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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: On Polamalu, Pedro, Pujols

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My column this morning urges the Steelers to sign Troy Polamalu to a long-term extension. And I realize that’s akin to calling for smoother roads, safer cars, and extra fries in your sandwich, but there’s a bit more to the topic, as you’ll see.

My thanks to Polamalu’s agent, Marvin Demoff, who doesn’t do many interviews despite being among the NFL’s most influential figures. He was kind enough to give a few minutes on fairly short notice yesterday.

>> Let me stress anew that Neal Huntington and the Pirates are doing the right thing by leaving Pedro Alvarez in Indianapolis until they’re sure he’s ready.

Those reasons were laid out in our all-over-the-place weekly chat yesterday.

>> Seems like every day we have some new biggest this, best that going on at PNC Park, but let’s add another: The Pirates’ series with the Cardinals should draw the biggest weekend crowd in ballpark history, and it should provide the best baseball. The most meaningful, anyway.

But I’ll give a shot at being the wet blanket before it even starts …

The great Albert Pujols, best player on the planet, has a .372 career average against the Pirates, with 45 home runs and 136 RBIs in 159 games, the rough equivalent of a full season. In 80 games at PNC Park, he is batting .387 with 26 home runs, or one every 12.2 at-bats. And the kicker: In 39 plate appearances against tonight’s starter, Paul Maholm, he is batting .576 — I didn’t mistype that — with six walks.

No. 5 is a bad, bad man.


  1. Cyphtime says:

    On the topic of big crowds at the game, I’d be interested to see how the change in attendance at PNC compares with some other teams who have seen dramatic improvements on the field such as the Rays. My guess would be that the increase in the Pirates attendance is much more than similar situations for other teams. To me (if my assumption is right) this proves that the FO’s stance of “if they come we will spend it” rather than “we will spend so they will come” is wrong. I think if they had spent more money on the major league product (in the right way, aka not Joe Randa) while still rebuilding the system they would have gotten a good return from their investment. I feel like its maybe even a little insulting or at least a misunderstanding of the commitment of Pittsburgh fans.

  2. buccos since '04 says:

    They’ve gotta extend troy’s contract. I think you could safely say he shares the same stature in this town as both Hines and Bettis and may be more important to the team than both of them. Two players the steelers made sure and are making sure they retire as Steelers.

  3. Baywatch says:

    We’ve got the downward plane to take care of 5 this time!

  4. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    No disagreement from me on Polamalu.

    He’s missed a lot of games already but how valuable has he been in making clutch, game-changing and game-saving plays?

    The Steelers would certainly take the good with the bad for another 4-5 years or whatever he has left.

  5. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I missed the chat and a lot of the discussion today but I think I picked up on a little vibe, after looking back at the transcript.

    DK…you think the Pirates are in the running for Beltran?

    I dismissed a lot of those rumors because I figured he’d cost too much in prospects but if it’s more a matter of cash the Pirates might be up for it.

    He’s really putting together a nice season now.

    .293 avg, 15 HRs, 61 RBI, 30 doubles, .917 OPS

    He’s also a switch hitter.

  6. CDBrewer says:


    I can’t get behind Beltran…timid in field and mediocre -glove and arm- at this point.
    Also, ducked a ton of accountability in New York during the Randolph era. Plays when he wants.
    We don’t need that to platoon with Tabata in 2/3 weeks.

    He is a bat, but a lot of other things too.

  7. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I really wasn’t big on him either.

    Watching him early in the year he looked past his prime but he’s got some pretty impressive numbers.

    But my own feelings aside, it comes down to what the Pirates front office wants to do. They’ve rated him as the top bat available and some of the national experts have included the Pirates in the group of teams that might land him.

  8. Link Mendoza says:

    Would you be willing to give up Jeff Locke or Rudy Owens to get Beltran (w/Mets picking up most of the tab)?

  9. Fat Jimmy says:

    CDB, if Pirates get Beltran, he most certainly is not going to platoon with Tabata.

  10. roxtar says:

    Just in case you haven’t noticed, we’re back in first place.

