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Morning Java: The Pirates’ treasure map

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column offers three wholly unsolicited slices of advice for the Pirates to become serious contenders in the National League.

I look forward to your feedback on these, as well as any other ideas you might have.

Another chance to sweep, another loss. Travis Sawchik reports from PNC Park.

Francisco Liriano is being farmed out, by Rob Biertempfel.

The Phillies are on deck, by David Golebiewski.

Blogginess from the scene: Ike Davis’ early RBI single sparked such an emotional reaction from the crowd of 27,473, an immediate and vocal ‘Let’s Go Bucs!’ that it actually startled me. Not much at that place does. That did. These people are ready to take off if the team does. … All of Arizona’s damage off Vance Worley came in the span of seconds, it seemed, but he was overall strong again, confident, in command. He’s above-and-beyond earned his spot in the rotation. … It was curious when Clint Hurdle used Ernesto Frieri the first time in a tight game. It was confounding last night. The next time would be indefensible. The guy’s got things to work out, and it shouldn’t happen at the team’s expense. … Pedro Alvarez thrown out at second? Come on. At some point, the identity goes from aggressive on the basepaths to stupid on the basepaths, and it sure looks like that point was passed a few miles back. … Gregory Polanco made one fine running catch, pictured above, but continued to have trouble with his back to the Clemente Wall. Give it time. Rick Sofield, the outfield instructor, told me that’s a challenge even for major-league vets. It’s hard to get a read off the track, and it’s harder still to gauge how and when to back and play the carom. Part of the wall is hard, part is mesh fence. If it hits the hard part, it can ricochet way out. If it hits the mesh, it plops right there. … Best ever at playing that wall: Craig Wilson. And he worked at it. … The Diamondbacks have no business being 15 games under .500. Classic example of a team that gets off to a horrendous start and can’t recover. … Oliver Perez was booed. What in the world did Perez do? What is this civic reflex to boo a familiar name on another team? And that’s all it is, too. There are no other rational explanations.

Here’s Diamondbacks news from the Arizona Republic.

Here’s Phillies news from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Here are official game highlights on MLB.com.

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

>> Patric Hornqvist expressed excitement at joining the Penguins, by Josh Yohe.

As did Steve Downie, also by Yohe. Call me a sucker for a good introductory press conference, but I liked a lot of what Downie had to say. I don’t like this signing. At all. But I like what he had to say, and it will be interesting to see if he can follow through.

Alexei Kovalev retired. We’ll never see another quite like 27, that’s for sure.

Let’s celebrate in style:

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

>> The Riverhounds host Rochester on this Fourth over at Highmark. Matt Grubba will cover.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Riverhounds page.

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

>> I’ll have columns Sunday and Monday on the Pirates. 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. Mizery says:

    Loved to watch Kovalev when he was in his prime. So many great memories of him when he played for the pens.

    I want to see the Pens grab another winger. Even if it’s in the mold of a David Legwand. I just am seeing some holes in their lineup this far……. I know it’s early and they have plenty of time to fix this, but then what can us fans talk about?

    I would trade for a reliever if I was the Pirates. I am starting to really like their rotation. When you have Cumpton and potentially Locke as your 7th and 6th pitchers then there not much room for any more depth.

  2. dennis g. says:

    I agree with just about everything. I think the Pirates seem to have a surfeit of starting pitching right now so trading for anyone (ok maybe not Price, but the cost is prohibitive) is a crap shoot. Certainly the main area that we need to upgrade is the bullpen. Unfortunately the manager is convinced that his system for handling that area is best, in spite of a great deal of evidence to the contrary. Obviously Frieri is not the answer. I would bring up Sadler immediately.

    With respect to Pedro, it is my opinion that there is an excellent chance that he does not like it here, or is unhappy for any of a number of reasons. If Pedro prefers to be traded I would grant that wish and move on. If he wants to stay here I would send him to Indy for a few weeks. Right now he is not helping. In June, when he was “raking,” he had no RBI in 20 of 26 games. The other 6 were pretty good but we need him to produce in more than 25% of his games played. If it is not possible or palatable to send him down I would suggest a more radical platoon and let Harrison start with Pedro as the backup. You could restrict his play except against those pitchers he has faced with success. There are a number of them: Latos, Garza, Lynn, Arroyo, Hudson, Cliff Lee to begin with and also Greinke and Shelby Miller who allowed him 2 and 3 homers.

    Another thing that could be tried is to have him sit down with Edinson Volquez against whom he is hitless in 9 tries. Maybe Volquez knows something that he could use to help.

    If you must stick with Pedro I would try Walker at first and Harrison at second. Walker is a great athlete and has the size and quickness to pull this off. I really don’t think we would suffer defensively. As to who to dump, Davis seems to have more of an up side.

    Maybe people who booed Perez just don’t remember him. Very unfortunate behavior

  3. KING says:

    I’d like to see Pirates grab Adrian Beltre for 3B. He’s 35 & hits for average and power. Over 2500 hits and playoff tested. Hitting from the right side, he could platoon with Pedro.They both have Boras as an agent. Pirates cant lose. They could trade Beltre after the year as a rental or use Pedro later in a deal and keep Beltre. Rangers are going nowhere this season & might even pay some salary.

    True DK I think Watson as closer is obvious but Hurdle doesnt want him closing. I think letting Cole close could be an option with this surplus pitching. He can throw 98 & work himself back as a starter once the rust is gone. Win win if you ask me.

    I agree DK Pirates dont have many glaring holes. Huston Street & Ian Kennedy SD would be nice July additions or Steve Pearce type who can hit & play múltiple positions.

