Smoltz: Bob - the term "snub" is used WAY too much around the all star break. there is a limit to how many players can be put on the roster, so someone deserving will always be left off. That said, how big of SNUB was it to leave McDonald off the roster?
Bob Smizik: The All-Star selection process is so convoluted that I must admit I have a problem fully grasping it. There is, however, no question that McDonald deserved to be on the team instead of some of the players picked. Most notably, that would include the St. Louis pitcher the PIrates beat Saturday.
DD: Bob - looking into the future, what do you see the Pirates doing at the trade deadline?
Bob Smizik: In a story that will be posted shortly on my blog, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com says they should go after a big-time pitcher and he names Cole Hamels and Zach Greinke. He makes a good case. But I doubt the Pirates will follow his advice. I see them doing something safe and conservative, much like they did last year.
Smoltz: If you had the deciding vote, who is going to the all-star game: Chipper or Bryce?
Bob Smizik: That's not even close. If I have a ticket to that game, I want to see Harper. I've seen Jones plenty and he has all the All-Star honors he needs. Harper gets my vote.
DD: Bob - James McDonald, are we seeing what we can expect for the rest of the season and upcoming years, or do you think he is currently pitching at a level he'll be unable to maintain?
Bob Smizik: Probably not because he is pitching a such a high level and very consistently so. That does not mean he's going to fall apart. But few pitchers do so well over an entire season.
Chris Saunders: Hi Bob and happy almost 4th of July to you! Anyway, Eric Bedard after a promising start (and he's been surprisingly healthy to boot) has, as George Steinbrenner might say, spit the bit. Obviously he has sank to the #5 starter and I would hate to pull Brad Lincoln out of that bullpen where he has just been terrific. Are there any other options you know of?
Bob Smizik: I would question to status of Bedard's health. He has had a fairly dramatic decline, as I pointed out in my blog yesterday, since being pulled from a game in early May. However, I would not remove him from the rotation just yet. He might benefit from a long rest over the All-Star break. That said, I would not replace him with Lincoln, if and when the time comes. I consider Lincoln too valuable in the bullpen and he's not shown himself to be a quality starter.
James_Pittsburgh: Why do some people seem on your blog seem to think that the games in September are more important than the ones in July? The Pirates need to start Starling Marte and win as many games as possible in July.
Bob Smizik: Every game is important. There almost always is debate surrounding a young player being brought up to the majors. In the best of circumstances, it would be nice to see Marte have a more extended run of excellence. I'd bring him up now and there will be a roster opening soon when Fryer is returned to the minors. When that opening occurs, I think it will be impossible for the Pirates to bring up any player but Marte.
Marnie: Hi Bob: Presley's has 6 HR so far this year. Assuming his power continues to improve and maybe hits 15-20, is there any reason why he cannot develop into a consistent 20 HR outfielder? I'm hopeful because power can develop as players improve their hitting and this is only his first full season in MLB (last year he only played 52 games). McCutchen had 16 in his first full season (2010) and improved each year thereafter. Not saying Presley is McCutchen talent, only McCutchen as an example of a player who didn't hit many HR at first, but is getting better at it.
Bob Smizik: Presley was a late-bloomer as a player. It's possible he's a late-bloomer as a power hitter. His power, first in his brief return to Indy this season, and since that return has been surprising. He has a chance, I supposed. But I see him more as a fourth outfielder.
Kenman: The season is nearly half over, so it's time for you to revise your over-under estimate of 94 as to the number of Pirate losses this season. Based on what you've seen and now know about the first half performances and what you might expect from now to the end of the season, what is your new over-under estimate on the number of losses? Do you dare suggest it will be less than 81?
Bob Smizik: I believe I predicted the Pirates to lose 89 games. I do not believe in changing predictions in mid-season. Kind of makes them irrelevant.
zack c: Now that Bedard seems to be struggling and having a worse month than Correia, might be wise to take him off the trading block? Bedard should break down any minutes now, I don't think I want to trust 2/5 of the rotation on two rookies if we also trade Correia.
Bob Smizik: It's not like the Pirates were out there eagerly peddling Correia. I think they wanted to see what they could get. Unless they have more confidence in their Class AAA pitchers than I do, I'd say it's best to keep Correia.
pghinfl - Carl: Good Afternoon Bob! I greatly appreciate your blog since I live in Florida. I get a lot of info about Pittsburgh sports from your blog. I love how the Pirates are playing given the offense they started with. Are you still of the opinion that the pitching will slow down enough to keep them from getting above .500? My opinion is we might see above .500 this year.
Bob Smizik: It sure looks like the PIrates will finish above .500. The Pirates, as expected, has regressed. The hitting, as expected, has improved.
