Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Penguins Game 25 Recap - Rangers 4, Penguins 3

It is never easy to go into Madison Square Garden to play a hockey game and it doesn’t make it any easier when the Rangers are a good hockey club and playing great hockey. The Penguins fell behind early 4-1 and battled back but couldn’t tie the game and dropped the first of six contests with the Rangers, 4-3.

The Penguins didn’t play a particularly well in the middle and latter stages of the game and gave up all four goals in the second period which included a pair of power play goals. The defense was pretty bad all night but I guess you can expect that when you need two AHL call ups in order to fill in for the team’s top two defensive weapons. Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek were both scratched before the game so that made it hard and it was noticeable as the defensive unit.

The Rangers scored all four goals in about a 10 minute span and things went from great to terrible in about 10 minutes. The Penguins owned the play for the first period and most of the second period and it really felt like they were up by two or three but they could only muster a goal and got caught playing some bad hockey and the Rangers capitalized like a good team does.

Bing picked up two more assists as the New York media and fans trolled him hardcore after the game. I don’t even care about that stuff anymore. The Rangers and their fans would kill to have Sidney Crosby on their team so it is really just a bunch of jealousy talking. James Neal scored the opening goal for the Penguins for his 14th of the season on the power play. Sid gave him a nice feed and he buried it.

Evgeni Malkin made this game very interesting as he scored with six seconds left in the second period to make the score 4-2 and then Pascal Dupuis found the back of the net for the seventh time this year off a Crosby feed just three and a half minutes into the third.

The Penguins had another goal whipped off the board tonight and it came with a few minutes left in the second period and the Penguins down 3-1. Matt Cooke batted the puck out of the air with a high stick it then hit Henrik Lundqvist and went off Michael Sauer into the net. It was immediately called no goal but it went to review and I thought for sure it was going to be a goal. It was ruled no goal and it was pretty confusing to figure out why. At first it seemed as if the War Room dropped the ball but turns out they were right. The rule number is 80.3 which is as follows:

80.3 Disallowed Goal – When an attacking player causes the puck to enter the opponent’s goal by contacting the puck above the height of the crossbar, either directly or deflected off any player or official, the goal shall not be allowed. The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick. If the puck makes contact with the stick below the level of the crossbar and enters the goal, this goal shall be allowed.
A goal scored as a result of a defending player striking the puck with his stick carried above the height of the crossbar of the goal frame into his own goal shall be allowed.
Not much more to say. Good call but it sucks because the Rangers scored the fourth goal just about a minute later on the power play. The Penguins have to lead the league in disallowed goals.

The other terrible part of the night was the Penguins taking penalties. The Rangers had six power play opportunities on the day and the Pens paid for it twice. When the Penguins were only down one goal they took some horrible penalties at the end of the game. In the last seven and a half minutes of the game they took four penalties and left themselves only 50 seconds to try and tie the game up after they were done killing off two separate 5-on-3’s. Just can’t do that when you are down a goal. Although the PK did a great job you just can’t be doing that and must be smarter.

The Penguins will be back at it on Thursday when they travel to Washington.

Penguins Game Day 25 - @ New York Rangers

New York Rangers

7:30 p.m., Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

The Rangers have been playing some pretty good hockey this season and tonight should be a pretty good matchup for hte Penguins. Again they will be on VS and if Pierre is between the benches I might punch my TV.

Speaking of punching things I think I want to punch a wall (but I won't) with the news that not only is Kris Letang going to miss the game tonight but also Zbynek Michalek is back in Pittsburgh. Figured that Letang wasn't going to play tonight because of the head shot he took against the Canadiens but Michalek is kind of a bigger surprise. Not really sure why he isn't in the lineup, but I guess we are kind of used to not having a full roster.

This starts a stretch of tough games over the next couple weeks. After tonight the Penguins get the new look Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes, both on the road, before coming back and playing the red hot Bruins at the CONSOL and then travel to Philadelphia on the 8th. Woof.

The last time they met:

March 20, 2011 - Rangers 5, Penguins 2

The Penguins probables:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Alex Picard - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Robert Bortuzzo
Matt Niskanen - Deryk Engelland

Marc Andre Fleury

The Rangers probables:

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Sean Avery - Brandon Dubinsky - Brandon Prust
Carl Hagelin - Brian Boyle - John Mitchell

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Michael Sauer
Jeff Woywitka - Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist

The stats:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Steelers Game 11 Recap - Steelers 13, Chiefs 9

As I said in the preview at the beginning of the season I thought that the Steelers would lose this game to the Chiefs. The Steelers don’t have a great track record in Kansas City and Arrowhead might be one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. Granted, if you watched the Steelers play last night you might say that they didn’t have a chance in hell to win, but you know what, they did. 8-3 feels real good right now and I don’t care how they got there.