    Hope we see more J-Hay & Watson as the closer. All I know Neal H has the Midas touch the last 2 years when it comes to acquisitions & trades. In Neal we trust. KING

  4. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    It’s just one Pirate game, but that was sure a punch in the gut last night.
    Though Ernesto Frieri was one of the major contributors, let’s not forget Jeanmar Gomez AND some horrendous defense.
    As usual….The Pirates had chances to add to their lead, and came up short.
    This remains one of the weak spots of this current roster.

    I think this team needs one or two more additions to a bullpen that lacks an edge.
    I also believe the team could use a bat (similar to Marlon Byrd last year) that makes the necessary contact to avoid leaving two to three runners on base in scoring opportunities.
    Strikeouts with the bases loaded are killing them.

  5. Ghost says:

    Like all the suggestions in this morning’s column. Wouldn’t shuffle up the roster just to say I did. However, wouldn’t pass on an offer from the Phillies to get A.J. back if it came. Starting rotation is making us sanguine right now, but it wasn’t long ago it had us (at least me) all glum. We “think (hope)” Jeff Locke is good for the long term. Ditto Edinson Volqez. I’m not sure anyone knows what we’ll get from Liriano, down this second half. Cumpton has been a good insurance policy and Kingham is, indeed, probably near, but proof of the old adage you can never have enough pitching is still only an injury or flame out away. I’ll stick to my motto: the 2014 Pirates’ is whatever our starting pitching is.

  6. Jerez says:

    re: Kovalev. I will never forget watching him practice his puck-handling. I’ve never seen another hockey player with hands like his. “Enigmatic”? Yes. Talented? Yes, yes, and aboso-f’ing-lutely YES!

    Maybe he wasn’t always able to utilize his skills (who knows why — thus the “enigmatic” label), but he mesmerized us. Not just the fans, but also the players.

    I’m pretty sure he will always be the consummate “enigmatic Russian” hockey player. I’m just happy I was privileged to watch him wield some of that magic.

    Happy life, Alexei.

  7. Sarcastic Sword says:

    Adding Beltre will never happen – NH will never trade his top minor league assets and you dont get a guy like Beltre to platoon.

    I dont understand Hurdle – he isnt hesitating pinch hitting for Pedro past few weeks yet he continued to run Grilli out there when it was clear he had nothing left. He relies too much on a bullpen formula ( 7th inning guy 8th inning guy closer) instead of just treating each situation as it comes – like he manages on auto-pilot. Plus his pinch hitting for Pedro has had to shake up whatever confidence he has left.

  8. Reading says:

    Pedrosh Alvarrison at the Hot Corner. Is he Super 2 eligible?

  9. John Lease says:

    Or, maybe people who booed Oliver Perez do remember him, and his kicking the laundry cart. Or perhaps they sense that his greatness for one season was entirely steroid driven.

  10. DJ says:

    Mad skill, particularly when tight to a defender.

    Made ‘em look like pylons.

  11. DJ says:

    Worley livin’ on edge with pitches up when it finally caught up to him in 6th.

    Odd but was hoping he’d be pulled sooner that frame.

  12. 21sthebest says:

    I agree with the main points in your column DK except that I think AJ coming back here would never happen due to his player option for 2015 and maybe because of his hernia too.

  13. kr70 says:

    Right on DK….we knew this part of the schedule was the time to make some hay and J-hay and friends have not disappointed. What in April was looking my garden would be top notch is now looking like it might be neglected. Let’s go Bucs

  14. scapper says:

    If they are booing for that second reason, why haven’t they booed pretty much every NFL player for the past 40 years or so?

    Heck, might as well add “and most D1 college players, for that matter. I’ve never understood the double standard with fans when it comes to PED’s.

    Baseball: Bad, bad, bad!
    Football: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

  15. DJ says:

    DK on platooning Alvarez: “Let him build off what works. Let him feel good about himself for more than a day or two.”

    Instead of looking at moves of this type positively and an effort to HELP him — as a more realistic player would — always sense Pedro views them as slaps in the face and unjustified targeting. Same with replacing him for defense. So instead of well-intentioned moves liberating him, always feel they have the opposite effect.

    It’s the whole second overall pick, 36 HR big bopper, “Boras-can’t-get-me-$18+ mill-per-year-as-a-platoon-player” pressure thing with Pedro.

  16. Scott says:

    If you are going to give up an asset to acquire a Starter, I would entertain going all in on David Price, because you’d get him for NEXT year. A run at the WC this year and a run at the Division Title next year.

  17. JosePagan says:

    I think the thing I loved most about Kovalev WAS that he was enigmatic! He could pull you out of your seat one moment and then cause you to give yourself a concussion when slapping your head at something goofy he did. But man, when he had it all going on he was something.

    Dejan, you have written about the Neal trade and, not to open a can of worms, you had asked here and in your columns why people are down on Neal and rhetorically asked where did that come from. I am not sure where you sit at Trib Central but you should saunter over to Josh Yohe’s desk. He has written several pieces where he has mentioned this including his 29 June blog posting. The folks on The Fan have also taken hold of the “Neal was not a good citizen” opinion and gone on at length about it. I believe (and don’t quote me as my brain is not what it used to be) but Joe Starkey has also supported this stance as well.

    For better or worse sports fans get their grist from the media mill. I know some outlets are better than others just as some individual contributors are better than others. Been wanting to note this for some time and finally had the chance today. Hope you have a great Fourth!

