Dejan Kovacevic's Pirates chat transcript
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Oshkoshbuccofan: Is there any statistical, logical, analytical, or any other "-ical", that helps to explain why the Pirates' road record is so abysmal but yet they are able to acquit themselves decently at PNC?
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates have tried to produce answers internally, up to and including the food they are eating on the road. (No kidding.) But the simplest answer is that a younger team -- and no one is younger than the Pirates in the majors -- is going to be more affected by emotional things such as a crowd being for or against you. Take it from someone who sees this team on the road a lot: They look very different on the field.
saveuspedro: Some questions about how all the losing is effecting the mood of the clubhouse. Do you feel that it is the losing that has effected Delwyn Young and Andrew McCutchen's performance or are they just slumping? It seems like Milledge has been able to stay above the negativity which is an improvement.
Dejan Kovacevic: For better or worse, I do not get the sense that the team's wins and losses are moving the meter much at all. And, if you think about it, that kind of makes sense. There are 30-plus players in there now, most of whom are not close to being guaranteed jobs of any kind. There is just no way, in a setting like that, that the group is going to get stressed over the individual.
Bzer: What is your take on the shortstop position for next year?
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates like what they have seen of Ronny Cedeno and probably will give him a chance to prove himself further in 2010, though no one has stated as much concretely.
Burgh13: DK: With the apparent lack of power in the lineup who do you see management pursuing in the FA market this offseason?
Dejan Kovacevic: To date, the Pirates' primary indications -- and they have been scarce -- is that they will wait until they see which of the current players might take a step forward, then identifying needs. Very obviously, very few players are taking advantage of that. ... At the same time, suggesting that the team adds a third baseman or right fielder because Andy LaRoche or Brandon Moss are not getting it done, that hardly is a slam-dunk, either, with Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata on the way.
PatfromOhio: DK, is the Pearce experiment over? Has his handling -- too rapid a rise in the system -- hurt his development?
Dejan Kovacevic: That's possible that he rose too quickly in that incredible 2007, but it would have been hard to keep him down given the production he had at each level that year. Is the experiment over? No, the Pirates will continue using him somewhat regularly the rest of this year, hoping he can show something more to push the idea that he could play every day. If that does not happen, he could become one of those Craig Wilson first base/right field types off the bench.
Uggie: Has Ohlendorf been shut down, or will he get more starts?
Dejan Kovacevic: He is sure to get one more, and I would be surprised -- though not much -- if he does not get two. Off the top of my head, I believe he has about 10 innings to go before the ceiling the Pirates have set.
CityOfChampions: Since the Pirates are so young, do you see Huntington giving up on guys like Moss, Pearce, or Bixler? Neal may talk tough, but I see him sticking by some of these guys, productive or not.
Dejan Kovacevic: That could be dictated more by 40-man needs than anything. I know Moss already is out of options, and I believe Pearce and Bixler will be next year, too.
PatfromOhio: Dejan, thanks for all the good info! At what position do you see Jones playing most of his time next year? Does he hit better when he is at 1B or in the OF?
Dejan Kovacevic: Regardless of where he hits better, he and the Pirates will tell you his better position is first base. But, as detailed in a piece I wrote Sunday from Houston, where Jones winds up will have more to do with Alvarez, Tabata and others. In a likely ideal scenario, Alvarez would be good enough at third to stay there, and Tabata would take over right, leaving Jones to play first.
ron: What is the contract status of Garrett Jones for 2010 and beyond? How many years before he is arbitration eligible?
Dejan Kovacevic: This question comes in quite a bit these days, so I am happy to address it in hopes of clarifying: The Pirates control Jones' rights for the next six years. Barring a Super-2 situation -- way too complex to detail in a live chat -- he will have three more years before he can become arbitration eligible. That could make him quite the bargain until then, provided he can maintain a good rate of production.
danw: Hi Dejan, Is this the most boring the team has been since you've been on the beat? I consider myself a fairly rabid fan, but I've been having trouble watching or caring about the rest of the season.
Dejan Kovacevic: The job itself is rarely ever dull, and I am happy and grateful for every minute that I do it. That said, yes, no question: There are few compelling storylines involving individuals, almost no compelling games. I cannot recall a time over these past five years when there was a greater struggle to find something interesting to write for you. But I will keep trying, even if that means coming up with goofy 17-reasons-type lists like I had in the Sunday paper.
ron: What do you make of the stellar performance of Bryan Morris for Lynchburg last night? Did the trade from L.A. to the Bucs deflate his ego to the degree he has not performed well on the field thru performance and behavior? Did the limelight of playoff baseball resurrect the "real" Morris?
Dejan Kovacevic: I would say that was a fairly significant moment for the Pirates' development, without overstating one start by one player. The decision was made to use Morris in a situation where his team's season was on the line, this after he had done very little to that point, and he clearly came through with 6 2/3 very good innings.
Playoffs_by_2012: DK, great job as always. Quick question/observation. Charlie Morton reminds me a lot of Ian Snell. Great stuff, great potential, but lots of walks, two out hits, and generally inconsistent. Am I way off of have you noticed the similarity as well?
