Dejan Kovacevic's Pirates chat transcript
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James_Taipei: Can the Pirates cap off a great year in Pittsburgh sports by doing the unbelievable and finishing over .500?
Dejan Kovacevic: I often joke with players new to the team that the Pirates would get a parade through Downtown for finishing above .500. Now, I wonder, given the pattern this year set by the other two teams, if the city might not want to have one for real if it happens.
littlethieve: If Delwyn Young keeps up his torrid hitting, does this make Freddy Sanchez any more expandable (if he wasn't already?)? Young has shown he can hit for average but his below average power doesn't merit a corner outfield spot. If we are shopping Jack Wilson, why not just blow up our entire middle infield and shop Sanchez as well.
Dejan Kovacevic: Because Young cannot play second base anywhere close to the level Sanchez does. If Young is going to blossom into an everyday player, it will be in right field.
nadybaymclouthwhosnext: DK, Braves are 30-32 and 6.5 GB of Philly. Are they really more of a contender than the 30-33 and 4 GB PBC?
Dejan Kovacevic: They seem to be taking that approach more than the Pirates are.
SandlotWizard: While the McLouth trade initially looked to be giving up on this year and looking to the future, is it possible that the Pirates could be a better team in the 2nd half this season? McCutchen is a better defender in CF and not a huge dropoff from McLouth, it seems, as a hitter. Charlie Morton could immediately strengthen an already solid rotation as well as the bullpen with Karstens' move to long relief. Why does the trade require writing off this season?
Dejan Kovacevic: I find it highly unlikely, if only because the Pirates are likely to move more pieces, possibly from the middle infield. They have no adequate replacements for Jack Wilson or Sanchez.
mtw247: What is driving Lynchburg's strong start this season (41-21)? Is the roster full of veteran minor leaguers or are there a number of future big leaguers on the team?
Dejan Kovacevic: They have a couple veterans in that category, but the best hitter for power has been Pedro Alvarez, the best starting pitchers are young, as is the best reliever in Michael Dubee. No, the Hillcats are legit. Unfortunately for the Pirates, the other three teams are not doing anywhere close to that well.
Fats_Henry: Any word on the timeline for signing some of the high end draftees? My guess would be we don't see too much action until after the magic July 2 date for LA signings. If they don't get Sano, then there's probably more money used on some of the HS pitchers they drafted. I really like what Huntington is doing - giving himself options, and room to negotiate. And even though I am sick of losing and want to win now, I find it really encouraging to see the Bucs taking a long-term approach to building a winner. Spending money on kids like Grossman, Miller and Freeman last year, and what it looks like they're on the cusp of this year, demonstrates that Huntington wants to build for long term sucess.
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates anticipate taking a lot of these draft picks right to the Aug. 17 deadline.
21sthebest: Hope all is well Dejan. Your piece did not indicate if it was the Pirates or Red Sox that initiated the recent Jack Wilson trade discussions. Do you have insight here? Thanks.
Dejan Kovacevic: Boston inquired, but teams everywhere know Wilson has been available -- at the right price -- for quite some time now. Thing is, it has to be the right price. The Pirates are adamant they will not give him a way.
Pickman: Should Jack get traded, do you foresee a platoon of Vasquez and Bixler, or do you think they try to address that in the trade of Jack or another player later this summer?
Dejan Kovacevic: That would be immensely troublesome from the defensive standpoint, either choice. If the Pirates trade Wilson, they need to acquire -- through some means or other -- immediate shortstop help.
KYBucsFan: Why not send Moss to Indy and call up Pearce or Jones? I understand not wanting to give up on a player but Jones would provide some left-handed power and Moss isn't cutting it. Benching him isn't going to turn things around. I like Young but the lineup needs a little more thump.
Dejan Kovacevic: Moss it out of options.
KYBucsFan: How have your thoughts on the rookie catchers changed since opening day? Is either a trade candidate when Doumit comes back?
Dejan Kovacevic: I did not envision Jason Jaramillo hitting as he has, and neither did the Pirates, for that matter. But he has done plenty well. Robinzon Diaz always has been able to hit, but his defense needs work. Combine them into one catcher, and that might really be something, right?
KYBucsFan: Why does JR rest players during a hot, or even mild hit streak? Moss was given a fews off while on a pretty good tear and the more Adam LaRoche can put a few good games together the better. Why not let a good thing ride out as long as possible?
