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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: A reminder regarding Pirates’ prospects

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> Nice to be back. I recognize that the break was badly timed but, again, this little trip had been set up with the family months ago. I’m not going anywhere again for a long while.

>> On the next-to-last day of the trip, I drove down to Pirate City to see Luis Heredia pitch and came up with the inspiration for my column this morning, as well as a brief catch-up on Heredia and some accompanying video. (The photo I snapped above is just for you here on the blog.) I have more fun watching him pitch than anyone at any level of the organization.

Anyway, as you’ll see, the column takes on a lot of the concepts — and misconceptions — surrounding the Pirates at trade-deadline time.

>> Here is video of Heredia’s final batter Wednesday. I think you’ll like this.

>> I don’t know that many saw Max Starks’ release coming, but it surely tells you two things: 1. They didn’t like something about his shape, possibly even his recovery from the neck injury. 2. Jonathan Scott had better get the job done at left tackle, not Flozell Adams. With all due respect to the Hotel, he will be 36, and that’s asking a lot to move him into the toughest position on the line.

Bottom line is that, so far, they’ve cut $7 million off the $10 million they need to get under the cap, and this is without having even broached extensions for LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Mike Wallace and/or Troy Polamalu.

>> We will have our weekly chat today at noon, a day later than usual.


  1. buccos since '04 says:

    Was that AL bat bj upton

  2. pghboyinca says:

    I would like to see Hines Ward released and Plax signed in his place. Plax gives us soemthing we don’t have with his physicality, Hines isn’t even the 3rd best receiver on this team right now. Way to much money to pay a mascot, Plax is an upgrade.

  3. Reading says:

    To borrow a line from “Buctown,” that Tigers guy got “clowned!”

  4. MrB says:

    DK – Nice column and thanks for the vid of Heredia. That’s the first time I’ve seen him and for 16 he looks very good.

  5. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Interesting link with some references to Pittsburgh:

    Title of this article aside, there is a trivia here question involving the Pirates. (I actually guessed the answer! Hint: study the Pirates line-up).

    Also within the article is a baseball stadium ranking. Guess who is number one?

  6. Link Mendoza says:

    Heredia seems to be really relaxed considering that he is just 16 facing older competition, in a foreign country with a lot of expectations on him. I’m excited to watch his development.

  7. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports:

    • An official of a club that has been speaking with the Pirates said their No. 1 focus is on finding a “professional hitter.” They seem to have backed off on Carlos Pena. They are said to be lukewarm about Josh Willingham. And B.J. Upton doesn’t fit that definition. So one name other clubs say Pittsburgh has its eyes on is the Twins’ Jason Kubel. But Twins GM Bill Smith told Rumblings his team is “trying to make our club better, we still think we’re very much in contention, and we’re excited to see where we go in the next two months.” Smith didn’t rule out trading away someone in his current mix if it brings back a piece that “makes us better.” But one AL exec said the Twins have too much invested in this season “to do anything now that signals retreat.”

  8. Sec.143RowMSeat24 says:

    Reading around I’ve seen the Cubs are saying they don’t want to trade Pena now, would like to keep him beyond this season. Do you think that’s just them trying to get better than salary relief?

  9. JAL says:

    Some Georgia on My Mind Morning Links


    MLB Transactions

    MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    Pirates Prospects

    Draft Picks Signing Tracker

  10. Fat Jimmy says:

    Wait. Is that Luis Heredia in that picture or George Lopez?

  11. Fat Jimmy says:

    Dejan, I’m wondering if Willie Colon will step into the LT spot. The coaches love him and he would be athletic enough to get it done.

  12. Curt says:

    Great to have you back Dejan. Great article as well. Your point about keep trying and there’s many options out there to help us offensively is my exact sentiment.
    To do nothing is a slap in the fans face. We’ve been faithful “customers” for many long, lean years and now its the FO’s turn to reward us with some help!

