Friday, December 28, 2012

Steelers Game 16 Preview - vs. Cleveland Browns

Last game of the season and the Steelers are fighting to get back to .500. They are going to be playing the Browns who beat them the last time out thanks to the Steelers turning the ball over eight different times. Since then the Steelers have continued to spiral while the Browns actually have played some half decent football, winning a few games.

This game means nothing. Not for the Steelers and not for the Browns. Sure, it could help draft position but does that even really matter much anymore? I am not sure if it does. I know the Steelers players don't want to finish 7-9 and I expect they come out to win it.

Lets get to the preview:
The stats:

Last Week:

Cincinnati 13, Pittsburgh 10
Passing: Roethlisberger: 14-28, 220 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 11 car., 50 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Brown: 5 rec., 97 yards, 1 TD

Denver 34, Cleveland 12
Passing: Weeden: 12-19, 104 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Richardson: 9 car., 53 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Little: 6 rec., 58 yards, 1 TD

Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 340.8 yards/game (21st)
Cleveland: 313.9 yards/game (27th)

Pittsburgh: 244.4 yards/game (11th)
Cleveland: 216.9 yards/game (20th)

Pittsburgh: 96.4 yards/game (26th)
Cleveland: 97.0 yards/game (25th)

Pittsburgh: 20.8 points/game (22nd)
Cleveland: 19.5 points/game (t23rd)


Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 272.9 yards/game (1st)
Cleveland: 373.9 yards/game (24th)

Pittsburgh: 185.4 yards/game (1st)
Cleveland: 253.5 yards/game (27th)

Pittsburgh: 87.5 yards/game (2nd)
Cleveland: 120.5 yards/game (19th)

Pittsburgh: 20.3 points/game (10th)
Cleveland: 22.9 points/game (19th)

All-Time Record vs. Cleveland: 62-57-0 (2-0 Playoffs)

Last Five Meetings
November 25, 2012 – Cleveland 20, Pittsburgh 14
January 1, 2012 – Pittsburgh 13, Cleveland 9
December 8, 2011 – Pittsburgh 14, Cleveland 3
January 2, 2011 – Pittsburgh 41, Cleveland 9
October 17, 2010 – Pittsburgh 28, Cleveland 10

Hit the jump for the rest of the preview

Just a heads up that for this preview I was not able to give you much. I am at home and with Christmas and family stuff and finally seeing some friends that I don’t see since I live in another state I really didn’t have any time to do my normal in depth preview. I did as best I could with the time I had. Hopefully this works for you all.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Steelers Game 15 Recap - Bengals 13, Steelers 10

The Steelers couldn’t get it done and lost for the fifth time in the last six games and they were officially eliminated from the playoffs by the Cincinnati Bengals 13-10.

There really isn’t much to talk about this game. All that you can really take from watching it is that the defense played some big time football and gave the offense every single chance to win the football game and the offense looked like it hadn’t played football in three years. It was an amazingly frustrating game to watch and even though they could have made the playoffs with one more successful series I don’t think any of us really thought they had a chance to do anything substantial in the playoffs if they did make it.

Outside of a 60 yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown with 1:09 left in the first half the Steelers offense was amazingly bland and really nowhere to be found. They had 280 yards of total offense on the day and was only 2-of-14 on third downs and gained only 14 first downs via the pass or run.

Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t very good overall only going 14-of-28 for 220 yards, a touchdown, and two crippling interceptions that led to ten Bengals points. His QBR of 7.1 was the low point of the season and when the Steelers got the ball back with 44 seconds left and some timeouts left but Roethlisberger threw a pick on the third play and the Bengals made two plays then kicked the game winning field goal. The first of his interceptions came with 2:15 left in the first quarter and it turned into a pick-6 to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead. Just another failed late game opportunity for Ben. After a MVP like start to the regular season the second half was not kind to him that was also hampered by missing three games due to injury.

Overall the Steelers had 13 drives and in nine of those drives they used four plays or less. Ugh.

