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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript

| Friday, July 15, 2011

Dejan Kovacevic: Hello to one and all, and apologies again for yesterday and being knocked offline all afternoon. Away we go ...

WaylonFan: When you give your opinion on a topic, what % is guided by off-the-record sentiment expressed to you by coaches or front office types• How frequently do you have those types of off-the-record conversations with FO or coaches as it pertains to their true feelings on a player or the performance of a player?

Dejan Kovacevic: If you had stopped your first question there with the word "sentiment," I'd have had something for you. You're always trying to get as much background knowledge as you can, and most of that comes off the record. But it doesn't always come from the team. The items I had in the blog last weekend from Phoenix, for example, all came from outside the Pirates but were about the Pirates.

JoelSteedisaHouse: DK, I didn't quite follow your column this morning - Does Presley go to RF, with Tabata in LF, or do they trade for Hunter Pence and move Presley or Tabata to the bench• Also, interesting post on BD comparing Tabata and Pence (conclusion: no real difference)

Dejan Kovacevic: They're completely separate elements. The Pence reference, quite obviously, is a hypothetical. My reference to Presley is within the current outfield depth chart. And I'm not sure what you're referring to in that last sentence.

Tom: Hi Dejan, do you believe that James Harrison's comments will cause a rift in the locker room?

Dejan Kovacevic: Not any more than the one that usually exists in any NFL room between the offense and defense. It's not like any other sport, in that offense and defense involve two distinct sets of players. There's tension all the time.

The difference here is that Harrison spoke publicly about it, which is why you saw his apology made a reference to that, and it sounded like one of his great regrets.

So, a rift?

No, not at all, at least not beyond what's there in all 32 locker rooms.

Wild Bill: Hello Dejan, Do you think that Ronny Cedeno is more seriously hurt than the Pirates first thought, and when he returns, who leaves - Harrison, D'Arnaud, or Wood?

Dejan Kovacevic: Last I spoke with Cedeno, right before the break, he still wasn't 100 percent. That means he'll need some kind of activity, you'd think, to test things out before going back out to short.

I'd say Harrison would go once he returns. But bear in mind even more could go soon. Steve Pearce is up with Indy now. Won't be long for him.

Drew: Once there is an NFL deal and the Steelers are able to comment, what is their likely reaction to all of this "stuff"?

Dejan Kovacevic: The best reaction, in my view, would be for the front office to charge Mike Tomlin with figuring out a plan to go forward, then following through with Tomlin to make sure it gets done with gusto.

Tomlin often refers to his players as "men," but they've been behaving as anything but for a good portion of the past year-plus. It's very much in his job description to be a big part of ensuring this area gets better.

Ward will be handled by the legal system. But it you mean a suspension for Harrison or something like that, no, not going to happen. The gay slur stands out as something the team and league will want to address formally, but the rest is stuff they can take care of in other ways.

Zee: What do the Pirates do with Alex Presley when Jose Tabata comes back to the team• Move him to Right?

Dejan Kovacevic: Sounds like you either missed or subconsciously read my column from this morning.

MajorLeagueInfadel: Dejan, do you think the Pirates pitching staff play more within their talent level in the second half• Conversely, do you think the offense, particularly Tabata, Overbay, and Alverez, will pick up some slack?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yeah, but I've been saying that for two months, and I've been wrong for two months on both counts.

We're already seeing a bit of the rotation slide some, if you look at the numbers for Morton and Correia in particular. The bats need to pick it up, no question.

Mike: Do you think the Pirates go to Maholm with an extension offer and ship him off for prospects if he doesn't accept• To me that would seem like a logical way to justify shipping some of your better prospects for a Pence type player if you had some coming back via a Maholm trade. If Maholm accepts the extension maybe you just get a Pena for cash and a lower rung prospect and play the year out• Thoughts?

Dejan Kovacevic: There really isn't that urgency, Mike, though many continue depicting it that way. The Pirates have a club option on Maholm for next year. Even if he walks for nothing, they'll almost surely get a compensatory draft pick.

As I wrote today, though, I'd like to see the team at least consider an extension, albeit a reasonable one.

Bucco: Any chance the Bucs look to pick up a starting pitcher at the deadline or should they stick with what they have in the system (i.e. Lincoln & Ohlendorf) to help alleviate some of the pressure. becasue as you've said, a bit of the rotation has been sliding.

Dejan Kovacevic: Those cost a lot in terms of prospects, and I just don't see that as being a priority at all, especially with Brad Lincoln having impressed management of late. I'll believe Ohlendorf is healthy when I see it, but he just started a rehab stint, too.

Corey: Great job with the Bob Nutting interview last week. However, I was surprised Rene Gayo had such high praise for Nutting, saying he "saved" the Pirates, even after the Pirates lost out on signing Miguel Sano. I guess Gayo doesn't blame Nutting for falling only $500,000 short on signing an elite prospect that he had pursued for years?

Dejan Kovacevic: No, because the Pirates' front office was authorized to spend whatever they needed. The front office and Gayo blew this one because, as that column noted, they were more concerned about whether or not they were bidding against themselves than simply getting the player.

My criticism of Nutting in that context is that he should have done more than authorize in that situation. A more aggressive owner steps in and makes sure it gets done.

Marty: I hear a lot of people talking about how they don't want to be mortgaging the future on this year's team, but how would giving up big prospects for a proven, young star like Pence or someone like him a bad idea• As long as you spend the money on them to remain with the team....that's how you can secure a long-term competitive team as far as I'm concerned.

