Thursday, June 30, 2016
By Chris Cwik
June 28, 2016
SEATTLE — This is an unusual feeling for Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. When McCutchen normally scrolls through his phone this time of year, he sees articles suggesting he deserves to start the All-Star game. Though it’s June, he usually sees articles making his case for National League MVP. And, of course, he sees trade rumors. Which players should the Pirates try to acquire for their playoff run?
This season, however, he’s seeing his name prominently featured in those rumors.
“I’ve been around long enough now to where my name is being brought up,” McCutchen told Yahoo Sports. “So, for me, it’s something that is new.”
To some, it seems crazy. McCutchen is undoubtedly the face of the Pirates. He came up with the organization as a 22-year-old in 2009, and developed into a superstar. In every way, the perennial MVP candidate represented the future of the organization.
He was the first of a number of promising prospects expected to lead the Pirates out of the cellar and into the playoffs. Despite his performance, the Pirates posted four-straight losing seasons before McCutchen had enough help around him to put together a competitive club.
Now, he’s on the block.
From a logical perspective, this makes sense. The Pirates are currently 37-40, and find themselves in third place in the NL Central. While it’s still possible to make a surge, the club likely won’t catch the Chicago Cubs. That means they’ll have to beat out at least four other teams for a wild card spot. For the first time in a few seasons, the Pirates might be sellers at the deadline.
While the 29-year-old McCutchen hasn’t been his usual self early, stumbling to a .243/.318/.421 slash line over 324 plate appearances, his track record still makes him a valuable asset. Though McCutchen is still under contract with the club through 2018, it’s assumed the Pirates won’t be able to afford him once he hits free agency due to their spending limitations.
On top of all that, his eventual replacement, 21-year-old outfielder Austin Meadows, posted a .311/.365/.611 slash line in 45 games at Double-A, earning himself a promotion to Triple-A on June 18.
Players deal with trade rumors in different ways. Some completely ignore them, some get angry and others allow them to become a distraction. McCutchen, however, isn’t fazed by what he reads. He completely understands.
“I know it’s the business side,” McCutchen says. “It’s people assessing situations. It’s people throwing out numbers and teams and this and this and this and they put it all together.
“I don’t let it get to me because I do also understand the other side of it. It’s not just like, ‘oh well, he’s sucking, so [he] needs to go here.’ It’s not that. I understand that. It’s just that side of the game.”
McCutchen also gets why he would be a valuable trade asset. It’s not just the production on the field, it helps that he has a favorable contract.
“I just know that I’m coming toward the back end of my contract,” he says. “And with the way that contracts are now, I’m sure my contract seems affordable for other teams.”
He’s right. McCutchen is making a little over $13 million this season. He’ll make slightly over $14 million in 2017, and has a $14.5 million option for 2018. If he can get back to his usual ways at the plate, he’s an absolute bargain at that price.
The idea of McCutchen playing for a team other than the Pirates seems crazy, even to him. And while the future is uncertain, especially when his contract is up, he has considered the possibility of staying with one team for his entire career.
“That’s the ultimate goal for most people,” he says. “You sign with a team and your goal as a person is to have that guaranteed-type career. You want a career where you do well and win championships. In that franchise, you become ‘The Guy.’
“Everyone dreams of that. I don’t see how many people go get drafted by a team and then say, ‘dang, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be here. I want to go somewhere else.’ You always want to be where you start. And if that happens, that’s awesome. That would be great. And I do think about that.”
For the first time in his career, it looks like McCutchen may not have a choice in the matter. Unless the Pirates can right the ship in the coming weeks, McCutchen may literally find himself in an unusual place to open the second half.
June 28, 2016
Nick Wass/Associated Press
Since coming into the league in 2004, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has had an impressive career.
After a Tommy Maddux injury, Ben Roethlisberger was thrust into the fire as a rookie in only the second week of the season against the Baltimore Ravens. Roethlisberger would go on to start the remainder of the 2004 season and win every regular season game.
