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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript

| Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dejan Kovacevic: Welcome all to our first Trib Total Media chat, live from sunny, spectacular Cleveland. I'll be here all weekend for the Pirates-Indians series, and I remind here that you can find plenty more every day on my new blog:

Let's get started ...

Curt: Let's say the Pirates are 3 or less games back at the trade deadline, will be buyers and what position would be looking to solidify?

Dejan Kovacevic: I like the way you describe that. Too many focus on .500 when this topic comes up. The real barometer is whether or not they can legitimately contend within their division.

To answer your question, they should be buyers, and I would expect they will be, based on scenarios they've presented to me for years now. That wouldn't — and shouldn't — mean giving up any of their handful of elite prospects, but they have roster and financial flexibility. Deals like this can get done without giving up the farm, so to speak.

Frank In Ohio: 1.) Do you think Ramon Foster has solidified the starting Right Guard Position on the Offensive Line moving forward into the 2011 season?

Dejan Kovacevic: When a guy takes over a position, as Foster did for Trai Essex, in the middle of the Steelers' season, then holds that down through the playoffs and the Super Bowl, I'd be very surprised if he didn't enter camp with a No. 1 designation. That said, players like Doug Legursky will be competing for various spots on the line, too.

Walky Talky: I wasn't always a big TK fan, but he really picked up the offense at the end of the season. What's his worth to the Pens?

Dejan Kovacevic: Depends on whether they see him as a top-six guy. Fair or not, that's the line of demarcation in hockey even if you have a third line as strong as Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.

I'm with you: I don't think Ray Shero can ignore what Kennedy did. But I'd also be open-minded if I were him. Other teams can be willing to overpay for someone off a big breakout year that might not represent the player's norm.

Guest: DK, love your work. Outside of Taillon Allie, Heredia and Sanchez, are any Pirate prospects "untouchable"?

Dejan Kovacevic: Neal Huntington says it all the time, and he said it again last week: No untouchables, at least not in the literal sense. It's just not a policy they maintain.

Doesn't mean it would be easy to get any of those guys on your list, though.

Mike_Blawnox: How would you allocate the credit for the pitching staff having the 5th best ERA in the NL after having the worst ERA in the NL in 2011. Please allocate between the defense, Ray Searage, Clint Hurdle, more experience, and luck. Also, how do you expect the staff to perform the rest of the year?

Dejan Kovacevic: If I had a 10-piece pie, I'd cut out two pieces for the pitchers themselves, one for Clint Hurdle for helping to instill confidence, one for the improved defense, one for the firing of Joe Kerrigan, and Searage gets the other half all for himself.

Drew: Dejan - Congrats on the new gig. Great seeing you in a place where you can let the creative juices flow (ewww). Can't wait to see what you can do with this place as you evolve your blog.

Dejan Kovacevic: Thanks, Drew. I think.

Jeff: If realignment does occur, where do you see the Pirates fitting in best?

Dejan Kovacevic: National League East Division. Been saying that for years.

Scott P: Do the Steelers plan on giving Willie Parker a look see when the lockout is lifted?

Dejan Kovacevic: All signs are that they will not. I don't have a problem with that. He doesn't have the speed many of us remember, and I'm not sure what dimension he could bring beyond that.

Free Isaac Redman!

Ray: I know this is a reach for the Steelers. Since there is going to be a supplemental draft could a guy like Janoris Jenkins from Florida make himself available• He is a pretty good corner with some problems on his resume but s\could sure help our secondary.

Dejan Kovacevic: Jenkins would get plenty of interest in that event, Ray, but he's going to North Alabama, a Division II school, with a goal of getting himself right after being kicked out of Florida on a marijuana charge.

I'd focus on whether or not the Steelers re-sign Ike Taylor. That's the secondary's best hope.

PhillyJake: The Pirates current record would have them third in the NL East, 9 games out! I know this doesn't exactly transfer, but...

Dejan Kovacevic: Well, but it does tell you that it's not going to be a wild card. That's one reason I advised above to just look at the Central standings. (Can't believe we're discussing standings as it relates to the Pirates.)

