Pirates Q&A with Dejan Kovacevic
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As expected, the Matt Morris mail was just ... insane. It was coming in a rate that had me laughing at one point shortly before midnight.
Again, I get it ...
Q: Dejan, I'm certain you're getting sick of reading about Matt Morris by now, just as we're getting sick of seeing his 86-mph waffles get smashed into outer space on a five-day basis. Wouldn't it make the most sense to put him in long relief, hope he figures it out and strings together some zeroes, then possibly bring him back into the rotation just before the trade deadline?
I know this assumes a lot, but maybe this way someone will want him if we pick up his salary, right?
Dave Morris of Erie
KOVACEVIC: One more out of the who-knows-how-many before I answer ...
Q: Please, please, I beg you. Make it stop. I know that with a $10 million salary, the Pirates won't release Matt Morris, but won't they send him to the bullpen?
I understand that general managers have to take chances sometimes and sometime make mistakes, but can't this trade be considered malpractice in term of baseball management?
Aileen Bowers of Center Township
KOVACEVIC: The answers to all questions anyone had related to Morris, outside of the outright pleas such as yours, Aileen, are in the main story, mostly in Neal Huntington's answers to my Morris questions last night.
He was very candid on the matter, up to and including the plain awareness that sending Morris out for another turn in the rotation will be very unpopular with the fan base. His positions were no less clear: They are going to give him a chance because, as Huntington put it, they would much rather find out for themselves if Morris has a chance to straighten out before paying him all that money to do it elsewhere.
Long relief probably will be Option B, at least according to the sense I got.
I will offer two other things ...
One, I never heard Morris talk the way he did after that game. There is nothing more rare in baseball than to hear a non-injured pitcher question his own stuff. It was alarming and, given Morris' past, more than a little disquieting. It will be very interesting to see how that single aspect of this plays out.
Two, I am increasingly amused that there is such great angst over the Pirates wasting $10 million on an ineffective player, if only because that is $10 million out of ownership's pockets, $10 million that no one can chalk up to profit, which seems to me would be of great delight to a great faction of you.
Not sure how to interpret that.
Q: By what date should we look for management to blow this team up?
I'll bring the matches.
Mark Frizzi of Vincennes, Ind.
KOVACEVIC: Got a lot of this, too.
Q: Don't worry, I'm not going to use the "A" word. Not that one, anyway.
I'm a second-generation Pirates fan who represents 89 years of support, but I must admit I'm losing it. I see little reason to believe that this team is going to turn it around in the near or far term. Please don't tell me it's only three weeks into the season. I've been waiting 15 years and three weeks since the last respectable bunch of Bucs took the field. How much longer before the next one shows up?
Look, I'm sure the team is made up of wonderful guys anyone would enjoy hanging with, but that doesn't seem to win many ballgames. This may seem harsh, but does any current Buc have a contractual clause which prevents him from being sent to the minors to get his game on track? I'm talking veterans, too. Without mentioning names, just a quick scan of the stats reveals any number of hitters who might benefit from a week or two of Class AAA pitching and the incentive to get back to the majors. The same could certainly be said for some of the arms needing to hit their spots consistently. In the meantime, some of our touted minor-leaguers could get valuable major league experience and, possibly, break onto the major-league roster.
Considering the current state of the team, it doesn't seem like it would hurt much.
Chris Chacona of Susquehanna
KOVACEVIC: Not much really to analyze with this group, Chris: The Pirates have performed abysmally. They have been awful. Sloppy. Sluggish. And yes, uninspired at times.
Which gets me to thinking about Nate McLouth, in an unusual sort of way ...
At some point or other, it is incumbent upon the athlete to perform, to foster the winning environment, to put things together. These players, this group have been instructed, brought together, even bolstered a bit by acquisitions such as Tyler Yates and a couple others ... and things look different only in the sense that they actually look worse.
Which raises the most important question the Pirates now must ask: Why is that?
Is it because of new management?
Or is it because the same players are either doing pretty much the same thing or actually regressing?
This is why I cite McLouth: For years -- and I was writing about this long before he became a nightly staple on ESPN -- McLouth has been a fundamentally sound, independently motivated, team-focused and, yes, productive player, even through his time in the minors. While others were making baserunning mistakes and everyone was burying the instruction techniques, he still was running them efficiently and aggressively.
He took it upon himself to become that type of player and, most important, had the talent level to make that matter.
Just something to think about.
To your actual Q, Chris, the reason the Pirates cannot do something like you propose -- at least not on some mass scale -- is the sea of rules and regulations that could hurt them short and long term in getting the most of players for years to come. Veterans would have to clear waivers to be demoted, and few would. Rookies who are promoted would have their major-league service time clocks start. That kind of thing.
But your point surely is one the Pirates will be considering, regardless, if their current level of play continues.
Until tomorrow ...
First Published April 22, 2008 12:49 am