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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript

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By Pittsburgh The Tribune-Review
Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012
 

Dejan Kovacevic: Afternoon, all. Not much to discuss today, I guess, so ...

BigNick: Dejan, How can Pirates president Frank Coonelly ever repremand any of his players now cause of this DUI• Can he really come down on lets say Sanchez for his bar room antics• Both Alcohol related incident?

Dejan Kovacevic: For those who missed our exclusive coverage of Coonelly's DUI this morning, please check our Breaking News page.

There are a whole bunch of areas where Coonelly is compromised by this. One is what you mention, in meting out discipline. That's done by the baseball people, obviously, but he's at the top of that ladder. Another is in his extensive dealings with the community.

It's an egregious, dangerous mistake he made, and he'll be paying for it a very long time.

James_Pittsburgh: Why do the Pirates continue to waste time with aging players such as A.J. Burnett and Lyle Overbay• They won't make a difference in the standings and won't be around when the team might compete again.

Dejan Kovacevic: The false, random connections that Pirates fans make between players who have nothing in common never ceases to amaze. Yeah, they've made a ton of mistakes, but mistakes get stretched across different situations, even different management teams.

How about we let Burnett throw an actual pitch in anger before burying him in the Overbay/Diaz pile?

James_Indiana, PA: Do you think it would be wise to let Wallace walk if the Steelers get the opportunity and take the other first round draft pick• Then they can add a NT and Guard. Plus they can sign Crotchery and go into the season with Brown, Sanders, Crotchery, and ?

Dejan Kovacevic: Let Wallace walk• No way, no how. And it's not going to happen.

This idea that they can use another first-rounder somehow equates that pick to an established, dynamic player at a skill position. On top of that, you advocate using it on a nose tackle, a position that's not all that hard to address through lesser investments than a first-rounder.

The Steelers will get Wallace done, just like they got everyone else done last summer. Might take some heavy backloading, but that's possible as the cap is expected to grow after next season.

Wild Bill: I'm wondering how real the chances are of the Steelers actually losing Wallace. Lots of revisions already done, and how would we keep aging defensive players while losing Wallace's future?

Dejan Kovacevic: It's easier, for sure, than ever with teams only having to give up a first-rounder. And it is possible. I don't mean to diminish that. If somebody wants to blow away Wallace with $18 million up front, they'll drown the Steelers.

My point is that it's not probable. The Steelers can -- and I think will -- get an extension done before Wallace can become a restricted free agent March 13. There's enough time, and there's certainly enough will.

Brandon, Aliquippa: Any chance the Pens go after Umberger for say Tangradi and a 2nd round pick?

Dejan Kovacevic: Oh, no. Are we doing this again?

Martin for Nash?

Seven players I don't like for your great player?

doublewinder: My question is, with the Paul Martin talk, do you foresee the next CBA having an amnesty buyout like the last one, and if so, would the Pens consider buying him out for $10 million?

Dejan Kovacevic: They're of the opinion that he's not as un-trade-able as I think. I'll believe that when I see it, but I'd have to assume they're not bluffing.

Jimmy: When Crosby and Malkin sign extensions will the cap hit be less than the current $8.7 cap hit?

Dejan Kovacevic: That's getting way, way ahead of the game, and not just because Jordan Staal is next in line. Remember, the NHL has to face off with Donald Fehr running the union this fall and the CBA expiring. The system that's in place now might not be the system that's in place then.

jack: congrats on the award. Do you see any hope for improvement by the pirates this year, or are we just like the indians in the movie Major League. "WE SUCK AGAIN"

Dejan Kovacevic: I like their chances better with A.J. Burnett -- and a legit six-man rotation -- than I did with five plus Band-Aids. But it's hard to see how they're going to be improved significantly unless Pedro Alvarez becomes what he was supposed to be. Or even half that.

Seriously, draw up their lineup, then put a GOOD Alvarez at cleanup. Look how different it feels.

Jandy: lol hey, DK, since you've earned that prestigious award for your column, can we have our toasters now please?

Dejan Kovacevic: Toasters for everyone!

For those who don't know what these two are talking about, check the blog.

