Daily 5: Pirates struggles in NL central, rack up wins with Lirano on mound; + Pens Rumors & Steelers offense improving inside 35


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* Photo: David Hague 1. The Pirates with last night’s 4-1 loss to the Brewers are now 12-18 against the NL Central. That’s a problem for a team with division title aspirations and so is only winning three of Francisco Liriano’s 12 starts this season when Liriano has posted nine quality starts thus far. Liriano wasn’t perfect but went eight innings, retiring 14 straight batters at one time. “You score one run, there’s no safety net for the starter,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Good work by him, again. This is good stuff. This is hard-to-hit stuff.” The inability to rack up wins with Liriano on the mound during the first two months of the season is an area if the Pirates fall short of winning a division they’ll look back on. 2. Starling Marte hit his 12th home run of the season in Tuesday night’sRead More »

Daily 5: Pirates smart to key on position players in draft, Lightning resemble Penguins of past, Impact of elite No. 1 d-men & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. The talk of the Pirates zeroing in high school prep pitchers with the No. 19 pick was nothing more than a smoke screen as the Pirates went infield heavy with their  first three selections of the 2015 MLB draft, (SS) Kevin Newman at No. 19 , (3B) Ke’Bryan Hayes at No. 32 and (SS/2B) Kevin Kramer at No. 62. The Pirates in the third round today took Alabama outfielder Casey Hughston before taking their first pitcher of the draft in the fourth round (No. 127) in selecting Jacob Taylor who had been an outfielder until late in the 2014 season where he emerged as one of the better throwing pitchers in the Alabama/Louisiana/Mississippi area. The Pirates focusing on position players has become the new trend after taking Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire in 2013 and Cole Tucker last year. It’s the much safer routeRead More »

Monday’s TIOPSDailyFive on Gerrit Cole, Pirates, Cavs, and the one draft that stings more and more for Penguins


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. Gerrit Cole has evolved into a true No. 1 ace and he’s not even through his third full MLB season. Cole’s decision to forego signing with the New York Yankees ended up becoming a brilliant decision as outlined by Joel Sherman of the New York Post. After being the 28th overall pick in the 2008 draft, Cole decided going to UCLA would help make him a higher draft selection in 2011 and lead to less time in the minors. It all played out perfectly. He ended up becoming the No. 1 overall pick and spent just one full season in the minors (2012. Cole’s NL ranks entering tonight’s action: • 1st in NL in Wins (9) • 1st in NL in ERA (1.73) • 4th in NL in SO (86) • 5th in NL in IP (78.0) • 5th in NL in W%Read More »

Daily 5: Pens up for a sale viewed as unique situation, one major thing being overlooked for a Pens/Saad offer sheet & more


 TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. The Penguins on the market is being regarded as a unique situation around the league. Many are fascinated on how this plays out. While Pittsburgh is not the Mecca of hockey that some in the local media called the Penguins and this market 3-4 years ago, but if you want to buy an NHL team, the ones available have normally been small market teams in bad markets like the Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes, New Jersey Devils, Dallas Stars among teams that have been sold in recent years. One league executive today predicted someone is going to come in with an offer that’s blows the Penguins mind away, talking $600 million+. We’ll see. The question right now is how can Mario Lemieux find a way to cash out with Ron Burkle keeping his majority stake, believed to be the preferred option. One theory and maybeRead More »

Daily 5: Doubts emerge in financial world that Mario can cash out to the max if Burkle doesn’t sell his majority


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle exploring options of selling the Penguins hasn’t been a question of ‘if’, it’s been a question of ‘when’ in recent months. It became official Wednesday night that the Penguins are pushing forward in exploring their options after the team confirmed they have hired Morgan Stanley. “We conduct periodic reviews of our business and, because we have received several inquiries about the franchise in recent years, we decided to engage Morgan Stanley for their insight and counsel,” Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said in a joint statement. “After buying the team out of bankruptcy, ensuring its long-term future in Pittsburgh and creating a strong foundation for continued success, we believe it is time to explore our options.” “Our goal all along was to solidify the franchise both on and off the ice,” Lemieux said. “Our star players are signedRead More »

