Dejan Kovacevic's Pirates chat transcript

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kiski92: Dejan, What is the sense that you get from the Pirates on the risk/upside of Sano versus those players likely to be available at #4 in the June draft? I ask because I would guess both will cost about the same $ to sign.

Dejan Kovacevic: First, good afternoon to one and all on this spectacular day in our city. The sense is that Miguel Angel Sano has a much higher ceiling than the likely No. 4 overall draft pick. Not even close. People feel very strongly about Sano's talent. And yes, they would cost about the same.

BuccoFan: Was Yates hiding his injury until recently or were the Pirates hiding it?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yates was open about it with the Pirates all through this process. Pitching injuries and ailments tend not to be made public until there is a shutdown or a DL assignment.

PirateApologist: Hello Dejan. I see Brian Friday seems to get about 2 hits in every Curve game. How is his defense? Is he a candidate to replace Bixler soon and perhaps Jack Wilson someday?

Dejan Kovacevic: Friday's defense is actually seen as better than his bat, so yes, if he keeps hitting well -- though not necessarily at his ridiculous .420 pace right now -- he might finally, at long last, be that shortstop who could replace Wilson.

letsgo: Do we have anyone else who can close? The PBC doesn't get many opportunities. Can they try anyone else or try close by committee? Blowing these great starts by our starters will be another reason for them (starters) to want to leave. Not to mention another reason a proven starter would not want to come here via free agency. That is if the team ever gets to the point they go after those free agents.

Dejan Kovacevic: Giving up on one of the best-control, most reliable relievers in baseball at age 25 because of a couple lousy weeks would be preposterous. Matt Capps will be fine.

Gobucos3: Good afternoon Dejan. What do you think of Neil walker playing right field until Tabata is ready?

Dejan Kovacevic: Again, there is this urgency to find Neil Walker a position so that he can get to Pittsburgh. You would not believe the percentage of my mail that is on this topic. ... Trying to be kind here because Walker is a wonderful kid with a great attitude, but he is hitting .220 right now in Indianapolis. And that is after a recent surge. He needs to prove his bat is worth being in the majors before anyone should worry about his being blocked.

CROSSBONES: The early look is, the Pirates found a gem in Delwyn Young. Could he push his way into a starting role?

Dejan Kovacevic: If his bat plays up to the expectations that some have, sure. I was surprised the Pirates waited as long as they did to give him a chance to start, based solely on their own assessments of his potential.

ARTHUR: Please explain the Gorzelanny recall. He is determined to be a starter, yet he is recalled for relief. Won't this recall interfere with his development in the minors? It is reported that the move "addresses significant pitcher issues". How?

Dejan Kovacevic: He probably will not be here long. The Pirates sought someone in the very short term who could provide a big pitch count in case of an emergency. I would expect another move soon, including Gorzelanny going back.

oldtimer72: Why did they use Meek yesterday and not Veel. The bullpen is again short on pitching for tonight now with Meek going two innings

Dejan Kovacevic: Wondered the same myself. Maybe John Russell thought Colorado could match that 10-run inning.

JRay03: On Mothers Day I saw Brad Lincoln pitch in Reading and he looked great. Hit 95 on the gun often and pitched into the 7th inning. I think his time is coming soon, as we have nothing at AAA. What do you think?

Dejan Kovacevic: Lincoln's velocity has been in the 92-93 range, for the most part, but what the Pirates like best is that his breaking stuff is back, really, for the first time since college. That should be considered highly encouraging.

AZBucsFan: Hi Dejan, just read the minor league reports for today. How much do the Pirates like Calvin Anderson at WV? Is he seen as a viable player who could quickly move through the system?

Dejan Kovacevic: He is a giant of a man at 6 feet 7, and he hits the ball very far. He will have to improve his walk-strikeout ratio to sustain that success at higher levels, especially at first base, but anyone hitting home runs is a sight for sore eyes in the Pirates' system.

BuStA_B: Is Jared Hughes a top prospect? His era is under 2.00 right now.

Dejan Kovacevic: A top prospect? No. But the Pirates are happy with his ERA, especially in light of a 1-4 record that might have dispirited another young pitcher. Given the way Indianapolis' staff is going, it might not be long before some of the good pitching in Altoona moves up the ladder.

goGonchgo: SI recently had a list of the five worst owners in baseball. How did the pirates manage to stay off that one? Isn't 16 straight losing seasons the definition of terrible?

Dejan Kovacevic: You will have to ask Sports Illustrated.

goGonchgo: Will you be disappointed if the Pirates finish over 500 this year? It would be a shame for them to come so close to the record and not get it.