    Jose

  18. tomf says:

    offense:

    Josh Harrison .300 BA .339 OBP .455 SLG .795 OPS

    Pedro Alvarez .241 BA .328 OBP .412 SLG .740 OPS

    defense:

    Josh Harrison .987 FPCT

    Pedro Alvarez .935 FPCT

  19. George Labecki says:

    Boo Ollie Perez? A part of me doesn’t get that, but a part of me thinks it’s just part of the DNA of being from Pittsburgh.

    Don’t get me wrong: I love the fact that I grew up in Pittsburgh, and I love what that means as regards how I treat people and how I see the world. In general, we look people (even strangers) in the eye and greet them, and we truly hope that they are having a good day. I recall being at a Pens game in Mellon Arena. I was in line at a concession stand tucked under the dome. An older lady who had passed through the line was struggling with her order, and another gentleman rushed away from what he was doing to help her and carry her order back to her seat. The cashier turned to me and said, “Ya know, we may have our problems, but the bottom line is that we’re just nice people around here.”

    But we are just a little bit parochial. I recall a piece SI did in the 80s on Pittsburgh being a hotbed of quarterbacks, or maybe it was specific to Joe Montana. What has stayed in my memory was the perspective of two elderly local women who were asked about Joe Montana’s greatness. Their response: “He’s not so great. If he were really any good, he would be playing for the Steelers.” Deep down, I’m thinking that’s the reason behind booing a guy like Oliver Perez.

    It is one thing that I wish we were able to grow beyond. Don’t boo Ollie. Don’t boo Jagr. And I really hope we have nothing but cheers for AJ. It’s time to show that we understand that showing appreciation for the guy who used to be a part of our sports scene doesn’t diminish our appreciation of the guy who still is.

    We may be a little parochial, and the rest of the country may think we’re a bit odd. Yep, we invented the “Pittsburgh left.” We like our French fries in our sandwich. Growing up, I learned three things: 1) If you can put it in a casing and grill it, fry it or boil it, it’s good for you. 2) If you cook it by floating it in butter, it’s good for you. 3) If one of anything is good for you, two is better. But mostly, I learned to look people in the eye and to genuinely care.

    The bottom line is that we’re just nice people around here.

  20. DJ says:

    Hornqvist: “I always try to be a good guy in the locker room,” he said. “Happy around the rink. I’m pretty sure they already have those kinds of guys there.”

    Thought so too until reading Orpik’s comments that Pens stopped having fun. Gotta recapture that.

  21. FlBucco says:

    Great column DK!

    I would only add/suggest two things – one of which will never happen – the other could be a way to avoid trading for a bullpen arm at the deadline…

    First the one that should happen…
    1. Bring up Andy Oliver and slot him in as the 7th – sometimes 8th inning guy. Oliver seems to have found himself as Indy’s closer. Bringing him up now gives the Bucs 3 weeks to “kick the tires” and 3 weeks to see if Frieri can be fixed – if he can the Bucs go into the final 2 months with an awesome pen – if not and/or Oliver atruggles then a trade to shore up the pen at the deadline might be a good idea. I believe Oliver is gone after this year if he does not have a role on the 25 man roster.

    The second thing – the one that will never happen but should would be moving Marte to CF and McCutchen to left. Marte is the best outfielder by far and has a much better arm than the MVP.

    I have pointed to data elsewhere that supports this – but I think the eye test over the last week or two should be sufficient

  22. tomf says:

    are we taking about an 8 yr old kid playing youth ball – or a MLB player in his 4th season with the Pirates ?

    play the best players ; the players that are actually producing

    now that is ‘liberating’ !

  23. DJ says:

    Nice, George.

    Happy 4th.

  24. Jim S. says:

    But, King, a player simply cannot build up his arm strength to throw 100 pitches by throwing 15 per game as a closer. It doesn’t work that way.

  25. Jim S. says:

    Great post, Sarcastic!

  26. DJ says:

    Missed the point.

    Mine was an observation, not disagreement with a platoon.

  27. Jim S. says:

    I agree, 21. That hernia seems like a huge red flag. No way I’d go there.

  28. And when Oliver walks the bases loaded in the 7th?

  29. DJ says:

    Outfield play in center and right last night left a little to be desired.

    Ugly.

  30. 21sthebest says:

    No thank you. He’s still walking lots of batters.

  31. 21sthebest says:

    Those items aside, I’m not sure bringing him back would be a good idea anyways.

  32. Dcpinpgh says:

    Lol, agreed.

    I was going to go with
    He played with our emotions. Stung us along. Had us spend time ond money on him. Then there was the break right after we got to second base. Pittsburgh was left standing in the middle if the field, holding the tissues .

  33. Good column. I don’t think we’ll see any of the 3. But what do I know?

  34. 21sthebest says:

    Unless AJ has just been lights out and doesn’t have the hernia.

  35. Jim S. says:

    Good stuff, DK. Your instant takes from the ballpark via Twiitter last night were a lot of fun, and your thoughts above from the scene are great as well.

    * Watching at home, it seemed like more than 27,700 at the game last night. Still a decent crowd, though. Maybe 110,000 this weekend?

    * Great point about the aggressiveness on the base paths. Up to a point, it’s fine. Beyond that point, it’s just foolish. You only get 27 outs, and you need all of them to win most nights. I hate bunts in must instances, and I don’t like guys with average speed having green lights to run all over the place. We have far too many guys being thrown out, and it contributes to our offense not scoring as many runs as the OBP and OPS would suggest.

    * I had an identical take on Frieri. One tight situation of not looking great was enough for the time being. Last night was ill-advised. They need to get him right before we see him again.

