Rounding the bases…
FIRST BASE: On May 10, 2013, no one in Pittsburgh knew that Francisco Liriano (16-8), Gerrit Cole (10-7), and Charlie Morton (7-4) would combine for a 33-19 record or that Marlon Byrd would fill the huge gap in the middle of the Clint Hurdle’s lineup, or that Justin Morneau would answer the Pirates’ first base problem.
The starting rotation that opened the season included A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Jonathan Sanchez, and Jeff Locke.
The Bucs upgraded their roster as the season progressed: Liriano came off the DL on May 11, followed by Morton on June 13. Cole first pitched in the majors on June 11, and Byrd and Morneau were added in late August.
These are good points to remember as spring training opens.
It is true that there are many questions the Pirates must try to answer before March 31 arrives. That’s the date we should be worried about the roster, not on February 12.
SECOND BASE: The Burnett saga continues to perplex everyone.
The last official comment we heard from the right-hander came last fall when he said he would play for the Pirates in 2014 or retire.
Throughout the off-season, nothing official has happened. Actually until two weeks ago, nothing at all had happened. Even so, all we’ve heard has been “reports” that Burnett wanted to pitch in 2014 after all.
Again “reports” have suggested where he might end up, if not with the Pirates. But again, nothing has come from either Burnett or his agent.
Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington has replayed the same answer any time the subject arises. He simply indicates that the Pirates are interested, but are respecting Burnett as he works through the process.
Burnett made $16.5 million in each of his two seasons with the Pirates, with the Yankees picking up $11.5 million in 2012 and $8.5 million last year. “Reports” have indicated the Pirates offered their pitching leader an $8.5 million contract this year.
Seeing what money various other pitchers got this winter, the Bucs’ best offer is insulting—asking one of the game’s best pitchers to have a 50 percent cut. That offer is just $3.5 million more than the Bucs gave Edinson Volquez, whose major-league ERA was the worst in all of baseball last season.
In effect, if the Pirates signed Burnett for $13 million this season, the money from their pockets would total $26.5 million for his three years—an average of less than $9 million a year.
Experts have placed Burnett’s value in 2014 at $20 million, a figure that even the 37-year-old hurler knows is not going to happen. But to expect a pitcher who is given credit for transforming the Pirates from baseball’s outhouse to the playoffs should certainly be displeased with the way the Bucs have handled this situation.
THIRD BASE: Considering the mountains of snow and the many days of double-digit below zero wind chills and the number of school delays, today is a day that should warm the hearts of everyone, even those who don’t follow our national pastime.
Pirate pitchers and catchers have been trickling in for a week, scheduled to report to Bradenton’s training complex today in preparation for tomorrow’s first official workout.
The first full-squad workout is next Tuesday, with the first Grapefruit League game two weeks from today, when the Yankees visit Bradenton at 1:05 p.m.
HOME: The Pirates’ first spring game will be aired on 93.7 The Fan.
The first televised game on Root Sports from spring training will be at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, March 9 when the Bucs host the Red Sox.
Four additional pre-season games will be aired on Root Sports: 1:05 p.m. on Monday, March 17 against the Yankees; 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19 at Boston and Friday, March 21 at the Yankees; and 1:05 p.m. Saturday, March 29 at Philadelphia. ESPN will air the 1:05 p.m. game on Monday, March 24 against Detroit.
Rounding the bases…
GC coach Bell retired — sort of!
You can take the man out of coaching, but you can’t take coaching out of the man.
Former Grove City High football coach Jeff Bell has spent his first few months of retirement hearing the ping of a baseball ricocheting off an aluminum bat instead of clap of shoulder pads coming together.
“My grandson Maddox (Bell) and a few of his friends play on a traveling team, so I’m helping out with that,” said Bell, who retired as the Eagles’ football coach this past winter. “They’re a good group of kids to work with and this is a lot more enjoyable. It’s a lot less stress.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Pouncey latest Steeler to make court news
HERE I THOUGHT, we were going to make it through an offseason without a Pittsburgh Steeler getting in trouble for something stupid.
Thanks Maurkice Pouncey for allowing that to not happen.
I just love seeing Steelers players in the police blotter or on the court docket (tongue firmly in cheek).
EXTRA INNINGS: Forget trade deadline, focus on signing Martin
WHILE BASEBALL fans are focused on tomorrow’s 4 p.m. EDT non-waiver trade deadline, there is an issue that is even more pressing for the Pirates: re-signing catcher Russell Martin, eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
Andrew McCutcheon is the team’s most valuable player, but Martin is the most valuable TO the Pirates. It is no coincidence that the Pirates’ return to the postseason last year occurred in Martin’s first year with the Bucs.
NCAA Football: Rock 6-1 after 17-3 win over Cal U
Slippery Rock University rode a length-of-the-field scoring drive by its offense and a goal-line stand by its No. 1-ranked defense late in the first half of action Saturday to a 17-3 win over 14th-ranked visiting California (Pa.).
NFL: Steelers top Jags as Mendenhall makes return
Mike Tomlin isn’t ready to say the Pittsburgh Steelers are back. Not after watching his team sleepwalk through the second half against Jacksonville on Sunday.
IndyCar Racing: Crash takes Wheldon’s life
Every race car driver heads onto the track understanding this race could be the last and hoping it won’t be. On Sunday, IndyCar drivers got a harsh reminder when the worst happened to one of their own.
NHL: Sabres beat Penguins 3-2
The Buffalo Sabres have had trouble with the Pittsburgh Penguins whether Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin play or not.
NHL Quick glance: Montreal at Pittsburgh
A breakdown of the National Hockey League game Thursday night between the Pittsburgh Penguins and visiting Montreal Canadiens.
High School Highlights: Oct. 19, 2011
A look at the last few days in local high school fall sports action.
Leading Off: Oct. 19, 2011
News and notes from the local, regional and national sports scene.
- More Sports Headlines
- GC coach Bell retired — sort of!