WEDNESDAY’S DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. The Pirates biggest concern is not Andrew McCutchen, it’s Gerrit Cole. Things are sure setting up where it’s possible the Pirates are going to get nothing from Cole the rest of the way and it wouldn’t be a shock if a few weeks from now the Pirates shut Cole down. The concerning part for Cole wasn’t his stat line last night, it’s how he isn’t ready pitch at a high level in the Majors yet, as he works his way back from a shoulder injury that has been limiting him since June. Not good. Cole’s velocity dipped significantly after the first two innings last night, though he reportedly says it was “intentional”, but a clear sign his strength is not yet built up. The Pirates need to be very cautious with him the rest of the way.
2. While the Pirates bullpen is a mess, Bryan Morris who the Pirates traded to the Marlins for a competitive draft pick, has been lights out with Miami. 0.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and a 1.7 WAR in 31.1 innings pitched with the Marlins. The move was initially praised by some pundits, but a clear blunder by Huntington to move a guy you didn’t need to.
3. Following the signing of Brandon Sutter, Jim Rutherford’s summer of shaping the roster is pretty much complete. Thanks to a mandate from ownership, Rutherford has been very efficient at not giving average players long-term deals, something Ray Shero did far too often and Rutherford too himself in Carolina the last several years. It’s overpaying average players that kills your cap at the end of the day.
As for Rutherford, he’s going to be evaluated truly on the James Neal trade and it’s not going to be fair to evaluate the trade fully until after this season. The growing consensus around the league is the Penguins certainly sold low on Neal and I agree with than stance, but Rutherford is betting on two players he was fixated on acquiring when general manager with Carolina as making the Penguins a more complete team. The one thing I keep going back to is the disappointment that Neal and Sidney Crosby never got to play extensively together as linemates for long stretches. Neal was acquired to play with Crosby and we will never know how that combination could have played out.
4. The Steelers using Justin Brown in the slot extensively in Monday’s practice with the first team was not by accident. Coaches are very intrigued if he can give them a Jerricho Cotchery type presence from the slot in the red zone. Brown is more so battling Lance Moore for playing time, not Markus Wheaton whose biggest competition is Martavis Bryant. Bryant has showed great flashes over the last three to four days of being a big play threat from the outside, especially in the red zone, but Wheaton is such a more rounded receiver right now that Bryant is not much of a threat to his playing time just yet. Bryant and Brown are both big receivers but two different type of receivers and being looked at for different roles.
5. The Steelers are leaning towards not opening up contract talks with Cortez Allen before the season opener, and rolling the dice on him playing his contract out. Will it be another Keenan Lewis situation? If you’re Cortez Allen, you have a ton of motivation, but from the Steelers standpoint, Allen has showed nothing to warrant a new contract and he hasn’t been great in camp so far, consistently getting beat by Bryant for instance in red zone drills over last couple practices. The Steelers are making the right call to let things play out and deal with Allen after the season. Just as the money was there to resign Keenan Lewis and the Steelers blew it there not even making an offer, the money will also be there this summer if Allen proves himself as a legitimate starting cornerback.
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