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Insider Only On Pettiness between Walker/Pirates, Steelers, Changes under Sullivan


1. Neil Walker deserved no favors from the Pirates just because he was a hometown player but it’s ridiculous the two sides didn’t put aside some pettiness to strike a deal last winter.

Following the 2014 season, the Pirates offered Neil Walker a three year, $27 million contract that would have bought out his first year of free agency, Rob Biertempfel of the Trib reported over the weekend.

The Walker camp countered asking for a two year, $19 million contract and the Pirates wanted a team option. Walker says there was no response from the Pirates after the Walker camp countered.

The Pirates then went on to absolutely crush Walker as a player in the arbitration hearing and the relationship was done from there.

The framework was certainly there to get a deal done for the Pirates to have Walker still in a Pirates uniform for his final couple prime years.

2. The Walker – Niese trade is being looked at by some as one of those deals that helps both teams, yet, it’s not. The better value for the Pirates would have been to play the season out with Walker, give him a qualifying offer, hope he declines and take the comp pick, something that the Mets have already admitted intrigued them about Walker.

You could find 10 Jon Niese’s on the free agent market right now where you didn’t need to give up a player in Walker who despite his flaws is an above average player for his position. Niese is certainly not.

3. The Steelers are starting to develop a swagger about them (bet the Patriots and others hope Steelers miss playoffs) and they’re evolving into a team offensively that is becoming impossible to matchup against due their wide receiver group and how everyone is on the same page. Before receivers break their routes, Roethlisberger has the ball right in their hands. Near impossible to defend. You play off of them and they’ll move the ball at will like what happened against the Bengals. Try to play bump-and-run, good chance Bryant or Brown go for a big play.

4. One of the biggest complaints about Mike Johnston’s system was how deep the centers played in the d-zone. That will be a change under Mike Sullivan as a focus is going to be on trying to score more off the rush and having the centers play higher.

Under Johnston everything was about defending the cycle and most evaluators point to that as a reason for Sidney Crosby’s drop off. For Johnston, though, he was always stuck in a tough spot as at the end of the season the GM was all about Sidney Crosby playing deep in his own end.

“I’m so proud of what he [Sidney Crosby] did in becoming that all-around player coming back in his own end deep and helping out,” Jim Rutherford said at his end of the season press conference on April 28th.

5. Imagine the criticism Brandon Sutter would be taking right now in Pittsburgh if he had 3 goals and a 47 CF% at even strength like his replacement Nick Bonino has right now. One of Mike Sullivan’s first moves should be entrenching Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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