Dejan Kovacevic: Not part of the job to be disappointed or anything emotionally related to the team. Just to write about it. ... I can tell you that I do not hear the players talking about 82, any more than I hear management talking about it.

Chap_Lipman: Do the Pirates have ANY pitching prospects?

Dejan Kovacevic: They have Lincoln, and they like Daniel McCutchen in Indianapolis, though his showing so far has been kind of flat. They also like Bryan Morris, but he cannot seem to stay on the field.

Chap_Lipman: The city of Chicago owned us last year, can we expect to see the Pirates win a game in Chicago this weekend?

Dejan Kovacevic: It will not be easy, based on what I saw at the White Sox's place last year. Man, that was about the worst three-day beating I have seen the Pirates take in years.

pirate_guy: Your gut feeling: Do the Pirates throw huge money at Sano? If they do I think they will take Aaron Crow in Round 1. He should be very signable.

Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates have a rare opportunity with Sano, in that he is a truly elite Dominican prospect they have been shown while other teams have not had access. So, there is more to it than money, as I wrote Sunday: If they opt not to sign a player like this -- or any player at this level -- they will not be shown such players in the future. Sounds strange, but that is the system down there.

Rosin_Bran: Dejan, 4 games till the quarter of the season, who's been the bigger surprise, Tony Plush(Nyjer's nickname) or Zack Duke?

Dejan Kovacevic: No question, it has been Morgan. His ability to get on base and make things happen has exceeded his previous career norm, and few could have seen it coming. From Duke, we have at least seen it before, though it was a long time ago.

RichP: Could you see a scenario in which the Bucs rent out Jack for the last couple of months with the intention of bringing him back as a free agent?

Dejan Kovacevic: I have heard nothing regarding Wilson on any trade front. But the scenario you describe is a great rarity in sports. When players go, they go.

smitty6668: Does anyone else see the Buccos sweeping the Nats, getting to 20-21 and getting us all excited again, and then lose 6 in a row in Chicago?

Dejan Kovacevic: Washington can hit the ball, as the numbers will attest. So, the Pirates will have to do likewise against a pitching staff that is the worst in the game (although Shairon Martis, the starter tomorrow, has been outstanding of late).

Andy_Van_Slyke: Do the Pirates plan on letting Donnie Veal pitch much this season? Is he really that good of a prospect to essentially give up a roster spot for him?

Dejan Kovacevic: Apparently, the Pirates feel exactly that strongly about keeping him ... and protecting him. They have made no secret about both.

pghboyinca: With Moss starting to produce and Morgan doing well assuming McClouth as a fixture and know Cutch is on the and as you noted Delwyn is thought of highly how do you see the outfield starters on Sept 1st

Dejan Kovacevic: Ouch. Tough one. When McCutchen comes up, he plays. So put him in right. Whoever is hottest out of Morgan, Young or Moss can play left.

Nate: Who do you expect to get most of Doumit's off days when Doumit returns to the lineup?

Dejan Kovacevic: If Robinzon Diaz keeps hitting as he has, he has to play. Think about the size of the bat that the Pirates lose when Doumit is out. That has to be the priority over defense if one is talking about a start or two per week.

Andy_Van_Slyke: Who do you think will be the Pirates 1st baseman next season?

Dejan Kovacevic: Steve Pearce.

dewey: Do the Pirates get upset that the hockey season lingers on for so long and overlaps with the Pirates, probably hurting attendance?

Dejan Kovacevic: Never have heard anything like that. Not at all. And if you mean the players, they love going to the games and watching when they can. McLouth, Paul Maholm and John Russell were among the handful that were at Game 6 against the Capitals last weekend.

Jimmy: If the Pirates do have a genuine shot at signing Sano, how can they turn down the chance of signing a player with a Hanley Ramirez-type upside?

Dejan Kovacevic: Because they would be wary of the risk of investing $4 million or so in this particular player, or they simply would not want to spend the money. The only two possibilities.

Chap_Lipman: Who are our three outfielders 2 years from now?

Dejan Kovacevic: Oh, come on.

JRay03: Pearce seems to be coming on lately, is Adam LaRoche as good as gone? Who would be interested?

Dejan Kovacevic: I have heard nothing specific or solid, so this is solely speculation, but the New York Mets are a team that clearly needs a first baseman should Carlos Delgado's hip injury turn out to be as serious as feared. And teams would have to know of LaRoche's history of being one of the best hitters in baseball in the second half, so that would be attractive to any contender.

pghboyinca: If Morgan continues to produce like he has is there any chance he could be packaged with Sanchez and maybe another youngster for a decent young shortstop prospect at the deadline?

Dejan Kovacevic: No soup!

Andy_Van_Slyke: Who gets the callup when Gorzelanny returns to the minors?

