TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. With a tough schedule coming up and the unlikelihood of the Cardinals collapsing over the last two months, the Pirates are destined to have to go through a great pitcher in the Wild Card game for the third straight year, likely a left hander, and while Pirate officials would never admit it, the Pirates are targeting position players (Right fielders/first basemen) who might only be backups or part-time players down the stretch but would be in the lineup if the Pirates have to go through Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Jon Lester or even David Price/Cole Hamels if they were to be traded to the Cubs, Giants, or Dodgers, in a wildcard game or playoff series.
You never want to plan for one game but that’s what the Pirates have to do.
Shane Victorino is no longer a good player but he hits left handed pitching, .343 this season, and has hit .321 (131-408) against lefties since the 2012 season. Reason Pirates are kicking tires on him.
2. Talk of the Pirates aggressively trying to get rid of Pedro Alvarez intensified last week (they’ve been trying since last summer) but it was typical Pedro as on the day a General Manager told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports the Pirates are shopping Alvarez to “everybody”, Alvarez goes out and homers, then homers the following night. That’s what Alvarez does. He brings you back in for a week or so and then he’ll be a dog at the plate for the next four weeks.
3. Anticipation of A.J. Burnett trending down in the second half, which is already happening, Gerrit Cole’s workload, already nearing career high in innings, rarely knowing what you’ll get from Charlie Morton/Jeff Locke, Neal Huntington is on the hunt for a starting pitcher. The Pirates have kicked the tires on Dan Haren, Ian Kennedy of late and Huntington has always had an admiration for Jeff Samardzija.
4. What you’re going to hear out of Steelers camp for the next several weeks is the defense getting back to the days of creating turnovers and being a game changing type defense. How will that happen? More blitzing, utilizing their edge rushers better? The best hope could be unleashing Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt at the ends which appears to be the plan. That’s what will be fascinating to watch with how this defense transitions under Keith Butler early on this season.
As great as Dick LeBeau was, he was too caught up in his own ways late in his career.
Tomlin and Butler appear to see the light.
Used the right way and not having a scheme so fixated on the ends absorbing blocks to open up lanes for the linebackers, Cam Heyward should be an 11-12 sack player a season.
No Steeler defensive end has had 10 or more sacks in a season since Keith Willis in 1983 and 1986. Stephon Tuitt believes the Steelers could have two in him and Cam Heyward.
“I’d says it’s a possibility,” Tuitt said via Chris Bradford of Timesonline. “A great possibility. We’re going to make a lot of damage and noise,” Tuitt said. “I believe that.”
5. It was basically another OTA practice, but Cortez Allen picked up where he left off having a rough first practice, per Mark Kaboly of the Trib. Allen’s biggest asset is his playmaking ability but the guy just can’t cover and that’s not suddenly going to change.
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