Dejan Kovacevic: He seems attached to the idea that bench players need to be involved, this bench in particular. Some of that is rooted, unfortunately for the Pirates, in the fact that their bench guys generally have not done well in pinch-hitting but are fine when they start.
PghSportsfan66: Has JR publicly acknowleged his awareness of Maholm's substantially lower ERA when Diaz catches as opposed to Jaramillo (0.67 vs. 7.53) and has he provided a potential reason for it?
Dejan Kovacevic: That stuff tends to even out over time, regardless of catcher. It is up to the pitcher to make the pitch, and so much of the selection -- in a general sense -- is up to pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.
SandlotWizard: Is Huntington looking to emphasize a defensive skill set at catcher with the use of Jaramillo (over Diaz) and drafting of Tony Sanchez? And given that Sanchez is a college hitter you would think is not too far from being ready to play, what does that mean for Doumit?
Dejan Kovacevic: I would say Russell has plenty to do with that. He loves having a catcher he can trust, having played the position himself. But he also understands -- as does upper management -- that catcher is a great place to have a bat.
mtw247: When is Sano eligible to sign with an MLB team? Will the Bucs make an offer?
Dejan Kovacevic: The international signing period begins July 2. The Pirates have not made a formal offer, but that will have to come soon. They remain highly interested.
James_Taipei: Do you think that anyone on the Pirates will hit 20 homeruns in 2010? It seems like the Pirates will be like the 1985 Cardinals with Ozzie Smith, Vince Coleman, and Willie McGee. But at least the 1985 Cardinals had Jack Clark!
Dejan Kovacevic: Adam LaRoche surely will end up with that many. That might be it.
ajt123: Read your article today that stated Boston and Pitt are talking about Jack ... Any idea of whom or what the Pirates where seeking in return?
Dejan Kovacevic: If I knew that, I surely would not have left it out of the article.
fulms: With the acquisiton of Gorkys Hernandez and him ultimately playing CF in Altoona, what is the plan for Tabata now? Surely neither of those guys would be promoted to Indy so a move to RF?
Dejan Kovacevic: As I reported last week, Tabata will play mostly on the corners, with Hernandez sticking in center, where he profiles best. But, for Hernandez to matter, he is going to have to hit an awful lot better than he has in these opening three weeks with Altoona.
mtw247: Why not give Wilson away and use the $ savings to sign Sano?
Dejan Kovacevic: Because there might not be a stadium left for Sano to play in, judging by the fans' reaction to the McLouth trade. Can you imagine if Wilson were just given away?
Capt_Jolly_Roger: Thanks for your top 10 prospects list which was printed yesterday. Since the Pirates haven't won 82 games since 1992 and the top 2 prospects were recently acquired, doesn't that justify the trades the FO has made?
Dejan Kovacevic: Prospects are prospects. Trades should be evaluated on the baseball return, for better or worse. If these prospects pan out, the front office did well. If not ...
craigmarilynmonroe: Will Russell keep Delwyn Young in the outfield during the AL road trip, or will he put Moss back and use Young as a DH?
Dejan Kovacevic: I expect to see more of Young than what we saw previously, including in the outfield.
Pirate_Fan_in_GA: DK, great comments about bad pitch selection yesterday. I think this has been an ongoing problem especially for the younger players. How do you coach players to "help" pitchers rack up their pitch counts early in games?
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates' approach, with a couple exceptions, was lousy yesterday in light of the way Dontrelle Willis pitched. An adept offensive team never would have let him escape the first inning. Hitting coach Don Long works with the team on all facets, including approach, but it did not pan out yesterday.
kilowatts: If they were to retain the players they have, do you think there's a chance they could actually bring in a hitter, as they are basically still in contention to possibly win the division.
Dejan Kovacevic: Will not happen. The priority is on building up talent depth.
KYBucsFan: Do the players think about the .500 mark? Seems like every time they get close they lose a series or 2.
Dejan Kovacevic: They claim that no one discusses it until an annoying reporter asks.
jray03: Hey DK, with the July 31 trade deadline, why not bring up McCutch to play with McLouth for a month, see how it pans out, and still make the trade later on. Seems like they could have created a better market for Nate in the meantime?
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates' stance is that they liked Atlanta's return enough that they had no cause to wait.
ajt123: Steelers, Penguins, when is the Pirates turn??????????
Dejan Kovacevic: 2011? Who knows?
jray03: Do you think management will let it play out and see if we can get closer to first before they move the other pieces, unless they are blown away?
