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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Jagr’s poker face

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> Jaromir Jagr always was a gambling guy, and I’m betting this is his last go-round at the wheel in trying to solidify his legacy.

For reasons that had to be 100 percent monetary, he took his talents to South Siberia for the past few years, but now that he’s knocking on the door of several NHL teams — including the Penguins, news broken by our Rob Rossi yesterday — it’s pretty clear what he wants to do: Remind everyone one last time of his greatness.

Few things in hockey history have been more entertaining than a motivated Jagr.

>> Two words that do not belong in any Penguins/Jagr debate right now: Alexei Kovalev. They have almost nothing in common.

>> That thud you heard over at PNC at around 8 p.m. yesterday was the mass evacuation of Charlie Morton’s bandwagon.

This will be a mistake. Morton got away from his sinker in the past 3-4 starts, and he’s going to have it pounded into him before his next start that the curve has to go. Morton can lapse into lobbing up a bunch of soft stuff on occasion. In this case, that’s costing him the consistent delivery of that sinker.

The beauty of being a good sinkerballer is that’s all you need.

>> Neal Huntington makes mistakes, and it would appear he has added at least another in the $5 million category in Lyle Overbay. But, as I wrote in my first Trib column last week, Huntington is quick to address those mistakes.

So it is that Overbay has gone to the bench in favor of Garrett Jones.

It might not resuscitate any offense that has been on a respirator since spring training, but it’s still the right thing to do.

>> Stetson Allie, the Pirates’ $2.5 million second-rounder, debuted at State College, and our Jerry DiPaola was there. Huntington told me Sunday in Cleveland that Allie’s velocity readings won’t mean much for a while. They want him to slow down and throw strikes.


  1. Doug says:

    Can you think of any reason that D’Arnaud and/or Presley shouldn’t be up here tomorrow?

  2. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Doug: Not in Presley’s case, no. I’d think d’Arnaud still has some development left in him.

  3. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    We discussed this on the other forum, but it seems like a player that could make sense for the Pirates is Chris Davis, Texas Rangers first baseman — currently at AAA.

    Davis is 25 years old. 6’3 and 230.

    In 2008 with the Rangers, he hit .285 with 17 HRs and 55 RBI. .880 OPS.
    In 2009, he hit .238 with 21 HRs and 59 RBI. .726 OPS

    In 2010, he struggled, only 120 at-bats with the Rangers. He hit .192 with 1 HR.

    This season he only has 52 at-bats in the major leagues but he performed pretty well before being sent back to AAA. He hit .269 with 3 HRs. .814 OPS.

    He strikes out a lot and hasn’t performed consistently enough yet at the MLB level but he does have significant power potential.

  4. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Another note on Chris Davis

    He hit two HRs for Round Rock (AAA) on Monday night.

    In the last three games, he’s 7-for-10 with 4 HRs and 9 RBI

    He’s hitting .364 at AAA with 14 HRs in 25 games.

  5. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Kovalev didn’t have Crosby around either. It may not have made all the difference but I’m sure it would’ve elevated his play some. Crosby’s passing and awareness changes the game and sets up everyone else for more opportunities.

    Kovalev and no Crosby vs. Jagr and Crosby.

    Can’t really compare those two situations.

  6. JAL says:

    Couple of Morning links

    Pirates Prospects

    Prospect Trends — Mid-Season Edition, Part 1

  7. Curt says:

    Do you think we have already peaked as a team and its back to our losing ways?
    Also, I keep thinking if only Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Doumit were fully healthy in this lineup how might we stack up.

  8. Drew71 says:

    Dejan – Not falling off the bandwagon yet, just want to slow its wheels a bit by skipping Charlie’s next start. With two off days, one this Thursday and, oddly, another on the immediately following Monday, couldn’t this be done without bringing anyone up or stressing the rest of the rotation?

  9. Drew71 says:

    That said, it might be interesting to see how Brad Lincoln would do with a spot start. But then again, why mess around? There’s no real reason with the days off, and unless Morton goes on the DL, which would surprise me, who would they knock off their 25 man roster to elevate Lincoln? A reliever and put even more pressure on a temporarily undermanned pitching staff?

    I’m itching to see Lincoln try again, but honestly, with the way the schedule is set up, I think they can weather having 4 starters without making any moves.

  10. Fat Jimmy says:

    If Huntington would truly own up to his mistake, he’d release Overbay today. For a team that is already saddled with carrying Pedro Ciriaco (who never sees the light of day) under the guise of needing middle infield flexibility, they can’t afford to have a 1B-only guy sitting on the bench.

    I wonder if a trade is in the works. Ideally, they could find a 1B/3B type.

  11. Drew71 says:

    Slim Jim – I would think they need another 1B on the roster before considering dumping Overbay. That said, it wouldn’t kill me if he were suddenly elsewhere. Just don’t see it happening immediately. Maybe after a move of some sort.

