Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript

| Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dejan Kovacevic: Well, I did a chat a couple weeks ago from Phoenix, and it feels like I'm doing another, only with a Pittsburgh dateline. I'm ready when you are, lunatics ...

Andrew Bird: When will the Pirates free Pedro• Are they punishing or trying to send a message to him?

Dejan Kovacevic: Punishing• Seriously• Wow, no.

He's beginning to do some encouraging things at the plate, but his numbers are making that look better than it is, according to management. They want him to get back to driving the ball to the opposite field, not being so pull-happy. That, they feel, will address some of the more glaring shortcomings you saw during his earlier stint this year.

This is the right move, keeping him in Indianapolis. It really is. The Pirates' best bat they can acquire, at the best price, is Alvarez at his peak. When he goes on a tear, it tends to be of the epic variety. Bringing him up now just because he's better than Brandon Wood doesn't add up for me.

As I tweeted a little while back, I expect to see Ronny Cedeno and Steve Pearce activated, Chris Leroux sent back. You'll still have Wood, Pearce and Chase d'Arnaud for third.

Happy G: Great article yesterday. What is your sense that NH will actually "heap it on?" We need a bat!

Dejan Kovacevic: Agreed on the last point, emphatically.

My sense is that they're not going to lose their minds and overpay, certainly not in terms of prospects. It's possible that they think more of what's in their system than others do -- see Rudy Owens, circa 2010 -- but that's how they feel.

I do know that at least part of management is intrigued by the idea of adding Carlos Beltran, but there also are some who are not. The preference remains finding a way to get a player who actually sticks or, if the price is too high, getting one of those blocked guys I described earlier in the week.

Mota: Steve Pearce would be an upgrade at first with both bat and glove. What do you think?

Dejan Kovacevic: What he said. Let Pearce play. If there's a need to platoon, whatever. But Pearce needs to play.

Mike: Hey Dejan, What are the chances Eric Tangradi starts on Malkin's wing• and do you believe Tom Kuhnackl will make the NHL• I believe he's gonna be a great player.

Dejan Kovacevic: Based on what I saw of Tangradi at the development-camp scrimmage last Saturday, he will be fortunate to make the NHL roster out of camp. His skating remains subpar, and he's still trying to beat guys one-on-one with fancy moves coming off the boards, rather than power moves.

I wasn't impressed with Kuhnhackl, either.

But I absolutely loved defenseman Scott Harrington, the second-rounder last month, as I did with defenseman Simon Despres. Despres makes the game look really easy, which is neat for a big man.

JamesinNYC: First order of biz for the Steelers ...restructuring contracts• If they are 10mil over cap they will need to find some room somehow. Could Harrison be cut• The "Hotel" or anyone else in danger?

Dejan Kovacevic: Funny that you ask. That will be the topic of my column tomorrow. I touch on the idea of restructuring some deals, but the future Hall of Famer at safety is atop my list.

Dejan Kovacevic: Oh, and I just realized I didn't address your other points. No, James Harrison isn't going anywhere. And Flozell Adams could stay, but his price will have to come way down from the $5 million he made last season.

Andrew: What would the pirates have to give up to get a Pena or Beltran?

Dejan Kovacevic: Money, money, money.

Zach: I enjoyed your "Moneyball" criticism column today. I'm interested to know, what do you think of the Keith Laws of the world• The type of people who cite that Jeff Karsten has a glaring gap between his ERA and his xFIP instead of really digesting what he does in a game with the naked eye• Personally, I use advanced metrics as a tool, but when people use them as the holy book, I can't stand it. Curious to know your thoughts.

Dejan Kovacevic: I didn't remotely criticize "Moneyball" in that blog entry today, Zach. I did exactly the opposite. I loved the premise of the book, the way it was written, everything about it. What I can't stand is how some have taken the idea of "objectivity" that's espoused in the book and interpreted that to mean it's the book's way or no way at all.

I don't comment on the works of others in the media, but I'll make a special exception here to tell you that Keith Law, in addition to being a friend, is one of the very best in the business. We don't agree on Karstens, as you seem to know, but a lot of very knowledgeable people have had a hard time explaining what Karstens has done this year.

Even Karstens.

JMT: Most believe it will take more than money to acquire Beltran. They are looking for a high end prospect, like Marte right now.

Dejan Kovacevic: That's what the Mets would want everyone to believe. They'll take the cash, plus something symbolic.

Teke Turtleneck: DK - who is the better defensive SS - Brandon Wood or Chase d'Arnaud, and do you think Hurdle has confidence in either one while in a pennant race?

