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How many people forgot about Sean Spence, the Steelers third round pick out of Miami in 2012, who suffered a near career ending knee injury in the third preseason game of his rookie year against the Washington Redskins. Spence was recently given a clean bill of health by doctors to resume the pursuit of his NFL career and the only question that remains is how close he will be able to perform physically to his pre-injury capabilities. The closest comparison I can make to Spence's situation, is the comeback that Jerry Olsavsky made from his severe knee injury during his playing career as a Steelers Linebacker. Olsavsky returned to provide the Steelers with solid and steady play and should be able to provide Spence with the valuable support he may need in clearing any mental hurdles he may run into.
Spence, who has the reputation of being a cerebral player, hasn't stepped on the field of play in nearly two years, but he has been able to get plenty of mental reps, which gives him a sizeable advantage over anyone the Steelers may draft or bring into the system. While it would be great to see him progress to the point of competing with Vince Williams for a starting spot by the end of training camp, the most realistic scenario will have him working his way back through special teams and competing with the likes of Terence Garvin to back up Vince Williams to begin the season.
Looking at all the advancements in Sports medicine since Jerry Olsavsky suffered his severe knee injury and had his surgery, anything is possible. If Sean Spence can come all the way back and work himself into any kind of position where he is getting regular playing time and contributing, the Steelers situation at Linebacker would greatly improve. While Vince Williams did a good job of taking over for Larry Foote, he's not much more than a two down guy, whereas Spence has the ability to stay on the field for every down. If he proves he can come back, Spence's return is almost like the Steelers getting a tenth draft pick this year.
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The Penguins have a huge match up in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, their dangerous rivals, the New York Rangers. The boys in blue from New York have played our boys well this year. The record is tied in 4 games. Not bad. Looking at Fleury's and Lundqvist;s playoff records for this year, also pretty even. It's looking to be a very good series. Personally, I am glad the Rangers beat the Flyers. A series against them would have been brutal. Possibly doing damage to a point that could prevent the Penguins from advancing further in the playoffs. And history says that our Penguins will vanquish the Rangers.
Here is what Josh Yohe from the TribLive Sports had to say yesterday:
"Statistics, though, suggest the Penguins are the favorite in this series.... [Read More]
Since taking over as Penguins coach in 2009, Dan Bylsma's record against the Rangers is 17-7-3. His record against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden is 9-4-0.
With Sidney Crosby in the lineup — Crosby has missed nine games against the Rangers in the Bylsma era because of injuries — the Penguins record against New York is 13-4-1. When Bylsma has Crosby at his disposal, the Penguins are
I had originally intended to do an update on the pitching but I think its still too early to heavily focus on them as to get a reasonable sample of players I had to set the minimum innings down to 10 and that seemed to low to me. Instead I have decided to see how the Pirates prospects who are young for their level are doing. Now what you consider a young prospect is up for debate but as I have eluded to earlier I have an age scale I like to use.
AAA: 27+/org player, 25-26/old prospect, 24/age appropriate, 23-/young prospect
AA: 25+/org player, 24/old prospect, 23/age appropriate, 22-/young prospect
A+: 24+/org player, 23/old prospect, 22/age appropriate, 21-/young prospect
A: 23+/org player, 22/old prospect, 21/age appropriate, 20-/young prospect
It isn't a perfect scale and there is often a need to make exceptions but for the point of this exercise I am going to stick by it. Below are all the young prospects to appear with a Pirates affiliate this season. For hitters I have included their PA and wRC+ and for pitchers I have included their IP, ERA and FIP
Hitters : Player (Level), Pos: PA/wRC+
Wyatt Mathisen (A), 3B: 98 PA / 62 wRC+
Edwin Espinal (A), 1B: 93 PA / 78 wRC+
Reese McGuire (A), C: 59 PA / 54 wRC+
Harold Ramirez (A), OF: 15 PA / 46 wRC+
Elvis Escobar (A), OF: 11 PA / 1 wRC+
Josh Bell (A+), OF: 105 PA / 113 wRC+
Max Moroff (A+), 2B: 103 PA / 89 wRC+
Jose Osuna (A+), 1B: 93 PA / 107 wRC+
Jin-De Jhang (A+), C: 65 PA / 60 wRC+
Eric Wood (A+), 3B: 46 PA / 112 wRC+
Alen Hanson (AA), SS: 98 PA / 77 wRC+
Willy Garcia (AA), OF: 84 PA / 100 wRC+
Gregory Polanco (AAA), OF: 108 PA / 211 wRC+
Pitchers : Player (Level): IP/ERA/FIP
Luis Heredia (A): 5.0 IP / 7.20 ERA / 3.57 FIP
Chad Kuhl (A+): 28.1 IP / 5.08 ERA / 3.86 FIP
Jhondaniel Medina (A+): 9.1 IP / 3.86 ERA / 2.33 FIP
Tyler Glasnow (A+): 7.0 IP / 2.57 ERA / 5.97 FIP
Oderman Rocha (A+): 2.1 IP / 0.00 ERA / 1.69 FIP
Andy Otamendi (A+): 1.2 IP / 10.80 ERA / 6.40 FIP
Nick Kingham (AA): 26.0 IP / 3.46 ERA / 3.29 FIP
Adrian Sampson (AA): 24.2 IP / 1.82 ERA / 3.08 FIP
Joely Rodriguez (AA): 24.1 IP / 5.92 ERA / 4.60 FIP
Casey Sadler (AAA): 27.0 IP / 1.67 ERA / 3.57 FIP
Looking at the hitting lines and ignoring Polanco for a second I think the most remarkable thing... [Read More]
| May 02, 2014 - 8:34 AM
He was cocky.