Late games means a late recap and this one is going to be a little light as there really isn’t a whole ton to go over. The defense was pretty good, the offense was really bad, the Chiefs are really bad and Steelers fans bitch more after a win then they do after a loss. That is about as far as it goes. What matters the most is the Steelers won.


-The Steelers defense hasn’t been overly great this season with a league low turnover margin and only forcing six over the entire season. Enter Tyler Palko and the Steelers reached double-digits. The Steelers picked off three passes and recovered a fumble in the first half and didn’t give up a touchdown the entire night. The Steelers came into the game giving up some of the fewest points in the NFL and they continued that trend by shutting down the Chiefs. Granted the Chiefs offense isn’t very talented, at all, but the Steelers have played some bad offenses this year and not created turnovers so this was good to see. A lot of people talking about how the Steelers defense can’t close the deal but if I am remembering correctly this is the second straight game where a big play has ended the opposing offense when they are trying to tie/win the game so I guess we can stop talking all that smack.

-The secondary picked off three passes which included a pick from Ike Taylor. Taylor is having a Pro Bowl season this year and while he hasn’t been outstanding the past couple of games he has been well above the line as Mike Tomlin might say. For the task he is asked to do he is excelling and he is worth every penny of the money he was paid over the offseason. Ryan Mundy also has had a really nice season this year being pressed into more playing time than he normally would have been with the injuries to Troy Polamalu. When TP went down with a head injury in the first quarter Mundy came in and made some big plays including an interception, the first of his career. Now, Mundy isn’t going to be able to do what TP does if he has to play next week but he is much improved from last year. Also picking off a pass was Keenan Lewis and his pick was the one that sealed the win with the Chiefs coming down the field for a potential game winning score. Lewis was one of those young gun corners that the Steelers have drafted that haven’t made much of their opportunity before this year but we are starting to see them pay off, especially for Lewis. What I thought was the best part about the game for Lewis was what he said after the game. When asked about the pick he said that in watching film he recognized the formation and knew the ball was going to come his way. It came his way and he made the play. Just hearing that he is learning and studying the tape and it is helping him make crucial plays is great. He isn’t just relying on the physical talent but he is going out there and making plays based on the work he has done all week, love it.

-Another guy who had a monster game for the Steelers was Jason Worilds. Filling in for LaMarr leyWood and fight back from his own injury and he has been getting better every week. He finished the game with six tackles, a sack and four of the five quarterback hits. Before the game he said that his first sack of the season was coming and he was right. Just a really solid game and starting to show what the Steelers saw in him when they drafted him. Obviously when Woodley comes back he will be starting and playing most snaps but it is nice to know that the Steelers have him there if they need him.

-The offense was pretty pedestrian all night starting with the ineptitude in the red zone where the Steelers only went 1-of-3 which consisted of a Mewelde Moore fumble on the three, a three and out after the Taylor INT from the seven yard line and a touchdown to Weslye Saunders early in the second quarter. The red zone run game was pretty bad and things just never seemed right. The Steelers were only 3-of-11 on third down and only had 18 first downs. They were held scoreless for the entire second half and the only reason they won is due to the terrible Chiefs offense. There were many problems with the offense all day that included numerous holding penalties, dropped passes and Ben being under duress. I don’t have the number of dropped passes off hand but Mike Wallace had two huge ones. On the field goal drive in the red zone he couldn’t come up with a pretty routine catch and then in the fourth quarter he ran right past a DB who was giving him a 10 yard cushion on a fly route and had the ball hit him right in the hands and drop to the ground. Not good. Ben was only sacked one time but he was getting pressured a lot by a Kansas City defense who hasn’t been that good at getting pressure all season.

-Going into the game the Chiefs ranked 27th in the league in run defense so going into the game it seemed like a prime opportunity for the Steelers to get the running attack on track. They didn’t do that but I actually thought the running game was pretty decent overall, especially Rashard Mendenhall. Overall the Steelers ran for 108 yards on 28 carries for a 3.9 yard per carry average and were led by Mendenhall with 17 carries for 57 yards. While those numbers aren’t great I thought Mendenhall had a pretty nice day and ran hard and picked up a lot of yards after contact. Sure it wasn’t flashy but I think he had the defense respecting the run enough to make it effective.

