Bob Smizik: Nobody asked me, but . . .

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Nobody asked me, but . . .

• Imagine what would happen to the Pirates if they lost Russell Martin for eight to 12 weeks. That’s what has happened to St. Louis, which will be without catcher Yadier Molina for that length of time. Not only have the Cardinals lost their MVP, but the Brewers are faltering with nine losses in the past 10 games and the Reds have Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips on the disabled list. The Central Division is wide open and the Pirates -- also with weaknesses -- are definitely in contention to win it.

• If his awful showing against Cincinnati on June 18 is overlooked, in his past 10 starts Edinson Volquez, who pitched a complete game last night in the Pirates' 9-1 win over St. Louis, has an ERA of 1.68.

• In an ESPN poll of 26 NFL insiders -- eight general managers, two former GMs, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and a top executive -- Ben Roethlisberger was ranked the seventh best quarterback. There was a four-way tie for first between Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Andrew Luck was fifth and Philip Rivers sixth.

• Quiz time: Of the following pitchers, which has the most complete games in his Pirates career: a) Elroy Face; b) Esteban Loaiza; c) Charlie Morton; d) Kent Tekulve. Answer below.

• With the news breaking that Sidney Crosby was playing with an injured right wrist in the Stanley Cup playoffs, there is a reasonable explanation for his uncharacteristically poor performance. No word from the Penguins on how or when the injury occurred. That’s a pretty crummy way to keep a passionate fan base informed.

• Poll time: If the Pirates had a postseason game tomorrow and all pitchers were healthy and rested and bringing their 2014 resumes as we know them, who would be your choice to start?

• Lawsuits waiting to happen: A fan injured by ball thrown into stands by a well-intentioned player; fan(s) injured fighting over a ball thrown into stands by a well-intentioned player.

• Former Pirates: Among American League players with more than 175 at bats, Steve Pearce was sixth in OPS at .944 and seventh in slugging at .568; Alex Presley was batting .252 with a .650 OPS for Houston; Andy LaRoche was batting .252 with a .654 OPS for Buffalo in the International League; pitching mostly in relief with the Dodgers (seven starts), Paul Maholm was 1-4 with a 5.18 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP (all stats through Wed.).

• Long-term contracts for pitchers: Yankees one-time ace C.C. Sabathia, who is out for the season with serious knee issues, had a 6.08 ERA in the second half of last season and a 5.29 ERA in eight starts this season. There is talk he might never pitch again. If he doesn’t, the Yankees will owe him $58 million. If he comes back to play out his contract as a former shell of himself, he could earn $73 million through 2017.

• Which one of these versatile players most deserved to make the All-Star team: Player A: .311/.357/.433 -- .789; Player B: .295/.333/.449 -- .782. Player A is Brock Holt, who did not make the All-Star team. Player B is Josh Harrison, who did.

• My favorite stat of the week: Billy Hamilton, the light-hitting speedster of the Cincinnati Reds, had a higher slugging percentage than Pedro Alvarez, the National League home run champion. Hamilton was .423, Alvarez .408.

• Catcher of the future: In 37 games at Indianapolis, Tony Sanchez was batting .203 with a .682 OPS. He has seven errors and four passed balls and has thrown out 14 percent of the runners who have tried to steal against him.

• A name to remember: Kris Bryant, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick last year, already has 30 home runs in a season split between Class AA and AAA. He had a 1.160 OPS in 248 at bats in AA and a 1.091 OPS in 82 ABs in AAA. His OPS in the Southern League is 204 points higher than the next closest hitter.

• Scratch the Phillies Jonathan Papelbon as a possible Pirates closer. He is due $5.8 million through the end of the season, $13 million next year and has an option, based on games finished, for $13 million in 2016.

• A possible punishment for fans who misbehave in baseball stadiums, such as interfering with balls in play: Six months of having to listen to Mike Shannon do play-by-play of Cardinals games!

• Day-game-after-night-game: With Votto and Phillips on the DL, Reds manager Bryan Price still started a lineup against the Cubs yesterday afternoon that did not include Jay Bruce, Devin Mesoraco or Billy Hamilton.

• Answer: Charlie Morton has three complete games in his Pirates career, tying him with Esteban Loaiza. Kent Tekulve, of course, has zero. ElRoy Face, the Baron of the Bullpen, is the correct answer. He made 27 starts with the Pirates and finished six of them.


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