The Pirates Resurgence; Vick/Steelers; Vesey camp expands list


INSIDE BUZZ Wildcard Chase *1. LA Dodgers 65-52 (+3.5) *2. St Louis Cardinals 62-56 * Miami Marlins 62-56 Pittsburgh Pirates 60-56 New York Mets 59-59 Six weeks to go in the baseball season and the narrative has changed in a big way over the last week for the Pirates. A bridge season? No so much. The National League has so much mediocrity, there’s no excuse for the Pirates not to grab one of the final wildcard spots. The Pirates recent turnaround, 7-3 in their last 10 games, has also been a good run for management that had a bad PR week in the immediate fallout of the Pirates cost cutting trades. All three trade acquisitions at the Major League level, Felipe Rivero, Ivan Nova and Antonio Bastardo, are making immediate contributions. Rivero/Nova/Bastardo > Melancon/Liriano? Now it’s also not a stretch that ownership gets the best of both worlds. Cut salaryRead More »

Inside Buzz: The August Trade Market to Involve Andrew McCutchen?


TIOPS INSIDE BUZZ — The Andrew McCutchen situation is starting to reach the stage where you wonder how this story will end. Bet on a messy divorce this winter. Prior to this season, the expectation with McCutchen has always been he’d play the 2016 and 2017 seasons out as a Pirate and then be traded following the 2017 season due to the Pirates unwilling to meet his demands and he’d go on with his merry self and land a $200 million contract once he’s a free agent. How things have turned is just stunning. The Face of the franchise is now a drag to the ball club. From his hitting ability, to suspect defense in centerfield, to his terrible body language that is wearing on his teammates, the Pirates just don’t know what to do with him, and some in the organization wonder if McCutchen wants to be in PittsburghRead More »

Huntington’s unpopular moves saw the GM make an honest evaluation of this ball club


. So, how was your deadline day? The Pirates had a good one if sending the signal to your fans that the season is over on August 1st is a good thing. That’s what they did when they sent Francisco Liriano to the Blue Jays for an average pitching prospect, two days after sending Mark Melancon to the Nationals for two OK prospects. My favorite is Jon Niese back to the Mets for Antonio Bastardo, a left handed relief pitcher, who the Pirates had last year. Of course, Niese is the guy the Pirates got from the Mets for Neil Walker last winter. So, as it turns out, the Pirates got nothing for a second baseman who’s on his way to hitting 25 home runs this season. He has 17 right now. The last time we saw the Pirates on the field they were being swept by the Brewers inRead More »

Inside Buzz: Pirates Trade Deadline Fallout; Monday’s Steelers Camp Notes


TIOPS Inside Buzz Pirates GM Neal Huntington knew he was going to be taking some heat this evening following the trade of Francisco Liriano, along with Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire. “We fully recognize we’ve given up two quality prospects,” Huntington said during a conference call with the media. “We feel like we dealt from a position of organizational depth.” What was clear from Huntington’s comments tonight is that without him actually saying it — is the involvement of McGuire and Ramirez opened the door for the Pirates to dump Liriano’s salary on the Blue Jays — “Our goal in trading Ramirez and McGuire was to acquire Drew Hutchison,” Huntington said of the acquisition. Huntington, as expected, also said ownership gave no mandate to unload salary. “This was all our choice to create some financial flexibility to keep this club competitive while adding to our future,” said Huntington. Surprisingly Huntington didn’tRead More »

Pirates include Liriano, two top-10 prospects as part of package for Hutchison


Pirates move highest paid player on team in Liriano (Updated: 6:20 p.m.) Francisco Liriano rumors have been circulating for about two weeks now and the struggling lefty has been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays as the Pirates and Blue Jays just beat the deadline with official paper work being sent to the league at 3:59 p.m. The deal sends Liriano and prospects Harold Ramirez, Reese McGuire to Toronto in-exchange for pitcher Drew Hutchison (1-0, 4.97 ERA). Hutchison, 25, has made just three starts in the Majors this season but went 13-5 for the Blue Jays in 2015 with a 5.57 ERA. In his career, Hutchison is 30-21 with a 4.92 ERA. He has a K/BB ratio of 374/128 in 406.1 career innings. This season in the minors Hutchison is 6-5 with a 3.26 ERA, 110/35 K/BB ratio in 102 innings pitched. Hutchison had tommy john surgery in 2012 andRead More »

