Pirates Q&A with Dejan Kovacevic
Share with others:
Before we start today, I would be negligent if I failed to thank the many, many readers who answered my question about why Nashville's airport code is BNA.
Those included this detailed offering from John Geraud of Allison Park:
The origin lies in the history of the airport. The International Air Transport Association assigns the specific code for each airport in the world. Sometimes, the code is intuitive, like PIT for Pittsburgh or ATL for Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Sometimes, like Nashville, it lies in the original name of the airfield that spawned the current airport.
See the link following that gives the BNA origin as Berry field Nashville (code letters capitalized), named for the WPA chief when the original airfield was built.
Similarly, O'Hare/Chicago is ORD. Not for the naval aviator Edward O'Hare, for which it is named but because it was originally a military airfield named ORcharD Field (code letters capitalized).
By the way, because of the growth of air travel in the world, the three-character code is slowly being superseded by a four-character code.
I'd probably be on my second Nobel Prize by now if I didn't know half of this useless information.
Q: Dejan, maybe I'm the only one who likes this development process, but I see the open spots in the bullpen as the perfect place for our young but struggling minor-league starters John Van Benschoten, Bryan Bullington and Sean Burnett.
Just like Shawn Chacon, there is nothing about being in the bullpen that prevents a pitcher from developing into a future starter. In my opinion, I think it actually helps because you are facing the superior talent of major-league players.
What is your opinion, and possibly the new coaches' take on such a development process for pitchers?
PS: I saw Franquelis Osorio live quite a few times last year at PNC and thought he looked real solid.
Brian Bernard of Monongahela
KOVACEVIC: I have not had a chance to speak with the new coaching staff about this, but Neal Huntington made his intention quite clear on this front the other night. These players will be given a chance to show they can throw strikes in spring training, most likely as starters at least in the early stages. From there, minds will be kept open that they could pitch in the bullpen.
This is different than the previous management, which saw a starter as benefiting only from starting. And, actually, it is much more of an old-school approach, something Earl Weaver and many other managers used to do in bringing up youngsters as relievers and letting them learn the majors that way.
Q: Hey, DK, welcome back. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Salomon Torres trade the type that has been discussed in the Q&A and in your coverage for years? They traded a player at his peak value (more or less) for younger, cheaper prospects.
I am a big Salomon Torres fan, like most every true Bucco fan, but I dare anyone to tell me he can repeat 2006 and his 94 appearances. He clearly is on the downside of his career and, while I'm sure the Brew Crew will get a serviceable year or two out of him, he does not fit in with new management's desire to remake the organization.
Is this a sign of things to come? Will Huntington be more keen to make trades of this kind, whether it's popular or not? Here's hoping he does.
Eric Linn of Boulder, Colo.
KOVACEVIC: Yes, the sell-high trade model you cite, as has been pointed out here for a long time, is the one that successful, low-spending teams make. But neither this deal nor the discussions about Jason Bay fit, at least not if one presumes the Pirates would be willing to sell Bay for his 2007 price. (So far, to their credit, they are holding firm to his 2006 value.)
In Torres' case, he is coming off his first shaky season in four years, he will be 36 next year, and management even challenged him publicly to improve his fitness while it was shopping him for a trade. This hardly fits the sell-high model.
As was mentioned here yesterday, this trade really had not all that much to do with baseball or even with money.
To your final question, yes, I get the idea that Frank Coonelly and Huntington are prepared to make moves that some might consider unpopular if they feel it is the right move.
Q: Dejan, can you give us one reason why we should be excited or optimistic as the PBC heads into 2008?
The Pirates seem to tout the "new management team" of Frank Connelly, Neal Huntington and John Russell, none of whom will throw a pitch or take an at-bat. I realize that much can happen between now and the opening of spring training, like the Adam LaRoche trade of last year, but I can't summon any enthusiasm for the this bunch. And this is a first for me in 49 years of following the Pirates.
Bob Sproule of Franklin Park
KOVACEVIC: It is nowhere in the job description that I should provide optimism, Bob. That is up to the Pirates' marketing folks.
What I see so far is a team that has not gotten better for 2008, at least not in terms of its player roster. Its best bench pieces were discarded, and two of its top right-handed relievers -- Shawn Chacon and Torres -- were lost with little or no return. The various waiver claims and such hold little promise.
You want a bright side? Two months remain until spring training, which does leave time for other moves to be made.
OK, wait. I will offer one more: For years now, readers of this space have clamored for the Pirates to have a plan, to have accountability, to have a real, cohesive organization that has some idea where it wants to go. We are only in the infancy of this regime, obviously, but I remain very much impressed with what I hear from just about everyone involved in running this team.
Words are words, I know, but one has to start somewhere.
Until tomorrow, when even more people will recognize what some of us who live here already know ...
First Published December 12, 2007 12:00 am