Daily Five
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*

The Pittsburgh Pirates don’t play today and haven’t made a transaction but today was bad a PR day for the club.

The Chicago Cubs didn’t go out and buy a player with a $200 million contract, which they and the Yankees, Dodgers have the ability to do at anytime.

What the Cubs did was acquire a pitcher in Jose Quintana with a great contract who is the perfect trade acquisition for small and mid-market ball clubs like the Pirates to make.

They made the type of trade today that small and mid-market teams often make. It’s a lot easier for the Cubs to sell off top prospects because they can go out and replace them down the road much easier than the Brewers, Royals and Pirates can but what the Pirates fan base has a right to be frustrated about is the Pirates have yet to show the willingness to move their top prospects for immediate help for the present and future which Quintana would have been.

I don’t even want to call the Pirates a small market team. What they have is a small market mentality of an owner but Bob Nutting wasn’t calling any shots in halting a pursuit of Quintana way back in February.

When it became clear in the winter that a package centered around Tyler Glasnow as the lone top prospect wasn’t going to get it done, the Pirates basically bailed out on pursuing Quintana as untouchables such as Mitch Keller, Austin Meadows and Josh Bell were ‘No’s’ from the start from the Pirates end and that wasn’t going to change.

Keller has evolved into one of baseball’s top-10 prospects and a potential Ace.

Good or bad, Neal Huntington is one of those General Manager’s who has a reputation of over-valuing his prospects.

Being on the job for almost 10 years now, that philosophy isn’t going to change.

2. The Pirates had discussed a three year extension in the neighborhood of $18-$19 million with [hide] shortstop Jordy Mercer in the winter. Sounds like his camp was pushing for a figure in the $8.5-$9 million per range.

Mercer, 30, is making $4,325,000 this season and a source says there was a reach out in recent weeks to open negotiations up again but it’s unlikely the Pirates stretch much more from what they were willing to offer in January.

The Mercer situation will be one to watch leading up to the deadline.

The Pirates have a somewhat deep system at shortstop with 2015 first round pick Kevin Newman in Double-A and 2014 first round pick Cole Tucker, who at age 21 is still in Single-A. Some in the organization, though, now view Tucker as the organization’s top shortstop prospect but that’s not a consensus view outside the organization.

Newman, 23, has taken a step back this season, hitting .260, He will be 24 in August but Pirate officials blame the poor numbers on a rough May and his high contact rate for a shortstop remains promising.


3. Andrew McCutchen is a great feel good story in how since late May he’s returned to an MVP level but are the Pirates making a mistake in keeping him in center field?

With Starling Marte set to rejoin the team in five days, the Pirates have already committed to keeping McCutchen in center field, a move that is still getting questioned in some circles.

From one angle, if the Pirates made the playoffs Marte wouldn’t be eligible to play center so what’s the point, but are the Pirates catering to McCutchen too much and ruining a chance for interested suitors to see him where he belongs in a corner outfield spot?

Dan Szymborski makes that point in a piece for ESPN:

[“While generally well run, it’s bizarre that the Pirates are rewarding Andrew McCutchen’s offensive comeback by deciding to keep him in a defensive position that he can no longer play well. It’s silly to attribute his offensive comeback to playing center field — he proved he could be plenty mediocre playing center — and it’s not increasing his value any. It’s probably better to leave other teams wondering whether Cutch can still play center than removing all doubt that he can’t.”]

4. Penguins majority owner Ron Burkle gave a rare 1-on-1 interview to Hall-of-Fame writer Dave Molinari of the Post-Gazette (who is now the Penn State Football beat writer in an odd move by the PG) that provides a lot of great details about Burkle and his role as Penguins owner from a far.

Some known things were discussed in the feature like Burkle playing a big role in getting Ray Shero to go away from his ‘Nashville Predators 5 year plan’ and make the bold move of acquiring Marian Hossa in 2008, to Burkle having a strong influence on Shero making the coaching change in 09 with Michel Therrien who Burkle liked a lot.

The one quote from Burkle about losing Marc Andre Fleury to the expansion draft is creating headlines.

“I wish we could have given the $15 million expansion fee back and kept him forever,” Burkle said.

What doesn’t get enough attention is how the top decision makers in the Penguins organization were able to put aside great personal feelings towards Marc Andre for the betterment of the team. That’s not always the norm with some general manager’s and coaches.

5. In an interview on 937 The Fan today Jim Rutherford put an end to the Jordan Staal non-sense being pushed from one outlet in stating the facts that Staal is not available. As I stated last week, Rutherford hasn’t even bothered pursuing Staal because he knows Staal’s not available.

“I can’t talk about players on other teams, but to my knowledge he’s not available,” Rutherford said.

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