  11. dcpinpgh says:

    This might be a stupid question but how good of an agent is Scott Boras. He seems to get the most out of every contract for whomever he represents, but does he do the best for his client. How much more money did Pedro get from the Bucs by holding out till the last second? The stuff Pedro is down in AAA working out now, probably would have been worked out by the time last year he got called up is he had a full year of minor league baseball. He would be the “guy” on a team that is creating buzz all over the nation, especially if if he had 20-25 dingers at this time. The only downside to him hitting 20-25 home runs at this stage would be all the little kids who are would be tucking their ears into their hats. i will take the kids looking like tools if the Pirates had a 3 game lead in the division.

  12. JAL says:

    Some Que Sera Sera Morning Links


    MLB Transactions

    MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    Pirates Prospects

    Draft Picks Signing Tracker

  13. JAL says:

    Raise the Jolly Roger

    Blogger interviews with Jeff Karstens, Frank Coonelly, and Neal Huntington

    Bucs Dugout

    Ned Colletti Could Become GM Of The Cubs

    The Green Weenie

    Off Day Movement

  14. JAL says:

    Ohio Valley Athletics

    Watson Continues to be an Asset in ‘Pen

    St Louis Post-Dispatch

    How the Pirates made climb to division contenders

  15. JAL says:


    91 years later, Indians and Pirates enjoy baseball success


    Pedro Alvarez An Answer In Pittsburgh?

  16. JAL says:

    Bleacher Report

    Pittsburgh Pirates: It’s Time To Think Bigger, Seize the Moment

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ Open Letter: Fans, ‘Be Patient’ with Neal Huntington

    Sports Illustrated

    Pirates have finally given their jaded fans reason to believe

  17. T.J. says:

    Regarding those numbers for “Big Albert”…ouch! Give the man his due…

    Let’s Go Bucs!

  18. TheSaltyRogue says:

    Hey, here’s an idea… drill him. You don’t have to hit him in the head – just between the shoulders.

    I love Pujols as a player, but I’m tired of seeing him trounce my beloved ballclub and never – EVER – having to take one.

    GO BUCS.

  19. SterlingCooperDraperPrice says:

    Albert Pujols is the reason they invented the unintentional intentional walk.

  20. Curt says:

    Sounds like Houston is not trading Pence to anyone. It seems like Willingham or Beltran will come for a cheaper asking price. I would be happy with either of them.
    I wonder why there is zero trade chatter about 1B lately? Must be they want to give Pearce a chance to take it over.

  21. Jandy says:

    Nah don’t drill him. I’d love to see Maholm beat him in a battle of wills….

  22. Drew71 says:

    I don’t like sandwiches. I don’t like fries. So of course I totally do not get fries IN your sandwich.

    Way to go out on a limb there, Dejan. That’s fine with me. Too many national sports writers will make odd predictions or call for bizarre solutions just (I think) to look thoughtful. For instance, other than Dickie V, few to none pick a final game of Duke-Kansas. Have to throw a Gonzaga or somebody in there to show you’re not just part of the crowd.

    So with your article, thanks for NOT succumbing to that. Sometimes the Do-The-Right-Thing, uhhh, thing is also the obvious thing. Many good and, yes, obvious reasons to extend Troy. Strongest to me is the financial one – might take his cap hit way down for 2011 when the Steelers will need it.

    Nice game by the Pirates last night — back to first place. But I can’t find a box score.

    I have been amused – and sometimes less than amused – by some sports pundits who have been screeching about the lockout. Not because it is almost over. But because it was fairly likely that this would be the first lockout in North American Sports history to JUST lock out the off season. (But how can they possibly play without two-a-days? And just THINK about the impact on undrafted free agents!)

    NBA? That’s different. As surprised as I would have been (or will be) if the NFL misses any games beyond the HoF game, I will be stunned if the NBA does NOT miss games. Serious games. Big gaps. Serious.

    I’m especially looking forward to the NHL season this year. Pens did so well last year when short handed, and it may be the last year of the FULL core being held together. Additionally, if the NBA is out, more focus for me. Despite that, I have NOT extended much energy in wondering who the Pens will sign. Because they have a few ‘new guys’ joining the team this year who may, with a little luck, help them. Crosby and Malkin. At least I think those are their names. Hard to remember these no name players. I am looking forward to an interesting and competitive year from the Pens.

  23. Bizrow says:

    Sounds like Pedro is ticked that he’s not coming up today. It also sounds like the PBC will not be making a move of any real value by the trade deadline.