Dejan Kovacevic: The better defensive SS is Cedeno, and the Pirates should be delighted to have him back tomorrow. Guy takes his knocks, but he makes a lot of those plays we've seen booted in the past two weeks.

Bluto: That Presley bunt yesterday. Ugh. Do you have any idea whether that was ordered from the dugout or if he did it on his own• He squared on the first pitch, and wasn't told to just swing away on the second, so it had to come from the bench (assuming they were paying attention). Just a terrible, terrible decision that took the air out of a promising inning.

Dejan Kovacevic: When you see a guy square up twice, it's an order. Yes, it was a really lousy decision to have the .355 hitter trying to move guys up for the .227 hitter.

Arriba Wilver: In your blog post today, you mentioned off-handedly that Huntington "had pitching coach Joe Kerrigan prioritizing data over teaching." I was always under the impression that Kerrigan's approach was his own (like with the papers he had in front of him constantly during the game). Just curious, have you been told (obviously by someone you trust) that it was Huntington driving Kerrigan's approach?

Dejan Kovacevic: It was. You might have misread that. I simply meant that the GM had Kerrigan in his employ. By extension, then, he endorsed what Kerrigan was preaching.

Dejan Kovacevic: Actually, my reference up there to "It was" addressed the part of your question that asked if Kerrigan's approach was his own. It was.

frank: who should be the starting catcher when Doumit comes back?

Dejan Kovacevic: Ryan Doumit. But you can expect Mike McKenry to keep getting playing time. (And yes, he absolutely should stay ahead of Jason Jaramillo.) The pitchers are raving about McKenry, the way he's taken charge -- and I mean by force -- this staff. I asked Chris Snyder about McKenry, too, just yesterday, and Snyder really likes what he's done.

That said, the bat plays. Doumit starts.

Brian: If Tangradi can't make the team this year, is it time to maybe use him in a trade with a defensemen or 2 to get a couple of really high draft picks for next years draft?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'd be surprised if the Penguins are very patient with him. Unless he finds an extra step -- not easy to do at that stage of a hockey career -- he really doesn't fit the mold. It's not impossible. Phil Bourque did it, working with skating instructor Laura Stamm one summer and showing up at camp a burner all of a sudden. But it's hard.

Don't mean to pile on Tangradi here, by the way. But people are asking me what I think, and this is what I have right now.

gk: Dejan love your writings. I have a question for you. Do you think this group of players (Pirates I mean) are overachieving and that perhaps with the schedule ahead they can collapse• I have the feeling that too much is being made of things and that when and if they do collapse the media will make it hard on them. I'm an honest believer that they shouldn't trade for anyone and let these guys grow together. I'm looking forward to next year and not so much this year.

Dejan Kovacevic: This concept of growing together and chemistry is more of a fairy tale than anything else. If Overbay goes to the bench, does that stunt either• If other pitchers come into the equation, will the chemistry be affected• It's still one guy on the mound at a time.

Be sure that the players getting replaced by outside acquisitions won't be the core young guys.

As for a collapse, I don't see that with the pitching that's going on. It prevents long losing streaks. And what's the Pirates' longest losing streak this season, four• (Anyone who knows for sure, chime in.)

JoBu: Any talk of MOVING Doumit?

Dejan Kovacevic: No, especially not now.

Tim: Has there been any progress on Andrew McCutchen's contract?

Dejan Kovacevic: No, especially not now.

DanFlick: Is there any chance the Pirates use a six-man rotation at some point this year to save arms that aren't used to this many innings?

Dejan Kovacevic: There is. That could be either Brad Lincoln or Ross Ohlendorf. I'd still rather see Ohlendorf go to the pen.

Ryan: Do you think Simon Depres will make the Penguins squad this year• Or do you think they want him to get at least a year under his belt at Wilkes-barre?

Dejan Kovacevic: I think he'll start out at WBS, then perform really, really well and arrive when there's an injury or vacancy. But I maintain my right to change my mind if Brooks Orpik takes too long to recover from that abdominal surgery yesterday.

SamBam: Have you heard anything new about Pitt, UConn, Syracuse, WVU to the ACC• If it's happening, I think its a bad move.

Dejan Kovacevic: It's not happening. Pitt's staying in the Big East. These schedules, especially in football, are set so far in advance that it's impossible to just pull up stakes.

Besides, would the ACC really be an upgrade in hoops• (Ducks for cover.)

careyad: With the Harrison comments and other off field adventures, do you see any issues in the Steelers locker room• I tend to think that this team is pretty tight and will kiss and make-up, but I have seen a lot of media saying that there will be issues.

