Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Penguins Game 63 Recap - Penguins 4, Stars 3 (SO)

For the most part this was a playoff type game between two teams that are fighting for playoff position. The Stars are hanging on to the eighth spot in the West and the Penguins were fourth coming into the game and this was an outstanding hockey game to watch.

The Penguins played a really bad first period of hockey. They looked like they had dead legs and really couldn’t get anything going. For the most part the Stars carried play and the Penguins couldn’t get any flow going. They got two power plays in the period and they couldn’t get anything done with them. It just wasn’t a good period and you could see they were rusty from being off since Sunday.

Nonetheless the Penguins were able to get through the period even thanks to a sick goal from Steve Sullivan off an outstanding pass from Pascal Dupuis.

A bad period is one thing but losing one of the most important players on the team to a possible concussion like the Penguins might have to deal with thanks to an Eric Nystrom hit on Kris Letang:

This is a tough one to really look at in my opinion. While I think that Nystrom could have avoided the hit you have to acknowledge that Letang, by reaching for the puck, put himself in a pretty vulnerable position. I also see that Nystrom made no attempt to play the puck (which he doesn’t have to) to hit Letang and the principle contact was to the head. It was a really weird hit to watch in real time but as you watch it again it just doesn’t look good for Letang. He has had a concussion already this season and when he was down on the ice he was holding his head. I think if he came back this season I would be pretty excited although we don’t know what the severity of it was.

I do not think that Nystrom will get a suspension. Sure, he did hit Kris Letang in a vulnerable position but in some respect Letang put himself in that position by reaching for the puck. The thing that might save Nystrom from the suspension is that he didn’t get his elbow up when he hit Letang but the thing that gets me is that he goes out of his way to get Letang after he tries to chip the puck and pretty much the only contact was with the head. Now I don’t think it was as dirty as a lot of people think but I do think that it could have been more body.

All things told I do think this is the kind of things the NHL wants out of the game. Head shots on defenseless players is something that nobody wants to see and until the NHL actually addresses the head shot rules this stuff will continue to happen.

The Penguins came out for the second with much more energy but couldn’t find the back of the net. The Stars did and it was 2-1. To be honest after the intermission I thought the best the Penguins could hope for was to hold the fort in the third period and try to sneak another one in to get a point. Ha.

The Penguins came out of the third period like gang busters. They tied the game 3:33 into the period and then took the lead less than a minute later. What a opening to the third. They were all over the place. Dallas came back and tied the game with just 12:30 minutes to go and from then on it went to overtime. What an overtime period.

The Stars got a power play that started for the last 14 seconds of regulation and then rolled over into the overtime period. What a balls out effort by the penalty kill. The Stars were putting on some big time pressure and the PK never budged. They have conquered almost everything that has come at them and they are killing penalties at almost a 90% clip for the season. They don’t get enough credit.

Huge shootout goals to win it and get the two points.

Marc Andre Fleury gave up three goals but he stole the show in the third period. He made some outstanding saves and really kept the Penguins in the game. People always look at goaltenders by how many goals they give up and for most if you see a goaltender gives up three you think he had an OK game. Fleury was voted the number three star by the Dallas media after the game. He was pretty good. He gives the team a chance to win the game. Did he give up some goals, yea, but who cares. He made the timely saves and the big saves to give his team the win. What an effort.

You know who else had an outstanding effort tonight? The defense. With Kris Letang out a vast majority of the game it put the onus on the other five defensive players to make up with 25 minutes. It was really a ballsy effort by those five guys to play good solid defense when most of them had to double shift on and off. They all played some pretty good hockey tonight and that is what you need when you lose one of your six defenseman, especially one of Letang’s caliber.

Since coming back from his injury Jordan Staal has been playing on another level. He might be playing some of the best hockey of his career since coming off the knee injury. He already has 21 goals and he has only played in 42 games this season. Couple that with his stellar defensive play and what he has done for the penalty kill. There are still people who think they should trade this kid. He has been such an asset to this team.

Secondary scoring stepped up today. Goals by Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz and Steve Sullivan won this game. The top line was realitively held in check but the Penguins were still able to go on the road and beat a Stars team that was 18-12-2 at home. A pretty strong home hockey team and the third period/overtime of this game was playoff caliber. Great win.

Colorado on Saturday night.

Penguins Game Day 63 - @ Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars

7:30 p.m., American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

Both teams enter the game well rested as neither has played a game since Sunday and should set up for a good match up tonight. The Stars are coming in a hot team as they have won their last four games including an overtime win over Vancouver on Sunday.