-Ben had a pretty decent game. It was great but it wasn’t bad, it was just decent. He threw a pretty brutal pick but he more than made up for it with some great play inside the pocket to get away from the pressure and create scoring chances. The Steelers didn’t have a great deal of success throwing the ball down the field and I am not sure if that was because of the thumb but Ben has never been great throwing the deep ball but as I said before the ball to Wallace was perfect and should have been caught but overall the deep ball wasn’t good last night.

-Those of you that want to rail on Bruce Arians need to just tone it down a notch. Last I checked BA didn’t drop any passes or hold any defensive lineman. Does he overdo it on the WR screens? Yea, he does, but this is a guy who has won two Super Bowls and gone to a third. Maybe he knows what he is doing? He might have got a little vanilla last night but if there was a list of things that were wrong with the Steelers last night BA might be #35 on that list. I think it is funny that people love to bitch at BA after a bad series or a few bad play calls but those same people are nowhere to be found when things are working. I am not a huge BA fan by any stretch of the imagination but he has done a pretty good job this year.

-To wrap this up quickly I have a few points that I wanted to make. The Steelers played a shitty game last night and there is no two ways about it. The important thing to realize is that the Steelers got the win. It wasn’t pretty but it doesn’t need to be. A lot of the mistakes that the Steelers made last night were fixable mistakes. By that I mean dropped passes and holding calls and burning bad timeouts. Those things can be fixed and through the season this hasn’t been something that has been a problem game in and game out. The Steelers, for the most part, weren’t getting beat on one-on-one plays so I think they will be alright offensively. The last time they played this bad offensively was against the Colts and I remember then playing pretty well after that so I am not all the concerned.

-The final thing I want to close with is how unbelievably upset a lot of Steelers fan were after the win. I actually looked at the standings and saw the Steelers were 8-3 but the way people were talking you would have thought the Steelers were 3-8. I just don’t get it, the Steelers have an equal record as any other team in the AFC but somehow this win was seen as a bad one. We don’t play in the BCS so style points do not matter. The other top teams in the AFC? The Texans are now down to its third string QB after losing the top two for the season, the Patriots were beat pretty handedly by the Steelers and the Ravens, who beat the Steelers three times, lost to the Titans, Jaguars and Seahawks. The Steelers are in as good shape as anyone so everyone just needs to chill out.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Game 24 Recap - Penguins 4, Canadiens 3 (OT)

When you got into the Bell Centre you expect the fans to get the Canadiens about seven or eight calls. You expect the officiating to be terrible and you probably expect Carey Price and PK Subban to act like they are in seventh grade drama class. Usually these games end up in overtime with something ridiculous happens and tonight was no different. To be honest this was the best ending that could have happened. Actually the only thing that would have made tonight better would have been if Soupcan make a crutial turnover on the game winning goal. This helped though: Big thanks to @BigBurgher for getting the vid. This made the win a million times better. I hate the Habs. To be honest there was a ton of shit that happened in this game and I can’t even touch all of it. You have to start with the officiating being absolutely brutal all game. I am not even talking about the calls being bad just against the Penguins but this was one of the worst officiated games of the year that I have seen. Just brutal. Kris Letang was a monster tonight. In the third period he was the recipient of a blatant headshot that broke his nose and sent him to the locker room for a few minutes. Letang might have missed like one shift and is back in time for overtime to start. He then ended the game with a goal in overtime that probably should have never happened but whatever. Oh, the head shot you ask, well that was given by Max Pacioretty and here is a look at it: There was no penalty on the play. No idea how Pacioretty doesn’t go to the box for five minutes and get thrown out of the game. You know what I didn’t notice? Montreal booing the roof off the building and calling for Pacioretty to be arrested for assault. It must be said that he did go to Letang after the game and apologize which I respect but that doesn’t mean he should get off without penalty. Oh, and for the game winner? Suck it Montreal. Truth be told this should have been blown dead but I don’t even care. It sucks but play to the whistle, the Penguins did. This was a terrible call so Montreal fans if you are reading this please save your breathe with how you were screwed out of a game. Maybe if your team didn’t pack it in half way through then we wouldn’t have this problem. The Canadiens got a 3-1 lead just over halfway through the game with an Erik Cole goal but then they went back into a shell and gave the game away. The Penguins continued to play their game and grind down the Habs and they were rewarded with a Pascal Dupuis goal with just over three minutes left in the second period and then Jordan Staal tied it up on a pretty filthy move with 4:30 left in the game to send it to OT. Carey Price was actually really good tonight. He gave up a goal to Evgeni Malkin just 21 seconds into the game but then made some spectacular saves and was poised to shut down the Penguins after that but the Pens were too much. They got 42 shots on Price and finally grinded down the Habs and beat Price. Outside from his little temper tantrum he was pretty big time tonight. No idea how he earned the third star of the game giving up four goals but whatever. No idea what the Habs were doing all game though. They dominated the faceoff circle winning 43 of 68 attempts but they were just brutal giving the puck up 16 times. That is an unreal amount of giveaways. The Penguins are a good hockey team but any time you have a goaltender standing on his head like Price was for much of the first half of the game you have to give a little more offensive zone time. PK Subban is a very talented player but he is one of the most reckless players in the league. He is very effective in agitating, which he does very well as any fan can note, but he did it with no regard for the safety and well being of any other player. If a stat was kept on slew foots and stomping situations then Subban would easily lead the league. What a douche. MAF gave up a few goals early but once again he clamped down when he needed to and made some big time saves late in the game. He isn’t always going to put up the big time stats but he is going to win games and make clutch saves. I will take that every day of the week. Whatever. Suck it Montreal.