Dejan Kovacevic: Unless the rest of the Steelers are stunned and mortified to find out that Harrison's a tough guy, I'm guessing no.

Seriously, the stuff he said about Ben and Rashard goes on all the time in NFL locker rooms. It's the only sport where two full sets of athletes play on offense and defense. There's going to be animosity, resentment at times.

Airing it in public stinks, and that will have to be dealt with. But that's it.

Fat Jimmy: Honestly, I don't even think that Coach K thinks the ACC is a better hoops conference than the Big East right now. But that would be pretty cool for Pitt and UConn to play in the same conference as Duke and UNC!

Dejan Kovacevic: UConn winning it all certainly helps the argument.

keith: Dejan, What do you think of adding Mark Renyolds to the Bucs?

Dejan Kovacevic: They already strike out way, way too much.

JoBu: With Ike probably leaving, how great of an investment would a Crezdon Butler jersey be?

Dejan Kovacevic: You really think Ike will go• I don't.

Save your Butler jersey.

Bill: Steelers should be more concerned about the secondary and the salary cap.

Dejan Kovacevic: But they're all related, Bill. I'll explain tomorrow in the column. Troy has to be the foundation that's set from a contractual standpoint.

Ken: What do you think of Stamkos' new contract• Is Malkin really worth more than him, or did the Tampa front office just do a phenomenal job with his contract?

Dejan Kovacevic: Steve Yzerman still has the magic. I suppose it's easy to see a Canadian lad on the beaches of Tampa. Bolts did really well with that one.

And the real question about Malkin's pay is whether he deserves to earn more than Sidney Crosby. He needs to take it back to his usual level this winter.

Joe: I have read a few times this week how the Pirates attendance' will be about 500,000 over what they had expected and that would translate into roughly 10MM in additional revenue. It has also been reported that the TV ratings have been way up but no one looks at the monetary value of this. More TV revenue is the key to the pirates having a higher payroll not ticket sales.

Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates get a flat amount from Root Sports regardless of ratings. It's Root that benefits from this.

Walt: Pirates longest losing streak this year has been 6, back at the beginning of May.

Dejan Kovacevic: Thanks. Forgot about that one.

Rick: I may be in the minority, but I'm kind of excited about the Steelers offensive line this year. The injuries form last year provided some good quality time for the back ups. With Starks and Colon back, perhaps someone can move to LG and put Kemo on the bench• Your thoughts?

Dejan Kovacevic: You are in the minority for sure, Rick. I like the idea of Kemoeatu back on the bench, but some of what you're describing isn't a done deal. They have to pay up, and they're $10.5 million over the projected salary cap. That's why Adams is still in the equation.

Fat Jimmy: I doubt that Root negotiates a lot of in-season ad deals. They probably aren't making much money THIS year off of that deal. The real winners are the advertisers who are getting bigger audiences for their ad buck.

Dejan Kovacevic: Yeah, for now. But just like a potential lift in season-ticket holders, Root can up their rates for next year.

JamesinNYC: What does Woodley get contract wise?

Dejan Kovacevic: Six years, $50 million• The $10 million range is what the very best in the game have been getting defensively, so maybe a bit below that. Obviously just a guess.

Anthony: You've been saying for a long time that when the Pirates got good again, the city would come out to support them. Do you have any sense of whether Pirates management was of that view as well• Put another way, has the increased attendance this year done anything to change the team's calculus about the financial benefit of investing more money in the team?

Dejan Kovacevic: Just had that conversation with Frank Coonelly yesterday. Yes, believe me, they did see this coming. (Well, most of them, anyway.) But, as Coonelly mentioned to me, it's still been a wild experience for them to actually see it.

I'll say it again: Those Monday and Tuesday crowds were the best I've ever seen for baseball in Pittsburgh. Not the biggest, but the best.

One more today. I'm way over the allotted time ...

keith: Dejan, giving your best guess, do the Bucs add anybody, and if so whom?

Dejan Kovacevic: I think you might see one more relief pitcher, possibly a starter that another team is looking to clear out ... and the bat's a lot tougher. The money's definitely there for them to make that rental-type move, and they rate Beltran's bat No. 1 among those available, as I mentioned in my column Wednesday. But be very sure they're reluctant to move their top prospects. And that's what it will take to do something like Hunter Pence.

Their view -- and this is how it was expressed to me -- is that the best bat they can acquire is in Indianapolis right now. It's Pedro Alvarez. But it's the version of Alvarez we saw in the second half of his rookie season.

It could just be that they'll keep some logs on the fire and see how the next week pans out internally, as far as Alvarez and other offensive elements.

Thanks to all for participating, and stay cool!

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.


Show commenting policy