    On the other hand, they have options in RF, plus Presley who is pushing. Diaz is superfluous. Recognizing he is hitting .300 over the past week and .279 over the past 28 days, i still think it is a mirage. He is hitting, overall, .250, which is exactly what he hit last year. And he has ZERO power. Pathetic .588 OPS. Lousy D. But i’m sure he’s a great clubhouse guy.

    DFA Diaz, bring up Presley, let Paul and Presley share RF, with Jones as an emergency 5th OF (hopefully unused…let him focus on 1B)…all that seems to work. Just need another 1B or, as you wrote, and if you can find one, 1B/3B.

  12. Tim says:

    I don’t think the Pirates cutting Overbay would be a good decision. Yes, he hasn’t been very good, but I think the Pirates need to show other veterans in the league how we treat players, so in the future other players will consider Pittsburgh. To me, the signing never made sense. Why wouldn’t we give players like Jones, Bowker, Pearce time at first and see if they could be their everyday 1B. Overbay was simply a stop gap and one that was average at best. His glove can’t be worth more than trying to give a younger player time to develop at that position.

  13. Fat Jimmy says:

    Drew, I agree that we need another 1B. But hopefully you also agree that having a guy on the bench that can’t do ANYTHING BUT play 1B hamstrings Hurdle considerably.

    Ugh. This roster is a mess right now. Obviously, the injuries have played a role in it, but still, just the wastes we have right now with Diaz, Overbay, and Cedeno … not to mention the black hole of backup catchers…. it’s no wonder we can’t score!

  14. Fat Jimmy says:

    I don’t think the Pirates cutting Overbay would be a good decision. Yes, he hasn’t been very good, but I think the Pirates need to show other veterans in the league how we treat players, so in the future other players will consider Pittsburgh.

    Tim, if the message you are trying to send other veterans is “Hey washed up veterans on a steady decline, come to Pittsburgh and we’ll not only give you more money than you deserve, but we’ll also let you start and we won’t make you suffer the ignomy of being released when we realize our mistake”, then message delivered. Personally, I’d prefer if we not communicate this fact.

  15. JAL says:

    Players who can handle one position can be problem but I do not Overbay hamstringing Hurdle. Plenty of backups in both infield and outfield. Harrison and Wood can both play several positions as can Ciriaco. It is no worse that having a backup catcher on the bench who can only catch.

  16. Fat Jimmy says:

    BTW, where do we slot Overbay in the list of Jeromy Burnitz, Joe Randa, Derek Bell, and Ramon Vasquez? Do the Pirates have a brochure printed out to help them recruit these guys?

  17. Fat Jimmy says:

    Plenty of backups, JAL?????? If there are plenty of backups, then why did Ciriaco have to stay on the roster in Cleveland? We were told because it was necessary to have an additional infielder. So now you’ve got dead weight in Ciriaco + dead weight in Overbay. A whole bunch of guys on the bench that can’t contribute = hamstrung!

  18. Bob from mt lebo says:

    Package Diaz and Overbay and send them both on their way. Bring up Pressley and Chase. Pressley and Paul can split RF, Jones can manage 1B while Wood can spell him on occassion.

    Its hard to have 1 guy that cant hit or play the field, but to have 2 will flat out kill your chances.

  19. JAL says:

    Fat Jimmy

    I meant for defensive positions. Didn’t say they were good players. Talking defense, not offense.

  20. JAL says:

    Fat jimmy

    When you said player who can only handle one position that is defense, hence why I went defense.

  21. JAL says:

    Also, I agree the bats off the bench are very poor.

  22. Fat Jimmy says:

    It doesn’t matter if you’re talking defense or offense or the quality of the player. The bench (ostensibly) is Wood, Diaz and Overbay. The backup catcher is locked and Ciriaco doesn’t play.

    Technically, Hurdle can get creative and move Jones back to the OF if he needs to. And move some of the starters around. But that is a limited bench … it doesn’t give you a lot of flexibility at all.

    Ciriaco needs to go. Overbay needs to go. Plain and simple.

  23. JAL says:

    Agree, not a lot flexibility.

  24. CDBrewer says:

    Okay, I even know I am sounding like a skipping record but WHY NOT PAUL IN RIGHT?

    My thing with Presley is this – and this only – if he comes up, he has to do it like NW, Tabata, and Alvarez did. He has to play ust about everyday (maybe a day off a week). That would mean that either Tabata or Paul sits pretty consistently (I don’t think we are sitting Cutch…).
    All I am saying is why start Presley’s clock before we know that Paul isn’t the answer? Give Paul 2 weeks – he is doing okay, then revisit the decision.

