Nate_The_Great: You recently noted that the Pirates might keep Marte if they can't get what they're looking for in a trade and go through the arbitration offer in hopes of getting draft picks next year. This is something I feel most of the diehard followers have been hoping to see for years instead of mediocre minor leaguers in return. Do you know if the past front office ever contemplated this type of strategy?
Dejan Kovacevic: Hello, citizens with pitchforks, first of all. ... I never heard the Pirates' previous management look to compensation picks as any sort of target and, more tangibly, never saw potential free agents tendered arbitration to try for that. If you look at what the Pirates could get for Marte in that path alone, it is pretty impressive. Moreover, it can function as leverage to improve trade value: Top this, or no one gets him.
Rich_in_MadCity: DK, With Dumatrait on the DL, and Snell feeling pain, and the Yankees coming into PNC are the wheels about to come off? (Not that I think all the wheels were on too well to begin with.)
Dejan Kovacevic: The starting pitching wheels have not been stable at any point in the season, so it is entirely possible they were left behind on the road many miles ago. As far as this series, the three starters will be Tom Gorzelanny, Zach Duke and Paul Maholm, so the absence of the other two will not be felt until Tampa Bay gets here.
Littlefield____McLatchey_for_Pre: Hey Dejan, I love your chats. Believe it or not, someone telling it like it is about the Pirates, good or bad, normally is the highlight of my day, I think you justify my frustration (in a baseball sense of course). Assumptions: 1. All of the starting pithcing, organization wide (less their number 2 and Lincoln), all project to a #3b-4-5 rotation potential. 2. Bay, Laroche, and Nady are being shopped. 3. The organization believes that one of the many college SS's they drafted will make it to the bigs by 2010, hence making Wilson expendable hopefully during an up year for him. 4. Coonley is able to find 2008 suitors for all of the above, and only takes starting pitchers from AAA-MLB projecting to #1-2-3a roles in return. Question: How many #1-2-3a starters can the Pirates get in return if they dump the farm?
Dejan Kovacevic: There will be no all-out fire sale. That is the indication I am getting on many levels. You likely will see Nady go at some point, and you could see Marte and maybe John Grabow. If someone blows the doors off for Jason Bay, you might see that, too, though his outcome is looking more and more as if he might stay. ... Bottom line, though: If somebody offers the type of pitching bounty you describe, the Pirates are sure to listen. They have Brad Lincoln and a lot of question marks in the minors, including Danny Moskos' status as a starter vs. reliever. That dearth has to be addressed for the team to be competitive, much less a contender.
Matt: Type here Any chance Yoslan Herrera gets a call up with Dumatrait on the DL and Snell have elbow problems? I read that he pitched seven scorelss on Sunday and while having a losing record he only has a 3.12 ERA.
Dejan Kovacevic: Herrera has had a few good outings of late, and his ERA is much more indicative of his pitching than his 4-7 record, from what I hear. But no, bringing him without having thrown in Class AAA, that will not happen. He is making his first significant strides now, including getting his fastball in at about 89 mph rather than the 83-84 that depressed so many last year. He will come up in steps, if he comes up at all.
mike7psu: With Huntington saying he will be "aggressive in looking externally". Could this have any potential to be more than just a one start stop-gap if he does choose to go outside the organization?
Dejan Kovacevic: I get the impression, on a regular basis, that nothing would make the Pirates as a whole -- Huntington included -- happier than to get this front-line starter. ... The same goes, by the way, for many of the players in the clubhouse. They see that they have one of the five most productive offenses in Major League Baseball, just as they see what is holding them back.
rebuilding_since_92: dejan, have you noticed the sports poll today? it's asking how many games we think the pirates will win against the yankees. how come there is no option to select 0?
Dejan Kovacevic: Not my idea. I certainly would have put a zero in there, given that this is exactly the number of games the Pirates have won against the Yankees in their six interleague meetings.
DSman: Today's notebook noted that beyond Alvarez and Scheppers, "it is now looking possible that there will not be many other players signed beyond the 24 already in the fold." Are picks #5 (Justin Wilson) and #6 (Robbie Grossman) not going to be signed? How about other late round, high potential picks (#16 Wesley Freeman, #23 Austin Wright, #26 Zach Wilson)?
Dejan Kovacevic: I have not heard a peep about No. 5, but Robbie Grossman's status is that he needs to decide whether or not he wants to go to professional ball now or later. The Pirates have an offer on the table, and they will wait to hear back. Other late guys likely face similar decisions. The Pirates have made their offers.
The_Package_Deal: Will Billy Crystal be in the lineup tomorrow?
Dejan Kovacevic: Better if he plays tomorrow than when Maholm pitches Thursday. I have seen that matchup, and it did not go well for the Bombers.
wewill1992: Why was Jack Wilson leading off Saturday's game? I understand that it was his 1,000th start as a Pirate, but he is not lead off material. He doesn't walk much and he doesn't have the speed that sparks the rest of the lineup.