    I’m predicting Albert wears a collar tonight ;-)

    Beat Em Bucs

  24. Robert says:

    Albert Pujols: Proof that baseball scouting and the draft is an inexact science. He was a 13th round pick in 1999 when STL picked Chance Capel in the first round and he never made it to AA.

  25. Happy G says:


    Thank you!!! I’m glad someone noticed and doesn’t like the entire “tucking ears under the hat.” It’s a baseball hat. It’s meant to be worn the proper way.

  26. dcpinpgh says:

    @ Happy G

    If Pedro is ever the WS MVP, i am tucking my ears in my hat…ok I still won’t but i would think about it for a minute.

  27. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ Open Letter: Fans, ‘Be Patient’ with Neal Huntington

    I’m the writer of the above article! It’s my first as a contributor to Bleacher Report. Thank you, JAL, for the link!

    Bigger thanks to Dejan… my journalistic hero…

  28. Drew71 says:

    Dave – very cool. And now that you’re famous, you still talk to us!

  29. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Lol… there’s no compensation for submissions there. Perhaps some opportunity way down the road if you are really good.

    OK… my commercial is over… back to the Dejan Kovacevic show ;)

  30. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    WHOA… I’m on the front page for MLB and I’m the lead story on the Pirates page. I honestly just found out!

    Why just now? Because I come right HERE first every morning…

  31. Bizrow says:

    Last couple of articles I read, it sounds like we’re not really looking at Beltran

    The Brewers are trying to put together a package though.

    PBC is being very “cautious”

    This is our chance, come on, ONE TIME FO, Walk the talk :-(

  32. SouthSideBucsFan says:

    I don’t care if we don’t get Beltran, but I don’t want him anywhere near Milwaukee. That lineup torches us enough already.

    On Pujols, I’ve never understood why they don’t walk him in a dangerous situation with a base empty. Seriously, I’d rather face Holliday, Berkman or whoever else the Cardinals can throw at us than face Pujols.

    Bases empty with two outs in the first? Go ahead and pitch to Pujols. But first and third with two outs in the third inning? Give him four wide ones. It might not be the most brave approach, but it’s the smartest one, in my opinion.

  33. EvilSam says:

    Dreaming here…the Brewers get Beltran…they mortgage more of their future than they already have to do it…the Bucco’s still finish ahead of them…we can all dream.

  34. Jeru says:

    Time to make the trade:

    Chris Davis for Brad Lincoln

    Both are very good AAA players. Both have been OK in the majors. The Rangers need pitching and the Pirates need hitting. Both are young and would fit in for years to come with each team. Clint probably worked with him in Texas.

    If Davis can hit like advertised, this could be great for the Pirates and alleviate a hole in the Pirates line-up for years to come. Every other position already has someone decent enough and we don’t want to block anyone (Pedro/Presley/Tabata).

    Hate to lose Lincoln, but have to give to get…

  35. SouthSideBucsFan says:

    By the way, a name I saw get brought up at the Pirates’ official message board intrigued me.

    What about Jason Giambi?

    Sure, I know he’s got his issues, being 40 years old and a former steroid user. He probably wouldn’t be good in the field (though it’s not like Overbay’s been anything special). But he’s got 10 homers in 94 at-bats in a primarily reserve role for the Rockies this year. He’s making $1 million this year with a mutual option for 2012, and I doubt Colorado will want much for him.

    Thoughts? As a bat off the bench and very occasional starter, the Pirates could do worse…unless he’s, in Clint Hurdle’s words, “a jack***.”

  36. JoeBucco says:

    @Dave – you can write for my site any time you’d like. Goodness knows I never make any time for it. :)

  37. JoeBucco says:

    @DK – I disagree with the Pedro thinking. If we were 30-60 about now, I’d say leave Pedro in Indy to figure things out. But since he IS better than Wood or anyone else we’re plugging in at 3rd, we need production. I think he can figure it out up here. He was starting to hit before he got hurt, after a bad start. And he’s not getting much opportunity in Indy with those guys not pitching to him (2 walks last night).

    So I have to disagree. We’re in a race right now, and we need our best players up here. He’s not going to figure something out in Indy that he wouldn’t figure out up here.