Pirates land Yankees starter Ivan Nova minutes before deadline


Pirates Post-Trade Deadline Recap Minutes before the deadline, the Pittsburgh Pirates completed a deal with the New York Yankees to acquire right hander Ivan Nova for two players to be named later. Nova, 29, has been on the Pirates radar for weeks as the team has sought to upgrade the rotation. How much if any did the Pirates upgrade the rotation is up for debate. Was the Nova trade just a trade for the sake of making a trade? From the Pirates end, they will be banking on that Nova has a J.A. Happ type run in him over the next two months. Nova is 7-6 with a 4.90 ERA. He has a 75/25 K/BB ratio and 1.36 WHIP in 97.1 innings pitched. Last season Nova went 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA. In 2014 Nova appeared in just four games due to Tommy John Surgery. His career has been onRead More »

Trade Analysis: The Pirates return for Mark Melancon better than it looks on paper?


Pirates make right decision in moving Melancon There was so much smoke surrounding a Mark Melancon trade in the past 24 hours that it was inevitable the Pirates were going to trade Melancon than lose him for nothing this off-season as the team had no plans to make a qualifying offer. The Pirates this afternoon struck a deal with the Washington Nationals that sends Melancon and cash to the Nationals with the Pirates receiving reliever Felipe Rivero and pitching prospect Taylor Hearn. From the Pirates end they are going to sell this that they have arms to replace Melancon in Tony Watson and Neftali Feliz and it was important to get something in return for Melancon with him set to walk as a free agent. For a team that’s three games out of the second wildcard and having no shot of catching the Cubs for the division, the greater valueRead More »

Interest sky high in Melancon


With just over 48 hours to go before the trade deadline, Pirates GM Neal Huntington is showing a strong willingness to trade closer Mark Melancon who is expected to sign elsewhere this off-season as a free agent. The Pirates are serious enough about moving Melancon that they have given four specific teams involved in talks for Melancon a list of prospects

The Andrew McCutchen Problem is Growing


The Andrew McCutchen Problem is Growing Does Andrew McCutchen stink? Sunday night ,on WPXI TV’s Final Word, Mark Madden asked the question : “Are we allowed to say that Andrew McCutchen stinks?” I’m afraid the answer is yes. His body of work as a Major League player doesn’t stink. In fact, he was on a pretty smooth path to the Hall of Fame. McCutchen had just gone 0-8 in an 18 inning win over the Nationals on Sunday and his average had dropped to .244. Going 0-5 in Tuesday’s 9-5 loss now has McCutchen hitting .242 on the season. As has been pointed out here before, McCutchen has been bad since last August. He’s been a .245 hitter for about five months. Pedro Alvarez is hitting .254. Come on. McCutchen’s hitting .225 against left handed pitching. Last season he hit .328. Have left handers figured him out? It’s possible. We’reRead More »

TIOPS Rumor Mill: McCutchen’s Future; Rangers interested in Liriano?


TIOPS Rumor Mill Andrew McCutchen’s steep decline in 2016 has been the talk of baseball. Five Thirty Eight did a stunning piece a few weeks ago on just how bad of a season he is having for a superstar player in his prime and how the numbers say a major turnaround is not likely in the years ahead. The pressing issue for the Pirates’ brass internally is coaches want to get McCutchen the hell out of centerfield (despite what Clint Hurdle might be saying through the media). It’s always been a touchy subject. As long as McCutchen continued to be a great hitter, the Pirates intended to live with him not being the best centerfielder on the roster. At least management intended to live with it. Pirate insiders, though, say a breaking point is bound to happen this winter. Chatter around the league is many baseball insiders feel the relationshipRead More »