Dejan Kovacevic: They are so remarkably different off the field that I have a hard time wrapping my head around that one, to be honest. Morton's inconsistencies seem genuinely related to not being able to repeat delivery, which is a physical issue far more than mental. Snell could simply turn it on at will, which drove people nuts.
Bucsin09: What should we expect via way of transactions between now and the Winter Meetings? Nothing? Or some shuffling to protect potential Rule V guys?
Dejan Kovacevic: The latter is the most likely and, as noted above, there will be some decisions to make. Not all that hard in most cases, I would think, but the Pirates seem to feel they will be hard.
The_Harry_One: Why hasn't the team looked into any extensions? Is it because the last few have turned out so poorly? Or do they just feel that no one is worthy of it
Dejan Kovacevic: Probably neither. Neal Huntington prefers to do this kind of thing in the offseason, and he probably was unhappy that word of the three from last year was published in this paper with a few weeks left in the season. Simplest way to resolve that is to not approach anyone at all until after the season, right?
Cheeto_Burrito: I know you have no news...but what odds do you put on Sano being signed by the Pirates?
Dejan Kovacevic: Well, there was a small not-really-an-update in the notebook this morning, but you are correct that there is nothing new. Odds? Until I have reason to feel otherwise, the Pirates remain the favorite. But the scope can change quite a bit should Major League Baseball declare Sano officially to be 16. Or if he gets a visa.
Scritti: Any concerns being voiced over Tabata's lack of power this year? He doesn't seem to project as a corner outfielder with power, which is what they need.
Dejan Kovacevic: There is a little bit of concern, but not much. Spoke to field coordinator Jeff Banister about Tabata for quite some time Friday in Houston, and his view was that Tabata was one of those his-power-will-come types, that the kid is simply too strong and too poised at the plate to not develop that at some point. And remember, depending on one's viewpoint, Tabata is 21 years old.
Mr_Xiaoqi: How often do you see Bob Nutting in a typical month? It seems he only shows himself on rare occasions when he wants to get a PR/propaganda point across.
Dejan Kovacevic: I would say about once or twice a month, which, from what I gather, is more often than most beat writers see a team's owner in other cities.
sangy35: I love the way Matt Capps justifies his giving up another 9th inning blast ("Solo home run," Capps said with a shrug. "I don't want to walk him and have someone aboard."), I guess he's given up just trying to get hitters out?
Dejan Kovacevic: I am sure he was trying to get Berkman out, just as I am sure he was trying to make a better pitch than the one Berkman hit. He most likely was just reflecting what he was telling himself on the mound right after it happened.
ajt123: Who do you feel on this roster are legit part of the "core" that can compete and win?
Dejan Kovacevic: The list appears to be dwindling by the day. Make no mistake: This team has been not just bad since the end of July. It has been historically bad. Just awful. If you saw the numbers I mentioned in the game story this morning, one has to go all the way back to 1955 to find something comparable. That might be getting lost right now in Pittsburgh, given that the football has begun and hockey is revving up, too, but there it is. We are seeing one of the worst stretches of baseball in Pittsburgh in the franchise's history.
Intriguing_Bat: Isn't this the Bucs 3rd trip to the left coast this season? Didn't they use to make one trip? When will something be done about this scheduling?
Dejan Kovacevic: Three is a great upgrade from the five they made last year. One step at a time.
curvefan: Dejan who is more likely to be on the opening day roster: Pedro or Jose or would you expect management to wait until June for both?
Dejan Kovacevic: I would expect neither to be on the team right after spring training. Think of Andrew McCutchen's path this year, and you probably are getting warm.
carlnicklas: Do you feel that Garrett Jones is the real deal? Or do we need to see him or a full season to evaluate that?
Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates seem much more convinced of that lately than they did in July, that's for sure, and you might have seen Huntington quoted on this topic in the Sunday paper. But sure, a full year of Jones seeing all kinds of National League pitching, adjustments and all that, will be much more telling. ... Couple more ...
Patfrom: Given his ongoing health issues, does the PBC still project Doumit as the longterm answer at catcher?
Dejan Kovacevic: For now, they do. As I wrote about a month ago, there was some peripheral discussion about trying him at first base, but that apparently went nowhere.
rogero: Has there been any talk of using spring training next year to try to find out if LaRoche can handle 2B?
Dejan Kovacevic: Again, only in the most peripheral sense. Perry Hill feels very strongly about LaRoche staying at third and, although he hardly calls the shots, his input is very much valued. Bottom line, though: LaRoche will need to hit better to stay anywhere on the field on a daily basis.
RJReynolds: We definitely seem Huntington make his mark on the club this year. My question: how long a leash do you think he has? Assuming that the losing continues, how long do you expect ownership to wait before making another change of GM?
Dejan Kovacevic: Huntington is as far as one can imagine from being in any kind of trouble, but he himself has acknowledged that the major trades -- probably more than anything -- have to produce some kind of return in order to preserve his job. A team can have the greatest drafting and developing and instruction, but it matters little if key pieces are moved with little return. Obviously, we are a long way from knowing that with most of Huntington's trades to this point. ... Chuck is in L.A. ... Q&A returns Thursday.
First Published September 14, 2009 3:26 pm