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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript: July 5, 2012

| Wednesday, July 4, 2012, 8:22 p.m.

Dejan Kovacevic: Hello to all, and a quick shout-out to our fine Web team for a whale of a patch-up job in the past half-hour to make sure this was ready on time ...

David (Hopewell): Dejan - The Pirates will eventually make a move to strengthen the roster; in your opinion is another bat or arm the way to go?

Dejan Kovacevic: Nothing but the month on the calendar has changed regarding my view on the importance of acquiring that bat, David. It's been a blessing for the Pirates to have gotten offense from so many places but, just as April/May looked unsustainable in the negative sense, June/July has brought us things like Garrett Jones hitting about .350. That's all going to fall back at some point.Not being a downer here. It's just that the need remains a bat for August/September. And I can tell you the Pirates feel the same.

PhillyJake: Has Pedro become that power hitter we've been coveting?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'll tell you this: He's up to .237, and I'm a ton more encouraged to see him rifle singles up the middle off a lefty's breaking ball -- as he did yesterday -- than to see him send one 410 feet. We KNOW he can do the latter.Anyone remember the video interview I did with Pedro in Bradenton this spring? The one where I asked him, if he'd just hit .250, how many home runs would he hit?His answer: 25-30.And he said this even as he looked completely lost to the world all through March.He was right. The home runs will come, almost by accident, for someone with his power.

Edsker: Where do the Pens go to get a winger for Sid and a stay @ home defenseman to spruce up the team now that the duo have gone to the Wild?

Dejan Kovacevic: The obvious options are through trade, those being Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan. I went over both possibilities on the blog yesterday , and I hope you had a chance to check that out. It would cost a lot in Nash's case, as far as a hockey return. But it's a specific wish list on Columbus' part that the Penguins might be uniquely equipped to fill.I want that stay-at-home D-man to come from within. It's time to see what Simon Despres, Robert Bortuzzo, Brian Strait and yeah, maybe even Joe Morrow have to offer. And unlike the case of the winger, I felt this way even through the Ryan Suter pursuit.

Zach: Alexander Semin, possible KGB agent or misunderstood genius?

Dejan Kovacevic: Sorry, not interested in Semin. Watching that guy in the Caps' second-round series dog it during some of the most important games of his career ... with free agency right around the corner ... if anyone thinks that guy's going to find some extra motivation somewhere deep inside, they're mistaken.

Praveen: Pirates have no more excuses. They finally got a team that is good enough to make the playoffs. The hitting won't be at the current hot level for too long. If they don't trade for one good bat to take the pressure off of Andrew McCutcheon regardless of salary involved in the pickup, then they are outright liars about their spending priorities

Dejan Kovacevic: What does spending have to do with it?When they went to the deadline last season with a team a lot shakier than this one, they spent $5.7 million to add Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick in pure cash trades. And those came more than a week after Jerry Meals, when things had begun to look bleak.Their failure so far to acquire a bat has nothing to do with money. When expensive Carlos Lee was traded yesterday, the Astros picked up ALL of his salary. The reason: They wanted the Marlins' prospects. Same would apply for Alfonso Soriano with the Cubs and others.Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't point out: It's McCUTCHEN.We as a society really need to get over spelling his last name like some long-forgotten cornerback for the Ravens.

Nic: Something that is kind of getting lost in all of this Pirates success recently is if they are able to sign Mark Appel. Do you believe that they have a good chance to do that? I havent heard much about it at all.

Dejan Kovacevic: Well, I did the column last week on my interview with Scott Boras.If you ask me, the kid signs. If you ask Scott, the answer might be different. I've talked with people on both sides, and it's a VERY hard read. I just don't see how Appel will be able to do a lot better than $3.8 million by waiting until next year.

BladedWedge: What is DREWSUTTON's strongest position?

Dejan Kovacevic: Probably third base. And if you're actually trying to find out if he can take Clint Barmes' place -- I see you there -- the answer is no. Neal Huntington told me a couple weeks ago it's not Sutton's best place.

Soupless: Why do you write #DREWSUTTON in all caps? Is this similar to calling Jones "Legend?"

Dejan Kovacevic: Let's just say a certain segment of the readership badly blew out of proportion -- and in some cases, outright mis-read -- a blog entry a couple months ago about the Pirates sending Sutton to the Rays. I figured things might be easier if I just go ALL CAPS on this topic.And yeah, a little like Legend. Seems that a lot of folks are enjoying it, which is what matters most.

