MONDAY’S DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. Craig Morgan of FOX Sports Arizona reported last week the Penguins, Capitals and Wild are among three teams with interest in Paul Bissonnette. I’ve been unable to confirm to this point the Penguins are interested in Bissonnette, but if they are, which remains to be seen (unlikely I’d say), Pittsburgh’s interest is likely only on a tryout or two-way contract.
Bissonnette is more known for his entertaining self off the ice but he can play a little and provides toughness. He’s not a John Scott out there. However, it’s telling the Coyotes don’t want him back and for a player who can be signed for near the league minimum, not a good sign that few teams are even kicking the tires when it comes to offering a one-way contract. Did some asking around on him today and despite being a player that teammates love, Bissonnette has a frat boy image following him around that teams want to stay away from not because Bissonnette is a bad teammate, but because of potential influence on younger players, one NHL exec said. Bissonnette, though, might be good for the Penguins from the standpoint of just loosening that room up a bit and that’s about it.
2. Marcus Gilbert is a middle of the road right tackle in the NFL who last season allowed the most sacks (11) and quarterback hurries (30) of all Steelers linemen, but the team feels they are getting in front of things by locking him up this summer. As we reported last week, contract talks have intensified between Gilbert and the Steelers as Gilbert’s agent Drew Rosenhaus met with Steelers officials in person on Thursday. Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette reports today a deal could be completed this week.
Team officials have determined that if the Steelers let Gilbert play out his contract, the risk would be too high, hence, the team having no tackle to replace Gilbert and possibly being forced to maybe place the transition tag on him next off-season.
3. The Cleveland Browns are a team that is trending up but the favorites in the AFC North? At least one Steeler player feels they are. Marcus Gilbert called Cleveland the favorites in an interview with Tribune-Review columnist Joe Starkey. “They’re stacked, looking at their defense,” he said. “They’re pretty deep, and they brought in some key additions. I think it starts with them, Gilbert said.” That’s surely not a majority opinion but no question the AFC North looks wide open this season.
4. Bad luck for the Pirates? Clint Hurdle decided to let Neil Walker pinch hit Saturday night with the expectation Walker would be in the lineup Sunday. Now Walker remains out of the lineup and ideally Pirates management would like to put Walker on the DL but the team is now kind of backed into a corner because it would be retroactive to August 9th, meaning Walker would not be available to come off till the 25th. Both parties are at fault here for thinking Walker was ready to go. As for Walker, the injury while not considered serious, is a blow to him individually as he appeared primed for a 25-30 home run season.
5. There seems to be a sense of excitement surrounding Pedro Alvarez’s imminent debut at first base, which could even happen tonight as the Pirates are blowing the Tigers out at the moment. “He’s working his backside off to find a level of comfort and say, [okay] I’m ready to go over there in a major league game,” Manager Clint Hurdle said prior to today’s Pirates – Tigers game. “I think we’re real close to that. There will be a day here soon when you’ll see him over there.”
Alvarez got a good ovation from the fans during a pinch hit opportunity vs the Padres over the weekend. For a player who has been a dog at the plate and in the field the last two months and because of his personality comes off to some as a guy who doesn’t care, the fans are standing behind Alvarez for now. Guess people think he’ll be a different hitter over at first or they’re just tired of seeing Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez.