Dejan Kovacevic: Afternoon all, from somewhere numbingly outside the interesting part of New York. We will start in five minutes ...
Guest: When fans on PG+ talk about trades, they rarely focus of the good ones. Isn't it about time that the FO is praised for the McDonald/ Lambo trade? (I'm not sure I have the spelling right on the AA outfielder we got, but I think we'll be hearing a lot more from him next year.
Dejan Kovacevic: It appears to be an outstanding trade by Neal Huntington, even at this early stage, given that it will not take any time to know what the Dodgers have in Octavio Dotel at this stage of his career. James McDonald has been very good, and Andrew Lambo has shown promise while playing around that nagging shoulder injury.
Razzgospel: I'm the "guest" I don't get onto the chat much and forgot to identify myself.
Dejan Kovacevic: Well, there you go.
Dejan Kovacevic: It was there in the game story this morning.
Russell called it.
matt: Do you think there is any chance this front office brings in a legitimate middle of the order bat or front end starter or do you feel like the front office will go dumpster diving
Dejan Kovacevic: I'm getting the feeling that it will be somewhere in between. When you say front-line, I think of really, really front-line types, and the Pirates just aren't going to do that.
There's a better chance that you'll see money invested in pitching than in offense, in large part because of greater need, but also because there is a greater chance of finding help there. If one assumes that the best offensive upgrade is at first base or right field, the list of the latter is basically Jayson Werth and everyone else. The Pirates aren't going to get Werth.
smyers: Dejan, From the obvious playing time decrease to the comments earlier this week, do you see a long-term commitment (or lack there of) for Lastings Milledge? The manager seems to be willing to give his playing time to anyone possible. Any insights from the team on this?
Dejan Kovacevic: The current view on Milledge is that he has gotten his fair chance in 2010, and, without having the numbers right in front of me, I want to see he ranks fifth or sixth on the team in total plate appearances, so it's a hard point to dispute. I have not taken that to mean anyone has given up on him, just that they have three weeks left and want to give someone else a shot against major-league pitching.
From the sound of Russell yesterday here at Citi Field, I got the impression most of those at-bats will go to John Bowker, who management seems to like much more than his meager results to this point.
Jason: Haven't heard much from Robbie Grossman this year. Where is he likely to start next year?
Dejan Kovacevic: Grossman was part of what the Pirates felt was an aggressive placement as a high school guy moved up with high Class A Bradenton, and they were happy with what he did, though it didn't stand out much statistically. He had long slumps, but he also finished up OK.
I'd be surprised if he didn't open again with the Marauders next spring.
Jim in VT: Russell named Cedeno as his starting SS for next year. Are you as confident as he apparently is that both he and Cedeno will be back next year?
Dejan Kovacevic: I would be stunned if Cedeno were not back, and I'd be at least a little surprised if he were not the everyday shortstop. He has hardly been great, but there is talent there. And he will not cost much, even through an arbitration raise.
As for Russell, only Frank Coonelly knows the answer to that. Russell does have a contract through the 2011 season, so he and everyone else are behaving as if he will return.
Fat Jimmy: Okay, most likely "interesting" headline to come out of this offseason: "Pirates fire manager", "Pirates fire general manager", "Pirates sign free agent to $15mm/year contract", "Bob Nutting sells team", or "Dejan Kovacevic gives up coffee"?
Dejan Kovacevic: I tried that last one a few months ago. Failed worse than Jose Tabata's bunt attempt last night.
If the team were to be sold, that obviously would be the grabber. But there are no signs of that.
CtBucsFan: Is there any question within the organization that one or two legit Starting Pitchers are the number one priority going into next season?
Dejan Kovacevic: No, there is no question about that. But again, to go to what I started above, there has to be a match. The Pirates can simply state, for example, that the top priority in free agency is a right fielder, but if there is little besides Werth, that doesn't match.
There is some starting pitching, but it's not great, either, once you get below the very tip-top. And good luck trying to get starting pitching in trades.
Huntington will have his work cut out for him, not only in terms of finding possibilities, but also in upgrading the team's mechanisms for finding real pitching talents. The McDonald trade is highly encouraging on this front, but there must be more of those and fewer of some of the others.
Matt A: Does Doumt have a legit chance of being the starting everyday RF'er next spring, or is all this playing time just to try and showcase him for a move?
Dejan Kovacevic: I have had the impression from day one that it is about showcasing. The Pirates maintain it is not.
Bucco: Who says we need pitching?? The starters have been lights out for the past week!
Dejan Kovacevic: There you go. Stay the course.
pbshoe: I'm thinking that the FO might believe that it has the middle of the order bats in Jones and Alverez., figuring tat Jones is having a sophomore slump and that Pedro will improve.
Dejan Kovacevic: No, that is not the case with Jones, as our Chuck Finder reported this weekend from Cincinnati. Huntington and his staff are looking at Jones in a platoon role next year. They wanted to give him a full year to try to hit lefties, and they did that. They still are doing it. But their view is that it has not worked.
Ray: Hey, DK. The number of botched bunts this season is bordering on staggering. Are the players bunting on their own, or are they being called for from the bench? You'd think these guys would have it down before they hit the major league level.
Dejan Kovacevic: Anytime there has been a questionable bunt decision -- as opposed to simple lack of bunt execution -- I have found out for you and the readers who made the call. In the case Monday, it was Russell's call. When Cedeno put down that ultra-mystifying bunt a couple weeks ago in Milwaukee, that was Cedeno's call. Same with one that Neil Walker put down in Denver.
As for execution, yes, that needs work.
buccoboy: When you get a chance to watch TV, what do you watch?
