How the Chips may fall on the Penguins Blue Line


[/hide] Monday’s TIOPS Buzz Column Rumblings, Musings, Opinions 1. Josh Harrison showing signs of finding his swing this past weekend was a key development for the Pirates. If it’s a start of Harrison resembling the hitter he was in 2014, could Neil Walker’s starting spot be in jeopardy down the stretch and in the post-season? Don’t rule it out. The Pirates’ view Harrison as their best fielding second baseman and the organization has been frustrated by Walker’s lack of consistency at the plate this season. If Harrison gets on a run here, interesting dynamic to watch. 2. The Pirates decision to keep Jeff Locke in the rotation moving forward has much to do with the Pirates also projecting Locke to be part of the rotation next season. The team internally hopes to move Charlie Morton this off-season. 3. There’s not a better receiver in the NFL than Antonio Brown. HeRead More »

Daily 5: Brady playing in week 1 impacted Steelers decision to sit Thomas


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *RUMBLINGS, MUSINGS, OPINIONS* 1. Guys like Sean Rodriguez have an expiration date. Hopefully the Pirates found that out Monday afternoon. Rodriguez was excellent in the Pirates three game series vs the Cardinals, going 6-for-7 with a home run, 3 RBIs. Clint Hurdle has a great admiration for Rodriguez and has admitted that himself. It wasn’t a shock to see Hurdle reward Rodriguez by putting him in the lineup Monday afternoon with the quick turnaround, but shortstop? A position Rodriguez has made zero starts at this season and just three starts over the last three seasons. In a game where the Pirates with a win were guaranteed to gain a game on the Cubs or Cardinals. Rodriguez had a nightmare day, two errors, getting picked off in the ninth inning with the tying run at the plate. Those days happen but there’s always this infatuation to over-play the backupRead More »

Friday’s TIOPS Daily 5


TIOPS DAILY FIVE Rumblings, Musings, Opinions 1. Anyone who stayed for the entire Steelers – Panthers game Thursday night, Art Rooney II should have stood at the exit and handed you a $100 bill. The product of the preseason has become so bad fans should be paid to attend. 2. The Steelers have enough top tier talent on offense that will keep them competitive this season, especially in a division that lacks an elite team. However, a continued trend since 2012 has been a lack of talent outside of the top-15 players or so. — At running back the Steelers have no depth options behind DeAngelo Williams to start the season as Josh Harris has showed little to earn a spot and is not an NFL running back. — The team has no depth at tackle position or on the interior. — After watching Daniel McCullers get pushed around lastRead More »

Daily 5: Joe Blanton time in the rotation; Steelers Trade Talk


TIOPS DAILY FIVE Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. Almost every Major League team has a Jeff Locke as their No. 5 starter but there reaches a point where you have to pull the plug, at least when it comes to Locke pitching another meaningful game in 2015. Locke was a disaster in the Pirates 9-4 loss to the Brewers, allowing five runs in 3 2/3 innings. The left hander has made just two quality starts since June 17. Hurdle after Wednesday’s game was pressed by reporters if Locke has pitched his last game in the rotation for 2015. “I’m not going to get into that right after a guy goes 3 2/3 innings,” Hurdle told reporters. “Those are conversations we’ll have internally. We continue to look at ways to make our team stronger all the time.” Hurdle himself has had a rough go at it in not pulling starters quickly enough.Read More »

Benz: James Harrison….The Moderate voice on a Roger Goodell matter


TUESDAY-COLUMN James Harrison can speak about this from an educated point of view. He knows what it is like to get picked apart by Tom Brady. He knows it’s actually possible for Pittsburgh to win in Foxboro if Brady doesn’t play. And he knows what it is like to wrangle with Roger Goodell. So the quotes he gave Monday about the looming DeflateGate ruling…and how he gave them…spoke volumes even though Harrison granted them in his usual taciturn way. When asked for his opinion on what Federal Judge Richard Berman may do, this is what the linebacker flatly stated: “I don’t see what a federal judge can do with something the players signed in the CBA which gives Roger Goodell the power to do what he wants to do. So if he is going by the letter of what it says then there is nothing he can do.” Interesting. FinallyRead More »

