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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript

| Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011

Dejan Kovacevic: Hello all, on a semi-nice day in which the Pirates are fresh off taking two of three yet again from a good team (never mind what they do against a bad team), and the Steelers get set for the preseason opener without the kid who might well have been the highlight of that game. Away we go ...

SouthSideBucsFan: We've got the signing deadline coming up for Cole/Bell. What would you say is the percentage of each signing?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'd say Gerrit Cole's chance is extremely high. No way they get to this point with so little fuss unless they're already at least in the ballpark. Conversely, I have heard not a thing in any direction that would substantiate that Josh Bell will sign. If this is the poker face of the Bell family, then I'd say they're really, really good at this.

Guest: DK, can you shed some reasoning on why Jerrico Cotchery was not signed• He has great hands and excellent on 3rd down when he was with the Jets.

Dejan Kovacevic: The obvious one is money, though I think the Steelers could have pulled off that part. But the more likely answer is that Cotchery didn't like what he heard about his potential place on the depth chart. If you've been reading the Trib's coverage from Latrobe by our beat men Scott Brown and Mark Kaboly, you know that Antonio Brown has been outstanding out there. That makes Cotchery No. 4 at best, and even then only assuming Emmanuel Sanders' injury lingers.

Mike Holsinger: Who is likely to be called up by the Pirates when the rosters expand?

Dejan Kovacevic: John Bowker, Jason Jaramillo, Gorkys Hernandez and a slew of relievers, including possibly Bryan Morris. Am I missing someone?

Black&Gold: With Baron Batch out for the year, do the Steelers sign a free agent (Clinton Portis?) or just wait until teams start to cut players to add depth?

Dejan Kovacevic: Batch was terrific in early drills, and he's a great kid. It's too bad this happened. But being realistic here, Batch was going to have to earn his way onto special teams this season, and his only real chance of getting time with the offense ... well, never mind. There wasn't one.

Yeah, the depth is down. But I'd suspect, as always, the Steelers will seek an answer from within. The next running back they invite to Latrobe for a visit, I believe, will be the first.

Mike: Do you think the pens could trade Paul Martin in the future for a draft pick or scoring winger• Whenever Simon Despres is NHL ready?

Dejan Kovacevic: Almost as much chance as the Pirates would have had to trade Lyle Overbay. That's not to suggest Martin performed at Overbay's level but, rather, to underscore that it's not easy to trade players you might find expendable who are making $5 million annually.

Independent of that, Despres is going to have to earn his way up from Wilkes-Barre. I'd be stunned if he makes the team right out of camp.

Anthony: Dejan, with the Steelers secondary, in particular William Gay, being suspect at best in the Super Bowl and him being torched to this point in his career, what do they see in him that warrants a new deal• Couldnt this money be better spent elsewhere• I know signing big time free agents isn't the Steeler way but there has to be a better option out there than this guy, right?

Dejan Kovacevic: T here is no older story in all of sports than that the Steelers like to do things from within, but we all still find ourselves surprised from time to time when they do. They know Gay, Gay knows the system in a lockout year, and Gay was going to come cheaper than someone similar on the market. That's it.

And hey, who knows• Gay's actually been seeing a few reps at starting right CB. Do you really want Bryant McFadden over there?

yinzer in va: Dejan, Do you think the Bucs have come out of their funk• Are they more confident• I would think taking 2 of 3 from the reigning champs would give a big boost of confidence.

Dejan Kovacevic: Ask me again at, oh, about 4:30 p.m. Sunday. I'm heading up to Milwaukee for the weekend to write columns and stuff off the coming series, and you'll see in my Friday column that I happen to think this is still a really big deal for the Pirates to finally find a way to beat that team.

Gold&Black: Who is the biggest surprise this year in Steeler's camp, someone to keep an eye on as pre-season begins• Tyler Grisham• Chris Carter• Baron Batch• Someone else?

