Monday, November 07, 2005

Young veteran

John Perrotto reports on the players David Littlefield might be considering:

Among the possibilities are Cincinnati outfielder Wily Mo Pena, Milwaukee first baseman Lyle Overbay, Tampa Bay first baseman/third baseman/outfielder Aubrey Huff and third baseman Hank Blalock and outfielder Kevin Mench of Texas.

Blalock looks like a good fit. He may outgrow the need for a platoon partner.

It's hard not to like the 23-year-old Pena, who plays some centerfield. But he's not exactly cleanup material at this point. With his low OBP, he's something in the Brad Eldred to Preston Wilson range. With the CF abilities, however, Pena deserves a long long look. If he can't help us much in '06, maybe he's worth a year for '07.

Lyle Overbay has been, I think, pretty consistent. Maybe the stats don't support that view, but until I see otherwise I'll regard him that way. With Bay and Overbay as two steady eddies, Tracy could then play whatever players are hot that week.

Aubrey Huff regressed heavily in 2005. Is that the kind of player we want to depend upon for 2006?

Kevin Mench looks like Craig Wilson to me. I'm not sure we need him, or more of players like these guys. As much as I love Craiggers in Jim Thome mode, I don't want to start another season with him hitting cleanup. We can't survive such slumps from such central players.

All those guys are good players, however, and if we can palm off the right goods to get any of them, then I say do it.

I'm not sure what to make about different styles of righties needed in the bullpen. Right now, complaints about the bullpen don't have much purchase with me. It's a bit looking at a damaged car and talking about repairing the racing stripe, which got dinged here and there.

The Pirates need at least one damn good hitter. Two damn good hitters would be even better. We can worry about the bullpen once we solve the scoring runs problem.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


No one stops Duce Staley running behind Dan Kreider, Hines Ward, and Max Starks.

A safety like that

Photo of Troy Polamalu.

Duce returns

Duce is ready to play today. All hail Duce! This should help take pressure off Batch. Look for the Steelers to dominate and cover easily.

In other news, Hines needs four catches to pass John Stallworth's all-time record of 537 career receptions as a Steeler. Hmmm ... I could picture Hines making a catch like this. All hail John Stallworth, the Greatest Steeler WR ever!

... R: I agree with Bones. Steelers pitch a shutout today in Wisconsin, score 14 points on defense, and grind out one rushing TD for a 21-0 game.

Friday, November 04, 2005

John Russell hired

New Phillies AAA manager.

Week 9 pick 'em pool action

All hail Slow Country 21, Lou Crandall and alien 1011, who kicked ass in week 8. Alien1011 still holds the overall YTD lead, picking 58.2% ATS in at least the minimum 58 games.

I went 3-4 last week and still reside in Pirates territory, standings-wise. This week I like Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Minnesota, Oakland, New York Jets, and Philadelphia.

If you join the pool this week, you have to pick every game the rest of the way, more or less, to reach our 50%-of-all-games minimum.

Kip Wells is the new Jeff Weaver

So says Tracy, according to Rob Rossi.

Which one of our utility infielders was the new Adrian Beltre? I am beginning to get confused with all the Dodger analogies.

Steeler defense

Michael David Smith, on

Safety Troy Polamalu had an unnecessary roughness penalty and a roughing the passer penalty against Jacksonville, but he also played a big role in Pittsburgh’s defense that day. Coaches get furious when players pick up penalties, but Polamalu demonstrates how calls often go against the most aggressive players. Having a safety like that is worth a few 15-yard penalties.

He is a good one. A lot of attention has been focussed lately on the Steelers' running game and occasional passing. But Steeler football is predicated on getting the defense off the field. You can't dominate the time of possession battle without wearing out the other team's defense. Likewise it's not so easy to run on a defense with fresh legs.

I'm not sure how many points the Steelers will score in Green Bay, but I do think we can expect the defense to more or less shut down Green Bay's offense -- unless, of course, the offense can't get a first down. Any defense left on the field for too long will begin to break down.

Getting the run game going is just half of Steeler football. The other half is shutting down the other team's offense and getting our defense off the field. The more you run, the greater the advantage for the defense. The more you stuff the other team's attack, the greater the advantage for the run game. Those two things feed off each other.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

All hail Charlie Batch

Big Ben is out for a while after surgery to repair a tear in his knee. No word on his blog.

Can Charlie Batch hit Heath Miller often enough to open up the running game?

Seriously, this game is reminding me of this Steelers at Bears game, which I had the misfortune to attend in full Steeler regalia. At least this won't be Brett Favre's final home game.

Is Charlie Batch a better QB than the 1992 edition of Bubby Brister? We will see.

Redman in

Mark Redman, as expected, will be back.

In other news from the same Paul Meyer article, Matt Lawton was busted for having boldenone in his system. What a moron.

...Will Carroll has more on Lawton. I guess his career might be done.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Vic Ketchman, on :

Floyd from Charlotte, NC: I noticed that on Pittsburgh's final drive on Monday night they didn't abandon the run, even though Baltimore successfully defended the Steelers' running attack most of the night. Pittsburgh didn't change who they are because they were down with time running out. Is there a lesson there for the Jags who didn't run the ball once in the final four minutes of the game?

