TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. Neal Huntington and his scouts have a niche for finding high upside relievers who cost next to nothing. Arquimedes Caminero is the latest potential gem the Pirates have found. Caminero has flashed nasty stuff with a fastball that sits around 98-99 and a slider that hits 91 mph. Huntington is one of the best in the business in a building a Major League bullpen on a year to year basis and his belief of not paying high salaries to relievers has been a blueprint that’s worked for years now.
Fans are likely looking at the last season Mark Melancon is around, who is already making $5.4 million and with his drop in velocity, the Pirates will move him before next season. Heck, some won’t be surprised if he struggles to hold on to the closers job.
2. Ike Taylor called it quits on Tuesday, announcing he’s retiring. Taylor’s what you’d call great value for a 4th round pick who was an above average cover corner from 2005-2010 and played 12 seasons. During his prime Taylor wasn’t an elite No. 1 cornerback because of his lack of playmaking ability, but he is someone the opposition game planned for because of his cover ability. Was highly respected by his peers and if the hands were there, would have been the type that quarterbacks feared throwing in his direction.
Taylor had a solid career until the tail end where he got one long-term contract too many from the Steelers as his play from 2011-2014 was below average to poor, grading out as one of the worst cornerbacks in football from 2012-2014. Taylor never lived up to the 4 year, $28 million contract he received in 2011 and it’s hard to ever forget his performance against Tim Tebow and the Broncos.
3. Peter Chiarelli was fired today by the Boston Bruins and the situation is so similar to Pittsburgh when they fired Ray Shero. You have a Team President who’s looking to become more of a top decision maker, the only difference from Pittsburgh is the Team President in Boston, Cam Neely is an actual hockey mind and played the game. This is the new wave throughout the NHL. The General Manager having free reins is going to be a thing of the past.
During today’s press conference on the firing, Neely and team executive Chris Jacobs touted the Bruins not drafting well as a primary reason to move in another direction. Where have we heard that before?
The Bruins will now be talking about wanting to get younger and draft better just like the Penguins did last summer, but like Pittsburgh, the pressure will be on the new Bruins GM to have a win-at-all cost mindset and that will mean giving out second round picks on a regular basis for role players and not opening up roster spots for young players.
Great goaltending in 2011 from Tim Thomas and 2013 from Tuukka Rask hid poor moves that Chiarelli made and those came back to haunt him this season and he’ll always be remembered for trading away Tyler Seguin but it’s hard to put the Seguin trade all on him as those around the league said pressure was immense from Chiarelli’s higher ups to move Seguin because he wasn’t a Bruin type of player. Milan Lucic apparently is.
The mistakes the Penguins and teams like the Bruins make is they have this win-at-all cost mindset every season where they hold onto players who aren’t a necessity in years where they’re not a true Stanley Cup team. For the Penguins not moving a player like Paul Martin who’s going to walk this summer is one of those moves and there’s been a lot of them over the years. You take the hit for this season for the long-term gain, a first round pick or high end prospect.
4. Antoine Vermette will be a healthy scratch tonight for the Blackhawks. Chicago gave up top defenseman prospect Klas Dahlbeck and a first-round 2015 draft pick for Vermette, a rental forward. General Manager’s never learn that paying a premium for what essentially is a low upside role player rarely works out. Vermette, Winnik types will always look better than they are on losing teams and GM’s almost always fall into the trap of giving up high picks for those types of players.
5. In a poll done by the Vancouver Sun that polled 22 NHL players, Marc Andre Fleury was tied for third as the most overrated player in hockey. Overrated is something you rarely hear attached to Fleury. I wouldn’t call him underrated or overrated. He is what he is. A solid goaltender who keeps the Penguins competitive but isn’t the type of goaltender who can steal a series.