Penguins Game Day 24 - @ Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens

7:00 p.m., Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec

Earlier this season (Penguins lead 1-0):

October 20, 2011 - Penguins 3, Canadiens 1

The Penguins probables:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Richard Park - Craig Adams

Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Zbynek Michalek - Paul Martin
Mat Niskanen - Deryk Engelland

Marc Andre Fleury

The Habs probables:

Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Erik Cole
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brian Gionta
Travis Moen - Lars Eller - Mathieu Darche
Frederic St.-Denis - Petteri Nokelainen - Aaron Palushaj

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Raphael Diaz
Hal Gill - Yannick Weber

Carey Price/Peter Budai

The stats:

Steelers Game Day 11 - @ Kansas City Chiefs

Well, that was a long time wasn’t it? It feels like forever since the Steelers have played football but that is what we get every year when we come back from the bye week. This year they will have to go on the road and play in the historic Arrowhead Stadium and go against a pretty below average Chiefs team as the Steelers are playing for a spot in the postseason, a AFC North title and possibly home field throughout the playoffs.

I think it is actually pretty probable that the Steelers get into the playoffs this season with the way the games have gone down but their chances of winning the AFC North took a hit with the Ravens winning over the 49ers on Thanksgiving night. The 49ers were one of the few good teams the Ravens play down the stretch run and it is going to be increasing hard to win the AFC North if the Steelers don’t win out since the Ravens hold the tiebreaker over the Black and Gold.

So far this season the teams coming off a bye week haven’t had much success with a lot of laziness and missed tackles so hopefully this isn’t the case for the Steelers. The Chiefs are not a very good football team and maybe that is a break that the Steelers caught although I am sure Arrowhead is going to be rocking for Sunday Night Football.

After this Sunday night game the Steelers get the Bengals next Sunday and have a really quick turnaround as they will play the Browns on Thursday night football so it will be an interesting stretch of games before they go out west to play the 49ers on Monday Night Football then coming back on another short week to play the Rams on Christmas eve. Really weird scheduling for the last couple of weeks. I guess this was a great time for the Steelers to be on the bye to set up for the last six games.

Let’s look at the stats:

Last Week:

Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 17 (Week 10, Bye in week 11)
Passing: Roethlisberger - 21/33, 245 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall - 16 carries, 44 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Brown - 5 rec, 86 yards, 0 TD

New England 34, Kansas City 3
Passing: Palko - 25/38, 236 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Jones - 8 carries, 48 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Bowe - 7 rec, 87 yards, 0 TD

All-Time Record vs. Kansas City: 17-10 (0-1 Playoffs)

Last Five Meetings

Nov. 22, 2009 - Kansas City 27 Pittsburgh 24
Oct. 15, 2006 - Pittsburgh 45, Kansas City 7
Sept. 14, 2003 - Kansas City 45, Pittsburgh 20
Oct. 14, 2001 - Pittsburgh 20, Kansas City 17
Dec. 18, 1999 - Kansas City 35, Pittsburgh 19

