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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript

| Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dejan Kovacevic: Welcome to one and all, and away we go ...

Doug: After the insanity of yesterday, what would you say are the chances of Jagr signing with the Penguins• Better than 70 percent, or worse• And have you ever covered anything more bizarre than that?

Dejan Kovacevic: Actually, Doug, the truly odd thing about yesterday, if you really look at it, is that nothing happened. Jaromir Jagr got on a plane and arrived in the U.S. late. Everything else was just the fuss over not knowing.

Yes, I think Jagr will sign with the Penguins. There are way too many people who feel that way for me to feel otherwise. That's why we reported the story as we did this morning.

sms: is this mystery with jagr a sign of things to come....

Dejan Kovacevic: Again, the guy's plane was late. Could have been a missed connection. Could have been the turtles at JFK. All the angst and drama was on our end, not his.

spencerm: Who is closer to the chopping block if a trade is made: Overbay or Diaz?

Dejan Kovacevic: If you mean getting sent to the bench, it's Overbay. He's not producing anywhere near what you'd want out of a first baseman.

Diaz, for all the grief he gets, is actually hitting a better pace than most seem to realize. I think he's been Boehringer-ed, to borrow my own term from the past. That means a guy gets off to a bad start, gets branded right away as a bust, and not much he does after that changes it.

Mike: I know Paul Maholm is pitching good, but as Bill Parcels will forever be quoted as saying, "You are what your record says you are." The hitters gave him a lead yesterday, isn't it up to a great pitcher to hold that?

Dejan Kovacevic: I say this respectfully, Mike, but that's preposterous: Anyone still measuring a pitcher's performance in wins and losses needs to trade in their buggies for automobiles. It's the most meaningless statistic in baseball.

And yes, the same applies to the reverse. How well did you see Kevin Correia pitching the other night to earn that 10th win?

Maholm has a 3.17 ERA, has been more consistent than at any point in his career. I couldn't care less if he's 9-4 or 4-9.

spencerm: Dejan, Jagr coming back to the Pens would be great, but isn't the biggest thing next season Crosby coming back fully healthy and confident he can play without getting another concussion?

Dejan Kovacevic: Always. Unquestionably. But there isn't any real drama or deadlines or turtles in that story.

bjm: DK, it sure looks like Rupp, Godard, and Talbot all wont be back. Will the Pens have enough sandpaper in their lineup?

Dejan Kovacevic: Well, the surprise signing of Arron Asham certainly will help. To me, it's a still a tough set of 18 skaters the Penguins can send out there. And if toughness is all you worry about losing with those guys -- to me, the loss of Rupp is regrettable on a lot of levels -- that can be replaced rather cheaply. Ask the Islanders.

James: Pedro Alvarez will be back in our lineup on....?

Dejan Kovacevic: Finally beginning a rehab stint with Class A Bradenton is a good start. No one ever thought a mildly strained quadriceps would be taking two months to heal.

Jeff: Does Alex Presley stick around for good or will he be sent back down?

Dejan Kovacevic: The better question might be whether or not Presley can beat out Xavier Paul for duty in right field.. Paul has the better arm, maybe the better glove, but the bat's going to win this one out.

I don't see Presley going back down.

A.J.: What line do you think Jagr will play on if he signs with us• Malkin would seem like an ideal fit right?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'm with these guys I interviewed yesterday:

pattonbb: I know this was touched on in your blog the other day, but do you really think Cutch will be selected to the All Star game• I think he should, but doubt he will be.

Dejan Kovacevic: It's possible. I'm behind both Joel Hanrahan and McCutchen making it. Hanrahan is a no-brainer at this point, but many people don't realize that one of the most advanced metrics in baseball -- called wins above replacement player, or WAR -- lists McCutchen as the sixth-best position player in the game. Takes into account offense, defense, everything.

McCutchen has gotten enough national press, too, more than Hanrahan. It's possible.

Kevin: Dejan- what might be the best route for the Pirates• trade a solid starter for a proven starting hitter or sit tight?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'm still in favor of trading a good but not great prospect for someone else's high-salaried player they no longer feel compelled to pay. Barring that, moving Maholm has to be considered at least an option.

Bill: I believe the Pirates should not trade Maholm. Two reasons 1) never can you have enough good pitching and 2) I do not believe they could get proper talent in return based on track record. What is your take?

Dejan Kovacevic: I would say your second point is a legitimate concern. But no team in any sport is sound when it has too much of one area and is sadly lacking in another.

John: If Jagr plays on Malkin's right side, who does Bylsma put on the Left?

Dejan Kovacevic: If you assume a top line of Neal-Crosby-Kunitz (and yeah, I know Kunitz usually is on the left, but they click wherever), you could go with Dupuis on the second line. Gives you some speed, a bit of D, and a big shot there.

I'm not crazy about Neal on either of the top two lines, to take this further, but I strongly suspect that's where he'll be.

Jay: If the Pens don't get Jagr or Kennedy, what do they do to at wing?

Dejan Kovacevic: #BossyWatch

turtleneck: Would the Bucs make a trade with a team that is purging salary and take on a huge 1/2 year salary if it means not having to give up prospects to enhance the offense?