These teams met once already this year in Pittsburgh and that turned out to be a Penguins win where James Neal was able to score a pair of goals on his former team. Neal will get to go back to Dallas tonight and hopefully he can get on the score sheet as he is in a bit of a scoring slump as of late.

The person who isn't in a scoring slump is Evgeni Malkin. Malkin has played 12 games in the month of February and has chalked up 10 goals and nine assists during that span while shooting nearly 21%. Not too bad. Malkin enters the night with a two point lead on Steve Stamkos for the league's scoring lead and looks to pad that tonight.

Big night to get a couple of points. Dallas is playing much better than either of the two teams the Penguins played thsi past weekend but this still should be a winnable game for the Penguins. The Stars are going to be hungry as they sit in the eighth spot of the West with 70 points and are fighting off the Avalanche and Kings who also have 70 points.

Season series (Penguins lead 1-0):

November 11, 2011 - Pittsburgh 3, Dallas 1

The Penguins probables (via Seth at Empty Netters):

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Joe Vitale - Richard Park
Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams - Arron Asham

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

Marc Andre Fleury

The Stars probables:

Loui Eriksson - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Jamie Benn - Adam Burish
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Ryan Garbutt - Tomas Wandell - Tomas Vincour

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Mark Fistric - Trevor Daley
Alex Goligoski - Philip Larsen

Kari Lehtonen

The stats:

Monday, February 27, 2012

@Benstonium - Law and Order: Pittsburgh Penguin Unit

Big thanks to Benson for sending over his latest and greatest work from Benstonium which is a spin off of one of my favorite shows Law and Order: SVU. I know that over the past couple of weeks I have told you a lot of shows are some of my favorite but to tell you the truth I am a TV show junkie. If I am not watching sports I am watching some sort of TV show (not reality TV though, that sucks) and really get into the plot lines.

Anyways to get to the video you need to click this link and check it out. Also you need to be following Benstonium on facebook if you aren't already. I know I say it every time but dude is the best at this stuff.

Elite Eight of Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament

Well, somehow I made it through the first two round of the fourth annual Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament and I am on to the Elite Eight round and the finals of the Vonteego Cummings Division (what a player). I want to throw out a huge thank you to all of those who voted for me.

This round I will be facing off against Rum Bunter. If you don't read their stuff you are really missing out. Some great Pirates stuff they do and they might be the best photoshop poeple you've never heard of (but you should have heard of)

Again if you want to head on over there and vote for me. It would be pretty cool to win but if you want to vote for those guys then that's cool. They deserve it too.

Big thanks to Sean for doing this. This is always a fun thing to do every year and the work he does on his part makes it great. If you don't know about it then go over to Sean's Ramblings and read about it.

Poll: Three Rivers Burgh Blog vs. Rum Bunter

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Penguins Game Day 62 - vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus Blue Jackets

1:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pretty good win for the Penguins yesterday but as good as that win was it could be a wash if they don't go out and take care of business against the Blue Jackets. The last time the Pens were in this position was when they laid an egg against Buffalo.

I think the Penguins will be alright today as they were pretty upset about the loss to Buffalo. It will be interesting to see if Marc Andre Fleury is going to get the start in net or if the Penguins will turn to Brad Thiessen in net. I would assume that MAF isn't going to play today but you never know.

I will hopefully be able to watch the second half of today and will try to get a recap up after but I wouldn't bet my life on it.

The last meeting:

December 4, 2010 - Pittsburgh 7, Columbus 2

The Penguins probables (via Seth at Empty Netters):

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham
Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams - Richard Park

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

Brad Thiessen

The Blue Jackets probables:

R.J. Umberger - Derrick Brassard - Rick Nash
Vaclav Prospal - Mark Letestu - Cam Atkinson
Darryl Boyce - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies - Derek MacKenzie - Ryan Johansen

Fedor Tyutin - Nikita Nikitin
James Moore - James Wisniewski
Jack Johnson - Brett Lebda

Curtis Sanford

The stats:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Penguins Game 61 Recap - Malkin > Everything

Well I didn't get to watch any of the game today because of work and only was able to follow it via twitter and ESPN's score center. I actually did get to watch the last minute of the game and saw Pascal Dupuis score the Penguins eighth goal of the game but I still thought I could throw something up here.