Kenny Powers: So now that Lebron and Bosh have....I mean Parise and Suter have chosen the Wild, who are the next best targets for the Pens?

Dejan Kovacevic: You know ...Would you have called those two that if they decided to come to Pittsburgh?It would looked even more Miami Heat-ish if they had, coming to a team with a primary purpose of loading up for a Cup run.Fact is, Parise and Suter went to a much inferior team while turning down higher offers because they felt it would be the best fit for them and their families. I know that's the hoakiest cliche out there, but look at the specifics. They all apply.Good for them, good for the Wild, and that's that.Anyone trying to find the next Hossa/Jagr gate in this is really stretching.

Eric: Edmonton has several young wingers and a need on defense... Natural trade partner, no?

Dejan Kovacevic: I thought that at the draft, still think it. I don't think the Oilers would part with any of their top four forwards -- those guys are exceptional -- but why not Sam Gagner, he of the eight-point game last season?Has to be a match in there somewhere.

Chris: Will Jeff Clement get a legit shot at the majors this year? He seems to be healthy finally.

Dejan Kovacevic: Clement, who hit two home runs, apparently has committed the crime of not entering the summer on the 40-man roster.How else to explain going into this weekend with Jordy Mercer (who won't play) and Gorkys Hernandez (who won't play and can't hit) as fill-ins rather than Clement, who could give you legitimate thump off the bench?

Davis: Who do you expect to be the 2nd starting CB for the Steelers this year?

Dejan Kovacevic: Every indication through OTAs and minicamp was that it's Keenan Lewis' job to lose, and every indication from there is that he isn't about to lose it. Curtis Brown's hurt too much, and Cortez Allen isn't at Lewis' stage right now.For all the attention everyone will be paying during the preseason on the playbook and the rookie offensive linemen, how Lewis fares will be just as big a deal.

Mike: any chance NCAA gets involved and slaps PSU with a suspension?

Dejan Kovacevic: Ask me after the feds' investigation of Penn State's involvement is done. Proving a loss of institutional control isn't easy. Neither is illustrating the multiple offenses required. Bottom line: It's very, very hard. But there's no way I can see the NCAA at least not considering it during its process.If Penn State's president, AD and head coach -- to whatever degrees -- orchestrated a cover-up of child rape, that makes what SMU did look like nothing.

Mike: who has the 2nd best skyline in the US?

Dejan Kovacevic: People will throw stuff at me for this, but Philadelphia's skyline is getting nicer all the time. The Comcast building was a welcome addition.

Rhymey: How long until Kevin Correia is out of the rotation?

Dejan Kovacevic: Not sure I get this. And trust me from looking over the list of Qs popping up here today, you're hardly alone.In Correia's past nine starts, he's given up more than three earned runs exactly twice. Yeah, he tends to start off a little rocky, which brings the moans and groans, but he's still ending up with a line of six innings and 2-3 runs most times out. That's not great, obviously, but neither is it exactly killing the team.I'd like to see Rudy Owens in Pittsburgh. Said it before, I'll repeat it here. But this idea that he'd have to come up because the world will end with Correia in the rotation isn't supported by facts.

Dan: Do you think hannrahan has lost any velocity on his fastball?

Dejan Kovacevic: He has, no question. But his final pitch yesterday hit 95 mph on the gun, which isn't exactly awful, and his slider is still working well enough. Wouldn't read too much into that right now. Hanrahan might be just one of many guys who will benefit from no real games over four days next week.Does make you wonder about him getting up for an inning in the All-Star Game, though.

Tampa Bay Lightning 'n at ...

Brian: You've been give the position of GM for the Pittsburgh Pirates, first 2 people youi bring up from AAA and first two you send down?

Dejan Kovacevic: Easy, Marte and Clement up, Hernandez and Mercer down.

Guest: Hello dejan, patrick kane in pittsburgh is it possible ?

Dejan Kovacevic: Only if Peggy asks nicely.

Jandy: ::tossing tomatoes and eggs at Dejan because of the Philly skyline comment::

Dejan Kovacevic: Yeah, thought so. But it IS nice.

Davis: I was just an infant during the early nineties so I was wondering does McCutchen's skill set compare to that of a young Barry Bonds?