The normally reliable Shaun Suisham wasn’t his normal self on Sunday as he made only one of his three field goal attempts. He missed an easy chip shot early in the game and then missed on another kick of over 50 yards. Just not his day.

The Steelers defense turned in one of the best performances of the year. While the defense has struggled getting to the quarterback and creating turnovers that wasn’t so against the Bengals this time. The Steelers defense forced three turnovers and sacked Andy Dalton six times and continually put the Steelers in good field passion and gave them extra chances to win the game. Lawrence Timmons had a monster game with a pair of sacks and a team-best 10 total tackles while Cortez Allen had the task of covering A.J. Green and while Green finished with ten catches for over 100 yards Allen picked up a pair of picks with one of them being a highlight reel catch on the sidelines thanks to a tip drill from Troy Polamalu as he was going out of bounds. Polamalu also had his best game of the season as he had a sack and was all over the field.

The defense held the Bengals to only 267 yards and only 14 yards rushing. They did a really nice job of making splash plays and getting off the field on third down as they held Cincinnati to a 4-of-15 mark on third down.

Nothing else to say. After starting the year 6-3 they are now 7-8 and will try to play to a .500 record with no playoff implications on the line. Sunday against the Browns will be the first game in Mike Tomlin’s head coaching career where the game will mean nothing and the team will already be eliminated from the playoffs. A pretty disappointing season and I would imagine that next year is going to be very different player wise as the Steelers are really up against the cap and there are a lot of old pieces all over the field.

I guess we will have to try and enjoy the playoffs without the Steelers, again.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Diamondbacks Twitter Trolls Dodgers Twitter. Awesomeness Ensues.

Twitter can be a lot of things. It can be frustrating and awesome all at the same time. It can bring people together for conversation from all over the world and it is one of most used applications in the world.

As a sports fan you know your team has a Twitter account and most of them are pretty bland with nothing but links and maybe some in-game tweets but most of the time it isn't anything fun. Sometimes you do get people that run the teams Twitter page and they do an outstanding job. Look no further than the Los Angeles Kings account which was absolutely outstanding during their Stanley Cup season last year. They had jokes and were quick to respond in a respectable and unique way.

Well another LA team was in the midst of a really funny Twitter reply that happened yesterday and while this isn't really Pittsburgh related or anything in particular I think it goes to show what Twitter can be about if used correctly with people that aren't affraid to try something new.

It all started with the Arizona Diamondbacks making a joke at the expense of the Mayans and the LA Dodgers:

Well the guys/gals that run the Dodgers Twitter account made a pretty funny remark to that a short time later:

I mean there isn't much to it but I found it absolutely hilarious and in a place where you don't usually see interaction between team Twitter pages when you get a good one you tend to appreciate it. I wish this stuff would happen more often but I figure you guys might enjoy this.

Go Bucs.

Pirates To Trade Hanrahan To Red Sox

Today the Pirates did what everyone knew they were going to do for the past couple months, if not the past couple of years, they traded Joel Hanrahan. The team that they got a deal worked out with was the Boston Red Sox as we still await the finalization of the deal. So far the Pirates will receive outfield/first base option Jerry Sands and pitcher Stolmy Pimentel while the Red Sox get Hanrahan.

As we wait to find out what else the Pirates and Sox get it is being reported that the Red Sox will get two players and the Pirates will get four which will make this a six player deal.

Here is some info and thoughts on what has gone down so far:

From everything I have read and looked at Sands isn't a particularly big piece as he is probably a first base option. Here is what his numbers look like including the minor leagues:

2 Yrs7025122122541704272660.244.325.376.7019683
162 Game Avg.1625815115112539096260139.244.325.376.70196192
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/22/2012.

Sands was traded to the Red Sox in the massive deal that went down between the Sox and Dodgers that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to Los Angeles. When that deal went down here is what Keith Law had to say about Sands:

Jerry Sands doesn't profile as an every-day player for me but could have value in a part-time role. He has average-at-best bat speed with a lot of rotation, meaning he has big raw power but struggles to get to it in games because he's not making enough quality contact. He stands well off the plate, so his plate coverage away isn't good, and his recognition of off-speed stuff is poor. He's also a below-average defender in left and couldn't handle third base in a brief trial there, so first base is probably his only option. He could be a bench or platoon bat against left-handed pitching, but I don't see an average regular here.