Dejan Kovacevic: "Huge" is relative. I wouldn't be taking on some ridiculous salary. But another team's $5 million-$7 million guy• Sure, why not• The Pirates have been saying for four consecutive years now -- every year under this management -- that they retained enough flexibility to make such a move when the time was right, when the team showed it deserved it.

Both those criteria finally are in play.

Mark: Why not a TWO YEAR deal with Jagr• Would think he has that left in the tank, and it would give the Pens a better window for taking a shot at winning a cup.

Dejan Kovacevic: The offer very clearly was a one-and-done deal. Not going to change.

John: So then if its either Dupuis or Neal on the left, the plan is to return Kennedy to the third line if he is resigned• Seems like what he is seeking in a contract he might be overpriced for that role.

Dejan Kovacevic: Unless you want to have the best third line in hockey, as some felt Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Kennedy were at times.

mike7psu: Could twitter get any crazier than these last two days with #jagrwatch• It might one day erase the "Breaking News" part of newscasts and newspapers all together

Dejan Kovacevic: Well, it's got a long way to go. No one enjoys the Twitter-verse more than I do -- and I think it shows -- but my understanding is that only about 8 percent of the U.S. population is on there. #letsnotoverblowit

Joe: Here's betting that Jagr and Lemieux are in an 'undisclosed location' sipping scotch and sharing a laugh over all of this

Dejan Kovacevic: With turtles.

Tom: What is the problem with Neil Walker • Looks like he is going thru a very rough time in his at bats

Dejan Kovacevic: I'm not sure Walker has a full-blown problem, but he's going through a bit of a dry spell. That's easy to recognize with him because he starts swinging through fastballs he usually smokes.

Best thing about him: His adjustments never are mechanical, as he's told me for years. It's all mental.

He'll be fine.

josh: Do you think the pens,and especially the power play, could benefit from a net crashing winger in the mold of Ryan Malone than a highly skilled sniper like Jagr?

Dejan Kovacevic: Those guys aren't out there in free agency for $2 million or so. Best bet for the Penguins is to develop Eric Tangradi into that player, or to teach Neal how to establish some net-front presence.

PirateApologist: When you write the hashtag #historywillbemade, are you referring to simply finishing .500, or would finishing .500 actualy be the biggest single season turnaround in the history of baseball?

Dejan Kovacevic: Ending the streak.

Concord Steelerfan: Do you think the Steelers have a good chance this season,,,if there is a season?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'm not seeing a reason why they shouldn't be a lot better than good, barring the loss of Ike Taylor and/or failure to address the secondary. Most every other piece is still in place. Yeah, the defense as a whole is getting a little old, but LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons and now Ziggy Hood help drive down the average age a bit.

Just find somebody -- or two somebodies -- who can cover people.

Comic Book Guy: Have you seen the movie Sugar• I loved it, but I'm curious how realistic it is.

tekes turtleneck: Carlos Beltran = $9mil to cover the rest of the it possible?

Dejan Kovacevic: Outfield isn't where I'd be looking. It's first or third base.

Mark V: What is the problem in signing Rupp• Money, length of contract or something else• Without Goddard that puts the enforcer role on Englend but I don't think you want a defenseman in the box that often. I don't think Asham is the answer either. With all the other things Rupp can do he seems too be to valuable to lose to FA.

Dejan Kovacevic: My understanding is that it's money. And Rupp has every right to pursue that. Good player, good character guy in the room.

Sammich: In a previous life, you may or may not have done a series of reports on the Pirates' Dominican academy. What has happened with the kid profiled in that series?

Dejan Kovacevic: He was a right-handed pitcher named Sadid Frias, and he's out of baseball as of last year, I found out recently. He has parents who were fairly well to-do by Dominican standards, and he just didn't have the passion for the game that the Pirates' Rene Gayo thought at the time. He had one injury -- not a big one -- and it really set him back mentally.

MichaelfromSC: dk long time follower first time chatter. I live here in Columbia Sc home of the two time defending NCAA baseball National Champion Gamecocks!!!! I love my Pittsburgh Sports. Question as a long Distance follower of the Pirates, what do I need to know about this years team that the National News is not covering?

Dejan Kovacevic: That the guy wearing No. 52 is the best closer in baseball.

Not getting nearly enough attention for what he's doing.

Couple more today ...

Dave R: Ike Taylor... Here or somewhere else?

Dejan Kovacevic: It had better be here. Anyone fantasizing about big-time free-agent corners is doing exactly that.

Mark Graham: If Jagr ends up not signing with the Pens will that pretty much shut the door on a Pens fans/Jagr burying of the hatchet?

Dejan Kovacevic: Forever. But I wouldn't invest a lot of time in that scenario. I think he'll sign with the Penguins.

Comic Book Guy: Thanks for doing this! I enjoy the free chats!

Dejan Kovacevic: You don't enjoy this more than I do, trust me.

Thanks to one and all for participating, and I remind that we have the new, free blog, too:

There are big things in the works for the blog, too, and I'd welcome any input you have right now while still in the developmental stage.

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