Roethlisberger would be the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl at 23-years-old in his second season with the Steelers.
It would be one thing if Roethlisberger had these few good years and then fall away into irrelevancy. Roethlisberger has made two more trips to the Super Bowl and winning one.
With two rings under his belt and great statistical seasons in his time playing, why is it that Roethlisberger is hardly in the conversation of the NFL’s top quarterbacks? I see lists every year and Ben Roethlisberger seems to get the honorable mention every time.
I have heard experts talk at length at how Roethlisberger is the best in the game at extending plays and avoiding sacks. Roethlisberger is also known as one of the toughest players in the NFL. With all that in mind, people still leave him off the lists of the NFL’s best.
With Payton Manning retiring, times may be changing. ESPN writers have been having Q&A sessions within each division and this very question was asked to the AFC North writers. Some of the answers are surprising, but they share the same sentiment.
“It would be difficult to argue against Roethlisberger being in the conversation,” wrote Baltimore Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley. “In my mind, he is the third-best quarterback currently, behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Ben Roethlisberger is primed to put up career numbers because of all the weapons around him (Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell) and an offensive line that can protect him.”
“Some will suggest Drew Brees, Cam Newton or Russell Wilson should be in the top-three debate, Hensley continued. “One of the biggest factors in evaluating quarterbacks is how they come through when it matters the most. Roethlisberger ranks third among active quarterbacks with 34-game winning drives, trailing only Brady (48) and Brees (38). Ravens players and coaches have told me for years that they would prefer to face Brady than Roethlisberger in the final minute of a game because he can shake off tackles and beat you with his strong arm. That’s why he should be considered among the best in the NFL.”
That’s a pretty strong argument for Roethlisberger, especially coming from the team’s biggest and most bitter rival.
“Isn’t he already?” penned Coley Harvey, the reporter for the Cincinnati Bengals. “I mean, yes, there’s Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, but wouldn’t Roethlisberger be considered better than one of the two not named Brady? After all, you’re talking about one of the toughest players in the league, and a man who seems to always invent new ways to win. “
“This question is really intriguing to me, though. I find myself answering it under the assumption we’re weighing the totality of the careers of each of the NFL’s 32 starting signal-callers. That’s why I feel Roethlisberger is up there. Having said that, will he remain among the elite for long? I don’t think so.”
I can’t argue with that logic that Roethlisberger is a fantastic player, but is on the downslope of his career. I think Roethlisberger has three maybe four years left in the tank. Other players will be hitting their prime around that time and will knock Roethlisberger out of elite status.
Lastly, the Browns reporter Pat McManamon had some interesting insights about the native Ohioan Roethlisberger.
“Start with Tom Brady, the best playing right now, McManamon wrote. “Drew Brees is in the conversation. Philip Rivers is a dark horse. Eli Manning has had his moments. Tony Romo is a very good player — when healthy. Cam Newton was outstanding last season and has grown every year he’s been in the league. Russell Wilson wins games for Seattle. And Aaron Rodgers is a great player. “
“For my money, the top two from that group would be Brady and Rodgers. Is Roethlisberger as good as Brees? Yes. Better? Yes. Roethlisberger has a career rating of 94.0 and has thrown for just short of 43,000 yards. Last season he averaged 328 yards per game. Ben Roethlisberger has gotten to the point where he runs the Steelers offense, often from the line of scrimmage; as he goes so goes Pittsburgh. Is Big Ben in the Big Three? Yes, for good reason.”
The interesting thing about all of theses takes is that none of the reporters took in an account of Super Bowl victories. That in itself is what sticks out in people’s mind of who is elite and who is not. Some say Matt Ryan is a great quarterback, but he has yet to win a playoff game. Philip Rivers has a great arm, but has only made the playoffs a handful of times.
Stats are great to have, but having that killer instinct as a quarterback is what gets you in the upper echelon. Roethlisberger has that killer instinct and is the third-best quarterback in the league behind Brady and Rodgers.The post Ben Roethlisberger ranked among NFL’s best appeared first on Cover32.