Punxsy Phil: People are entirely overreacting to this Mike Wallace situation. His 2nd half of the season was average at best and at the very worst we get a first round pick out of the deal, which we arguably haven't missed on in 12 years. Also, what kind of dollar amount are we expecting Wallace to get on the open market• 4 years 30 mill?

Dejan Kovacevic: If you pin Wallace's second half solely on Wallace, then you're deliberately ignoring the quarterback playing hurt most of that time. No part of Ben's game was more affected by that ankle -- not even his scrambling -- than his inability to throw the deep ball accurately.

I can see Wallace in the 8-9 range as a true free agent. But again, that's not what this is. It's restricted.

SterlingCooperDraperPrice: Jamie Dixon obviously gets a "pass", but will all of his asst. coaches?

Dejan Kovacevic: Brandin Knight is Jamie's main assistant, and I'd be stunned beyond words if he's in any trouble. He's a tireless worker, a heart-and-soul type who communicates well -- and vocally -- with the players.

Let's not extrapolate what's been one lousy season. The seniors underperformed, and the freshmen didn't step up. That's it.

NealsonWheels: Dejan - what does it say about Dustin Jeffrey that he was a healthy scratch the other night• Does this indicate management being unsatisfied with Jeffrey's recent play• And, ultimately, do you think Jeffrey could find himself being dealt for a veteran player come Monday?

Dejan Kovacevic: Jeffrey has been inconsistent, and no matter what anyone says, I have to believe that the eternally lingering knee issue is related. You just don't see him looking dynamic at all on offense, with few exceptions. There's no extra hop in the step, nothing.

For now, yeah, I'd go with Joe Vitale over him.

But a trade?

Does every issue anyone raises anywhere about the NHL this time of year have to be connected to a trade?

Ian: For years Tom Brady has put up numbers with less than steller recievers. Don't you think to be truly elite, Ben has to be able to do the same and that the organization shouldn't sell the house to keep Wallace?

Dejan Kovacevic: Hey, if you want to enter next season with Antonio Brown running new routes ostensibly, with Emmanuel Sanders being as brittle as he's been, with Hines Ward at age 36, feel free. I'll take Wallace back.

ImpnArn: Dejan, who gets to coach the Steelers running backs this season?

Dejan Kovacevic: Kirby Wilson is communicating again with his backs. Time will tell if he heals. He has to endure many surgeries for the burns. It would be tremendous on a lot of levels if he's your answer.

Adam: Is Colon the answer at Right tackle• Do you think he will play out his contract?

Dejan Kovacevic: He's got to stay healthy, but he's been mostly good when that's been the case. I feel a lot better about Colon on the right than I do about Marcus Gilbert going over to the left, I know that.\

Critter: I live out of state and don't follow local radio, so I'm curious. How do you pronounce your first name?

Dejan Kovacevic: DAY-un koh-VAH-che-vich.

Just like it looks!

Adam: Do you see a major year two improvement for Cam Hayward• It seems like Ziggy Hood has not panned out to be an equal replacement for Smith and I am concerned about Hayward failing to live up to his potential as well?

Dejan Kovacevic: That's a good call, but only if the Steelers were to move Hood to nose tackle. If that happens, Heyward can play the left side and, obviously, Keisel is on the right. Wouldn't rule it out.

Guest: how many players do you think the steelers have to cut to sign wallace?

Dejan Kovacevic: Not many if they can set up a backloaded deal.

Wild Bill: Hello Dejan; what a great Pens win Tuesday night! I was wondering, though, if you think Tangradi was up to be showcased for possible trade• I can't quite figure what's going on with their use of him.

Dejan Kovacevic: The concept of showcasing for trades in sports is way overblown. Tangradi was playing in full view of the public in Wilkes-Barre and, while that's not facing NHL competition, the traits scouts want to see (skating, shooting, vision) all are on display there.

Plain and simple, Tangradi is a lousy fit for the Penguins. If you can't skate, you can't play in a Dan Bylsma system. Tangradi is not a great skater, and there's little use beyond that for a really big forward who stickhandles a lot.

jack: You are Clint Hurdle, what does your opening day lineup card look like?