Dejan Kovacevic: He has hit for some good contact since coming back, so that probably was it. No one designated that it would be a regular thing, and be very sure it had nothing to do with anything ceremonially. ... The larger question, I think, is why Nate McLouth keeps getting bounced about, and that is addressed in tomorrow's Q&A.
Doug_Frobel: Dejan, Do the players for the Blue Jays get paid in US Dollars or in Canadian Loonies? Do they pay federal taxes to the US, Canada or both? To make the whole league even you think it would be in US dollars, but wouldn't the Canadian government be losing out on tax revenue? I've always wondered this about the NHL as well.
Dejan Kovacevic: Depends on the player's contract, both in MLB and the NHL. Players often used to insist being paid in U.S. dollars -- Alexei Kovalev did when he signed with the Canadiens -- but that is not the case much anymore with the great gains the Loonie has made on our currency.
Dan_Potash: Regardless of whether or not it was wise to have Sanchez bunt in the middle of a rally, he MUST be able to execute the play. He should take as much heat as Russell is getting.
Dejan Kovacevic: Especially as a No. 2 hitter, yes, Sanchez has to be able to do that. But there are many arguments, too, against ordering him to try there, not the least of which is handing a struggling starter a free out when he failed to get one with the first five batters of the inning.
Frank-the-tank-Osoria: I have compromising pictures of my manager, why else would I be pitching?
Dejan Kovacevic: Play nice now. Lots on Osoria in the Q&A tomorrow.
Pickman: Not sure if you buy into the RawlingsAll time Gold Glove Awards, but Joe Morgan at 2nd base taking it over Maz? Was Joe that good or another case where a players seem to now need the offensive stats to get nominated for the annual award?
Dejan Kovacevic: Fan voting, plain and simple. Maz told me early last year that he had "no shot," to use his words, to win something like that. Very few people voting would have seen him play, and there are no Web Gems highlight reels available, either. Morgan is a popularly known figure who played more recently and remains more visible.
Charleston_Charlies: I do wish Huntington the best, he has some difficult decision to make with Bullington and Van Benschoten considering both were first round selections.
Dejan Kovacevic: If you are suggesting either is about to cut from the 40-man, that would be inaccurate. Lots of other places to trim.
thegunner: We are close to the halfway point in the season. When is your "report card" coming out? I hope that we will see grades for the front office, manager and coaches as well as the players. Comments?
Dejan Kovacevic: Usually, it comes around the All-Star break rather than the literal halfway point, some Sunday in there. As for the breakdown, not sure. I did the entire front office the one year because it seemed they played a far bigger role in the team's collapse than the athletes themselves. Not sure I see it that way this year. But I am open to suggestions on this front.
azbucco: What is Coach Russell's fixation with Franquelis Osoria? Uh, he's not good.
Dejan Kovacevic: He has been abysmal, outside of six consecutive scoreless appearances in May. The "fixation" is related to the rubber-arm thing. Managers love those pitchers, especially when their starters fail them time and again, and every other middle-relief option fails, too.
MAdesso: With Doumatrait on the DL and Snell with his "injury", do you see Hunnington making a trade for another arm?
Dejan Kovacevic: Your placement of quotations around the word "injury" are as inaccurate as your spelling of the GM's name. Snell is not faking, if that is the implication there.
ThatGuy: Do you think maybe the Pirates are looking for a starting pitcher in trade talks?
Dejan Kovacevic: The GM said so in the game story today. Take a look on our Pirates page.
Joe_Gleason: I've seen it suggested that the Pirates should be looking for a package for Jason Bay similar to the one that Texas got for Mark Texiera last year. Seems a little steep to me. What do you think?
Dejan Kovacevic: There is soup all over your lap.
JuniataKid: Dejan... any indication the Bucs might blow the whole thing up by trading anyone and everyone, not just Nady, Bay, etc.?
Dejan Kovacevic: As stated before, no. Remember, no matter what the Pirates' long-term objectives, this is not a franchise that can -- or wants -- to field a 120-loss team in the name of ultimate progress. That might be right or wrong, but that is going to be a factor.
PirateApologist: Is there much of a difference in play between Lynchburg and Hickory? I want Brad Lincoln to move up, up, up.
Dejan Kovacevic: That is something the Pirates are pondering, but nothing is imminent. They are very, very impressed with how quickly he has rebounded, though, as anyone should be. Look at the kid's walk total right now, and tell yourself this is someone fresh off major elbow surgery. It is a testament not only to the individual but also, likely, to the advances in that procedure.
ThatGuy: Two on,no out,5 straight hits in the 4th inning yesterday,and Russell puts Sanchez in to bunt??