  13. EvilSam says:

    @Dejan – Looks like one of your favorites Gift Ngoepe is having a good season. Would love to see an update column on him.

  14. cfjohnsn says:


    Was Heredia pitching from the windup the entire game? In the video, there are runners on at least 1st and 2nd and he didn’t even bother going to the stretch.

  15. Drew71 says:

    Carlos Pena. Better than what they have. (So’s Milton Berle.) A ton of money for a guy that will get, like, 6,000 Ks. His main advantage might be that despite his Medoza batting average, pitchers fear his power…meaning other PBC hitters would see more strikes.

    But I suspect that despite what the cubs are saying, which is “marketing”, this deal would already be done if the Pirates wanted Pena. So I also don’t think it will be him.

  16. Karen22 says:

    Plucked this off Dejan’s tweet roll…Funny and SAD but true: “Every time Overbay comes to the plate…a little part of me dies.”

    Perfect description of what we ALL feel at this point. Epic failure!

    And Heredia doesn’t just look like George Lopez in the photo—he looks as OLD as George Lopez!

  17. JMB says:

    I was all for signing Kotchman as a FA this off-season, but I learned that he is a Tampa native who is thriving at home. We have no idea if that success will carry over to a new city in a new league.

    Lee – sure for salary ONLY, but no way is he worth even a C-level prospect.

    I havent seen any talk of Morse or Bourn, so I guess they are both off of the market.

    Iannetta must have had too high of an asking price.

    I was all for making a big move, but I really dont see anyone that I would LOVE to get (who is also available).

    On the flip side, most prospects will be busts, so I dont understand all the hand-wringing about trading some of these dudes. I saw one of the national writers called Sanchez a “jewel”: cubic zirconium maybe.

    If a team will take Allie, Sanchez, and Lincoln for a BIG player with multi-year control, they should make that move in a heartbeat since those three will probably never amount to more than low-level MLB’ers at best. Even Tabata has crossed over to “injury-prone” this season, so if he could get us a Kemp or Ethier or Bourn the move would make sense to me.

  18. Bizrow says:

    Per the FAN this am, Perrotto tweeted three the club is looking at Kubel, Casey Kotchman and, crap, the first guy was so nondescript I can’t remember who he was.

  19. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Since the All-Star break, the Pirates’ offense has been worse than ever. This is a defining part of the schedule and few are rising to the occasion.

    Based on the team’s current offensive struggles during a critical time, I believe now that trading some of these guys isn’t going to hurt as bad as it seems. Alvarez, Diaz, Overbay, Jones and Pearce are all hitting below .176 since the All-Star break. What’s the point of holding on to some of these guys? They are crumbling against the good teams.

  20. Arriba Wilver says:

    Last I saw we are .500 against the “good teams” in this stretch.

  21. JMB says:

    Tim Williams on Allie, “Allie is a big project, with a lot of upside. The most likely path is that he will become a star closer in the majors.”


    I could be wrong because only time will tell, but “the most likely path is that he will” never pitch in the majors, and, even if he does make MLB, “the most likely path is that he will” not be an impact pitcher.

    80% of these dudes dont amount to much.

  22. Fat Jimmy says:

    Biz, the last guy was Derek Lee, who would be awesome if this was 1998 and/or we could get him back on steroids.

    Admittedly, I haven’t been following the AL this year, so I had no knowledge that Kotchman was putting up those types of numbers. Nevertheless, I have no interest in him. Kotchman has always struck me as Lyle Overbay’s doppleganger — a soft 1B who cannot provide an impact.

    Sigh. Did anyone else read Dejan’s column this morning with the impression that DK has completely reversed his opinion on whether the Pirates should be aggressive in the trade market, but he didn’t really want to flip flop just 4 weeks into his columnist career? Just a week ago he was making an impassioned plea that making a move is a moral obligation the FO owes to the city, and now we’re getting starry-eyes commentary on George Lopez’ older brother.

