Dejan Kovacevic: Afternoon, lunatics. (One reader actually took offense to being called that a couple weeks ago. Maybe some of you can fill him in.) Away we go ...
Buccodiehard: What's your take on Ian Snell. 17 strikeouts is impressive if he was pitching against Instructional League team. Does he have a conflict with Pirate staff, players, catchers? What does he mean by negativity vibe he gets in Pittsburgh. Is he a lost cause and performed well just so his trade value would increase?
Dejan Kovacevic: Just spoke with the young man before starting this chat. Plain and simple, he needed to get his head clear. A lot of us face similar situations in life. For reasons that are his own, this was his time. ... It would seem pretty apparent that, for one day at least, the effect of being elsewhere was a great positive.
SeanE: Hi Dejan: It is very rare that a GM will come out and say he made a "mistake" as Neil did regarding the Snell contract. Do you think that this was done as a way to motivate Snell as he always seems to need that proverbial chip on his shoulder to motivate him?
Dejan Kovacevic: No, this is very much standard for Huntington, who is as candid as any sports executive I ever have encountered. He seemed to genuinely feel he made a mistake, and his stance is that the best way to improve job performance is to acknowledge mistakes, learn from them and not make them again. ... If it had anything to do with motivating Snell, I missed it.
Dejan_Fan: Dejan, from what Huntington said in the article today, it sounds as though Snell is gone. How could they bring him back when the GM publicly says you are a mistake?
Dejan Kovacevic: Seems very unlikely. That would take quite some group hug at this point.
Bucsin09: Did Nyjer Morgan ever elaborate on how he knew he wouldn't be traded?
Dejan Kovacevic: He did not. But neither did he indicate that he had been told that. Huntington does not make such promises to players, at least not that I am aware. I think Morgan was simply stating his belief that he will stay.
Dejan_Fan: Dejan, the Bucs are 5 out as we chat, even though in last place. If they stay close, is there any reason to believe management would add rather than subtract to the roster?
Dejan Kovacevic: Absolutely none, so long as there are that many teams between them and first. Five games out is very different when you are in second, because you really need only one team to sputter in front of you. Asking a whole division to collapse is ambitious.
Bucsin09: Is Shelby Ford hurt? His drop-off seems alarming.
Dejan Kovacevic: He was hurt in the spring, as well as into the season, and it was his wrist. So, yes, that is alarming for any hitter. He is not performing at the plate anywhere close to expectations, still below .200, still not showing any power.
SeanE: Does the fact that Snell has club options for his first two years of free agency (something almost unheard of today) actually enhance his trade value a little bit?
Dejan Kovacevic: Nothing about that contract enhances his trade value, not the guaranteed money, not the very expensive options and not the buyout that comes with those options. Teams that covet Snell want him as a reliever. This pay scale is well above even above-average relief pay.
Sherwood22: Dejan, what's the latest with Miguel Sano?
Dejan Kovacevic: As I have printed, there are three or four teams eyeing him closely. Still no offers, pending Major League Baseball's formal investigation into his age, something the Pirates already completed for themselves independently.
FiveYearPlan: Dejan, great piece with Coonelly. After the interview does it seem to you that Nutting's main objective is to field a winning team or make a profit? And if the team becomes competitive in the future will he be willing to lose millions of dollars to make a playoff push?
Dejan Kovacevic: The impression I have gotten from Nutting -- and from Coonelly that day -- is that the Pirates do not see winning and profiting as mutually exclusive. One brings the other, if all goes well. That, I think, is why Coonelly was stressing to me that the gap between the Pirates' and Brewers' revenue -- $50 million -- is $20 million greater than the difference in their payrolls. In essence, it means the Brewers are winning AND are more profitable. ... No one begrudges a winning team making a profit, right?
Capn: Don't you think if Ian Snell had a publicist, he'd cause much less grief for himself? Sometimes, I think he starts out meaning well in his comments to the media and then takes a wrong turn over a cliff.