Team Stats

Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 383.0 yards/game (9th)
Kansas City: 309.4 yards/game (26th)

Pittsburgh: 273.2 yards/game (7th)
Kansas City: 185.5 yards/game (28th)

Pittsburgh: 109.8 yards/game (17th)
Kansas City: 123.9 yards/game (9th)

Pittsburgh: 22.0 points/game (19th)
Kansas City: 14.4 points/game (29th)


Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 280.1 yards/game (2nd)
Kansas City: 365.9 yards/game (23rd)

Pittsburgh: 183.2 yards/game (3rd)
Kansas City: 229.6 yards/game (14th)

Pittsburgh: 96.9 yards/game (6th)
Kansas City: 136.3 yards/game (28th)

Pittsburgh: 17.9points/game (4th)
Kansas City: 25.2 points/game (25th)

Hit the jump for a closer look at the Kansas City Chiefs

Friday, November 25, 2011

Penguins Game Day 23 - vs. Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The last time they met:

March 15, 2011 - Penguins 5, Senators 1

The Penguins probables:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Richard Park - Craig Adams

Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Zbynek Michalek - Paul Martin
Mat Niskanen - Deryk Engelland

Marc-Andre Fleury

The Senators probables:

Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek
Nick Foligno - Stephane Da Costa - Daniel Alfredsson
Kaspars Daugavins - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Zenon Konopka- Jesse Winchester - Bobby Butler

Erik Karlsson - Filip Kuba
Sergei Gonchar - Chris Phillips
Brian Lee - Jared Cowen

Craig Anderson

The stats:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Penguins Game Day 22 - vs. St. Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The last time they met:

October 23, 2010 - Blues 1, Penguins 0 (OT)

The Penguins probables:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Richard Park - Craig Adams

Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Zbynek Michalek - Paul Martin
Mat Niskanen - Deryk Engelland

Marc-Andre Fleury

The Blues probables:

Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Chris Stewart - Patrik Berglund - Matt D’Agostini
Chris Porter - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
Brett Sterling - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole - Alex Pietrangelo
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott

The stats:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Penguins Game 21 Recap - Penguins 5, Islanders 0

Going into the game tonight a lot of people were wondering how long it was going to take Sidney Crosby to get back into the groove of playing hockey and getting back into top form. As I listened to the pregame show it seemed as if everyone knew he was going to be alright but weren’t sure how long it might take to get him back to the level that he has been in the past. Well, it took three shifts and 5:24 of game time.

Bing brought the roof down with a sick backhand goal on his third shift just over five minutes into the game. I could go into the details of how it went down but it is just much easier to show you:

Just sick. Crosby just didn’t finish with that he also added the final goal of the night, in the 5-0 win, and two more helpers to finish with a four point night. Ho hum. Honestly thought it didn’t even look like he missed a beat. Although he normally dominates the Islanders it looked especially easy tonight against goaltender Anders Nilsson who made his first career start. He only played 15:54 tonight so realistically it could have been a five or six point night. Not only was he dominating on the offensive end but he won 14-of-21 face offs and had a team-high eight shots. Hasn’t missed a beat.

Outside of Crosby it was really just a dominating performance by the Pens. Pascal Dupuis had three assists tonight and the other line mate of that top line was a +3 with three shots while Evgeni Malkin posted a power play goal and a helper and Steve Sullivan and Brooks Orpik (!) got on the board. Just a dominating performance and this team is scary good with everyone back.

With Crosby back that really took the focus off the defense which has struggled but got a huge boost with Zbynek Michalek coming back. He had missed a bunch of time with a busted up finger but he was able to play almost 20 minutes and I think going forward it is going to be a huge help for Paul Martin. A lot of people have been on Martin and Michalek so far this season for some average (or below average) play but now that they are paired up again I think they are going to start to improve as the season goes on.

Marc Andre Fleury was rock solid tonight. He earned his second shutout of the season and while he didn’t need to do a ton early he made some brilliant saves to not even give the Islanders an inkling of hope and was a huge part of shutting them out in their five power play attempts.