    Which is fine, by the way. Maybe I’m changing my opinion, too. I like Hunter Pence, but if a Pence acquisition would take PA, Allie and two other prospects, well — no — I’m not interested. And, frankly, there isn’t much else on the market that terribly interest me.

    I’m also not a Jason Kubel fan, who has always put up nice numbers, but would cost a fortune (in prospects) and has always struck me as a 3rd banana type guy.

    At this point, what are our options with the AAA route? I know we’ve discussed Chris Davis, but perhaps that is our best route. Acquire a AAA prospect type for 1B for a similar player in our system, toss him into the fire for a few weeks and if he performs then NH is a genius. If he doesn’t perform, you’ve got the GFJ/Pearce platoon ready to step in.

    Lyle Overbay needs to go, though.

  23. Happy G says:

    Welcome back DK, great article.

    To further DK’s point from last week regarding the National Media, I heard some yahoo on Mike and Mike the other morning making the point that the Pirates have to trade a good prospect for a bat because we haven’t been in this position for so long and we probably won’t be in it again any time soon. That’s the problem with attention from the National Media is you get these former players that do about 5 minutes of research on a team and then they try to offer their opinion on what the Pirates should do at the trade deadline.

    I think we need to make a move at the deadline without giving up too much. Our rebuilt minor leagues have been our saving grace this year with all of the injuries. In addition, they’re our way to produce a consistent winner in this league.

    If anyone heard the same thing on Mike and Mike and remembers who it was please chime in.

  24. JMB says:


    Yes the ONLY thing that ALL of Pirate blog-dom agrees on: Lyle O-fer-day MUST GO!!!

  25. Bizrow says:

    @FJ – Thanks, Lee was the other fellow, hitting a robust 240something with 11 dingers.

    What is it about Pena that the FO doesn’t like?

    I’m just sayin…..

  26. Bizrow says:

    I think maybe folks are seeing the writing on the wall, PBC will not be able to make a move of any value here.

    Two days to go

    Tick, tick, tick…..

    That being said, this club can take two of three from Philly

  27. What happened to common sense? says:

    Watched the video…

    Luis Heredia is a smooth operator. The motion is effortless. If he’s hitting 91-92 as a 16 year old with that delivery then he’s going to be a stud. No question…

  28. ken robertson says:

    Everyone talks about us being loaded at the minor league level. Have you people looked at the records of our teams? We are pretty bad all around.

  29. jefft says:

    Welcome back Dejan–hope you had a nice time with the family.
    If we somehow were to get Upton (I dunno, Tabata & Allie, maybe?), he gives a little more pop than we have. Would love to have him, but that won’t fix the problem at 1B. Hope NH does something before the deadline, though.

  30. Curt says:

    I’ll state it again, the FO needs to think outside the box and expand the search. I honestly think Billy Butler could be available since Hosmer is a stud at 1B as well. Or why not check in with the Nationals about Morse, they want to make moves!
    I also will add the same thing many are saying, prospects are just that. If you could trade some of them for an established MLB hitter why not do it?

    As Walt Jocketty stated the other day in his press conference, “You have to give up something to get something.” He was referring to the Rasmus trade.

  31. Bizrow says:

    @Curt – Like

    @Ken Robinson – re minors, hey our system is flooded, FLOODED with talent. Per one NH anyways ;-)

  32. Happy G says:

    @Ken: our minors are loaded compared to four years ago. They are in much better shape and losing a few prospects would hurt. Also, it’s hard to gauge wins/losses at times because pitchers are on a strict pitch counts, rehab assignments are more about pitch type and location than the batter’s weaknesses, etc.

  33. Dejan,
    Glad you had a great break. Family ALWAYS comes first!!

    Now find us a bat!!!

  34. LikeaBugonaRug says:

    Here’s 2 numbers I want everyone to think about:

    12 and 9

    12 – Runs we scored against the Braves.
    9 – Runs the Braves scored against us.

    We outscored them in a 4 game series! The Braves are +46 in run differential, we are +7. But, we outscored them!