Dejan Kovacevic: Tabata, LFPresley, RFMcCutchen, CFFantasy-land version of Alvarez, 3BWalker, 2BMcGehee, 1BBarajas, CBarmes, SSKarstens, P

Matt: Congrats on the APSE honor, DK. The amount of stuff NHL refs are letting fly has gotten way out of hand, and the game is suffering. Are enough teams upset about this that the league is going to have to address it?

Dejan Kovacevic: Let's hope so. I know the Penguins are furious about it, and I might be understating that. The GMs meet in March, and it sounds like many teams are going to complain about the officiating and about refereeing chief Terry Gregson in particular.

At least with Brendan Shanahan, execs will tell you, they know where things stand. But Shanahan's got nothing to do with the day-to-day refs. That's Gregson. And I hear he has little use for discussing his (lack of) work.

It's a shame. I might be naive, but I really didn't think we'd ever see the NHL let things slide like this again.

JohninOshkosh: Thrilled to see on your twitter feed that you will be covering the London Olympics this summer. Any chance your bosses will have you cover the NBA players on our basketball team so that, you too, will come to appreciate the uberathleticism of their game?

Dejan Kovacevic: You aren't more thrilled than I am about covering the London Games. Should be a great ride with a ton of individual stories. But yeah, I always get to USA basketball games when there. Olympic basketball makes for a much more entertaining brand than the NBA, and it's neat watching the NBA guys have to adjust -- really quickly -- to the international rules and style.

In other words, they can't take seven steps before the dunk.

Dave in Ross: Any chance Coonelly gets the axe?

Dejan Kovacevic: None. The support given by Bob Nutting in the statement the Pirates sent us was unequivocal.

PirateApologist: Although it is sad that the arena is coming down, I just wanted to say that the photos your readers are sending you are incredible. Keep it up people.

Dejan Kovacevic: Those photos are awful. So is the real thing, and I see it almost every day. Just wish the thing would come down already.

tk: Why does Jeff Karstens get no love from Bucco management• His name is always the first to come up when they need to remove someone from the starting 5. For instance, when Charlie Morton is healthy enough to pitch this year, I've read Kartsens might be the odd man out and move to the pen. What is it the bucs don't like about Karstens being a starter• He's not an ace, but he's a good back end of the rotation pitcher.

Dejan Kovacevic: No, actually, it's been Kevin Correia mentioned like that. But I do agree that Karstens is due more love than he gets. All he does is pitch. He doesn't fit the big-body prototype they love, and he doesn't go deep into games very often, but he was the most consistent starter on the staff in 2011.

And, as I strongly suggested with that lineup above, he should get the ball on opening day.

Feel the love!

Stuck in Ratland: Down here in B'more they've all but started selling #17 jerseys in black and purple. Say it isn't (gonna be) so.

Dejan Kovacevic: Regardless what I say, Ozzie Newsome was just quoted in very strong terms as saying the Ravens aren't interested in the RFA route.

bart: dejan i guess you don't an answer that's why you have ignored it !!

Dejan Kovacevic: What are you talking about, Bart• There are 385 live readers in here right now.

FrankTheTank: How many of those who will inevitably criticize Coonelly will have more than 2 beers at PNC Park this summer and then drive home?

Dejan Kovacevic: That's a very valid point for all sports franchises to consider, but I strongly suspect it won't happen.

Ultimately, though, responsibility is on the individual.

TS: Congrats on your award DK. ...I don't get why Correia seems to be sitting ahead of Karstens for a rotation spot. Karstens may well have been the most consistent (albeit not flashy) pitcher on the staff last year. To me, a rotation spot should be his. So... A.J., Bedard, Karstens, Morton, J-Mac. What say you?

Dejan Kovacevic: He isn't. Really. All my talks with the Pirates suggest it's the other way around.

More love for Karstens!

Guest: Was Gustavo Nunez really hurt, or was his 60 day dl placement purely a way to not drop someone from the 40 man and to not have to give him back since he's a rule5?

