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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript

| Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dejan Kovacevic: Hello to all on this fine afternoon, and away we go ...

Curt: Which pitcher will continue his success in the second half of the season?

Dejan Kovacevic: Wow, starting with a hard one. Charlie Morton's going to continue to look like last night until he gets his sinker. Kevin Correia's starting to give up too many baserunners. Jeff Karstens is supposed to be wearing down. James McDonald has been inconsistent.

Think I'll stick with Paul Maholm.

Marty: Do you think that when Pedro and Doumit come back that will be sufficient enough power to compete in the division. If not who can you trade to bring in a RF/1B if we are still competitive at the deadline?

Dejan Kovacevic: They certainly could provide it, and it would be wonderful if they did, regardless of who comes in. I've said all along that nothing matters more to the progression of the current Pirates than Alvarez, and nothing has changed my mind.

JC: What do you think the chances of the Penguins trading on of the top 4 defencemen for a scoring winger are• Personally, I don't think it would make much sense to break up such a strong top 4, but I keep hearing the suggestion batted around. To me, the top 4 that we have are just as important as a winger, especially the puck moving defensemen like Martin and Letang. If one of the top 4 would be moved, which one seems the most likely - the 2 I keep hearing are Martin or Letang.

Dejan Kovacevic: I'm not sure what you mean by "keep hearing." I've neither heard nor read anything of the kind. If the Penguins could move the final four years and $20 million of Paul Martin's contract, I'm guessing they would.

As for the scoring-winger thing, I'd take a stab at doing a line breakdown right now like the one Rob Rossi did in our paper a couple days ago. I'm OK with the scoring there, especially with 71 on the wing.

Paul: In spring training I said the Pirates would regret not being more aggressive in the off-season in pursuing Berkman or Pena, now that there's a gaping hole in the middle of the lineup any word on attempts to fill with a legitimate 3 or 4 hitter or do they plan to see how far the current group can carry them?

Dejan Kovacevic: Well, they did talk to Berkman, but I don't think they or anyone else envisioned that Lance would find himself the way he has in St. Louis. Not after looking like he had lost some bat speed his last couple years in Houston.

I'm all in favor of an outside bat, and it's incumbent on Neal Huntington and his staff to get it done.

But again, I'm also very much in favor of seeing Pedro Alvarez fit into that 3-4 description you have.

Steve Hamula: Dejan: Putting aside the whole Jagr soap opera, what is your impression of what the Pens have done thus far in free agency. Not particularly sold on the Sullivan signing, even if only for 1-year. Wouldn't it have been better to use that $1.5 million in an effort to get Rupp signed• I think Rupp is really going to be missed this year & the fact that he ended up with the Rangers doesn't help matters. Also, with the remaining cap space, any chance the Pens will go out to sign a guy like Chris Drury, who is going to be getting a big chunk of change from the Rangers, similar to what the Pens did a couple of years ago with Jay McKee or perhaps a Jason Arnott• Both are veteran guys that can help in a lot of ways and are supposedly good in the room?

Dejan Kovacevic: I wouldn't invest a lot of time looking at NHL free agency as it relates to the Penguins the rest of the summer. Ray Shero made it pretty clear they're staying out. And I kind of like that. There probably will be more attractive options for him to use that money closer to the deadline.

I really like Steve Sullivan. Always have. Longtime Penguins fans might relate, but I think of him as a slightly quicker Stu Barnes. Does a little bit of everything offensively, occasionally with some flash. But Sullivan also is 36 and has missed a big chunk of time in recent years to injury.

Zach: In your opinion, what are the chances that the Pirates stay above .500 to finish the season, and end this horrid streak?

Dejan Kovacevic: I keep saying it: They need to hit, at least a little, to win me over.

AL: When Tabata gets back what will our outfield look like?

Dejan Kovacevic: If it's not Tabata, Andrew McCutchen and Alex Presley, I'll be surprised. You could see Xavier Paul and/or Matt Diaz in right, too. But it's starting to get to be about time Garrett Jones -- or anyone -- takes over first base.

Tim from Lancaster: Dejan, do you see the Pirates trying to make a big splash at the trade deadline proving that they are making a go of it• ie. going after Pence

Dejan Kovacevic: Argh. No, the Pirates will not -- and should not -- make personnel moves at any point for PR purposes.