Tim: no Alex Presley• How does that make sense?

Dejan Kovacevic: It makes none. This was getting weird last month, and now it's just bizarre. Pedro Ciriaco has made two pinch-hitting and two pinch-running appearances in three weeks. And there are other guys to back up at short.

Drew: Dejan, following up on your poke about this earlier this week, if Pitt doesn't blow this (they WILL blow it) by requiring people to buy a two or three game package in order to get Penn State tix (they WILL require that)...but if they DON'T...could the THOUSANDS of deliriously happy Penn State fans who are locked out of Beaver Stadium but are able to buy into THIS game put any pressure - direct or indirect - on Penn State to keep this thing going?

Dejan Kovacevic: Sure, they could. Universities listen to their fans, boosters, donors, and they could make a big difference here.

But is that sentiment really there in Happy Valley?

I'm not so sure.

I'm also not sure that Pitt will mess this up. I do think you're going to see some sort of ticket-selling approach linked to this, as I discussed briefly with Steve Pederson the other day. But he doesn't strike me as a guy who doesn't learn from mistakes.

Dave from MD: With all the FA talent at RB available, would the Steelers take a look at, say, Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward, Pierre Thomas or Jason Snelling to ease the burden on Rashard?

Dejan Kovacevic: They're going to look, Dave, for sure. But let me put this out to you or the group: What is Redman's major malfunction that he can't be that guy?

PokeyReese: How much of an advantage is it getting to play the Redsox with the NL rules?

Dejan Kovacevic: It helps a little, for the obvious reason that AL pitchers have to bat, and one of the opponent's best hitters — the DH — has to sit.

To me, another advantage is having a strange team come into PNC Park and try to figure out left and left-center fields. Believe me, that's the subject of opponents' meetings before playing interleague games in Pittsburgh much more so than the NL rules.

Tim: only thing Redman doesn't have is pedigree, which doesn't matter ;-)

Dejan Kovacevic: No, it doesn't. Ask the Fast version of Willie. Or James Harrison.

SterlingCooperDraperPryce: The Mets call the Pirates and offer Jose Reyes for Brad Lincoln, Chase D'Arnaud, Rudy Owens and Matt Curry...who hangs up first?

Dejan Kovacevic: Huntington does. If the Pirates really want Reyes, they can wait for the winter like everyone else. But he'll be the No. 2 free agent on the market behind Albert Pujols, and he has a history of being hurt. Good luck with that.

Fat Jimmy: Does Stetson Allie reported only throwing 93-97 diminish his value as a prospect• (vs. throwing 97-100)

Dejan Kovacevic: No. Because he needs to harness his control first, then ramp up the velocity. That was something he and I, as well as Jameson Taillon, were talking about this spring. Taillon has been pushing him to take a little off and throw strikes.

Tommy/NYC: Dejan, when you said "Green Lantern" was a "fine" film, did you mean "fine" like "okay" or "fine" like "really good"• Where does it rate amongst some recent super hero filmage?

Dejan Kovacevic: If you're a fan — and I certainly am — you'll love it. If not, I'm not so sure. It doesn't feel all that accessible to the general public.

SterlingCooperDraperPryce: As the old saying goes, Money talks. Would a sponsor for the Pitt-PSU game make it more enticing for it be an annual event• I suggest this because PSU has long claimed they can't play Pitt because they need x-amount of home games to cover costs.

Dejan Kovacevic: That's an interesting concept, if only because the sponsor surely would want an agreement longer than two years.

Maybe someone at your esteemed ad firm can get it done!

bjm: What's your take on Malkin as a winger?

Dejan Kovacevic: I don't like it. Never have. No, he's not Adam Oates out there as a passing center, but he's at his best barging through the middle of the neutral zone. He needs that freedom. If you tie him to one wing or another, he's easier to defend.

DJ from Punxsy: Grab Jason Bay for cheap-cheap price @ deadline?

Dejan Kovacevic: Cheap• Have you looked at his contract?

