. There is no way someone 5’10″ can have the same reach as someone 6’3″. In the field a quick short player can have it all over the tall player. Albie Pearson was a major league outfielder for many years and was 5’5″. Do you think he might also have played first base? He could really move quickly.

  463. BillyBaduka says:

    Good points

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