francisco_liariano.jpgI'll admit, when I heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates had signed Francisco Liriano the first thing that popped into my mind was "He's been terrible the last couple of years". Rewind back to February of 2012 when the Pirates were in talks with A.J. Burnett, my first thought was "He's been terrible the last couple of years".
It turns out that the Pirates had helped resurrect A.J. Burnett's career, even if it might have been for one season, they took a high risk, high reward gamble and got the reward. That is something that seldom happens for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The negative here is that A.J. Burnett needed to a change of scenery more than anything and Francisco Liriano needs to regain some semblance of control and command.
$7 million per year, $14 million over 2 seasons is a lot of money to the point where it is certainly fair for anyone to question whether the Pittsburgh Pirates overpaid. For $2 million less per year they could've retained a consistent 4-4.50 ERA guy in Kevin Correia, but instead chose to go the route of Francisco Liriano who the Pirates paid more for despite his recent seasons producing abysmal results. I personally believe that the market for Liriano was cheaper than what the Pittsburgh Pirates paid but that's my own personal speculation. If I wrote for the Tribune Review, I would say this opinion was backed up by an Anonymous unnamed MLB GM.
So, why sign Francisco Liriano?
When I paused after my initial reaction to this signing and recalled the negotiations to bring in A.J. Burnett I started thinking about how the Pirates had turned A.J. Burnett around last season. The pressure was gone. The expectations weren't even great. A.J. Burnett was expected to be the Pittsburgh Pirates Ace, but there was also a sense of belief that he wasn't going to put up Ace numbers as he did for most of 2012. A.J. Burnett came into Pittsburgh carrying a 5.15 ERA in 2011 and 5.26 ERA in 2010 and saw that dip to 3.51 in 2012. Francisco Liriano comes into Pittsburgh carrying a 5.34 ERA in 2012 and 5.09 ERA in 2011. Very similar ERA results. you can go a step further and look at an "Adjusted ERA" stat like ERA- at Fan Graphs and both are the... [Read More]
The Neil Walker interview was only part of the activity down at Pirates Fest for myself and Steelreign. We also had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington privately for a few minutes along with being the few people that actually saw Bob Nutting, spoke with him briefly and got photos taken.
Now, we move on to discussing some of the stuff we had discussed with Neal Huntington (Frank Coonelly will be my next Blog Post). I almost feel as if I am late to the game getting the chance to talk with Neal Huntington. I know various other Bloggers have had the chance. I've listened to him on the Rumbunter Podcast multiple times. I've heard him in radio and T.V. interviews and at Pirates Fest I saw him taking on Q&A's. The one thing I can state about Neal Huntington is that, talking to him privately, you get the same guy you hear on Television and Radio. He likes to talk and he admits it. We could've talked to him longer but we knew there were others that wanted a chance to speak with him so we acted graciously.
We touched based on a few things with Neal Huntington, the first and I thought most interesting response was from a question we asked him about the young pitchers ; Justin Wilson, Kyle McPherson etc... (I don't not have the audio so the responses from Neal Huntington are just based off my memory and not an exact word for word).
Kipper & Steelreign : It's great to meet you and talk to you in person. We've had to chance to hear you on the Rumbunter Podcast a few times..
Neal Huntington throws out a chuckle and says that "the guys at the Rumbunter Podcast seem to bring out a side of him that's rarely seen". He went on to discuss how "it's such a relaxed environment doing something like that (Podcast)" than probably dealing with the media.
Tom can pay me later for plugging his site and podcast . Something very important here and I was having a discussion about this on Google+ is that the Pirates organization is given little to no credit and acknowledgment with regards to it's connection with it's fans. The Pittsburgh Steelers have absolutely none which is to be... [Read More]
I had discussed this briefly in my last Steelers Blog Post about Ben calling out Todd Haley but giving Bruce Arians a free pass for the garbage he called on a game to game basis. You can read that HERE.
Simply put, Ben Roethlisberger should be sending praise towards Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin should be sticking up for Todd Haley for what he has to go through as an Offensive Coordinator this year. The injuries on Offense, the turnover on the Offensive Line alone are difficult to deal with. Prior to the Steelers game at Heinz Field against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Steelers Offense was starting to really take off. In the previous 3 games against 3 teams with winning records - Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants and Washington Redskins, the Steelers Offense had put up 24, 27 & 24 points against those teams. The Steelers put up 431 Total Yards of Offense against Cincinnati on the Road. 335 Total yards against the Washington redskins and 349 Total Yards against the New york Giants on the Road. The Offense was hitting it's stride.
