TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. Are the Pirates turning into something special? A ton of baseball to be played but in May no one could have predicted the Pirates having the third best record in the Majors and third best run differential in the Majors by June 17.
The Pirates have been the best team in the National League over the last 37 games with a 25-12 record and this pitching staff 1-4 is downright scary good right now. Just amazing numbers of late, five shutouts over their six games, Pirates starters have an 0.21 ERA during that span and are 17-3 with a 1.92 ERA over the Pirates last 24 games. The Pirates are 19-5 during that stretch.
This is a Pirates team where the No. 1 strength is pitching/bullpen. Liriano, Cole are good bets to sustain their level of pitching, especially Cole, but If this team turns into something special and it has a chance, it’s going to depend on whether A.J. Burnett and Charlie Morton start to fall off or not as the season progresses.
2. What the Pirates are getting from Francisco Cervelli right now is quite remarkable. He’s been just as good as Russell Martin was for the Pirates, just in a different way as a player. It doesn’t mean Cervelli’s better than Martin, because he’s not, but there’s been no drop off to this point at the catcher position. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a drop off at somepoint. With Cervelli the question has always been can he sustain a high level of play over the long haul when he’s appearing in 120 games and has over 400 at-bats.
Last season in 49 games (146 AB), Cervelli had a batting line of .301/.370/.432. This season in 50 games (170 AB), he has a batting line of .324/.404/.418. Very encouraging but still a small sampling.
3. After a 67 win regular season +16 wins in the post-season, Statistically the Golden State Warriors rank up there as one of the greatest teams, first in team offense and defensive efficiency. The stats crowd has the numbers to push that argument. Nate Silver’s 538 site ranks the Warriors similar to the 91 Bulls in fact.
However when you look at the Warriors, it’s still hard to look at them as a great team when it comes to the eye test. That was still an undermanned Cleveland team with what some analysts called the worst offensive team to ever be in the Finals (with Irving, Love out) and Cleveland was still able to dictate the style of play in the first three games, outplaying the Warriors, and if it wasn’t for the Cavs imploding late in regulation in Game 1, we’re probably not talking today about whether the Warriors are one of the all-time great teams in one season.
In almost all sports you need luck to win a championship. Warriors coach Steve Kerr hinted at that last night following the Warriors winning the NBA title.
This was a team where the Warriors starting five missed a combined 15 games this season, some of those games were players sitting out due to rest and everything just fell into place which you see all the time in sports for those who win. Golden State avoided injuries all season, avoided the Spurs, Clippers, and got Cleveland without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
That shouldn’t take anything away from what they accomplished, they came through in the clutch, but what the Warriors are is very unique. From Stephen Curry to the system they play, everything about them is unique. They are a better version of the Phoenix Suns from the great Steve Nash, Mike D’Antoni days. Unique but not one of the great teams.
4. The talk of the Penguins wanting to add a Russian for Evgeni Malkin isn’t going away, now they feel it’s important to add local players? Jim Rutherford has been given a directive from his bosses to add local players if the opportunity presents it self.
“(My bosses) have shared with me the disappointment that we don’t have a local player,” Rutherford told Jason Mackey of the Tribune-Review. “I keep that in mind, not only if it’s the draft but also if one comes up in the league who’s local.”
This sounds so silly and even crazy but did some checking today and it’s absolutely true and is so David Morehouse.
5. Speaking of local players, all this talk of the Penguins going after Brandon Saad, a legitimate scenario that’s been discussed internally among Rutherford and his closest confidants is J.T. Miller in New York. The Penguins love the shot, size, instincts, where they feel Miller is a potential 30 goal scorer down the road who can impact a game in a lot of ways.
This is one of those bold, gutsy moves Rutherford is going to mull and with the pressure to add a local player, who knows where it goes, those close to the situation said today as even those who work with Rutherford feel he’s going to be aggressive and do something surprising over the next couple weeks.
Those around the league feel the Rangers could be vulnerable to keeping Miller if a team like the Penguins goes and pays for potential as in an offer sheet over $3.6 million per that would net the Rangers a first, third round pick in 2016. The Rangers are tight against the cap, have several key RFA’s to resign and Miller isn’t a favorite of Alain Vigneault.
The Rangers are going to be looking to keep him on a cheap, short-term bridge deal.
OFFER SHEET COMPENSATION
$1,205,377 or below — None
$1,205,377 to $1,826,328 — Third Round
$1,826,328 to $3,652, 659 — Second Round
$3,652,659 to $5,478,986 — First Round and Third Round
$5,478,986 to $7,305,316 — First Round, Second Round, and Third Round
$7,305,316 to $9,131,645 — Two First Rounds, Second Round, and Third Round
$9,131,645 — Four First Rounds