Great atmosphere at the CONSOL tonight and it is going to be really fun to be able to watch this team fully healthy. I mean as well as Joe Vitale has played this year he is a healthy scratch tonight. Great problems to have.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Penguins Game Day 21 - vs. New York Islanders

New York Islanders

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

He's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

The last time they met: October 27, 2011 - Penguins 3, Islanders 2 (SO)

The Penguins probables:
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Deryk Engelland - Paul Martin
Matt Niskanen - Alexandre Picard

Marc Andre Fleury

The Islanders probables:
Matt Moulston - John Tavares - Michael Grabner
Brian Rolston - Frans Nielsen - P.A. Parenteau
Blake Comeau - Marty Reasoner - Nino Niederreiter
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Jay Pandolfo

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina

Rick DiPietro

The stats:

Pirates Sign Clint Barmes

Today the Pirates made a major league signing today after setting the 40 man roster and protecting the players they need to for the Rule 5 draft last night. Today they signed Clint Barmes to be the ever day shortstop.

First I want to touch on the protections the Pirates made for the Rule 5 draft Friday night. The Pirates added Matt Hague, Starling Marte, Jordy Mercer, Rudy Owens, Duke Welker, and Justin Wilson to the 40 man roster while designating for assignment Eric Fryer and Xavier Paul.

Overall nothing surprising except the idea that they dfa’d Eric Fryer. Although he wasn’t too spectacular with the Pirates in a short stint last year that was after a very brief time at AAA Indianapolis. The Pirates are pretty “meh” at best at catcher and from what we know Fryer is a very good defensive catcher that has some ability with the bat. This could all be for not if nobody claims him but you know how that goes, someone could. Xavier Paul is just a guy that you can pretty much find at any 7-11. Whatever.

If you want to read more about this stuff on the guys the Pirates protected take a look at Pirates Prospects. Tim always does an amazing job and he should be your first stop for Pirates information.

Now onto the bigger news, the Pirates signing Clint Barmes to a two year deal worth $10.5M

9 Seasons7883004273733969115815733244226163485.252.302.401.70378109838
162 Game Avg.1626185637014232315679534100.252.302.401.703782268
COL (8 yrs)6652509229129258213115612853925125397.254.300.404.7047592629
HOU (1 yr)123495446471092701239313888.244.312.386.698931729
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/19/2011.

Outside of Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins Barmes was probably the top short stop on the market. It is no secret that I wasn’t a fan of letting go of Ronny Cedeno and not picking up his option year for $3M but I think this actually might be a little better for the Pirates. Barmes is a pretty solid defender which had a UZR of 7.9 last season which is fifth among qualified MLB short stops while having a UZR/150 of 10.8. For comparison Ronny Cedeno had a UZR of 5.9 last season and a UZR/150 of 6.8. In the last three seasons Barmes has a UZR of 15.2 which ranks 9th in baseball and his UZR/150 of 13.5 ranks second in the league.

Cedeno has a really solid season in the field last year but his bat left some to be desired with a .249/.297/.339 line with a .271 wOBA and a 1.4 WAR. Last season Barmes rolled out a .244/.312/.386 line with a wOBA of .308 and a 3.1 WAR. Barmes bring a little more to the table offensively with 12 home runs and has a better strikeout rate (17.8%) and better ISO (.141).

I am not going to sit here and say that this is the answer to the short stop problem that the Pirates have had in the past but I think it will be an upgrade over what the Pirates had in Cedeno. There are a few reasons why I think Barmes is in Pittsburgh. For one he wants to be a full time short stop and Pittsburgh is going to be able to give him that option and Barmes spent a lot of time with Hurdle in Colorado and I am sure that was a driving force.

I think this will go over a lot better than the Rod Barajas signing and overall I think that the Pirates have upgraded in both spots so far this season. Call me an optimist but there could be a lot worse.

There are a lot of unknowns about this. Some people are going to refer to the 23 home run year that Barmes had in 2009 but that seems to be more of an outlier than anything, but he still is going to have more home run potential than Ronny Cedeno did. Barmes also played a majority of his career in hitter friendly fields in Colorado and Houston and that is the last thing PNC Park is. That could be a rough transition for his offensive numbers but he should still be pretty stout defensively.

The terms of the deal are for $10.5M and to be honest I think that is a little much for what Barmes might be able to give the Pirates but I don’t think it is outrageous by any means. You might say that the Pirates could have had Cedeno for $3M which is true but would you be OK spending that much money on 2009 or 2010 Cedeno? This will also give the Pirates Barmes when he is 33 and 34 years old. Not exactly prime age so hopefully they can figure out the long term situation at short stop which is a complete mess as of right now.

Overall I like the deal. Hopefully it works out for the Pirates because they could really use a good FA signing.