Pirates path to competing next couple years in NL Central gets smaller

The MLB off-season continues to get more depressing for Pirate fans.

As the rest of the NL Central gets stronger not just for the present but the future, the Pirates have entered tear-down mode with little path to competing as their prospect system has fallen to the middle of the pack and once regarded top prospects like Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows are no longer the significant trade chips they were a year and half ago to improve the roster dramatically.

While the Pirates stand on the sidelines, the Brewers have made major additions with the signing of Lorenzo Cain and trade for Christian Yelich……. The Cardinals significantly upgraded their roster with the trade for Marcell Ozuna who belted 37 homers and 124 RBIs, and now the Cubs have made their move in signing free-agent ace pitcher Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million deal on Saturday night.

The Cubs one of baseballs most prestige franchises landing a top free agent starter doesn’t surprise anyone, but what the Brewers are doing is a major gut punch to Pirate fans.

The Brewers not only signed Cain to a 5 year, $80 million contract, they built their farm system back up over the last couple years and then moved some of their top prospects for five years of control for Yelich. The type of trade the non-homer Pirate fans have been waiting years for the Pirates to do.

What is fascinating with the Brewers is how all-in they are for the next four to five years. They offered Darvish over $100 million and are among the front runners for Jake Arrieta, while reportedly still looking at a Chris Archer trade.

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Injuries open up opportunity for Teddy Blueger to flash 2-way game

Blueger recalled from WBS

With Tom Kuhnhackl sidelined for a couple weeks and Carter Rowney now joining Kuhnhackl, Patric Hornqvist on the shelf, the Penguins today recalled center Teddy Blueger from Wilkes Barre/Scranton.

Blueger the Penguins second round pick in 2012, has 12 goals and 14 assists and a plus-10 rating in 45 games with Wilkes Barre. His 12 goals rank third on the team.

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Blueger had a great second half to last season and fared well in training camp but his offensive production hasn’t taken the next step like the Penguins hoped it would.

However, Blueger has a two-way game ability he brings to the table the Penguins really like.

The skating is a bit questionable against NHL talent, but Blueger has good playmaking skills, see’s the ice well and he’s a player coaches trust.

You can put up him out there in tough defensive matchups and plug him on the penalty kill.

NHL coaches are obsessed with how young players play away from the puck. Blueger will make Mike Sullivan a fan quickly in that area, as he did in camp.

There’s a little more intrigue in Blueger coming up than J.S. Dea getting the call again. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

 

Carnell Lake steps down as DB Coach

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be looking for a new defensive backs coach.

Carnell Lake who has held the position since 2011, has stepped down from the job citing family reasons.

STATEMENT

I have decided to return to California to be able to be a part of my youngest son’s last year of high school football.
I want to thank Mr. Art Rooney II and the Rooney family, Coach Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, the coaching staffs I have worked with throughout my time in Pittsburgh, and the entire Steelers organization. It has been a privilege and honor to play and coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I also want to thank all of the players I have coached during my seven years with the team – it truly was an honor to work with them. Finally, I would like to thank Steelers fans for their support and for being the best fans in the NFL during both my time as a player and coach.

 

Penguins top Fleury, Golden Knights with 5-4 win

Penguins 5 – Golden Knights 4

PIT LEADERS
Evgeni Malkin | Goal (30), Assist
Phil Kessel | Goal (24), Assist
Sidney Crosby | 2 Assists
Jake Guentzel | Goal (16)
Ian Cole | Goal (3)
Ryan Reaves | Goal (3), 7 hits


The hockey gods looked to be smiling down on Marc Andre Fleury for the first 30 minutes of tonight’s game. The Vegas Golden Knights had a 2-0 lead mid-way through the game and Fleury stopped the first 17 shots he faced in what was a goaltending duel early before a barrage of goals would play out.

The Penguins would quickly take over the game just after the 11 minute mark of the second period.

Ryan Reaves, Ian Cole and Jake Guentzel scored 7:32 apart in the second as Pittsburgh turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead after forty minutes and then it was the Evgeni Malkin/Phil Kessel show in the third period.

Malkin scored his 30th goal of the season 3:09 into the period, with a blistering shot past Fleury as Kessel picked up a primary helper.

Leading 4-2 after Malkin’s marker, 3:11 later Phil Kessel delivered a back breaking goal to put the Penguins up 5-2 off a gorgeous feed from Malkin.

Scoring five unanswered goals in a 15:12 span, the Penguins found the net five times on 14 shots during that span to spoil Fleury’s return to Pittsburgh.

Vegas, though, didn’t call it a night after the Kessel goal.

Ryan Carpenter scored 18 seconds after Kessel gave the Penguins a 5-2 lead and Jonathan Marchessault would net his 19th goal of the season at 12:04 of the period to cut the Penguins lead to 5-4.

The Penguins would hold on to improve to 30-22-9, 63 pts, on the season.

Marc Andre Fleury stopped 33 of 38 shots in the loss. Matt Murray turned aside 21 of 25 shots.

For Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby (2 assists), Evgeni Malkin (Goal, Assist), and Phil Kessel (Goal, Assist) each put up multi-point games.

Kessel with 65 points on the season is now one point behind Nikita Kucherov for the NHL points lead. Malkin is four behind Kucherov. Crosby is six points off the points lead.

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Ryan Shazier making “incredible progress”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter citing a source, reports Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier is making “incredible progress”.

Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery Dec. 6. He was released from the hospital this week and has regained movement in his legs and is doing some walking.

TIOPS INSTANT BUZZ