Dejan Kovacevic: Snell has a highly respected agent in Joe Sroba, but no player would look good having a publicist to explain what they say. You are correct, I think, that Snell's comments often send him over a cliff, even when he does not intend them to. But that is something he will have to learn to handle on his own.
J_C_Steel: DK -- While it's nice that the Nationals are interested in Nyjer Morgan, I'm worried about bringing in a purported head case like Lastings Milledge into the Bucco fold. After the Ian Snell issue, why would management want to take a chance on another guy with attitude problems?
Dejan Kovacevic: Very valid question. Be sure it is something the Pirates have considered.
Bring_Back_Mike_Benjamin: Has Jose Tabata shown any signs this year that he's worth all the hype?
Dejan Kovacevic: Gradually, now that his hamstring has healed, Tabata is beginning to swing the bat very well. There are those inside and outside the Pirates who feel he has the approach to hit in the majors right now. But he needs to get his act together in all facets to make that large stride. I am no hitting expert, but I was floored by what I saw of this kid in spring training, more so than with Pedro Alvarez.
WieterLess: Seems to me Snell's comments were directly addressing his perceived shortcomings at Pittsburgh (especially the bit about the catcher), and now Huntington is calling the extension a mistake! Are these guys actually sniping via the media at this point?
Dejan Kovacevic: They would have to be coming to the media, I think, in order to be pursuing some sort of sniping. In each case (though I was not in Indianapolis for Snell's comments yesterday, obviously), they answered questions. And, for what it is worth, Snell made quite clear to me today that his praise for Erik Kratz was not intended at all to reflect on anything in Pittsburgh. As noted in my story today, he worked with Kratz in the spring and likes his abilities.
SeanE: Hi Dejan: Is the team only being 5 games out of the playoffs despite being 5 games under .500 Neil and Franks worst nightmare? While I don't think moving Adam LaRoche would cause an uproar among the fan base, if Wilson, Sanchez and (to a lesser extent) Grabow were to go the venom would be unreal regardless of the return. Do you think they are cognizant of this fact and will it play a role in any personnel moves?
Dejan Kovacevic: Not really, as they tell it. If the Pirates really want to trade these players, they can do so after the season. Value is not as high, obviously, but there also is value in the current team doing well, for morale, better attendance, etc.
ajt123: While much is made of the in-house chemistry, would you feel Nyjer and Lastings would be interchangeable parts?
Dejan Kovacevic: I never have dealt with Milledge and would not presume to judge him.
PirateApologist: Is this team looking at the standings?
Dejan Kovacevic: Wrote a whole story about this for Sunday's paper. Still on the site. When we're done, go over and check it out.
Capn: Is Starling Marte's promotion the first in a long while for a player signed from Latin America?
Dejan Kovacevic: It is a significant step, yes. Marte was in the Dominican complex (the old, lousy one) just last summer, then had an encouraging Instructional League in which he not only performed well but also befriended Alvarez. Had a chance to meet the young man in the Dominican last November and came away very impressed with his stature (seriously athletic looking) and maturity. ... In his first weekend with West Virginia, he already has two 3-for-5 games. The Pirates really like him. ... But hey, this is what you get when you actually spend money in the region. Marte did not come cheap.
RichP: Do you think Capps could go if someone blows us away with an offer?
Dejan Kovacevic: Anyone could go in that circumstance. But such circumstances are rare. GMs hate the term "blown away," generally speaking.
letsgo: Why even say that about Snell? It seems like that would hurt his trade value too? First sub par play then demotion then management calling you a mistake. What can they possibly expect in return now?
Dejan Kovacevic: What Huntington said is not anything that anyone in baseball did not already know. People do their homework like never before, and that is doubly true involving players making millions of dollars.
Captain_InSano: Dejan, how close are we to seeing Garrett Jones in Pittsburgh? Steve Pearce isn't instilling much hope, and wouldn't mind seeing what Jones has.
Dejan Kovacevic: Jones sure sounds to me like a September guy. Remember, he would have to be added to the 40-man no matter when he comes up.