JamesinNYC: What is your current temp reading on Walker? How do you rank his D?
Bob Smizik: Sure-handed but lacking in great range.
The Golf Doctor: The outfield without Cutch is nothing short of painful. Do you see a trade on the horizon (and for whom), a call up of Marte, or nothing?
Bob Smizik: With Fryer due to go back to the minors any day, the Pirates are in a position where they almost have to recall Marte.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you see any chance of the Pirates acquiring a rental catcher?
Bob Smizik: No. I think they are happy with Barajas and McKenry and with Morales as the third catcher in the system.
Will6: A couple of years ago MLB Network ran the '71 all star game--you know, the one with the Reggie 600 foot home run and about 24 of the greatest names in baseball history. Did you happen to cover it? Any special memories? I hope MLB network reboradcasts it.
Bob Smizik: Did not cover it. I watched it. How can an exhibition be one of the greatest games in history. Good grief!
Paul: Who's the nest whipping boy? We've been through Barajas, Barmes, Alvarez and now Tabata. I predict Bedard.
Bob Smizik: Tabata stands alone. Bedard and Correia are a distant second.
James_Pittsburgh: The funny part about Ken Rosenthal's article is he thinks the Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke should slide into the rotation with A.J. Burnett, McDonald, and Bedard. I think Bedard might be the first guy to be removed from the rotation if a starting pitcher was acquired unless Jeff Karstens performs poorly.
Bob Smizik: I think that was a very minor point in Rosenthal's story.
Ken: Bob, funniest moment of the season was Tabata sitting beside the misting fan, wearing shades and making the peace sign for the cameras, last week in Philly. I mean given all the vitroil, some of it over the top. Did you happen to catch it?
Bob Smizik: Missed it. It's too bad fans have to vent so harshly. Most of these guys are trying, even if they're not doing a Pete Rose imitation on every play.
James_Pittsburgh: The Pirates will likely be conservative at the trade deadline. However I feel that the Pirates have a two year window that they should take advantage of the best they can without trading Cole or Tallion. Who knows how long until they get another opportunity like this?
Bob Smizik: I agree. Strike while you have the chance. It's not like the Pirates have a minor-league system bulging with future superstars.
hatecaps: Bob, should the Pens take a chance and sign Alex Semin as a free agent winger for Crosby if they can't get Parise?
Bob Smizik: Yes.
DD: Bob - what is your take on Mike Wallace. Will he participate in all/some of training camp? Do you expect a productive year on the field for the receiver?
Bob Smizik: A bit of an overblown story. He has one option: Report to camp. He cannot be a free agent until he plays one more season with the Steelers. Furthermore, the Steelers can reduce his $2.7 million tender at any time. They do not want to do that. But a training camp holdout could force their hand. However, none of that will happen. He will be there, at the latest, by the third day of camp. He has a lot to play for so he should have a productive season.
Smoltz: Bob - NBC is making sure we all have Olympic fever. why is it that track and field can no longer capture the national spotlight. last time i remember being aware of the american track athletes was 1996. surely we have great athletes, why no attention?
Bob Smizik: The decline of track, not so much field, has long puzzled me. A foot race is the ultimate competition -- mano a mano. No teammates, just bust a gut. It probably could be marketed better. However, it lacks the one aspect American sports fans seem to cherish most -- physicality. No one is getting their head split open.
James_Pittsburgh: if Starling Marte doesn't play well he could be the Pirates next whipping boy!
Bob Smizik: No one is immune from whipping boy status.
Bill: Bob, seeing Bill Virdon a copuple of weeks ago caused me to wonder (I don't remember) why he was fired in late in '73. I know the team underachieved due to no Clemente, Steve Blass and Bob Robertson also had problems. But why didn't they stick with Virdon?
Bob Smizik: The team was in the thick of a pennant race but not excelling. It was one of those years where a mid-80 victory total would win the division. General manager Joe Brown had too much faith in Danny Murtaugh. It wasn't that he felt Virdon was a bad manager. He felt Murtaugh was a better one and could put the Pirates over the top. He did not. Brown admitted some years later that firing Virdon was a mistake.
James_Pittsburgh: Bob, my question is whether the Pirates should be looking at this as a two year window rather than one? A.J. Burnett and McDonald will be with the Pirates next year. Karstens is arbitration eligible. Maybe the Pirates even keep Correia as the 5th starter if they can get him signed for the right price. Cole can also be added to the rotation next June or July.
Bob Smizik: I think they should view it as a one-year window and go for it. You never know what next year will bring for you or your opponents. That said, I believe the Pirates are trying to build a sustainable model and will not force the issue. Unfortunately.
Bob Smizik: As always, thanks to all who participated and who later read. I will be back next Monday at noon.
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