    * I assume Hurdle has become as frustrated with Pedro as we all have, and that is what is leading to this odd strategy of yanking him all the time. I didn’t get pulling him in the 6th inning. There was a lot of game still to be played. I would start Josh at 3rd vs LHP. Anything more than that and it think we risk losing Pedro. I’m not sure the message Clint seems to be sending is working. Let’s not forget he did hit 36 HR last year, and a few more in the playoffs. I don’t want to lose his potential big power 2nd hand to teach him a lesson.

    * The fill-in starters have been great, but I think we all know we probably need 2013 Liriano and Cole to be at our best down the stretch.

    * Kingham is a nice thought, but didn’t we all just see how Polanco was handled? I’m not sure we’d see Kingham this year under any circumstances.

    Enjoy this uniquely American holiday with your families and friends, everyone! It doesn’t get any better than the USA or the Fourth of July! Go Bucs!

  36. Jim S. says:

    Cutch looks pretty hobbled to me, DJ.

  37. Jim S. says:

    * Meant big power 2nd HALF for Pedro.

  38. Jim S. says:

    The hernia is enough to say no for me. And, you’re right, even aside from that, I don’t like it now. I believe that ship has sailed.

  39. DJ says:

    Sure, but still should have had the high pop.

  40. Jim S. says:

    Agreed. He’s improving his control this year, but not enough yet to be thrown into the deep end of the pool with the big boys.

  41. chethejet1 says:

    We will see what happens at the trade deadline. Pirates have either enough to make a run if all the players play to their ability. If I could trade Pedro for Headley and Street with a top line talent pitcher with Pedro, what is the next flight out of Pittsburgh. Nothing against Pedro, but not sure he will ever be the player many project him to be including NH.

  42. Jim S. says:

    I wasn’t certain on that, DJ. Do you mean the one that dropped behind the drawn in infield? I wondered if Jordy catches that if he is back at his normal position.

    I do think the Bucs play all 3 OF too deep, too often. I’m quite sure they are tracking how many extra singles they give up vs doubles they avoid with that strategy, but I am very skeptical about it right now.

  43. DJ says:

    Yes. Pulled up because he thought he might collide.

    On playing too deep, agree.

  44. cherokee23 says:

    NH may be souring on Pedro as we’ll. I don’t think Hurdle makes all these switches of Pedro lately without discussions with Neal. From my view, and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, they have a relationship similar to bylsma/Shero. Daily discussions and mutual desicions on most things

  45. DJ says:

    Don’t want Headley.

    If they’re trading him, want better return.

  46. Jim S. says:

    Yikes, Chet!

    Pedro AND a top line talent pitcher for Headley & Street?

    Would that be the Headley who is hitting .202 with 6 HR? He stinks at the moment.

    Plus, I think SD wants to get younger.

    I don’t see Pedro being dealt during this season. We need him hitting HR again in order to be at our best. I don’t see how trading him now is the answer, while his perceived value is low.

  47. Jim S. says:

    I agree that Hurdle and Huntington seem to be on the same page and in communication regularly. That’s my take as well.

  48. Karen22 says:

    So I had the utter misfortune of choosing last night’s game as my first at PNC Park this season. A very schizophrenic game to say the least. At first, a perfect game and then a no-hitter for the Good Guys was in sight. Then the wheels came off and the rout was on (Bad Guys). Glad I only paid $9.50 on StubHub (TOTAL!) for two tickets to disappointment. And although we spent more in gas to get there, it clearly could have been worse.

    NOTE: Vanimal was incredibly efficient through his 5 no-hit innings. I honestly thought he had a great chance for our first complete game of the season.

    NOTE 2: You could physically feel the air deflate from the growing bubble of anticipation of a big inning when Petey hit into that double play with two on, no outs, and a run already in. Not taking advantage of these situations is a huge problem this season, and Pedro’s been a culprit countless times.

    NOTE 3: Frieri and Gomez…Major League UGH!!

    And last but not least: The Bad News Bears defense rears its ugly head again in embarrassing fashion. This team this year is an enigma. But we’re actually in it on the 4th of July, and I concur with Dejan’s three suggestions in going forward. ESPECIALLY letting Watson close!!

  49. Jim S. says:

    Price would take assetS – plural. He ain’t coming cheap. Tampa will insist on at least 2, and possibly 3 of our very best prospects. No thanks for me. I hear you on what Price could do, but that would put a serious dent in our future. I like the Polancos, Coles, Tailllons, Kinghams, Glasnows, Bells etc just fine.

  50. Good recap, Karen. Especially Note 3.

  51. Karen22 says:

    Hey, Reverend, how are you doing??

  52. Jim S. says:

    Great takes, Karen.

    Totally agree on Pedro’s DP with 1st/2nd & none out. Definitely not a spot to be hitting the ball to the left side. That was just plain dumb, and it killed our inning.

    As for Watson closing, I would only say that sometimes the 8th inning is more stressful than the 9th. If Watson truly is better than Melancon, wouldn’t we want Watson in the more stressful spot, regardless of whether it is the 8th or 9th?

  53. Karen22 says:

    Good point, Jim, but Melancon WAS that 8th inning stress guy and thrived there last year. I dunno – I’d like to see Tony given a shot. Oh, and looking around the Park last night, it appeared to hubby and me that more than 27,000 were in attendance, too. It was a good crowd. But I should have known better than to get tickets for the “sweep” game! ;)

  54. Thundercrack says:

    I was at the game last night and mentioned that the Diamondbacks went from a team playing to get their manager fired to one that was trying to save their manager’s job

  55. Patrick(RI) says:

    I have to think Hurdle has been asked to see what we have with Frieri. If not, the moves last night are nuts.