Daily 5: On Penguins AHL Coaching search, NHL being a Copy Cat League has getting faster the new rage & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. As the Penguins begin their search for a new AHL coach, a few longshot but interesting names are being discussed internally. After Jim Rutherford’s bizarre coaching search last summer when he failed to land Bill Peters or Willie Desjardins that forced the Penguins to go back to square one, the two new candidates in Part II of the coaching search Rutherford primarily focused on was Mike Johnston and Todd Nelson. If Johnston had declined the job like others did, there’s a good chance Nelson would have been offered the job. It would be fitting a year later if Rutherford two final choices from the so called second coaching search both end up with the organization. As the Penguins search for a new coach in Wilkes Barre is underway, Nelson is high on the Penguins wishlist, who is evaluating his options after being by-passedRead More »

Daily 5: The $3.75MM elephant in the room, Kunitz future, John Hynes, Gerrit Cole & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. The expectation in the Penguins organization is this regarding Pascal Dupuis: Doctors are likely to come up with a medication that will allow Dupuis to be ‘cleared’ to play next season but there will be a cloud around him all season and uncertainty as no one knows whether he’ll be able to get through the season, let alone play at an adequate level for someone at his age coming off the seriousness of blood clots and a torn ACL the previous year. He’s the $3.75 million (cap hit) “elephant in the room,” as one source put it. Dupuis is a great guy, very valuable in the room and just someone you root for and many are, but the best case scenario for the Penguins would be to have the cap space available and knowing it’s going to be available. 2. One thought aroundRead More »

Defining Clutch: Stats back up Toews, Kane abilities to rise to the occasion in elimination games & more in Today’s TIOPSDailyFive


TIOPS DAILY FIVE *Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. Jonathan Toews willed the Chicago Blackhawks back to the Stanley Cup Final with a 2-goal performance in Game 7 and Toews two first period goals took the life out of the Ducks before the game was even 20 minutes old. That’s what makes Toews so great and such a unique player. He rises to the occasion and he’s the Mark Messier of this era or the Steve Yzerman of this era, whatever great clutch player those like to link Toews to. Anytime Toews rises to the occasion, somehow Sidney Crosby comes into the discussion and that was the case Saturday night on social media. No matter whether Toews ends up winning five Stanley Cups and Crosby just one, it won’t make Toews a better player than Crosby, just like Mark Messier winning six Stanley Cups to Mario’s two, didn’t make Messier a betterRead More »

Daily 5 Weekend Edition: Kang investment, Alvarez/Expectations, Pens/Draft Pick Compensation, Cup Final


TIOPS DAILY FIVE Rumblings, Musings, Opinions 1. Neal Huntington in January on the Pirates winning the posting fee for Jung Ho Kang and eventually signing the 28 year old Infielder. “This is an unprecedented situation, so it’s difficult to truly project how he will perform,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “That is why we had multiple people watch him play multiple times. We feel good about bringing him into our organization and we feel that this is going to be a very good investment for our organization.” A very good investment indeed. It remains a very small sampling so far but Kang is showing enough signs that he is an impact player and his quickly ability to adjust to MLB velocity has been a great telling point. Whether Kang becomes an All-Star type player remains to be seen but the Pirates investment in Kang is pretty much pennies byRead More »

Daily 5: Rutherford still blabbering about Despres, Pens to get compensation for Bylsma & more


TIOPS DAILY FIVE Rumblings, Musings, Opinions* 1. Jim Rutherford is still blabbering about the Simon Despres trade. “If I had a chance to make that trade today, as we speak, I wouldn’t make it,” Rutherford told Trib Total Media on Wednesday. Jason Mackey of the Trib writes, [In trading Despres, Rutherford acknowledged, then and now, that he could come to regret the move. But he wanted a right-handed shot and experience for the postseason. The Penguins’ glut of highly drafted defensemen since 2009 also has left NHL-level openings at a premium “We have a lot of young defensemen coming,” Rutherford said. “I knew at the time, over time, the trade would certainly be in Anaheim’s favor. But at the time we made it, and the reasons we made it for, I still feel it was the right thing to do.”] It was a terrible trade at the moment it wasRead More »