Regarding Pence, from what I heard yesterday from the Houston side, he's not going anywhere. (What a terrific player.)

buck80: I've never been able to have this question adequately answered...why does the nfl have this silly qb rule, where you can't use your 3rd qb until the 4th qtr...if you do, the other guys can't come back in the game...or at least the starter. If you can freely sub every other position, what's different about qbs• what advantage for the offense, or disadvantage to the defense are they trying to prevent?

Dejan Kovacevic: Do a Web search on something called "The Body Bag Game." And no, that wasn't the Steelers-Ravens from last year. It was back in 1990, and it was what brought the rule into place. The aim was to make sure that, even after active rosters were set, a team wouldn't have to do something crazy if a third QB is needed. Came into play in the NFC title game last year when the Bears' QBs were dropping like Flaccos.

Denny: When everyone gets healthy what would be your starting lineup fort the Pirates • Also why not get Alvarez ready for 1st base now!

Dejan Kovacevic: Wouldn't be fair to the kid, teaching him a new position in the middle of the season. But I still like the idea long-term.

Lineups always get me in trouble, but ...

Presley, RF
Tabata, LF
McCutchen, CF
Adam Dunn's younger cousin Bubba, 1B
Walker, 2B
Alvarez, 3B
Doumit, C
Cedeno, SS
Maholm, LHP

Corey: Do you think Eric Tangradi or Dustin Jeffrey has a better chance at beginning the upcomming year in the NHL?

Dejan Kovacevic: Jeffrey has the better chance, but Tangradi has a chance, too. I'm told the Penguins like Jeffrey more than I thought they did based on their usage of him last season. We'll see.

Neal: Jose Tabata, Justin Wilson, Kyle Mcpherson for Hunter Pence.

Dejan Kovacevic: Exhibit A of why I'm not a fan of this kind of stuff.

Josh: I'd like to hear your thoughts on Jeff Karstens ability to maintain his current success. Seems like the Keith Law types believe that he has simply been lucky to date and that he's bound for a correction at some point. Do you agree with this• It's hard to argue with the success he has had, but is there other examples of a pitcher with his type of stats maintaining that over an extended period of time?

Dejan Kovacevic: Setting aside whatever Keith might have written on the topic, my own view is that Karstens has gotten stronger and more confident. He's also got a chip on his shoulder that not many people know about, though it's a healthy one. No pitcher likes being bounced back and forth from the pen to starting, and no athlete likes being cut from the roster. Karstens thinks he's better than that, and it looks like he's right.

His stuff isn't great. Never has been. Never will be. But his ability to read swings, adjust on the fly and locate (I think he's had seven starts with one or fewer walks now) ... that's important, too.

SterlingCooperDraperPrice: I don't see a huge move happening, i.e. Pence or Pena, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Buccos go after a struggling player like Lee in Baltimore and hoping a change of scenery helps him out.

Dejan Kovacevic: Hypothetically speaking, I'd take Derrek Lee in a heartbeat. I know something happened to him starting mostly with last year, but I'm guessing there's still enough talent there -- offense and defense -- that some meaningful baseball could bring out.

Jason: I saw earlier that you said it's about time Jones took over 1B. Do you think it will actually happen or was that just wishful thinking• Jones is just as good as Overbay, maybe we could move Overbay for a prospect since our outfield is so crowded now?

Dejan Kovacevic: Hurdle has thrown out strong hints for two weeks now that Overbay needs to step up, not the least of which was actually benching Overbay for Jones for a full series.

Tony Pena: Who will be healthy first -- Sndyer, Doumit or Jaromillo• When will that be?

Dejan Kovacevic: Jaramillo is the closest, Snyder the furthest. Jaramillo is back in actual rehab games.

Brett Wysocki: Not saying they NEED to do anything PR-wise, but in a way, wouldn't sitting Overbay (where is that great glove we've been promised) on the bench and eating that salary at least part of a sign that the ways are changing?

Dejan Kovacevic: Not at all. This management team has made some big mistakes, but they've also been very quick at owning up to them and addressing them. Ask Aki Iwamura or Ramon Vazquez.

SterlingCooperDraperPrice: The most outspoken player in the locker room is ____________.

Dejan Kovacevic: Loudest is Matt Diaz, but I'll take Neil Walker if you mean literally outspoken as in unafraid to voice his opinion.

PirateApologist: Where is your favorite place inside of PNC park to view the game• Is it simply behind home plate viewing the city (pretending the Pirate's Charities sign is not there?) or do you have a hidden spot?