Then Antonio Brown got injured and the injuries started piling up with Ben Roethlisberger being next early in the Kansas City Chiefs game which followed the win in New York. Ever since then it's been a spiraling affect of injuries for the Offense that has coincided with a 3-4 record to go along. In that time, the Steelers have had to move Pro-Bowl Center Maurkice Pouncey to RG in multiple games and start there for 1 with backup Doug Legursky playing Center because of ongoing injuries with the vastly overpaid and useless Willie Colon. Mike Adams, a rookie himself who had been placing RT Marcus Gilbert, got injured prompting the Steelers to use Practice Squader Kelvin Beachum at RT. Antronio Brown continued to miss multiple games. Byron Leftwich, the 2nd string QB, got injured in a game against Baltimore, prompting the Steelers to start 3rd String QB Charlie Batch for 2 games.
That's a lot of injuries, a lot of injuries to main players. Tell me, exactly how smooth the New England Patriots offense would run with their Pro Bowl Offensive Linemen moving positions, starting a 3rd String RT, having to start a 3d String QB for 2 games, losing Wes Welker for multiple games. The results wouldn't be impressive, yet Steelers... [Read More]
At PirateFest 2013, Pittsburgh Sports Forum was privileged enough to be invited to take part in an interview, along with other Pirates bloggers, Charlie Wilmoth and Vlad from Bucs Dugout and Tim Williams and Kevin Creagh from Pirates Prospects, with Pirates Second Baseman Neil Walker. It was a fun and interesting interview that Kipper and I were able to be a part of that began by Neil walker stating that he had successfully completed his rehab for his back injury and was fully into his off-season workouts and was ready for the season and the interview to begin.
PSF: Since you got to the Pirates, How has the environment changed? A few years ago it looked tense and stressful, now it looks like you're all having fun, like you're brothers.
NW: I think mentally in that 2009/2010 realm, I think the overall consensus was a sink or swim type of mentality, it was kind of like swimming upstream. Number one, it seemed like everything we did, nothing worked. Any type of mixture we tried to do didn't quite work, and here we are, two years later and our off-season acquisitions are a Catcher and a couple of pitchers and I think that is a testament to the core we have now, that we built, because two years ago it was like a 65% turnover from the end of the season roster to the spring training roster. Now we probably maybe have 4 or 5 new guys possibly on the 25 man roster? So that's impressive and we feel that in the clubhouse too, the confidence, not only from winning...and even though the season ended the way it ended, we know that feeling of wondering if we can compete in the National League Central, it's no longer there, and it was there for a couple of years in 09 and 2010. It's no longer there and if we could just find a way to beat Milwaukee on a regular basis, we'd be in real good shape.
PSF: With Jay Bell being the new hitting instructor, is he gonna change anything about the approach at the plate or is he gonna leave it up to you?
NW: Having a brief conversation with him today, it... [Read More]
More drama between Ben Roethlisberger and first year Offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Just what we need. Ben Roethlisberger came out in a post game interviewed and criticized the play calling. You can check out the video here :
Fine, but it's bizarre. He criticizes the playcall on a Touchdown to Heath Miller. It scored a Touchdown. That's a red Zone 6. Something that the Offense struggled to do under Bruce Arians. the Steelers have a Red zone Scoring percentage (TD) of 54.55% in 2012. It was 50.9% in 2011. Keep in mind that Ben played all of the games in 2011.
My problem here is that Ben has been calling out Todd Haley's play calling, criticizing the plays themselves when he wasn't doing the same thing to Bruce Arians. I'd have not problem with him calling out Todd Haley if the standards were the same but they aren't. He's holding Todd Haley to a different standard that his BFF, Todd Haley and it's not fair to Todd Haley.
Bruce Arians deserved a lot of critique, especially from his Quarterback and never got it yet we are almost through Todd Haley's first season as OC and he has had to run offenses where his Wide Receiver drop balls like they're infected with Aids. He has had to call plays behind an Offensive Line that is currently using a Practice Squad player at RT. He's had to shift his Center to RG due to injury on the line and play his backup Center. He has had his Top WR miss time with an injury, has had to use one of his most dangerous weapons in Heath Miller as a blocker on the line. He is now calling plays behind a rookie RG who hadn't even practiced or dressed this season until a couple of weeks ago. Talk about inexperience at the NFL level! Despite all of this and losing his 1st and 2nd string QB's for a couple of games and not having a consistent Offensive Line to run behind, the Steelers Red Zone Scoring percentage is up about 5% over 2011. The Offense as a whole is scoring more on average per game than in 2011 (21.5 to 20.5). Ben Roethlisberger himself is completing a high percentage of passes than he has since 2009. His Passer Rating is higher than it's been since 2009.
..and Ben Roethlisberger is publicly critiquing the plays?
Where the hell was this years after the playoff game against Jacksonville where... [Read More]
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