Pretty much from what I can understand Evgeni Malkin dominated life today. Specifically Dwayne Roloson's life. Early in the game Roloson gave Malkin a punch to the head. Malkin responded with three goals included maybe the goal of the year:

Yea, probably not a good idea to fire that guy up.

Jordan Staal scored two more goals, one shorthanded and one on the power play. Guess we should probably hang on to him.

Marc Andre Fleury also made 34 saves. Ho hum.

I will update with highlights as I get them.

Penguins Game Day 61 - vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning

1:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Season series (Penguins lead 2-1):

November 17, 2011 - Tampa Bay 4, Pittsburgh 1

January 15, 2012 - Pittsburgh 6, Tampa Bay 3

February 12, 2012 - Pittsburgh 4, Tampa Bay 2

The Penguins probables (via Seth at Empty Netters):

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham
Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams - Richard Park

Kris Letang - Paul Martin
Zbynek Michalek - Deryk Engelland
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy

Marc Andre Fleury

The Lightning probables:

Teddy Purcell - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
Tom Pyatt - Nate Thompson - Ryan Malone
Tim Wallace - Adam Hall - J.T. Wyman
Ryan Shannon - Mike Angelidis - Brett Connolly

Victor Hedman - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Brendan Mikkelson - Bruno Gervais

Dwayne Roloson

The stats:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mike Lange Reference On Archer

As you know I am a huge, huge, huge, fan of Archer. It probably is the best show on TV right now. If you haven't watched it then you need to go watch it.

Tonight on a new episode they went to another level and worked in a Mike Lange reference.


Pirates Blogger Roundtable Broadcast 4

Once again I was lucky enough to be asked back on a podcast that was hosted by Jon at McEffect along with Brian at Raise the Jolly Roger and Jim at Northside Notch to talk some Pirates stuff that is going on.

It was another good podcast where we touched on the Ryan Braun situation, Frank Coonelly getting a DUI and what players we can expect to breakout in 2012. We also talked about a bunch of other random Pirates stuff.

It was some really good stuff and you should give it a listen if you have a spare 40 minutes hour (it ran a little long this week). Thanks again to all those guys for including me.

Click here to listen/download the podcast.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sweet 16 of Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament

Well, somehow I made it through the first round of the fourth annual Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament and I am on to the Sweet 16 round. I want to throw out a huge thank you to all of those who voted for me.

This round I will be facing off against another amazingly tough opponent in This is Getting Old. Much like I do things here they cover a whole bunch of sports and they are very good at it. They are really good guys and you should definitely be reading their stuff.

Again if you want to head on over there and vote for me. It would be pretty cool to get to the elite eight but if you want to vote for those guys then that's cool. They deserve it too.

Poll: Three Rivers Burgh Blog vs. This Is Getting Old

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Penguins Game 60 Recap - Penguins 2, Rangers 0

In the preview I talked about the Penguins typically don’t play back-to-back bad games and after playing a dreadful game on Sunday against Buffalo they stepped up and play on of their best games of the season against the Rangers, earning the shutout 2-0. The last time the Penguins beat the Rangers in MSG last month they played a really solid game with a 4-1 win. The Penguins played like they had something to prove and they proved it.

Honest to God I don’t think I can look at the game and tell you one guy who didn’t play an outstanding game. Typically in games you win, even dominating ones, there are players that made some huge mistakes and just had a bad game. Not tonight. What a performance.

Marc Andre Fleury didn’t have to make a whole ton of saves but he held the fort down and didn’t even let the Rangers come close to scoring a goal. Early on it looked like he was a little out of position but he really settled in. The shutout was the 22nd of MAF’s career which puts him in a tie with Tom Barrasso for the Penguins all-time lead. MAF might not have the flashy stats but all he does is win. Tonight was his 31st win and while I don’t really buy wins for a goaltender, much like a pitcher in baseball, it is pretty impressive.

You know who else should give themselves a pat on the back tonight? The defensive core, most notably Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek. All three of those guys were out of their respective minds tonight and absolutely made every right play. This is what we were expecting out of Michalek and Martin all season. Sure, this one good game by those guys doesn’t erase a lot of lousy games but is this the start of something good? With Brooks Orpik out Martin was paired with Letang and they did work. Letang logged over 28 minutes of action while Martin had over 26 minutes. Those are big time minutes against a pretty talented offensive team. Fleury did a great job tonight but he can buy those guys a beer for it too.

Evgeni Malkin scored on a pretty sick breakaway to open up the scoring and it was all the Penguins needed.