SterlingCooperDraperPryce: Do you see Brad Wannamaker, Gary McGheeor Gil Brown going int he second round of the NBA draft?

Dejan Kovacevic: I might be in the minority here, but I have a hard time believing an NBA team wouldn't be interested in a do-it-all guy like Wanamaker. So smart, so versatile. But I also could see Brown's sheer athleticism and McGhee's bulk fitting a team's specific needs.

Wanamaker is my choice.

SterlingCooperDraperPryce: I'll put Joan on it!

Dave from MD: Redman certainly can be "that guy", but don't the Steelers need more than those two?

Dejan Kovacevic: They do, and they'll look. My point is that I wouldn't be so quick to rule our Redman if all you're looking for is someone to lighten the load for Mendenhall. Now, guarding against injury to Mendenhall, yeah, that's going to take at least one more.

turtleneck: DK -first welcome to your new digs, second, what are the odds that the Bucs will try to add to their major league roster as the season progresses• Even with them dangling Maholm and possibly Doumit (once healthy) — will they still look for prospects in return or finally deal big leaguers for big leaguers?

Dejan Kovacevic: I don't think they can dangle Doumit anymore. Doumit told me last week that he expects to come back sooner than the Pirates expect, maybe even before the All-Star break. When he returns, he's your everyday catcher.

I'm not sure about Maholm, either. I think you have to listen, but that club option of $9.75 million for 2012 doesn't look laughable anymore.

Couple more today ...

JamesinNYC: Congratulations on the move, I am sure you are happy with it. What does your new position hold for you• If our PBC can win 2 out of 3 from a struggling Cleveland team do you think they make it through the All Star break above 500• I looks like the first part of July is a lot kinder then the second half

Dejan Kovacevic: The new position, James, involves columns Monday and Friday through the summer, additional assignments such as this weekend in Cleveland, the blog every day, chats like this once a week, and stuff beyond that.

It's columnist plus a few slashes.

Taking the series here in Cleveland probably would be a good thing, in light of the Orioles, Red Sox and Blue Jays coming up next. I know Baltimore is in last place, but I think their offense is capable of much more than it's shown

Hamburger Jones: DK, what's your take on Mike Rupp pricing himself out of the Pens range• Didn't he say he us putting down roots in PGH and wants to play for a perennial contender• Isn't all of that worth more than a few extra bucks per year?

Dejan Kovacevic: It's bargaining. Players have every right to bargain for the best wage, and Rupp is no exception. That doesn't make what he says about Pittsburgh or Penguins fans any less valid. Means he's just trying to get what he's worth.

The Penguins want Rupp back. Rupp wants to be back. Something will get done. Speaking only for myself, he's at the top of my list of free agents they need to keep.

PokeyReese: If Maholm shuts down the Sox on friday, his trade value goes through the roof. Or then does the FO start thinking extension?

Dejan Kovacevic: If I'm the Pirates, I listen. Never hurts. They have more to gain at this stage from observing and listening than they do from locking themselves into a tens-of-millions commitment with a pitcher having something of a breakout year.

OK, last one ...

Fat Jimmy: For the love being shown to Hurdle, if the Pirates keep this up is ... gulp ... Neal Huntington ... urk ... GM of the Year• (ackkkk!!! My head! My. Brain. Is. Going. To. Explode!!!!)

Dejan Kovacevic: Yeah, I can see that. Gross.

No, he would not be that. Honors like that tend to reflect not only major-league excellence but also very strong depth in the minors, something like what the Royals have. Huntington has played his part with this team, for sure, which is why I called for him to have his contract extended two years in a column earlier this week. But he is not baseball's premier executive.

SterlingCooperDraperPryce: Thanks for doing this chat, DK!

Dejan Kovacevic: No, thank you for all the participation. Really busy session, lots of topics. Now, it's time to walk the mean streets of Cleveland in search of caffeine.

Again, I remind you to check the link above to the blog. All kinds of activity there this weekend. It's free, it's fun, it's easy to comment.

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