Dejan Kovacevic: Let me advise cooling things a bit on Pence. The next substantive thing that you hear or read that says the Astros are open to moving Pence will be the first. They've actually suggested exactly the opposite.

And the person who said most strongly he doesn't want to mortgage the team's future was Nutting in my column last week. He stopped just shy of saying he's ordering Huntington not to take that approach.

The definition here, by the way, is of elite prospects. The Pirates don't have more than a handful of those.

Mikey: DK, The NHL as an organization is significantly less popular than the three other major sports. In fact you could make a legitimate argument that there is only 3 major sports in the US. In media and FO circles, do you see any major concern that the unpopularity could take a turn for the worst, and the NHL would face major changes in order to survive• It concerns me that there are about 10 cities who do not appear to care about their hockey franchise in any way shape or form.

Dejan Kovacevic: So, if there are only three major sports and one of them is the NBA, how would you explain the NHL having greater attendance• Tough case to make.

I wouldn't say there are 10 NHL markets that don't care, especially now that the Winnipeg Jets are back. I'd say you pretty much have Florida and Phoenix. The fans on the Island are like Pirates fans. There's a tradition there. They'll be back if the management team ever gets a clue or gets replaced.

jason: dejan, heard anything about josh bell lately• do we have a shot to sign him?

Dejan Kovacevic: I asked Scott Boras about both Bell and Gerrit Cole, the Pirates' top two draft picks, when we met in Phoenix the other day. And he made very clear he won't be talking about it, unlike when Boras and I spent all summer talking about Pedro Alvarez three years ago.

Jstanca1: On a Maholm you think 3yrs 21mil gets it done?

Dejan Kovacevic: I was thinking $24 million.

Pauly: Where is the flaw in my thinking• Wouldn't an Alvarez who hits .220 and has 15-20 HRs be better than a 3B platoon that hits .280 with virtually no power• How poorly is Alvarez playing that he wouldnt be better than Branden Wood, Josh Harrison, Chase D'Arnaud• I will add that I am not sold on D'Arnaud at all.

Dejan Kovacevic: This keeping Alvarez down right now is about getting him to play up to his potential, not playing to the level you cite there. An Alvarez in peak form is much, much more valuable, even if you have to wait another couple weeks or a month to get him.

Kyle: Anyway James Harrison gets traded• He has a pretty big cap hit the next few years and at his age (33) and issues we could use the cap space to sign a free agent corner (IKE) and the draft pick next year

Dejan Kovacevic: I'm hearing Harrison isn't going anywhere for this season. Beyond that, he's one of many decisions the Steelers have to make on defense regarding older players.

Dave: Following up on the NHL/NBA question. You seemed to give a very defensive answer. Stanley Cup finals got a lower rating than South Park. NBA finals ratings were through the roof.

Dejan Kovacevic: The NHL needs to do way better on TV ratings. I'm not comparing NHL to NBA here overall. The commenter questioned whether or not the NHL should even be considered a major sport, and I responded by pointing out that the No. 4 sport actually outdraws the No. 3 sport at the gate.

That said, hockey ratings are at least going in the right direction.

Tim in KY: Do you think Hines Ward has sent a "thank you" note to James Harrison yet, for taking his name off the front page?

Dejan Kovacevic: It's funny, but when I saw Hines' Facebook post today, my first thought was, "Oh, yeah, him. What did he do again?"

TS: Play the fan, Dejan. Who would you like to see the Pirates get at the trade deadline.

Dejan Kovacevic: The fan• I'd take Albert Pujols and wrap him up with a 10-year, $300 million contract that's made doable because Major League Baseball's next labor agreement includes a cap and a floor.

Hey, you asked.

In all seriousness, I'd stick within the parameter of a power-hitting first baseman that comes for little more than taking on salary. But I'm aware the pickings are slim.

Rick: Dejan, where do you see Sullivan fitting in for the Pens and what would you like to see the powerplay do differently this year?

Dejan Kovacevic: I realize it would make for an undersized trio, but I think the Penguins would be nuts not to at least try Steve Sullivan on Sidney Crosby's right, with Chris Kunitz on the left. They're not big, obviously, but there's enough grit/speed/skill to make up for that.

Sullivan's a terrific player when healthy.

SeanE: Regarding Alex Pressley. What is the feeling of the organization regarding his long term potential• I know he is hitting the cover off of the ball now but, as we know, small samples don't always tell the tale.

Dejan Kovacevic: I get the feeling Presley is the new Neil Walker, where everyone is convinced management hates him because it took too long for him to arrive in Pittsburgh.

Presley's tools aren't exactly off the charts, so I'd side with management on being a bit skeptical. But give credit where it's due. Presley finished up in high Class A two seasons ago, and he was moved up very aggressively as he performed. No one blocked his path.

One more today ...

Tim in KY: Any word on the Pirates extending Ray Searage• I would think it might be a priority.

Dejan Kovacevic: No, the priority is building his statue. Then the extension.

Guest: This the scenario. No bats are brought in to help at the deadline. Who gets the nod at 1B the rest of the year. Overbay of G.I. Jones• (Assuming Pressley is starting in RF)

Dejan Kovacevic: If no bats are brought it, the Pirates will have far bigger problems than who plays first. To keep repeating myself on this count, these players have done their part, the manager and the coaching staff have done their part ... the front office needs to do its part.

Part II begins tonight in Houston. It's just amazing to imagine that these next couple months could be meaningful, isn't it?

Thanks to all for participating. And please, by all means, feel free to visit the blog at

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