    I get Presley is knocking the snot out of the ball, but lots of guys turn into AAAA hitters – Bowker is a GREAT example, Clement is another. Maybe we have the MLB guy there in Pual.

    And one way or the other, Presley or Paul, it won’t make up for a missing power hitter at 3rd and another at 1st. Don’t blame the other guys for not having protection in the lineup.

  25. Drew71 says:

    Brewski – I’ve written similar about not selling XPaul short. That said, I see Presley as a replacement for Diaz, not X. Then let X and Presley share both RF and occasional backup and spot start LF-CF. Plus of course the guy not playing is a key pinch hitter. Even if not full time, there are enough ABs available to keep two guys active if Diaz is gone.

    Slim – I don’t really put Overbay on that list. Not lack of effort or concern or care (Bell). Not extending his career when he expected to retire (Burnitz). Not unable to play the position he was signed for (Vasquez, SS). Not effective, certainly. But gut feel tells me Overbay is not quite on that list.

    And I purposely left Randa off. His first time around (ok, it was early in his career), Randa hit .302. His last time around, not sterling but at .267 still not a total waste like the other guys on that list. By comparison, if Overbay was hitting .267 today – which is 24 points higher than his 2010 season average and 49 points higher than he’s hitting for PBC – he would still be the starting 1B and probably wouldn’t even be at risk.

  26. BobbyToledo says:

    Why not Paul in right? Because we need some pop in the outfield. Right now Cutch is the one producing. Tabata is having a sophomore slump as well.

  27. Drew71 says:

    Lebo Bob – Package Overbay and Diaz for WHAT? An octogenarian usher and a couple of bumper stickers?

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for it if they can find another GM that stoopid. Yet if these guys can’t earn or keep starting positions on a poor hitting team, why would another team want to take PBC’s mistakes, even one of them let alone both? And considering the balance of LO’s $5MM contract, and Diaz’s TWO YEAR $4.25MM albatross, the only way another team takes them is at the MLB minimum if PBC first DFAs them.

    PS…Make those bumper stickers of the Pirate Charities sign. Then stick em on you-know-who’s bumper when he’s not looking. Or when he takes another Monday off.

  28. Fat Jimmy says:

    CDB, I just don’t buy the idea of “starting Presley’s clock”. The guy is 26 years old. Even if you brought him up today, you’d still control his rights until he was almost 33! If we avoid starting his clock any more, he’ll be applying for membership to the AARP in his final season before free agency!

    Enough of this vine rippening crap. I think that’s fine and good for premium prospects, but D’Arnaud and Presley aren’t premium prospects. Cut Overbay. Option Ciriaco. Call those guys up.

    Start Tabata/McCutchen/Presley across the outfield, with Paul getting 3 starts a week. Diaz on bench & get him some reps at 1B.

    Start Harrison/D’Arnaud/Walker/Jones across the infield. Wood, Cedeno on bench.

    When Pedro comes back, release Wood. Pedro becomes backup 1B with Harrison backing up 3B.

  29. CDBrewer says:


    Presley isn’t going to come in and give you a legit power threat. He might be more of a gap guy than Paul, but I think that is even pushing it without any protection in the lineup.
    If a team calls up a prospect to be the thump in the lineup, between the reality of his abilities and the pressure, that guy is being set up to fail. And this guy is no wonderkind of pop like Posey or Goldschmidt in the DBacks system. Even thought-to-be wonderkinds (Chris Davis, Smoak, Clement, Alex Gordon – to name the some who haven’t come through our system) usually take years to turn into big league pop – if they ever do.

    I still think you are turning both Paul and Presley (and maybe Tabata) into part time guys (2/3rds)- when Presley is producing as an everyday guy. Heard the guys on another telecast (I think the Rockies) talking about how guys come up hot as everyday players, and then cool off without the reps they are use to.
    I get Diaz sucks, I get Overbay and Diaz suck…but I think you reduce ALL of the assest value by spreading out the playing time. And you don’t find out who is an everyday solution.

  30. CDBrewer says:


    Okay, right you are about Presley’s clock. 100% correct on that.
    I still disagree with the idea of spreading the time out too much, but yeah, okay…call him up. We need to fish or cut bait on a 26 year old.

    I also part company on his being able to solve any of the power vaccuum. Not too many teams anywhere can survive getting to the 6th place on the depth chart at any position. Not to mention losing their primary bopper to performance and injury. The lineup is going to struggle until we get a big league catcher and our 3rd baseman back. No way around it without selling out for a band aid…and we weren;t winning the series this year anyway, so not really worth it.

    I’m of the thought that if we brought in a Carlos Pena, he would strike out 130 times because he would NEVER see a pitch to hit because he would be the only thump. We need balance the injuries are not affording.