    So, does Atlanta need a bat, too? They just got outscored by the Bucs over 4 games! Yea, maybe with another bat we’d have won 3 of the 4 or maybe all 4, but you never know. And if we aren’t able to get anyone, before people yell at the FO for doing nothing you better know exactly what the requirements were for making a deal.


  35. What happened to common sense? says:

    Pitching wins…Period

    They have upgrades on the Disabled List. Does everyone forget this?

  36. JMB says:

    Bourn stats last 7 days–

    .467 avg
    .543 OBP

    Go get him NH!

  37. Drew71 says:

    either the chat died at 12:34 or Dejan is working on a really really really long answer

  38. Drew71 says:

    well. it was a really really really long answer

  39. cmat0829 says:

    DK: Awesome article. Provides a perspective that is well-needed and often underreported… we hear all the time that teams “don’t want to trade this prospect or that prospect” but they are just names until we see things like the videos you have posted. My gut (which is about as good a source as 95% of this “trade rumors” posted all over the internet…think about it, team sources that talk do so for a reason.. to drive asking price up or insinuate demand that isn’t there) is that the Pirates will add, but will be upgrades but tier 2 adds…pay attention to teams like the Nationals and Rockies, especially the Rockies.. they have assorted offensive pieces (people like Ryan Spilborghs for example) that Clint is fully aware of and that may be a trade partner to take a look at. The Nats desperately want a CF and lead-off batter…the Pirates (when healthy) have a lot of those

  40. Drew71 says:

    Klinsmann just hired

  41. pghboyinca says:

    For those of you who say “There is nothng available” then how are other teraes happening? And for those who say “We don’t want to mortgage our future” How are other trades happening? Since we ahve not spent money on payroll and have sunk all the supposed riches into the “flood of talent” in hte minors there should be a spare piece or two shouldn’t there? Was that not the premsie stated by Curly, Moe, and Larry all along? This is starting to play out like the movie “major league” Are they undressing a cradboard cutout of Nuttig in the locker room?

  42. Drew71 says:

    Missed your opportunity.

    Shoulda asked about the naked nutting cutout in the chat

  43. JoeBucco says:

    Speaking of steroids, the Cardinals have some good hitters. German finding the fountain of HGH, I mean youth. How does Tony LaRussa keep working this kind if magic?


  44. JoeBucco says:

    Oops, auto correct changing Berkman to German.

  45. JoeBucco says:

    Any truth to the rumor that Colby Rasmus had a just say no attitude that landed him in the doghouse of the head chemist, er, manager?

  46. Brian Leary says:

    I can’t believe someone above suggested sending Tabata and Allie for BJ Upton. Why would you trade a 22 year old with a career .285 average whom you have 4 (5?) more years of guaranteed time with for a 26 year old with a career .256 average who will be a free agent after next year? And if that’s not bad enough, you would throw in one of our top 3 pitching prospects?

    Zane Smith was good, but those teams in the mid 90s would have been much different with Moises Alou in left field. And can you imagine the Nationals first few seasons with Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Cliff Lee?

  47. Brian Leary says:

    @pghboyinca: For now at least, it’s looking like teams aren’t asking for our spare parts. They’re asking for the engine and a wheel or two. We’ll see what the market is like by Sunday, but I fear that the Giants budging on Beltran and giving up Wheeler will start a chain reaction that causes everyone to overpay on Ludwick, Willingham, DeJesus, etc. I hope I’m wrong and that the Pirates land Ludwick or Pena for Shelby Ford and a year’s supply of I.C., but I fear that it isn’t realistic anymore.

  48. pattonbb says:

    Sounds like Pence is close to being a Phillie. If that happens, I bet the rest of the deals start falling like dominoes.

    Any chance Alex Presley could learn to play 1st base….in 7 or 8 days? Just kidding…kinda.

  49. What happened to common sense? says:


    You either don’t pay attention or don’t get how things work.