Dejan Kovacevic: If you mean a pleasant surprise, I'll go with Brown. He's been really good. And his timing for that is great.

znc1: Brandon Wood has had a nice little run lately (outside of the Giants series). His defense isn't great at SS, but could he and d'Arnaud be in a battle for the starting job next year rather than give Cedeno the $3 million option?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yeah, Wood's a bit shy of .300 since the break, and he's got seven home runs in limited duty since coming over. I had a good talk with him just before the team went out west, and he genuinely sounds like a kid who's had the light bulb pop on.

Because of that and because of his pedigree in the Anaheim system, I'll be surprised if he isn't kept around for next season. Not as the starting shortstop. The defense isn't there. But as pretty much what you see right now.

sms: bigger concern at this point - receiver or RB for the steelers..

Dejan Kovacevic: Running back. See here for my explanation.

Dave: Matt Hague :)

Dejan Kovacevic: Yeah, Hague, of course. My fault. Live chat and all. That's why I'll usually ask you guys to help follow up on a list-type question that puts me on the spot. Thanks.

Rick in LA: DK, will Jon Dwyer be cut due to his weight• Maybe he hangs on now due to the Batch injury.

Dejan Kovacevic: I wrote the other day he deserves to be cut for showing up that way, but let's see if the Steelers can push him into shape. You'd be surprised how quickly situations like that can change with the right motivation.

DavedigsDKsblog: Of the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins, which team will win the city's next championship, first?

Dejan Kovacevic: Can I go off the board and say Pitt basketball• No• OK, then, I'll go with the Penguins, based on the very large presumption that the big two are healthy. The Steelers look very good for the coming season, obviously, but I'm not sure many will see them as the NFL's best team.

Money for Nutting: DK....I love, love Woodley. Definitely my favorite player right now...but highest paid defensive player in franchise history• Really?

Dejan Kovacevic: That's the nature of changing times more than it is a reflection of Woodley being better than Joe Greene, Kevin Greene or another Greene. He was in a pretty good situation as the franchise guy, and it paid off.

And hey, don't begrudge the man. I haven't seen him stop smiling for a week straight.

Bill: Does it make sense to try to get D. Lee next year and platoon him and Jones at first?

Dejan Kovacevic: I know that the Pirates are interested in discussing a return with Lee. Options at first base are pretty much limited to Garrett Jones, Hague and ... well, Jones and Hague. They're going to need to go to the outside again if they don't keep Lee.

Based on history, you don't want this management team going to the outside for free-agent position players, do you?

dillonerd: The Pirates have to go 26-20 to finish above .500. They have 20 games left against the Cards and Brewers. How many of the those games do they have to win for historytobemade?

Dejan Kovacevic: At least two of three this weekend. Seriously, the monkey's got to start coming off at some point.

Bob Robertsons Sideburns: Do you think Derek Lee and Ryan Ludwick would be open to being Pirates next year if they produce this year and the price is right?

Dejan Kovacevic: Now, that's a different question. Lee isn't any crazier about PNC Park's left field from a hitting perspective than most hitters are. And that's important to these guys. He's late in his career, and he'd like to look like he can still hit one out occasionally. Lee had a chance to go to the Padres last season -- that's his home -- and still turned it down because of Petco.

I'm not sure Ludwick's going to be in the same bracket. The Pirates have real outfield depth.

swycas: It's time for the inevitable....any news on Sid?

Dejan Kovacevic: The last that our Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe have heard, he's working out and doing fine. Won't be long until we can all see for ourselves.

Ty: Do you think that the Flyers will remain competitive with the Pens atop the Atlantic division after trading away Richards and Carter and replacing them with Bryzgalov and Jagr?

Dejan Kovacevic: Competitive, yeah. But I'm really surprised at the number of people who DON'T think the Flyers have really hurt themselves with these moves. Those were two important players they sent out mostly to put all their eggs in one goaltending basket and, of course, to get tougher. Looks lousy to me.

The Capitals, Bruins and Lightning will provide the most competition in the East.

Bob Robertsons Sideburns: What defunct Pittsburgh team do you miss the most• The Maulers, The Triangles, The Spirit, Xplosion ....?

Dejan Kovacevic: The Spirit, and it's not close. Which I'm sure you intended as an entry to bring up the obligatory vague Spirit player name-dropping: Paul Child!

dillonerd: Do you really think Pitt Basketball will win the next championship?