  31. Fat Jimmy says:

    I’m not suggesting that Presley is going to go all GFJ-circa-2009 on the NL in the 2H. But we’ve got a sub .700 OPS in RF on the season. Surely Presley can improve on that.

    But my biggest motivation in getting him there is that I hate — HATE — wasting playing time. That’s what we’ve got right now at a number of positions. We’ve learned who Ronny Cedeno is. We’ve learned who Lyle Overbay is. Matt Diaz. Heck, even Xavier Paul has the look of RJReynolds.

  32. Bob from mt lebo says:

    Drew – try to get some bats, literraly.

    It doesnt really matter how, they just need to wash their hands with both.

  33. CDBrewer says:

    @ Jimmy
    Agreed and agreed on those points.
    We ARE wasting time when we play Diaz, Presley WOULD be an improvement.

    Do we find out less about Tabata, Paul, and Presley by calling Presley up? That is my concern – we get three unanswered questions instead of one complete unknown.
    I figure the Paul thing plays out by the All Star Break and then we have an answer on him. Then we can move accordingly.

    Honestly, I love the outfield with the speed of Paul, Presley, and Cutch. If Doumit and Pedro were in that lineup I think we would have some real rabbits for them to chase home. Balance.

    We can’t solve catcher and 3rd, and that is the problem.

  34. Fat Jimmy says:

    Thing is, Presley has speed to. He’s stolen 15/17 bases in Indy this year. So you can still have a fast outfield with Tabata/Cutch/Presley.

    Paul has been a nice surprise, but let’s face it: if the Pirates go into 2012 with Paul as their starting RF, that would be an epic FAIL by the FO. He’s a nice player — and I think RJ Reynolds can be a compliment. But his future with the Pirates will always be as a 4th outfielder. I wrote above that he should get 3 starts a week. That was probably wrong. Let’s keep giving almost all of the starts to Cutch/Tabata/Presley.

  35. Drew71 says:

    I can buy that, Bob, as DFAs. I’d be happy to see it, especially for Diaz. The bats are certainly needed, yet will probably have to come from a different source than a Diaz-Overbay trade.

  36. Mason says:

    Pirates just reacquired Josh Rodriguez. Hopefully to be the everyday SS in Indy with D’Araud coming to Pittsburgh.

  37. Mason says:

    Wishful thinking, I know.

  38. Ochotexto says:

    People are discussing Pressley as if were bringing up a young Dave Parker or Barry Bonds for chrissakes. I think the Pirates view him as another 4A player a la Bowker.
    From what I’ve seen of him briefly he looks to be a borderline big leaguer or Nate McClouth at best.

  39. Fat Jimmy says:


    Nate McLouth’s OPS his last three years in Pittsburgh.

    If Alex Presley is another Nate McLouth, he needs to get to Pittsburgh ASAP!

  40. BuccoJax says:

    Does anyone else find it strangeironic that not 3 months ago, people on many forums were calling for Doumit to be traded as soon as possible, that he was washed up, and that this was our last chance to trade him away….and now that he is hurt and we have two catchers hitting a combined buck and a quarter, all of us can’t wait until he is back in the lineup just for his bat….?

    I feel we would have won game 3 of the cleveland series had Doumit been up with the bases loaded, instead of McHenry.

  41. JoeBucco says:

    The definition of insanity in baseball is rolling out the same horrible 1B and expecting different results. So yea, something should change. If only for trying to mix it up a bunch until some other guys get healthy. Lots of holes in this offense right now where you can’t get more than 2 runs in an inning before you get to some automatic outs. If Tabs, Cutch, Walker aren’t up that inning, you aren’t scoring. And if they aren’t doing something for the game, you aren’t winning. Need someone capable of stepping up. On good teams, the common quote is always “we had a different guy stepping up every night”. Well, this team only has three or four guys who ever step up.

    Lyle Iwamura needs to go though. What a waste he’s been. Too bad it’s taken this long. And with no other prospects in the pipeline, this is where NH needs to be a GM and make something happen.

  42. absolute59 says:

    CDBrewer: Have you taken a close look at Paul’s numbers.

    Career 243 AB 2HR 22RBI .247/.290/.346

    2011 106 AB I HR 10RBI .268/.304/.371

    What about that line leads you to believe he should be getting everyday AB’s in ML in RF on a team that already has no power from LF, 3B, and 1B. I don’t need two weeks of him starting to know that he is a light hitting speedy outfielder with a very good arm.

    Good player to have to come off the bench. Him starting everyday in RF is not going to help this offense.

    Presley…who knows maybe/maybe not. Maybe he is AAAA player but there is only one way to find out. He needs to get a shot and see if he can add some punch.

  43. Ochotexto says:

    When I say Pressley’s ceiling is another McClouth., I’m not referring to the suspiciously “bulked up” one that made the All Star team.

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