jim_from_Michigan: Our we (Pirate fans) better or worse with revenue sharing? With it, Nutting has no reason to sell or improve the team.
Dejan Kovacevic: Apologies, first, for the tardiness. Brain is in a total fog from all this flying. ... Until MLB or the MLB Players Association finds a way to enforce a minimum payroll, any team that is not spending up to the level of others in its market size is not being held accountable. Obviously, with the Pirates $30 million below the Brewers in major-league payroll -- and Milwaukee a market two-thirds the size of Pittsburgh -- that applies here.
dulskib: Dejan, How many options does Brad Eldred have remaining? It would seem silly for the Pirates to use an option for four at bats.
Dejan Kovacevic: One option covers a whole year. I get this one a lot.
Elijah_Dukes: Other than Salty, have there been any other players the buccos have asked about? Any chance they move pitching in a deadline deal?
Dejan Kovacevic: Extremely unlikely pitching will be moved. As you might have seen in the notebook today, Littlefield sent a rather clear signal that no major moves are going to be made at the deadline. They have inquired about Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but that is as far as it has gotten to my knowledge.
PhillyMarty: Any reason to think that the recent display of awful fundamentals by so many players could lead to terminating the manager since we can't terminate 2
Dejan Kovacevic: Nothing reflects worse on a manager, coaching staff or baseball operations as a whole than poor fundamentals. It does not take natural or star-level talent to properly execute plays in the field or on the basepaths. The Pirates have been just awful in this regard, especially in the past six weeks.
PhillyMarty: Much has been written about the season longing benching of Castillo. Little has been written about what has now become the poor decision of thinking Sanchez was an everyday second baseman. I know he was hurt all spring. But surely someone in the organization had seen him at 2B during his minor league career. Whom do you hold primarily accountable for this major managerial mistake.
Dejan Kovacevic: Whether or not Sanchez can play second, the mistake that is made is taking a very good situation and disrupting to address another bad one. With Sanchez at third, the Pirates had the National League batting champion as well as a Gold Glove caliber defense, and they had him healthy and focused on his at-bats. At second, he is getting banged up (a new ice bag every day, it seems), and clearly is not doing nearly as well defensively. Two wrongs do not make a right.
PhillyMarty: Who will be the 2008 opening day 3B? And where does Neil Walker fit in considering whomever is the one in front of him is not that much older?
Dejan Kovacevic: Impossible to say, but a good question. Bautista will need to hit for more power to cement himself there. Sanchez could go back. But Walker? My understanding is that his glove has a long way to go to be major-league ready there, regardless of his bat. And do not underestimate the importance of good defense at that position, with all the left-handed, pitch-to-contact types in the rotation.
Bowling_for_Dollars: Dejan, hope the trip is going fine. It was refreshing to read Snell's comments at least he is showing some passion and I hope he is not fined for something that needed to be done by someone in the organization. Preach on Ian, Preaach on.
Dejan Kovacevic: No one will question Ian Snell's desire to win. Even without the comments, he has gone out and given the Pirates all he has each time on the mound. And that includes when times are tough like that second inning the other night. I might say the same for Tom Gorzelanny, who just continues to impress not only with his pitching but also mental toughness.
Anti_Protest: Dave Littlefield feels the Pirates are improved fundamentally? He should be fired for that statement alone.
Dejan Kovacevic: It is safe to say most regular observers of the team would disagree. Quite strongly. The team, as I mentioned earlier, is awful in this regard. And I might add that effort -- something I hardly ever had to discuss or describe to readers -- has come up more in the past six weeks than at any other time I can remember. ... One thing you could always count upon the Pirates to give you, even through all this losing, was their best effort. That no longer is the case.
wrv2: Dejan, why did John Wasdin get the call instead of Franquelis Osoria? Now we have two mop up men in the bullpen. Also you reported that we are interested in acquiring Salty from Atlanta, would a Duke, Duffy, Marte package get that deal done?
Dejan Kovacevic: Osoria has been positively destroyed in his last two outings for Indianapolis. Jesse Chavez has been pitching quite well, but he is rather young, and the Pirates have not done well with that mold when bringing it up. ... Package deal? No soup!