Dejan Kovacevic: Nah. But it sounded fun, didn't it?

On the bright side, Jamie Dixon is having a nice summer in the sense that Ashton Gibbs is right now over in China playing in the World University Games, which could be a big help if he's stressing his passing. And Steven Adams, Dixon's recruit out of New Zealand, recently opened up a bunch of eyes with a great tournament performance.

They never really rebuild, do they?

Jeremy in North Dakota: Do you think James Harrison will be able to play the whole season despite his back, or does this signify more playing time for Jason Worilds?

Dejan Kovacevic: Few injuries are less predictable than the lower back. Impossible to say. If I'm Worilds, I'm getting prepared to play.

Dave: Who has a better chance at being the teams starting shortstop next year• Cedeno, D'Arnaud, or Wood?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'll take D.

I've always liked Cedeno's talent level, but the reason I'm dismissing him is that I just don't see him as a Clint Hurdle type player. The manager's patience with Cedeno probably ran out a while ago.

Bob Robertsons Sideburns: Dejan, where can i apply to be the Trib locker room reporter for the PIttsburgh Passion???

Dejan Kovacevic: Sorry, Bob, but you've got to be taller than Kenny Kangaroo.

Guest: Do the raven's truly believe flacco can be the "elite" guy they have been saying he will become all offseason• Or is it time they realize he's simply out of his league compared to guys like Brady, Manning, Brees, Big Ben, and Rodgers

Dejan Kovacevic: The Ravens have to say that. They even have to think it. But if they want the truth, they only need to pop in a tape of the third quarter of their playoff game in this city.

Mikie: Best shot as starting C next year: Snyder, Doumit, McKenry, Sanchez?

Dejan Kovacevic: You know, that's a tough one. Snyder's going to be a big risk with ... repeat after me, the lower-back issue. Doumit might want more than the Pirates are willing to give up. McKenry ... he's hard to figure, too. That probably will depend on what the Pirates think about his .260 average being a mirage or not.

The killer here is that Sanchez really took a step backward in the minors. He's not hitting, he's really not hitting with any pop (just 14 extra-base hits at last check), and he's got more than a dozen errors. What an opportunity is being missed.

Two more today ...

Guest: Does 81-81 consider breaking the losing streak, or do the pirates have to go 82-80 to actually have a winning season?

Dejan Kovacevic: I think 81 wins is kind of lame, don't you• I remember Ned Yost popping champagne over 81 when the Brewers achieved it right here in Pittsburgh.

82 seems like a better goal. Actual winners.

Dave: Has management learned that instead of spending 7+ million on a few aging players like the Lyle Overbay's and Matt Diaz's of the world that it's better to invest that money into 1 player who is actually you know, Good?

Dejan Kovacevic: I hear that all the time, and I just wonder if they can pull that off or if it would be more money down the drain. Really, this is a live chat, so it's not the right format for a long list, but the history is weak.

znc1: When you mean D, you mean "option D" who isn't mentioned, or D'Arnaud• I admit I don't think D'Arnaud is ready yet as of this second, but I don't think I want to bring a veteran in that position. This management team hasn't signed good free agent backup SS. Wood's been their best SS pickup.

Dejan Kovacevic: I meant option D, as in none of the above. And you know, when you start doubting that management can sign a good free-agent shortstop ... that's not the basis on which you're supposed to be deciding such things.

Bill: It seems that Hurdle is full of himself. Does it get a little tiring to listen to him pontificate about his intelligence?

Dejan Kovacevic: I don't get that impression at all. It took me a while to begin understanding him, and I'd say that just because someone is loud and confident, that doesn't make them full of themselves. Hurdle sees himself as the team leader, which he should. He's read books on leadership, which he should. He's front and center and vocal, which he should be.

I hate the bunts and I think even less of his bullpen management, but I think that otherwise Hurdle has been an exemplary choice by this front office, maybe the best single move they've made since taking over in 2007.

Thanks to all, and a reminder that you don't need to be taller than Kenny Kangaroo to visit our lively, round-the-clock blog .

Talk to you from dairy-land.

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