Dejan Kovacevic: Yes, he did. I gather that many of the 22,000 in attendance had the same reaction, especially after he failed to get it down the first time and Dustin McGowan narrowly missed catching it. ... But never mind those circumstances: Where is the good bunt that is not executed by a pitcher? Where is the proof that it aids an offense as opposed to limiting it by removing an out? Just floating that out here.
piratesfan: Hi DK What makes anyone think that other teams will be willing to give up a #1 or #2 starter for what we've got to offer especially since great pitching is hard to come by? Just how many of our players would it take to get a #1 pitcher?
Dejan Kovacevic: Whether you think Jair Jurrjens is No. 1 material, he could have been had for Jack Wilson. Sometimes, it just takes another GM desperate to address a specific situation that he feels can put his roster over the top for a pennant run. ... But your point certainly stands: It is unlikely.
RBarnesy7: Dejan. is steve pearce going to be back at first base? i sure hope so
Dejan Kovacevic: He has been bouncing back and forth between there and right field for about three weeks now and was at first again last night. He also is swinging much, much better of late.
MAdesso: Who is our current long man? Osoria? Why not try to give Burnett some more innings?
Dejan Kovacevic: If Russell trusted Burnett, he might have brought Burnett to face the left-handed Lyle Overbay in the situation where he pulled T.J. Beam. As it was, Burnett again entered once the game was lopsided.
Tanner_Boyle: The move to bunt Sanchez was beyond dumb, and Russell should be criticized for it, but Freddy has to get the bunt down. Another failure in a season full of them for Freddy.
Dejan Kovacevic: It has not been a good year for the second baseman. Believe me, he knows it.
Dan_Potash: The Blue Jays and Yankees are in Pittsburgh this week for the first time and yet people like you always complain about interleague. Imagine the outrage if Sidney Crosby and the Penguins didn't visit a city. MLB should require everyone to play everyone, just like NBA and NHL do. They play 162 games, it can easily happen.
Dejan Kovacevic: My only complaint about interleague, and the record will back me on this, has been the inequity of creating these "rivalry" games for some teams and not for others. Baseball already has enough inequities, piled up in favor of teams with large payrolls. It does not need more. Somehow, some way, there has to be a path for creating a schedule that brings the Cleveland Indians to Pittsburgh, at least once every other year. ... Otherwise, interleague play brings no complaints from me one way or the other.
jeff_m: any chance jimmy barthmaier gets the call while dumatrait is down
Dejan Kovacevic: He was one of the three candidates I listed in the game story today, as were Van Benschoten and Ty Taubenheim. But this could change, especially if an outside pitcher is acquired.
fifteen_years_and_counting: As someone who lived in DC for fifteen years, the Bullets/Wizards would often announce sellouts but the arena would be 80 percent full. Have the Pirates papered the Yankee series or will every seat be filled?
Dejan Kovacevic: Every seat was sold in the second week of March. I am guessing no paper will be needed.
wewill1992: Is it possible that Snell is injured because of all the innings he pitched last year?
Dejan Kovacevic: Sure it is. Lots of innings, plus a smaller body frame for a starter, plus a large-effort delivery, yeah, all of that can contribute. But it has to mean something, too, that he never felt any elbow pain before this. He was shut down briefly late last season but that was for shoulder stiffness.
draftdodger: Do you find it odd that people who constantly complain about the Pirates finishing below .500 for 15 years are wanting the Pirates to "blow it up" in the name of progress?
Dejan Kovacevic: I do not get the impression they are the same people. One faction wants to win now, or just get to 82 wins, as sort of a soul-cleansing. The other looks around at the successful models in the majors for winning with low to medium payrolls and wants to go that route.
Matt_from_Southside: At what point do fingers start pointing at John Russell for how he's mismanaged the starters, worn down the bullpen, and tolerated the regression of Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche(!)
Dejan Kovacevic: Sounds like yours is pointing already. But I am not sure what you mean by mis-managing the starters.
The_Other_Kielbassa_Kid: Is it likely that a guy like Brett Tomko ends up on the bump this weekend in favor of one of our AAA guys?
Dejan Kovacevic: There are pitchers floating out there, including some four-A guys who usually can be had for not much in return. Tomko briefly expressed interest in pitching for the Pirates over the winter out of free agency.
92_counting: Over/Under 2 wins this week?
Dejan Kovacevic: I tend to measure stuff by precedent, so I will go with the under. The Yankees' lineup does things to torture pitchers, as we saw up at Yankee Stadium last year. They are unbelievably patient. ... Couple more ...
Polka any mulit-player trade rumors coming your way where we trade everyone we hate for 3 hall of famers? What about the McLouth to Florida for Willingham plus two prospects nonsense?
Dejan Kovacevic: Every day. And all they are left with is solid foods.
Tanner_Boyle: Jeff Andrews makes me long for the days of Jim Colburn.
Dejan Kovacevic: The pitching coach, just as was the case with Colborn and Spin Williams and most others, will be judged on how his main starters do. So far, obviously, that has gone very poorly. But it probably would be fairest to wait to see how the whole season plays out, especially in events like the Snell injury and how those can impact your view on things. ... Q&A returns tomorrow, as do the Yankees after 48 years.