What a pass from Letang.

They also got a power play goal from Steve Sullivan with an assist from Malkin so that rounds out the scoring. The Penguins special teams have been pretty unreal lately. They have killed off 40 of the last 42 power plays and tonight they killed off all three attempts with really no pressure from a pretty bad Rangers power play.

Steve Sullivan has been playing some outstanding hockey lately. He was exceptionally good on the power play and had the energy of a guy that just came into the league. The shot he scored the goal on was a rocket shot that beat Lundqvist on the blocker side and did a great job of keep the puck in the zone on both the power play and 5-on-5.

The Penguins really dominated the Rangers tonight. New York started out fairly strong but the Penguins quickly took over in the first period and held the offensive zone for long stretches of play. On two or three different occasions the Penguins had two or three minute spans inside the Rangers zone. While the Rangers did a nice job of blocking shots and packing in around Lundqvist the Penguins continually kept the pressure on, cycled well and kept the puck in the zone. Just a great offensive effort.

Penguins will be back at the CONSOL on Saturday when they play the Lightning.

Gerrit Cole Talks Spring Training

On the Pirates website today they had an interview with 2011 first overall pick Gerrit Cole. The interview is a few minutes and Cole talks about the excitement of being in big league camp, how the Arizona Fall League was and what he thinks about Robbie Grossman.

Penguins Game Day 60 - vs. New York Rangers

New York Rangers

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

After a really tough game in Buffalo were the Penguins were embarrassed they get to come back to the friendly confinds of the CONSOL Energy Center for a huge match up against the Rangers.

Now, I have said this before that I don't think the Penguins can catch the Rangers for the Atlantic but if there was any sliver of hope then they probably need to win this game. They finally got over the hump of not being able to beat good teams when they downed the Rangers 4-1 in MSG last time and another win would even up the season series at 2-2 and give the Penguins some momentum going into a number of games against subpar opponents.

Very rarely do the Penguins play horrible back-to-back games so I would expect them to come out with some jump and play a pretty good hockey game. Marc Andre Fleury came in relief on Sunday and was beat three times on 13 shots so he will also look to play a little better.

The Penguins are going against one of the best in the league in Henrik Lundqvist so they will not only need Evgeni Malkin to play big but the secondary scoring will also need to step up. I believe Mike Rupp said today that it is much easier to stop a team with talent like the Penguins when only one line is producing and with a healthy Jordan Staal starting to score some goals it is looking better secondary scoring wise.

The Rangers might be the best team in the NHL. They have top line talent led by Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards. I hate Brandon Dubinski.

Some injuries came up today for the Penguins. Brooks Orpik will be out of the game tonight with an upper body injury. Disco said he didn't think it was going to be too serious but Ben Lovejoy will sget a start. Brad Theissen will be the backup tonight as I guess Brent Johnson is sick. Eric Tangradi will be in tonight. He hasn't done much at all in his time as a Penguins player so I don't anticipate anything from him tonight again. As long as he doesn't try to drop the gloves at the most inopportune time I would be more than OK with not hearing his name called.

Season series (New York leads 2-1):

November 29 - New York 4, Pittsburgh 3

January 6, 2012 - New York 3, Pittsburgh 1

January 19, 2012 - Pittsburgh 4, New York 1

The Penguins probables (via Seth at Empty Netters):

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis/Dustin Jeffrey
Matt Cooke - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham
Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams - Richard Park

Kris Letang - Zbynek Michalek
Paul Martin - Matt Niskanen
Ben Lovejoy - Deryk Engelland

Marc Andre Fleury

The Rangers probables:

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

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Marc Staal - Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist

The stats:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Penguins Game Day 59 - @ Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres

12:30 p.m., First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

Season series (Tied 1-1):

October 15, 2011 - Buffalo 3, Pittsburgh 2

December 17, 2011 - Pittsburgh 8, Buffalo 3

The Penguins probables:

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Dustin Jeffrey - Arron Asham
Craig Adams - Joe Vitale - Richard Park

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

Brent Johnson

The Sabres probables (via Seth at Empty Netters):

Thomas Vanek - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Ville Leino - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe - Paul Gaustad - Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis - Brad Boyes - Zack Kassian

Mike Weber - Christian Ehrhoff
Jordan Leopold - Tyler Myers
Andrej Sekera - Robyn Regehr

Ryan Miller

The stats:

Penguins Re-sign James Neal For Six Years

As you wake up on this Sunday morning and rub your eyes don't be surprised by the headline. The Penguins announced that James Neal signed a six year extention that will make Neal a Penguin through the 2017-18 season at an annual cap hit of $5M.