He had arrogance.
He was determined.
He had swagger.
He was Bad ***.
AJ.jpgOne can argue and the debate would be worthy, about how much A.J. Burnett meant to the turn around of the Pittsburgh Pirates. It wasn't that the Pirates simply got a pitcher who came in and resurrected the end part of his career and gave the Pirates an unlikely Ace. The Pirates received a leader that brought a much needed attitude to the team and it's fan base that had been missing for a couple of decades.
People like to attach title "Leader" to whoever is that teams best player, but that doesn't necessarily make them a leader, let alone a great one. Andrew McCutchen is more reserved as a personality. If you look around the Pirates clubhouse, nobody outside of Russell Martin really sticks out as a natural Leader. In A.J. Burnett, the Pirates had that.
After starting out 10-18 and having a fairly miserable month of April, especially for the Pitching Staff, the question lingering in my head isn't "What can Gregory Polanco do?"
How much do the Pittsburgh Pirates miss A.J. Burnett right now?
There's no swagger or attitude with this team. They're blowing leads left and right. They're not clutch when they need to be. Their focus is missing something. There's a vibe and mystique missing from this team that they had in 2012 and 2013. There's a certain strut and belief that you could see in the players demeanor that isn't there. All of these being things that were a part of A.J. Burnett's personality.
I'm a big proponent of Leadership. I'm a firm believer that the right Leader can make a huge difference with a team and that you can see the results with and without that person. Take a peak across the river at the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby is labeled as the teams "Leader", but is he really that? The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins truly had a leader it was with Billy Guerin (and some could argue that Max Talbot played a role) and coincidentally, that was the last time that the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanely Cup. Look next door at Heinz Field. The Steelers have been full of internal... [Read More]
| Apr 29, 2014 - 6:37 PM
As the Pittsburgh Pirates get off to a slow and disappointing start, the regular crowd of naysayers and crappy Arm-Chair GM's are back! Ready to provide their expert analysis on what would make this team better. It ranges from having needed to spend money on non-existent Free Agent 1B's in the Offseason to...
..Calling up Gregory Polanco.
Yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates Top Prospect who is absolutely raking it at the AAA Level after winning the Dominican Winter League MVP and Rookie of the Year Award the past winter. He's the Pittsburgh Pirates future in RF. He can hit, he has plate paitence and the kid is fast.
Did I say that the kid is fast?
Here he beats out a routine grounder to 2nd Base, where the 2nd Baseman throws off his pivot..
As of this time, Polanco is batting :
The guy is simply doing it.
There's no wonder why fans want this kid up in the Big Leagues yesterday, but would Polanco make a big enough difference right now and is it worth the monetary risk?
gregory-polanco-2014-cw-300x225.jpgTackling the money side of things, the Pirates bringing Polanco up early gives up Super 2 Status and would cost the Pirates between $10-15 million over the long haul. Can the Pirates afford it? Sure. Should they make stupid financial decisions? No.
With the new MLB CBA, the Super 2 Deadline was changed. It's an unofficial date yearly and this year could see it at the end of June. The question arises then whether the Pirates believe that Gregory Polanco is enough to turn the Pirates season around? Would Gregory Polanco have been able to hit Johnny Cueto and escalate the Pirates to a couple of wins? Would Polanco had been to prevent Jason Grilli from blowing 2 saves?
Teams usually don't bring up a player before the Super 2 Deadline, because the value isn't there. It's just smart baseball and smart financial choices. While the Pittsburgh Pirates won't lose any years of control, money is and always will be a... [Read More]