MadAsHades: GM Ken WIlliams of the Chicago White Sox, a team 1 1/2 years removed from a World Series championship, says "Something's got to happen. I'm tired of watching this. Change needs to happen and change is going to happen...". Pirates GM Dave Littlefield, whose team has not sniffed a .500 season let alone a postseason in 3/4's of a score, say yesterday that he thinks his team's basics are better and is sticking with this roster for the rest of the season. Both teams are 13 games under .500, yet the difference between the sense of anger and committment to change course by the respective GM's are diametrically opposed. Dejan, why no sense of anger or urgency from Littlefield? McNutting? I can't and won't support the PBC in anyway until this acceptance of less than mediocrity is purged from the highest levels of this team.
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates' management, as a whole, is not very outwardly emotional, to say the least. That makes it hard to tell, of course, if they are inwardly emotional. ... Is "inwardly" a word?
PhillyMarty: Things to miss about Pittsburgh - you have written about Primanti's but what about a favorite pizza shop?
Dejan Kovacevic: Vincent's. Is anyone different that way?
PhillyMarty: Partly due to injury, we have had 4 different guys start in CF. Do you project any of them to be our CF of the future?
Dejan Kovacevic: No. The center fielder of the future is Andrew McCutchen. Forget his average. At some point, he is going to get straightened out. Too much talent there. Enormous talent.
WCbucco: Hi Dejan, as a Pgh native and Pirate fan living out here on the West Coast, I got to see the Bucs and Angels in person twice this weekend in Anaheim. Their lackadaisical play was a refelection of the comotose manager they have. However, the thing I had a real problem with was watching Ronny Paulino. There were four plays at home Fri and Sat, and he failed to catch any of the throws. Granted two weren't the best throws, but an attempt to move his feet and catch the ball would have been nice. I think if he catches the two good throws we get outs at the plate which might have given some life to the team. I've seen numerous comments in your articles about Paulino's lack of hustle, and I've now seen it first hand. When does this this manager bench guys for not playing hard and put someone in there who will. At this point, I'm not asking for perfection, just some desire to play hard..
Dejan Kovacevic: Never underestimate how much the manager values game-calling. It seems Paulino can do nothing to get out of the lineup, so long as that aspect remains intact.
cbb: Is there any chance that we will read something about the Pirates in the PG other than reactionary pessimism?
Dejan Kovacevic: Are you referring to my coverage from the West Coast? If so, I had an awful lot of caffeine that could have led to your perception of reactionary pessimism.
Operation_Shutdown: If the Pirates had 25 guys that cared as much as Ian Snell, they'd win 90 games.
Dejan Kovacevic: They have more than Snell. Trust me on that. But it is not 25.
angryPiratesfan: Is Snell the only player angry about the bad baseball and the losing, or is he just the only one bold enough to admit it?
Dejan Kovacevic: Snell is not alone. I do not wish to make a list of all those who I think care for fear of omitting someone, but anyone who saw the game yesterday and saw Xavier Nady stealing second on a bad hamstring in the ninth should not be limiting this discussion to Snell. There are others.
cbb: Has there been much discussion of the blown calls in Anaheim? The x-mo replay on the Angels' broadcast showed the Chacono's foot clearly hit the bag first on Friday, and then there was the phantom tag on Duffy last night as well as the grounder that Bay clearly beat out
Dejan Kovacevic: Good teams get the calls. The Pirates are not, according to the standings, a good team.
R._Simon__Sausage_Killer: Would teams still be willing to give up anything good for Zach Duke? If I hear one more thing about pitching depth when nothing is done to trade for bats, I will jump out of the window here.
Dejan Kovacevic: Teams would, in fact, give up something for Duke. There is a perception in the industry that someone could take him and do for him what the Mets did with Oliver Perez. And the memory of his 2005 still resonates.
t: Do the Pirates lead the league in called third strikes?
Dejan Kovacevic: I would imagine Florida does. No one comes close to the Marlins in terms of strikeouts, as we might see over the next three days.
angryPiratesfan: Since the players, manager, and coaches have all changed over the last 15 losing seasons, doesn't that tell ownership that their method for running a low-budget team is the reason the Pirates are currently the biggest joke in MLB?
Dejan Kovacevic: The ownership has changed twice, too.
Money_For_Nutting: Doubt it could make us any worse, but what are your thoughts on the Josh Phelps move?
Dejan Kovacevic: Well, he had two nice singles yesterday, then two of the worst at-bats you will ever see with runners in scoring position. As first impressions go, it left something to be desired.
kegger: Are the current positional players going to stay intact through 09? Seems like DL is happy with the lineup since he controls the players through 09, despite the performances. Still need another lefty bat.
Dejan Kovacevic: That depends on whether the management remains intact but, yes, the positional players all are under the Pirates' control through that year or beyond. And that is to say nothing of Walker, McCutchen and Brian Bixler.