Artie_Lange: How does Greinke compare to the other aces you have seen this year?
Dejan Kovacevic: He looked OK. The Pirates did not sound to me as if they were floored by his stuff. Aaron Harang is the one I enjoy watching the most. When he is on, just pinpointing fastballs, he makes it look so easy. It is a shame he does not get more attention.
letsgobuccos: What are the chances of Brad Lincoln coming to the majors any time soon? I heard a report that there is no reason that he's not already there.
Dejan Kovacevic: I wrote that in the notebook after Lincoln's second Class AAA start, citing a scout. The Pirates have no intention of doing that. September? Maybe. Now? No. He has only recently begun working his changeup into his repertoire, and they like the progress he has shown with it. Their thinking is they want him to develop a rhythm with it.
CecilioGuante: What's your take on Charlie Morton's attitude? I noticed when they were showing Virgil's reaction to Capps finishing off his first victory, Morton was in the background looking stoic, if not bored. Everyone else in the dugout showed some sort of reaction, a "yeah!" or a clap, but Morton's expression never changed. Do you sense he's unhappy at all about leaving an organization like Atlanta for Pittsburgh?
Dejan Kovacevic: Morton, from what I gather, is thrilled to be in Pittsburgh and relieved to not be getting blocked anymore in Atlanta. He is kind of a quiet kid, so you read that part right. But everything else you cite is going too far. There does some to be a good competitiveness there.
PghSportsfan66: Since we missed out on Cuthbert and all we're hearing as fans is that it'll be "tough" to sign some of the promising hs pitchers, and Sano seems to be a 50/50 shot between us in the Orioles, is it possible we're all about to be extremely disappointed in the next 6 weeks?
Dejan Kovacevic: Yes, it is possible. Neal Huntington was saying yesterday that the Latin market has "exploded," and there is evidence to support that. With Sano being seen as the most talented player by a couple teams now, maybe more, his price tag will be high. Cheslor Cuthbert's was high, too, and the Pirates elected not to sign him even after investing two years of recruiting and developing him out of Nicaragua, a place they are trying to build into a stronghold. ... This is going to cost money, and it remains to be seen if the Pirates are willing to spend it.
forbesfieldrefugee: How are players selected for the "Futures" game. It doesn't appear to me that Alvarez has enough of a resume to make it, but ...
Dejan Kovacevic: The teams themselves have great influence on the process, from what I am told.
jefft: Dejan, how much of Snell's contract do you think the Pirates will have to pick up in order to move him & get something worthwhile in return?
Dejan Kovacevic: That is not something Frank Coonelly likes to do. But Huntington did say yesterday they are looking to "salvage something from the situation," so maybe it is possible this time.
Bucsin09: All things considered, our bullpen has been pretty good, considering the many unexpected losses (Dumatrait, Yates, Hansen, etc.) Is this one of the biggest surprises so far this year?
Dejan Kovacevic: Yes, and I am guilty of under-reporting it, maybe. Sean Burnett and Jesse Chavez, in particular, have contributed more than most expected, I think, and have given John Russell some options when other back-end guys have struggled and with Tyler Yates out.
Adam_Hyzdu: DK, I understand why the Pirates may want to trade Morgan at peak value, but why seek Milledge in return? It seems to me that the outfield is one area of depth, and we could use some middle infield help and of course pitching. Your thoughts?
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates rejected Washington's offer, so clearly they were not seeking Milledge. They wanted more.
Ian_Schnell: Sorry for being late on that, but when the Stanley Cup was at PNC, did you get to touch it and/or have your picture taken with it?
Dejan Kovacevic: No and no. It was in the press box on that Sunday, and it was neat seeing it. Bill Guerin came up with it. I talked to him for a while, as we had met several times while I was doing hockey a few years ago. One more ...
SeanE: Dejan: Doesn't talent win out over attitude? See Tabata.
Dejan Kovacevic: Sure, unless attitude gets in the way of bringing out all the talent that is there. ... Cubs tonight ... Q&A Thursday ...