Vic: The Steelers are a unique team. Nobody plays the game as they do, as witnessed by the fact that Ben Roethlisberger is averaging slightly more than 21 passes a game. Byron Leftwich is at 30 passes a game and that's toward the low end of the league average. The Steelers are not a scheme team. Preparing for them schematically is easy because you know what they're going to do. The Steelers are very close-to-the-vest on offense. They get a lead and they sit on it. Their idea of stepping on another team's throat, so to speak, is to get a lead going into the fourth quarter and then expire the clock with their running game. The Monday Night Football telecast tossed out a statistic that was so fantastic I thought they had surely made a mistake. The stat is that the Steelers have a streak of 126 home games in which they have not lost when they've had a seven-point or greater lead heading into the fourth quarter. The streak goes all the way back to 1970. What that means is the Steelers are very good at running out the clock with their running game when they have the lead and the ball. That's "Neander-ball" and Jaguars fans don't want that kind of football. They hate that kind of football. This is a town that wants a wide-open game. To play it the Steelers' way, you have to commit to it completely. You have to draft to play that way. You have to condition your fans to that style of offense with years and years of playing that way. You have to regard the pass as the thing you have to do to be able to do what you really want to do. That wouldn't work in Jacksonville or anywhere else in the league except Pittsburgh.

Wow, I say. I will have more comment on this later.

Week 9 NFL odds

I sure get the impression that the wizards of odds work up their lines not one by one, but as one big group. This week, for example, is the week of home dogs. Earlier in the season, we had a week of tiny lines, of supposedly equal matchups. In this way, the games blend together. It's as the average fan I mean gambler is forced to regard the teams as belonging to just a small set of tiers. And we get hosed this way; a team can be favored at another team, it appears, because everyone is favored on the road this week. And the goal appears not to be a balance of money on either side, but the provoking of massive gambling. Every week I see lines that look like loss leaders.

To get to the point, the Steelers are favored by five or six this week at Lambeau, and I don't like it. This is not a loss leader but a line I think most people will take. I didn't like this game - a non-division road game at a sleeping dog in one of the great home fields - when I first saw it this summer. I like it even less now that the Steelers are presented with this number. I'm not saying I'll pick against them, I'm saying that circumstances look good for Green Bay. The trap is set. Can they catch the Steelers on an off day? For the sake of our won-loss record, I wish the Steelers were playing another division games at home ... and that's not (just) because the rest of the division is so weak right now. On the road as heavy favorites against Brett Favre in Lambeau in November? That's a tough challenge.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The free agents

Players that played the outfield, first base, or third in 2005.

Abraham Nunez, 3b-2b-ss
Alex Gonzalez, 3b-ss (Cub/Expo/Padre/Devil Ray edition)
Bill Mueller, 3b, a little 2b
Brian Giles, rf-cf
Daryle Ward, 1b
Denny Hocking, 2b
Eduardo A Perez, 1b, a little 3b and of
Eli Marrero, of
Jacob Cruz, of-ss
Jeromy Burnitz, rf, a little center
Joe Randa, 3b
Jose Valentin, 3b
Juan Encarnacion, rf-cf
Juan Gonzalez, of
Julio Franco, 1b
Kevin Millar, 1b-of
Lenny Harris, a little this and that
Marlon Anderson, 1b-2b-of
Matt Lawton, rf
Michael Tucker, of
Paul Konerko, 1b
Preston Wilson, cf
Ramon E Martinez, ut-inf
Randy Winn, cf
Rondell White, lf
Ruben Sierra, dh-of
Wes Helms, 3b-1b

Pick your poison.

...oops left some guys out. Looks like my list needs a little up-dating. Don't forget Nomar and Neifi!, Paul Bako, Rafael Furcal, Olmedo Saenz, Rich Aurilia, Luis Lopez, Damion Easley, Alex Gonzalez FL, Jose Vizcaino, Wes Helms, Marlon Anderson, Miguel Cairo, Mike DeFelice, Mike Piazza, Michael Tucker, Reggie Sanders, Robert Fick, Mark Sweeney, J.T. Snow, Carlos Baerga, Gary Bennett, Deivi Cruz, Eli Marrero, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Johnny Damon, Tony Graffanino, Kevin Millar, Jose Hernandez, Geoff Blum, Carl Everett, Bobby Higginson, Rondell White, Joe McEwing, Lou Merloni, Jacque Jones, Bernie Williams, Alberto Castillo, Erubiel Durazo, Dave Hansen, Dan Wilson, Travis Lee, Sandy Alomar, and Greg Colbrunn.

I see some good player-coach candidates in there.


The Pirates will make some kind of announcement today about their efforts to staff our fledgling research university.

It remains to be seen if they will hire a coach or a Joe Randa-type veteran to fill the newly-created position, G. Ogden Nutting Distinguished Professor of Hitting. Either way, it is hoped that the successful candidate will invigorate our lumbering scholars and facilitate rapid learning about the strategy and tactics of big-league hitting.

How about Julio Franco? I believe he is a free agent. He could be a player-coach who backs up Brad Eldred.