Dejan Kovacevic: I watch "Mad Men" obsessively, like multiple times. I DVR every episode of "Jeopardy." And a lot of news stuff. That's it.
Almost never baseball. If you did this around the clock, you'd be looking for a change of pace, too.
naterosboro: Has mgt. said what the want to see from Ciriaco for him to get a legit shot at the MLB SS position?
Dejan Kovacevic: Plain and simple, Ciriaco needs to hit, and he knows it. He did show some encouraging signs at Indianapolis, where the word was that his bat surprised some with the team. His glove is considered major-league caliber, and his arm and speed are really good. But he has to show consistent production.
Here again, Cedeno can do all this, plus hit for power. Which is why the Pirates keep sticking by him.
Fat Jimmy: Any truth to the rumor that Neil Walker stuck a Post It Note with the words "I told you so" on Neal Huntington's office door?
Dejan Kovacevic: Those two have no issue whatsoever that I can see.
But I couldn't help but laugh a little at seeing Walker run out that infield-fly rule popup last night.
Invention Guru: Does James McDonald have #1 or #2 potential? How did we get lucky? Pirates are not suppose to get lucky.
Dejan Kovacevic: If McDonald can pitch down in the zone and trust his defense the way he did here last night, he can be a good pitcher on anybody's staff.
Granted, the Mets are not what they were, and the bottom of their order offered some easy outs. But McDonald did the same thing to Atlanta last week, trusting that he can make pitches to get people out without striking them out. His first couple starts were dazzling with all the Ks, but that wasn't going to be sustainable from an efficiency standpoint.
The guy last night was even better.
Did the Pirates or Huntington get lucky?
That wouldn't be at all fair to say, anymore than it would be fair to say they were unlucky in the many trades that did not work out. All credit is deserved.
Jack: how does the whole arbitration process work?
Dejan Kovacevic: In a live chat? Oh, no. Save that one for an offseason Q&A, please!
CtBucsFan: If you haven't discovered it yet, you MUST watch Dexter. You will LOVE it.
Dejan Kovacevic: Oh, yeah, I see "Dexter," too. Just got the whole-season DVD set, but I'm waiting until after getting back from Paris to pop it in.
Come on, people, baseball!
Matt A: Is there any concern from anyone, coaching staff, FO types, anyone, about the quality of Alvarez's at-bats? Does he seem to have a lot of disinterested looking 3 pitch strikeouts or is it my imagination? Do we have the next Dave Kingman?
Dejan Kovacevic: Alvarez is anything but disinterested in what he does, but I think I know what you mean, especially if you're referencing that one-handed wave at a slider with runners at the corners last night. He can look bad up there at times, especially with a lefty on the mound.
I can tell you firmly that the Pirates have mostly left him alone, even if they have seen things with his swing. And that's a hard thing to fault, in my view. Kid got to this level with that swing, and he should not have anyone messing with it in the first couple months in the majors. There might be some things that get addressed in the offseason, but you won't see them now.
Couple more today ...
buccoboy: Mad Men is the BEST show on TV..."The Suitcase" better get Hamm and Moss Emmy nominations. I'm convinced that Don will somehow end up starting his own Ad Agency with Peggy as his Creative Director at the end of the series.
Dejan Kovacevic: Baseball!
Two more, for real ...
Brian: Hi Dejan. Anything at all from the front office on ticket prices for next year?
Dejan Kovacevic: I would be absolutely stunned if ticket prices went up. Already, the team is advertising the $399 season ticket will be back.
Stop and think about that for a moment: That's $4.93 per game. Could you even get into Forbes Field for that little?
Johnin Oshkosh: You are in NYC where the Jets/Sainz story is hot. How are the Pirate players in their clubhouse? Without naming names, of course, are they generally well mannered-gentlemanly if you will?
Dejan Kovacevic: It is an exceptionally professional clubhouse, including as it relates to female reporters, from what I have seen. A few of the players were talking about the Sainz story yesterday -- it's a really big deal here -- and were almost incredulous that something like that can happen.
Ben in Sarver: Next Season's Rotation...1) Maholm, 2)Ohlendorf, 3) McDonald, 4) Lincoln, 5)????????
Dejan Kovacevic: I would take Lincoln off that list until he proves himself. He has not done that. I would go with the other three, and then a bunch more of your question marks.
pbshoe: A box seat at Forbes in '70 was $4.20. I have a stub around here somewhere. Essentially the same.
Dejan Kovacevic: Amazing.
CyBixler: 110 losses in 2010 seems realistic. Does 100 losses in 2011 seem possible? And if so, does it threaten Huntington's job?
Dejan Kovacevic: The major-league team has gone backward in each of the three seasons under the current management. It has more potential now, and the minor-league pitching is better than it was, but the first sentence remains true.
I would think the major-league team needs to make improvement not above the level of this 110-loss disaster but above whatever expectations Coonelly might have had originally for the 2010 team when he charged it with "under-performing."
Paul: do you really believe zach duke will be non-tendered this off-season?
Dejan Kovacevic: What I wrote was that it is very likely that the Pirates will either non-tender Duke or try to negotiate with him independently of arbitration at a price more to their liking. Duke obviously can choose to rebuff that and declare free agency if not tendered.
clemo83: Why can't this team score runs?
Dejan Kovacevic: Too many holes in the lineup, still. It's to the coaching staff's credit that the most productive players are 1-2-3 in the lineup, but there is nothing resembling consistency from cleanup on down. That's no way to generate offense on a daily basis.
Heading over to Chinatown for a bit, then to Citi Field for more ball and more bunts. Q&A is back tomorrow with a good question about the Rays/Reds attendance, than another Thursday about adding a second Dominican affiliate.