  38. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    @ Joe — What’s your site? I’d like to see it…

  39. JoeBucco says:

    It’s the seriously content lacking Have a great plan of what to do with it, just never found the time to write much for it yet. Was hoping that my free time would line up with everything I want to do that, and am still waiting. :)

  40. Robert says:

    Milwaukee (while I’m not downgrading their lineup) benefits from more luck this season than any team I’ve seen in a long time. And I watch a ton of baseball games. lol

  41. JAL says:

    No trades are being made by anyone. Other than K-Rod no major moves. Seems like everyone is playing a waiting game. As with most things, the major action occurs as the deadline approaches, around the 30th and 31st. No guarantee Pirates will make a move then but too early to draw any conclusions either way.

  42. JAL says:

    Dave G

    Welcome for the link, always put bleacher report stories in the links. Once they redo the blog the morning links will be in one or two posts, making it easier for people to pick the one they want to read.

  43. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    @ Joe — Nice job! But I didn’t see a link for contact or submissions there…

  44. Jay G -Jacksonville FL via New Castle says:

    Pearce and Cedeno will be back tonight……Any guesses out there on the lineup?????Cedeno at short, D’arnould 3b, Pearce @ 1st??????….it will be different….Right hander for the Cards……Will Overbay still be at first????…

  45. JoeBucco says:

    I guess that is something else to work on. :) If anyone should want to write anything there, heck, you can be co-owner of the thing if you want to. I can always set you up with your own account on there to write articles. But yea, still have lots of work to do to get it to where I’d like to get it.

    I also need to start using my @GoBuccos twitter account instead of my personal one. I’ve got not many followers on that one yet either, but I do have one former Pirates pitcher following me now (gotta love Scott Sauerbeck).

  46. JoeBucco says:

    I also have the @AndrewMcCutchen twitter handle as well, but I don’t use it – it is reserved and ready to be given to our CF if he should ever want to join the Twitter world and want his name (I’m not squatting or trying to trick anyone with it, it’s free to him if he should ever want it – just being a good Bucco fan and keeping it in good hands rather than evil. :)

    It is amazing the followers it has though, even though there are no posts on it.

  47. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I’d be ok with Giambi.

    They wouldn’t have to give up anything and they would add some power. He also draws a lot of walks for a power hitter.

    They should try for something else but if it gets close to the deadline and they haven’t been able to pull off anything, I’d say get him as a rent-a-bat.

  48. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Buster Olney says the Pirates are out of the Beltran conversation.

  49. JoeBucco says:

    Personally, I’d love to see us get good in 2012. If we happen to be good in 2011, awesome. But a trade for someone like Chris Davis, that would be awesome. These rental guys don’t interest me at all, especially since most of the ones being mentioned are no better than the guys we have now.

  50. pattonbb says:

    I wouldn’t let Jason Giambi within 2 miles of that locker room. He’s a 40 year old washed-up, has-been, wannabe frat boy.

    I have a good friend that’s a dj on a popular fm radio station in Denver. If half the things he’s told me about Giambi are true, we don’t want him anywhere near these kids.

  51. Aaron says:

    I have a source who works for the team that tells me the Pirates and Astros are having “significant” discussions about a deal for Hunter Pence. Time will only tell about the validity of my source, but have you heard any such info? My guess would be that you have much better sources than me!!!! Thanks, and keep up the great work!

  52. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Five teams remain in hunt for Beltran: the Red Sox, Giants, Phillies, Braves and Rangers.

  53. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Troy Polamolu gets his hair buzzed by teammate!

    Looks kinda real … but we could be getting punked here… lol

  54. Bizrow says:

    Yes, there still are what 9 days till trade deadline. I’m hoping, but I expect, based on past modus operandi, the PBC is just putting names out, much like they did this off season with some of the players they were supposed to be interested in. At the end, they will make a deal just so they can say they did something.

    Thats my guess/worry, but what the heck do I know?

    Sometimes you gotta roll the dice/roll them bones and see what happens

    @Dave, there is some speculation out there that Red Sox and Phillies are being thrown out name wise by the Mutts to try to raise offers from the Giants and others. Also, Beltran has said he’s not real interested in going to the AL, if what I read can be believed.

    Tick, tick, tick, tick…..

  55. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I think the Brewers could sneak in there and get Beltran.