Dejan Kovacevic: Upper deck right field, way over to the river's edge. Stunning collective view of the park and the city, and you only have to suffer the Pirates Charities sign from the side. This isn't great for baseball, mind you, but it is for everything else. Take a walk up there sometime.

Chris: Where does Ohlendorf go when he's healthy?

Dejan Kovacevic: The bullpen.

Nati Bucco: Can we stop talking about Hunter Pence• We're not getting him and Houston is not trading him.

Dejan Kovacevic: Exactly.

PimpJuice: With the Penguins signing so many extra D-Men in Free Agency, where will Simon Despres fit in come training camp?

Dejan Kovacevic: If Despres isn't able to beat out the D-men they've signed so far this summer, the Penguins are in trouble.

Average Dave: Dejan, we've heard the argument that good Free Agents don't want to come to teams like the Pirates (here's hoping that will change) and also the claim that if the money is good, they will come. Maybe Albert P. commands the ability to pick and choose, but what say you about good, second tier FAs wanting to come here?

Dejan Kovacevic: That's a myth. The players and their agents almost inevitably follow the money.

Guest: What do think the chances are the Pirates will trade for a first baseman• If they do, do you think he will be an upgrade over Overbay?

Dejan Kovacevic: Good, and yes.

aglebagel: Any rumblings about Matt Hague getting a shot at first?

Dejan Kovacevic: No, Hague is a work in progress, first year at that level. He's doing great, but he's not complete, certainly not on the defensive side.

AJS: 71 on the wing• Really• I know he didn't get to play with Staal last year while playing the wing, but it seems to me Malkin plays better when he can float around, drive the middle, and get to the net. When he plays wing he looks flat footed and out of place. I'd be more interested in seeing Staal move to wing like he did his rookie season when he scored 29 goals.

Dejan Kovacevic: Sounds like that's where Dan Bylsma is headed. Again, take a look on our Penguins page for the story we had on this.

Rob: Do you think the Penguins will trade Kennedy or make any trades at all?

Dejan Kovacevic: No on Kennedy.

Bucco Fan: Do you think the Reds, Brewers and Cards will all hang in the NL Central race throughout the season?

Dejan Kovacevic: I could see the Reds fading. They haven't really recaptured that 2010 thing they had.

PirateApologist: DK - those are where my season tickets are. You can see the people pouring over all of the bridges coming in too. Great call.

Dejan Kovacevic: It's also where that robot camera is that shows home runs bouncing into the river.

Patrick: Is there a better center fielder than Bourne?

Dejan Kovacevic: Not defensively. He's awesome. Can't really figure out the Astros being all this terrible, actually.

All Star: Any chance Correia, Cutch or someone else ends up at the All-star game because of injuries or other factors?

Dejan Kovacevic: Correia has a very good chance, based on pitchers that might have to bow out. McCutchen does not, mostly because picking him as a replacement might defy that player-vote list they're supposed to follow.

Brian: Dejan: What are the chances of the Pirates payroll actually increasing next year• I doubt they will keep Malholm's 10 million and Doumit and Snyder have expensive options too.

Dejan Kovacevic: Chances are very good.

Couple more today ...

Matt: How clumsy did Cutch look on that 'diving' attempt on the drive to center• Looked like it should have been a pretty basic grab.

Dejan Kovacevic: Bruce Bochy would agree.

wowo: whats your mind saying about pitts recuriting thus far .wheres the off linemen

Dejan Kovacevic: It's been disappointing, though I like the four transfers from BCS schools. Anyone who thought Todd Graham could snap his fingers after the mess he inherited over the winter was guilty of wishful thinking. But all it takes for some programs to get the ball rolling is one blue-chipper.

sammy: Any chance the Pens would trade Orpik or Letang for a goal scorer?

Dejan Kovacevic: About as much chance of me quarterbacking the power play.

SterlingCooperDraperPrice: Which Pens rival has made themselves stronger during the FA period?

Dejan Kovacevic: Capitals, by far, simply by adding Tomas Vokoun. Real goaltending at last.

SterlingCooperDraperPrice: Best tablet on the market right now?

Dejan Kovacevic: I've only begun playing with the iPad over the past couple weeks, and it's neat. I have a natural aversion to touching screens with my fingers, so that was an adjustment.

Curt: Favorite Pirate you get to interview/converse with and why?

Dejan Kovacevic: Karstens, just for his droll humor. Maybe I'll print one of our conversations on the blog someday.

Which reminds to offer the obligatory plug for the blog:

Thanks to all. I have some surprises in store next week.

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