Pens, Bucs GMs help their teams

Commentary

PITTSBURGH — The Pirates and Penguins both made trades to plug significant holes in their lineups.

Jim Rutherford mercifully ended six months of talk show blather by landing a third center, while Neal Huntington called an end to open auditions for the Pirates’ left field vacancy.

The Penguins feel most comfortable when they’re three-deep in quality centers, and Derick Brassard, acquired from Ottawa in the complex trade, is a worthy complement to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Rutherford could have filled the spot with a lesser player and gotten away with giving up less. But he went big.

The Penguins may miss goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson some day, but that day won’t be in 2018. They’re covered at goal, and this is all about the here and now as the Penguins chase a third straight Stanley Cup.

The Penguins will miss Ian Cole now, but he was part of the price Rutherford had to pay to land Brassard. There are legitimate questions about the Penguins’ defensive depth heading into the playoffs.

It is possible, however, that Rutherford could still get a defenseman before Monday’s trade deadline.

Tough guy winger Ryan Reaves also had to be sacrificed to complete the deal. Both Rutherford and coach Mike Sullivan swear Reaves had value as a deterrent of cheap shots against the Penguins stars, but that was never apparent.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Huntington took advantage of the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster paring to grab Corey Dickerson. As a bonus, the Rays were willing to take reliever Daniel Hudson, who laid a $5.5 million egg in the bullpen last season.

Dickerson was an All-Star in the first half of the season, but fell off dramatically in the second half. Andrew McCutchen wound up with almost the same numbers in a less conventional split. McCutchen killed it in June and July, was mediocre in the two months that preceded and followed that burst.

The real answer for the Pirates’ outfield is former No. 1 draft pick Austin Meadows. He probably needs a season at Class AAA to make up for all the time he lost last year to a series of injuries.

Dickerson has some flaws, including high strikeout totals. But McCutchen also averaged 124 strikeouts over the last seven seasons.

Two general managers — one at crunch time in his season, the other just beginning training camp. They both helped their teams last week.

Happy 90th

Friends gathered last week to throw a 90th birthday party for ElRoy Face, the Pirates’ “Baron of the Bullpen” from the 1950s and ’60s.

Face never got more than 19 percent of the Hall of Fame voting. He deserved more, pitching in an era before a closer was a one-inning specialist.

After he was done with baseball, Face went to work as a carpenter. He’s now long retired from that job, too, and has outlived two wives.

He wasn’t big, but he could throw hard and he had plenty of confidence, which started with the way he’d stride in from the bullpen.

He was 20 years too early for the free agency era and its rewards, and, oh, does he regret that.

When the split-fingered fastball came into vogue in the 1980s, someone asked Face about the difference between that pitch and his specialty, the forkball.

“About $5 million a year,” he said without missing a beat.

Just awful

If they shut down college basketball for the next 10 years, it still wouldn’t get rid of the smell.

It’s a corrupt business with no shame. No ethics, no integrity, no respect for rules. Bribes, blatant payments, phony courses. You name it, they have it.

What a cesspool.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com.

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