He does have some power but when you look at the minor league numbers you have to keep in mind that those numbers were in the PCL which is notoriously known for being hitter friendly. This is also interesting because if Sands is a platoon like guy he will be in a real log jam in both the outfield (Garrett Jones, Jose Tabata, Travis Snider) and at first base (Jones, Clint Robinson) so it is sort of a head scratcher.

Pimentel's stats are as followed as he was in AA all of last year:

200717Red SoxDOSLFRk312.9014130062.044202022260642471.0656.
2011212 Teams2 LgsA+-AA6136.79262500102.01258677163906516114711.60811.
6 Seasons39414.3712512000589.0590324286571911477354225051.3269.
AA (2 seasons)AA6165.96373700166.01901231101765011610147451.53610.
A+ (2 seasons)A+15154.19373600180.117094841958113713167561.2648.
A (1 season)A1073.82242300117.2135625012290103465051.39410.
FRk (1 season)FRk312.9014130062.044202022260642471.0656.
A- (1 season)A-523.1413110063.0512522717061222521.0797.
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/22/2012.

Not really much to see there. Evidently he can hit 95 and is more of a project. Could be interesting to see if the Pirates can work with him and get him straightened out. He is only 22 years old so there still is some time to work on things.

Overall I know there are a lot of people who are angry about the return for Hanrahan even though we don't know the other half of the trade. It doesn't really look much more than the Pirates throwing some things against the wall and hoping that a couple of the players they got back to stick and be able to contribute but I am not sure what people expected to get back. The Pirates had little to no leverage in trading Hanrahan and despite what a lot of people think his trade value wasn't very high. Next year he is a free agent and he is probably going to get paid $7M this year. There just isn't much to work with if you are the Pirates and while I would have loved to get more for him I think you need to keep it in perspective.

The sediment that Hanrahan didn't need to be traded is a good one. He has been good for the Pirates in the past and from all things that I have seen/heard he is a great locker room guy. Like I said he is probably going to make $7M through arbitration and if they did keep him they are going to pay 10% or more of their payroll to a guy who is going to pitch maybe 60 innings. I think all of this is more of the way the closer roll has evolved over the last handful of years but I think that having a closer is more of a luxury than a necessity.

Ideally I would have liked to see the Pirates shop Hanrahan at the 2011 trade deadline but it didn't work out like that. It wouldn't have been bad to shop him at the deadline this past year but with how well the Pirates played it would have been a really tough sell with how the Pirates were positioned. It was really a no win situation for the front office as they could have got a much better return for him but instead they kept him on the chance they would make it down the stretch run which didn't happen the last couple of years. If he was traded last deadline the Pirates would have got roasted.

Like I said before the deal really isn't that overwhelming (so far) when you look at it but when you look at the leverage the Pirates have and the situation Hanrahan is in I am not really sure that you can expect to get a ton back for him. Sure they could have kept him but I am not sure it would have been the best move. Hopefully one of the pieces that the Pirates got back can help the club in some capacity.

As always the deal is not done yet and the Pirates will be getting two more players so that could change the thoughts on the team. But when you look at it Hanrahan is going into a free agent year and was having some big time control problems last year. While people screamed about Fransico Liriano having a BB/9 of 5.00 last season Hanrahan was actually worse with a 5.43 BB/9. I think a lot of this is people vastly overvaluing Hanrahan but I really guess we won't know much until next year and at least until the deal is finalized. Fact of the matter is that Hanrahan, while a good player, is not near the make or break piece on this Pirates teams.

I will try to update this as more information comes in.