Dejan Kovacevic: No, I do not. They will make the moves they see fit, regardless of 2009.
kilowatts: With Moss out of options, there's nothing to prevent the Pirates from trying to see if they can sneak him by, correct?
Dejan Kovacevic: They could, but they have not indicated any willingness to do so.
ajt123: Hows your back been holding up now that you are in the grind of traveling etc.?
Dejan Kovacevic: It has ranged from very good to excellent the past six weeks. Thanks for asking. Minneapolis and Denver are about to provide the biggest test, but I am not worried.
Vegasbucs: Do you feel Pirates management might feel a bit embarrassed now that the other two teams in town are champions and they are years away? Or do they really not pay attention to that sort of thing?
Dejan Kovacevic: They are paying attention. If they are embarrassed, that is not something I detect. Rather, they sound vindicated that their long-term approach is the correct one, instead of focusing on short-term fixes.
21sthebest: Dejan, earlier this year I thought you indicated that it would be highly likely that Pearce would be our first baseman next year. Do you have any thoughts on converting Doumit to first given the success of JJ and Diaz?
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates are adamant, up, down and sideways, that Doumit is their catcher.
kingsmill63: Snell seems to have worn out his welcome with his comments, do you see him being moved soon?
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates discussed a trade of Snell, in a cursory way, with several teams in the offseason. That has not happened to any significant extent during this season, largely because teams value Snell as a reliever and the Pirates would want a starter's return, and other teams are aware of that. But it might happen. Starting pitching is at a premium, and there always is someone who thinks they can straighten a pitcher out.
Pirate_Fan_in_GA: With Alvarez and Walker in the system, any chance of Andy LaRoche playing 2nd if Sanchez is traded? His arm is strong and he lacks the power for a corner spot, but range would be a question. It could also allow the Bucs to trade Sanchez and Wilson for younger, high ceiling prospects that might need a year or two before hitting the bigs.
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates do not have an obvious internal answer at second base, including Andy LaRoche, so long as Shelby Ford continues to struggle immensely at Indianapolis.
Daquido_Bazzini: Wouldn't McLouth look reazl good in RF about now?
Dejan Kovacevic: No question about that. The Pirates' view is that Charlie Morton will look good in the rotation, too. We will see.
jray03: So if it's July 22nd and we're 1 game out, everyone still goes?
Dejan Kovacevic: Hard to say. My feature story for tomorrow tackles this issue rather extensively.
vmtw247: Wilson is a career 260 hitter that makes over 8 million dollars. His defense is great, but why would a contender give up a great prospect for him?
Dejan Kovacevic: No one is expecting a great prospect, especially after neither Bay nor McLouth netted someone in that category. Also, remember that Wilson's salary would be prorated for whoever acquires him, probably about $3 million or so.
ned_: Do the other teams interested in Sano worry you about the Pirates' chances of signing him?
Dejan Kovacevic: Not my job to be worried. But the Pirates probably should be. The more teams see him, the more the price goes up, the less likely the Pirates get him.
kingsmill63: The worst thing that could have happened to the Pirates was to have the Steelers and Penguins to win champioships in the same year. Do you see any move the Bucs make going over well with the fanbase?
Dejan Kovacevic: Signing Sano probably would be popular, kind of like this year's Pedro Alvarez-sized commitment. (Even if it were less costly.) But look at the comparison there between the other teams winning championships, and it is not much.
johnnyjeter: I'm a big believer that chemistry is more important than biology. Is there any tangible difference in the clubhouse this year versus last? Was Paulino a problem strictly due to his on field play or off the field as well?
Dejan Kovacevic: Chemistry is the kind of stuff that gets analyzed ad nauseam in New York, for example, because the two teams there are flooded with multimillion-dollar talent, and leadership, hence, becomes a decisive factor. The Pirates need more talent before that stuff matters anywhere close to that degree. ... One more ...
Marc: I think the Pirates risk more in not signing Sano than in trading Nate. The Nate trade irritated the bobblehead crowd, not signing Sano will irritate the real fans, the ones who understood the Nate trade. What do you feel?
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates have an unusual, perhaps unique, opportunity to sign a truly elite talent in a setting that tends to favor other teams. This player and the team have a relationship, and the player would welcome signing with the Pirates, thus giving the team an inside track. But a check still is required. ... Minneapolis tomorrow, Q&A Thursday ...
First Published June 15, 2009 2:19 pm