Dejan Kovacevic: It's different. Bonds right away was more the graceful type player, the Junior type for whom the game looks so easy. He also showed more power early than McCutchen and was a far better base-stealer. But McCutchen has better speed, more energy, more explosiveness to his game.

Soupless: Which is the hardest name to spell McCutcheon, Rothlesburger, or Mario LaMew?

Dejan Kovacevic: It's the Steelers' rookie nose tackle, Alameda Ta'amu, and it isn't close right now.

Brad, Indiana: Dear Dejan, What's the scoop with Paul Martin now that Parise-Quest is over? Putting aside his awful play, from a business perspective, how does Shero justify keeping a guy with a $5million salary that underperforms so badly and, let's be honest, looks so disheartened? Why not dump that salary, even if it's for an 8th round pick, that could be better used elsewhere?

Dejan Kovacevic: I agree, but it sure sounds like the Penguins are worrying about being TOO inexperienced on the blue line, with Zbynek Michalek already gone. To me, it's addition through subtraction. Let's see the kids.

Guest: Bigger moment of the season to date - Lincoln's K of Thome or Sutton's walk-off?

Dejan Kovacevic: Sounds like you missed the Wednesday column !

Bill: DK - Has the tide fianlly turned to where we are seeing more Cutch shirts at the park than Clemente's?

Dejan Kovacevic: This is unscientific, obviously, but it's getting there. Lots of Neil Walker, too.

Guest: In deadline deal scenarios, is Marte untouchable (similar to Cole or Taillon)?

Dejan Kovacevic: The Pirates never use that word.

Guest: 2012/2013, which Pittsburgh sports team has the deepest playoff run - Bucs, Steelers, or Pens?

Dejan Kovacevic: Impossible to pick against the team with the two best players in their respective sport.

HawaiiPenguin: Is Pittsburgh really a good hockey city for players, because they don't seem to be able to sign FA's? The good players they have gotten have all been through trades.

Dejan Kovacevic: These things don't always have to be viewed as trends. The moment Parise/Suter signed, all these memes leaped to the fore: The Pens can't sign free agents! No one wants to play with Sid!Two guys decided they wanted to play in Minnesota. Period.

dillonerd: Dejan - I enjoyed folloing Astros beat write Zachery Levine during the series on twitter. Do you think you can either Blog or Tweet some out of town writers to follow when the Pirates are playing them more often?

Dejan Kovacevic: That's a neat idea. I'll put them on the blog before each series. Thanks!

Guest: how much coffee will you consume per day in august/september when pirates are making a run at the playoffs, steelers preseason hype in full swing, and penguins starting camp and involved in big time trade talks? 1 liter? 1 gallon?

Dejan Kovacevic: Whether one of our teams wins or loses has no bearing on any part of how I approach the job, including caffeine consumption.

Guest: Not sure how I got in here, but I cannot access your columns at all today. Is the site Web down?

Dejan Kovacevic: They're working on it. Something's gone haywire with our blog provider. The stuff's still there, but it looks like scrambled eggs.

patrick: Is the elderly lady you wrote about back when, returned to games?

Dejan Kovacevic: Never communicated with her after that. Sorry.

Soupless: What is the most ridiculous Pirate trade suggestion you have received lately?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yes.

Bill: Baseball America named Alen Hanson one of its top 40 prospects in it's midseason rankings. We never hear of him. Why?

Dejan Kovacevic: Because he's really blown up out of nowhere to become a great contact kid for Class A West Virginia.By the way, fun number: Of the current consensus top 100 prospects in baseball, the Pirates have six on the list, and half of them are Rene Gayo's signings in Latin America. That's international 3, draft 3. Says quite a bit about both.Last one ...

Dock Ellis: Contracts and prospects aside, Would Nash be a better fit for the Pens than Parise?

Dejan Kovacevic: It's possible. I know there are a lot of folks down on Nash, but I never get convinced by their arguments. Someone yesterday on the blog cited his power-play goals, as if being on a terrible team wouldn't drag that down. Fact is, Nash has never been on even a decent team in his career. Second fact: He's REALLY talented, big, prolific and all that.Uh-oh, here we go again ...

Thanks to all for participating today. The column runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday, the chat is each Thursday, and the blog comments lately have been ... well, just go check them out. It was a special place the past few days.

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