UPDATE (11 p.m.): Word is that the Pirates will also be getting reliever Mark Melancon as the third player of the deal. The Sox got him last season in the Jed Lowrie deal. In 2011 Melancon compiled a pretty good season with the Astros having a 2.78 ERA in 74.1 innings and also had 20 saves. He took a step back last year with the Red Soxs and had a 6.20 ERA in 45.0 innings. The ERA is high but when you look a little deeper there is a chance that his 2012 number were a little bit of an outlier. He had a crazy high HR/FB percetage of 22.2% and his FIP (4.58) and xFIP (3.45) suggest that he pitched much better than his ERA. He gets a lot of ground balls over his career (54%) and has struck out almost eight batters per nine innings. Also interesting to note that this is really similar to when the Pirates acquired Hanrahan from the Nationals when his ERA was 7.71 in 2009 before he was traded and had a WHIP near 2.0. I think that worked out pretty well. I am not saying that Melancon is going to be Hanrahan but if someone only references his ERA from last season then they only looked at a few stats from last year.

This move makes the trade look a decent bit better for the Pirates and while the other players are still unknown it seems as if this might not be the worst trade in sports history like some are treating it.

UPDATE (Wednesday, 1 p.m.): The deal is finally finalized. The Pirates will also be sending Brock Holt to Boston with the Pirates also getting infielder Ivan De Jesus.

Holt and De Jesus are actually pretty much a lateral move, both getting playing time in the majors with Holt getting a little more playing time due to the injury to Neil Walker. Holt is about 11 months younger than De Jesus and from what I have seen De Jesus might be able to play a little bit of shortstop, which Holt was never going to be able to do.

Here are the statistics from the minor leagues for De Jesus:

2005 18 LAD-min Rk 53 213 193 22 56 6 0 0 14 11 16 40 .290 .354 .321 .675 62
2006 19 LAD-min A 126 563 483 65 134 17 2 1 44 16 63 85 .277 .361 .327 .688 158
2007 20 LAD-min A+ 121 502 428 69 123 22 3 4 52 11 57 64 .287 .371 .381 .752 163
2008 21 LAD-min AA 128 560 463 91 150 21 2 7 58 16 76 81 .324 .419 .423 .843 196
2009 22 LAD-min Rk 4 13 10 1 2 1 0 0 3 0 1 6 .200 .308 .300 .608 3
2010 23 LAD-min AAA 130 580 533 89 158 33 2 7 70 6 32 81 .296 .335 .405 .740 216
2011 24 LAD-min AAA 100 443 387 61 120 19 2 8 59 4 45 68 .310 .389 .432 .820 167
2011 24 LAD NL 17 35 32 2 6 0 0 0 1 0 2 11 .188 .235 .188 .423 21 6
2012 25 LAD-BOS-min AAA 67 271 250 37 76 13 3 3 33 2 16 56 .304 .343 .416 .759 104
2012 25 TOT MLB 31 45 41 5 9 3 0 0 4 1 3 13 .220 .267 .293 .559 54 12
2012 25 LAD NL 23 37 33 5 9 3 0 0 4 1 3 7 .273 .324 .364 .688 90 12
2012 25 BOS AL 8 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 0
2 Yrs 48 80 73 7 15 3 0 0 5 1 5 24 .205 .253 .247 .500 40 18
162 Game Avg. 162 270 246 24 51 10 0 0 17 3 17 81 .205 .253 .247 .500 40 61
LAD (2 yrs) 40 72 65 7 15 3 0 0 5 1 5 18 .231 .282 .277 .559 57 18
BOS (1 yr) 8 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 0
NL (2 yrs) 40 72 65 7 15 3 0 0 5 1 5 18 .231 .282 .277 .559 57 18
AL (1 yr) 8 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2012.

This part of the move is pretty interesting becuase it leaves the Pirates with a ton of corner outfielders and first basemen. With Jones, Sands, Robinson and Sanchez you really can't carry all of those guys and you would have to imagine there is another deal coming. I would imagine that Jones is on the block after he had a career year that I wouldn't expect to happen again.

All told I think the Pirates did a pretty decent job on the trade. It isn't great but as I outlined above Hanrahan really wasn't worth that much and he didn't really have a great season last year.

People are going to freak out either way. Whatever.