    I agree with the posters who call for a switch of Marte and Cutch in the outfield and now may be a good time for it, as Cutch does seem “hobbled” as Jim said. So you end up with a weak arm in left, a strong arm in center, and a rookie with a gun in right. The future of this group should have pitchers clamoring to play for Pittsburgh. The present, not so much.

    Play Josh, on a regular basis, for cripes sake!

    The next time Pedro faces a lefty late in a game should be when he is batting 6th for the Yankees.

    The pitching looks pretty good. For now. Depth should overcome most issues (unless Cole cannot recover form this season).

  56. Thundercrack says:

    DK
    I agree with all the points in your column except about the closer. I like Watson pitching any inning he is needed.

  57. Jim S. says:

    Your luck was bad last night, for sure, Karen. What an odd about face in the middle of that game!

    I hear you about Watson. He could close. I’ve been consistently in the camp, as I think DK stated in his column, that either Mark or Watson can pitch the 8th or 9th. With Grilli and his “closer ego” gone, now might be the time to introduce the multiple closer concept.

    Wilson seems to be trending up of late. I think we need him to get back to more of 2013 Wilson, and I do believe we could still use bullpen help for the stretch – for those times when Tony & Mark need a rest.

  58. Jim S. says:

    It sounds as though we may be getting close to seeing Josh at SS vs some RHP, Patrick. He, supposedly, is taking a lot of balls there in practice.

    Jordy isn’t hitting RHP, and Pedro isn’t hitting LHP. Partial platoons at each spot would get Josh more starts.

  59. tomf says:

    center field is in charge on that play (shallow fly ball to center part of outfield)

    if he feels it is his ball – it is his job to call off the other players and be aggressive to the ball

    if he called off other fielders and they did not clear – that is a problem

  60. Patrick(RI) says:

    Good to hear. I have refrained from challenging the “he is a lousy shortstop” and now might get a chance to see.

    It is going to get rained out, but I was looking forward to seeing Holt vs. Pearce today. Here is an ironic bit from ESPN summary for the Orioles game last night about yet another late-blooming ex Pirate:

    BALTIMORE — Baltimore manager Buck Showalter is running out of adjectives to describe how much Steve Pearce has meant to the Orioles this season.

    Pearce had a career-high four hits and drove in two runs, and Wei-Yin Chen shut down Texas again as the Orioles completed a four-game sweep of the Rangers with a 5-2 victory on Thursday night.

  61. hockeymonster says:

    Without pressure apparently…

  62. tomf says:

    I agree Pirates OF play too deep in some situations – especially ‘no doubles’ situations where the positioning is almost ridiculous

    not sure about standard and other situations – I’m not at the games to observe ( I’m often watching my own outfielder play )

    ( as a general rule – I don’t like shallow fly balls dropping in for hits – and I prefer outfielders in a bit )

    the OF positioning might not be as bad as initially claimed ; last night good chance McCutchen could have made the play if he did not pull up – and game before he got his glove on the ball

    both balls were hit in a tough location – but with the Pirates – and McCutchen – speed and athleticism – you would like to see outs on both plays

  63. tomf says:

    early – but not too early to be just a bit concerned about Polanco defense

    obviously has the athleticism and potential – but appears to have trouble judging a fly ball – a basic outfield fundamental ( and in PNC Park RF ; 320 ft )

    Polanco committed a number of errors in AAA not long before his call up (4 errors in 11 games at one point)

    Polanco is said to be a ‘natural center fielder’; it is early – but I don’t see it at this point; playing outfield at 400 ft will be much more of a challenge than playing at 320 ft

  64. DJ says:

    Yeah, saw that. What were they expecting, Mario’s country club?

    Tells me change is mentality was badly needed. And at least one year overdue.

  65. Sarcastic Sword says:

    Amazing how position players leave pgh and then blossom…pearce…bautista…moss

  66. DJ says:

    Prospect hoarder.

    A card-carrying member myself.

  67. DJ says:

    . . .”in” mentality . . .

  68. DJ says:

    Turns out NH was telling the truth.

    Imagine that.

  69. Baywatch says:

    I’m ranking Pearce now a fairly distant third to my OUCHY players that we let go in recent history, behind Jose Bautista (for Robinzon Diaz, that’s a LOUD ouchy!), Brandon Moss (a minor ouchy since it took him awhile to find himself) and now Pearce, who is coming into his own. I felt like Pearce was getting ready to find his groove before he got hurt that last time with us.

    And HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY, PATRICK!

  70. tomf says:

    you are comparing the play / stats of a left fielder playing in a 325 ft space – to a center fielder playing in a 400 ft space

    Marte arm definitely better

    but until Marte has more time in center field – the comparisons are not concrete

  71. Ghost says:

    Hi Jim. Enjoying your last few weeks with your daughter before she flies the coop? Mine goes to college (out of state) in the fall, too. But her younger brother and I already moved nearby and Mom is coming after another year. Needless to say, daughter is miffed. :-D

    Anyway, fear not about AJ. Everybody should have to pitch with a hernia if the results AJ has been getting are what the doctor orders. He’s been turning in QS’s and is on pace for yet another 200+ inning-year. If the Phillies do a salary dump, The Pirates should dive that dumpster.

  72. Karen22 says:

    ++++++++++++++++++++++

  73. Patrick(ri) says:

    I fully agree with you,especially the last sentence. Happy 4th to you, too – hope you can enjoy the great outdoors.

