— This was the setting yesterday as I compiled much of today’s blog. Blown saves didn’t bother me much at all.
— Yesterday’s heroics at PNC Park should leave no doubt that GMNH is the best GM in baseball and possibly in all sports.
— As nice a story as Sean Rodriguez’s walk off home run was, the best thing to come out of yesterday for the Pirates playoff chances was Jameson Taillon’s solid outing.
— With the passing of the trade deadline and the mediocrity of the Pirates play of late, there’s been more talk of “windows of opportunity” for the Pirates and how the Pirates’ is closing and how the front office has mismanaged it.
— I don’t deny that windows exist IF, and this is a big IF, an organization manages or builds for them.
— The Pirates have chosen not to do so. Thus, no window. Of course they have to manage their approach properly and that’s where they’ve been lacking of late.
— Give me a roster full of Josh Harrisons and I feel like I could compete every night against anyone. He plays hard with the emotion and enthusiasm that, in my view, every major league player should. He’s fun to watch.
— As of this writing, Charlie Morton leads the first-place Houston Astros in wins with nine (tied with Dallas Kuechel). He’s also second in ERA behind Kuechel.
— Any contender looking for help in an August trade, a slew of household names cleared revocable waivers on Sunday, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag in a pair of articles. The list consists of Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper, Reds first baseman Joey Votto, Tigers left fielder Justin Upton, Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford and four Mets – outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, second baseman Neil Walker and reliever AJ Ramos.
— ERA since the beginning of May thru Friday’s games: 1) Kuhl: 4.07 2) Cole 4.08 3) Williams 4.34 4) Nova 4.56 5) Taillon 6.39
— Will Jung Ho Kang ever again play for the Pirates? “That’s been an unfortunate reality from the outset that he may never get a visa again,” general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday. “We worked the process, worked the process again and have not gotten a different result. We do need to begin to prepare as if he’s not coming back.”
— Huntington said Kang’s status was a reason the Pirates on Saturday acquired utilityman Sean Rodriguez from the Atlanta Braves. “If we’re able to get Kang back into the country, then all of a sudden we become a strong lineup with a very strong bench,” Huntington said.
— According to the same interview, Rodriguez and third baseman David Freese are signed through 2018. That means, regardless of what happens with Kang, the Pirates have the depth to listen to trade offers for Josh Harrison this winter. Those are the writer’s words and not GMNH’s.
— Does anyone….anyone….think that Sean Rodriguez is a viable replacement for Jish Harrison at second base and in the everyday lineup? No? Well, I don’t think Huntington believes it either.
— Rodriguez put up the season of his career for the Pirates in 2016. His .859 OPS alone was 160 points above his career average and 150 points above his previous career high. The Miami native did so in his age 31 season. Why were there no accusations of PEDs being in play?
— Even if Rodriguez did use an enhancement, he was rewarded with an $11M two-year deal to play for the Braves. That deal eclipsed his total career earnings by several million dollars. The risk/reward factor is one of the underlying problems with MLB’s current drug policy. The rewards are so great the risk of being caught is inconsequential.
— So sorry to hear of the passing of Phillies catcher Darren Daulton. Daulton lost his four-year battle with brain cancer. He was 55.
— Don’t look for a rehabbing Austin Meadows to arrive in Pittsburgh this season: “September is not a tryout camp anymore,” Huntington said. “While Austin can do a lot of really good things, it may not be in his best interest to be in a smaller role. It may be in his best interest to continue to rest to get ready for winter ball or just get into an offseason program.”
— Le’Veon Bell is arguably the most gifted back in the NFL today. He’s not going anywhere this season and the “value” of your star veteran back being in camp is certainly disputable.
— With all of that said, after two drug-related suspensions for a team that was blown out in the AFC Championship game at least in part due to him missing much of the action with an injury, wouldn’t you think it important and a sign of leadership to take the $12M payday and get to work?
— More than 17,000 people paid $10 to watch the Steelers practice last night. I don’t know what that says about those 17,000 people.
— Thru Friday: NL Central against teams greater than or equal to .500 PIT: 27-24 .529 MIL: 15-20 .429 STL: 24-33 .421 CHC: 16-24 .400 CIN: 17-39 .304
— Thru Friday: NL Central against teams under .500 CHC: 41-26 .612 STL: 29-22 .569 MIL: 42-33 .560 CIN: 27-25 .519 PIT: 25-32 .439
— Sidney Crosby turns 30 years old today. Let that sink in for a minute. It’s tough to fathom.
— Speaking of Crosby, I found this discussion on Sportsnet.ca and had to replay it three times to make sure I heard it correctly. I don’t know who the gentlemen are but when the question was tossed out as to the greatest Penguin player ever, they unamimously chose Crosby. I honestly don’t know what to say to that.
— My personal list has Mario Lemieux a runaway first with Crosby third sandwiched between Jaromir Jagr and Burgess Meredith.
— Neal Huntington has a reputation, deserved or not, for an uncanny ability to cobble together good bullpens. That has been true to a large degree for the back end from Joel Hanrahan to Jason Grilli to Mark Melancon and now Felipe Rivero.
— The 2017 bullpen has been an ongoing problem and it is so in large part to the puzzling decision to commit two years and $11M to Daniel Hudson. Whatever they saw from Hudson last season has been all too infrequent in Pittsburgh. With Juan Nicasio almost certainly gone via free agency, they’ll need to find another eighth inning option for 2018. I don’t think it’s George Kontos.