    They’ll make one more big move before the deadline.

    Mark it down.

  56. Better Days Coming says:


    Refresh my memory of the past off season. Wasn’t de la Rosa the only guy they really pursued that they didn’t land?

  57. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    “Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports has declared that the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox are the two teams most interested in acquiring All Star outfielder Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets.”

    I suppose that this would make any other team interested in Beltran have to raise their offers, but it looks to be more of a natural bidding progression than a ploy to get his price up.

    There is also talk that Boston or the Phillies would have to pay higher luxury taxes if they acquire Beltran. Which is probably no big deal to either one of them, within the big picture.

    The Mets want prospects.

  58. Arriba Wilver says:

    BDC–I think they went after some others (a couple SS), like JJ Hardy, and decided price was too steep, as well as kicked the tires on others. At least I hope they didn’t zero in from the get go on Overbay and Diaz and say, “OK, we’re good.” :-) Don’t get me wrong, though, I don’t think they’re doing this for show, even if they end up not getting anyone.

  59. Better Days Coming says:


    Yes, I forgot about Hardy. That said, I fear that was indeed the case with Overbay and Diaz.

    I do agree with your assessment of this season. I think they truly want to add but they won’t deviate too far from the plan. Nor should they.

  60. Fat Jimmy says:

    Pirates lineup tonight:

    #5 Overbay
    #6 Jones
    #7 Cedeno
    #8 McKenry
    #9 Maholm

    I’ll set the over/under for total number of hits by the 5-9 hitters in the Pirates lineup at 2.5. Over or under against Chris Carpenter?

  61. Better Days Coming says:


    I’ll take the over. Maholm has been swinging a big bat lately.

  62. Bizrow says:

    @BDC, he was one of the guys that they were bandying about, not the only one, there were rumors about several upper tier guys they were supposed to be interested in.

    Corriea was great, the other two we did snag, eh, not so much

  63. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @James: That’s a yikes all around. Honestly, can’t understand Overbay at 5 under any circumstance.

  64. Fat Jimmy says:

    @DejanKovacevic I can. In the context of “Jesus Christ, look at the four guys AFTER him!” I’m sorry, you can’t win a division with a 5-9 like that. Not to mention that the #2 hitter has a 53 OPS+.



  65. dschomburg says:

    I was really disappointed when I saw that Overbay is starting tonight. That disappointment will increase tenfold if he is starting on August 1.

  66. Fat Jimmy says:

    Poor Paul Maholm. You can almost guarantee he has to throw a shutout tonight for him to get the W.

  67. Better Days Coming says:

    Dejan et al,

    Overbay batting .400 lifetime against Carpenter from what i understand. 15 AB’s.

  68. Bizrow says:

    Dodgers refinancing plan got rejected by a judge, that might be it for current ownership,

  69. Bizrow says:

    @AW – I hope you are right. I will gladly admit I was wrong if thats the way it works out, but right now, thats what I’m thinking

    I honestly think they really do not know what to do right now.

    This club deserves a chance.

    Thats all I’m saying. Give it to them. See what happens.

  70. SouthSideBucsFan says:


    Sure, 28-year-old Lyle Overbay may have had some success. Not sure this version will have the same…

  71. DMac says:

    When does Doumit come back again? His name in that lineup would surely make me happier.

    So, you’d put Jones in at the 5 spot instead of Overbay, even though they’re pretty much even on all statistical fronts? Neither is going to see anything good anyway, even if they were flip-flopped in the order.

    (I think DK punished me for not blogging here earlier — I’m trying to figure out why I’m getting Night Ranger updates. :-( )

  72. Better Days Coming says:


    That wasn’t necessarily a prediction of success. Just pointing out what might be the justification. ;-)

  73. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Dee: I reported a couple days ago that Doumit’s probably only about a week away.

    What’s a Night Ranger update, I’m afraid to ask?

    Sister Christian?

  74. DMac says:

    @DK…lol….Apparently they have a new single coming out. I really didn’t need to know that.

    RE: Doumit…I should have phrased that better. It was mostly in response to the other lineup complaints. :-)

  75. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Cool. Hey, there’s a game post up now. (We’ll see about the actual game. Looks scary.)

  76. Barbara says:

    i think it is a good idea..

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