  74. Eric Bowser says:

    Unless the Pens make a trade, I think their team is pretty much set.
    Kunitz-Crosby-Downie
    Bennett-Malkin-Hornqvist
    Spaling-Sutter-Dupuis
    Comeau-Goc-Adams
    Sill

    Martin-Letang
    Maatta-Ehrhoff
    Scuderi-Bortuzzo
    Despres

    Fleury
    Greiss

    Pirates need to stop screwing with Pedro Alvarez. Get him into the 5 or 6 spot and let him hit there. It is beyond ridiculous to bat him 7th.

    Last night was good example of why Andrew McCutchen should move to left field and Starling Marte slide over to center.

    Big Ern…. needs a stint in AAA to work with Benedict. Get Mazzaro up here. This team just can’t keep giving away games because of the bullpen.

    Have a wonderful Independence Day

  75. hockeymonster says:

    I just want some clarification. Alot of them have been in cup finals, olympics, playoff runs, international tourneys and etc…This isnt toronto or vancouver. So the pressure got to captain canada? Or brooksie? I think they’re just masking the true issue with words like ‘fun’ and ‘pressure’. And that would probably explain Orpik’s comment about JR not having a true pulse on the quiet locker room.

  76. hockeymonster says:

    Was on the PG site and saw some juicy insight from the draft:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erj2mrGilWk

    Soooo….the 23rd pick eh?

  77. DJ says:

    Photo of Polanco with the “Gambling Problem?” backdrop is cool.

    First thought was pretty sure bet.

  78. Eric Bowser says:

    Yeah, I’d like to know what the Penguins were giving up to acquire the pick since it appeared the deal was going to be Neal, 22, and 23 for Hornqvist, Spaling and 11. Surprised that little nugget never got out during the draft or since the video has aired.

  79. hockeymonster says:

    Maybe we were gonna take kapanen with the 11th. So not making the trade probably worked out for the best. And 2 first round picks plus Neal would’ve been way too much i think. Spaling shouldn’t be valued as 1st pick. Neal and 22 or 23 makes more sense with the 11th coming back with HQ and spaling. But losing asset for 23rd would’ve made this trade a loss, i think. 2 for 1 worked out good i think.

    And don’t be surprised to see Kapanen get a Legit look in training camp. Especially if Duper doesn’t start season. He looked good in clips from recent finnish league season but if he got even remotely stronger and quicker from the 2013 U18 games i saw than he has real chance to be an impact rookie.

  80. Much better. Thanks.

  81. DJ says:

    Two things, HM:

    1. Wonder if Pens wanted pick #11 to draft Kapanen. If so, getting him at #22 a steal.

    2. Who were we going to trade to get pick #23? Martin alone would be very doubtful. Suggests to me it was a bigger move, acquiring the #23 plus player(s). Letang?

  82. Eric Bowser says:

    hopefully they give Kapanen the 10-games at start of season like Shero did with Staal and if he earns the job, keep him and hope it works out like that did.

  83. DJ says:

    What’s the “true issue” in your view?

  84. Thundercrack says:

    Are you saying that McCutchen should move to left on a permanant basis ?

  85. JoeyBats says:

    Happy July 4th, friends….
    .
    Remember …freedom is NOT free.
    .
    Continue to thank our veterans when you see them.

  86. DJ says:

    Weren’t the Avs interested in Neal as well? Since they had #23, wondering who Pens were contemplating trading to get #23 if not Neal. Kunitz?

  87. Arriba Wilver says:

    I doubt there was any real rational reason for it.

  88. Patrick(ri) says:

    +++

  89. Patrick(ri) says:

    I should probably wait for it to occur in a game, but Brown/Walk joking about ” blocking 2nd base” made me wonder: wasn’t that one of the things Maz was famous for? Guys would try, once, to take him out, bounce off and never do it again.

  90. T.S. says:

    Agree with you, DK, about Hurdle putting Frieri last nite. Totally dumbfounded by it. Frieri is horrrrible. Travis Snider is a better reliever.

  91. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  92. Thundercrack says:

    I have seen enough of Cutch playing center to know that he is very good there and I wouldn’t mess with a good thing. Have seen him run down enough balls – and subtract the ones he’s missed – to feel that he should stay in center.

    I don’t really put a lot of stock in the “Pedro is probably mad because Hurdle pinch hits for him or may start platooning him with Harrison”. (mainly because we don’t know what Pedro is thinking).
    But imagine how your team’s and league’s MVP would feel about being moved from his position.

  93. Reading says:

    On the balls that dropped in CF last night, I don’t think Cutch was anywhere close to 100% speedwise due to his ankle/shin/foot injury.

  94. tomf says:

    some of the comments on this blog are amusing – especially some comments on McCutchen and his defensive play

    his ‘bad breaks’ to the ball

    sheesh

    does anyone know what it is like to play CF in a MLB park ?

    has anyone actually stood in deep CF at a field like PNC Park ?

    the batter is about the size of an ant when you are standing in deep CF (barely an exaggeration)

    when a ball is hit directly at you – you cannot charge immediately ; balls carry at PNC Park (just ask Gregory Polanco)

    not ideal to compare the play of a corner outfielder to a center outfielder

    corner outfield typically 320-350 ft ; center outfield typically 370-400 ft

    50-80 ft is a significant difference

  95. Thundercrack says:

    I agree Reading. But I think it was also a little bit of ‘bad luck’ & ‘seeing eye bloops’.