Neal was set to be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and with the Penguins having to think about deals with Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal, amongst others, nobody really knew where James Neal fit in.

Neal is having a career year as he has netted 30 goals and 56 points through 57 games. Neal came to the Penguins in a trade last season with Matt Niskanen for Alex Goligoski.

Neal is only 24 years old so this will take Neal through his age 30 year.

This is just great news for Penguins fans. With 30 goals so far this year it is easy to think of Neal scoring 40 goals. 40 goals would have got Neal big money on the open mark and while he was a restricted free agent he would have been more than right to ask for big money. Maybe James Neal knows what he has with Malkin and knows he has a chance to win a cup with this team but this is all Ray Shero. We could look at this deal in three years and it could be a bargin for a 30+ or 40+ goal a year.

Ray Shero knows what he is going and when he saw they had the true scoring winger he got the contract done. It is going to be so much fun to watch Malkin and Neal play hockey toget for the forseeable future. A pretty nice surprise to wake up to.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Penguins Game Day 58 - @ Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers

1:00 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I am going to be working much of the day and was working late last night so this will be a pretty bare bones preview. There will also probably be no post game. Sorry for those three people that actually read them.

I am kinda upset that I won't get to see the whole game. I will only be able to watch the first period before I have to head out but I guess that is better than nothing. This is a pretty big game as it will swing some points as the Flyers are neck and neck for the second spot in the Atlantic. The Penguins have also dropped both games to the Flyers this season so a win in the garbage dump that is the Wells Fargo Center would be huge.

Bit pick me up today is that Arron Asham will be back in the lineup and skating on the third line after missing a ton of time with a concussion. It will be nice to have his grit back in the lineup and I am sure he will be pretty amped up to play against his former team.

Speaking about players playing against former teams Max Talbot and Jaromir Jagr will be playing against the Penguins. I think most of you know how I feel about Jagr and I still have love for Max Talbot. Honestly it is so much fun to watch Jagr play even if he is in a Flyers jersey.

The Flyers have been struggling lately going 4-4-3 in thier last 11 games so this might be a good time to go in there and scores a few goals. While Sergei Bobrovsky doesn't have great overall numbers this year he plays very well against the Penguins. Last year in five games played against the Penguins "Bob" posted a 2.17 GAA with a .926 save percentage and this year he has a 2.00 GAA with a .923 save percentage which are both better than his career averages of 2.67/.911.

Season series (Philadelphis leads 2-0):

December 8, 2011 - Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2

No idea where the video highlights are for this.

December 29, 2011 - Philadelphia 4, Pittsburgh 2

The Penguins probables (via Seth at Empty Netters):

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Dustin Jeffrey - Arron Asham
Craig Adams - Joe Vitale - Richard Park

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

Marc Andre Fleury

The Flyers probables:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Maxime Talbot - Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
Jody Shelley - Eric Wellwood - James van Riemsdyk

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Matt Carle - Marc-Andre Bourdon
Andrej Meszaros - Nicklas Grossman

Sergei Bobrovsky

The stats:

Friday, February 17, 2012

A.J. Burnett Finally (Reportedly) A Pirate

You are finally ours A.J. Burnett!!!! After weeks (what seems like months) of speculation and media foreplay (I guess you can call it that) the Pirates and Yankees finally agreed on a deal that will send A.J. Burnett to the Pirates for money and a few prospects (not sure if they are classified as "b-level" or "meh").

The Pirates will be paying $13M of Burnett's $33M that he is owed over the next two years. There were rumors that the Yankees wanted $15M from the Pirates but that just seemed to be trying to get as much out of them as possible until the Pirates said no. The Pirates will pay $5M of Burnett's in 2012 and $8M in 2013. The Pirates will be sending some lower level minor leaguers to the Yankees but both sides are still talking about which two. This is not expected to hold anything up.

There are some rumblings on the players but nothing finalized. The first guy that was brought up was Diego Moreno. Moreno is a hard throwing righty who is a bullpen guy. He is 25 years old. Nothing much else to see here besides him throwing hard. Also interesting to note that Moreno successfully made it though the rule-5 diraft this year as Ben Balder states. As Pat from WHYGAVS says the Pirates have had no problem finding hard throwing bullpen guys.

The other guy that the Pirates will give up is said to be a low-level Class A guy according to Dejan Kovacevic.