Dejan Kovacevic: I would expect it will be Chris Bootcheck. His ERA is above 5.00, but he has been much better of late and currently is Indianapolis' closer. Plus, he has major league experience and had a decent spring. The catch is, he would have to be added to the 40-man, which currently is full.

fjr1300b: Dejan, looking long term even though Capps signed his deal it sure seems to me that Evan Meek looks like he has better stuff... any chance he gets a shot at the closer role in the near future?

Dejan Kovacevic: Capps has better control than most pitchers in baseball. His fastball and Meek's are comparable, but you are correct that Meek has more of an arsenal. ... But, to answer your question, no, Capps is the closer.

Daquido_Bazzini: Dejan...Was it you that presented the question to Frank Coonelly about the Freddy Sanchez sitting out a few games/contract?....And if so, just how upset did he get?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yes, the article stated that Coonelly was responding to the Post-Gazette. His emotion, I thought, came out in the response. But he was -- and always is -- unfailingly professional.

dizrick: Any thought as to who the Pirates will take with their first pick in the draft?

Dejan Kovacevic: Chuck Finder will be handling all the advance material on the draft, and I have been focused much more on Latin America and Sano than the draft, so that can be something you run past Chuck over on the blog.

BuStA_B: Are you surprised at how well Jesse Chavez has pitched so far?

Dejan Kovacevic: Not from the stuff standpoint. The kid has a blazing arm. What caught my eye over the weekend -- and I noted it in the game story -- was that he pitched with a little bit of an attitude against Colorado, and that has to be highly encouraging for the Pirates. If he could put that arm to use in throwing consistent strikes down in the zone ...

pirates38: Speaking of Russell he has made a ot of bone-headed moves this year. Will he still be around by the end of the year? I for one sure hope not. Bring on Phil Garner.

Dejan Kovacevic: You would have to be more specific about the moves for me to address those, but the answer is, yes, he will be the manager barring some catastrophic collapse.

Chap_Lipman: Gut feeling, will we finish under .500 this season?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yes, as I have maintained all along. This offense will not get it done over a long summer, and that will be doubly true when key pieces are traded in July.

ajt123: I see Mr Smizik was against us going after Sano, while you where kind of neutral listing both the pro's and con's.. It seems like this is the main avenue the Pirates should be pursing despite the risks... Do you agree?

Dejan Kovacevic: Smizik is a columnist, and I am a beat writer. It is his job to advocate certain positions, my job to give you the news and both sides of a story. We both stayed very much in character on this one.

Rosin_Bran: Do you think a quarter of the season is enough to show that the starting pitching has proved that their performance should stay fairly the same the rest of the way, barring injuries

Dejan Kovacevic: The starters have been very good, easily the greatest positive of the season to this point.

Jimmy: Considering the Bay/Nady trades, and the probable trade of LaRoche and maybe Wilson and Sanchez, and with no Alvarez type really available in the draft, wouldn't simply not wanting to spend the money on Sano be a poor decision, at least from a PR perspective?

Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates should not make baseball decisions from a PR perspective. That is the stuff of losers in any sport. But they do have to be aware, as I mentioned, of the baseball fallout in the Dominican: To get elite players shown to you, you have to sign one once in a while. The academy will not make that happen. These kids and their families want money.

Andy_Van_Slyke: Couldn't Barthmaier go on the 60 day DL so someone like Bootcheck could be called up? Or will Doumit be out 60 days?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yes, either could be transferred. That is correct. But neither has happened yet, so the 40-man is full.

TonyPlush: Who do you see as the Pirates potential All-Star selections?

Dejan Kovacevic: In order, Nate McLouth, Freddy Sanchez, Nyjer Morgan, Zach Duke. But bear in mind that I do not view the All-Star Game as something to reward first-half performance. Rather, it should be sustained, which is why I listed McLouth and Sanchez first.

dewey: Did you agree with the error call on the long fly ball in the 7th by LaRoche yesterday? It seemed like he ran a long way and there glaring sun in his eyes

Dejan Kovacevic: Very tough call, but yes. Ryan Spilborghs slowed just a bit before he got to that ball, which was the clincher. He was there, he had the glove up, and he missed it. Once you're there, the catch should be routine, which is the criteria. ... One more ...

doc: Since Diaz seems to have a real, bat any chance that the Pirates try to get both Doumit and Diaz in the game at the same time, especially if Adam LaRoche is traded?

Dejan Kovacevic: There has been zero indication from the Pirates that Doumit will do anything but catch, though it probably should come up at some point if they value his bat as much as they should. He takes quite a beating back there, and his bat is far more important to this franchise than his defense. ... Q&A Thursday. Thanks for the input, as always.


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