  96. Thundercrack says:

    Marte seems to be a very good outfielder and I know he played CF in the minors.

    But I am against taking what you know -Cutch is a very good center fielder – and replacing it with what you don’t know – is Marte better than Cutch in CF

  97. chethejet1 says:

    Headley has a disk issue and did receive a epidural shot in the back. But I am thinking he may be a better solution at 3rd in the long run while his numbers are down due to his back. Top line does exclude Glasnow, Tallion and position players such as Bell, Meadows and a couple of others. But you have to give to get. My point is Street would fill the role as closer and that would allow the set up to remain in place. I don’t think he is on the block as the Yankees and others have wanted him for awhile. I think he stays in SD, but I do think he is capable of being a 20 homer 85 RBI guy if healthy here.

  98. hockeymonster says:

    Ya kuni, neal and 2 first picks for HQ, spaling and 11th pick sounds like a horrible trade. And if kapanen was the target than even more so. Agree that most likely something bigger was in the works with more coming back our way. But if kapanen was target than best trade was the one we didn’t make.

  99. KING says:

    Cole can throw 8-9 pitches & close out a game. He can hit high 90′s & has an arsenal of pitches. Remember Cole has witnessed these relievers blow some of his wins. 77…games left…All hands on deck now.

    Hurdle is good at getting in front of things. Must decide what they want to do with Pedro during the All Star break. Otherwise, this thing can start fracturing the clubhouse. I have heard & seen many negatives hurled in Pedro’s direction. Maybe a change of scenery would be best. The problem is places like Philly,New York can be vicious & eat up athletes. Hope Pedro stays with Pirates in the end. KING

  100. hockeymonster says:

    Does the 10 game thing apply to european players too? Was thinking it was something for junior players not eligible for AHL. Once signed I believe his ELC can’t be slid down either way but could be wrong. Believe Kapanen could go back to finland or play in AHL.

    Either way, with the thought of this kid on sid’s wing i suggest Consol Dome start retrofitting now to handle the occasional Sonic Boom. Cuz it won’t be long.

  101. Thundercrack says:

    King

    - Don’t you think that with another start or maybe 2 that the rust will be gone from Cole…without him becoming the temporary closer?

    - Cole just was on the DL with a tired shoulder and do you really want to add this to him?

    - How many times has Cole used 8-9 pitches to get out of an inning?

  102. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++ to both

  103. Arriba Wilver says:

    Pedro will do better than those numbers this year, even if he’s platooned.

  104. hockeymonster says:

    Based on all my posts the last several seasons, what do YOU think i think is the true issue? :)

  105. 21sthebest says:

    My issue with the hernia surrounds the possibility of it worsening.

  106. 21sthebest says:

    *****

  107. 21sthebest says:

    To say that it is beyond ridiculous to bat Pedro 7th and suggest that he should move one spot away from that seems ridiculous to me.

  108. In a lineup like this, why does it matter where anyone hits? After the first time through the order, it’s a moot point. It would be nice to have a pure leadoff hitter to start the game, but we can make do.

    To me, it’s nice to have a guy like Pedro as low as 7th. All the others can get the job done, too, unless it’s our Sunday lineup and even those guys will hit some.

  109. Bill_StateCollege says:

    Absolutely right.

  110. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  111. Arriba Wilver says:

    The thing was, Bay, Pearce was here at least a year after that injury. I’m not lamenting the loss of Pearce or Moss, personally. I did have some inside information the Pirates thought there a hole in his swing that they didn’t think was “fixable,” though, and apparently he has fixed it. Happy for him, he always seemed like a good guy.

  112. Bill_StateCollege says:

    My suspicion re: Pedro is that he might follow the Joey Bats model. In an interview this year Bautista said that as a Pirate he would not listen to recommendations to change his swing. When he went to Toronto and new coaching also recommended changes he went along with it.

    His reasoning was that he felt Toronto might be his last chance at success so this time he better listen and adopt the changes. Worked out pretty well. I can envision something similar for Pedro on a different team.

  113. Bizrow says:

    Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

    Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

    Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

    Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.

    Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

    They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

    What kind of men were they?

    Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.

    Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well-educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

    Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

    Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

    Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

    At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson,Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

    Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

    John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

    So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.

    Remember: freedom is never free! We thank these early patriots, as well as those patriots now fighting to KEEP our freedom!

    I hope you will show your support by sending this to as many people as you can, please. It’s time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more MEANING to it than beer, fireworks, HOT DOGS, and picnics……

  114. Could be he’s figured it out or could be like that 1B, Chris Shelton, who was on fire for a month, then flamed out.

    And, Pearce staying on the field has always been a problem. I’m with you. Hope he does well, but time will tell.

  115. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  116. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  117. Great post Biz. And remember another thing, most of our founding fathers were Christians. Washington, Patrick Henry, the Adams, many others.

    Washington said “It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible.”

    Patrick Henry said “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nations was founded, not be religionists, but by Christians; not by religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ”

    No offense to anyone who isn’t a Believer.

  118. Arriba Wilver says:

    What does that mean, Rev?

  119. hockeymonster says:

    And seems like his contract slides if he plays under 10 games.

  120. Karen22 says:

    Very glad to hear that!

  121. hockeymonster says:

    Would like to think the country was founded by people who wanted to practice whatever faith they did or didn’t have freely without a king’s interpretation of the bible or any other book of faith.

  122. War_Horse says:

    A hernia is not difficult to repair. All it takes is minor surgery and a couple of weeks without straining the abdomen.