R._Simon__Sausage_Killer: Is Ryan Doumit finally going to be the starting catcher? I mean I know the ERA difference is apparently so obvious, but so is Ronnie Paulino's absolute failure to resemble a major league baseball player. Perhaps Doumit can, you know, catch a ball here and there.
Dejan Kovacevic: See above about game-calling. No matter what Paulino does wrong, an excuse is offered and he is right back out there because of the game-calling.
Operation_Shutdown: Did it make sense to have Eldred fly 5,000 miles roundtrip for 4 major league at bats?
Dejan Kovacevic: Judging from the seven pitches he saw in those four at-bats, it seems he was in a big hurry to get out of there.
Operation_Shutdown: Josh Phelps, John Wasdin: Welcome to hell?
Dejan Kovacevic: Florida? You bet.
MPM: Assuming Daniel Moskos inks a contract relatively quickly, where will he be assigned?
Dejan Kovacevic: A college pitcher should start out at Hickory. And that is good, because the Crawdads could use some help in their bullpen.
Operation_Shutdown: Looks like the Pens took best player available, Angelo Esposito, in the first round just like the Buccos and Moskos.
Dejan Kovacevic: The Penguins and Steelers never could be accused of the things the Pirates have heard in relation to this pick.
R._Simon__Sausage_Killer: There seems to be an incredible lack of leadership on this team. I know the clubhouse hasn't completely blown up yet, but which players, other than Snell, are actually getting in guy's faces and challenging them to do better?
Dejan Kovacevic: Hard to say. We will see. I know there are a few candidates -- Snell actually is not one of them -- but someone has to step up.
littlepockets: Dejan, hey, at least our bunting is getting better! It's like he is just throwing stuff off the wall to see what sticks. I quit.
Dejan Kovacevic: The bunting has been quite good.
BISHMANIA: Dejan: Great job covering the beat all year. If you were the Bucco GM, what moves would you make immediately?
Dejan Kovacevic: Trade pitching for hitting. Yesterday.
bob_nutting: How long will we have to deal with Adam Laroche? I think he is a good hitter in a lineup where he can hide. IE Chipper and Andruw Jones.
Dejan Kovacevic: LaRoche has not had a good trip and -- at the risk of sounding like I am making excuses for the guy, which I do not do with anyone -- he has not seen many fastballs at all. Teams know they can attack most of the Pirates' lineup without worry, so he is getting nothing but junk. Look at the tape of his six-pitch walk that started that rally yesterday. Junk, junk and junk. That is why he took and, of course, why others saw fastballs behind him.
BenderHeel But at least the team is bunting better.....
Dejan Kovacevic: The bunting is good!
tom: Dejan, I read your comments about the baserunning errors, lack of effort, what is your take on the GM saying thier basics are better? Because they are bunting better!! What's up with that?
Dejan Kovacevic: We love the bunts!
bob_nutting: Will we see a major change? How can they stand pat. What about firing Tracy then Littlefield.
Dejan Kovacevic: If the Pirates finish 67-95 for a third consecutive season -- they are tracking that way yet again -- one would expect serious change.
succofan: D: How long a leash are th Pirates giving Littlefield? WHile money is an issuse with this team his decisions on players have been very questionable.
Dejan Kovacevic: Littlefield and Tracy have contracts expire in 2008. Few GMs and managers enter a lame-duck year without a new deal, so a decision one way or the other is likely this year.
DerekBell14 Is there any chance that the Pirates will just dump Tony Armless....Its embarrassing to have a guy like this on the roster!
Dejan Kovacevic: Cutting Armas would represent quite the humiliation for the Pirates, especially after squandering $17.5 million on Jeromy Burnitz, Joe Randa, Sean Casey and Roberto Hernandez last year. That would be $21 million for Brian Rogers, essentially, if you break down the trades that followed.
BISHMANIA: Bigger do-over Chris Young/ Herges deal or Aramis Ramirez/ 3 sacks of potatos trade?
Dejan Kovacevic: Rule 5. Every time.
bob_nutting: In your honest opinion. Does ownership care about winning or the fans, and have the players given up. It looks like it to me, but you are obviously closer to the situations.
Dejan Kovacevic: Regarding ownership: We will see. The organization's problems are many and they are great. We will see if they are addressed. Have the players given up? Some of them have not. ... That is all I have for the week. Q&A tomorrow. ... Go work on your bunting and be good.