Daily 5: The Penguins and Cody Franson


TIOPS DAILY FIVE RUMBLINGS, MUSINGS, OPINIONS 1. A.J. Burnett on Sunday threw around 70 pitches, 40 fastballs, 20 cuveballs, 6-10 changeups and the velocity was very encouraging. “He threw all three pitches effectively,” GM Neal Huntington said yesterday. “Curveball was good. Changeup was good for A.J. and the fastball showed life.” The Pirates are about 10-14 days from needing to figure out their rotation for Burnett’s expected return for the Cubs series. “We’ll have a challenging decision to make,” Huntington said. Jeff Locke is the prime candidate to come out, but for Huntington and the Pirates, would there really be any drop off by keeping Locke in the rotation and planting Charlie Morton on the bench? For whatever reason there continues to be a narrative that Charlie Morton is a quality starting pitcher. The only difference between Locke and Morton — Morton makes about $8 million, Locke $531,000 — 2.Read More »

Steigerwald: Mike Vick says he learned his lesson and not the lesson everyone is thinking about


MONDAY-COLUMN Mike Vick says he learned his lesson. No, not that one. We’re pretty sure he’s learned his lesson about electrocuting and drowning defenseless dogs. Twenty-one months of hard time probably took care of that. Steelers fans everywhere have had several days to deal with the Steelers’ decision to bring Vick in to back up Ben Roethlisberger and how they will treat him. I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on the people who said they would never root for the Steelers again fulfilling that promise , but there will be thousands of people holding their noses and rooting for Vick to succeed if Roethlisberger goes down. That’s when the Steelers will be hoping that he learned his football lesson. The Jets brought Vick in to back up Geno Smith last season and, from the minute he signed, Vick was considered a good bet to be the starting quarterback beforeRead More »

Daily 5: McCutchen, Penguins-Blueline, Trade Talk


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* Photo: David Hague 1. With Gregory Polanco looking like a potential superstar, I was asked a great question on twitter. “How long before Andrew McCutchen is not the Pirates best outfielder” That is so tough to say. When it comes to which outfielder has the best tools, McCutchen might arguably be third behind Starling Marte and Polanco, but that doesn’t mean both are going to pass McCutchen in the next year or two. What makes McCutchen so special is how consistent he is on a year to year basis. 2. Looking more into the future, three years from now everyone will be fretting over Andrew McCutchen’s long-term future. However, McCutchen will be 31 years old at the end of his deal in 2018. Some good years left in him but can anyone imagine Bob Nutting paying McCutchen $20-$25 million per season for a playerRead More »

Daily 5: Two knuckleheads unable to stay off the reefer could cost the Steelers big


TIOPS DAILY FIVE Rumblings, Musings, Opinions 1. The Pittsburgh Steelers could miss the playoffs because two knuckleheads couldn’t lay off the reefer. Martavis Bryant pending four game suspension is because of a failed drug test (marijuana) and what should have everyone in the organization furious is Bryant obviously can’t kick the problem as this wasn’t the first time or he would not have been in the program in the first place. In fact, Bryant has either failed four drug tests to receive the four game suspension or failed to cooperate recently with the administered testing which would immediately slap the four game suspension after previously failing three tests. There’s some out there who say drinking alcohol makes you more impaired than smoking marijuana, but no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, it violates the NFL’s substance abuse policy and whether it should be or not, it remains illegalRead More »

Benz: Michael Vick paying his debt to society doesn’t mean that you’ve paid your debt to humanity


TIOPS WEDNESDAY COLUMN I’m not sure what sickens me more: The Steelers decision to sign convicted dog-fighting killer and washed up QB Michael Vick? Or the length the fanbase is going to in an attempt to justify the move. What Michael Vick did makes him human excrement. And I don’t want him playing on the team I’ve rooted for my whole life. I’m not telling you that you have to feel the same way I do. I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t. After all, we are the same fan base that disparaged the Patriots for employing Aaron Hernandez. We mocked Bengal felons over the years. We turn our nose up at the Ravens for building a statue to Ray Lewis and paying Terrell Suggs. And we wag our finger at the legacy on the “White House” era Cowboys. But, sure. Let’s bend over backwards to rationalize the signing ofRead More »