I have talked about this Burnett stuff in a few other posts over the past couple of weeks and I like the deal. Dejan Kovacevic did a really nice job of writing an article in the Trib this morning about it and it really sums up what I think in a nutshell.

It was really just a matter of time before this deal got done as the Pirates and Yankees haggled through the media and who was going to go where but the deal is finally here and the Pirates, believe it or not, are a better team because of the deal.

As it sits right now the rotation consists of Erik Bedard, Charlie Morton, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, A.J. Burnett and Kevin Correia. Correia, in a word, was horrible last season. You can talk to me all you want about how he led the team with 12 wins but he was getting hit around a ton and since he is more of a pitch to contact guy that wasn't going to work for an entire year. Sure, he probably was pretty lucky, and you need luck when playing baseball, but he is someone that I would rather not see in the rotation.

Burnett will be a rare breed for the Pirates in that he can eat a ton of innings and he will be able to strike a good amount of guys out. In the above rotation there really isn't a guy that can go out and strike out over eight guys per nine innings like Burnett can. Sure, Burnett can't pump it up to 99 like he used to be able to, it will be more like 92-93, but his curveball as always been good and in the last four years he has tossed over 180 innings per season. Not too many Pirates pitchers (two I believe) have thrown that many innings in one season.

Burnett was pitching in a home run factory in New York and his HR/FB rate was amazingly high at 17%. His career average is 11.3% and maybe a change into the National League will get him to miss a few more bats.

Some are talking as if this Burnett trade is bad becuase the Pirates will be eating a portion of the salary and this one move isn't going to put them into the playoff chace. That is true, but they could have got Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder and this team still wouldn't be in a playoff race. That is the reality.

The other reality of the deal is that as of right now this instantly makes the team better. Sure we are not getting the A.J. Burnett of old but he is better than Correia or Brad Lincoln and with the injury risk of Bedard and Morton coming off hip surgery it will sure be nice to have someone else in the rotation that you can rely on every fifth day.

Burnett did have an above 5.00 ERA the last two year but his advanced metrics looked much better than that. He had an xFIP of 4.49 in 2010 and last year his xFIP was 3.86. If you are not up on the sabermetrics this click this link to lean about xFIP. Basically xFIP takes into account that defenses vary and brings batted balls to league average as well as home run rates to league average. xFIP is regarded as a good predictor of future ERA. I knox that this doesn't mean he will throw for an under 4.00 ERA but it gives good cause to the fact that he probably wasn't as bad as his 5.15 ERA in 2011.

Look, I understand that this could end badly. Most of the veteran free agent pickups in the past few years have been dreadfully bad. Burnett could come in here and bomb and be worse than Kevin Correia. I doubt that happens but it is a realistic possibility. For those of you that think this is another Matt Morris trade please go read this. You can complain about it all you want but you either want the Pirates to spend money to upgrade the team or you don't. You can't play on both sides of the fence.

Here is a look at Burnett's career statistics:

199518NYM-min234.289811033.2271616223261.4857. • GULF
199619NYM-min403.88121200058.0312625054681.4664.80.08.410.61.26KPT • APPY
199720NYM-min324.39121100055.1363427343631.4285.,MET • NYPL,GULF
199821FLA-min1041.972020000119.07427263451861.0005.60.23.414.14.13KNC • MIDW
199922FLA-min6125.522623100120.2132917415711211.6829. • EL
200023FLA-min002.193300012.143309121.0542.,CGY • FLOR,PCL
200124FLA-min001.93220009.142204100.8573. • FLOR
200427FLA-min004.91220007.195414101.77311.01.24.912.32.50JUP,ABQ • FLOR,PCL
200629TOR-min201.894400019.0115416220.8955.20.52.810.43.67DUN,MAN,SYR • FLOR,EL,IL
200730TOR-min001.80110005.03110170.8005.40.01.812.67.00SYR • IL
13 Seasons1211114.1031430912191960.1178697789420382617911051.3328.
162 Game Avg.13124.1034340212141951079822901951051.3328.
FLA (7 yrs)49503.731341310148853.2719395354663777531111.2847.
NYY (3 yrs)34354.799998020584.058733231181258513931.4479.
TOR (3 yrs)38263.948180151522.2480250229561915251121.2848.
NL (7 yrs)49503.731341310148853.2719395354663777531111.2847.
AL (6 yrs)72614.391801781711106.2106758254013744910381011.3708.
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 2/10/2012.