  123. Patrick(ri) says:

    I have to bring up a name of a guy who might take issue with some of the implications in your post: Roger Williams, the founder of the state I now reside in? One more name who might take issue that religious freedom = Christianity came from my previous state of residence: Thomas Jefferson.

    Btw, no offense taken and none intended.

  124. Arriba Wilver says:

    One of the genius moves of the Founding Fathers was putting the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause in the Bill of Rights.

  125. Arriba Wilver says:

    What is the significance or intended implication of your post is what I was asking. I got what Biz’s was.

  126. scapper says:

    Same here with the “no offense meant and none taken,” but this is one holiday I just can’t get all gooey and mushy about. All that stuff took place during slavery. It existed another 87 years and then we had another 100 or so of Jim Crow. I understand that not every founder of the country was a slave-owner, but I can’t get all emotional over a document with the words “all men are created equal” written and approved by god-fearing slave-owners. I believe it was George Carlin who so wisely said that the country was built on a foundation of b.s.

    I don’t hate America. I love it. But I just can’t buy into that stirring narrative.

    Now, back to sports….how ’bout that Argentinian ref’s comb-over! Coolest thing I’ve seen in the World Cup so far this year.

  127. Arriba Wilver says:

    And I’m not trying to offend, either. Just asking.

  128. LonelyLibertarian says:

    “After having been (in Pittsburgh) roughly five years and to send me down just three weeks before the rosters expanded was borderline a low blow,” said Bautista. “The message was sent right there by making that move that I did not have a future here.”

    And from what I have seen on this blog a lot of folks think that Pedro should be sent down to Indy – “to work things out”…

    I said earlier that Cutch moving to Left would be one way to improve the defense – and would probably be a better long term career move for Cutch – but I also said I don’t think it will ever happen. McCutchen is a proud, competitive athlete and he will not ask for the move himself – or go along with it if it is forced on him…

    But he is not the ONLY proud competitor on this team – there are many of them, including one Pedro Alvarez.
    Since the start of the 2012 season the NL leaders in Hrs are…
    1. 82-Giancarlo Stanton
    2. 79-Pedro Alvarez
    3. 71-Jay Bruce
    Paul Goldschmidt

    [BTW - over the same time frame Joey Bats has 72 and Brandon Moss 70]

    In todays dead ball era you don’t find 30+ HR hitters everywhere and when you have one you might want to treat him as worth while and with some respect. Suggesting he needs to be more consistent and pinch hitting for him in the 6th inning of a close game are not in my opinion signs of respect.

    DK may know of other things that are not public on this that could make treating Pedro with so little respect a good idea right now – but he also said in his column this morning…

    “No one in this lineup, not Andrew McCutchen, not Polanco, could singlehandedly elevate this offense into something special quite like Alvarez.”

    Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/dejankovacevic/dejancolumns/6377582-74/alvarez-pirates-runs#ixzz36WivARif
    Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

  129. Arriba Wilver says:

    But we don’t get here without it, Scap. To each their own, but we can take that view because of it.

  130. scapper says:

    And sorry, I just can’t let this go without another comment. Most of those stories about the signers are grossly embellished and even outright untrue. Do a check on a site like Snopes. I particularly remember the John Hart one being a real eye-roller once I read the real story.

  131. Jandy says:

    +++++

  132. scapper says:

    Exactly! I know what you mean. The fact remains that they DID do it, and I’m a damn lucky recipient of what they did, for sure.

    It’s just that I can’t get all emotional about the swell narrative of it.

  133. Jandy says:

    +++++

  134. Jandy says:

    Who knew HM is Irish….he answers questions with questions ;)

  135. Thundercrack says:

    Did any of those guys play for Hurdle?

    Maybe Pearce?

  136. Arriba Wilver says:

    Doesn’t mean it was pretty. Have to deal with the Indian issue, too, among many others.

  137. hockeymonster says:

    And lets not forget, bible wasn’t exactly anti slave.

  138. hockeymonster says:

    My ex used to do that. Hated it.

  139. Jandy says:

    Duper WILL start the season.

  140. Jandy says:

    Nice to be off work for the day. Cleaned up hubby’s truck inside and out, had the outlaws…errrr…inlaws over for an impromptu picnic lunch…now hubby is napping and I just swept the floors, time for my break :)
    Hope ya’ll have a great holdiday weekend!

  141. Jandy says:

    lol and here YOU are doing it ;)

  142. Arriba Wilver says:

    You clean his truck and HE takes a nap? I’m living wrong. ;-)

  143. Jandy says:

    He helped, but I did the most of it lol
    People don’t believe me when I tell them how spoiled he is ;)

  144. Arriba Wilver says:

    Everything else aside, signing it was a death warrant if the Revolution didn’t succeed. That’s a lot what today’s about, methinks.

  145. Arriba Wilver says:

    Or at least honoring them.

  146. Jandy says:

    +++++

  147. Just these guys weren’t ashamed of the Gospel, as I’m not. That’s the beauty of this country. Nothing more meant. I’m proud of my heritage, whether anyone else believes it or not. It’s a free country and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Like I said and others said, no offense meant.

  148. Jandy says:

    +++++

  149. Jim S. says:

    Pete Rose famously said that sliding into Maz was like sliding uphill.

  150. dennis g. says:

    Sorry Lucky, I do take offense. It would be just as easy to find a hundred or so criminals or other reprobates who were Christians as it is to find “patriots.” Oh, BTW, the British government did not consider them patriots. They were considered traitors as many, including John Kerry it would seem, consider Eric Snowden.

  151. DJ says:

    Agree, AW.

 
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