Dejan Kovacevic: Major League Baseball and its teams tend to cast a very cynical eye on any Rule 5 shenanigans. I'm sure he's hurt and it can be proven.

NealsOnWheels: Dejan - there seems to be optimism that Sid will return this season. The Trib's own Josh Yohe even tweeted a few weeks back that he was "certain" Crosby would play again at some point this year. How does this optimism differ from last year's feelings on Crosby at this time of the year• Is it different at all?

Dejan Kovacevic: Until Sid is symptom-free, we all can guess. That includes the Penguins and Sid himself. No one knows. He's skating, the balance issues are gone, and he was even out there again with the team today at Southpointe. All good signs. We'll see.

My feeling all along has been that he'll be back. I know he sure wants it.

Adam: I thought we drafted Timmons as Farrior's replacement. Why are people overplaying this need• It is the long-term health of James Harrison I'm worried about.

Dejan Kovacevic: You mean inside linebacker• What did you think of Timmons in there this season• Dick LeBeau, Keith Butler and the staff want to see him reach a Patrick Willis level. So does Timmons. I understand he got bumped in and out, but he wasn't close to an elite level at either position.

Huke: Kris Letang- best Pens defenseman ever ?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yikes. I loved Dave Burrows, and Randy Carlyle was the franchise's only Norris Trophy winner, and Paul Coffey and Larry Murphy are in the Hall.

Let's try again in five years.

Adam: Do you think Wallace is overrated• He can burn players and make catches with few drops, but he seems to lack elite route-running capability and an inability to fight for the ball at its highest point.

Dejan Kovacevic: What routes did Wallace have to run?

"Hey, Mike, go long!"

I do agree with you about the high-point thing. That was the biggest disappointment of his showing in Denver, in particular.

Dejan Kovacevic: OK, rapid-fire time, five minutes to go ...

zivkov34: Does Tony Sanchez still project to be a everyday MLB catcher

Dejan Kovacevic: Not if he doesn't start spraying the ball again. His hits last year wouldn't have penetrated soggy paper towels.

Scott: Lets say Crosby doesn't come back this year. Any chance this version of the Penguins can win the Cup?

Dejan Kovacevic: No, because the Bruins will be deeper, and the Rangers will get Nash.

Adam: Can the Steelers finally get that solid cornerback to replace Ike in a few years?

Dejan Kovacevic: Keenan Lewis?

DickBavetta: Linsanity vs. Lebron. This is like Christmas Eve.

Dejan Kovacevic: I'll take your word for it. I'll be watching whatever random pucks get shown.

LG: It seems to me that NFL networks media is tring to create tenson with the Steelers, with the Wallace thing and the Big Ben/Haley not talking thing, people just need to calm down, the Steeers have been through worse.

Dejan Kovacevic: Maybe the Steelers want it that way.

DoubleD: If Pitt wins the NIT, is the season a success?

Dejan Kovacevic: Oh, wow. No.

Ben: Great piece on the Mellon Arena. I miss that place so much. Just wondering what your favorite Igloo moment of all time is?

Dejan Kovacevic: Francis' tip of Murphy's steal vs. Rangers. The Adam Graves game. If you weren't there, I'll never be able to explain it to you.

The Legend: What's the hold up on cutting Kemo?

Dejan Kovacevic: Todd Haley's spending all his time talking to Ben. Wait, what?

Mike in NC: Good season stats for Alvarez ??• (meaning he is back on track)

Dejan Kovacevic: If he hits .260, his natural stroke will put him over 20 home runs. If you're a believer in RBIs as being something a player is good at -- ducks for cover -- his history would indicate he'll be in the 80 range. But it's that .260 I can't get past. He was .191 last season.

One more ...

Jared: Dejan do you know of any Pirates players that have had a friend of family member injured by a drunk driver• Any chance they aren't too pleased with Connelly?

Dejan Kovacevic: Something like that crosses into a lot of people's lives. That exit Coonelly used was the same one I use to take my kids to dekhockey twice a week.

He's a good man, but that's a bad mistake.

Thanks to all for participating! The column runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the blog is like Kamandi, Last Boy on Earth. Never stops.

 

 
 


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