Column: The Pittsburgh Pulse
It took 21 years for the Pirates to make the postseason again, but only six games to eliminate them. After beating the Reds in the wild card round, the Pirates lost to the Cardinals in five games. Pirates’ fans finally got to enjoy postseason baseball, if only for a short time, and will now look forward to next season. The front office does have some decisions to make before the start of the next season.
A.J Burnett will be a free agent after the year and the team will need to determine whether or not to retain him. If they want to keep their rotation at around the same level it was at this year, they need to re-sign Burnett. He was crucial to their success this year. Even with Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano, Burnett helps to anchor the rotation and give the Pirates a better chance to win. They shouldn’t overpay for him, but if he wants to come back for a good price, they need to get him back.
The team also has decisions to make regarding Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau. Both were acquired in trades late in the season, and helped the Pirates win games in the postseason. They both batted over .300 and drove in runs in the playoffs. The Pirates should try to keep both of them, but if they need to pick one it should be Morneau. Morneau is a former AL MVP and has a much higher ceiling than Byrd.
This could be an offseason where the Pirates spend more than we’ve seen of them in the past. After making the postseason this year, their offseason should consist of doing whatever it takes to win. If that means spending more money that normal, then so be it.
On the ice, the Penguins are 4-1 and remain in first place in the metropolitan division. They have eight points and remain undefeated at home. It’s still early in the season, but this is definitely a year that the Penguins can compete for a championship. The keys to this team will be if Sidney Crosby can stay healthy and play consistently, and the type of goaltending they will get from Marc-Andre Fleury. If they can get both of these things the Penguins are a very dangerous team in the Eastern Conference.
The Steelers finally broke out of their funk against the Jets. Their defense, which has been getting beat all season, was able to keep the Jets out of the end zone in the first half. While they still struggled to get the running game going, Ben Roethlisberger managed the game well. It is worth noting that Pittsburgh is still without a 100-yard rusher on the season. With all of this pressure falling on the shoulders of Big Ben it will be difficult to put points together. Roethlisberger is still a good QB, but without a solid team around him the Steelers will be unable to compete.
Defensively the Steelers finally got their first turnover of the year. Until a Geno Smith interception in the third quarter of their game, they were the only team in the NFL who hadn’t taken the ball over.
Playing in a good division like the AFC North the Steelers postseason hopes are just about over. At 0-4 while not impossible, it is unlikely that they will be able to jump teams like the Bengals and Ravens. The Steelers need to concentrate on working more as a unit and just salvaging whatever wins they can as the season continues.
Mike Wargon is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.