    It’s a widely held contention that it takes upwards of 7 YEARS to build a good minor league system. The fact that the Pirates are in second place in the standings with any pieces that could be moved this late in the year, after blowing up the previous regime’s 95+ loss team with no minor league talent outside of McCutchen and Walker, proves the method they are taking IS WORKING. The Pirates could win the World Series and people like you would whine about how Nutting’s pocketing money (even though spending is up since he took over), Huntington makes bad trades (even though they’re in second place under his construction), and blah blah blah

    It’s time to grow up and join reality. There’s no “kool-aid” involved in supporting a team that wins. The Pirates’ need to maintain their depth has zero bearing on other teams’ trades. The fact that the Pirates’ on the field needs don’t correlate with a strong trade market at those positions has almost nothing to do with other teams’ needs and trades. For example, the fact that the Brewers needed a second baseman and got Felipe Lopez for cheap doesn’t affect the Pirates’ need for an outfielder/first baseman.

  50. What happened to common sense? says:

    It takes two teams to trade and if the Pirates’ don’t feel like they’re getting a fair deal then they shouldn’t do anything because whatever they’re doing in the FO is working on the field this season.

  51. JAL says:


    Pirates not going to trade Shelby Ford to anyone, they released him yesterday.

  52. Bizrow says:

    No crying in baseball, and there should not be any excuses made either, IMHO

    Walk the talk, oh mighty FO ;-)

  53. Bizrow says:

    If we don’t make a move to strengthen our weakensses, Mr Huntington failed in his job.

    I thought the discussions by Dejan earlier today were dead spot on, the FO has never been in this position before. My addition to those thoughts are they never thought they would be in that spot this year.

    Good GMs are creative and make hay while the sunshines.

    NH himself has said he flooded the system with talent. Ok, if thats true, use some of those chips. Cleveland got their outfielder for two guys that I’ve read anyways have little if any chance of seing the big show unless they buy a ticket.

    The team on the field still has a chance. With or without help,

    Beat Em Bucs

  54. diane says:

    Can’t wait to see Luis Heredia at PNC! Loved the articles last year about getting him signe. Is he really only 16 years old?

    Keep on keepin on Buccos! Monday is August and they are in the race!

  55. pghboyinca says:

    Waht happeend to common sense?

    You posting handle is what you say every morning when you realize you were born without any. 7 years to build a minor league system, really? So now ht ewindow to evaluate is 7 years?
    I don’t pay attention or know how things work? I am coming back to the Burgh in late August to catch aseries and we will go to a game my treat and you can determine how much I know and whether I understand how “things work”. You are nothing but a shill for this regime and your supporting data is pathetic. Milwaukee is aggressive and gets things done while this regime sits and tries to whine about the cost. Did you see the latest release today of the 50 top prospects in baseball (it is on the PBC blog) . The Pirates have 1 guy in the top 50 (Taillon) after 3 years of N.H.’s drafts all being top 3. Think of the later rounders that we have paid big bonus money to as well as the returns on trades and the supposed new Latin Academy that was trumpeted. 1 out of the top 50 absolutely sucks for a team that is supposedly pouring all the money they are not spending at the major league level into the amatuer ranks?

    The product yu se on the major league field is not from a sustained farm system or a carefully orchestrated plan. After 18 years of bad luck ou have some serendipity here and peopel like you think Coonelly and Huntington have it al figured out. I am sure they DFA’d Karsens because they knew he would be their ace. They definately knew that Mortons would be doing his Hallday impersonation and that Maholm would be the rock of Gibralter.

    Walkerand Cutch are the ONLY bats onhtis team and Pressly looked great until he went down and how was he acquired? Ther eis a lot of good fortune happening to this teama as well as mamanger who actually cares andhas htese guys playing above what their capabilities are. That never lasts more than a year, they ned to get aggressive now to make the PBC a threat this year and make it adestination that players dread because of the perception the front officeisn’t trying to win.

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